5 ways to overclock a netbook (really!)

Didn't think hardware this tiny could be tweaked? We explore five ways to turn netbooks up to 11.

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5. Overclock your HP Mini 2140 with a hardware hack

Method: HP puts a tiny pin on the motherboard of its Mini 2140 netbook to prevent users from overclocking it. A developer known as Twain, a member of HPMiniGuide.com's forum, figured out how to disable the pin in order to use SetFSB to overclock his Mini.

Models: The HP Mini 2140.

Operating systems: See SetFSB entry for the Windows versions it supports.

Difficulty level: High. Twain had to figure out which "really tiny" resistor on the motherboard was doing the locking, cut out the resistor, and then use a soldering iron with a "super-small" tip to resolder the piece in a different location. Then he had to run the SetFSB utility. For those handy with a soldering iron who are confident that they can follow Twain's pictures and instructions, good luck. Others should keep well away.

The scuttlebutt: Twain says he jacked up his Mini's Atom N270 CPU from its rated speed of 1.6 GHz to 1.9 GHz, a nearly 20% increase. His PassMark 7 benchmark score increased to 312.6, and he was able to watch 1080p high-def video without any stuttering. Previously, his Mini could support only 720p.

Bonus tip: Take control of your Acer with A1ctl

Method: Another free app, called A1ctl, by Noda, doesn't actually let you overclock your Aspire's Atom CPU. However, it does plenty of other handy things: turns down noisy fans, boosts the screen resolution (up to 1024 by 768, from the native 1024 by 576) and underclocks your CPU for longer battery life.

Models: Most versions of the Acer Aspire One, the most popular netbook today.

Operating systems: Windows XP and Vista, though the underclocking/screen-boost features work only in XP.

Difficulty level: Easy. Download the RAR archive file, extract it and go.

The scuttlebutt: Reaction on the Acer Aspire One User Forum and developer Noda's blog has been frank about the app's bugs, but it's overall mostly positive. Noda released a final version, 1.0, in August that he says fixed most of its earlier bugs.

Unfortunately, Noda says he has no plans to keep working on A1ctl, meaning no Windows 7 version or new features such as overclocking are coming, for now.

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