If you're a PC gamer, then you've probably got a pretty powerful rig just to be able to meet today's recommended specs.
But some go over and above and buy the very best gear there is. So, if you're one of these people then you've probably got a pretty powerful computer on your desk!
So what if have the urge to take your monstrous PC for a spin? Well, there's a bunch of things you can do to unleash the beast inside.
Here are some things you can do:
Solve really complicated problems!
There's a bunch of really complicated problems that have yet to be solved where the bottleneck is computing resources. So, if you fancy helping out with scientific research then there's a number of universities and institutions that can use your computing power and the computing power of others around the world to create a hugely powerful supercomputer. Let's look at a couple of examples:
Berkeley Open Infrastructure for Network Computing (BOINC)
The BOINC project basically allows you to use your computer to help cure diseases, study global warming, discover pulsars and more. In order to contribute, you have to download some free software to your computer and then select a project that you wish to contribute to. The way is works is that the BOINC software downloads units of work and then does some number crunching when your computer is idle. The software also has a screensaver so that you can check progress. Alternatively, you can use your own screensaver, allowing BOINC to run in the background uninterrupted.
You don't necessarily need a powerful computer to do this, as it will work on any computer, but the more powerful your machine is, the more units of work it will be able to crunch through in a certain period of time.
Proteins in all living organisms help to digest food, kill viruses, regulate mood and perform a whole host of other functions to help keep the human body healthy.
In order to perform these incredibly important functions, the proteins have to assemble themselves or "fold" (and unfold) correctly. Not much is known about this critical and fundamental process, but what is known, is that misfolding can cause all sorts of serious health issues such as Alzheimer’s, Mad Cow, Parkinson’s disease and many cancers.
So, by understanding the protein folding process, scientists can develop drugs and therapies that can combat these diseases.
So where does computing power fit into this?
Well, by simulating how proteins fold and misfold, Folding@Home enables researchers to better understand how and why proteins misfold. Armed with this information, treatments can be created for many illnesses which are caused by misfolding.
Become a Tor Relay
Tor is a service that allows you to become anonymous whilst you're browsing the Internet. To take advantage of the service, first you need to download the Tor Browser.
Tor works because of a huge network of computers which are run by volunteers. Your IP address becomes hidden and to all intents and purposes, it looks like your connection to your favorite website is coming from the IP address of a Tor exit relay, which could of course be anywhere in the world.
Tor relays are also called "nodes" or "routers" and when they receive traffic on the Tor network, they simply pass it along. When you visit a website on Tor, your request goes through several relays before it actually reaches its final destination, which is why browsing the Internet on the Tor network is slower.
I'm sure you've heard about Bitcoin especially due to the amount of press coverage it has got recently. If you're not familiar, it's basically a digital currency that doesn't actually correspond to any physical element like traditional currency does. Instead, the value and verification of Bitcoins are provided by a global peer-to-peer network called the Blockchain.
The Bitcoins themselves are actually blocks of data that are treated like money. This data is ultra secure and the movement of this data from one person to another and the process of actually verifying the transaction is carried out by Bitcoin miners - users that use their computing power to be used as part of the Blockchain system to safely verify individual transactions.
As a reward for helping to verify these transactions, users are rewarded with new Bitcoins that can then be used to purchase goods or exchange into traditional currencies.
So, can you use your powerful computer to mine new Bitcoin? Well yes, sort of. I say sort of because it's becoming more and more difficult because of the amount of computing power that is required and the potential diminishing returns.
In the early days of Bitcoin, individuals mined new Bitcoins rapidly but because of the way the Bitcoin system is designed, each new block becomes more difficult to find than the previous one, which reduces the amount of Bitcoins that are generated. So, as time goes on, it becomes harder and harder for users to mine Bitcoin.
So, if you'd like to mine Bitcoin yourself, you're going to need at least a very powerful multi-GPU rig, but even that won't get you very far these days. In fact, there are now Custom-designed "miners" built for the sole purpose of mining Bitcoin which are based on ASICs (Application Specific Integrated Circuits). The considerable amount of processing power provided by these rigs will better your chances of making money, however you could end up spending more on hardware and electricity than you are actually making.
Most of use don't edit videos at all and just upload them straight to social media such as Facebook, YouTube, Instagram or whatever. But if you want to do more with your videos, like string multiple clips together into one video, maybe adding some background music or add a title or some transitions, then you're going to have to do some video editing.
Whether you're creating videos for fun as a hobby, for family vacations, YouTube videos, or marketing videos for your business, you can do that video editing on your phone or tablet. But it's much better to edit all your videos on a computer because, not only is it faster and easier, but if you're going to be processing 4K, 6K or even 8K video then you're going to need a powerful computer to do it. Video Editing takes a LOT of power and a lot of number crunching!
So if you're thinking of doing some serious video editing, you will be able to use a powerful computer to create perfect videos without your computer crashing or without having to wait every few minutes for the loading spinner ever time you make an edit!
So there you go. There are other things you can do with a powerful computer like do digital art with disgustingly large resolutions like 20000x15000, find the next prime number, find aliens, do some high-end 3D rendering or even open 150 webpages at the same time but we'll leave it there for now ;)
If you have a high-end rig that you use for something other than gaming, I'd love to know about it, please let me know in the comments!