Originally Posted by Mahigan
While I agree with you that overclocking and switching out reference coolers is something some of us do, the majority of the market does not. Reviewers generally test reference cards first. To establish their performance as recommended by the manufacturer moving onto overclocking and other factors later on in the review cycle (reviewing individual factory overclocked products as well). Overclocking, though something which is amusing (I often run my 290x's at 1,250MHz each) and can yield considerable results, is not based on the recommended manufacturer settings.
I acknowledge your point, but given that overlocking returns vary, one cannot use overclocked cards in order to give the majority of consumers an idea of the performance they can expect.
I understand what you're saying, but I was attempting to explain the results people were seeing in the reviews they were reading about the Ashes of the Singularity DX12 benchmark. The reviewers weren't using overclocked cards. Therefore explaining what caused the performance levels people were seeing is what I did.
As for going forward. I cannot factor overclocked cards for the reasons I mentioned prior in this post. You just cannot predict, with any degree of certainty, what overclock a user will achieve. Therefore it is far more prudent to go by the manufacturers recommended settings. That means quoting nVIDIA and AMD. They designed their GPUs with certain clock speeds in mind. Those are the clock speeds upon which one ought to recommend a product. You can mention one card has a propensity to overclock higher than another, as reviewers do, but you can't promise a degree of performance based on how well your particular card overclocks.
One thing is for certain, I would have liked to see pcgameshardware test those factory overclocked cards at the recommended benchmark settings rather than attempt to derive a particular result. It would have added to the discussion, rather than render their results unusable..
I apologize if it came across that way, but I wasn't talking about altering the cards or even actually overclocking (my 980 Ti G1 for instance literally comes out of the box as is doing 1367-1380 MHz, no personal OC applied). I mean custom models by the AIB partners like the G1 Gaming, ACX, Strix, Tri-X/Vapor-X, etc. that come out of the factory with significantly higher clock speeds (about +150 MHz), coolers to maintain them, and full-fledged warranties (legal guarantees of stability and longevity at those speeds). Going by the number of reviews per model on Newegg, custom models seem to be the majority of these.
From the perspective of any consumer, there's no reason to fear the custom models whatsoever. Sometimes, they're the only models available (initially including the market-dominating GTX 970, the R9 Fury, and the R9 390/X).
High clocks really are guaranteed with Maxwell even for the non-overclocking consumer if they pick the right model. Which is of course different from explaining results with a reference one and I agree with you on the rest of your post.