Alienware’s 4GHz Pentium

I love overclockers – I don’t know if it’s the nerves of steel needed to run components so far beyond their factory specifications that they need to be refrigerated, or the glowing water cooling pipes they use, or it might even be the UV lamps and dodgy stickers. And this is coming from someone who underclocks his graphics card – OpenOffice doesn’t really need much acceleration.

Overclocking basically involves running a processor at speeds beyond factory specification, and is generally performed by home enthusiasts who then have to solve the puzzle of extracting all that extra heat out of their PC case in colourful and complex ways. Some manufacturers have noticed this fashion and have taken to selling systems that have already been overclocked, and the professional build and cooling systems make them more reliable and less messy.

So, for those of you who want power at any expense, Alienware have released a pre-overclocked gaming system, featuring a Pentium 4 that runs at a (probably literally) red hot 4Ghz.

The Area-51 ALX is based around a Extreme Edition Pentium 4, with 1 gig of Corsair RAM, and a 6800 Ultra for a graphics card. Keeping this lot cool requires gold plated, pure copper coolers, and a specially formulated liquid solution to conduct heat away from components. Oh, and two pumps and a few fans. A custom power control board monitors liquid temperature and features an emergency alarm and automatic shut-down features, just in case things get too frantic during those FPS death matches.

At a wallet-alarming US$5,458 (€4,525) for a typical set up, it’s for devoted, power hungry gamers only – but I certainly can’t think of a better way to Half-Life 2’s launch.

Alienware ALX Series

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Fraser Lovatt

Fraser Lovatt has spent the last fifteen years working in publishing, TV and the Internet in various capacities, and believes that they will be seperate platforms for at least a while yet. His main interests at the moment are exploring where Linux is taking home entertainment and how technology is conferring technical skills on more and more people. Fraser Lovatt was born in the same year that 2001: A Space Odyssey was delighting and confusing people in the cinemas, and developed a lifelong love of technology as soon as he realised that things could be taken apart, sometimes put back together again, but mostly left in bits or made into something the original designer hadn't quite planned upon. At school he was definitely in the ZX Spectrum/Magpie/BMX camp, rather than the BBC Micro/Blue Peter/well-behaved group. This is all deeply ironic as he later went on to spend nine years working at the BBC. After a few years of working as a bookseller in Scotland, ("Back when it was actually a skilled profession" he'll tell anyone still listening), he moved to England for reasons he can't quite explain adequately to himself. After a couple of publishing jobs punctuated by sporadic bursts of travelling and photography came the aforementioned nine years at the BBC where he specialised in internet technologies and video. These days his primary interests are Java, Linux, videogames and pies - and if they're not candidates for convergence, then what is?