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Modding Your PC's Case

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A growing number of people are modifying their computer cases. If you're considering this, let Joshua "Yoshi" DeHerrera guide your way.

A growing number of people are modifying their computer cases. And a growing number of people want to mod, but just don't have the time or resources. You're reading this book, so you're probably pretty interested in the idea; however, you might want to start out slowly.

Case Modding Without the Work: Products and Resources You Can Use for Instant Case Mods

Several manufacturers and boutique companies are now making and modifying cases for you. The prices can range from cheap to expensive, but I've found that you get what you pay for. The types of mods range from a standard case with a side window to cases with lighting, custom windows, custom window etchings, custom painting, and more.

Premodded Cases

The following list describes a variety of premodded cases available to you:

  • Enermax CS5190AL Red Aluminum Supertower. On the high side as far as price goes, and its styling is something you either like or hate. Opinions have been split, but I like it.

  • Xoxide X-Viper. The X-Viper is a budget-priced case that comes with a lot of options that usually only higher-priced units have. Its styling is nice, not too flashy but still trick.

  • Xoxide Clear Acrylic ATX Case. Clear Plexiglas cases were something only the extreme modder would even think about building. Now you can buy one off the shelf.

  • Thermaltake Xaser III V2000A Super Tower. The Xaser III is a very high-tech looking case. Its styling is modern. It comes with a 4-fan baybus control preinstalled, with temp monitoring function and overheat alarms. This is really nice for those that intend to overclock their system or just push it to its limits.

Get Mod Components

If you want to add components that require little or no handiwork, try shopping at the following retailers:

These are good spots to find lights, fans, CPU coolers, or cases. Sometimes I browse the pages looking for new items that might give me ideas. Components can range from five to several hundred dollars depending on what you are interested in.

Custom Designs

The following companies offer custom-built or premodded complete systems:

Alienware sells systems that are both custom-configured and painted in a color of your choice. This is a nice option because the tower, keyboard, mouse, and monitor are all painted to match each other.

Falcon Northwest can provide a system with custom-painted graphics, as shown in Figures 3.1 and 3.2. Check out the Exotix Gallery on its web site for ideas: Some of Falcon Northwest's designs are truly beautiful.

Figure 3.1Figure 3.2Figure 3.1 and Figure 3.2 Stunning designs from Falcon Northwest.

Review: Alienware Area-51

Ultimate Gaming PC Gets a Makeover

By Robert Heron, TechTV Labs

Alienware's latest design will either leave you drooling or scratching your head in wonderment. See Figure 3.3.

Figure 3.3Figure 3.3 Alienware's Area-51 system.

The company's latest über-gaming box retains the Area-51 name but sports a new look courtesy of a Giger-inspired case design. Twin air-intake grills on the front of the case wrap around the sides to form a pair of alien-looking eyes. Powering up the system reveals two glowing 80mm case fans behind the sculpted grills, completing the effect. With so many companies mimicking the Antec case style that Alienware previously used, the new design helps Alienware stand apart.

Externally, the "alien head" case offers four front-mounted USB 2.0 ports as well as a clever cable management rack attached to the rear of the system. We found the rounded rack quite functional and felt it gave the new Area-51 a finished look.

With a configured price of less than $2,600, our Area-51 was equipped with 1GB of 400 MHz DDR memory, a Pentium 4 3.0 GHz (800 MHz FSB) CPU, a 120GB 7200 RPM ATA hard drive, as well as an ATI Radeon 9800 Pro. Of course, Alienware also offers Microsoft's Internet Keyboard and IntelliMouse Explorer 3 custom-painted to match the case.

Alienware can configure a system to suit any taste. On our display options wish list was NEC's new LCD3000. This 30-inch, digital monster gives plasma a run for its money and will set you back a cool $4,200. If that isn't enough, a 40-inch model will be available soon.

The new Area-51 is a unique looking system built with premium parts that can be customized to your heart's (or wallet's) content. With performance equal to the best rigs available, Alienware's Area-51 has the muscle to back up its otherworldly appearance.

Specs: Pentium 4 3.0 GHz (800 MHz FSB); 1GB 400 MHz DDR; 120GB 7200 RPM ATA HD; ATI Radeon 9800 Pro (128MB); Sound Blaster Audigy 2 Platinum 6.1

Paint It

If you don't want to paint your computer yourself, consider contacting your local body shop painter, custom helmet painter, or motorcycle painter. Many of these artists are able to paint small components, and they do amazing work. You can usually choose almost any color of paint you can imagine. If you are interested in adding custom designs to your case, find an airbrush artist who can add cartoons, design logos, and more.

NOTE

For additional information and ideas on modding, try going to the forums on modding and finding the extreme mods you like. Contact those members and see whether they would be willing to do the same modding for you.

Visit my forums at http://yoshi.us to check out what people are doing or to get help with your mods.

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