Eastwick, NH - Overclocking, where a computer user increases the
clock cycles on their CPUs past the manufacturer's recommendations
to squeeze out even more performance, has been popular for many years.
Now, a new technique has taken intrepid computer extremists in another
direction - underclocking.
purposely slow down their machines by various means, even to the
point of making the machine unusable. Their professed motto is "How
slow can you go?"
Alex Rakoczy explained what he did to slow down his computer system, "Yeah,
I turn down the FSB [front side bus] as low as it will allow me,
and then crank down the clock multiplier. I set the memory settings
really slow too. It's insane. Anybody can make a 486 go slow, but
it takes real skill to make a 2.4 GHz machine with 1 GB of RAM unbearable
Many in the small but growing underclocking community were previously
overclockers, but claimed they were tired of the macho oneupsmanship
among the speed demons. "I was getting tired of all the bragging
about one more megahertz being pumped out," confessed underclocker
Trey Shin. "There's not much of that of that in underclocking
circles. Probably, because it would take hours to open up an IRC
Other underclockers remarked that the "need for speed" was
costing them too much money. Sarah Estrada from Reno, Nevada said, "I've
saved a bunch on electricity and not having to replace my burnt out
CPUs. Not to mention that my room is no longer a sauna."
Of course, several websites have popped up to help explain underclocking
techniques to newbie underclockers, so they can get the least out
of their systems, from slowing down video cards to lowering refresh
rates on monitors.
One website, SoftPDQ, specializes in equipment for underclockers
including a mod chip that will slow down a hard drive from 7200 RPMs
to 500 RPMs. The site does advise that mod chips like this are only
for underclockers "willing to replace their hard drive in case
they screw up soldering."
One gaming clan of underclockers, The TurTle Posse, claims to have
never won a match. Founding member Kyle Harding said "No wins
and 457 losses. We're proud of that and our 'dial-up only' requirement.
Here's how our games usually go: the other team kills us and like
five minutes later we find out we're dead. I get like ten frames
per minute. That's frustrating as all hell, but that's what underclocking
is all about."
Dedicated underclocking requires a lot of patience as even the simplest
programs load painfully slow. Some underclockers reported boot up
times in the several hour range, but do mention finding new enjoyment
in the clock dependent games of old like Wheel of Fortune.
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