Software, Benchmarks and Scoring
The software question was a hard one to answer. Although Windows XP is the de-facto standard for overclocking systems, we could not get Microsoft to support us with licenses for this event. The reason is obvious: Though Windows XP will still be supported for several years, Microsoft does not want to promote it any longer. Hence the operating system choice had to be Windows Vista Ultimate. After a lot of back and forth (and some surprise discoveries that the 64-bit edition was faster in many overclocked benchmarks) we went with the more tried and true x32 environment.
We decided to put emphasis both on CPU overclocking as well as on graphics processor overclocking. All devices may be cooled by any means considered necessary, and we expect the teams to utilize our liquid nitrogen for both components.
There are three individual benchmarks, which we run at various settings:
- SuperPI 1.5 1M
- SuperPI 1.5 32M
- PiFast 4.1
- wPrime 1.55 32M
- wPrime 1.55 1024M
- Aquamark V3
- 3DMark01 SE V.330
- 3DMark03 V3.6
- 3DMark05 V1.3
- 3Dmark06 V1.1
All of the graphics tests were expected to be run at their default settings, though the contestants were allowed to pick whichever driver settings they wanted in order to achieve the best possible numbers.
The team reaching the best benchmark results in each test wins. For instance, reaching the best result in 3DMark06 will result in a score of 100 points. The second place receives 60 points, others receive a smaller amount.
Should two teams reach the same score in a particular benchmark, then they will both receive the higher score (e.g. 100 points for 1st place, leaving the benchmark without a 2nd place).
We also decided to introduce a 5% score penalty should a team fry one of the components. There will be sufficient spare parts, but we cannot provide multiple spares.
Surprisingly, we didn’t lose any hardware in the US trial—likely a result of not being able to push voltages high enough on either the P45 motherboards or the GeForce GTX 280 graphics cards. We’re expecting the finals to heat up considerably—pardon the pun—with access to more aggressive settings.
We decided to allow tweaks on Windows Vista, the drivers and system components to maximize performance. However, it is not allowed to apply and modification to the benchmarks.
And so, with fully configured hard drives and copper pots ready for liquid nitrogen, all of our contestants prepare to do battle for the chance to duke it out in France. Stay tuned for a more in-depth breakdown of how the first event here in the States transpired.