MSI European Overclocking Challenge 2008 Coverage Page: 1
A few weeks ago you may remember that OC3D presented its lucky members the chance to win not only some top notch hardware, but the opportunity to travel out to and compete in the MSI European Overcocking challenge in Amsterdam. Out of the entries two winners were chosen: Richard aka Barron_greenback and Martin aka Bustamove.

As a result, on the 22nd of August they departed from their nearest airport, armed with their tools and knowledge, to go head-to-head with the other top European overclockers from a total of 20 other countries. I was lucky enough to accompany them to report on the event.

The Teams

MSI had worked along side numerous other sites such as OC3D, one from each European country, to pluck the best overclockers from the masses and gather them together for the event. The teams consisted of the overclockers themselve's and editors, who were there to cover the event. Below is a list of the countries involved and the members that made up their teams:
BelgiumJip, Pt1t, Massman
Croatia puh_bear, Vedran Dakic
Czech Republic Ing. Hudec, Hudec, Karel
Denmark [email protected], Carpe^Diem, Thomas Axel
Finland SF3D, Sampsa
France Marmott, Florian, Trouffman
Germany Masterchorch, Hundro, Daniel Waadt
Greece Hipro5, gprhellas, JC_Denton
Hungary Achill3uS, [email protected], Parci
The Netherlands Snot_Aap, Extera, Willem De Moor
Norway Aspstein, Det Dvergiske Kaffebord, Jørgen Nilsen
Poland Ryba, Chaos, Pit202
Portugal ojdr2001, [_silence_], N3RO, PPInDaHouse
Romania Monstru, Micutzu, Radu Bozga
Russia DeDal, S1D, Dronich
Serbia Vezmar, srbljak, Branko Maksimovic
Spain Predator, Fox, Rafael Garcia Ortega
SwedenElmor, Blossa
Turkey Hey, Tonsuner mc, Ozkan Erden
UK Bustamove, Barron_Greenback, Ham

The Hardware

The challenge was sponsored by numerous big names in the computing world. Providing the hardware was MSI, giving the users motherboards in the shape of the P45D3 Platinum and GPUs in the form of the MSI 9600GT.
 The Hardware

Intel gave the teams E8400s and OCZ loaned out a set of PCP&C 750w Sliencer's and OCZ Platinum 3P1600EB2GK DDR3 kits.
The Challenge

The objective of the weekend was to obtain the highest scores in 3 renowned benchmarking programs. Two were announced prior to the event and were SuperPi Mod 1.5 1M and the Cinebench xCPU test. The third was kept a secret until the morning that the overclocking began, and was announced as 3DMark05 graphical tests
Flip the page too see just how the weekend went....

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The Event

The weekend comprised of four days, from Friday the 22nd until Monday the 25th of August. The two days either side the weekend itself was set aside for travel and such and the Saturday and Sunday for the event to be conducted.

The majority of the attendees had arrived by 6pm Amsterdam time, and were then whisked off to the opening dinner, for which MSI had booked out an entire restaurant. Here they introduced the representatives, a few details were given and some ground rules were laid down (no 'coffee shops'). After dinner it was back to the hotel for a good nights sleep to prepare for the next days challenge.
Opening Speach

The next morning the group was ferried from the hotel to the old factory building that MSI had rented out to hold the event in. The Venue wasn't too far from the hotel, so everyone quickly gathered and waited to be let inside.
 Hotel Venu
Entering Ln2

Upon entering the venue, it was clear MSI had put a lot of effort into making it as an enjoyable atmosphere as anyone could have hoped. At the near end of the hall there were stands showing off MSI's and OCZs hardware, A few MSI notebooks were laid out ready to be fiddled with, as well as two demo stands showing off a tri-SLI 260 GTX and Crossfire 4870 setup's.
Notebook demos Tri-SLI

The middle of the hall housed the tables prepped with hardware for the overclockers to torture.
Tables1 Tables2

The far end of the hall housed the stage where the speeches were given and at the end the event the results were announced. Along with the bar area and raised above the floor was the DJ stand. After a few opening speeches from the Rep's, the teams set to work. They broke out the hardware that they had been prepping prior to the event and got to work. Lots of the teams set about volt-modding the motherboards and graphics cards that they had been given, and some got to work finding the limits of the chips on air while others jumped straight in and got to work insulating the boards ready for the liquid Nitrogen and dry ice.
Fitting a NB HS First Boots
Insulating the board More insulation
With in a few hours the LN2 was flowing and clocks were being ranked up. The day was spent tweaking and refining the settings to achieve the best possible clocks on the hardware available. 5pm came around far too quickly and the days clocking ended. Most of the teams achieving 5Ghz and higher on the E8400s which meant benching the next day was going to yield some impressive results.
Ln2 Pete Pouring Ln2
-98.8 Greeks at work
Norway posing
The evening of the Saturday was spent in downtown Amsterdam at a show. Rising on Sunday for the second day, everyone once again met in the hotel lobby and were shifted back to the venue. With a few hours left the teams pushed their hardware to the limits and started cranking out their benchmark results form the three programs that the challenge had been set around.
Portugal benching Serbians Benching

By 3pm the results were gathered in and the teams gathered at the stage end of the hall. The Grand Jury went around and collected the hard drives from each team's table, and took the results to be collated. Once all the drives had been collected, the contestants returned to the tables for the big tidy up.
Stop it &Tidy up Ooops

To finish the main event, there was a ceremony where each team was called up in the order that they had been ranked from 20 to 1. Each team made their way to the stage for a photo opportunity with the various Rep's and MSI staff.

After the winners had been crowned and the prizes awarded. MSI made the announcement that the top 3 teams were invited to the world event that they are planning for the future in Taiwan.

The weekend was finished with a dinner at the restaurant that had been booked for the first night. With closing speeches and the results from each team being read out. Then it was back to the hotel for the last nights kip, before being carried off to the airport and home again on the Monday.

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The UK Team
Barron and Busta's bid unfortunately didn't start too well. With a shortage of the hardware in the UK, they had only received a board 2 days before they were due to leave for the event, and that one was faulty. Still, with Barron's experience at I34 the weekend before, they proceeded with vigour when they received a board and GPU at the start of the event.
To start with they set up the hardware as it was supplied. With the OCZ vendetta cooling just to get a feel for the hardware. Testing the limits of the chip, the team managed to crank around 600FSB from the little E8400 with a 6 multiplier and air cooling alone.
Seting up Barron Tweeking
The next step was to install Busta's Dragon Evo 2.4 Dice/LN2 pot to the board. Starting out with insulating the board using liquid electrical tape, which I couldn't help think resembled tar somewhat. With the liquid tape dry, a layer of Armaflex was placed on the back of the board and a specially shaped one was placed around the CPU socket. All in an attempt to prevent the hardware meeting its maker via condensation caused by the extremely low temperatures the equipment was about to endure.
Liquid Tape Pot Installed
Once the socket was wrapped up warm and the pot installed it was time to start with the extreme cooling. This was my first experience with pot cooling, and I was quite surprised to find that even without either of the substances available to us inside, the chip still booted. But that was soon to change as the UK team got things started with a dry ice run before moving onto the LN2. This brought the temperature down to somewhere on the wrong side of far too low for the first few runs and achieved a bechable overclock of around 5Ghz. A few SuperPi 1M tests were run, pushing out scores of circa 9 seconds which was really quite admirable.
Adding Dice Boiling Dice
The Set Up
The next step was to attach the Mouse pot to the MSI 9600GT. This meant another lavish coating of liquid tape on both the top and bottom of the card. Then the pot simply bolted on like most other coolers. The initial concerns about the sheer weight of the pot snapping the card were relieved when the guys found that the pot in fact supported itself on the free PCI slots below the PCI-E the card was installed in. Somewhere along the line, however, no probe had been attached to the Mouse pot before it was attached to the card, and therefore measuring the temperature was impossible. Then, towards the end of day one there was a slight ice build up on the back of the card.
Drying the tape Twin pots
Faces of concentration Ooops.. again
Day two began with high hopes, with the hardware starting first time at previously saved settings. A few teams had to kick-start their setup's to get them to boot after sitting overnight. Again though, misfortune struck and something bit the dust. At first thinking it was the graphics card, the team brought in their replacement and tried to get the PC to post, but it was a no-go. The problem turned out to be the motherboard being stubborn. And so that, and the weak E8400 were replaced with only a few hours left to bench.
Attatching the probe Adding LN2
Attacking 3Dmark Switching boards
Luckily the new chip and board combo proved to be an  improvement on the old and the team wasted no time in pushing it to its upmost limit. The chip could not only bench at higher clock speeds but was also cold bugged at lower temperature. Meaning in short that there was less care needed when adding the LN2 to the pot.
Testing the new setup Streeessss
Remounting the card with the pot Barron and Busta then went on to attack 3Dmark05 with full force. benching in at around 5.2ghz on the CPU and 850mhz on the GPU core. Obtaining the result in 3Dmark that they got proved quite tricky once again due to a cold bug, however this time it was quite a bit higher than on the CPU at around -30. The GPU would be fine while under load with the probe reading less than -30, but as soon as the chip came off load. It would simply lock up the system, causing the hard earned score to be lost as the machine reset.
SuperPi Last 3Dmark run
Overall the UK team did very well however, just how well is revealed on the next page...

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After an exciting weekend of benching, it was finally time to announce the results and the crowd gathered at the area surrounding the stage to witness the Grand Jury's decision. The teams were called up, starting with number 20 and building up to the number one spot.
Greece took a well deserved first place - followed by the lads from Turkey, and then France. Below you can see the top three on the stage as they were called up during the final presentation to accept their plaques.
Greece #1 Turkey #2
France #3
And of course, the all important result, the UK team managed an extremely good 6th place overall. Considering the talent that was present at the event this was no mean feat, so congratulations go out to Martin and Rich for their outstanding performance.
UK #6
Here we see the scores table:
Overall the event was a massive success. All who took part seemed to enjoy themselves and everyone got along without a hitch. Although the spirit of competition was there, the community spirit was more prominent in the venue, with people helping each other out whether it being just a few pointers or lending each other equipment.
Hats off too the MSI team for putting on such a fantastic event and congratulations to all who took part to make this one memorable weekend.
For the official MSI European Overclocking Challenge site, click here
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