Use these simple case modding techniques to
jazz up a plain-looking PCCase modding is a popular past time among
hard core PC enthusiasts, but with a wide variety of modding accessories
available, you don’t have to be an expert to make a unique and professional
looking modified system.
a basic introduction to custom case
There are now several online stores that
stock huge ranges of PC modding kit, and you will even find conventional stores
such as PC World and Maplins getting in on the act. Whether you want to turn
your PC into the stereotypically illuminated gaming monster, or you want to be
a little more creative and produce something a little more themed, you can
accomplish this without getting into professional tooling shop territory.
Cutting a window
A windowed side panel
If you want to modify the interior of your
PC case, you’ll need a windowed side panel so that you can actually see inside.
A plethora of window kits are available online, and you can pick them up
inexpensively. Some case manufacturers actually sell pre-modified windows, but
it’s no difficult and far more rewarding to do it yourself. Start by drawing a
template for the window you want to cut out, bearing in mind that sharp,
pointed edges are very difficult to cut without a dedicated router or cable
say. If this is your first window and you are using a Dremel, aim to keep it
simple and avoid sharp corners.
One if the first skills that you will need
to develop if you plan to get into case modding in any serious way is how to
handle a miniature drill properly. Of the models available, the Dremel is by
far the best known, as well as being one of the best to purchase. If possible,
buy a Dremel or equivalent product with as many heads and accessories as
possible, as you never known when you might need to use a particular attachment
to get the required effect. Another tool you will need to use is a half-round
file. A half round file has a round filing edge on one side and a flat one on
the other. This will allow you to de-bur both curved and straight edges, and
will save you from having to buy two tools.
After you have cut the hole in your case
you will want to cover the edges so that they don’t look ugly. There are
several window kits available, but many of these have unsightly thick rubber
seals that ruin the sleek look of your case. A far better option is to invest
in some C-Edge Moulding from www.kustompcs.co.uk.
Available in either black or chrome, this is a slim edging which self-adheres
to the edge when you press it on. Since it is only around 5mm wide, it will
blend into almost any design, just be sure to remember not to cut any window
designs with sharp corners, since your edging won’t bend enough and will pop
back off. With your hole cut, you just need to cover the side panel with a
suitable transparent cover. Clear acrylic is the best choice of material for a
case window and it can be easily purchase either from a hardware store or from
a case modding website. This can easily be stuck to the interior of the side
panel using adhesive or double-sided tape.
Tidy up your cables
With a windowed case it’s important that
you pay even more attention to tidy cable work. If your case allows it, route
all leads behind the motherboard tray, and if budget allows, use a modular PSU.
If you’re using bog-standard SATA cables you should also consider buying black
alternatives, or making a feature of them with UV-reactive or
All professional grade case modifications
go to town on cable sleeving. Most enthusiast grade PSUs are now pre-sleeved,
but other internal cables for fans, case switches and LEDs are rarely so
endowed and look out of place in an otherwise spectacular interior. If you
would rather no go through the lengthy and frustrating process of fitting
sleeves onto every cable in your case, a sneaky shortcut that stands up under
no-so-close scrutiny is to wrap the leads in a spiral of black electrical tape.
This will effectively cover up unsightly yellow, read and white cables allowing
you to tether them discretely into a corner. So that the tape doesn’t start to
unwrap as the adhesion loses its grip over time, use a dab of superglue at each
Illuminating your case
Illuminating your case
With a side window cut and your cables
tidied, it’s time to add some illumination. One of the easiest ways to do this
is to use LED case fans. These are bright and easy to fit, and are functional
too, improving the ventilation in your case. A more subtle illumination can be
achieved with a cold cathode. A cold cathode works in the same manner as the
neon tube, but uses a much thinner, more intense gas chamber. This means
cathodes run considerably cooler than most neon tubes, and emit a more intense
light as well. If you want to run lights along the edge of your case window,
then 30cm cathodes are very inexpensive and will do the trick. Illuminating
specific corners of your case will require shorter cathodes and several stores
sell 10cm models, sometimes in pairs. UV cathodes do not emit very much light
at all, but if you put UV reactive or bright white objects in your case the
effect they create is extremely bright, and very impressive.
LEDs are another way of creating impressive
lighting effects. They emit a lot of light, and best of all require very little
power, but are also quite directional in nature. Once stuck on the relevant
part inside your case you can then swivel and pivot them like a searchlight to
emit their light at just the right angle.
Painting or powder coating your case
Painting or powder coating your case
Many cases are now powder-coated black on
the inside, greatly reducing the need for this once sole-destroying task. This
just leaves us with the exterior of the case to worry about. Spraying your case
a different colour really isn’t that difficult, so long as you have space to do
it in, and use the right kind of kit! Steer well away from model paints and
other kinds of amateur spray and instead invest in some automotive paint.
Before you begin spraying away, you first need to sand the surface of your case
to remove the texture from the existing paint job, using a couple of different
grades of paper for a really smooth finish.
Once you’ve done this, you need to prime
the case with an undercoat spray, and do some wet sanding before you can
finally go crazy with the coloured spray. As with all painting, the secret to
spraying your case is all in the preparation – the more time you spend, the
better the final look will be. After spraying on your final colour coat, you
can buff it to a mirror shine (and remove the orange peel effect) by using
extremely fine 15500 grit paper, but this will only be needed for the most
die-hard perfectionists among you.