The furthest I have ever attempted to push my PC in terms of overclocking has to the simple bios tweaks that let me increase my voltage and boost my CPU with perhaps 0.3GHz extra. I had no idea what went into overclocking, and how the process is even started, until this past week. On Friday I went out to Benoni, Johannesburg to attend an Asus-sponsored overclocking masterclass with South Africa's biggest overclocker, and legend, Dr.Weez. He takes overclocking very seriously and travels the world to attend competitions to try and set world records in the, shall we say “sport”?
Dr.Weez's knowledge on Overclocking admirable, and I immediately gained respect for his hobby, as well as the amount of work that goes into the practice. We were all kitted out with all the tools we needed for a successful overclocking experience. As it was an Asus event, our motherboard was the brand new Apex Maximus IX. This motherboard holds the current world record for overclocking a Core-i7 7700K at 7.38GHz. Yes, it is powerful, and also darn sexy with LED lights and a gorgeous design that breaks the norm. It is one of the first motherboards to move away from being completely square and instead has sharp edges on the board.
There were various steps to prepping the board to make sure that we never damaged the ports and circuits. First, we used clear nail polish to coat the circuits and prevent at sort of voltage issues. After we sealed the ports with tape, we then used Vaseline and a paintbrush to coat the entire board both back and front. After the board had a good coat of the stuff, some of us used hairdryers, while I used a heat gun to heat up the Vaseline and help it spread across the board. You see, if you melt it, there is a better chance of it getting into those tiny little holes and under the transistors, which you could miss with a thick-bristled paintbrush.
Overclocking is not for the faint-hearted, and we had to take every precaution to make sure we did not damage the expensive Apex Maximus IX board. This meant sealing off the ports, and even piling imported scotch roll around the CPU pot, just in case the condensation causes drops which may land on the board. We then used a special tool to snap open up the CPU, which was quite the experience, I never thought in my life I would ever be breaking open a CPU to put more thermal paste on it, and this tool made it possible.
Once the pot was on and everything was ready to go, we plugged in the graphics card, some RAM, and switched it on. Overclockers have a wide range of programs to use while doing the process. We used CPUZ,
It is all a constant rush. Pushing the voltage up, increasing threads, and all making sure that your CPU does not get too cold, or too hot during the process. Keeping it at the perfect temperature would result in better performance, while some of us had issues if it was too cold. If this was the case, we would use a blow torch to send heat into the CPU. I used tools and materials I was always too scared to handle, but when you are trying to reach that 5GHz and up, then you got to just put your fears aside and make the best of the situation.
My motherboard and CPU failed after a while, and this is one of the risks with overclocking. It can either be a successful run or just flop terribly. I gave up after a while, but I was able to hit 5.5GHz. Sam from Tech Girl was killing it as she managed to get her performance to 6.5GHz, which in Dr.Weez's eyes was outstanding. In the end, after you reach your cap, you then heat up your CPU again with the blow torch, bringing it down from -170 degrees, to 10 degrees. I then unscrewed all my things and took my PC apart again.
In the end, I experienced something new, and probably something that I would never have done in my life before. It was an experience I will never forget, and if you ever have the opportunity to try it out, I highly suggest you do it. Again, a huge thank you to ASUS South Africa and Dr.Weez for the wonderful experience and opportunity. Take a look at a video of the event, and watch as I forget about health hazards and naturally pour liquid nitrogen into my CPU pot. No big deal.