Overclocking

One of my friends just purchased a new computer.  i7-930 2.80 GHZ 8 M LGA 1366, 1 TB HD, 6 GB DDR3 PC 1333 RAM, Liquid Cooling, Gigabyte X58A-UD3R 3Way Crossfire and SLI MB, 1000 W Corsaid PSU, 2x Nvidia GTX 470s (1.28 GB). And he promptly put his stat line up as a status message for all to envy. Which prompted a lot of conversation as to overclocking, prices, watercooling and blah blah blah. This guy’s EE degree aside, he will never use anywhere near this computer’s true potential.  This is like a guy buying a Lamborghini to pick up the groceries, I guess it’s impressive but impractical for the job at hand. I will say up front that I was the only nay-sayer in this rogues gallery of computational wang-measure.

Overclocking is the process of pushing a computer processor up and over its standard operating load, while (hopefully) taking additional steps to manage the corresponding increases in power, heat generation, and increased bus speeds required to pass sped up data from various locations in the computer. It can be a useful method of getting a more powerful machine when you’re on a budget, allow you to take a stepwise approach to machine improvement as more funds become available, and can in general be a great problem solving/how-does-a-computer-work understanding experience if one has a moderate-to-high tolerance for frustration and lots of time to read/return parts. Especially because there’s no guarantee that whatever company you were going to buy didn’t discontinue a key component, change a chip manufacturer, or just have some bizarre manufacturing defect.

Maybe there’s a certain degree of envy – my single-core desktop with its quasimodoed power supply (until I work out 10 minutes with a borrowed Dremel – the hand drill/hacksaw didn’t cut it), my Toshiba R15 Tablet suffered from tragic hinge collapse after 2 years of hard use – between that and a lucky break with a scavenged Inspiron 8200, I’ve got one functional wall-bound laptop computer doubling as my TV. For the average computer user – most people can accomplish everything that they need on a netbook – no heavy number crunching, image/video processing, and so on.  Computers have been getting smaller, faster, and lighter without any real clear purpose or direction. Saving a discussion of quantum tunneling, the limits of modern lithography, and the “technological singularity” for another post, human limitations are becoming the limiting factor for technology – sensory (“retina grade” display resolution, lossless codecs), interactive (novel imput methods – Wii/multi-touch are gimmicks at their current level), temporal (how many hours can be spent consuming), creative (procedurally generated code and the “Simpson’s did it!” phenomenon), etc. Is this why there’s not much in the way of quality hard science fiction these days, or maybe I just have a hard time finding it? With technology in general – iterative, short-sighted improvement (smaller, cheaper, faster, more)  long-term consequences are considered and downplayed (energy, RoHS, scrambled attention spans, cognitive development) but long term goals are largely ignored (Where are we going as individuals/as a society, why are we developing this?)  I would say the greatest single human limitation to computers is one of expectation.

I’ve had this post up for 3 days trying to figure out how to end it – Just put it up “Incomplete” and go from there.

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9 comments on “Overclocking
  1. angryscholar says:

    On a related note, I’m looking to upgrade my desktop on the cheap. Mostly I want a new graphics card, but I’ll also need a new power supply. And let’s be honest, probably a new motherboard and CPU, too, if I’m going to use any of the current-gen video cards. I might go to the university’s salvage store and see if I can scavenge any usable parts from their old PCs.

    How goes Thief/Mass Effect?

  2. vigorousbog says:

    Related, but more like antonyms than podded peas. Why do you need to upgrade your computer? What games can’t you run? What are you running at the momenet – still running the 805D?

    To be honest I don’t know any games that fully understand the idea of multicore processors, I think they’re transitioning (split threads to different cores) but I’m not sure that they take full advantage of the architechture fixing L-cache size, burst size, parallelism – admittedly I’ve been out of the game for awhile. (Must resist black hole of chip architechture)

    Assassin’s Creed is in time out, it layered bad on top of worse. Repetitious? You bet. Padded? Oh yeah. Worst sin of all? Artificial difficulty inflation. Why are there suddenly more guys carrying jugs of water or guys tiling their roofs. Unless I threw a guy down a well, or my rooftop gallavanting has unleashed a rash of deshingling this is not an acceptable artificial “difficulty setting”.

    I have one major complaint about Mass Effect – terribly broken autosave feature. You sit through all this talkie-talk, complete a few quests, get a little overconfident, round a corner and BAM! Resume? Load? Doesn’t matter, you have to go through all of it again. Finding the skip feature helps, but the number of times you get stuck immediately saying “Goodbye” gets annoying. While the voiceacting is pretty good, I’d honestly just rather have the chance to up the message speed and burn through some text. Inventory management is kind of a bitch – I think ditching the character animation and just putting more information on the screen would fix that. I’m getting the hang of combat, and kind of wish I had gone with a different class. A little less style, a little more streamlining and I think it’d be great.

  3. angryscholar says:

    My computer has a lot of difficulty running the Dawn of War games. I have to put them on the lowest settings, and it still screws up textures and lighting, and it frequently crashes. F.E.A.R. looks pretty bland with all the textures flattened out. I’m not looking for a total overhaul, but I’d like to run Starcraft 2 and Diablo 3 when it eventually comes out.

    I never made it that far in Assassin’s Creed, but it sounds pretty lame.

    Most of those issues have been fixed in ME2. It autosaves around every corner, and there is no inventory at all. The dialogue is still essentially the same, but it feels a little more manageable to me somehow. Hurry up and finish the first one. New copies of ME2 are on sale at Gamestop right now for pretty cheap (and you want a new copy so you can get the Cerberus Network access card).

    • vigorousbog says:

      People frequently talk about games being rushed to market before they’re done – betas being released and patched to functionality and whatnot. This game is the second time I’ve ever felt that this was truly not the designer’s intention.

      The other was D.W. Bradley’s (the guy who was responsible for Wizardry 5-7) Dungeon Lords – the game shipped without automap and many glaring omissions. While. the game was a huge failure that apparently ended his career (Speaking of which who picked up SirTech’s IP rights ( http://www.rpgwatch.com/forums/showthread.php?p=33730 weird ass shit right there… ) apparently it’s big in Japan and Aeria games has the IP rights now (yeah they’re the ones who keep trying to get me to beta test their Shin Megami Tensei. MMO)… anyway, enough of that bizarre trip down memory lane. By the time the game actually had all the components, it was actually pretty good (gold edition v1.5)

      With Assassin’s Creed, I’m actually pretty stoked about the sequel. I feel some team of programmers poured their hearts into the mechanics, camera, and controls and when they started to sit down to implement the story, some evil management goon kicked it out of the nest E.T. style. Or maybe the night after the game shipped a project manager sat bolt upright after a nightmare and exclaimed “I know what I forgot!? Fun!”

      In terms of processor, I imagine you would be ok (can’t recall specs off the top of my head) did you ever wind up picking up that second graphics card? Basically I would probably upgrade in the following order, cooling/overclock (maybe water), depending on the connectors for your videocards mobo/videocard, then worry about the other stuff. Send me your stats and we can take a look.

      ME would go a lot faster if I didn’t have to replay the same plot points two or three times. I don’t see why they can’t use the inherent connectivity of the platform to push out a patch for fix some this stuff.

      • angryscholar says:

        They’re done with the first ME, man. They released a patch and some DLC content, and then ME2 came out. They’ll be supporting ME2 for some time to come, apparently. I wouldn’t be surprised if they’re releasing DLC for ME2 until a few months before ME3. The next DLC pack looks pretty amazing, I must say. They’re bringing back a main character from the first game, which is kind of exciting.

        I’ll try to send you my specs tomorrow. I’m crashing now, but I’ll probably catch you sometime this weekend.

      • vigorousbog says:

        Why didn’t they fix it when they weren’t “done” with it? Latest complaint, save game freezes when loading during colonist rescue mission. So now I’m reloading from an earlier save, and replaying the same content for the third time. I know you like this game, but they really aren’t making it easy for me.

  4. angryscholar says:

    I’m not sure about that one. Is the disc scratched, maybe?

    I didn’t find any of its problems to be game-breaking. I just thought they were cumbersome.

    Anyway, I’m telling you, it’s all worth it for ME2. I’m sure you’ll have some issues with that, too, but hopefully the good will outweigh the bad.

  5. vigorousbog says:

    “I’m sure you’ll have some issues with that”? [squints]

  6. angryscholar says:

    Anytime I recommend anything as enthusiastically as I have ME2, everyone–especially my smart-ass friends–are likely to tear it apart on principle alone. Keeps me grounded, I think.

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