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The Return - A Dell XPS Mod (Update 05/07)

post #1 of 18
Thread Starter 
About a year ago, I got an email from a guy here in Pretoria telling me that he has this Dell case that's "scrap", and if I want to "salvage" it for a mod, I'd be welcome to have it. Now, I've always had an eye for Dell's cases, so I figured I'd take the guy up on his offer, especially considering the fact that you can't actually buy these cases - they're OEM. As far as I know, you need to actually buy a whole rig from Dell. So this was something I was definitely interested in.

I drove out to the guy's house, and there stood this "scrap" case. I say "scrap" because it was hardly scrap. It was a brand spanking new Dell case, still sealed in the plastic, imported from the UK. It was also accompanied by a 1000W Modular Dell PSU. Neither of these things had ever been used.

The case was absolutely beautiful, and it's construction and build quality was amazing.

I couldn't get started with it yet, though, because I was busy with another big project, and once that was done, the renovations we were doing to the house rendered my workspace unusable until just recently, so now I can finally get going

I took some quick photos after I got it:













I quickly shoved my hardware into this case. I didn't do a great job, but I just needed my hardware in there.





Cable management-wise, this case isn't particularly awesome. It's not TERRIBLE, but it's a little stingy. That's alright, though, that's what case modding is all about.

So, to start off, I stripped the whole thing. This actually took WAY longer than I was expecting it to. The amount of rivets that Dell used to put this thing together was nauseating:





The bottom is super ugly. I need to cover that up:





Now, one of the interesting things about this machine is that it comes with it's own proprietary PCB that controls the fans and LEDs in the case:











These are some of the LEDs that it comes with:







My plan is to mount this on the bottom of the case, like so:







I'll then place a cover over that entire floor so that it's all hidden and the bottom of the case looks good. So this is the first one I made:





If you look closely, you'll see that I actually had to key out a few spots so that the side panel mounts had some space:







I ended up scrapping that piece though. It was a little too wide, and I needed the floor of the case to be a few millimeters lower. So, a new one. No need for the keys on this one:





Then I needed to drill 3 holes for mounting screws:





By the way, if you don't have a decent ruler, get one. I bought this guy for something like R40 (less than $6):







The screws I was going to use for this would be countersunk screws, like this:





One down:





All done:





In place:







As you can see, it fits really well:





And the screws look great:





So that was step one. The next thing I needed to make was a motherboard tray. The reason the previous owner didn't use the case was because of its lack of a tray. I made a quick temporary one out of some plexi, but I needed to make a nice one for this mod:







I had to thread a bunch of 2.4mm holes with a 3mm tap for the motherboard stand-offs:





Fitted:





I made two holes through the tray that line up with 2 threaded 3mm holes in the chassis for the tray to be fixed to. I made sure to use screws with low profiles to hold it together:




Edited by DAE_JA_VOO - 7/5/11 at 7:04am
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post #2 of 18
Thread Starter 
I also knew that I absolutely HAD to cover up that whole top "cavity" that the case has - the place where the PSU and HDDs reside. Even though it's not all that visible when the case is closed, it's wide open when the case is open. This is what I'm talking about, this whole section above the new motherboard tray:





So, a rectangular piece of alu was cut up, and then I started drilling and countersinking the holes:







All done:





And fitted:





The screws look so good I could scream





This panel still needs some work, though. I don't know if I want to leave it looking so plain.

The next step was to make some cable management changes to the case. The "back" side panel has a few channels in it that are part of its structure, so I figured I'd use those to my advantage. Sure, I'll never be able to take that side panel off, but the case was designed in that way in any case.

So I checked to see where I needed to cut:





And according to my slick new ruler, the distance between the start of that panel and where it ends is about 14mm:





Now I need those holes to be a little smaller, because I'm actually going to be covering all of this up. So I made them about 13mm in height. Anyway, here they are, marked off, ready for some Dremel love:





And here we go:





Here's after the Dremel work. Now it's filing, sanding, etc:





All done:





Fitted:





And here's a cable, just to show you what I mean:





Now, all of that will actually be getting covered up with a panel, so you'll never actually see that, but it'll be neat, and that's what's important to me. Hahahha.

So that's it for now. What are my plans? The black plastic of the case will be staying black, but the rest of the case is going white. These panels inside will be getting some paint as well. I'm pretty sure I'll be making those white too, but I'll see how I feel about that as I progress.

The whole machine is getting watercooled as well, so that should be a lot of fun. The raddy will sit right at the front of the case, with the pump at the top in the same cavity as the HDDs and PSU.

So, what do you think? Any advice or feedback?

Thanks for taking the time to read my log. I hope you liked it
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post #3 of 18
Looks amazing so far.
Love these cases.



I would love to have one myself to mod.
    
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post #4 of 18
This is so awesome..... I'm subbed and drooling.
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post #5 of 18
Thread Starter 
Thanks guys

Alrighty, update time! I haven't worked on this mod in about 2 weeks actually, been crazy busy but I took all the shots while I was working on it before and now I'm posting the update

One of the things I've always been really iffy about is cable management. I hate it when cables aren't done well in a machine. So, what I decided to do was make some panels that would fit into the side panel of the case, and on these panels, I'll fit some cable management clips. Let's explain this in pictures. Some alu for the first panel:





Three panels cut out. These are rough cuts. They still needed some more cut out, and also some filing/sanding:





Cutting done. Next step is cutting/filing:





Cutting and filing done:





Then I needed to bend these little wings up so that I could use that to screw these panels into the side panel of the case. The big piece ended up being a problem. Either I measured wrong, or I bent the parts wrong, but it ended up being about 1mm too wide to fit, so I ended up just cutting off the wings, and that had no negative effects on the panel's stability, so no loss!





And here the panels are, more or less finished, for now. The need to still be sanded down and painted, and holes made for the cable management goodies, but that all happens later:





This is what they look like fitted:





And this is a quick illustration of how they'll actually work. This is a very rough idea, but use your imagination





Then, let me introduce the first cooling component in this build - the Black Ice Stealth. It's a 3x120mm raddy, and dead sexy:







Now, because of the nature of this case, it obviously has no place that's made for a radiator to fit. So I had to make something like that. I started off by just using a piece of scrap alu, measuring a few distances, bending it, and making sure that I had my measurements 100% right, because the next thing I was going to do had no room for error So here's the raddy and the alu:





I decided to make up two small brackets that would fit to the case's motherboard tray, and then that would hold up the raddy. So here I had them marked up:





Drilling the holes:





Thought I'd show you the drill press I use. Definitely one of the best investments I ever made. Anyway, here were the two pieces ready for some fun:





At this point, I messed up the one by filing literally ONE stroke too many. My own OCD stops me from saying "Eh, I'll use it anyway", so I had to remake it. Here's the new one drawn up and ready:





Here I've cut them out, and now it's all down to filing/sanding:





Lots of filing, lots of sanding:





Aaaaaaand, bent!







On the raddy. Excuse the fans. These aren't going to be in the final build. They're just there to illustrate:





And then I fitted it into the case:







All that needs now is one bracket on the other side of the raddy to support it. That'll probably get mounted on the inside of the top cover panel. I'm really happy with how it all came out, though.

In order to move on, I needed to make the "roof" of the area where the motherboard and stuff sit. So, here I've got it drawn up and ready for the first cut:





Cut out. Still rough:





Filed:







Now here's where I had to get stuck into chopping away at the case again. The case has some or other bracket near the top. I still don't know what it's for:





All I know is that when I put the panel in, the bracket is in my way:







So I cut it out, and now this panel fits perfectly:





The distance between the fans on the raddy and the panel is also perfect:






That's basically it for now. I started countersinking the holes for this, but that means nothing now until I can show you guys what it looks like mounted

Hope you're liking what I'm doing. I'm enjoying building it! I'll most probably be bale to start working on this again tomorrow or the day after. I only have a couple of hours a day, though, so I should only have something for you guys next week again
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post #6 of 18
Whoa. I used to have an XPS 630i which had a very similar case to this... and you're making me miss it!
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post #7 of 18
Such a hot case man, well done.
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post #8 of 18
Man that's some nice craftsmenship, I may have to use your idea for mounting the radiator. Subbed.

To think I almost skipped by this thread( dell scared me off)

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post #9 of 18
great job man, you are a very skilled man, i like that you made everything yourself
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post #10 of 18
That is a very nice looking case. What do know what model Dell that case was for? I never heard of a Dell with a 1000 Watt PSU before, so it might be a case for one of their old top of the line gaming computers. Can you measure the width, length, and height of the case? It looks like a full size tower, but I'm wondering if that case is larger than the current XPS 9100 case or smaller.
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