Those new 500-MHz Pentium III PCs still not fast enough for you, but you don't want to wait for the next generation of high-speed CPUs?
There's a 600-MHz PC available right now.
KryoTech, a South Carolina-based NCR spin-off that's been making high-speed PCs since 1996, began shipping the Cool K6-2/600 PC this week. The machine uses an Advanced Micro Devices K6-2/475 processor running at, yes, 600 MHz.
Pushing the Processor
Overclocking (pushing a processor beyond its rated speed) is often done by dedicated hobbyists, but it's an iffy proposition that can cause an unstable system or destroy a CPU.
The problem is heat. The faster a CPU runs, the more heat it generates. A CPU's ability to dissipate heat is tied directly to its rated speed, and pushing it to run faster without providing sufficient cooling is a recipe for potential disaster.
You can try heavy-duty heat sinks, extra-high-capacity fans, and even tiny solid-state cooling devices, but KryoTech takes a more aggressive approach to cooling the CPU in its Cool K6-2/600 PC.
The large pedestal built under the PC case contains a full-fledged refrigeration unit that uses a condenser/compressor device like one you'd find in a home refrigerator or freezer.
A thermal bus (pipe) carries refrigerant back and forth to the KryoCavity that sits over the CPU. There, a metal plate in contact with the CPU is cooled to minus 40 degrees Fahrenheit. The company says its "vapor-phase" design also eliminates water condensation that could cause problems with electronic circuits.
KryoTech claims that this cooling system enables the processor to run at 600 MHz without causing problems. And an AMD spokesperson says the CPU maker approves of the KryoTech design and has worked closely with the company to ensure fault-free operation at this speed.
Adding the Essentials
The Cool K6-2/600 is shipped only as an $1150 "bare bones" machine with an ATX case, cooling unit, Asus motherboard, AMD processor, and special circuitry that automatically shuts down the system if the processor overheats. (KryoTech doesn't offer fully outfitted systems.)
Because the Cool K6-2/600 is designed for high-end applications, you'll probably want to outfit it with maximum memory, a high-speed hard drive, and other high-end essentials. You can figure on spending an additional $2000 to $2500 to set up a ready-to-roll system.
KryoTech isn't resting on its laurels. Spokesperson Scott Spears says the company is working on advanced refrigeration technology that it hopes will be able to cool CPUs to minus 166 degrees Fahrenheit. At that temperature, Spears says, CPUs should be able to run reliably at double their rated speed.