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THG - You talked about case windows and window design. Can you talk a little more about windows in general ?
SH - Windows are an interesting subject, as this is one of the areas that continue to get a lot of attention. Windows are now available in a variety of colors and designs. These designs go beyond the standard square, oval, or circle windows that you normally see. For example, on many of the Antec and Chieftec cases, I custom cut the window to go around the handle that is embedded into the side of the case panel. Etching designs on the windows is also popular, and you can even get the stick-on clear designs to stick inside the window. Directron, for example, offers a variety of designs that you can put on the inside or outside of your window. I have used some of these and have found the effect to be good, but it left me wanting to take it to the next level. In my opinion, the next level is to cut the side panel of the case in the shape of a design and cut it out that way. Once you have the design cut out of the side panel, you can then affix acrylic or lexan to the back of the panel and then place your lighting behind it.
If done correctly, it would be possible to do something like a paint splatter or almost any abstract design that you can think of. It is a challenge to cut a design out of the side panel, but again, it all comes down to experimentation and creating a new look.
THG - Do you think that case modding has gone too far into the main stream ?
SH - Not yet, but with bigger companies getting involved, it is coming out of the basement and garage. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, since folks who are really into this will be pushing the creative envelope to find new and interesting things that the big companies are not doing. One important thing that potential case modders should note is that the cost for failure is still relatively small, meaning that, in most cases, the worst thing that can happen is that you have to purchase a new case. With so many low cost cases available, it is easy to purchase a cheap case to practice on before going for broke on your expensive case. I still see a great number of ideas for case mods all over the web, and I think you will continue to see people experiment, but with the manufacturers getting involved, some mods that were once reserved for the experienced (like windows and lighting) will become more available to the general public in pre-built systems.
THG - What is your opinion of purchased pre-modded and painted cases ?
SH - Well, of course, I have a little more vested interest in seeing folks purchase painted cases from my company, but I think there will always be people that want to purchase a turn key system and those who want to build the turn key system. If you are considering the purchase of a pre-modded and custom painted system, take your time and inspect the work. In my many searches on the web, I have found it difficult to examine much of the work, and to me, this makes the purchase difficult. You really have no idea of what you are going to end up with until it arrives on your front door step. Although these customized cases can be expensive, it is the best way to maximize your value.
For example, I always tell people that if you have the space, purchase a case that has more room than you think you will ever need. This way you can re-build your PC in the same case many times and you should always have plenty of room. Quality, of course, is important, but I have seen some vendors and web sites that are not paying as much attention to detail as they should be and are charging a premium price for it.