The popular overclocking rankings website, HWBot, yesterday announced that they would be banning the use of Windows 8 in their benchmarking submissions for rankings and such. This arose from the realization that there was a bug that was being exploited to enable some fake results in Windows 8. This bug was derived from the downclocking of CPUs that would then result in higher clocks because of Windows’ own RTC (Real Time Clock) being affected by the lowered clock of the CPU.
HWBot’s own response to this issue and their research was to completely ban all benchmarks on Windows 8 until they could find a resolution. While it appears that HWBot is taking benchmarking very seriously, I believe that they are overreacting since this has been a known issue before and is not limited to Windows 8 alone. Simply because they tested a Haswell CPU in Windows 7 and did not encounter this issue does not mean that it only exists within a Windows 8 environment. After speaking with some experts, this has been a known issue with CPUs and Windows for quite some time, however, some CPUs are affected and others are not.
Currently, it appears that the majority of the CPUs affected by the RTC bug are in fact Intel CPUs and that AMD’s CPUs are unaffected by this underclocking exploit. However, since we haven’t confirmed it ourselves, we can’t wholly stand behind that statement. There are ways, like running CPU Timer Checks to verify that the CPU’s timer and performance are in fact in a good and working order. So, I believe that it may be a matter of time until something like this could be implemented inside of benchmarks or apps like CPU-Z.
Nevertheless, most people’s ability to test and benchmark hardware will still be completely unaffected by this and this should only be considered an issue for the competitive overclocking circuit. After all this is a scene where people are hypercompetitive and will do anything to get an edge over their competition, no matter what. Just like any other competitive ‘sport’. Hopefully the guys at HWBot step back from their flamethrower and realize that there can be a solution and that banning Windows 8 benchmarks isn’t the solution.