IT distributors are cashing in on the growing trend of home computer modification, with demand for 'extreme' components at an all-time high.
Driven by the popularity of online games such as Doom 3, Far Cry and Half-Life, many users are upgrading graphics cards, motherboards and CPUs to cope with the ever-increasing demands of fast-paced gaming.
Users are also 'overclocking' graphics cards, motherboards and CPUs - pushing these components beyond normal operating capacity.
Plus Corporation managing director, Nigel Fernandes, is making the most of reseller requests for high-end components.
"Aside from wireless networking, modification components are our biggest growing segment of products," he said. "The gaming market took us by surprise - we couldn't believe the demand for graphics cards.
"These components are currently 10 per cent of our business - I can see it reaching 20 per cent."
Fernandes said the most popular products included CPU coolers - used for keeping overclocked processors under stable operating temperatures - neon cables, luminescent keyboards and cases.
Plus Corporation has also signed a contract to supply the World Cyber Games with 62 computers for this month's regional finals at Sydney's Luna Park. The company will be offering a series of high-end gaming PCs based on the models used at the Games.
"It's a bit of a trial for us," Fernandes said. "Customers like to build the gaming rigs themselves. I'm not sure the market will buy the complete device."
Altech Corporation, a distributor that started its business in 1997 in the gaming market, has also recently returned to its roots, according to sales director, Safa Joumaa.
"Sales in our modification products are growing - we're selling a lot," he said. "Our Reserator [water cooling tower] product keeps selling out - we can't keep up with demand."
Joumaa also said sales of neon-coloured LEDs - used for decorating computers - were increasing fast.
"We sell heaps - we currently order 300 per week of each colour and constantly sell out," he said. "We're selling thousands every month."
BCN Technology's managing director, Ken Lowe, said overclockers and gamers were creating demand for high-end products.
"A much larger proportion of our business is now dedicated to extreme users," Lowe said. "Overclocking has been around for years but has recently become a hot topic."
He is currently in the midst of introducing a strategy to make the most of the wave of popularity in PC modification.
"We will be setting aside resources to push our overclocking-related products such as LEDs, high-end chassis, fans, and matching peripherals," Lowe said.
He will be announcing two new distribution deals with manufacturers in the modification space in the next few weeks and is embarking on a strategy to educate mass merchants on the possibilities provided by extreme components.
IDC analyst, Michael Sager, said PC modification was a stepping stone between traditional PC use and converged computing, but it was hard to track the market without access to where buyers were getting their funds from.
"We are in a refresh stage for the consumer, but these people do not yet make up the mass market," he said.
"These are people in the 14-25 year-old age bracket who get money from their parents and part-time jobs.
"This market is driven by technologies such as broadband and the digital home - 2005 will be the year they hit the mass market."