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You’ve probably heard tell of the computer crazies that punish their PCs by indulging in extreme overclocking. In order to accelerate their processors to insane speeds, they need quality components and serious cooling.

The faster you run a piece of silicon, the faster you break badly built parts. High speeds also produce a large amount of heat, which is the main cause of system instability even in normally clocked PCs.

The components ASUS can deliver. Its Republic of Gamers line up of motherboards and graphics card are the best in the industry for tweaking the voltage and clockspeeds of every on board chip and power rail. Some of the newer motherboards even have remote features that let you overclock components using your mobile phone.

The cooling comes straight from the science lab, though. Top overclockers regularly use dry ice (DICE) and liquid nitrogen (LN2) to break records.

It’s all just a bit of fun, though, isn’t it?

Actually not, say many people in the industry. Next week the annual technology conference Campus Party gets underway in Barcelona, and one of the main events there will be demonstrations and discussions of extreme overclocking techniques. One angle will be that a passion for overclocking is part of the quest to be different, and that enthusiasts are just people who refuse to use off the shelf components in the way they were designed.

More seriously, though, there are planned discussions about what techniques like LN2 and DICE can do for computer performance in general, and how they feed back into the mainstream.

Kenny Clapham, from the UK mod team BenchTec, says that extreme overclocking may look pointless, but it provides valuable information for improving even basic computer parts.

“It’s nearest parallel is Formula 1 racing,” he says, “The design ideas to reduce weight and friction, and produce more efficient power transmission and fuel consumption in race cars eventually filter back into that citycar that sits in supermarket car parks or in queues at traffic lights.”

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