Hicookie Interview: Current State of Overclocking
Steve: What is your home computer?
Hicookie: My baby, Z97X-SOC Force LN2 and 4770K.
Steve: That motherboard doesn't even have CPU cooler mounting holes, so how does that work?
Hicookie: Heatsink just sits on the motherboard on the bench, I don't touch it. The Z97X-SOC Force LN2 is my baby, my favorite board I worked on.
Steve: People say that overclocking is easier than it once was because of how Intel has embraced overclocking in general, is that true on the manufacturer side of things?
Hicookie: I think Intel is trying to make the newest generation easier, but the problems that you think are easier require more work on the software side. With P67 chipset, Intel changed the way the CPU can overclock. Before it was directly through BIOS but now there is OC mailbox. So we also use digital PWM, we have to put more effort on the software side, and as things become more digital more effort is required for overclocking features, making everything tougher. So it will get more challenging in the future. You think things are more simple, the new platforms require more and more effort on the manufacturer side.
Steve: So what is OC mailbox?
Hicookie: OC Mailbox has many functions, it is a group of settings and monitoring used for overclocking. Before OC mailbox, all settings were changed through BIOS, but now you can do it through OC mailbox outside of the BIOS.
Steve: So is that how the buttons work on the motherboard?
Steve: What do you think about the overclocking premium that most users pay these days?
Hicookie: I feel odd about this decision because it goes against the beginnings of overclocking. People used to buy cheap CPUs and overclock, but now must buy the good hardware. So, it might hurt PC-DIY, people could buy cheaper systems and overclock, but now they cannot do it. For me, I went from Pentium 2 and then I went to Celeron, AMD-K7, others. Imagine if I had to pay a premium, I might not be here today; I might not have been able to buy more high-end CPUs.
Hicookie Interview: On the Job
Steve: What is your favorite part of your job?
Hicookie: Designing motherboards and dealing with overclockers and of course, overclocking.
Steve: What is your least favorite part of your job?
Hicookie: Paper work [laughs].
Steve: So on average how many CPUs do you have access to for binning?
Hicookie: Maybe 100-200 pieces depending on CPU, not many. Many times [we] don't even find the best.
Steve: How do you start your day?
Hicookie: On [a] normal day we check scores on HWBot and talk to people in the overclocking circles to find out who has what so [we] know what to do. This helps set up [the] rest of the day.
Steve: Are you always overclocking with LN2? What are some other major parts of your job?
Hicookie: We usually always OC with LN2. But, we also check XMP memory compatibility on air. One major part of my job is to check XMP support for memory overclocking, on Z97 we had the highest XMP support at 3.6GHz. I also work with other teams to make products overclock better.
Steve: So do you directly deal with engineers?
Hicookie:Yes, I talk to hardware, software, and BIOS engineers. My job is to cooperate with engineers to come out with new generation of motherboards. So, OC motherboards and GTL we all work with engineers directly to make this happen.
Steve: What are the top features you have come up with and GIGABYTE has implemented?
Hicookie:OC Brace, OC Ignition, and OC Connector. OC Connector is the simple USB ports on the bench side of the motherboard, and even the engineers love these three features. Overclockers also seem to love these features.
Steve: So how do the OC circles work at your level, are you all friends who work at different manufacturers? Do you have one good overclocker friend who works for a competitor?
Hicookie: We are all friends but we all compete. Maybe Elmor [laugh].
Steve: At GIGABYTE you also work with Sofos, what is his job? Does he do the same thing you do?
Hicookie:He focuses on the very extreme overclocking.
Steve: Do you have input on the BIOS?
Hicookie: Yea! The current BIOS layout [classic advanced mode] is from me; I liked this layout the most.
Steve: What about software?
Hicookie: For software it's really GTL.
Steve: Do you ever get tired of overclocking or overwhelmed?
Hicookie: No, I don't because hardware is always changing, I work on new challenges always.
Hicookie Interview: The Future of Overclocking
Steve: So what do you recommend to first timers?
Hicookie: Go online to forums and read articles. Just read a guide and go step-by-step, maybe look at YouTube. Once you read a lot of them, you will start to understand.
Steve: Do you think overclocking is a sport?
Steve: What do you think of HWBot?
Hicookie: It's a very good website, like billboard, so people can see the records and do the study and check out what they do. It is hard for people to start because the money it takes to invest for higher points is too high.
Steve: Do you think there are more extreme overclockers than five years ago?
Hicookie: I think maybe the same. Maybe more mainstream overclockers have replaced the more extreme overclockers. Now people also do not want to talk to each other. No one wants to tell their tweaks, and even they hide scores. There is much more limited sharing of knowledge, and I think it turns people away. Also, hardware binning is also a problem. People do not even want to share the voltage for the CPU, which is crazy, and it does not help the community. Since we stopped GOOC, many overclocking competitions have also slowed.
Steve: What are your future predictions for overclocking in five years?
Hicookie:I think now more people use water cooling for their system, it [because of Intel's removal of stock HSF] pushes people to buy better cooling. The cooling is strong, so why not OC even a little? I think more people overclocking is going up in mainstream. I wish that in the extreme, more guys would come up, but it might just stay the same.
Steve: How long do you think overclocking will last?
Hicookie:Very long time, maybe forever. Look now at VR, the quality is very crap, everyone will want 4K, and then 8K, and then 12K, and you will need to overclock. People will always want more detail, and they will want to zoom in more and more.
Steve: Don't you think VR is more GPU bound?
Hicookie: Well it isn't all GPU, and you can OC GPUs too. The CPU will need to keep up with the GPU and not hold it back.
Steve: Anything you want to add to the interview?
Hicookie:Yes, if you are a new guy doing PC-DIY, you can buy the previous generation. It is much cheaper since the new generation is so expensive. Overclocking is a lot of fun, so buying the previous generation will let you have more fun without worrying about spending too much. Overclocking lets you know your system, it is not just boot up and install OS, you can actually tweak the hardware and even tweak OS. Once you make [an] achievement, then you feel good, and you will have more fun and maybe then buy the new generation. When you get into the PC-DIY, you will become much more interested in computer hardware, and you can really enjoy it.
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