Gigabyte International Overclocking Tournament

ajmatson - 2008-06-29 15:32:40 in Trade Shows/Conventions
Category: Trade Shows/Conventions
Reviewed by: ajmatson   
Reviewed on: July 1, 2008

Gigabyte International Overclocking Tournament

This past weekend, the 28th of June, OverclockersClub was invited to Gigabyte's first ever US held International Overclocking Competition located at the Pacific Palms Resort in the City of Industry, California. This event was held to find the number one overclocker to whom Gigabyte will provide a sponsorship for the winner to the World Overclocking Championship Tournament, which is being held in Tiapi, Taiwan at the end of September. This is the first time Gigabyte has tried this in the US to send the winner as a representative in the Gigabyte Worlwide Overclocking Competition. There are also a slew of other prizes for the top three winners out of the ten competing. The live tournaments were a change from the online tourneys Gigabyte has hosted in the past, and with all of the hype on overclocking these days, it was a smart move for them to set this up.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ok, so here is how it went. There were ten contestants, some of them very well known in the overclocking community. Below is a picture of all ten entrants. In no particular order: Habib, Fugger, Danny, Todd, Ton, Mark, Chris, Gautam, Jeremy, Ross.

 

 

The tournament was setup so that each contestant had the same exact hardware to run the overclocking on. The only differences were their methods of cooling and their skill. Gigabyte supplied them with X48T-DQ6 motherboards, Gigabyte NX96XT 9600GT video cards, 1200W Gigabyte Odin power supplies, and various hardware such as LCDs and keyboards. The memory was courtesy of Corsair, which supplied its Dominator PC3-16000 2x1GB modules. The hard drives were 250GB drives from Western Digital, and of course, the CPUs being used were the Core 2 Extreme X9650s supplied by Intel. I am sure you guys are asking the same question I did when I saw the components. With all of the high end graphics cards out there why not use something newer such as the GTX series? Well, I was advised by Angela from Gigabyte that their 9600GTs support the Gamer HUD, which allows the overclocker to alter not only the speeds of the video card but also the card's voltage via the Gamer HUD software, which allows for better and faster overclocks.

 

Software was also supplied standard to keep the competition as fair as possible. Gigabyte loaded each of the drives with Windows XP, Rivatuner 2.09, Memset 3.5, setFSB, Easytune 6, CPU-Z, GPUz, and the GamerHUD. For the 9600GT card Gigabyte used ForceWare 174.16 and the motherboard BIOS for the X48T was f5g. There were four benchmarks that were run and each one was given a score for first through third place, except for the 3DMark tests which were first though fourth place. The benchmarks were Super Pi 1M, Aquamark, 3DMark01, and 3DMark06. All scores were verified by a panel of four judges from Gigabyte and all scores had to have a complete screenshot to be valid.

 

Setting Up:

The cooling methods used were left up to the competitor. Most used LN2 for the CPUs, however for the video cards, that was a different story. There were water cooled cards, cards with VapoChill units cooling them, and of course, LN2 cooled video cards. During the setup, we got to see how the process takes place. Since I have never cooled with LN2, this was a new experience for me. I was amazed to see that the most simplest thing used was cut foam and Vaseline.

 

 

 

 

Once the setup was done, the warming up and benchmarking began. Each contestant was given a time limit to submit scores and the highest score submitted is the score that was counted. I was amazed on how quick these guys got their hardware soaring. One contestant, Chris, had his CPU to 5.8GHz before the power circuit for his side of the tables tripped, cutting all power. The result was their hardware freezing over and damaging the motherboards and possibly the CPUs. They changed out boards and the next time he was only able to pull out 5.57GHz. I am amazed on how easy they make using LN2 to overclock. It is as easy as using a stock heatsink for them.

 

 

 

After all of the stress and heartache of pushing their hardware to the limit, the final benchmark was winding down and the contestants were getting worn down. It was coming down to the wire and the tension was mounting up. The contestants were finishing up and pushing their hardware to the limits to get the last bit of scores that they could.

 

 

Now that the competition is over, let's check out the exhibits that were on display before we take a look at the scores and the highlight shots.

 

Gigabyte Exhibits:

In addition to the competition, Gigabyte took this opportunity for itself and one of its main sponsors, Corsair, to show off some of their current and upcoming hardware. Gigabyte took our breath away right at the door into the conference room with a beautiful board displayed for all of us to gawk at. This is Gigabyte's GA-EP45 Extreme, an Intel P45 chipset board which supports a Front Side Bus of up to 1600MHz and DDR2 up to 1200MHz. It includes a wealth of features that enthusiasts have wanted for years, including power, reset, and clear CMOS buttons right on the board, along with the infamous debug LED. It also brings to the table Gigabyte's D.E.S. Advanced, which is its hardware based Dynamic Energy Saver feature, so no longer must you rely on software to control the green features of your PC, it is all hardware based now for better efficiency. Gigabyte also gave the board an Advanced Power Phase design with a virtual 12 power phases. Gigabyte also embedded two power phases for the memory and two for the NorthBridge. Lastly, you can see the huge hybrid copper thermal/water cooling silent pipe that Gigabyte has designed to keep the motherboard extremely cool.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In addition to the P45 board at the door, there were several other items on display, including the Volar 3D Rocket II and G-Power II CPU heatsinks, a few motherboards, and several cases, including one which has a self contained water cooling system inside. The Volar and G-Power II heatsinks use a unique angled design which are aimed at not only cooling the processors but the MOSFETs and surrounding areas as well, while the eD Rocket II uses a Dynamic Air Duct and an eight directional heat pipe.

 

 

In addition to the coolers and motherboards on display, Gigabyte had some new case designs on the table. They ranged from mid-towers to full-towers and have unique features that set them apart. First, they had what looked like a version of the iSOLO cases, which is a mid-tower aimed for efficient cooling without all of the sparkley glits and glamor. Just a great case that gets the job done. Also on display was the Poseidon 310, which is another mid-tower case that has space for an internal or external liquid cooling and washable dust filters. The Poseidon 310 also has a tough aluminum door that protects your drive bays.

 

 

Next to these are the full-tower cases which were opened and running hardware to demonstrate their wares. There was the 3D Mars, which featured an EP45-Extreme, Corsair Dominator RAM, and an HD4850 pushing a loop of 3DMark06. This case has plenty of room to work with and has a Galaxy Liquid Cooling upgrade option. It offers plenty of cooling and uses a positionable hard drive rack which can face inwards or sideways. On the opposite side from the Mars was the grandfather of the chassis on display, the 3D Mercury. The 3D Mercury features an integrated Liquid Cooling Solution built into the top of the chassis and included the pump, radiator, tank, and also pre-installed splitter valves for expandability. This is definitely a unique case and had my mouth watering. Inside was a GA-EP45-DQ6 motherboard with an HD 4850 running a loop of 3DMark 01.

 

 

 

On the opposite side of the room there was another table that Gigabyte had set up showing off more motherboards and video cards. The motherboards on display were part of its P45 family and include, from left to right, the GA-EP45-DS3R, the GA-EP45-Extreme, and the GA-EP45-DQ6, all based on the P45 and the ICH10R Chipset. Next to the motherboards were the Gigabyte 9800 GX2 NVIDIA based graphics card and a Gigabyte HD 4850 ATI based graphics card.

 

 

Corsair Exhibit:

In addition to the Gigabyte exhibits Corsair - since it was a big sponsor for the event - also had an exhibit setup showing off some of its greatest products. Corsair has been a leader in memory and other products for a long time and its continues to be one of the top producers of computer components. At the competition the company had on display some of its memory (including its Mac memory line), flash drives, and power supplies. Corsair also provided all of the memory for the tournament, using the Dominator DDR3 series for the overclocking. If you take a look at the Corsair Survivor, it is a 32GB flash drive. That is a lot of storage for anyone. It does look like it says 52GB, however it is a common misconception because of the font used, but it is definitely 32GB.

 

 

 

 

Mods at the show:

There were a couple of case mods that were present at the show. Ton from Ironmods brought his Ironman and Team Fortress 2 cases for display. Check out the hardware in the Ironman computer. Holy SLI!!!!!

 

 

 

Results:

With the benchmarks winding down, everyone is wondering how everyone scored. There were the four benchmark categories, so here are top three finishers for SuperPI 1M and Aquamark, and the top four finishers for the 3DMark01 and 3DMark06 suites. Below that are the top three winners and the prizes for each one.

 

 

 

 

 

SuperPI 1M
1st Place
2nd Place
3rd Place
Mark
Chris
Ross
8.172/sec
8.281/sec
8.484/sec

AquaMark
1st Place
2nd Place
3rd Place
Ross
Jeremy
Fugger
288,524
277,929
277,012

3DMark01
1st Place
2nd Place
3rd Place
4th Place
Ross
Gautam
Chris
Fugger
87,670
86,664
84,338
83,105

3DMark06
1st Place
2nd Place
3rd Place
4th Place
Mark
Fugger
Ross
Gautam
16,705
16,188
15,767
15,177

 

So with the top scores in for each category, you want to know who the winners are right? Well there were prizes for the top three with the highest combined total scores. So here are the results and their prizes.

 

Third Place: Fugger with a combined total of 14 points.

Prizes:

 

Second Place: Mark with a combined total of 18 points.

Prizes:

 

First Place: Ross with a combined total of 26 points.

Prizes:

 

Special Shots:

Of course, everyone gets those special shots when they attend events like these. So here are my prized pictures that were taken at the tournament. First up are my shots with the Gigabyte staff. The staff worked very hard to make us comfortable and keep us informed every step of the way. My thanks go out to Angela Lan and her team.

 

 

 

I also want to thank Bosco for picking up the tab and putting me up at the Pacific Palms Resort to attend the tournament. The room was awesome and had a killer view from my private balcony. Thanks Boss.

 

 

 

Finally, I have two shots from the competition which I though were the coolest. First two shots are of the LN2 vapors engulfing the table and the temperature of the CPU. It is a sight to see that cover a computer system and still have it running as if nothing was on it. I am still amazed that a liquid that can instantly freeze a flower can keep a computer operating at -178.6 degrees Celsius.

 

 

For all of you who like anomalies and video, I have two clips I want to share. The first one is of Chris's system where you can see the LN2 vapors pouring out of his CPU duct. The second one is of Mark's monitor during his top 3DMark06 run. He pushed his shader clocks all the way to 2400MHz and it caused artifacting to occur in the benchmark. Surprisingly, it did not crash the test like he expected and brought him a killer score.