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Hypothetical question: Recent build, old case

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November 13, 2012 6:27:25 PM

So I've got a floater PC based around my older Phenom II 1055. Right now it's using some Compucase junk. I'm going to be replacing it with my HAF 912 next week. But I've been toying with the idea of purchasing an old X486 desktop case or maybe a Commodore 64 case. And moving the parts to it to create sort of a new school - old school build. Would this be possible or not? Alternately I'm thinking of maybe doing a custom Steam-Punk style case by stripping the panels off the Compucase case and building a new one around the existing cages.
November 13, 2012 6:34:00 PM

You need a case with the standoffs in the correct position for your motherboard (probably ATX) unless you're comfortable modding the case to be able to install the motherboard and other necessary components.
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November 13, 2012 7:24:00 PM

willard said:
You need a case with the standoffs in the correct position for your motherboard (probably ATX) unless you're comfortable modding the case to be able to install the motherboard and other necessary components.


Yeah that's one thing - I do not know how to weld. My dad might though. :lol: 
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November 14, 2012 2:00:05 PM

No welding necessary for case mods. If you really need to join metal, simple brazing would be fine.

Here's how I'd tackle a hypothetical case mod where I needed to install standoffs.

1. Get a printoff of the ATX standoff layout, to scale.
2. Tape the layout to the bottom of the case.
3. Use a small drill bit (you'll need a special metal bit) to drill a hole at each standoff location. Probably a 1/16 or 1/32 bit would be good, though I'd need to measure.
4. Remove the paper, and jam standoffs into the holes you just drilled.
5. Epoxy or braze the standoffs into place once you've verified that they line up with your mobo correctly.
6. If there was no motherboard tray (likely) you'll have just drilled a bunch of holes in the side or bottom of your case. Fill any gaps from the outside with epoxy, then sand it smooth. If the epoxy is visible, paint the whole case to make it look nice.
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November 14, 2012 2:18:42 PM

The other potential problem will be the I/O plate in the back. Old computers didn't have much built in, so usually EVERYTHING was a PCI (well ISA back then) card.

You will also have major ventilation issues if it has a good video card. Most computers didn't even have fans in the 486 era, not even on the CPU. (But the hard drive whine and floppy access noise made up for it)

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November 14, 2012 3:01:29 PM

Yeah, the I/O plate will need some Dremel work. Fans could be installed simply enough with a hole saw and a drill. Basically just cut out a 120mm hole, drill holes for the screws and screw the thing in.

Luckily, cases today use the same size expansion slots as they always have, so as long as its got two slots next to your video card, that should be fine as far as attaching it goes. If your card exhausts half its heat back into the case, however (a lot of modern cards do, makes the card quieter), then you're going to have serious heat issues.

Also, something I didn't mention before is that your standoffs have to be mounted in the correct location so the motherboard makes contact with the back of the case in the correct location. Can't just install it anywhere. Well, I guess you could, but it would be a nightmare to route cables into the case to connect them to the motherboard that's not exposing its connectors out the back of the case.
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November 14, 2012 3:15:25 PM

THe more mod you do, the less it looks like an old relic, though, unless you hide everything in the rear.


Here's a typical 386/486 computer tower. Note there is not even room for an IO plate, you typically had an AT keyboard port on the main board and then everything was a card or on a ribbon cable (you can see the punch outs for serial and parallel ports)



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November 14, 2012 3:20:57 PM

Dude, I had that exact case. Was a hand me down from my dad. Think he got it in the very early 90s, and had upgraded everything inside. Had a blazing fast 133 MHz processor, that overclocked all the way to 166 MHz!

And I'm thinking it would be best to mod the bottom of the case to keep it looking ancient. Can hide a big 180mm intake fan down there, and exhaust out the usual 120mm opening. Back of the case is going to have to be cut to bits with a Dremel, but again, that's fairly hidden.

I think it's doable, but it's going to be more than just an "install the standoffs" mod.
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November 14, 2012 5:55:09 PM

twelve25 said:
THe more mod you do, the less it looks like an old relic, though, unless you hide everything in the rear.


Here's a typical 386/486 computer tower. Note there is not even room for an IO plate, you typically had an AT keyboard port on the main board and then everything was a card or on a ribbon cable (you can see the punch outs for serial and parallel ports)

http://www.biocomp.net/vesa_computer.jpg


Yeah I remember those old PCs. I wonder how you would go about constructing a new back plate for a case like that.
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