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Carbon Fiber & Chrome

post #1 of 54
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After much planning, time to get back to work wink.gif

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Introduction

So a little background on myself - this will technically be my second case mod. My first was simply 'blacking out' the inside of my Antec 900 and cutting holes for wire management. Ever since I started coming to OCN, case mods were the main threads I viewed. It's really grown on me and I'm hoping to get more experience with modding and system building in the future and eventually be on par with some of the more experienced modders on the site. This case mod will be a little more ambitious as it deals with cutting, painting, wrapping, and actually modifying the outside of the case. The case I will be using is the first case I ever bought which was about ten years ago. It's been sitting in my closet for a few years collecting dust (literally - you'll see in pictures). I recently saw some videos on the 3M DI-NOC carbon fiber wrap and thought it looked interesting to work with, so I decided to use this as the main 'component' in this mod. After numerous videos and images, I saw that carbon fiber and chrome looked pretty slick together, so that's what I decided would be the theme.

Please feel free to comment, criticize, praise, or just share thoughts/ideas on this project. I'm not doing a full PC build as I probably won't do that until early next year, so this will just be mainly the case - however, I may stick some old parts I have lying around or even transfer my main rig over to see how it looks I will 'technically' be doing a full build with this case as I will be transferring my current rig into this case once it's done. I will also be doing some sleeving, lighting, and possibly another heatsink to better flow with the theme.


The Case

I honestly can't remember what the name of the case is and I can't find a receipt to look it up. After some research (random Google queries), I found a case that was pretty much the exact same one on a Chinese PC case site - the name they have on their site is the "Handle ATX Computer Case T-12BL". Here are some pics:

Everything that is gray on the front panel will be chrome. The black trim area will be carbon fiber warp. I will be replacing the plastic drive bay covers with aluminum covers which I will polish to a reflective finish. (Yes that is a floppy drive..... no it will not be included tongue.gif )
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The gray on the top near the power/reset buttons will be chrome. The LED acrylic panel's been scuffed up, so I will buff that out to make it shine again. The black on the top will be carbon wrap. The gray pattern underneath the handle will be taken out and a 2x120mm rad grill will replace it. A hole will be cut underneath the rad grill to allow for 2x120mm white LED fans. The fans will have chrome blades.
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I will be cutting out the pattern of this window, but will keep the four corner curves so that it will have a 'squared-octagon' look to it... if that makes sense. I will be removing the 80mm fan and window and replacing it with a 120mm white LED fan with chrome grill and a smoked (tinted) window. The black on the panel will be carbon fiber wrap.
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The MoBo side panel will be carbon fiber wrap.
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Dismantling the Case

While all my parts were on order (fans, bay covers, grills, and case feet), I started to take apart the case:

As I mentioned previously, this thing's been collecting dust (I live in high desert). On the bright side, the dust's given me a good point of reference for where I'll be making the cut in the top, lol.
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The entire interior will be painted black. Right now I'm thinking a satin or semi-gloss black, but I may be interested in some other variation of black (like silver flakes or textured). That front 80mm will be widened to accommodate a 120mm white LED fan with chrome blades. The back vent will stay an 80mm fan, but I'll be cutting out the 'case grill' and putting an 80mm white LED fan with a chrome grill.
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I will be making a wire management hole at the top on the right-hand portion of that indentation for the PSU. There's really not much more in terms of wire management that I can do, from what I can think of, so there won't be much of that in this mod. Again, the guts will be all black.
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So the inside, or cage, of the case is metal and the outside handle and front panel are plastic. I've taken apart the front panel as it'll be much easier to chrome the gray pieces and wrap the black pieces with the carbon fiber. I've been seeing a lot recently on sleeving, so I might take some practice runs with this mod and sleeve some of the panel wiring to see how I like it. Also, the power/HDD LEDs are green and orange, or something like that. I'm debating whether I'm going to replace those with white LEDs since the theme of the case will be all white lighting... not sure on that yet.
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The Parts

So I started getting parts in the mail. If something catches my eye and I want to add it, I'll update this section - but these are all the parts I had in mind for this case mod:


There will be a total of 4x120mm fans and 1x80mm fan. I decided to go with these AeroCool Silver Lightning Fans as the blades were already chrome, they have white LEDs, and they're pretty quiet.
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I went with the Lian Li drive bay covers because they were pretty much exactly what I wanted for the 5.25 and 3.5 bay drives. They're brushed aluminum, but I will polish them to a reflective finish and coat them with a clear lacquer to keep the shine. I found a 120mm chrome grill and 80mm chrome grill that I thought looked nice, so decided to go with them for the window panel fan and the back fan. For the top rad grill - I couldn't find any that already had a chrome finish, so I looked for an aluminum 2x120mm rad grill that had a simple design as it will be a grill for the top and not necessarily seen all the time. I decided to go with the 2x120mm rad grill from A.C.Ryan RadGrillz.
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I ordered some brushed aluminum case feet, but they were more of an 'engraved-brushed' look. I don't think I want to fuss with polishing these as I would have to sand down the engraving quite a bit to get a reflective finish. They have a decent shine to them, so I'll use them and make the final decision later.
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I did a lot of shopping around for window panels and everywhere I looked they were $20+. I decided to check local plastic shops and found exactly what I wanted for $7.50 - 12"x12" 1/8" tinted acrylic window. I will be cutting a 120mm hole for my fan. Still thinking about if I want the fan centered on the window, or towards the bottom-left of the window to be more directly on the GPU(s).
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The only other thing I'm still currently shopping around for is the Carbon Fiber. Many shops sell the 3M DI-NOC wrap, but there's also some knock offs and other 'competitive' brands as well. I've ordered a couple samples from different vendors and will see which one I like the most. Once I get an idea of what I want, I'll order a sheet of it. In the meantime, I can start the measuring and cutting to prep for the paint.

More To Come...

Edited by Colonel Zay - 5/30/12 at 9:37am
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Midnyte
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post #2 of 54
Subbed, should be an interesting build. smile.gif

Good luck!
post #3 of 54
That case looks very much like, an old Soyo Dragon case from around 1999-2000.
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post #4 of 54
Thread Starter 
So I got a couple samples of the carbon fiber from some vendors and you can definitely tell the real deal 3M DI-NOC from the others. I put in an order of 36" x 48" CF Wrap and will pick up some Primer 94 locally - no rush as I'm not to that stage yet. I got the major cuts done last night on the case. I need to do a few more cuts to the front panel to allow for the front intake fan and I'm also moving the bottom I/O panel. Will post some updated pics tonight and might include some quality shots of the carbon fiber samples so you can tell the difference.
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post #5 of 54
Thread Starter 
Cutting

Last night and tonight I've done about 95% of the cutting on the case. I made the top grill opening, the front 120mm fan hole, cut away the grill on the rear 80mm fan, cut PSU wire management hole on the MoBo tray, and I cut the side panel. Some unexpected cuts occurred as well, as you'll see below. The majority of cuts I made were with my Dremel 300 rotary tool. The MoBo hole I used a 1/2" hole saw bit and finished up with the Dremel. The side panel I used a reciprocating saw. Everything else was all Dremel thumb.gif :

Here's a shot where I'll be putting the 240mm rad grill with the fans
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Here's a shot of the front 120mm intake I cut open
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I cut out a decent sized PSU hole at the top
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Here's the rear 80mm case grill that I cut out for my chrome grill
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I don't have a jigsaw at the moment, but I do have a reciprocating saw. Was a little too much for the panel, but it got the job done and I was able to file it down to look decent
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I cut out the I/O panel at the bottom of the front panel. I plan on moving this, possibly to the 3.5 drive bay - just haven't decided how yet. I have some ideas floating around on what I want to do with the bottom, you'll see later. I cut out the plastic panel and sanded the corners. I'll do a better job of sanding once I start prepping the case and panels for paint/CF/chrome
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Here's the first unexpected cut that occurred. After cutting out the top hole for the 240mm rad grill, I saw that the top panel didn't lock onto the case anymore because small portions of the grill were blocking the holes that the top panel locked onto. After roughly measuring out the holes, I ended up cutting into the corners of the rad grill and 6 small 'tabs' along the sides of the grill as well. I also decided to counter sink the fan screw holes as well to give it a more flat look
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The second unexpected cut also happened when I was checking the top panel with the case. I noticed that about 90% of the fan airflow would come out the top by the handle, but a small amount would be trapped in the top panel. To avoid this, I decided to cut out the back lip of the panel as an exhaust vent. After cutting out the back and sanding, I thought of possibly doing some lighting with this as well, we'll see what I come up with
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As per my last post, I was going to get out the DSLR and take comparative pics of the CF wrap samples I got. Today, however, while I was browsing OCN I found numerous topics that already did this, so figured it's already out there. If you want to see the differences of some of the CF wraps compared to the 3M DI-NOC brand, just do a quick search. I can tell you though that from the samples I have, DI-NOC is just no competition.

I'm still deciding whether I'll use mounting tape for the window or if I'll use silver wrench screws to fasten it. Will start putting things back together and double checking anything else that needs to be done so I can prep everything for paint. I have some additional accessories that I've thought of that I'll be adding to refurb the case even more, and I've been rolling some lighting schemes around as well. Those will come about with further updates though.

Let me know what you guys think!

More To Come...

Edited by Colonel Zay - 3/21/12 at 11:39am
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post #6 of 54
Excited for this build, seems like a good combo.
Builds are much funner when they're on a budget, it stretches your wallet AND your creativity thumb.gif

Oh and bots reported.
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post #7 of 54
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by dmanstasiu View Post

Oh and bots reported.

Bots reported??? Not sure what you mean...

So I haven't updated in a bit because I got sidetracked into some garage/workspace projects. I built a tank of a workbench and am in the process of finishing up some new shelves I'm putting in. I'll post some pics afterwards to show what I've done. On another note - my CF wrap arrived today and it looks incredible. Seeing the full sized wrap gave me even more motivation for this project. I need to wait for a local sign shop to get some more Primer 94 in (no sir, I don't need a gallon - I'll wait for the 1/2 pint) and I'll be set there. I've decided to expand the window some. It seemed small to me and I wasn't satisfied with the cutting I made with the reciprocating saw. I went out and bought a jigsaw with a pack of blades and bought a larger smoked acrylic panel, so that's my next step. I'll be putting the case together with some spare components one more time to make sure I got everything I need before it's painted.

Some additional items I want to add are some chrome/silver slot covers and silver thumbscrews for the missing slots in the back. I'm also thinking of doing a white LED strip in the case to add more lighting inside (the white NZXT LED kit looks pretty good - opinions?). Since the window is smoked, the bright lights won't be as intense as if it were clear - I think it will give it a 'smooth' feel. coolsmiley03.png

I've also been getting a sleeving itch, so I'm realllllllllllllllllly tempted to try my hand at sleeving with this project as well. If I do, it will be black sleeving. Still thinking about whether it'll be paracord, mdpc-x, ftwpc, etc. Since it'll be my first time, I'm thinking of buying some cheap black paracord at a local shop and testing it out on a spare PSU.

Don't be afraid to say hi! biggrin.gif

Much more to come...
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Midnyte
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post #8 of 54
Thread Starter 
Side Projects & More Cutting/Prepping

As I mentioned in my last post, I got a little sidetracked with some other house projects and busy with work. I've made all of the major cuts that I planned on making. I also decided to change the green and amber LED lights on the acrylic panel to bright white LEDs - should match the rest of the white lighting and go with the CF/Chrome look nicely I think. I've finished my workbench and only have a little left with the garage shelves. I did get some more 'plastic' work done as well. Here are some pics:

Here's where the power/reset buttons and the power/HDD LEDs were, I've removed all of it both to replace the LEDs and to prep for chroming that silver portion
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In test fitting the components and case pieces, I came across an issue with the front intake fan and the front panel doh.gif
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Yeah...... about 10mm too big for the inside bevels of the front panel. 'Ain't No Thang' though... Marked off the area where the fan should fit snuggly, and got to work
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It fits!!! thumbsupsmiley.png
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I even cut a few millimeters further to give the fan more clearance and room to pull in air. Let me tell you - cutting plastic stinks.... literally. Smells just awful. Much more fun cutting metal biggrin.gif So after I finished cutting, I started standing down the edges to smooth out. That was all I needed to do with the front panel, so I started eyeing and feeling imperfections around my cutting area and the rest of the front panel. I started sanding with 200 grit paper, then 400 grit paper. After that, I washed both pieces in warm soapy water to get rid of dust and debris - then I got some of this out
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I love this stuff. Have used it on my car, on case panels, and acrylic windows. Stuff is just amazing. I wanted to use this to rub out the sanding marks on the plastic. I want this to be as smooth as possible to give the chrome a good reflective finish once it's done
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The "scratches" are still seen, but that's just from sanding away the gray paint from the plastic - it's smooth as silk otherwise. I think that's just about everything I'll be doing with the case as far as cutting. I'll just be going over it one more time before it's painted and chromed. While that's getting done, I'll also be measuring out the CF pieces and prepping for those. I picked up some 94 Primer, so I can start preparing the panels and black trim for that. I also finished cutting the window larger and got a larger piece of acrylic for the window (again, can't beat local prices - $8 for 15"x14"). I'll start measuring on the window to cut the hole for the side fan
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So that's it for now as far as PC modding goes... On another note - here's the trip I made to the local home improvement store the other day thumb.gif
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I've been putting both of these projects off for a while, and since I've been working more in my garage lately, I've been feeling the need for more room and to get the shelves and bench done. My wife got me a prefab bench from Sears that's just awesome. Tall, steel top, drawers, everything. I needed something else that I could get rough with though. Here are the shelves. All that's left to do is cut the plywood tops and nail them down and sand it smooth. These things are solid. Did some pullups on a couple of the shelves and tried shaking side to side, couldn't get it to move
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Here's the tank of a bench I put together. I'm a pretty big guy (6'6" 265lbs) - I climbed on this thing and jumped up and down on it... didn't even budge. I painted the top of it with a black enamel to give it that extra little bit of protection and easier cleaning. Whenever it gets banged up, can always go over it and make it good as new. Got a vise for it too which I'll be adding after the paint's dried/cured
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And something to leave you all with... This is what happens when you have a bunch of boxes lying in your office and you let your 'almost two-year-old' in with you rolleyes.gif
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On the plus side - he was occupied with packing peanuts while I was able to get work done thumb.gif So that's it for now. I feel like most of this work so far is prepping and the big 'step' is when I get the painting/chrome done. After that is just the carbon fiber for the panels and black trim. I've decided to go ahead and put my current rig into this build as well (my sig rig). I think that will 'qualify' it more as a worklog or build. I've also got the massive itch to do some sleeving, so I am going to take my crack at that as well. So this worklog is turning into something a little more than I had originally planned... but hey, that's a good thing wink.gif

Thanks for viewing this guys, and feel free to just say hi! It's good knowing that people are interested in seeing where this is going and keeping up with the build cheers.gif

More To Come...

Edited by Colonel Zay - 3/21/12 at 11:40am
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Midnyte
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post #9 of 54
Thread Starter 
Painting, Covering, & Experimenting - Pt. 1

So this will just be a small update. After finishing the cutting and modifications that I planned to make to the 'cage' of the case, I looked at it and decided that I was going to powder coat it instead. I made my Antec 900 black on the inside and it turned out great - but thinking of doing that again with this case just didn't seem very appealing to me. So the case is dropped off and I will be picking it up in a couple of days. Will take some 'good' pics of that. As far as the top, front, and side panels - I'm ready to start doing the CF wrap and work on the window. I did a lot of searching for ways I could chrome plastic, or non-conductive material, and although their are numerous ways (chrome wrap, 'stretchable' chrome wrap, painting, powder coating, etc.), none of those created the effect I wanted or simply wasn't available in my area. After I got off the phone with the powder coating guy, I happened to come across something called "MonoKote" by Top Flite. It's a covering used in model airplanes and cars and is extremely reflective. After viewing some pics and vids online, I called my local hobby shop and they sell this stuff in 3'x6' sheets for only $15! I figured, even if it didn't work and I screwed it up, wouldn't be that bad for $15. So I stopped by and picked some up. Anyways - here are some pics:

Here's a roll of MonoKote in its wrapping
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Here is the roll stretched out. I put the paper wrap on top of it to show it's reflection. Definitely the look I was going for!
450

I took a spare plastic covering that I won't be using and decided to experiment with it. I didn't sand and finish it down, so imperfections are shown in the plastic, but man... looks great I think! Especially once I apply it to a sanded down surface!
450

So I'll be taking my time doing that and the CF in the next couple days while I wait for the powder coating to be done.

An issue did come up while I was planning things out. In my 'excitement' of buying the bay covers, I forgot to realize that my front panel was plastic
450

But the bay covers were metal
450

Basically, the bay covers weren't going to stay in there as is. Oh well.... easy fix. Bought some sheet metal shingles and will be shaping some tabs and riveting them to the bay covers. This way they can screw in to the bay drives that they're covering and be snug and secure
450

Had some life events happen recently, so not working as much as I'd like on this. My next update, I plan on posting some good quality pics of the powder coated case. I also want to get the CF done and try my hand at the MonoKote. That will be most of the 'hard work' done with this case, but I've already made my decision to use my current rig in this case. I will possibly be replacing the heatsink with a better/matching fan and will be sleeving my PSU and case wires. So yeah... lots more to come!

Edited by Colonel Zay - 4/30/12 at 9:40pm
Midnyte
(18 items)
 
 
CPUMotherboardGraphicsRAM
AMD Phenom II X4 955 Black Edition Deneb ASUS M4N82 Deluxe EVGA GTX 260 Core 216 SC (2-Way SLI) CORSAIR XMS2 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 800 
Hard DriveHard DriveOptical DriveCooling
WD Caviar Blue 7200 RPM WD Caviar Black 7200 RPM (Storage) Sony Optiarc DVD/CD Rewritable Drive ZALMAN CNPS9900ALED 120mm 
OSMonitorMonitorKeyboard
Windows 7 Pro x64 ASUS VE276Q Black 27" Acer X223Wbd Black 22" RAZER Lycosa 
PowerCaseMouseMouse Pad
CORSAIR CMPSU-750TX Antec Nine Hundred RAZER DeathAdder steelseries QcK Mass 
AudioAudio
Cyber Acoustics CA3550RB Sennheiser HD 280 PRO 
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Midnyte
(18 items)
 
 
CPUMotherboardGraphicsRAM
AMD Phenom II X4 955 Black Edition Deneb ASUS M4N82 Deluxe EVGA GTX 260 Core 216 SC (2-Way SLI) CORSAIR XMS2 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 800 
Hard DriveHard DriveOptical DriveCooling
WD Caviar Blue 7200 RPM WD Caviar Black 7200 RPM (Storage) Sony Optiarc DVD/CD Rewritable Drive ZALMAN CNPS9900ALED 120mm 
OSMonitorMonitorKeyboard
Windows 7 Pro x64 ASUS VE276Q Black 27" Acer X223Wbd Black 22" RAZER Lycosa 
PowerCaseMouseMouse Pad
CORSAIR CMPSU-750TX Antec Nine Hundred RAZER DeathAdder steelseries QcK Mass 
AudioAudio
Cyber Acoustics CA3550RB Sennheiser HD 280 PRO 
  hide details  
Reply
post #10 of 54
Thread Starter 
So last night I decided to do the carbon fiber on the panels, figured I'd do it real quick before I go to bed... yeah right. took me about 5 hours to get it all done. Most of that time spent doing the "U" part for the front panel and the top panel with the handle. Even got a nasty paper cut working with it, lol. I'm still waiting on the powder coating to be done. Once I get the case back, I'll start working on the drive bay covers to fasten them in. I've already cut out the I/O panel on one of the 3.5 bay covers and used some plastic 'holders' from the part of the case I cut out to attach the PCB - worked like a charm. I don't have pics of doing the CF - once I started getting into it I went completely tunnel vision on it. There's really not much left with the case, at least with what I originally planned to do. Still have to cut the intake on the window and need to chrome the plastic parts. After that I'll be done with the case - but as I mentioned earlier, I'm going to make this a complete build by transferring my current rig and doing a lot of sleeving, so that should be fun. I ordered a sample foot of material that I'm going to try to sleeve with to see how it looks - and I haven't seen it on OCN... so you all may or may not be in for a surprise biggrin.gif
Midnyte
(18 items)
 
 
CPUMotherboardGraphicsRAM
AMD Phenom II X4 955 Black Edition Deneb ASUS M4N82 Deluxe EVGA GTX 260 Core 216 SC (2-Way SLI) CORSAIR XMS2 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 800 
Hard DriveHard DriveOptical DriveCooling
WD Caviar Blue 7200 RPM WD Caviar Black 7200 RPM (Storage) Sony Optiarc DVD/CD Rewritable Drive ZALMAN CNPS9900ALED 120mm 
OSMonitorMonitorKeyboard
Windows 7 Pro x64 ASUS VE276Q Black 27" Acer X223Wbd Black 22" RAZER Lycosa 
PowerCaseMouseMouse Pad
CORSAIR CMPSU-750TX Antec Nine Hundred RAZER DeathAdder steelseries QcK Mass 
AudioAudio
Cyber Acoustics CA3550RB Sennheiser HD 280 PRO 
  hide details  
Reply
Midnyte
(18 items)
 
 
CPUMotherboardGraphicsRAM
AMD Phenom II X4 955 Black Edition Deneb ASUS M4N82 Deluxe EVGA GTX 260 Core 216 SC (2-Way SLI) CORSAIR XMS2 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 800 
Hard DriveHard DriveOptical DriveCooling
WD Caviar Blue 7200 RPM WD Caviar Black 7200 RPM (Storage) Sony Optiarc DVD/CD Rewritable Drive ZALMAN CNPS9900ALED 120mm 
OSMonitorMonitorKeyboard
Windows 7 Pro x64 ASUS VE276Q Black 27" Acer X223Wbd Black 22" RAZER Lycosa 
PowerCaseMouseMouse Pad
CORSAIR CMPSU-750TX Antec Nine Hundred RAZER DeathAdder steelseries QcK Mass 
AudioAudio
Cyber Acoustics CA3550RB Sennheiser HD 280 PRO 
  hide details  
Reply
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