IntroductionAll of you most certainly know the company ASUS, one of the leading companies when it comes to PC hardware. The company held the 2013 edition of the ASUS Open Overclocking Cup (AOOC), which debuted in 2012. The event brought some of the best overclockers from Europe, Russia, Ukraine, and Kazakhstan together into 13 teams—all under one roof in Moscow. AOOC was held on the sidelines of the Igromir 2013 Gaming Exhibition, Russia's biggest expo to showcase the gaming industry and general gaming culture.
Each participating team not only has the honors, but will also be awarded two ASUS Maximus VI Extreme mainboards and two ASUS GTX 780 DirectCU II graphics cards. The top 3 teams will compete for a total of $6000 (1st: $3000, 2nd: $2000, 3rd: $1000) and will also be awarded an Intel Core i7-4770K and Corsair Vengeance Pro 2800 MHz memory kit.
Riding on the success of the 2012 event, AOOC 2013 is bigger and better in scale. The 13 participating teams made the cut out of a pile of contestants who participated in qualifiers earlier this year in April, which essentially making this event the Finals.
ASUS kindly invited me to report on the event, and I welcomed this opportunity to see the best of the overclocking scene in action, and for a chance to visit Moscow, experiencing its unique and vibrant life.
ASUS held the final stage of AOOC at the Igromir Gaming Exhibition, which is the biggest gaming-related event in the whole region—it's not unlike E3 or GamesCom.
The event was hosted by Vlad of ASUS Russia, who many of you will know as "slamms." He is without doubt one of the best overclockers in the world. His extensive experience with overclocking provided him with the required insight to organize a flawless event, with fair rules that cater to everyone. For example, the scoring setup allows teams to make up for a bad CPU by focusing on 3D benchmarks, and the other way around. Time was also limited—quite limited. People could then show that they can also work under pressure and in public, with avid visitors of the show peeking over their shoulders and taking pictures.
First up, the teams were randomly selected, and their seating locations were chosen.
At the same time, the teams got to pick two CPUs from a big tray, to fairly distribute the processors which had been previously tested to be as similar as possible. You can also see SF3D in these photos. He was flown in as an independent judge to oversee the competition, ensuring no rules were violated.
Each team was provided with two sets of hardware. One set was shipped to them weeks ahead of the finals, which allowed them to test and prepare the hardware with insulation (against condensation resulting from sub-zero cooling) and voltmods, for example. The second set was provided on-site and served as a backup in case of issues. Still, you had to be careful not to break parts because switching to a backup would have meant spending an enormous amount of time modding and insulating the backups all over again, which is bad given the limited time. It still provides a fallback option to at least get some points instead of ending up with a big fat 0 in some of the tests.
The two slides above describe the rules and list of benchmarks for AOOC. As you can see, the selection is diverse enough to give everyone a chance. Points vary by benchmark, and your position relative to other competitors. For example, being first in CPU-Z (CPU frequency) gives you the highest number of points for that test (25 points), and second place yields 23 points, and so on. The lowest performer gets 1 point. Likewise, the competitor with the quickest SuperPi run gets 35 points, while the slowest competitor gets 6 points. With 13 competitors, there are 13 grades of points for each test.
Once every team had their seats and hardware, a hectic setup phase began. First, with the unpacking of all the stuff that had been packed up for transport, making sure everything was isolated tightly and the given CPU installed. Some participants even stripped their memory modules down to the bare PCBs.
Some participants chose to leave the CPU VRM heatsinks untouched while others ripped them apart, creating more workroom around the CPU socket area. They were probably counting on the cooling effect a topped up LN2 pot has on its surrounding area.
Some participants even stripped their memory modules down to the bare PCBs.
Here, some of the participants are seen unpacking their exotic cooling devices (I wonder how these got through Russian customs).
Participants took extra care to polish their GPUs, making sure not to damage the carefully tuned insulation on the graphics card. See what I mean about doing something like that all over again using backup hardware?
In these pictures, we find participants doing all the little things they innovated over the years for that perfect setup.
Gentlemen, Start your Engines
Once the first rigs were ready, the run on the big LN2 containers began. Participants could stockpile LN2 in their thermos bottles for a nice supply while their rigs were up and running.
At the same time, the other teammate usually started installing software and drivers, and tweaking the BIOS to get the first results in.
Secret tweaks being applied.
Soon after, the serious benching started, with liquid nitrogen vapors all over the place covering the bench tables. Talk about "changing the atmosphere."
Entertaining the Visitors
While the competition was running, ASUS also had a show stage where they gave away prizes to visitors.
"slamms" also performed some LN2 tricks with brave visitors and to the amusement of the crowd (do not try this at home, really!)
Final Results and Winners
With just one second left on the clock, it looked like Team Europe and France were unbeatable, each having 83 points. As clear #3, Team Germany had established itself. But there was a bit more time left, and each team was allowed to finish their last runs and submit those scores. In this final phase, I've seen people repeatedly smash F5 on their laptop to stay up-to-date with the live rankings, or curse the Internet connection of their mobile phones.
In the end, Team Ukraine won with a two point advantage due to delivering consistently high results in all 2D and 3D tests.
You can watch interviews with the three top teams by our friends at Overclocking-TV.com:
- #1: Team Ukraine. T0lsty & cyclone
- #2: Team Europe. Perica_barii & Xtreme Addict
- #3: Team France. StrategosSan & Wizerty
Aftershow and ConclusionAfter the competition, we all went out for a big Russian dinner and drinks, where people shared their experiences, discussed benchmarking tips, and generally had a good time. As happens on most of these events, some enjoyed the local beverages too much and entertained the rest of us and the hotel staff with their behavior. One of the participants also suffered some minor injuries: Beer bottles in hand + running + stairs = hospital. Maybe he got to see a hot Russian nurse for the stitches, which could suddenly make it all worthwhile.
The next day, we took a long city tour to see Moscow (my personal city pics can be found here).
Concluding, I have to say that I had loads of fun in Moscow, enjoyed ASUS's flawlessly executed event, and I'm looking forward to AOOC 2014. I'd also like to thank ASUS for the invitation to their event and Moscow. The fun didn't end there. I got to go around the Gaming Exhibition and took pictures of the hardware girls there. Check them out!