Observations About Overclocking

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Overclocking Burnout

Due to the market that we sell to, we are probably seeing a higher percentage of overclocking related problems than most resellers. Some manufacturers are beginning to see that this is a problem, even though they have been pushing their 75 and 83MHz bus speeds for marketing reasons. As overclocking becomes more and more mainstream, these manufacturers will begin to see many of the problems that we are already seeing, and may react negatively to this. The end result may be a reduction in the number of boards that support the faster bus speeds, or special circuitry that will enable them to determine if the board has been severely overclocked. Apparently Intel has already put in some govering circuitry into their processors to minimize how far a chip can be overclocked, and others may follow. Suffice it to say, that no manufacturer really likes the idea of people overclocking, but they don’t believe that it is prevalent enough to affect their bottom line right now.

Now, before everyone gets the wrong idea (perhaps it is already too late for that), I am not personally against overclocking, and, in fact, I believe that when done with care and awareness of the issues, it can provide a great performance boost with few drawbacks. There are many people who successfully overclock and rarely have problems, and even if they do, they accept the responsibility for their actions and are willing to purchase new product or live with slower speeds until they can justify buying a better component to overcome whatever limitation is preventing them from overclocking successfully. Paying attention to thermal considerations, being careful to stay within reasonable limits, and carefully researching the components will usually result in a successful overclocking attempt and will miminize component failures

The issue I am most concerned about is that there are new people attempting to overclock almost every day. Many of these have very little knowledge of hardware, much less the technical issues regarding overclocking. There are so many places to find advice on how to overclock that these ‘newbies’ almost get the impression that overclocking is a ‘Plug-N-Play’ feature, and a number of these sites give almost no precautions. Combine that with the numerous posts on Usenet regarding the unbelievable clock rates that people claim to be running ‘rock stable’ (and with absolutely no heat problems, to boot!), and you have a recipe for an industry backlash

My personal opinion is that if the current trend continues unchecked, we will see a major turnaround in the attitude of many manufacturers and vendors regarding overclocking. At first this will appear as voided warranties and irate customers who feel that they are being unsupported. This will be because support staffs will begin to make assumptions that certain problems are due to overclocking whether there is real evidence of this or not. Some of the smaller manufacturers that are using the faster bus speeds to gain market share will begin to feel the increased RMA and support costs and begin to back away from designing products that are overclockable, just to stay in business. Finally, I believe that overclocking will be so maligned in the industry that it will once again be relegated to ‘closet overclockers’ who will be chastised publicly when they admit their practice or ask questions about it.

Professionaly, I would not be too saddened by this, as I can see firsthand how expensive overclocking is to the industry. I have to believe that prices will be held higher because of the costs associated with the current situation. Personally, however, I believe that overclocking helps to push manufacturers to produce faster and faster products, and provide sturdier components. I think that in the long run, the practice of overclocking will make the industry stronger and even more profitable.

What I believe is that in order to prevent the backlash I feel is probable at this time, those who understand the issues must make an extra effort to educate those who don’t. I think that the many websites that have appeared which advocate overclocking need to spend more effort in outlining the *dangers* of overclocking, and need to give better information on how to intelligently engage in this practice. Those who monitor and participate in the Usenet groups need to more actively provide information regarding the thermal considerations and limitations of various components. What we need to do is to try to manage the expectations of those just learning about overclocking so that they don’t ruin it for everyone else.

We have been trying to provide some information on overclocking through our sponsorships, and will attempt to provide even more. We have found a site to sponsor that will be concentrating on some of these issues, and will present them in layman’s terms. We will also publish information about various issues as we encounter them, but since we are a vendor, we will need the backing (and feedback) of those who understand to give it credibility, since many assume that anything a commercial web site publishes is likely to be self-serving (not an unreasonable assumption, unfortunately).

We hope that this article will open some eyes, and will be the beginning of a movement to temper the overclocking mania that seems to be catching hold. The situation is not unlike any other fad where a ‘fringe’ activity suddenly becomes ‘cool’ so that people begin to jump in without even knowing why they are doing it, except they feel everyone else is doing it. Slow growth is usually much healthier than rapid growth. If you push too hard, or go too fast, that is usually when problems occur with almost *any* endeavor.


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