Though overclocking community is far from dead, it would seem that it has dropped from its mainstream status of a couple years ago. Checking the Hardcoreware Forums, we see that the overclocking section only has a total of four threads in the past two months. Now admittedly there are still communities such as Exteme Overclocking which are as active as ever. It would seem though that overclocking has once again dropped from mainstream back to cult status. So why is this?
There are basically two reasons for someone to overclock their computer hardware. The first is the geek factor, and the second is for monetary reasons.
The geek factor is basically overclocking just for the sake of saying that you did or that you can. It’s the same reason that auto buffs tweak their engines to get the maximum amount of horsepower and torque. In day to day life you’ll never have need for so much power, but it’s great when you want to brag about your latest dyno results, or in the case of overclockers, superPi.
The monetary reason is fairly obvious. If you can purchase a lower prices chip and overclock it to run at the same speed as one that costs significantly more, you are then obviously getting a much higher value for your money. This reason has been the biggest draw for the mainstream user. As with anything else in life, money talks. This doesn’t explain why overclocking has dropped from the mainsteam though. There are still $1,000 chips for sale, and cheaper $500 chips that can be purchased and made to run at the same speed. So why is there; then now a lack of mainstream interest?
The main reason is that computer hardware capabilities have exceeded software requirements. This is a natural cycle that comes around every couple of years after major advances in hardware have been release. It takes time for software developers to create content that can utilize the full capabilities of the newly released hardware. As a result, even someone with a mid range system (eg. Core2Duo 6600, Geforce 7950GT) can easily play newer titles (eg. BF2142) at a high resolution with all graphic features set to max. What’s the point of overclocking your computer if its already performing at such a high level?
Things are about to change though and I predict that within another year overclocking will again have its time in the sun. As full adoption of Windows Vista increase so will the average hardware requirements required to run the majority of mainstream games. Also as software and game developers catch up and release newer more sophisticated titles, midrange hardware will no longer be able to perform at the highest levels. It will be then that the average consumer who does not have $1,000 to spend on a high end processor or video card will again seek out the help of the overclocking gurus searching for ways to stretch the value of their midrange hardware.