August 21, 2005

"Hidden" Hardware Features

Yesterday, I was talking about the kind of stuff that made building your own machine today just not worthwhile.

Today, Adrian's RojakPot is reporting that some ASUS motherboards are secretly overclocking their processors. (Thanks to Hard|OCP for the heads-up.)

See, if I can't rely on getting reliable information about what my hardware is doing, how the hell can I make sure that all of my hardware is going to work well together? Do I really have to worry about if my video card is trying to pull an extra tenth of a volt, or if my motherboard is secretly overclocking, or if my mouse doesn't fully support the USB HID standard and spikes itself upwards once every 119 seconds, or if my USB keydrive silently installs drivers? Not just no, but HELL NO!

If I have a choice between getting a system that I know works, and a system that runs 1-2% faster, but might work...I'm going for the one I know will function appropriately.

Look at PC's today like they're cars. The vast majority of people want a vehicle that will take them from point A to point B. Some will want to trick their cars out. Still others want to mix and match ("Hey, I dropped a Ford in my Chevy.") For each step you take away from stock, the risk of failure increases exponentially. For the last step (mixing manufacturers), you are combining parts that were never meant to work together. You may get an extra 50 miles per hour, but is it worth the chance that the cars going to explode under your ass?

Likewise, I may only be getting 98% of my potential framerate, but I can rest easy in the knowledge that my system isn't going to reboot in the middle of a vicious tournament because in one frame, the video card decided it needed a little bit more juice and the BIOS PC Health power meters flipped out. And given how many times that has happened to me, the 2% framerate hit is a sacrifice I'm willing to take.

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