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Last Updated: Sunday, 2 May, 2004, 07:04 GMT 08:04 UK
Beige PC box gets a makeover
Dissatisfied with the look of their hardware, some enthusiasts have taken it upon themselves to soup up their computers, reports BBC ClickOnline's David Reid.

Man making a computer
Computers tend to come in rather dull boxes
In a computer world full of anonymous off-white boxes, there is plenty of room to take something with no frills and turn it into something a little bit special.

For those with the time and inclination, there is no shortage of products that promise to turn the everyday into a work of art.

Modding takes an under-designed appliance, soups it up and customizes it. One of the main companies providing modders with the materials for their masterpieces is Sharkoon.

"Why do people mod?" asks Bjorn Bartsch of Sharkoon. "Just look at your computer, I guess it is very boring, just looking like a grey thing, it doesn't look very good.

"You have to mod it so it looks like a cool PC."

Looks count

There is an array of bits and pieces on offer ranging from luminous cabling, glowing plugs and colourful cases so you can see into the heart of these very personal computers.

I have many possibilities to show my creativity in this work
Dominik Boruta, modder
Modding comes from gaming and from LAN parties, where gamers go to pit their skills against each other, and as such it is a form of psychological combat.

If you want to compete with the best, you have to look the part.

But it is not all about appearance. With gamers over-clocking or tweaking the manufacturers settings on their computers, processing units are in danger of overheating.

This is why fans, and how-big-is-yours cooling systems, are central components to modding.

You cannot get much cooler than the Taiwanese company Cooler Master, which is bringing out a dashboard of controls on its cases so gamers can conspicuously turn down the heat.

"You can put on a front panel with an LCD which can show the fan speed and the CPU temperature, and you can also control the fan speed so that if it is too loud for you it can give you a more silent solution," said Tony Lam of Cooler Master.

PC fish

Water-cooling is the latest answer to sizzling CPUs. Some, such as one from Techsol, include components from an aquarium.

Gamers at a LAN competition
Computers need to look good in gaming competitions
But this is far from the modding crowd, which does its level best to cram computer components into anything from a drinks dispenser to a racing tyre, even a shop-window mannequin.

Competition between modders is fierce and pride in their creations even fiercer.

"I have many possibilities to show my creativity in this work," said modder Dominik Boruta.

"But during the last two or three years everything has been made twice and many often, so you have to make something special to show that you have your own individual thing."

Whether or not a radioactive glow from your faithful PC work-horse is the image you want to project, there is no denying that modders and modding have transformed what is often a fusty piece of office furniture into a work of art.

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