bit-tech & Custom PC win charity overclocking gig

Written by Tim Smalley

April 24, 2009 | 12:13

Tags: #charity #event #overclocking

Companies: #amd #bit-tech

To celebrate the launch of the new Phenom II X4 955 processor, AMD and XFX last night held a charity overclocking event for the technology press.

Turnout wasn't bad - bit-tech and Custom PC sent down three members of the editorial team and created two teams from that, while Tech Radar, TrustedReviews and The Inquirer also sent teams of varying sizes. A couple of additional machines were available, so some of AMD's partners pulled together teams on the night as well.

Teams were given 45 minutes to overclock their systems and record scores in two categories. The first was a race to record the highest CPU frequency in a CPU-Z screenshot and the second was to post the highest 3DMark05 score.

Because of the limited time, we decided to split our efforts and compete in different categories. The bit-tech team, which was made up of yours truly, focused on achieving the highest CPU frequency while the Custom PC team, starring Reviews Editor Clive Webster, focused on 3DMark05. Richard Swinburne, bit-tech's Technical Editor, played a supporting role across both teams - he offered advice and tweaks in order to get the most out of each of our two systems.

After the 45 minute period was over, where we'd almost completely dismantled our two microATX systems to improve airflow, we emerged victorious in both categories. In the CPU-Z race, all of the teams managed to screenshot 4.0GHz on their Phenom II X4 955 processors with three hitting the 4.1GHz mark. After spending much time trawling the BIOS to iron out some of Phenom II's overclocking quirks, we managed to grab a screenshot at 4,211MHz.

Rather than just go down the multiplier route, we decided that increasing the HTT clock by just enough to push us over 4.2GHz would be sufficient to give us the win, just in case someone else had a CPU that could reach those speeds on the multiplier outright. We couldn't get to that speed on multiplier alone and had to lower the clock frequency after pressing Print Screen in order to paste the clipboard into MS Paint to save the screenshot.

In the 3DMark05 race, we quickly found that we'd got a pretty good Radeon HD 4890, as we managed to reach speeds of 990MHz on the core and 1,175MHz (4,700MHz effective) on the memory with the card's fan blasting away at 100 percent. Without touching the CPU and focusing on a few OS tweaks and driver-level adjustments to improve performance, we managed to post a score of 24,684. We struggled to find a stable core speed before time ran out because we were frankly a little over-optimistic given the fairly rudimentary low-cost liquid cooling on the CPU, but our impressive GPU overclock proved to be enough to give us the edge.

AMD was keen to try something a little different to celebrate the launch of its latest processor and so it said it would donate £500 to a charity of the winner's choice in each category. In addition to this, XFX said on the evening that it would match AMD's donation, meaning a total of £2,000 was donated to charity.

Last year, my wife lost an 18-month battle with cancer and she spent the final days of her life at the Phyllis Tuckwell Hospice in Farnham, Surrey. The care that my wife, and all of those affected by her illness, received during her time there was nothing short of amazing and it was a natural choice for the bit-tech donation.

Custom PC's Clive Webster chose another hospice - the Myton Hamlet Hospice in Warwick - as a close family friend who also lost their fight against cancer spent their final days there. Clive described the support and service at Myton Hamlet as "amazing - it really helped us say goodbye in the best possible way." It sounds like a very similar experience to my own and it's another incredibly worthwhile cause.

A big thanks must go out to AMD and XFX for holding the event and donating a sizeable amount to two very good charities on our behalf. We have some plans for further fundraising for both of these charities later this year and we'll be sure to update you as and when that happens.

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