Time to tear down the case!
After undoing the rear thumbscrew and removing the top panel, which I already modded a bit, two screws later and you can remove the entire front panel ports and power plate:
Then, I began removing the tool-less 5.25" doo-hickys. They are actually extremely easy to remove. You just slide them to the side.
This is how they look from the back:
They consist of quite a few little parts. The two springs make sure that the lock disengages. The blue piece has metal pins in it that are depressed into where screws would normally go, and the housing is smoked:
The white thing you saw in the middle is a type of gear mechanism that makes the audible clicking sound when engaging or disengaging the lock:
Once you take that out, you have the actual button assembly:
Which consists of the button and a spring:
Here are a few shots of the entire assembly and how it is put together:
I plan to take all of the blue pieces out and paint them with UV Orange spraypaint. The buttons will glow brightly, and the blue piece with the pins will glow softly under the smoked housing. It will hopefully turn out really well!
Once I had the top completely removed, I wondered...
Yes, it is possible to fit a quad radiator up top, but you would have to completely modify the top ports and on/off switch.
Now that my curiosity was settled down, I removed the top and bottom handles/feet and was pleasantly surprised to see that each was labeled with where it belonged:
Now for a few pictures of what's left so far:
Now came the most frustrating part of the teardown. The plastic side pieces. They are all held to the aluminum bare frame by tabs. You know, the ones that you had to pry open with a screwdriver on your friend's Dell to get the front panel off...
It took me a good hour to get both of them off. I swear they try to make it as hard as possible. I really don't have any tips for how to get them off either, except to take off the top screws, bottom tabs, front tabs, then back tabs and slide it off.
I was much too frustrated to take pictures of that process, although if I were recording video of it, I'm sure you would have all gotten a nice kick out of it.
Here's what's left:
From the front:
Bottom of the case:
Also, it is worth noting that the front also has its own separate plastic piece which contains the little clicky tab-catcher things (I bet you don't know what they're called!) to secure the "wings" that the bay covers click into. Here's that part with all the tool-less modules and a piece that is used to screw the handles into for strength:
Here are the side panels finally off:
And a few shots of the tab that I snapped off because I had to use such force to get those dang things off:
Next, I took a closer look at that center front plastic piece. They used a piece of mesh on the area below the last 5.25" bay to keep the look consistent. There is actually space behind this, and you could very easily mount an MCP355 or a HDD here (although there isn't any airflow in this area):
It's just laid over plastic. I might cut out that plastic and just have the mesh there...I'm not really sure what I can/should do in that area.
Moving onto those side panels, there is also a similar mesh styling on the back ends of them:
These were tough to get out. The way Cooler Master inserts these is with small tabs that go through little minuscule holes, and are then bent beyond reach:
Only way to get these out without damaging them is to try to use pliers to bend the tabs straight, then pull the entire piece out like so:
This is how messed up the tabs become:
And what you'll do to the plastic when you try to get them out:
I've got a good plan for these areas. I am going to mask off everything but the area under the mesh, and use the same UV Orange paint here. Either that, or I'll cut the area out, and maybe a bit of the UV Orange fans' light will shine through.
As far as other plans, I am trying to decide whether or not to cut out the hex for where the fans are, and am toying with the idea of painting more than just the bare aluminum. One thing I will not paint is the side panels, as they are a dark gray brushed aluminum.
I want to incorporate a metallic dark gray, probably on the interior. UV Orange paint will be used for a few accents, and UV Orange fans will be placed throughout.
I have a Black Ice Xtreme Triple Radiator "on order" with fitseries3 for me to put up top.
I want any and all of your suggestions, thoughts, concerns, and questions! Cutting plans begin tomorrow!
Also, this case is inspired by/will be done around this: