Easy and Economical Case Modding
By Dean Barker (5/31/2002)
Not to long ago I was having a conversation with someone who very much wanted to mod their box but was under the impression it was extremely difficult and expensive to do. Most of us know that this is incorrect but I wanted to try and illustrate how easy and economical someone can buy the case mod accessories to create a really nice box.
We decided to apply two rules to this article: the total for all the parts cannot exceed $100 and only superior quality items would be used. Meaning, no dime store neon kit that will crap out in six weeks.
Clear Rectangular Window Kit: $16
The heart of every case mod is a window. We selected a clear jobber that uses a pre-cut molding and locking strip to hold things in place. The mechanism functions like the screen on a screen door. The Dremel victim was a Cooler Master ATC-201 Aluminum Case. Aluminum cuts MUCH easier than steel and is far less time consuming. If you don't have access to a Dremel or cutting tools, any machine shop can cut your hole out for a very minimal fee (~$10).
The Case Cooler Kit is one of the simplest ones I have seen. To mark your window hole you cover the area in masking tape to prevent scratches and lay the window down where you want it mounted. With a washer that is included you trace around the window to give you your cutting line.
Here is a before and after the molding/locking strip was installed. Putting the molding/locking strip in place was the single most time consuming part of the entire mod. Careful fingers and patience are needed.
Glow-Wire 5 foot section: $24
Glow Wire is exactly what its name implies. It is a five foot neon wire that plugs into a four pin Molex connector. The advantages of wire over a traditional neon light or a cold cathode tube is that you can style and place the light to your mood. Wrap it around your heatsink, mount it to the sides of your VGA card, almost anything. The Glow Wire unit comes with two separate receptors that allow you to plug a second 5 foot Glow Wire strand (sold separately) into the same power unit. On the power unit itself a switch is present that allows you the option of having the wires stay on or flash. The white strip on top you see is double sided mounting tape so you can attach it almost anywhere in your box.
Copper Mesh ATA100/133 IDE Cables: FDD Cable
$8.50, IDE Cable $12
Rounded cables go with PC Windows like peas and carrots. These lines are ultra hip looking with their tough looking copper mesh covering. They are billed as ATA100/133 IDE cables. We benched them here not to long ago and there is NO degradation in the rounded lines regardless of what you hear. Here is the link to that info.
Thermaltake Smart Fans: $9.00 each x two units =
The existing case fans in the Cooler Master ATC-201 are wonderful but.. Let's monkey with them anyway! We swapped out the standard fans with two Thermaltake Smart Fans for the top and rear blow hole. What these fans do is they adjust their speed relative to a thermal probe on the outside of the fan housing. At low speed they run 46 CFM at 28 dBA up to their max of 53 CFM at 39 dBA. With this set up you get more cooling power only when you need it.
To make the top fan fit we had to remove the Tt logo grill. In doing this we had the idea of putting a logo grill on each side of the rear Smart Fan. It was necessary to trash the included screws in lieu of fan grill screws. We also had to drill the grills holes out a bit to accommodate the increased diameter.
Coolest Case Badge you will ever see!: Priceless
And what case could be complete without an Overclocker Cafe' case badge? Not to mention they are free for the asking with any order where you mention us.
With a total cost of $78.50, I'd say we did a fairly nice job. The Window kit, Glow Wire, Copper Cables, and Smart Fans all add a little something that has a aggregate result of an easy and economical case mod that covers all the bases.
I realize that this wasn't anything fancy but that wasn't our aim. Our aim was to demonstrate how good stuff is available to allow the beginner taste some of the fruits of the tree of tweak! Thanks to Arena Computers, Case Cooler and Sidewinder Computers for making this article possible.