Guide: Case Modding Guide to Case modding Introduction to Case modding Case modding is a very fun and sometimes hard hobby. People case mod because they enjoy it and the overall end result looks nice, and its great to show off at LAN parties! Case modding is not an easy, fast process if done correctly. Just because it can take some work, don’t be turned away from it, its still fun. There is no real performance increase from modding, except maybe proper airflow, but the point really is just to make your case look nice. Before anything is done, make sure you have a case with a clear Plexiglas side viewing window, other wise, this really has no point if you wont even see all the hard work you put into it. Choosing your case This is an extremely important choice, do not rush it. Different cases will look better or worse with different colors/themes. This comes down to personal choice, but sometimes not. Some cases will come with cathodes[see modding supplies/cathodes] some will come with LED fans and so on. Cases that are cheap are cheap for a reason, they will be made of cheap-o material. When I say cheap, i mean cheap some are so thin you can easily bend the chassis with your hand, not good. So first make sure you are getting a high quality steel case, you will thank yourself later on. Next, make sure the fan ports are up to your likings. Some people like 2 80MM fan ports, some like 120MM. Most water cooling setups come with a radiator that mounts to a 120 mm fan port in the back, so keep that in mind while buying a case. The most fan ports, or the bigger, the more air flow you will get, and the more room you have for LED fans[see modding supplies/fans]. Always get a case with a clear plexi-glass side viewing window, this will make your modding all the worth while. Some cases come with a tool less setup, its so you do not need to screw in your drives. This can be worth it, just do not loose the tool less pieces or you will not be able to mount your drives. Some cases are normal, just screw the drives in, and some are both! Choosing your theme/Color This is the first start to your new mod. Without a constant theme, or constant color, your case will look all over the place and not at its best. The color or theme you choose will guide you towards what to buy, in terms of lighting, different colored PCBS and heatsinks. There are many colors to choose from, blue, yellow, red, green, purple and even white. There are different variations of these colors, such as UV and different intensities. UV is a really cool and fun mod choice. UV or Ultra Violet means it will respond to a UV emitting source. UV reactant parts will “glow” under a UV source such as a UV cathode. There are also many sources of UV available. Once you have your theme chosen, you can start your modding. Modding Supplies [Cathodes] There is anything but a shortage of supplies out there for modding your case. There are various website to supply you with the correct materials and tools. Some website would be, Xoxide.com, Newegg.com and Crazypc.com. We will start off with the, IMO most important part of case modding, Cathodes! These little guys will be your best-case mod buds for a long time. Cathodes are little plastic and glass tubes that emit colored light. They kind of look like fluorescent lights but a lot smaller. Cathodes run off of a small plastic inverter you plug into a 4 pin molex. These inverters give two, or one cathode power, usually has an on/off switch and sometimes even sound reactive control. These lights are the sources of intense colored light you see in a bunch of peoples cases. Don’t worry; these cathodes will not heat up your case! Here is a simple example of a blue cathode: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16800888026. Cathodes come in all different sizes, not really shapes though some have different pieces at the end where you mount them, that doesn’t really matter except for personal taste. These Cathodes will also be your UV source! These bad boys is will make your UV reactant parts glow. They come in different style, normally they are just long tubes, but you can get them round that mount onto a fan. Make sure when you buy them to get the correct size, a safe size would be a 12". Cathodes mount to your case with little cut pieces of Velcro, each side has a peel off revealing a sticky side that you attach to the cathode, then to the place where you want it in your case. These get sometimes annoying, so I hot glued them in place. Cathodes are basically simple as hooking up and plugging in. The install is easy, plug in the inverter to a 4 pin molex, plug the cathode into the inverter, them screw the PCI shield-mounted switch. There is some modding you can even do to the cathode inverter is self. The switch that mounts in the back of your case can be removed completely, but that will be covered in the Wire Hiding section. Modding Supplies [Fans] Fans and coolers will serve different purposes. Case fans provide air flow in your case to reduce heat and dust. Case fans do not need to be ugly and black although. This will be another friend of yours, the LED fan. Case fans now come in different colors like cathodes. The fans, in all different sizes, are usually clear and have colored LEDS in them, which spread color along the fans while they are on. Fans come in the usual colors as in blue, red, green and so on. Here is an example of a 120MM blue LED fan: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16811999127 Fans will install in one of two ways. Some fans plug into a 4 pin molex connecter, this is the normal for a case fan. Some plug into a 3 pin motherboard connect, some even come with converters to go from either-or. The specs you want to check when buying a fan is the color, size, CFM(how much air it pushes)and DBA(how much noise it makes). Modding Supplies [Wire wrap/Liquid cooling Wrap] Wires, which we will cover in the wire hiding section, we be your biggest enemy. Wire wrap, like everything else in case modding comes in a variety of colors and styles. Wire wrap is for the most part, a plastic mesh that wraps around the wires in your case, mostly the ones off of your PSU. Some PSU’s come pre-wrapped, this would be your best bet, as there will be less work and be cleaner than anything done by hand. Wrap can also come in UV. Wrap is made for all kinds of wires, as the 24 pin, 6 pins and 4-pin molex’s. An example of blue wire wrap: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16812999031 Installing wire wrap is a bit of work. First, you cut it to the correct size of the wire, you may want to heat up a soldering iron and melt through the wrap to reduce fraying. One cut, the wrap will expand when pushed together like a Chinese finger trap. Then you slide the wrap on sideways to the molex then slide it through the wire. You may notice a lot of fraying, a good way to get ride of it is again use a soldering iron to melt off the fray, this also makes it not fray in the future and seals it together. If you have liquid cooling, there are a soft PVC or vinal coils that go over your tubing. These come in different colors and sizes, the install takes really no effort, just slide the coils over the tubing. Heres a link to some coils: http://www.xoxide.com/swiftech-coolsleeves-625-blue.html Modding with your theme/color in mind [UV] The theme of UV can be one of the best-looking theme available IMO. To start off your UV mod, get a UV reactive motherboard. DFI has a line of motherboards called “DFI LAN party boards. I myself own a socket 939 DFI Lan Party DR-SLI expert. The PCI, PCI-Express, DIMM slots, IDE ports, SATA and CMOS battery housing are UV reactant. The color of the Part that is reactant is the color it will glow under a UV source. My slots glow yellow, as they are yellow, DIMM slots glow, as they are orange and so on. Almost everything can come in a UV reactant color. Many fans, boards, PCI slot shields, PSU’s cables and even UV paint. To get the best effect from the UV part, the position of the UV source must be in the right place. Usually they can go on the bottom and top of cases, though I have seen in the back and across the middle even. Some UV will even react to a normal light source, as long as it has a high intensity. Modding with your theme/color [Color] The color of your theme is very important. Without it being a constant theme, it will look like a mess, some people like a crazy all over the place type theme, but mainly IMO it looks nice to stick to a personal theme. Lets go with blue for an example. Blue can be accented by a black case, or black motherboard. We will go with blue Thermaltake LED fans to match the blue theme. EVGA makes black motherboards and black video cards, which would match the blue theme backed up by black. NVidia makes blue cards that could match with the blue theme overall. Painting Some people like to turn their ugly beige cases into a pretty black or colored case. Very popular mod and it adds a very personal touch to the case overall. Painting can be tricky, as the best way to do it is spray paint, and that is a pain. lets go shopping! Choose the highest quality spray paint, as you want this to last. One thats done, get a clear coating, spray on epoxy, vinyl coating ect. This coating is important as it will protect the delicate spray paint. Once shopped, remove as many panels from your case as the case allows. Usually you can get the side, back side, front and sometimes the top. Lay out these panels on a sheet or blanket you don't care about getting paint on. Apply about 3-4 coatings to the panels and allow drying time in between each coating. When all the paint is dry apply the clear protective coating. The best way to dry them is to hang them up on coat hangers about 2-3 feet away from each other, bend the coat hangers till they will hold the panels with the least amount of contact. Use some fans to help the drying out. You now have a new colorful case! Tip for not killing your lungs, this may be a lot of spray paint, have a well vented room with fans sucking out the excess paint and blowing it outside. Cutting out your own Clear Plexi side panel The whole point of a mod is to see it, so lets cut a gaping hole in the side of that case! Before you do this if you are painting it, paint it after you cut it. First, make out your pattern on a piece of paper, remember every cut is final. Once you have your sketch, take a sharpie and make the shape of the side panel you want on the back side of the panel. Use a band saw to cut it out, anything else like a dremmel, will result in unevenness and ruff edges. You can use one but make sure you use a straightedge. Now that you have the hole, lay the plexi on the panel, and trace the hole on the plastic protectent of the plexi. Use the band saw again to cut the plexi. Make sure when cutting it to leave about an inch or half an inch around so you have slight over lap when you attach it to the panel. So, now you have to attach it. I used stainless steel nuts and bolt, used a drill to make the holes. You can use epoxy or even hot glue if your cheap. I recommend the nuts and bolts, they're cheap and look awesome Buffing/Polishing Most cases chassis are dull and boring steel color:shadedshu. We can fix this! First you want a dremmel. A dremmel is a very multi-purpose hand held tool. Google it to find out more info, you can most likely pick one up at a local hardware store. There is an attachment on the dremmel that is a buffer, its a round cloth on a metal piece that screws into the dremmel, you will see it when you buy one. You may need to buy an piece set for the dremmel to get the piece just make sure you get a buffer. Now about the whole chassis of the case can be buffed down, this will take a while, but it reveals a nice very shiny surface when your done. Modding your PSU'S fan Alright, most PSU's come with ugly black fans When modding, you do not want stupid ugly black fans. Once you have your PSU all alone on a good working surface, get a screw driver, philips. Notice on the top part of the PSU there are tiny screws, normally four of them, not to be mistaken by the fan screws, but small ones atop the PSU. You may need to remove warranty stickers so don't blame me for that. So once the screws are out, you should be able to remove the top cover of the PSU, DO NOT TOUCH ANYTHING! PSU's even when unplugged, have high volt capacitors that can shock the hell out of you, do not touch(the big black things, or anything else for that matter). now you can see the black and red wire coming off of the fan, cut those wires as close to the fan as possible, to give yourself room to work with. Take out the fan screws and remove the fan. Now take an LED fan of your choice and cut the black and red wires from it as far away from the fan as possible, were trying to conserve wire here. Now drop the fan in place and screw it in. Twist the black wire from the fan to the black wire that was connect to the other fan we just cut, and the same for the red wire. Now COVER THOSE BARE WIRES. Hotglue, electrical tape, butt connectors, what ever it takes, but cover those bare wire ends, because if they touch something while the PSU is on, bad bad stuff. Now put the cover back on and see how it looks! Wire Hiding Welcome to the world of wire hiding! This is probably the most popular case mod out there. Wire hiding is pretty self explanatory, you hide wires in your case. This can include all the wires, 24 pin, molex's, IDE cables,(used for HDD's and CD/DVD drives) SATA and so on. This is a huge improvement in the look of your case, and air flow! There are many methods to hiding different wires. We will start with the 24 pin, the main power cable to your motherboard. It will help a lot of this is wrapped[see moding supplies, wire wrap] as hiding your 24 is no small task. Some mods people have stuck it behind the motherboard it self. When your MoBo is out of your case, pull the 24 pin to the back of your case, on the outside. If your case has it, pull it through a hole in the back panel of the chassis. Then plug it in to your board, then screw the board on, keeping the 24 pin between the slight gap of the board and the back panel of the chassis. Otherwise, pull the 24 pin through and screw the board in then plug it in, either way will work. If you do not have holes in the back panel, just simply wrap the cable and plug it in, mines done like that and looks nice. Wire Hiding [Continued, 4 pin Molex's] Now that you have the 24 pin hidden, lets do the 4 pin molex's. These are the best, as some do not even need to be shown. Some fans as we have covered connect through the 4 pin molex's. These can be hidden completely. Take off the back panel of your case, revealing the back chassis of your case. Start off with all the 4 pin molex's from your PSU out side of your case, on the back panel of the chassis. Now start bringing them to the inside of the case, as needed. Lets say you bring one cable through that has two 4 Pin molex's on it for your HDD and DVD drive. This will be hard to get rid of due to them being on the same cable for two devices. Like every wire in your case, they should be wrapped so any show wire will still match your theme\color. Look through your case for any thing you can put the cable behind and or keep down from just sticking out in plain site. One thing you can do to get rid of the power cable to your HDD is doing a backwards HDD mod. This is when your HDD is in backwards in your HDD cage/rack. Get very long IDE/SATA cables, as you will need to bring them from around the back side of your case to your motherboard. Same as the molex cables you are working with they need to be long enough to reach that HDD while its turned around. Heres an example of the backwards HDD mod and good wire hiding: http://comwww.techpowerup.com/gallery/592 Now on those fans! The fans that hook up via 4 pin molex's can be taken care of. Since you start off with the molex's behind out side your case, we got one through for the devices, lets put one aside for fans. Now lets say you have two 80mm fans in the front as intake in your case that hook up via four pin molex's. Take the cables from the fans and pull them up in the front of the case, vertically along the HDD cages/CD, DVD Racks. This should allow you to bring it to the outside back panel of your case, where all the wires from the PSU are chilling out. Simply plug them into one of the molex cables and your all ready to go! No need to bring the wire inside, just keep it down on the back outside of your case, use something to keep it down to the chassis as your back panel will need to go back on, I use hot glue to keep the molex's down, anything will really work. As it goes for four pins for other devices, be creative and just find a place to keep them out of the viewing area of your case. Wire Hiding [Continued, Cathode wires] Cathode wires can be a pit tricky, because they have a switch that goes into the PCI shield slot and looks really ugly. Now there is a way to get rid of these, but if something happens to your cathodes or inverters because of what you read on here, its your own fault. Now what a switch does it complete a circuit and allow a current to pass through. In our case, you are letting the current from the molex power the inverter. Notice you will have three wires, yellow, black and red. Now, these are very messy so what were gonna do is is cut the black and red from the 2 pin plug in that goes into the inverter, leave your self some good amount of wire, you will need it. Now cut the yellow and black wire from the molex plug in. Attach the yellow wire from the molex to the red of the 2 pin and the black to the black. This will give your inverter constant power, and your can stuff that inverter anywhere you want, dragging the plug in behind you case to hang with the fan plug's. Fan Grills Fan grills can be bad and good. Fan grills are those metal things we see infront of about every fan we got, protecting us from getting out stupid fingers cut off, or something like that. You can get grills that add a personal and custom touch to you case. http://www.xoxide.com/kikboxes-blackskull-grille-120mm.html BAM, a freakin skull for a fan grill, now thats cool. The problem with grills are, theres no actuall positive to them unless they look cool like the one linked. Fan grills restric air flow, and cause alot more noise than the fan actually puts out. Cases also have a "dot" sequence normally where you screw in the fans to your case chasis. If there are ones like inside the case where you cant acutally see the grill at all, cut out the dot sequence right from the case chasis with a pair of wire cutters or what ever can hack up your case, this will reduce noise and increase air flow. Case stickers Case stickers are fun! Theres really no info you need about this. There are little or big stickers that can just go anywhere in or outside your case. I use cardboard cut outs from the boxes I get from parts I order and just tape on em. These just can exspress what you do, enjoy and rep the awesome hardware in your system. On the topic of those Cardboard cut outs, check my system specs you will see the link to my case in the gallery. Notice I have many stickers, MANY. Alot of them are really stickers but most are cut-outs, the point is, do not be turned away from doing card-board cut outs, they rep all your hardware, they're cheap, and add more of a custom look as you didn't buy them like that, just make sure to get a good pair of scissors. Happy modding!