I'm sure that many of us will be getting new goodies for our systems soon (like bigdawg...) and the need to test/benchmark will arise.
Over the past few months that I have spent literally hours running various tests to establish the stability/performance of my rig.
One of the more common strategies involves stressing the CPU to bed in your thermal paste and check your temps under load.
This is a good thing and provides useful information.
Recently I became aware of a way to run these simulations and do a public service simultaneously.
It's called "distibuted computing" and there are many projects which use it.
Basically, we all have such powerful PCs that most of the time they are only idling, their real potential untapped.
If you join a distributed computing project your spare CPU cycles get used to perform work on huge and complex problems that require mega CPU cycletime, not typically available to research groups.
Once you join, the program will contact homebase and recieve a bit of computation to perform. Then, as you surf the web or e-mail Mom or do your homework, it works in the backround till it's done, sends in the results and asks for more.
During this time your CPU usage is 100%.
You can turn it off/on at will, it is NOT spyware/adware, it WILL NOT take over your machine...you are donating computer time to a worthy cause and actually running your hotrod PC through it's paces at the same time.
It's a win-win situation.
I have been working for Stanford University on the Protein Folding Project for almost two weeks now.
I have the program set to open with Windows, so I've essentially been running at full tilt for all that time. If you want to know how your cooling setup is performing this is a excellent way to find out.
At the same time you are doing your bit to help out medical research.
Kinda like giving blood without the crappy orange juice.
I urge you to check it out.