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Overclocking was once considered a dark and forbidden art, but no more. Now overclocking is an accepted part of computer components. From the CPU manufactures across the board (bad pun intended) and ASUS has been at the forefront of that evolution with the ROG range of motherboards. Just as the hardware used for overclocking has evolved and developed so has the manner in which overclocking is practiced.

A very early Swiftech CPU waterblock

A very early Swiftech CPU waterblock

Back in the early days of overclocking it was immediately apparent that with increased performance came a corresponding increase in heat. Heat caused by the increased voltages needed to produce the higher frequency of the hardware being overclocked. At that time air coolers were the only options. Pioneers of that time developed the then radical notion of water cooling your CPU. For a while this was enough, but only for a short while. Even with new and innovative design idea and a rapid take up by the enthusiast market water  cooling would never be enough to satisfy the need for raw speed.

A more current Swiftech CPU water block: The Apogee XT

A more current Swiftech CPU water block: The Apogee XT

Folks tried all sorts of novel solutions and it was inevitable that sub zero cooling would be the next logical step either using mechanical means such as a electrical refridgeration unit modified or custom built to suite purpose.

A single stage phase change unit

A single stage phase change unit

Or how about this:

A CPU pot used by Youngpro 2006

A CPU pot used by Youngpro in 2006

Sub zero cooling can be achieved in many different ways. Our friends who live in very cold climates are able to have air coolers at sub zero cooling simply by opening a window. But that solution is no practical at all. A lot of fun possibly if you are wrapped up warm and snug. A far more elegant and universal solution was to use materials that are commercially available and can be used as and when required. Iced water was experimented with and used quite successfully back in the day and still is a very popular way of gaining a few extra megahertz without going the extreme route.

Unknown Iced Water Cooling Unit

The real leap forward in what can only be described as extreme overclocking came about when substances like Dry Ice and Liquid Nitrogen were introduced to the over-clocking scene. Just where the first Liquid Nitrogen benching session happened is open to discussion and debate but once the first drop had been poured the sport was changed forever.

A Kingpincooling CPU LN2 pot reflecting the evolving design philosophy on LN2 cooling

However with most developments or radical changes in how things are done, there are new situations or challenges that need to be overcome. Dry Ice or LN2 overclocking was no different. There are two main challenges. The first is condensation and water and electronics are not a good combination, the second are the effects of cold on other components. This guide will discuss the innovative and different ways people from all over the globe have managed both challenges.

A few hours of extreme cooled benchmarking. Image courtesy of HWBot.org

A few hours of extreme cooled benchmarking. Image courtesy of HWBot.org


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