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Chapter 21.  PC Mods: Overclocking and Cooling

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Chapter 21. PC Mods: Overclocking and Cooling

Modifying, or modding, computer systems has been going on since even before the advent of the PC. In fact, because most of the early personal computers were either made from kits or entirely home built, custom modifications were the norm. And because of that, few systems were exactly alike. Even when fully functional personal computers and, more specifically, PCs came rolling off assembly lines in mass-produced fashion, people still found ways to make their own system different from all the others.

Computer modifications are usually designed to increase or improve performance or functionality in some way, but they can also be purely cosmetic in nature, or some combination of both. Because I am definitely more into function than form, I emphasize performance- or functionality-enhancing modifications in this chapter.

One of the primary modifications you can perform on a system is to make it run faster, which is usually called overclocking. When chips run faster, they run hotter, so cooling upgrades and modifications usually go hand-in-hand with overclocking. Systems that run cool tend to be more stable and more reliable, so even if you don’t overclock your system, ensuring that it runs cool is essential for trouble-free operation. Anytime overclocking is discussed, cooling is certain to be involved because increasing the speed of a system also increases the cooling requirements. Many systems are not properly configured for good cooling even at their standard speeds, much less when overclocked.

New interfaces bring new connectors to the PC, and many of these are more useful on the front of the system rather than in the back. Bringing modern interfaces to the front panel; adapting newer drives for different form factors; and adding windows, vents, and fans are all modifications that can be made to a chassis or case to improve or update it to handle the latest hardware.

Finally, you can perform purely cosmetic modifications, such as custom painting or internal lighting, which can make your system stand out from the rest. I cover the functional modifications in this chapter, with sound engineering principles applied such that you can either modify an existing system correctly or purchase new components with the desired features already integrated.

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