How To Mod a Case
How to Go About Modding
The problem isn't just the off beige colour though its also the fact that in this crazy time of ever increasing clock speeds machines are becoming hotter and hotter which tends to hamper the possibility of squeezing those extra few Hz out of our chips when overclocking them. Most cases do very little to alleviate this and those that do often only provide a minimal, non-ideal solution in the form of one or two fan mounting spaces (often without the fans themselves).
I bought a GlobalWin 802
from OcUK back at the beginning of the year and after perusing the VH
case galleries 'till the wee hours and staring at my sorry looking case
I decided it was time to do something about both these flaws and so embarked
on a mission...................a mission for classy looks, a practical
way to move it (being as I'm student it gets shifted a lot) and above
all some way of keeping those temperatures nice and low.
Personally I started out by looking at case windows but came to the conclusion that it wouldn't offer the cooling I wanted unless I had fans mounted in it plus I didn't think they looked that good, instead I chose to go for a clean symmetric layout of a lot of fans. After some careful measurements (depth as well as width and height) I found I could just squeeze four 120mm fans on the side in a square plus one on the top between the PSU and DVD drive, there was also enough room for a 92mm fan above the drive itself. I also found a pair of really nice handles from West Hyde which I felt would look great so had that in mind for fixing at either end on the top. By this stage I was happy with the functional side of the mods and so moved on to the aesthetics, more specifically the colour scheme. By chance at around this point I visited Faraday Cases for the first time and stumbled across a gorgeous looking anodised Lian Li by Stiltner that was royal blue on the outside with gold inside and decided that would look great, especially with the silver fan grills and handles. The last major thing I decided on was the addition of some switches in order to control the fans and also some lighting which I planned to add later. This would give me the flexibility of having either a cold case or a quiet one depending on what I wanted it for, I settled on the idea of having two switches for fan control and one for the lighting. By now I had a plan of what I wanted the final case to look like which, in my humble opinion, is essential before actually carrying anything out.
Once you know what you
want to do its time to start thinking about how you can achieve it, this
very much depends on what it is you're doing and the tools you have. At
the time I was living in University halls and so had very little space
and no tools available, it was because of this that I chose to use the
UKs only modding company Cool Case Mods for the hole cutting and the painting
itself. This is cheating somewhat but I was more interested in having
a top notch paint job (which I was looking to have done by a car body
shop anyway) and not having to wait a month or two longer to be able to
do it myself. Of course for those of you in a more suitable environment
could easily do this yourself if you're willing to put the time in, I
wont try to cover the specifics here as there are numerous guides out
there by people with more experience than myself that offer much more
detail and tips. Needless to say if you use you common sense and are careful
you shouldn't have too many problems.
Meanwhile I was thinking about the materials I would need in order to implement the switches, to change the boring green and red LEDs to funky blue ones and finally to have some more general lighting in the case. For the switches I felt I wanted the possibility of altering which fans were attached to which switch so decided to have a terminal molex connector which they could plug into instead of straight wiring to the fans, this would also allow me to get the side off without having wires trailing everywhere. For this I bought some 4pin molex splitters which I could hack up. The rest of the bits I bought from Maplins which included the snap in switches, blue LEDS (hi bright 3mm and 5mm), some wire, heatshrink tubing to cover the joins and finally some zip-ties to tidy it up. The only other things I needed were a soldering iron, solder and some 470ohm resistors. The latter of which I got from a friend who works in the Physics Department but you may be able to find some in a local store and are necessary if you intend to have LEDs attached directly to the PSU.
A week or so later the
case arrived back much as I had hoped and I fitted the fans to their positions.
This included using some rubber grommets to reduce the fan vibrations
and theoretically the noise they make. The next step was the electronics,
I started by replacing the standard case LEDs (the ones which plug into
the motherboard) which is simply a matter of cutting the old ones off
and soldering the new ones on as they often have much the same voltage
tolerances. One thing to watch out for however is the polarity of the
legs you attaching, make sure the positive and negatives are the same
as on those you removed (black wire is usually ground/negative and the
coloured one positive). As for the LED the positive is the longer leg
and the diagonal filament inside goes from negative to positive as the
line goes from the bottom to top (relative to the legs pointing down),
there is also often a flat edge next to the negative leg. Don't worry
if they are the wrong way round - it wont kill the LED it just wont work
you simply need to swap it round! Connecting LEDs directly to a molex
connector is much the same except you need to solder a resistor into the
circuit somewhere otherwise you'll blow the filament because the voltage
is too high. The final electronic part was the switches, to do this I
cut the 12v (yellow) line of the splitter and soldered one end to one
of the switch contacts and the other end to the other contact, its that
easy!! To do the LED indicator for the switch solder some wire to the
LED legs then attach the negative to one of the black (negative) lines
of the splitter and the positive to the switch contact FURTHEST from the
PSU i.e.. follow the power from the unit and make sure its attached AFTER
the break otherwise you'll have shorted it and it will be on all the time!!!
Simply repeat this for each switch then plug whatever you want into the
molex. There actually weren't enough LED holes in the case for me to have
three switch indicators, a HD activity light and the main power LED so
I bored a hole in the center of the reset switch and relocated a 3mm LED
there for the power on light which worked out quite well in the end.
You may be wondering why? or is it worth it? Having now finished the case and being able to compare the before and after the reasoning becomes self explanatory to me - I now have something that not only can I be proud of but in fact has become a focal point of my room!! As to its worth......well that's down to personal opinion really. It certainly wasn't cheap getting the holes and paint done plus the finish is far from blemish free but using CCM served me well at the time and are certainly useful for those in difficult circumstances. However there is a large saving to be had by doing it yourself with some very impressive designs being achieve at minimal cost.
So that was how I went about modifying my case, nothing too life changing and on the whole relatively simple to do. Its not difficult to improve or individualise your case even a small amount, all you need is the confidence to do it and a bit of spare time. It needn't be expensive either - changing you LEDs would cost less than a fiver so there really is no reason not to have a go.........