Xyala Interviews K|ngp|n - "What is it like being a full-time overclocker?"

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Xyala Interviews K|ngp|n – “What is it like being a full-time overclocker?”

Author: Timothée Pineau

Hi Kingpin, thank you for this interview opportunity. To kick things off, can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

KP: Hi everyone, my name is Vince Lucido and I come from Detroit, Michigan in the United States. I currently live and work in Taipei, Taiwan for eVGA. I also own my own extreme cooling brand called Kingpincooling Solutions.

K|ngp|n and his job at EVGA

You mentioned you work for eVGA. What’s your job like?

KP: I guess I’m mostly engaged with R&D (research and development). I work directly with the engineers and develop products mostly on power functionality and overclocking capability. For example, on graphics cards my input is essentially focused on power requirement, BIOS tuning and special overclocking features such as BIOS switches or LN2 jumpers. All these overclocking features are basically the result of my work.

A big part of my work is also to interact and engage with the enthusiasts that follow and buy eVGA products. This takes a significant deal of my time. If I would have to come up with a name for what I do here, it would be technical marketing.

What is the daily routine of an in-house overclocker like?

KP: I can’t really predict how my days will be as there is no routine here. It really depends. I’m supposed to be here from 9-to-6 but it depending on what comes up I might come in earlier or leave later. I usually start off from where I left off the day before. For example if there is a BIOS issue, that will be my focus and I won’t rest until it’s fixed. It is all very flexible.

As we all know, you are eVGA’s in-house overclocker. A part of your job is to post benchmark records. Is this a one-man job, or is there a team alongside with you?

KP: Records are achieved and submitted by myself, but to get there is of course not the work of just one man. I work closely with our in-house engineer TiN. He focuses on electrical design, layout and power. Then he leaves all the testing, records and benchmarking to me. There is a good synergy between us and it is essential to reach our goals. I’m good at what I do and he is the best at what he does.

K|ngp|n and his GeForce GTX 780 Ti Kingpin Edition graphics card

EVGA recently released the GTX 780 Ti Kingpin Edition, a card that wears your name. Can you tell us the story behind this card?

KP: The GTX 780 Ti is a card that is highly based and inspired on our Classified series. A lot of people loved the GTX 780 Classified cards – but there was a limit. In case you missed it, everyone is hitting that limit besides us and ASUS. When building the 780 Classified, I learned a lot and most of the knowledge of the Classified contributes to the truly no-limit card that is the GTX 780 Ti Kingpin Edition card. It is build with overclocking in mind.

Essentially I wanted a card that needed as few mods as possible to be overclocked to the maximum. With the Ti, I wanted to give the best possible overclocking experience to the user. My goal was to give the “lambda user” (someone with minimum know-how) the opportunity to just put in the card and max it out – easy! And it worked. The other day I find this fairly new overclocker to hit 1860 MHz on his card. Those are frequencies usually reserved for people in the top leagues. For me, that’s what this card is all about.

This card is for us a big hit. It sold out within hours, batch after batch. I even saw the other day people selling the card on eBay for USD $1,600 – I couldn’t believe it could go that high.

NVidia is famous for their green-lighting program. How did you get the card approved?

KP: The card passed the green-light even though NVidia may not have liked it. To get the green-light and be able to sell the card, we had to sell it with a compliant BIOS. So in retail and on the paper, this card follows all of NVidia green-light restrictions out-of-the-box. However, since I worked on BIOSs from time to time, I decided to release a special BIOS for this card which unlocks a few restrictive parameters. The card is amazing out of the box, and for those that want to go further (at their own risk) they are free to use my special BIOS.

So the Kingpin Edition has to be unlocked with a special BIOS. Did you ever get pressured by your boss or NVidia not to release that BIOS?

KP: Yes and no, but nothing could stop me form making the card. See, the card is one thing, the BIOS another. I really wanted an unlocked card and this was my project – but I have to admit I did encountered a bit of resistance.

Where can people find that special BIOS?

KP: It’s available for download in the Evga overclocking section on kingpincooling.com (and also in the VGA BIOS thread on HWBOT).

Evga seems to be doing very well for VGAs, but the motherboards are still lacking. Why?

KP: Actually we are coming back. Big time! The new Dark board (X79 Dark) is awesome and I think the upcoming Intel chipset platform motherboard will be a surprise to a lot of people in the industry. The reason why we had this down-time in motherboards is because our motherboard R&D left. It’s a two-year process to build back a team and this is what happened in the last years. But we are finally back – stay tuned.

What products have you worked on since you joined Evga?

KP: Quite a few already. Have a look at the wall there – that’s all the products I worked on. There are more VGA than motherboards of course.

  • GTX 580 Classified
  • GTX 680 Classified
  • GTX 780 Classified
  • Epower PWM board
  • GTX 780 Ti Kingpin Edition
  • X79 Dark edition
  • Z77 FTW

K|ngp|n and his career

You have an extreme cooling brand, you are an in-house overclocker and now even you own line of VGA cards. You must be the most successful professional overclocker all time. How did you achieve all this?

KP: Basically, I never stopped trying. I never gave up on overclocking. A lot of the other guys I “grew up” with stopped overclocking for one or another reason. I totally understand why – some things like family are more important. Not everyone can spend so much time on a hobby. I had a day job too back at the beginning and trust me, there where a lot of nights without sleep. Nights where I was just overclocking. This was the only moment I had to bench. But I loved it so much so I did it. That kind of work ethic is what got me here.

What’s next for Kingpin?

KP: On the eVGA side of things, we already started working on the next generation graphics cards, possibly another Kingpin Edition, and also on the next-gen Intel chipset motherboard. Kingpincooling-wise, Caseking in Europe is going to start distributing my LN2 pots soon. I don’t really have time anymore to do the sales of my cooling gear, so getting a third party involved will solve my distributions issues and make these posts more accessible worldwide. Overclocking-wise, why would I do anything differently? Honestly speaking, I might stop overclocking soon. Yes, I am talking about retirement. I will still overclock internally for R&D purposes, but I might stop overclocking as a public figure.

Actually, I would love to mentor someone here in the office and assist that person to get to a high level. I would still to R&D but in a more internal manner. Someone else would post records, not me. Time might have come to bring some fresh blood in here and in my work. This might be a very good thing you know – a new guy will be hungry! I’m in this industry and I overclock now for ten years. I still love it but sometime I feel like losing the hunger and passion. Teaching somebody else what I do and see him or her succeed would be something I would enjoy a lot.

PC is said to be “dead” for many years now. What do you think?

KP: What? No way! Our market shares are going up on VGAs. I don’t know if it’s because other are dropping off (in general). In our situation here at eVGA, we are small and PC isn’t dead for us. Since we focus on high-end, there is always going to be a market out there for us. On the other side, the rest of the mainstream desktop PC market will shrink.

What about the future of overclocking?

KP: Personally, looking at containers sales, I must say it is not growing. This is because there is more competition in the pot market but also because extreme overclocking is a much more quiet scene today than what it used to be. Pots don’t break, so people don’t need new ones all the time.

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