This week sees the launch of the Mobile Geeks 801 Tweaker Challenge, the world’s first overclocking contest centered on a mobile processor platform, in this case the Snapdragon 801 from Qualcomm. The contest is being run by our buddies over at HWBOT.org, the gatekeepers and officiators of the globe’s Overclocking scene.
The concept is simple, if you possess a mobile device based on the Snapdragon 801 system-on-chip all you need to do is download and install the HWBOT Prime for Android app, run the benchmark and submit your highest score. The contest runs from today until January 15th 2015 with an OPPO Find 7 up grabs for the winner.
Participation is really easy. Here’s what you have to do:
1) Download the HWBOT Prime for Android benchmark application
2) Register with HWBOT if you don’t have an account yet
3) Select “Submit to competition” below the competition banner
4) Tune, tweak, and overclock your device for the best possible score
Overclocking: A Brief History of Quickly Evolving eSport
So first of all, for the uninitiated lets explain exactly what overclocking is all about. Overclocking is an enthusiast hobby for the real uber-Geeks amongst us. It basically means taking a computer and tweaking its system settings to get it to perform faster than stock speed. Not so long ago this was a really great way of getting more bang for your buck, allowing a user to purchase a cheaper system and then overclock the CPU or GPU to get it performing like a more expensive machine. Back in the days of the early Pentium chips from Intel, being able to raise your CPU clock from 200MHz to 230MHz for example, would be a major boon to anyone doing serious number crunching or processor intensive tasks.
Moving forward to 2014 and Overclocking is heading in the direction of an e-sport with several leagues and ranked groups ranging from amateur to pro. For many it is now less about being able to get more value from your hardware and more like a purely competitive sport where Overclockers compete head to head to see who can get the highest CPU, GPU and memory clock speeds and the highest scores in benchmark applications. It’s about kudos, having the bragging rights and can be seriously competitive between individuals, teams and even nation states.
Hardware vendors including Intel, AMD, GIGABYTE, ASUS and many others have gotten involved as a vehicle for their marketing and sponsored contests are held regularly around the world with top tier hardware and cash prizes on offer to the victors. Just a week or so ago World No.1 8Pack won an OC competition in Wuhan China where the globe’s top players competed for $6,000 in cold hard cash. Overclocking is quickly evolved to become more like an e-sport, with some real characters and players that are heading towards celebrity status in OC circles.
Overclocking on Mobile
When it comes to bleeding edge progress the PC industry has in many ways been supplanted by a new breed of computers that we can now slip into our pocket. Just seven or eight years ago I recall taking an OQO device with me on a media tour to promote the newest mobile processor from VIA Technologies. It was a handheld device that could run a full version of Windows XP. It literally blew people away. Nobody could believe that this was a full ‘computer’ – one that had an 800 x 480 resolution screen plus keyboard, yet I could fit in the palm of my hand and carry it around in my pocket. The OQO was then known as a UMPC (Ultra Mobile PC) and used a full x86 processor that could be tweaked in the BIOS.
Since then we have seen so much progress, most notably the emergence of much more powerful multi-core mobile processors that use the ARM instruction set. The latest Snapdragon series from Qualcomm can manage 4K video recording and playback and genuine 3D gaming – all this a Quad HD display! Yes, the mobile ARM-based processor has evolved to become a much more powerful and sophisticated beast compared to the mobile chips of old.
The same principles that were applied to Overclocking in the PC space are now much more relevant when it comes to mobile devices. The Mobile Geeks 801 Tweaker Challenge is first of its kind but it will by no means be the last, as it is now possible to ‘Root’ your smartphone and gain access to settings that the manufacturer decided to keep hidden behind the curtain. With the right knowledge and some patience, it is totally possible to hack and tweak your device to a new level of performance. And once again, it’s all about bragging rights as a Geek.
We will follow up next week with advice and strategies on how to tweak your 801 processor so stay tuned.
HWBOT Prime for Android
With the Tweaker 801 Challenge, HWBOT and ourselves decided to keep things nice and simple, centering the contest around just one processor platform, and one benchmark. The HWBOT Prime for Android benchmark is 100% free to download from Google Play. Better still, the latest version even has a quick easy way to make score submissions directly to the OC-eSports contest page. Just click the submit to competition button. It really is that easy.
HWBOT Prime is an in-house developed open-source multi-platform benchmark application that basically asks your device to calculate as many prime numbers as possible during a 30 second time-frame. At the end of the 30 seconds you will be presented with a score that represents the amount of Primes Per Second (“PPS”) were calculated. The benchmark mainly involves CPU performance, and is therefore affected by the number of processor cores and the frequency of those cores. The choice of ROM and Kernel may also affect performance and scoring.
Here’s an introductory video from the guys at HWBOT:
The Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 Platform
We chose to the Snapdragon 801 as the processor platform for this contest because it can be found in a pretty broad variety of high-end smartphones that have come to market this year. It can be found on a wide number of devices that include the Sony Xperia Z2 and Z3, the Samsung Galaxy S5, the HTC One M8, the LG G3 and the iconic OnePlus One. There are different variations available out there (the MSM8974-AC for example which has a stock clock frequency of up to 2.45GHz) but just because you are using a higher clocked variant at stock does not always mean that performance will scale as you would want. It will interesting to see how that pans out.
Highest Score Wins an OPPO Find 7
The submission with the highest score will take a fairly rare but well sought after flagship smartphone from Chinese manufacturing giant OPPO. The Find 7 is in fact a Snapdragon 801 device and also sports a great quality Quad HD (1440 x 2560) 5.5 inch IPS display. It’s a real gem that also enjoys a support for CyanogenMod and other popular Android ROMs.
So with that we will sign off and let you get busy benching, tweaking and hacking your Android smartphone to your heart’s content. We look forward with fascination to see how the contest pans out and hope to see plenty of competition at the higher end of the contest table. Good luck to all!