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Filling the need for game speed

New liquid-cooled model from specialist VoodooPC boasts dual graphics cards for demanding gamers. Photo: Swift game PC

If it's good enough for predicting hurricanes, it'll probably do a pretty slick job running "Doom III."

That's the thinking behind a new line of PCs from specialist VoodooPC, which has adopted liquid-cooling techniques typically reserved for supercomputers and thrill-seeking hobbyists.

The Calgary, Alberta-based company has offered several liquid-cooled systems over the past year, but the new Rage f:5 ups the ante by using two Nvidia graphics cards incorporating the company's Scalable Link Interface (SLI) technology.

As a result, hard-core gamers can run PC games twice as fast as before, without worrying about their PC achieving vertical liftoff from all the high-speed fans typically required to cool such a rig.

"We can combine the power of both cards to drive the graphics on one monitor, so the frame rate can essentially be doubled," said Rahul Sood, president of VoodooPC.

VoodooPC is one of several specialty PC makers that have built a business catering to hard-core game players, a small but lucrative segment that snaps up the latest PC technology at premium prices.

Such speed freaks previously had to do much of their own tinkering, especially if they wanted to optimize their machines for "overclocking," the risky practice of running processors and other components faster than their rated speeds.

But VoodooPC and other specialists, such as Alienware, have recently begun selling systems ready-made for overclocking.

Sood said VoodooPC has worked out the potential risks of liquid cooling to produce a stable, sealed system that's also a lot quieter than the average PC.

"It's really safer than air cooling, we think," he said. "There's no risk of getting dust in the system, there's no maintenance to worry about."

Based on testing by VoodooPC engineers, the f:5 can run its Athlon processor 15 percent to 20 percent faster than its rated speed, Sood said. F:5 systems are available now, with prices starting at $5,000.