Is overclocking FINALLY dead?

blade52x

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Remember the days when you could get a 1ghz overclock out your CPU? Or how about those GeForce 7900 cards that overclocked from 400-500mhz stock to 700mhz? Today it seems like all hardware is released to its ceiling. For example with my brand new build.
  • Manual overclocking hinders ST performance on my 5800X, so I have to take a slight MT hit to have as high ST performance as possible which I can't even really manually tune. I can to an extent, but I don't have direct control over what my boost clocks reach. And Intel's offerings are also pretty much cranked to the max they will go.
  • I have to undervolt my RTX 3090 to achieve higher boost clocks otherwise it moves above its max power envelope and throttles. That's right because undervolting to overclock is the new cool thing to do! But hey if you have a FTW3 with a high power limit, you only need to consume an additional 30% power to get that extra 5% in performance.
In my opinion we are at the end of the road on silicon. Not only have the generational performance gaps been decreasing, but it's like there's some kind of ultimate performance ceiling we've been approaching since Sandy Bridge where each new hardware's stock settings are closer to that ceiling. And since each new release gets us closer to that ceiling that consequently lowers the overclocking headroom. I just built my dad a new PC with a 9700F, and that thing boosts to 4.8ghz under load. He knows nothing under the hood while I could be spending hours/days with a 9700K just to ensure it's stable at 5.1ghz. It made me wonder what's the point: we aren't even talking double digit percentage increases anymore.

I'm not really sure why I felt the need to make a thread on this, but at least we have RGB and hardline kits to keep the builds interesting?
 

SeymourGore

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Yar, not sure if manual oc will ever be completely dead - but definitely not as big as a factor anymore. New hardware seems to be released relatively close to their performance ceiling (some cases, those ceilings seem artificial).

Personally, I focus mostly on keeping my hardware cool and quiet; Any performance gains will be through whatever automatic boost is in place at lower temperatures.

With that said, overclocking has never been a big thing for me - even in my early days. I mostly enjoy the act of building itself than eking out every last ounce of performance.
 

travm

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Yar, not sure if manual oc will ever be completely dead - but definitely not as big as a factor anymore. New hardware seems to be released relatively close to their performance ceiling (some cases, those ceilings seem artificial).

Personally, I focus mostly on keeping my hardware cool and quiet; Any performance gains will be through whatever automatic boost is in place at lower temperatures.

With that said, overclocking has never been a big thing for me - even in my early days. I mostly enjoy the act of building itself than eking out every last ounce of performance.
Agreed completely. For me overclocking was more about saving $200 by buying cheaper hardware, you could tweak to nearly as fast as the more expensive option. They don't release hardware like that anymore.
I have an AMD Phenom B73 3 core OEM chip in my basement +500mhz and with an unlocked core. That chip cost me $65. Best CPU ever bought (right beside my Celly 300A at least)
 

AVATARAT

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Jun 16, 2020
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The OC is different now, especially with AMD.
But yeah, you can tuning a bit your system to gain some percent more.
About single and multi thread, I am not sure how many more years the single thread will be factor for something (like a speed).


And if you want a bit more OC for your system, you can always try to add a Peltier to your current cooling loop ;)
 

mtrupi

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I always get the unlocked parts just to learn about what the chips are capable of. For a reliable system it's always added comfort knowing it has some margin.
 

auntjemima

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Remember the days when you could get a 1ghz overclock out your CPU? Or how about those GeForce 7900 cards that overclocked from 400-500mhz stock to 700mhz? Today it seems like all hardware is released to its ceiling. For example with my brand new build.
  • Manual overclocking hinders ST performance on my 5800X, so I have to take a slight MT hit to have as high ST performance as possible which I can't even really manually tune. I can to an extent, but I don't have direct control over what my boost clocks reach. And Intel's offerings are also pretty much cranked to the max they will go.
  • I have to undervolt my RTX 3090 to achieve higher boost clocks otherwise it moves above its max power envelope and throttles. That's right because undervolting to overclock is the new cool thing to do! But hey if you have a FTW3 with a high power limit, you only need to consume an additional 30% power to get that extra 5% in performance.
In my opinion we are at the end of the road on silicon. Not only have the generational performance gaps been decreasing, but it's like there's some kind of ultimate performance ceiling we've been approaching since Sandy Bridge where each new hardware's stock settings are closer to that ceiling. And since each new release gets us closer to that ceiling that consequently lowers the overclocking headroom. I just built my dad a new PC with a 9700F, and that thing boosts to 4.8ghz under load. He knows nothing under the hood while I could be spending hours/days with a 9700K just to ensure it's stable at 5.1ghz. It made me wonder what's the point: we aren't even talking double digit percentage increases anymore.

I'm not really sure why I felt the need to make a thread on this, but at least we have RGB and hardline kits to keep the builds interesting?

I ran my 4690k 3.5ghz @4.4ghz for years and years. Currently running my 6600k 3.5ghz @ 4.2ghz. 900 and 700mhz aren't too shaby. These are under an AIO. Run cold, too. I could have probably went higher, but the change in performance wasn't worth it.
 

FrgMstr

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My son just got his first GPU under water this last week. My old 2080 Ti FE. He was asking me about overclocking it last night when I went to bed about 1am. Sent him down the path. He is still not awake yet. LOL.

We stuffed a whole lot of cooling in that small case. Not pretty but functional. We laid the reservoir sideways at a slight angle on top of the PSU after we got done with leak testing.

PXL_20201225_200614541.NIGHT.jpg
 

somebrains

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^ if you look to optimize components.

I think understanding when cpu & gpu boost tables apply to your workloads in effort to improve your enjoyment and productivity is a +.

No if the old school 300A/Duron "you're getting lots for nothing" ethic is what you're chasing.

Definitely no if blind spend %s exceed gains.

Maybe no depending on the whether HyperV or specific game builds can't operate reliably over 5.3ghz all core.

GPU if say yes all the time enhanced cooling is worth it.
 

LukeTbk

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I ran my 4690k 3.5ghz @4.4ghz for years and years. Currently running my 6600k 3.5ghz @ 4.2ghz. 900 and 700mhz aren't too shaby. These are under an AIO. Run cold, too. I could have probably went higher, but the change in performance wasn't worth it.
I think those older core i5/i7 is in line with what was referred has back in the days with had very relevant overclocking going on.

Now a good cpu system should be able to turbo close to is max (competition make it hard to pass on it if they can) and with how much product differentiation you can do with the number of physical core enabled/present there is less need to create artificial class of CPU by frequency being artificially low down the line with a difference that can be removed if they become unlocked.

If:
1) competition stay high
2) number of cores stay the major differiancing factor in a product line

With intelligent boosting technology getting better manual overclocking could be mostly of the past even if auto overclocking gets bigger than ever and continue to make it relevant (but probably not)

On the other side, ram overclocking now is bigger in impact of performance than in some previous era it feel like (where even going dual channel did not made obvious difference)
 
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vegeta535

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I think it is more that we are reaching the limits of silicon. Nods don't make as big as jumps as they use too. Making things smaller also introduces new difficulty.
 

Zarathustra[H]

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I too have find memories of high overclocks, including:

- My 25Mhz 486sx25 which didn't come with a heatsink at all, just a bare CPU. Simply adding a basic HSF allowed me to clock it to 50Mhz, my best percentage wise overclock to date.

- My 150Mhz pre-MMX Pentium, which would run 200Mhz all day long without breaking a sweat.

- My 650Mhz AMD Duron which would run stable at 950Mhz (I desperately wanted to hit a Ghz with this thing, but could never make it happen with stability)

- My 3.2Ghz (3.8Ghz Turbo) 6C/12T i7-3930k which ran rock stable at 4.8Ghz with high volts and good cooling for 8 years.

I don't think overclocking is dead. I do think it has become more niche than it did before.

the CPU makers are trying to compete with each other at the same time as process improvements are more and more challenging, which means they are increasingly working on way to hyper-optimize and get as much as possible out of the silicon, and are not satisified to leave lots of margin in the designs as they did in the past.

AMD is ahead of Intel on this right now, with such things as per core optimizations, but Intel isn't far behind.

On my Threadripper, for general use I am better off just letting the thing do its own boost clocking and not overclocking it.

If I were doing more rendering/encoding type of threader work than I am, overclocking would make a little more sense, as I could increase threaded performance, by forcing higher average clocks across the cores, but I'd lose out on the peak boost clocks of the best cores which can be important for general use and games.

I feel like overclocking isn't going away, but it is becoming less relevant for many of us.

That doesn't mean that fancy cooling systems and custom water loops need to go away though, especially if you care about noise levels, and want to maximize the amount of time your chip can spend in max boost mode...
 

exlink

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IMO it's not dead, but it's not as lucrative as it once was. Manufacturers seem to be trying to squeeze the most out of their products from the factory now-a-days. Most are clocked to levels right before the performance increase per watt begins to fall off a cliff.
 

acquacow

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My son just got his first GPU under water this last week. My old 2080 Ti FE. He was asking me about overclocking it last night when I went to bed about 1am. Sent him down the path. He is still not awake yet. LOL.

We stuffed a whole lot of cooling in that small case. Not pretty but functional. We laid the reservoir sideways at a slight angle on top of the PSU after we got done with leak testing.

View attachment 314225
That's a big case... this is a small case with the same amount of cooling =)
1609384190625.png
 

Zarathustra[H]

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My son just got his first GPU under water this last week. My old 2080 Ti FE. He was asking me about overclocking it last night when I went to bed about 1am. Sent him down the path. He is still not awake yet. LOL.

We stuffed a whole lot of cooling in that small case. Not pretty but functional. We laid the reservoir sideways at a slight angle on top of the PSU after we got done with leak testing.

View attachment 314225

Yeah, GPU's still make sense to overclock.

I guess I had assumed this was a CPU discussion. My bad.

If not for overclocking my Pascal Titan would never still be serviceable, though I am hoping to replace it with one of those unobtainable next gen GPU's, and when I do I will overclock it.

The CPU will likely stay stock though. Unless I get around to messing with PBO2, because on Threadrippers, traditional overclocking just results in less performance for the things I do where spiky single threaded peak performance tends to matter more than having all the pipes firing full bore at once.
 

ZeqOBpf6

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I thought with Nvidia you wind up hitting the power limit either way? I can't raise the limit on my msi 3070 either
 

freeagentt

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My 980 has run 126mhz over its stock clocks for years with no input from me.. and when I do clock it I can only get about 80MHz out of the core. My 3600XT overclocks itself better then I can.. but I am a total noob, sorta.
 

auntjemima

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My 1080 is overclocked at 200 core and 500 memory and has been for months. And that's when running the card at 100% usage DCing.
 

Ur_Mom

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For me, the gains aren't really that great. Even if I could go from 4.5 to 5.0+, what would I gain? I have no software that really would have a noticeable effect.

The hardware is still not as great to overclock (don't get the % that we used to), it's still fun to do just to see if you can and for personal bragging rights.... But, I'm not really seeing it for the software gains. No noticeable FPS differences, no loading time differences, etc.. Just benchmarks at most.

At this point, it's fun. That's about it for me.
 

learners permit

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Best ocing chip I ever got to play with was my wifes old E4400 2.0gHz core 2. On air 3.4 Ghz all day long with almost no extra power. I had a socket 754 Newark mobile 2.4Ghz chip in a NF4 infinity @ 3156Mhz 263Mhz samsung TCCD with all 4 slots filled was really fun too. That one cosistently pissed off all the guys with the $1000 FX cpu's. 😁
 
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There is some gains, though with every product now doing their own form of OC, it’s not as rewarding. Though looking at higher end CPUs, they already push the bounds. This isn’t 10y ago. If you have extra cooling you can squeeze a bit. Though unless encoding, your not gaining a ton on games.
 

Slade

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My video card is slightly overclocked and my ram is overclocked, so I guess its not 100% dead. CPU wise, so far manual clocking has lead to less performance overall.
 

LukeTbk

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I think that distinction is important, ideally the most cooling you put in if it automatically overclock instead of you having to manually do it the better and that would not mean overclocking is death at all, if the cpu/gpu/memory would automatically detect your PSU and cooling make it possible when you set your motherboard to extreme to all optimise, so be it.

But it would not feel like overclocking and be as much rewarding like in the past.
 

x509

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So I have an AMD 3900X, and I have not tried any overclocking yet. But from what I have read,
  • I can improve AMD's auto-overclocking by replacing the AMD Wraith cooler with a better one, maybe an AIO.
  • I can improve overall performance somewhat by boosting RAM to 3800, but not more than that.

I suppose I should appreciate this trend, because it means I get some benefits from overclocking without the hours of tweaking that used to be necessary.
 

blade52x

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So I have an AMD 3900X, and I have not tried any overclocking yet. But from what I have read,
  • I can improve AMD's auto-overclocking by replacing the AMD Wraith cooler with a better one, maybe an AIO.
  • I can improve overall performance somewhat by boosting RAM to 3800, but not more than that.

I suppose I should appreciate this trend, because it means I get some benefits from overclocking without the hours of tweaking that used to be necessary.
It's more involved than just boosting RAM to 3800. For example I run 3733mhz on my 5800X build, and I think at CL16 (relatively easy/relaxed timings for this kit) the latency was 67ns. I tightened all timings using DRAM Calculator as a guide, and ended up around 55ns at the same 3733mhz. That takes a little bit of trial and error!
 

Furious Nerd

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It's more involved than just boosting RAM to 3800. For example I run 3733mhz on my 5800X build, and I think at CL16 (relatively easy/relaxed timings for this kit) the latency was 67ns. I tightened all timings using DRAM Calculator as a guide, and ended up around 55ns at the same 3733mhz. That takes a little bit of trial and error!
Yeah definitely. Tightening RAM timings is where RAM OC is, and is really very time consuming. The error checking/stress testing, the blue screens and reboots, the BIOS resets, the having to adjust all them one at a time towards the end, etc. But it's rewarding, and it has the most effect on gaming probably when it comes to AMD systems now.

RAM OC with AMD is a balance and deciding between higher mhz on RAM and FCLK, vDRAM and vSOC, VDDP and VDDO voltages, or lower mhz but tigher timings (ie 16CAS vs 14CAS) and benching the benefits.

Your mind will be fried by the end once you've managed to tighten every single timing as far down as it will go and setling on a speed. It's pretty challenging and like that old logic/deducation game "Mastermind". You feel like a mad scientist too
 

noteworthy

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That's a big case... this is a small case with the same amount of cooling =)
Little bit of room left in my case as well. It was a tight fit even with two of the fans outside the case.
 

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aldamon

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Yeah, I mean my last four CPUs:

Q6600 2.4GHz to 3.4GHz
2500K 3.3GHz to 4.4GHz
5820K 3.3GHz to 4.5GHz
5600X? Eh.... Stock boost and PBO2 for a bit more multicore? 🤢

Don't get me started on the 3080...
 

FrgMstr

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I still have an 8600K that I delidded that runs 5 to 5.3GHz every day from 4.1 stock turbo. Have seen no reason to get anything else yet.
 

Volkswagen

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Free Performance left on the table if you dont OC- sometimes its just a couple of settings in BIOS and you are up and running.

Especially if you get premium components unlocked CPU's you invest in cooling etc.
 

daglesj

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Like a lot of things now it's the law of diminishing returns. If your system at stock gives you 150FPS why bother spending a load of time messing around, the power draw and extra heat stress to go to 155FPS?

Back in the day when you could push Quake from 25FPS to 35FPS with a dip switch and it made the difference between playable and unplayable are kind of long gone for most of us here.
 
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It's bittersweet but I see it as a plus. It means the consumer is getting almost everything they paid for, straight out of the box. In other industries and hobbies, when you have something that needs to be tweaked and adjusted after you buy it to perform optimally, it's considered to be a low-quality product. Through that lense "low overclock headroom" means "better product."

I don't get to feel smug about my OCs anymore but I can live with that. Probably helps that I never found overclocking itself to be that much fun.
 

phantommaggot

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"overclocking" for me was always about efficiency.
I've built a LOT of systems over the years. I always tune them for heat/speed/noise instead of raw speed. Undervolting is my favorite thing. But I also want to lock clocks.
Despite building a lot of new systems, my personal system is still a 4790k. I run it at 4.2Ghz on all cores at 1.075v, It runs great, stays cool, and will hopefully last forever since my daughter will inherit it soon.
When I pushed it for fun. I got ~4.4 ghz at 1.35v.. and a lot of heat.. so meh...

It is fun to blow systems out though. I remember my old Opteron 165 system, Took that bad boy from 1.8ghz to 2.6 and kept it there til 2009.
 

III_Slyflyer_III

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I feel I am going to be disappointed when i decide to finally switch platforms for my system. I have always overclocked and enjoyed it a ton over the many years of PC building and gaming. If it can be overclocked, I'll find a way, but it looks like new AMD chips can be a nightmare to configure and Intel is pretty much already maxed out.

I almost always overclock the video cards too, but that is easy (if you do not care about power usage when gaming). Max Volts, Max Power and see how high you can get the clocks then the memory before crashing/artifacting or temps get too high. :LOL: Still managed a +120core and +1000mem on my 3090, did gain a fair amount (~6%) in benchmarks and game tests.

Some memorable CPU overclocks tho... AthlonXP 2800+ from 2.0Ghz to 2.5Ghz | Q6600 from 2.4Ghz to 3.6Ghz (man this flew back in the day) | 5960x from 3.0Ghz to 4.625Ghz (Still rocking this today for gaming, she has been good to me!)
 

Dan_D

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My son just got his first GPU under water this last week. My old 2080 Ti FE. He was asking me about overclocking it last night when I went to bed about 1am. Sent him down the path. He is still not awake yet. LOL.

We stuffed a whole lot of cooling in that small case. Not pretty but functional. We laid the reservoir sideways at a slight angle on top of the PSU after we got done with leak testing.

View attachment 314225
1610053971295.png


You can still sometimes get something out of the Intel's if you can cool them well enough to get a higher all core overclock. On AMD's, we haven't been able to get an overclock that did much of anything in single threaded / lightly threaded workloads for quite some time. You can gain something on some Ryzen's for multi-threaded applications with all core overclocking, but it comes with a pretty big hit to things like gaming.
 

dook43

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I feel I am going to be disappointed when i decide to finally switch platforms for my system. I have always overclocked and enjoyed it a ton over the many years of PC building and gaming. If it can be overclocked, I'll find a way, but it looks like new AMD chips can be a nightmare to configure and Intel is pretty much already maxed out.

I almost always overclock the video cards too, but that is easy (if you do not care about power usage when gaming). Max Volts, Max Power and see how high you can get the clocks then the memory before crashing/artifacting or temps get too high. :LOL: Still managed a +120core and +1000mem on my 3090, did gain a fair amount (~6%) in benchmarks and game tests.

Some memorable CPU overclocks tho... AthlonXP 2800+ from 2.0Ghz to 2.5Ghz | Q6600 from 2.4Ghz to 3.6Ghz (man this flew back in the day) | 5960x from 3.0Ghz to 4.625Ghz (Still rocking this today for gaming, she has been good to me!)

I was a proud owner of a pair of Socket 370 Celeron 300A -> 450 on the venerable BP6.... which I couldn't use at all due to no USB /sound drivers in NT4. I mostly ran Windows 98 for games.

My / Cecil's i7 920 / R2E is still going strong at 2.66-> 4.00 GHZ in a friend's computer. Probably the longest lasting combo I'm aware of and still going after 12 years.
Subsequent chips I've owned could never sniff a 50% overclock.
 

Porter_

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Yeah I agree. I’m putting together a new system and I don’t plan on overclocking at all. I’m far from my glory days of Q6600, 2500K, 8800GT, GTX460, 980Ti etc.
 

x509

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Yeah I agree. I’m putting together a new system and I don’t plan on overclocking at all. I’m far from my glory days of Q6600, 2500K, 8800GT, GTX460, 980Ti etc.
I'm rocking an AMD 3900X in an ASUS Strix-E board. After reading a lot of threads I have decided that I'm going to get an AIO cooler for the CPU, but I'm not going to try to overclock it. I will tweak my RAM settings.

Agree that the glory days of oc'ing CPUs is behind us. In a way, that's not so bad. Back in the day you had to set IRQs and such for hardware. Now we have USB, much better.
 
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