Competitive Overclocking: The GIGABYTE OC Lab and HWBot.orgby Ian Cutress on June 19, 2013 4:00 PM EST
When you enter Gigabyte HQ in Taiwan, get your visitor’s pass, head towards the elevators and make your way up to the fourth floor. Get out of the elevator, take a left, and then another left. Here is the Gigabyte OC Lab in all its glory.
The principle of the OC Lab is simple – a place for HiCookie to dismantle any PCB he wishes: three fully functional desks packed to the rafters with soldering equipment, scopes, multimeters and temperature gauges to test hardware on, a whiteboard to discuss voltages and ideas, and the fridge stocked with refreshments. The walls are top to bottom with cupboards hiding all manner of broken and to-be-broken hardware, spare motherboards, trays of CPUs or memory (pre-tested and binned), and on the floor are several plastic boxes filled with dead hardware. These are either failed modification attempts, burned out phases, or hardware that died while being overclocked. Every so often I came across a dead Titan PCB and wept softly.
A dead GTX480
Several dead motherboards and GPUs
Having a dedicated space to overclocking within such an OC focused company as Gigabyte seems like a no-brainer. Before this OC Lab was built earlier in 2013, HiCookie had several benches in the main office as well as 6 or seven cubicles for the hardware he was using and testing. Moving it into the OC Lab (an old storeroom) has freed up those cubicles for software developers in the main office, but it also allows Gigabyte to invite other overclockers to come and test their hardware.
OC Lab Success
Within the week of Computex, Corsair and Intel held an overclocking contest and invited a large number of overclockers to compete – both individual and company sponsored overclockers alike were represented. The team from Gigabyte consisted of HiCookie, former world #1, and Dino, who is both a Gigabyte employee and world renowned overclocker in his own right, being part of the Team.AU squad.
The overclocking contest lasted six hours in Marquee, a restaurant/lounge in the middle of Taipei, with a total prize fund up for grabs of $20,000. The top prize of $5,000 went to the best SuperPi 32M score, $4,000 to the highest memory overclock, and then $1,000 each for other CPU and GPU related categories such as Aquamark, 3DMark06, 3DMark Firestrike Extreme and others.
While I did not catch the event in its entirety, I was able to swing by the location just as they were packing up and the results had been announced. Fellow UK overclocker 8-Pack had taken home the big money prize in SuperPi 32M, but HiCookie and Dino were able to score a win in the memory overclock stage, bringing home an award on Gigabyte hardware, a shiny trophy, and a nice big check.
The OC Lab was the source of the preparation for the event, with HiCookie and Dino spending most of the week previous discussing how to proceed on the day, and how to best use the time. Aside from product development, this will be the main use for the OC Lab, especially in the run up to big overclocking events. Most of the overclocking community is hopeful that Intel+Corsair run a similar event for many years to come.
OC Lab Weekend
For the overclocking weekend itself, where Gigabyte opened the doors to over a dozen overclockers, there was no schedule as such. Alongside a number of motherboards, Gigabyte provided a tray of CPUs to use – several Intel i7-4770Ks and a few Richland A10-6800K APUs. Corsair was also on hand to provide power supplies, coolers and some memory.
Gigabyte also ordered in some extra special hardware. Four Gigabyte GTX Titans were also available for the overclockers to use, as long as they were not modded! For several of the overclockers who had not had chance to use Haswell before release, this was a fine chance to get to know the systems, as well as test it with Titans.
Over the weekend the following users and overclockers were present and ready to bench, coming from far and wide representing many different nations:
HiCookie (TW), the Gigabyte in-house overclocker
Dino (AUS), from Gigabyte Australia and Team.AU
Pro (AUS), from Team.AU
borandi (UK), from AnandTech and UK ProOC Team 5xP
Massman (BE), from HWBot.org
SDougal (UK), from Gigabyte HQ
Finn, from Corsair
Cpt.Planet/Jake (US) from Corsair
Christian Ney (SWI), memory overclocker extraordinaire
Lucky_n00b (IND) from ProOC Team JagatReview
Coldest (IND) from JagatReview
Whiteboard for voltage talk or motivation!
An internal test bench
Some air-testing on Titan
Some CPUs floating around
The highlight of the weekend was something I missed entirely. Dino and Jake hit 7 GHz on one of their 4770K CPUs in testing, while I happened to be in another room.
Soldering iron at the ready
A couple of Titan boxes hidden away
3DMark in full swing
Thermos flasks for LN2
Preparation for some CPU benchmarks
zzolio making some BIOS changes
The fan is to move the LN2 vapor away from the system - this helps reduce condensation
Another system being set up
HiCookie starting at 6.8 GHz while under cold
sin0822 going for maximum BCLK
Pro and zzolio on 3DMark
Dual Titans with a cold CPU