This is my first PC case mod and well overdue as I'd wanted to mod a case properly for about a decade but never got around to doing it.
I held off starting a build log like this in-case I didn't get to finish it but at this stage I think I'm beyond the point of no return and posting a build log will motivate me further and force me to stick with it to the end
This mod is perhaps mostly a product of hours trawling through forums such as this one seeking information and inspiration for what can be done to this case and then adapting the ideas I liked most.
This mod was started a few months back but progress has been pretty slow up until now.Past
I've always loved the Antec Performance series cases having built at least eight PCs in them for people over the years and was happy to find a second hand P180 for $28 that I could work with.
Its a great case although these days I felt working in it was a little cramped and could do with a little more room and fan options. Its also not the best for all-internal water cooling out of the box if I decide to go down that path later. While a custom water cooling loop is something I'd like to consider later I still wanted to make sure this case would last me a long time so I made decisions for the mod with liquid cooling in-mind.
I knew I was going to remove the middle case divider and as I don't use optical drives on my PC I could remove the 5.25" drive bays. Extensive HDD support isn't a feature I need as this is my gaming PC and I have a smaller machine for media storage duties so I didn't need the sliding HDD bays either.
My idea is to have a single sheet of perforated metal cover the front of the case behind the door to allow plenty of airflow in through the fans.
A hacksaw blade let me carefully cut the bits of plastic that I didn't want so that I could maintain a continuous front (I think the old Mac Pros look great with the front mesh so I wanted some of that aesthetic here).
Now that the unwanted parts were scrapped from the chassis and front panel I could get to cutting some access holes on the motherboard tray to make that easier to work with and build custom fan mounts. This mod is also the first time I've used a rotary tool so that took a little getting used to! I found I had to train myself that it was perfectly fine to have a cutting disc spinning at 30000 RPM less than a metre from my face
I'd originally thought that I'd go with 3 x 120mm fans on the front of the case but later on decided that it wasn't enough and that 140mm fans would be appropriately overkill for this mod!
To accommodate 420mm worth of fans or radiator space I'd need to create custom mounting brackets. Cutting these took me a while as the rotary tool seemed to have a bit of trouble with the 1mm aluminium depending on what direction I cut the metal.
With the cutting out of the way (or so I thought at the time) I was ready to sand the metal back ready for priming.
I hung the pieces of chassis in the garage and applied 2 coats of primer to the panels.
A few weeks after the priming was complete I decided I wanted to remove the stock honeycomb grill from the top exhaust fan mount. My P180 didn't come with a spoiler so I'll make my own cover later using the same metal I use for the front panel.
Despite the hours of watching Youtube videos on how to properly spray PC cases I still managed to bungle the first coat of satin black base coat. The paint came out splotchy despite the warming in hot bucket of water trick, the surface coverage didn't seem consistent and it just didn't seem to go right. I ended up getting a little frustrated and applied the first layer on too thick
This led to greying of the paint in a few places, visible paint droplet trails and other defects in other places that I'd spent hours and hours trying to avoid! I left the case in the garage for a week untouched while I decided how to proceed.Present
Now that its the long weekend, the weather is much better for spraying and I've got the place to myself and distraction free its the perfect time to fix this up and get cracking on the mod.
I sanded back the mistakes I made on the case and cleaned it back ready for the 2nd (or 1.5th) coat of paint. This time the paint went on much nicer with a consistent coverage and neater finish. Having natural light to work with made a massive difference as did the warmer day.
Later on I removed the stock blue LEDs in the front panel and marked up where I wanted to cut the window out of the side panel.
Today I added another two light coats of black to the chassis and cut the side panel ready for a window.
This took a little longer than I thought. I think I degraded the motor in the rotary tool somewhat as it doesn't seem to run the same after attempting one side. Using the metal disc to cut the panel was most likely the culprit. I thought the plastic disc would be unsuitable to cut the aluminium so tried the metal cutting disc. This led to the motor getting very hot and slowing down to near useless cutting speeds.
I let the tool cool down and then tried the plastic cutting disc with much more success.
The scrappy parts of the cutting process have been filed off now and looks a lot neater.
I've added painters tape over the plastic on the front and side panels to keep spray isolated to the brushed aluminium surfaces. As much as I like the brushed aluminium look I think I'd prefer to paint these panels satin white for a stronger contrast.Future
Tomorrow's job will be to hopefully clean up the edges on the window cut-out some more, prime the side panels and start painting them white. The inside part of the motherboard side panel will be painted black to not draw attention to bad cable management
I'm also going to sleeve the front IO cables black soon and have the tools and supplies sitting on my desk.
I've priced up a 4mm acrylic side panel that I can get locally to cover the window hole. I'll see if they can do it in a smoked black finish to add a little extra style to the window and take the edge off some of the LEDs in the case.
The next big task is to get the perforated metal for the front panel and top exhaust grill. I can only get this in a standard size of 2440x1220mm so I'll have some left overs after this is done
. This will then need sanding, priming and painting black.
There's still some things I need to consider with the case such as best way to mount the perforated steel and a good spot to hide a 2.5" HDD and an SSD. For the perforated metal I'm thinking of using concealed magnets for now. The storage drives can sit behind the PSU. I may have to come up with a mounting plate that can use the screw holes Antec added to the PSU pedestal to attach the anti vibration cover.
I'm still undecided on whether I should add clear coat or not to the chassis and started a thread last night as I didn't expect to start this thread so soon:
That's it for now. Hopefully now that there is a build log on the wired I won't be able to abandon the project and I'll be more driven to see it to its conclusion