Asus Open Overclocking Cup 2014 Final - The Summary
This past weekend saw the Moscow Cyber Stadium
play host to the Asus Open Overclocking Cup 2014 final
, which saw eight teams of two battle it out over nine hours in four different benchmarks in their attempts to grab the top prize of $5,000, with $3,000 and $2,000 also available for second and third place respectively.
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Ten European countries were represented overall. The UK's sole finalist was none other than 8Pack
, who is currently the world's number one overclocker on HWBot
. He was joined by der8auer
from Germany, who is seventh in the world and first in his home country. These rankings made them favourites to win, but it's fair to say not everything went to plan...
Click to enlarge - Did somebody order some LN2?
It didn't take long for everyone to notice that the venue had some serious issues with static electricity – not ideal when you're working with a few thousand pounds worth of hardware. However, this aside, the Moscow Cyber Stadium is a really awesome place – we certainly recommend dropping by for a gaming session or two if you're ever nearby. With the hardware ready and hundreds of litres of LN2 (liquid nitrogen) on hand, it was time to get down to business.
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First up: the hardware draw. Each team was supplied with two each of the following: Intel Core i7-5960X
Haswell-E CPU, Asus Rampage V Extreme
motherboard, 4x 4GB kit of Corsair Vengeance LPX DDR4 2,800MHz RAM, Asus Strix GeForce GTX 980
graphics card, Corsair Force LS 240GB SSD and Corsair AX1200i PSU
. The hardware was drawn randomly by the contestants to ensure fairness when taking into account variations in performance.
Click to enlarge - Yep, those two trays of CPUs are worth over £12,000
With the hardware selected the nine hour countdown began and it was onto preparation. This is a crucial stage, and takes a good few hours. Components need to be thoroughly insulated to protect them against the sub-zero conditions LN2 subjects them to, graphics cards will have volt mods soldered to them to grant users better voltage control, and finalists will also want to get a rough idea of which of their components is likely to perform best – the benchmarks are only ran using one CPU and one GPU. For the CPU, for example, this might involve some basic tests like how low a VID voltage is needed to successfully boot and how low a core voltage you can use to keep it stable at a certain frequency e.g. 4.5GHz (the lower the better for both).
Click to enlarge - Drinks and snacks are every bit as important as insulation and volt mods when preparing for a 9-hour benchathon
After prep time, users were able to start submitting scores. The four benchmarks being used were Cinebench R15, 3DMark 11, 3DMark Fire Strike and 3DMark Fire Strike Extreme, so the emphasis was definitely on graphics overclocking. Users could submit scores for any benchmark at any time, but there were separate deadlines for each of them – Cinebench was the first deadline with Fire Strike Extreme's deadline the one that ended the competition.
Click to enlarge - Sometimes one heat gun just ins't enough
Things got off to a bad start when it was realised that the Windows 7 SSDs were having issues booting. As such, it was written off – all scores would need to be done on Windows 8 only, and everyone was given an extra hour for Cinebench. This helped 8Pack and der8auer massively – with less than an hour left they were in last place, but during this additional hour they managed to push their CPU further and further, eventually landing a first place score of 2,188 points (at 5.5GHz) with less than 30 minutes remaining until the deadline.
Click to enlarge - Giorgioprimo & Extreme-Addict (left), Wizerty & TerraRaptor (right)
It was looking good for the UK-German dream team, but then things took a turn for the worse. You can read about their experience in our in-depth interview
, but essentially one of their graphics cards refused to boot, and they lost a lot of time attempting to resolve the issue. This cost them dearly in 3DMark 11, where the placed only seventh. Xtreme-Addict
(from Poland) and Giorgioprimo
(Italy) looked set to conquer this benchmark, until Wizerty
(France) and TerraRaptor
(Kazakhstan) snatched it from them with a last minute submission.
Click to enlarge - Smoke & _12_ (left), BenchBros & Dancop (right)
The home team then scored a victory in the third round, Fire Strike, with Russian duo Smoke
claiming the top spot. 8Pack and der8auer, still having issues and behind on time, only managed sixth. With Xtreme Addict / Giorgioprimo, Wizerty / Terraraptor and Dancop
(a German duo that had come third in all three benchmarks so far) all tied and leading on 73 points at the end of this third round, it would have taken a miracle for the favourites, who were only on 63, to reach first place, and it simply wasn't to be.
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With such a close tie, it was all to play for in Fire Strike Extreme. Once again, Xtreme Addict and Giorgioprimo were at leading, but they dropped into second place after a particularly strong submission from Dancop and Benchbros. This remained unbeaten, leaving them as the champions. In second place was Xtreme Addict's team, with Wizerty's team claiming third.
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Head over the page to see our interviews with the winning team to find out what went right, and with 8Pack and der8auer, to find out what didn't go right.