Epic.... That's a word I'll be using a lot over the next week.
In a day's time from having finished writing this article, I'm off to Japan to help tackle 3D Mark Vantage with fellow bencher Matt, aka rdash, and it will be EPIC!
But for now it's all about the preparation. Matt is concentrating on the motherboard and CPUs. Yes, you read that right, CPUs. You see, this rig is going to utilize the twin socket EVGA SR-2 with two Intel X5680s and four GTX 480 video cards. If it wasn't enough that it already accounts for six liquid nitrogen containers, there will be one more on the chipset. That is seven containers on one rig, making "Epic" the appropriate word of the week.
For my part, I'll be concentrating on the video cards, which means flashing the BIOS to prevent the cold slow down issue that the standard BIOS has. In short, it's when the temperature drops below -50 or there abouts, on the standard BIOS the card drops to 2D clock speeds regardless of what you are doing, resulting in a massive drop in frame rates if you're in the middle of a benchmark.
Other forms of preparation include insulating and adding hard mods as required, such as the cold boot bug short, vGPU and memory mods as well as adding extra capacitors. And finally testing the cards individually to find the maximum frequency, voltage and temperature each card prefers.
In this article we'll take a closer look at my side of the preparation and how I go about it, then in approximately a week from now we'll have a follow up article detailing how it all went down. My video camera will be coming along for the ride, so you can get up close and personal with one of the most powerful personal computers around.
On a side note and a much talked about subject in the world of competitive benching, all of the components for this little get together, ie. motherboard, CPUs, graphics cards, memory, power supplies and even the 300 litres of liquid nitrogen are all retail products purchased by Matt. The only items that will not be his are four of the pots that I am bringing along.
We have also prepared a video demonstration on how to insulate and modify the graphics cards for sub-zero benching which you can see at the beginning of this page.