Welcome!MOTM VOTING RESULTS HERE!
This mod Came in second place in Mod of the Month's December Amateur class!
it was a close thing, too. I'd like to give a shoutout to Janac's third-place finish for Cranberry
for Cranberry as well.
As you may have noticed, this is my first attempt at case modding, I've put in a lot of hours on taking a 10+ year old beige case I had and attempting to turn it into a great looking case with many modern features.
This log, in many ways, has been about resurrecting the castoffs of days gone by. And in many ways, I owe it all to Overclock.net. I discovered this site after buying my first set of components in years to replace an old store-bought PC and was inspired and blown away by the mods here.Here's the case I started with.
Isn't she a beauty? One little tidbit in the above photos. Notice there are two 80mm vent holes at the bottom of the front frame? Notice how there are no vents in the plastic bezel that snaps over it? Isn't that just amazing? [/sarcasm] Now I know why that case didn't come with front fans...
Many of the techniques I used (often imperfectly) I learned from seeing what others here had done. And in a real way, this mod is due directly to OCN. Most of the internal components in the mod were purchased directly though the OCN marketplace to build this, my son's first PC, including:
- GPU Galaxy GTX480 modded with an Antec Kuhler AIO from coachmark2
- Motherboard GA78LMT-USB3 from lapengu
- CPU AMD FX6400 from lapengu
- RAM Crucial Ballistic Sport 2x4 GB from irush
- PSU Corsair HX520 Semi-Modular from slider46
- Corsair SP120 Quiet Series Fan, Fan Extensions, and 4 LED Puck from slider46
- SSD Samsung SSD 830 128gb from crazyg0od33
- Fan Controller NZXT Sentry Mesh from whodie
So, OCN, I truly could not have done this without you.
So let's get to it. What the heck did I do? I resurrected the dead, that's what I did. The following photos are highlights from this log showing what I did to the decade+ year old case. It was a wild ride, and I hope you enjoy it.Front View:
Highlights: I drilled two 120mm holes for front fans through the front frame and front bezel, heavily modified the shape with PVC pipe, expanding foam, and body filler, added a fan controller and IO box, and mounted new power and reset buttons in the front bays. You may also notice that bumpout on the left there. More about that below.Frontside Exterior View:
Highlights: Cut a window in the side panel using hole saw and jigsaw, lined it with molding, and installed clear acrylic. You may also notice the new feet and the paint job. More on those below.Backside Exterior View:
Highlights: Added a bumpout to provide room behind the motherboard and drive cages for wire management. This involved cutting a window, epoxying a trimmed cookie pan over the hole, and a lot of body filler and sanding to get the profile right. The original case had less than 0.5 cm clearance, this expanded the room to more like 4 cm of room.Rear View:
Highlights: Flipped back panel (along with mobo inside) so PSU is on bottom and drilled out 120mm fan hole.Top View:
Sorry no original. Here's the modded view:
Highlights: Drilled 120mm fan hole in top and added a grill using hand-painted thumbscrews for mounting the GPU radiator.Frontside Interior View (Empty):
Highlights: Rotated 3.5" Drive Cage 90 degrees for side-loading. Added front and rear fans. Flipped mobo and mobo brace to put PSU on bottom. Cut hole for CPU cooler bracket in mobo tray. Custom paint job requiring extensive masking on interior.Backside Interior View (Empty):
Highlights: Added wire management panels made of custom-cut foam board covered in vinyl to sections not covered by mobo tray to hide wiring. See more detail below.Interior Wiring
Highlights: Original case had zero space for wire management. Adding the bumpout to the back side panel, adding wire management panels, and rotating the 3.5" drive cage allowed most of the wiring to be hidden from view. Also cut a grommet hole in the side of the 5.25" drive cage.3.5" Drive Bay:
Highlights: In addition to the custom paint job and rotating the 3.5" drive cage 90 degrees, I also cut multiple windows in the side of the drive cage to allow improved air flow from the front fans.PSU:
Highlights: Sleeved the 24-pin and 8-pin harnesses with paracord and added cable combs. Coiled the old 4-pin harness inside the PSU since it was not needed.Custom Stuff:
PSU Cover Scratchbuilt:
Highlights: Created a custom PSU cover out of foam board, covered with vinyl. Added a hand-carved, back-lit acrylic logo to the side. The cover directs front fan air flow toward the CPU cooler and hides most of the PSU wiring.
Two-tone paint job, wrapping around the side and top panels:
Highlights: After extensive body filler work and cutting, sanded, primed, filled, and painted a merlot-red enamel. Hand-applied a latex liquid mask in a wraparound pattern, sprayed black satin enamel, and peeled the latex off for a glorious effect.
Wiring Management Panels Scratchbuilt:
Highlights: Panels were custom-fit out of foam board with holes cut for wire access. Black flexible foam was used to make hole grommets and the entire thing covered in vinyl.
And here's why I needed those panels.
Highlights: This could still use some work, but was the best I could do under the time constraint. A combination of zip-tie mounts and clips ensures all the wiring actually fits. Reused the original PSU sleeving, cut a large amount of excess wiring out, and soldered in extensions for some of the fans.
A few more beauty shots:
Part of my goal here was to avoid, as much as possible, buying actual modding supplies that are specifically for computers, and instead use materials that are commonly available at local stores. If you want to see the details behind all that stuff above, here you go!Table of Contents:
Lots more photos of stripped down case: (Click to show)
- 1. Drive Cage Rotation Part 1
- 2. Drive Cage Rotation Part 2
- 3. Full Disassembly and Taking Stock
- 4. Flip Mobo/PSU/Back Panel and Check Fit
- 5. Fan Location Planning
- 6. Fan Planning Part 2: Devil in the Details
- 7. Rear Fan Mod: Cutting and Mounting
- 8. Front Panel Modding and Front Fan Mounting
- 9. Mod Front Plastic Bezel and Take Stock
- 10. Drive Cage Vents, Front Panel Foam, and Test Paint
- 11. Foam Substrate Complete
- 12. First Setback and Recovery
- 13. New Fans
- 14. Side WIndow Planning
- 15. Front Bezel Sculpting Part 1
- 16. Front Bezel Sculpting Part 2
- 17. So I Told My Wife I Was Going Out To Do Some Stripping...
- 18. More Front Bezel Prep
- 19. Optimus Etchimus Priming
- 20. Adventures in Spraypainting
- 21. Front Bezel Filler Part 1 - AKA This is Why We Can't Have Nice Things
- 22. Front Bezel Filler Part 2 - AKA Persistence is Its Own Reward
- 23. Bezel Spot Filling - A Little Dab'll Do It
- 24. How *Not* to Drill An Array of Holes for PSU Intake
- 25. "Back in Black" and "Great Balls of Fire"
- 26. Better Late Than Never - Jhereg Figures Out How He Should Have Done It
- 27. Progress To Date Comparison
- 28. Mobo Tray Window That Almost Wasn't
- 29. First Accents Done
- 30. Buttons to Push and Feet to Stand On
- 31. Test Fit Feet and More Accent Painting
- 32. Rubber Washers, Cookie Sheets, and Logos
- 33. All Become Clear
- 34. Internal Painting Done and Assembly!
- 35. Beauty Shots and Progress to Date Comparisons
- 36. Lights, Camera...
- 37. Cable Management and Bumpout Cut Test
- 38. Nobody But Me and JB (Weld)
- 39. Tastes Horrible, More Filling
- 40. Back in the Saddle
- 41. Where Do I Cram the Radiator?
- 42. Testing Rear Radiator Mount Location
- 43. Sometimes a Reboot Is In Order - Cleaning, Priming, Adjusting
- 44. Top Rad Mount and Accent Painting
- 45. Window Modding - When You Just Can't Put It Off Any Longer
- 46. Fun with Foam Board - Playing Around with Panel Ideas
- 47. Side Panel Cleanup
- 48. More Goofing with Panels and Shields
- 49. All Your Base Coat Are Belong To Us
- 50. Holy Foam Board, Batman! - Wiring Hole Locations
- 51. Feeling Frisky - Using Artist's Latex Mask for Effects
- 52. When it Rains, You Put On An Overcoat - Spraying the Black Over-Coat and Peeling the Mask
- 53. It's In The Details - Cutting A Logo Out of Acrylic
- 54. Windows to the Soul - Finally Mounting the Acrylic Window
- 55. That's a Wrap - My first foray into carbon fiber vinyl
- 56. Modvengers Assemble - Starting to Put It All Back Together
- 57. Test Fiddy - Test Fitting all the Panels and Such
- 58. When Patience Wears Thin - Transplanting the Computer to the Case
- 59. Finishing the PSU Cover
- 60. My First Attempts at Sleeving
- 61. Two Become One: Handling double wires for PSU sleeving
- 62. Halfway Home - Halfway done with the 24-pin connector
- 63. The Best Kind of Failure: When it breaks where you wanted it to...
- 64. Sleeved PSU Installed
- 65. Testing Out Front Panel Config
- 66. Front Panel Finishing Touches
- 67. Wire Management Woes
- 68. COMPLETE (For Now) Before and After Shots
Key Points of original case:
Front Side Off
Both Side Panels Off
Back Side View
Space Behind Mobo Tray
Rear Mobo Tray View
Top Panel Off
Mobo Tray Clearance
Mobo Tray Width and Height
Lower Drive Bay Section
My plans were:
- Mid-tower case. Interior dimensions 15x15x7.75 inches (38x38x19.7 cm)
- All steel construction.
- Less than 1/2" (1.2 cm) of space behind the mobo tray, but the mobo tray is removable. Mobo tray can't be shifted deeper into the case to give more room behind it (I don't think, could be wrong).
- Drive bays were all front-to-back but are in two riveted sections.
- Existing power button sticks and causes computer to restart.
- Existing front panel plugs (USB 1.0, AC97 audio) are hard to reach and outdated.
- Rotate the lower internal bay section 90 degrees for better cable management and ability to insert/remove drives easier. May require some creativity since this is not a toolless cage (yet). Leave room between cage and front panel for fans. Cut ventilation holes through cage for airflow from fans.
- Cut 120mm holes for 2 front fans. Cut 120mm holes for rear fan. Cut 140mm or 200mm blowholes in side panel and/or top.
- I was at a loss on how to put the PSU on the bottom. But thanks to Bruce B:
I now see how it can be done.
- Cut access holds in Mobo tray for CPU cooler bracket and cable routing. Figure out some way of increasing space behind mobo tray for cable routing, by adding a bumpout on rear sidepanel
- Cut a window in the front side panel and add acrylic.
- Rework front with new buttons / indicator lights / and a DIY bay-based control panel. Cut vents for front air intake (Would you believe the current front panel has no air intake path?)
- Filters on all air inlets
- New paint job, inside and out. NOT BEIGE. Possibly in blue with gray and black accent colors Looks like it's mostly black with merlot-red accents.
- Add lighting to show all this off.
I call this pretty much mission accomplished!