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Day 1: Delays And Water Cooling

Tom's Overdrive Competition: Finals Recap
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That’s not cigarette smoke…That’s not cigarette smoke…

The first day had its share of trials and tribulations. Part of the fun of an overclocking competition is watching an American drink liquid nitrogen (temperature -196° C, remember). Even if you’re fitted with an American stomach, please don’t try this at home (Ed.: Pierre, I'm hoping the LN2 was never actually swallowed).

Running Into Trouble

All of the teams ran into problems, but the French took the prize in that department. As mentioned earlier, Marmott missed his plane and had to spend the night in the station in London before catching the first train to Paris. As a result, he didn’t arrive until 11 AM, and Florian had to hold down the fort until then on his own. On top of that, the French overclocking expert is also a tad absent-minded: while chatting with a sponsor (Kingston), he didn’t realize that he was installing a 64-bit version of Windows Vista when he was supposed to be using the 32-bit version, so he had to install his operating system over again.

Among other problems that cropped up, our Taiwanese friends thought they had a defective DIMM, then finally realized (at the end of the contest) that the RAM was working fine, and the memory controller built into the processor seemed to be the source of the problem. Their setup would operate only in dual-channel mode (using two DIMMs instead of three).

The memory performed flawlesslyThe memory performed flawlessly

Water Cooling, Air Cooling

Before chilling the processor with liquid nitrogen, the majority of the teams did preliminary tests on the components with standard air cooling—this is a way of checking to see that the processor, motherboard, and graphics card are not defective. It was a good thing that they did this, too. The Americans, for example, realized that the heatsink on their northbridge was improperly installed.

The Taiwanese decided to go for qualifying scores quickly, and decided to water-cool the graphics card the first day. They also chilled the water with liquid nitrogen, using salt (a request that surprised us a little) to keep the water liquid at sub-freezing temperatures (avoiding the formation of ice in the circuit).

Water coolingWater cooling

Varnish

In addition to the stability tests, another important task is taken care of the first day: preparing the equipment. Liquid-nitrogen cooling has inherent risks and obviously the hardware needs to be insulated—computer components don’t really deal with condensation well. Each team had their little tricks in this department, such as erasers for the Germans, unpleasant-smelling varnish for the French, Vaseline for the Americans, and so forth.

End-Of-Day results

At the end of the day, the Taiwanese managed to run the majority of the 3D tests, whereas the other teams had run only the CPU tests. Among the little problems that befell contestants: one of the German team's results had to be canceled because they’d used the supplied graphics card for installing Vista instead of the GeForce GTX 280 to be used in the tests. The first card was only there so that the OS could be installed without using the main graphics card, enabling it to be prepared for the benches.

Benchmarks
USA
Taiwan
Germany
France
Italy
SuperPi 1.5 1M (s)
8.266
8.157
8.125
7.987
7.985
SuperPi 1.5 32M (min:s)
8 min 03.016s
7 min 52.516s
7 min 40.953s
7 min 24.990s
7 min 40.984s
WPrime 1.55 32 M (s)
5.188
5.422
5.219
5.756
5.297
WPrime 1.55 1024 M(s)

170.375
165.872
186.982
165.11
PiFast 4.1(s)
17.98
17.86
17.44
17.29
17.36
AquaMark 2003 (Points)
249808
227628

238929
233043
3DMark 01 (Points)
70552
70669


71004
3DMark 03 (Points)

67335


6295
3DMark 05 (Points)
33704
34991


33171
3DMark 06 (Points)

25483


22394
Score Total (Points)
320
490
210
350
630
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