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The Best Case Mods From 2010 82

arcticstoat writes "Who says PC modding is dead? UK tech site bit-tech has rounded up the best case mods of the year, showcasing an incredible amount of innovation, skill and craftsmanship. From a PC made of concrete to a replica of a Cray-1 chassis to an Art Deco style wooden radio, these are just amazing pieces of work."
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The Best Case Mods From 2010

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  • So, who does say it? Point at them.
  • You see this stuff on Hack A Day from time to time. If this is your sort of thing I'd recommend reading it.

  • Really liked the oil cooled case. Oil cooling always intrigued me. Would be fun to try someday.

    The Cray 1 was classic.

    • The thing that makes me curious about the mineral oil is what happens when the oil gets warm? How is the heat dumped? I get the impression that after a while that case would be less efficient than normal forced-air.

      • If you checked out the full article there's a link to the builder's blog. He runs the oil through a radiator. His temps looked pretty good

  • I personally never saw the point. My own computers always have the cheapest case I can get, so I can spend the savings on better bits to go inside the case.
    • Re:The point. (Score:4, Interesting)

      by PopeRatzo ( 965947 ) * on Friday December 24, 2010 @03:54PM (#34661560) Journal

      You know, I used to think that too, but the last time I built a machine I bought a CoolerMaster Storm at MicroCenter that was marked down because it was scuffed. Man, having a nice case really made every part of the build more pleasant. It's not a crazy-expensive case to begin with, but it's really well made and it has a nice sturdy handle on top and a great canted panel on the top-front with eSata and USB and audio. It's easy to clean the dustbunnies out without having to take everything apart and open the case, too, which is great. There's lots of room inside and except for one audio jack connector that I would have like to be a little longer, it was well thought out with the builder in mind. You don't need tools to do stuff and there are no sharp edges to cut up your hands.

      I plan on figuring the extra few bucks that a decent case costs into all of my future builds.

      • This, this, and this.

        Plus in general airflow in the cheap cases just sucks, and so you have to put a bunch of high-rpm noisy fans in there just to keep it barely cool. Contrast that with the Armor that my machine is in (and it's the 3rd build I've done in the same case). I've got a few large fans in there. It's quieter than the ceiling fan. And I *never* overheat. Also, I mentioned that this was the 3rd computer I've put in this case for a reason: That means instead of spending $50 per case for crappy case

      • Must be the timing - I read that as eSanta.
    • "I personally never saw the point. My own computers always have the cheapest case I can get, so I can spend the savings on better bits to go inside the case."

      Mmm. Enlight flashbacks from 1989!

      I fondly remember bleeding from the sharp sheet metal until I got smart and deburred 'em with a file tang.

  • by kimvette ( 919543 ) on Friday December 24, 2010 @03:43PM (#34661510) Homepage Journal

    I am sick and tired of gamer-looking cases, loud fans (even my Antec Sonatas are louder than I'd like), and uber-bright blue LEDs. To me the ultimate case mod would involve:

    • Large grilles made of wire for the cooling fans. Why? Because the tiny holes with sharp angles for the grilles cut into sheet metal create and amplify wind noise
    • All fans mounted using silicon or felt bushings (and possibly even silicone studs/rivets) to isolate the chassis to reduce amplification of fan motor noise
    • A total absence of pimple face geek-inspired clear windows, scoops, double-decker wings, cold cathode tubes, USB-powered beverage chiller/heater, greddy turbo or type-R decals, and other stupid crap (oh wait, I'm confusing case modders with ricers aren't I? Meh, same mentality)
    • Front-panel things like CPU, HDD, and ambient temp are nice, but make them dimmable
    • Power LEDs should be dimmable. Auto-dimmable would be ideal. Currently one of the first things I do for the desktop in my bedroom is apply purple or black nail polish to the HDD and power LEDs so that they are just barely visible with the lights on, and not bright enough to cast shadows with the lights off.

    I like running certain cables under the motherboard, so I beg to differ with the folks above who hate it. I have a better idea to make everybody happy though: instead of the motherboard mount being a flat plate, why not make a chassis with a steel or forged aluminum spaceframe, and as far as EMF rejection/ground plane/etc. are concerned, the stamped steel or aluminum chassis will handle shielding? That way, the back/bottom side of the motherboard remains accessible which allows for easy servicing in the event you do want to run cables under the board, and CPU heatsinks will be much, much easier to swap. This would hold doubly true for servers; make a sort of a space subframe assembly which can be removed to service systems more easily.It would be kind of like some of Inwin's and Enlight's from the '90s, but with sturdier and more open construction to make the back side of the heatsink mounts fully acccessible.

    The case should not intrude on my bedroom, living room, or any other room any more than a box of tissues. In other words, while it doesn't have to win Martha Stewart's approval, let's try to make it so it will be right at home regardless of decor, kind of like a set top box. I don't want to notice the case at all; all I want is enough space inside to house the components, enough quiet airflow to keep it cool, indicator lights to be very dim, and easy access to a DVD or Blu-Ray drive. It should be nondescript so the only time I notice it is if I need to insert a disc. As an HTPC it should be quiet and fit well into a living room, and as a productivity PC in my bedroom, it should be quiet and not have bright search lights for power or HDD activity indicators. Don't get me wrong - blue LEDs are cool. I love blue LEDs. However, like the old blink tag years ago, and HDR in photography, blue LEDs are everywhere now, are over-used and mis-used in so many ways that I don't care to see another one for quite a while.

    I don't want to even think about the chassis until it's time to insert an optical disc, or to service the unit. Otherwise, the case should be unnoticeable.

    • one of the first things I do for the desktop in my bedroom is apply purple or black nail polish

      And it's a good look for you. Now if you'd only tweeze that eyebrow...

    • Take a look at Corsair 700D case.

      • And what a beautiful case it is. Providing your power supply cables are long enough, it's got all the right routes for extremely clean cable layout, which makes good airflow even easier to achieve, and visually, it's wonderfully subtle. I just wish I could afford one :P

    • Power LEDs should be dimmable. Auto-dimmable would be ideal.

      Here you go. [merl.com] That paper describes how to use an LED as both a light sensor and an LED. You could hack that together with a microcontroller and your existing case LEDs in an afternoon.

    • Congrats. For better or for worse, you just reinvented the Mac Mini.
      • by jedidiah ( 1196 )

        > Congrats. For better or for worse, you just reinvented the Mac Mini. ...or the low profile PCs that some of us had YEARS earlier.

    • If you swap the front fan for a non-LED one, the Sword-M is pretty much what you're looking for, including under-mobo cable management.

    • by cyn1c77 ( 928549 )
      Sounds like you want a Mac Pro.
      • by jedidiah ( 1196 )

        > Sounds like you want a Mac Pro.

        A Mac Pro is still a "monster tower" and is as much out of place outside the office as a generic beige full tower case.

    • by houghi ( 78078 )

      Why one box? I have a "dual box". One is the Mobo, video cards, sound, CPU, HDs and such. Then a dual height enclosure. Dual, so I can have one for the HD and one for the USB and SD cards. The Big case I place as far under my desk as possible. The much smaller dual enclosure on my desk where I can easily reach it.

      Lights are either disabled or taped over with duct tape, so they do not disturb in any way.

    • by antdude ( 79039 )

      My perfect case would be an easy to open since I have multiple physical disabilities (can't even use a screwdriver due to strength and grasp problems). I have to get other people to open and close my case for me, but not only that but to clean and add/remove hardwares. I currently use an Antec P180 ATX case which works well as long as I don't use the cover's screws. Easy to slide on and off.

    • Sure, that'd be great for a silent PC type market. But ultimately, it's boring. Sure, the purpose of your case is to be boring, and not attention grabbing, but then why would you try to show it off as a case mod? If you're showing it off, generally you want it to grab attention - not divert it.

      It's like rocking up to AutoSalon in a near-stock Yaris, with an even softer muffler, and more fuel efficiency. Sure, great to live with and all that, but not really something anyone would want to see over a 500HP GTR

  • Really? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Scorch_Mechanic ( 1879132 ) on Friday December 24, 2010 @03:47PM (#34661524) Journal
    What the hell is wrong with you people? Case modding certainly isn't cost effective, nor does it stick to its roots, but in my mind that doesn't matter. What matters is that ordinary everyday people are looking at modern PC cases, thinking "That's not cool enough, I can make it better", and then _doing it._ Several of those entries are first or second time builds, done by people who've never even considered this kind of thing before.

    Believe it or not, "because it's awesome" _is_ a valid reason to do something. These people are creating art, and they happen to be building high-end computers into it. Get your collective heads out of your collective asses and revel in the beauty of well constructed and beautiful pieces of functional art. DIY is something that our consumerist society is rapidly losing its grip on, and any evidence to the contrary should be welcomed, not decried.
    • Couldn't agree with you more. 100% well said.
    • Good points! In this era of boring iPhones, iPads, and other gadgets that look alike it is nice to see folks still modding cases so these stand out from the rest.
    • Case "modding" is usually a misnomer, as people are generally building a custom enclosure *NOT* MODifying an existing one.
  • by DWMorse ( 1816016 ) on Friday December 24, 2010 @03:52PM (#34661550) Homepage

    Case modding is still interesting to those still interested. The times have changed due to demand. Back when case modding was widespread, it was mainly because your computer case came in two or three options: Beige, Tan, or Ugly.

    Nowadays, you can buy an aesthetically-interesting molded plastic case, for $40. Hell, they practically shove the clear plexi windows and LEDs down your throat. I had to go out of my way to get a full-featured case with good quality, but still a nondescript black-box appearance. (The CoolerMaster Centurion series [newegg.com] are good for this. Nice, light, cool semi-mesh build, without stupid side windows and crap.)

    Case modding has become less of a hardcore-computer-geek past time, and more of an artist-who-likes-computers-too concentration. Look at some of the hardware specs of the systems these cases were built around; they're lackluster, old tech. Nowadays you can build a quad-core AMD AM3 3Ghz setup, with 16GB DDR3-1333 RAM, SATA III, USB 3.0, a 1TB WD:Black drive at 7200rpm and 64MB cache, and an Antec 640watt PSU - all for $525 from Newegg.com, shipped. One would think they could at least come up to par on these hardware specs, if they have the time and money to spend on the external pretties.

    I mean, there's even this kickass antique-lookalike case from Red Wood [newegg.com] for the people that want something Steampunk. It's $120 on Newegg, but can be purchased new from other online retailers for $89. I have a hard time convincing myself it's even worth the 2 hours to mod up cases for water cooling purposes anymore.

    So, in tl;dr summary: Case modding isn't really about the geeks anymore. It's about the artists who like tech.

  • What about RF interference?
    If the case is not metal, you will be polluting the spectrum.
    None the less, pretty cool stuff!

    • by Anonymous Coward

      The way the law works on interference, it is up to YOU to keep interference out of your systems. Of course you can't knowingly and willingly interfere with other systems, but by no means do you have to design your device to not interfere. Interference is inevitable and the rules and regulations take that in to account.

      But that being said, you'll notice that most builders used shielded cables or at the very least they have twisted them. The cabling is where your leakage will be anyway, and is the one spot yo

      • by Suzuran ( 163234 )

        You are wrong.
        Part 15 says:
        1) Your device MAY NOT cause harmful interference.
        2) Your device must ACCEPT any interference received, including that which may cause undesired operation.

  • A bunch of cases that I'd kill for, and no way to buy any of them. That's like nerd soft porn. It's just a tease!
  • by SpaghettiPattern ( 609814 ) on Friday December 24, 2010 @05:16PM (#34662020)
    Let's face it. Here we do not enjoy the company of fine industrial designers.

    From time to time we may churn out well designed software, but nobody in the /. crowd will either wear interesting spectacles or smoke stylish pipes. This is one of the few certainties in life. We're just not conceived to be designers and we could just well have a go at astrology or at table arrangement.
    • by jedidiah ( 1196 )

      Most of these "best" cases are far FAR from "fine industrial design".

      Some are genuinely interesting though.

    • We're just not conceived to be designers and we could just well have a go at astrology or at table arrangement.

      You know, I had just finished arranging my new glass-top furniture last night and reflecting on my work and the night sky, I realized you were going to say just that.

The first Rotarian was the first man to call John the Baptist "Jack." -- H.L. Mencken