A blazing fast video card can make the biggest PC gamer act like a giddy school child on Christmas morning. And for years, PC enthusiasts have enjoyed taking their GPUs to the limit through the act of overclocking, which in its most basic terms means pushing your CPU or GPU above its factory-set specifications.
This popular act of modding has become a point of controversy of late, as NVIDIA — which is currently enjoying a nice boost in GPU shipments over rival AMD — intentionally disabled overclocking on its GTX 900M series GPUs.
NVIDIA Claims Practice Harms Systems
It all started when users noted they couldn't overclock their GTX 900M GPUs after installing NVIDIA's December 17 GeForce R347.29 driver release. Users immediately turned to NVIDIA's forums where the nightmare began. NVIDIA posted the following on the forums:
"Unfortunately GeForce notebooks were not designed to support overclocking. Overclocking is by no means a trivial feature, and depends on thoughtful design of thermal, electrical, and other considerations. By overclocking a notebook, a user risks serious damage to the system that could result in non-functional systems, reduced notebook life, or many other effects."
"There was a bug introduced into our drivers which enabled some systems to overclock. This was fixed in a recent update. Our intent was not to remove features from GeForce notebooks, but rather to safeguard systems from operating outside design limits."
To the company's credit, overclocking is risky for the inexperienced user. It generally voids your warranty and if performed incorrectly, it could brick your video card, your notebook, or both.
Overclocking Is Common, Generally Safe
However, overclockers are a tech savvy community and they generally know how far they can push their GPUs before a complete meltdown. Moreover, many companies like Intel, AMD, Asus, and MSI support overclocking with free tools that facilitate the process. NVIDIA itself used to provide overclocking information for its users.
Simply put, overclocking was a major feature (certainly not a "bug") that various manufacturers used (and still use) to sell their products to PC enthusiasts — and customers were none too pleased about the change from NVIDIA.
User Outrage Leads to NVIDIA Changing Its Tune
Much like when other companies have tried to strong-arm their customers into accepting new policies, there was a major backlash from, namely, the gaming community. And just this weekend, NVIDIA backpedaled and announced that it would once again allow for overclocking. However, customers have to wait until the next driver update, which might not come until next month.
Readers, does NVIDIA's flip flop make you think differently about your next video card purchase? Sound off in our comments below.