Author: Pieter-Jan Plaisier
Introduction – What is the Country Cup?
Every year, since 2009, HWBOT organizes the biggest and arguably the most prestigious online overclocking competition of the year, usually in December. The competition goes by the name Country Cup and revolves around national overclocking teams. The thing is … everyone can join the national team and contribute to the country’s ranking – all you need to do is overclock the right hardware and, boom!, you’re in the national team. As said, the Country Cup series started in 2009 with two consecutive wins for Romania, followed by the first victory for Poland in 2011. This year, Greece finally took their first win after finishing fourth in 2010 and a close second in 2011. Poland, last year’s victors finished second and Bulgaria finished on third place for the second time in the history of the Country Cup. In this report, we’ll go over the competition details a bit more in detail. Enjoy!
As mentioned in the previous paragraph, Romania and Poland won the previous editions of the Country Cup and were therefore amongst the favorites to win this year’s edition. Greece, Bulgaria, Russia as well as Indonesia have a strong reputation in the Country Cup series and can, every year again, be called contenders for the top spot. Outsiders are Belgium (top-10 every edition) and of course Germany, the USA and United Kingdom with their larger power user community base. This year’s edition was a bit shorter in duration than the 2011 edition, but only featured six different stages instead of the usual seven. The stages of this year required the countries to overclock a variety of hardware, including some old and rare items as well as the newer platforms. The Cup ran from November 22 until December 30; here’s an overview of the various stages.
- Stage 1 – 3DMark11 Trinity Full out: set the highest possible score with an AMD Trinity platform. Discrete graphics cards are allowed. Hyper crossfire is allowed too. Only one score required.
- Stage 2 – 3DMark03 Nvidia SLI Challenge: set the best average SLI’ing three different Nvidia GeForce generations: GeForce 7, GeForce 8 and GeForce 9. Single GPU cards only, one score per generation.
- Stage 3 – 1155/2011 BCLK: an easy one. Set the best average BCLK with three different CPU core types on LGA1155 and LGA2011.
- Stage 4 – AMD SuperPI 1M: ramping up the difficulty level now. For this stage, you need five countrymen to submit a SuperPI 1M submission using an AMD CPU, but on different sockets.
- Stage 5 – Low-end NVantage: in this stage, you need to get the best possible average out of 5 scores with low-end Nvidia graphics cards in 3DMark Vantage Performance. The designated cards for this stage are: GeForce GT 220 GDDR3, GeForce GT 320, GeForce GT 430, GeForce GT 530, GeForce GT 630 DDR3.
- Stage 6 – S775 SuperPI 32M: Last but not least, form the best possible SuperPI 32M average using five different S775 CPUs. Again, five different people need to contribute to the country average
As the Country Cup tradition dictates, each stage requires a number of different overclockers to combine results to form the best possible Country average. The best average (highest or lowest depending on the benchmark) wins the stage! The point distribution for each stage was the same, making every stage as important as the next one. 25 points for the winner, 18 for the runner up and 16 for the second runner-up all the way down to 2 points for number 17. Every participating country, that is: enter one score, was awarded at least one point and therefore getting an official Country Cup rank!
The first stage of the competition was based on the AMD Trinity platform. No, not the usual “let’s-play-IGP” as we already had a couple vendor-supported competitions like that going on, but a proper full-out all-in max-the-score concept. Take as much GPU horsepower as you want and see how the Trinity platform weighs up against the Intel-based monster systems out there. For this stage only one score was required to complete the team’s “average”. In the end, it was Greece that took the crown in stage 1 with Aristidis, ex-#1 of the HWBOT Xtreme Overclockers League, pushing his A10-5800K to 5.88GHz and combining it with 3 Radeon HD 7970 graphics cards only cooled with water-cooling. Aristidis held off Poland’s Xtreme Addict who came less than 100 points short despite having a CPU that clocked past 6GHz and a triple crossfire LN2 GPU configuration. Bulgaria ended up third with an even more impressive CPU, clocked at 6.1GHz. Even though overclocking is mostly about hardware, tweaking and optimizations still play a role!
Since AMD Trinity is quite a new platform, it can be no surprise that Aristidis set the highest ever score for AMD Trinity in 3DMark11 Performance.
A bit more challenging, perhaps, than the AMD Trinity stage was stage 2 where the overclockers had to push older Nvidia graphics cards to the maximum in 2xGPU SLI configuration. The requirement for this stage was to form the best possible average score using configurations based on three different GeForce generations. The stage was limited to the GeForce 7, GeForce 8 and GeForce 9 series, restricting it to older hardware and preventing the new (read: expensive) high-end graphics cards to take over the competition. The required skill set needed for overclocking hardware is unique for each generation and type of hardware. In other words, it’s not because you are very good at overclocking the latest GTX 680 that you’ll be able to easily take down the records in the GeForce 7, 8 or 9 classes. Different architectures, different problems. Poland took the win in this one, combining excellent scores of Xtreme Addict, Ivanov and Johny_b, beating Greece (Mortisboy, Varachio, Stelaras) and Germany (Crazzzy85, Der8auer, Matti OC).
The overclockers participating in this stage certainly did push their systems, resulting a whole batch of record refreshes in various stages. In total, 6(!) new hardware class records taken followed with 4x 2nd place and 3x 3rd place.
The third stage was, in terms of set up, quite similar to stage 2. Again, three different overclockers had to form a country average, this time focused on the highest BCLK validation with LGA1155 and LGA2011 platforms, but with different CPU architectures. This description is actually just a very complex way of saying: push the BCLK of your Sandy Bridge, Sandy Bridge-E and Ivy Bridge processor as high as possible. A seemingly easy stage, but with surprisingly stunning results! Greece scored the best average, thus getting ranked #1. Indonesia came in 2nd this time, scoring only 0.30MHz higher than Belgium. The most impressive result of this stage was undoubtedly Tiltevros‘ (Greece) X79 overall reference clock frequency record of 179.16 MHz. An amazing result that takes away a bit of the spotlight that Finnish overclocker Luumi should get as he managed an impressive 163 MHz earlier in the competition. Russian overclocker S_A_V managed the highest LGA1155 submission, hitting 115.84 MHz, which is about 1MHz short of the LGA1155 BCLK record.
In total, 18 new reference clock class (based on motherboard) records were set in addition to 12x 2nd place ranks and 4x 3rd place.
With thirty-three countries entering the fourth stage of the Country Cup, the AMD SuperPI 1M stage was the most competitive (or most popular) this year. The task was pretty simple: obtain a SuperPI 1M result with five different AMD platforms, distinguished based on socket type. Looking at the results in previous AMD online overclocking competitions it cannot be called a surprise – but actually it still kind of is – that the win went to Bulgaria. For some reason, Bulgarian overclockers are very strong when it comes to fine-tuning AMD systems. They took the gold, by quite a large margin, holding off Greece and Indonesia. The winning line-up consisted of: lkozarov, Mollov, More, GunGod, and of course I.nfraR.ed, each of them setting a top-3 score in their hardware class. Very impressive!
Actually, throughout the entire stage the overclockers hit new heights with these mostly obsolete and discontinued chips. 12 new class records, 3x 2nd place and 14x third place. All impressive clocks – just check out these scores: 9sec 922ms with Phenom II X4 965 BE at 6924MHz, 11sec 109ms with Phenom II X4 940 BE at 6165.5MHz or 13sec 297ms with A10-5800K at 7148MHz. You know what – just check out the entire competition stage. The amount of top notch results is too damn high!
The second to last competition stage was without any doubt the most difficult one in terms of finding the right gear to compete. The stage configuration was not very complicated: try to get the best possible average 3DMark Vantage Performance score with a GeForce GT 220 GDDR3, GeForce GT 320, GeForce GT 430, GeForce GT 530 and a GeForce GT 630 DDR3. Especially the GT 320 and GT 530 proved to be a difficult challenge as both are OEM-only editions. Practically, this means that EBay and other sources of second hand hardware had to be checked to find the hardware. Difficult – yes, annoying and frustrating – sure. But, the Country Cup is just that: not your regular overclocking competition, but designed to challenge overclockers in every way possible. Including the hunt for the right hardware! Again it was Greece that took the win in this stage, outscoring Bulgaria and Indonesia. Together with the top-3, Poland was the only country to find all five necessary parts to compete. Greece did grab a well-deserved win, though, as they used an external PWM (EVGA Untouchable) for a couple of cards. That is extreme!
As the parts are quite rare, it’s no surprise that several class records were broken during the Cup. In total: 5x gold, 5x, silver and 4x bronze.
The last and final stage of the competition was again one with older hardware: LGA775, five in total. Figuring out which components to use wasn’t that difficult: E8700, E8600 and all the other Wolfdale CPUs. Bulgaria did just that, forming a line-up of E8600 all the way down to E8200, but only came in third. Greece took a slightly different approach, including also an E7600 and came in second. But the big winner of the sixth stage was Poland, which didn’t only use the rare E8700, but also figured out the exotic Xeon E3120, counterpart of the E8500, could be used to compete. Nifty and smart! On average, Poland was about 12 seconds faster than runner-up Greece and 22 seconds faster than third place Bulgaria. Impressive, that’s for sure!
Again, the overclockers showed top-notch overclocking skill in this stage with 7 new hardware class records, 6 new silver cups and 1x 3rd place. Excellent!
With a record high amount of countries participating in this year’s Country Cup, HWBOT and its staff are very satisfied with the competition. Just like every year, the level of competition was – unlike what people would assume judging by the amount of old hardware – very high again. And we can say that not only speaking about the competition internally, but also when comparing the competition results to the rest of the database. With 47 new hardware class records – 139x top-5, and a highest ever X79 BCLK frequency record, it’s impossible not to congratulate all the overclockers participating in this competition with their excellent performance. Apart from the couple of complaints about the fifth stage, there was not much controversy in this Country Cup either, which is always a pleasant experience for the staff. With 35 countries participating, this was also the most global wide overclocking competition ever hosted at HWBOT.
This year’s surprise is probably Sweden, entering the top-15 for the first time in the Country Cup history. United Kingdom was leading the competition for a while, but could eventually not reach the top-5 overall. The top spots were for the traditional teams: Bulgaria, Poland, Indonesia, Belgium and, yes, Canada, each of the teams and their overclockers putting great work and skill into the Cup. In the end, however, there can only be one winner and this year that is Greece! With the strong, die-hard core of Greek overclocking completed with a lot of enthusiasts the Greeks have proven over and over again that it is one of they are one of the leading countries in overclocking. A tremendous big applause goes out to the Greek line-up: Aristidis, Demac, George_oc, GoriLLakoS, Kintaro, Mortisboy, Phil, Stelaras, Tiltevros, Varachio and Zafiropo. Well done!
We also like to thank our partner Kingpincooling for providing a couple of pretty awesome cooling pots for the winning teams. We are currently following up on the prize distribution and shipping – apoligies to the winning teams for the delay.
As for the last lines of this report, I’d like to once again congratulate every participant for their efforts and results in this competition and invite you all to the next year’s edition of the HWBOT Country Cup 2013. But first … let’s focus on another Team Cup!
‘Till the next time!