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Asus hosted an overclocking competition this past weekend and invited us out to see XtremeSystems, OC Alliance, and Team PURE vie for top honors and performance world records on both LGA1366 and 1156. I've got experience working with single-stage phase changers, which use air-conditioner compressors to cool a CPU down to roughly -50C, but liquid nitrogen-fueled overclocking is an altogether different kettle of fish. It's also firmly in the "don't try this at home", although the price of LN2 most likely makes this a moot point.

The Rampage III board here is being prepped for subzero overclocking. The substance being applied is kneaded eraser. I've used mastic tape for the same purpose, but kneaded eraser is easier to apply, can be shaped to fit around socket components, and is less likely to contain small gaps that allow condensation to penetrate down to the motherboard. Mastic tape, quite frankly, is a pain in the butt to work with—imagine trying to seal the various nooks and crannies of a motherboard using thin, relatively narrow strips of tar that latch on to any surface they touch, fuse with previous stripes, resist cutting, and stretch. God help you if you actually plan to reverse the modification; mastic tape doesn't come off easy. The compound can be dissolved, but only if you're willing to invest in a lot of lighter fluid.

There are other ways to seal motherboards (neoprene and sealant solutions are also used), but the idea of a superior solution that uses inexpensive art supplies caught my eye. Low-temperature overclockers are generally the only people who go to the trouble of sealing a motherboard, but they aren't the only group that could benefit from the practice. While there's no need to seal a water-cooled motherboard (unless you've integrated a chiller unit), doing so could provide additional insurance against the possibility of a random leak destroying an awful lot of expensive equipment.

By the time the team was finished, the Rampage III was entirely covered with but the PCI Express slots and RAM visible.

Here we've got the full-sized LN2 canisters and a liquid nitrogen pot sitting on a motherboard. Overclockers pour the LN2 into the pot where it quickly evaporates, carrying away the excess heat of the CPU. The initial evaporation is visually impressive (seen below, but caught on a different system with a different pot). As we've noted, single-stage phase-changers can take a CPU to -50C or so without a problem; liquid nitrogen can lower the processor temperature down to ~-120C or lower depending on the scenario. If that's not enough, liquid helium, with its evaporation point of -269C, is sometimes used. AMD hosted a liquid helium event last year that yielded the still-standing record for fastest Phenom II overclock at 6.89GHz, but unlike liquid nitrogen, liquid helium can be dangerous. As it evaporates it builds up in the atmosphere of a room (usually right around head level), which tends to have negative effects on those of us who breathe oxygen. Adequate ventilation (or a team of overclocking midgets) are required if you want to play with fluids whose evaporation temperatures are easily expressed in terms of absolute zero.

It's impressive AND it's frozen. Two for one deal.

Asus' dual 5870 "Ares" video card...
Some of you had a hard time seeing the card outline in our article; we've included an outline that should help.

We've already discussed the Asus Ares, but the card is impressive enough to include an additional shot of it here. In a way, both the card and the overclocking event itself are examples of how rapidly computer technology continues to advance. In order to increase the GPU and memory clocks 15 and 20 percent, Asus had to bolt on a heavier cooler, beef up the card's power plugs, and bin a select number of parts that could tolerate the additional stress. In 2-3 years, we' will see midrange GPUs delivering equivalent performance with single-slot coolers and fairly quiet fans. (That's not to say we wouldn't like an Ares now.)

As for the main event, OC Alliance was leading the LGA1366 bracket as of Saturday evening, with a new world record (according to Asus) of 6.53 GHz. At 6.5 GHz these systems are running at nearly twice the speed of Intel's current highest-end Core i7s. We don't expect to see Intel cranking up its clocks in the next 24 months—those days are over—but Francois Piednoel, one of the Intel reps who attended the event, emphasized to us that improving single-threaded performance is still a focus at Intel. Francois acknowledged that it's much harder to extract additional IPC efficiency now than it was in years past, but the company is still committed to the goal. We don't expect to see any jumps that mirror the move from Core 2 Duo to Core i7 anytime soon, since pulling the memory controller on-die is a one-time benefit, but Intel is scarcely out of ideas.

Again this shows you what is possible when top quality components are used and no corners are cut. Yea it is a little pricey for these types of motherboards buy for those who can appreciate quality and stability from their overclocked processor they choose Asus line of Republic of Gamer series. Impressive results again 6.5 GHz that is sick!!!!!!! Gigabyte is another solid company I put in the elite class of motherboard makers. I wonder what voltage was used to achieve that 6.5 GHz world record?


P.S. Also notice that stick of Corsair Dominator GT ram he is inserting somebody give that man a metal, he has horse sense LOL [8-|]


Awesome job they are doing there! Asus is a very nice company and this competition is great! Lets see those numbers grow to 7 or above!... 🙂 lol

Lay_Guy i don't get that ps part... :D

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FTA: "which tends to have negative effects on those of us who breathe oxygen."



@ inspector I was trying to point out that using quality parts throughout a build will yield results most of the time like what we see here. I always praise Corsair, Asus, Gigabyte, ect and though I would point out the RAM used in this record breaking overclock. As far as the horse sense that is to say this guy obviously understands quality parts matter when attempting extreme overclocks, but...liquid nitrogen never hurt as well I must point out. 


I see Asus threw in their awesome dual 5870 board FTW!!!


Man, That Rampage III board is still beautiful.

This is pretty cool, (pun intended) to see them use LN2. It is to bad that we don't have the ability to use that in any of the current water cooling systems. That would be neat to walk in to BB and say I would like to get that bottle of Nitro for my cooling system :P

I never knew about sealing the MoBO. I do have alot of those erasers still in their wrappers! My only question would be. Yeah they do it here, but what are the implications in the long run with something like that? Are there any issue when it comes to heat distribution or capacitor temperatures?

Always my concern about overclocking, is stability for various tasks. I tried this with an 4850, and it worked ok for games. Yet when it came to other tasks like photoshop or other DCC, then it started crashing the system. This is why I get the proper components that suite the needs for the particular uses intended.

This seems like an interesting competition, although it is like comparing a drag racer to the car you are going to drive to work.


@ animatortom you have to seal everything that could get shorted out as there is always the concern of condensation when using using extreme cooling like this. As far as the length of running a PC under these circumstances, most of the time this is done for competition solely. For an everyday cooling solution water cooling is sufficient. Phase change, liquid nitrogen ect is not for the average Joe and Jane, this takes a skilled individual to enter this arena. Also just to repeat as I stated before issues can always arise but if you use quality components you can greatly remove this hurdle as Asus uses solid Japanese capacitors in their boards especially their high end boards such as this Rampage 3 Extreme. Hope this helps


Yeah, That's why I said I get the right components the first time. I just never paid much attention to The Overclocking craziness.

I figured they would always just lay down some kind of mat. It always seem to me that if you blocked the MoBo that it would disrupt the capacitors ability to get airflow. In LA I never had any issues other than dust, unless I had the PC sitting right next to the the AC:)

I have been here in Waikiki for a few years now. Out here the humidity is really an issue. I have seen PC's with pretty messed up systems because of the calcifying saltwater!

 I just hope, as I build up this system, it survives the air here before I get back to LA! Being a Native Fornian, I am used to the drier air and filtering the smog at night. My GF likes to sleep with the windows wide open...AHHH!

Der Meister

If only they could close loop LN2, that would be sweet!


That Asus Rampage III Extreme motherboard box is HUGE!!! Might as well include two motherboards in there. lol


By the way, thanks for the heads up on the mastic tape.


That's and interesting conceptual idea Der Meister. I imagine the seal's and tube resiliency would be the major issue because of expansion and detraction, not to mention freezing completely lol!

Der Meister

^indeed that and the pressures involved would be immense, that and the system would need to have such a high pressure so that it would keep the LN2 liquid even after it hit the warm object. and you would need some type of heat exchanger and pump that could withstand all of the above,,, 


Maybe if a closed cooling system heated the contents into a gas, and then cooled it into a liquid and recycled it continuously? No moving parts or pumps (except, maybe, a small fan to ablate the heat) would make it reliable too. Oh wait! They have that already!

Joel H


That's heatpipe technology. When you integrate an air conditioner compressor, it's a single-stage phase change unit. It's impossible to build a closed-loop LN2 cooler (practically) because of the temperatures involved. Such a system (if it's even possible to build one) would draw enormous amounts of energy and be far larger than the computer system it encompassed.