That’s the name of my new creation.
And this is our story …
When it comes to casemodding, I am always overwhelmed by this warm feeling we all call happiness.
But when it comes to changing my computer case … well … I am as cold as Mr. Freeze can be.
I owned my Aopen HQ08 for 11 years now. Modded it at least 3 times. I modded it so many times, it looks like a Swiss gruyere.
It is not easy for me to get rid of this 14kg piece of metal. Believe me, I tried. Chieftec Dragon, Antec 900, … they all failed (not the city, just me cfr Arrow).
In life, we have something called faith. And this is how I found the replacement worthy case for my Aopen. When I bought my new (2nd hand) computer, it came by chance in the Corsair 800D. I immediately knew this could be a good base for a next casemod. It is big, it has two floors, watercooling ready, …
So I started thinking about changing this Corsair Hydro thingy and built a watercooling again.
This time, I wanted something special. Something I haven’t done before. I built some watercoolings before, but I never went to the extreme of modding the whole computer in details.
This time it was my shot: Acrylic tubing for a seemless design, sleeving and everything in a complete black/red theme.
All of this was possible on a budget thanks to China. Barrow fittings, tubing, blocks, … and 5050 RGB led strip. Even the sleeving and tools came from China.
So this is my story, in steps of progression for an easy understanding.
My oldskool cpu waterblock (swiftech apogee GTZ) wasn’t compatible with the 1150 socket. Which is normal because this little block is at least 8 years old, I used it on a S939 setup.
Instead of buying a adapter kit (too easy) I made it fit with a Corsair Hydro one.
For the sake of detail, I replaced the screws by thumbscrews and used only black/anodized colored materials.
The ram that I have, the Corsair Dominator Platinum, is white and black. Not good!
To fit in my black/red theme I had to change that ugly white color on the ram.
I did this in 2 ways
- The ram is lit white by a white led and a plexi bar that runs through the ram above the heatpipes. Airbrushing this with Tamiya x-27 clear red paint made it look like a red LED.
- The top of the heatpipe is silver, painting this in black made the whole ram look black/red
The third lucky component was the vga card. But I had a plan in mind. It seemed easy, but realizing it was a pain in the .ss, really.
The plan was to find a vga waterblock that fits my Gigabyte R9 280x windforce. This was almost impossible. But my initial plan was to make a led effect on the side of the graphics card, so I needed a plexi one. This was impossible. El punto finale.
To make a long story short, I ended up with a 7970 and a EK waterblock. Like pinky and the brain, I was ready to conquer the world.
I painted the top of the plexi black and sanded down the edges of the plexi.
And now the masterplan. The 5050 RGB led strip are very easy to solder and modify.
So I cut down a piece of it (just the length that I needed) and glued it (TEC7) at the rear of the card.
This would give this wonderful blurry LED effect on the graphic card. Bottom line is that I can choose whatever color I want or whatever effect is available on the 24 key IR remote.
And now the real work could begin, believe me this was the second most difficult part of the mod (the first one would be the tubing). I truly underestimated the difficulty of sleeving cables.
Actually I ended up sleeving every single cable in the case and this took some time.
Even the sata cable and the fan cables.
While I am at it, this is a very small how to on sleeving cables.
- Remove the pin and cable from the molex using the tool.
- Put the sleeving over the cable and stop it at 18mm of the end
- Cut the heat shrink 15mm and put it at the end of the metal piece.
- When finished, reopen the 2 pins that hold the clip into place.
- When not sure, write everything down
- If the tool doesn’t work the first time. Try pin per pin instead of the 2 together.
After this pain I needed some easy work. So I painted the white LED’s on the front panel with the same Tamiya red clear paint.
And ofcourse when you hope something easy, it becomes difficult. Like the blue led on the MSI Z87 GD45 motherboard for example…
I tried masking tape, paint, marker, … nothing was working a 100% so I ended up removing it completely.
The reservoir was only a matter of drilling the correct holes and fitting it into place.
I still use my old swiftech pump, so I gave it a lick of paint before fitting the barrow top. Afterwards I ended up sleeving this cable too.
Now the most difficult part of the whole casemod. I already have a lot of experience in watercooling, but Acrylic tubing is a whole new level. Especially if you haven’t bought 90° fittings like myself and have to do everything.
First a little top tip / small how to on acrylic tubing.
- Take your time. Patience is the key. Hurry and you will screw up your tubing.
- Patience again, measure. Measure wrong and your tubing is too small, you will have leaks. If your tubing is too long, take the time to cut it. If you don’t, you will put pressure on your blocks and risk creating a leak somewhere else.
- Did I said patience? Bend too quick and you will get twists or end up with an oval tube or anything exotic you don’t want. Maybe it’s me, but this tubing has 99 ways to bend and a perfect 90° ain’t one !
- I think I may have forgot patience? Sand and burr the edges. With or without the reamer/burring tool. I did it with only sand paper. Make it smooth. Make it perfect. This way, you won’t force something and you won’t break the inner O ring.
There are plenty of youtube tutorials and websites on how to bend acrylic tubing so I won’t repeat it, but keep these top tips in mind.
Just FYI, this is how I did it.
- Heat the pipe. Not only the part you want to bend. Take 5cm more at each side. Rotate the pipe too. With the experience you will know when the pipe is ready to bend.
- Bend the pipe with your fingers, when you think you have 90°, use a tool (home made or not) to be sure the 90° bend will be exactly as the others.
- Don’t forget the rubber core iside the tubing. You can use soap/water to lube it.
- If you haven’t cut the tube, do it now. Make sure you cut it perpendicular/vertical.
- Ream the inside and outside of the tube so it’s clean.
- Sand the edges 45° approx.
- Put the o ring on it with a bit of water before fitting it.
- You’re done
When every tube was ready, I cleaned them with distilled water before installing them.
I took the precaution to run the pump only (separately without turning on the pc) and a lot of rags to test the watercooling for leaks.
After a couple of minutes, when I knew it was ok to let it run for a few more hours, I started the LED lights.
I taped the needed amount of led lights around the case and extend the 4 cables to where I wanted them.
The idea is:
- Graphics card = 24 key remote
- Case = 44 key remote
Both fixed at the rear of the case. Both get their power from the PSU. Problem is there was only 1 PSU delivered, so I had to fix this.
Other problem, there are some interferences between the 2 IR transmitter/receivers. So when I operate one, the other one should be without power. Which is not possible with the remote only. The easiest way to accomplish this was to solder a ON/OFF switch for each of them.
Everything is now ready, the only thing that was left, was to close the case and enjoy my work.
This mod took me a month, evening and weekends of blood, sweat and tears.
The result is way past my expectations.
Yes the tubing could be better, especially with the 90° fittings.
This whole mod is accomplished with DIY stuff (leds) and ‘unknown’ Chinese products, it was worth taking the risk.
This is a fraction of what is possible with the 5050 RGB LED strips (I will make a video of it later):
Thanks for reading my story, don’t hesitate to tell yours or share your thoughts about mine