Updated October 17, 2008 to include a new Modifying The Front Bezel section
Updated April 09, 2008 to include a new Cable Management section
Updated April, 03 2008 to include a new Constructing the 140mm intake section
Updated March 31, 2008 to include new To Do tasks; added software and setting specs; changed post formatting
- Antec Earthwatts EA380 (PSU, 380W)
- Ninja Plus Rev. B (Model SCNJ-1100P)
Enzotech CNB-S1L (Northbridge heatsink)
Tuniq TX-2 (CPU & Northbridge thermal paste)
Corsair XMS2 4GB (DDR2-800, 2 x 2GB, 1.9V, 5-5-5-12, Model CM2X2048-6400C5 ver3.1)
Hitachi Travelstar 7K200 (2.5", 7200 RPM, 100GB, SATA, Model HTS722010K9SA00)
- Scythe Quiet Drive 2.5 (HDD enclosure, Model SQD2.5-1000)
Stretch Magic (HDD suspension cord, 1.8mm)
- Arctic Cooling Accelero S1 (Rev. 2)
Enzotech BCC9 (Graphics card RAM heatsinks)
Microcool Micro Sink (Graphics card voltage regulator heatsinks)
Zalman ZM-RHS1 (Graphics card voltage regulator heatsinks)
Tuniq TX-2 (GPU thermal paste)
- Nexus 120mm Silicon Fan Noise Absorber
Antec rubber grommets (From Antec SLK3700 HDD bay)
- Directron Rubber Sticks (Fan fasteners)
Zalman FanMate 2 (Fan speed controller, 11V)
ATI Catalyst Control Center (Including Catalyst 8.3 Display Driver & ATI Overdrive)
AMD Cool 'n' Quiet (Enabled in BIOS, AMD Processor Driver Version 1.3.2.0053, and Windows Power Option Properties: Minimal Power Management)
The former hole for the PSU cables has been sealed with a piece of my old Antec SLK3700.
The front features a 140mm intake.
The PCI-E cable does not block airflow.
In the left pic, cables can be seen in the lower bay going into two of the three drilled holes.
In the right pic, cables can be seen going into the third and final drilled hole in the upper bay.
The suspended HDD does not touch the bottom of the upper bay.
Good airflow is maintained through the upper bay, from the front to the rear of the case.
Replaced two 92mm intakes with one 140mm intake
Drilled three holes for cable management
Patched former exit hole for PSU cables
Removed front bezel inputs and filled front bezel input holes
Painted front bezel black
Constructed and painted 5.25" intake grill
Removed rear fan grill
Constructing the 140mm intake:
The stock configuration had two 92mm intake grills.
My first round of cutting used a Dremel 300 with a reinforced cut-off wheel (#426). I had previously positioned the fan with the motherboard, CPU heatsink, and video card installed so that I could determine what components would directly be blown upon. The white, rectangular box upon which the 140mm fan rested happened to be the perfect height to position the fan where I needed it: the blades below the center 'dead zone' of the fan blew on the GPU heatsink, GPU RAM heatsinks, and Northbridge heatsink and the blades above the dead zone blew on the CPU heatsink. With the fan resting on the box at the correct height, the left side of the fan was roughly aligned with the left edge of the old 92mm intakes. As can be seen, the right and top edges of the fan were marked with pencil on the case so I could do the mods and evaluate the fan position without the electronics installed.
After being cut from cereal-box cardboard, shapes were placed and their outlines traced on my old Antec SLK3700 side panel. They were then cut from the panel with left and right Wiss tin snips. Finally, they were hand-sanded with 50-grit emery cloth (sandpaper for metal) and scratched with a scratch awl to prepare for attachment to the front of the case with J-B Weld. The front of the case surface was similarly prepared (shown here with the first shape already installed). To guide my placement when it came time to attach the shapes after the surface was prepared, I tried to leave traces of my previously-drawn pencil lines.
The first shape was installed. The remaining 92mm grills were removed because they jutted out too far.
J-B Weld, used to 'cold weld' the steel shape to the steel case, was mixed and applied with this cheap thing I found at the check-out counter of my local hardware store. It's like one of those dentist cleaning tools but with much thicker ends. Lacking real clamps, I used those tight-pinching binder clips you can find at any office supply store to secure the bonding process. Where I couldn't fit one of those clips, small weights were used. I didn't use heavy objects on top of the case alone, however, because pressure would not be applied from both outside sides of the materials being bonded.
All three shapes were installed. To cut the exact curves of the shape interior--to do detail work that I couldn't manage with the tin snips--the curved edges were ground down using a Dremel 300 with a grinding stone (#8193).
Because the shapes were placed on top of the case's exterior, the space behind them had to be filled in order to ensure a level surface for the 140mm resting against the case interior. I originally leveled the interior surface with Devcon Patch & Fill Patch compound.
Just say "No" to Devcon Patch & Fill compound, folks. The working time of about one minute is too short, much shorter than advertised, even under ideal conditions; it is difficult to compress and spread evenly; it smells oh so very badly; it is too brittle when dry and cracks when sanded. As these two pics scientifically and definitively prove, meanwhile, J-B Weld is Teh AwesomeÂ® for this application; the working time of about fifteen minutes is just right; it spreads fantastically, only needing to brush against a metal surface in order to stick to it; it fills all gaps and holes nicely, always working with gravity to settle and not leave gaps or air pockets; its has a low odor; it sands smoothly and does not break apart. I removed the Devcon product as best I could and then applied J-B Weld.
The J-B Weld has been applied and the surface has been sanded down, including portions of the rolled steel lip that once surrounded the hole for the front bezel input cables. This part of the project drove me to purchase a mouse sander; I used a Black&Decker Mouse Sander/Polisher (Model MS500CB) with P80 scrubbing pad attachment to do the heavy work and then some 400-grit sandpaper with elbow grease to finish it off. The transition between the original case steel and the J-B Weld layer was perfectly smooth to the touch. The visible dark spots were where the JB-Weld did not get sanded and was thus not quite level. I could have fixed this with another application of J-B Weld and another round of sanding, but seeing how the majority of the new surface and especially the approximate location of the fan mounting holes was level, this was not structurally necessary.
To place the mounting holes, I positioned the fan like previously (on top of the rectangular box and within the pencil lines) and marked where the holes would be. I did this by taking the chuck-end of an Ace 11/64", cobalt-tipped drill bit (used to later to drill the actual holes), dipping it in red ink I had extracted from your average plastic pen (I recommend cutting the tip off the flexible-plastic rod inside the pen that actually holds the ink and blowing), and slipping it through the closed mounting holes of the 140mm Yate Loon to 'stamp' the drill spot.
Problematically, I did not have room to drill the holes from the inside of the case. In the riskiest part of this entire build, I was forced to position the fan outside the case and--because my white rectangular box was no longer resting on the inside of the case but on the lower level the case feet were resting on--I had to guestimate the position of the fan. After drilling the holes, I could use the more-accurate marks I first stamped on the inside of the case to determine how accurate I was. Fortunately, two of the four holes were spot on and the other two came quite close.
After sanding the drilled holes (using a technique known to be employed by those toweling-off their backside), I installed u-channel molding from Mnpc-tech and called it a done deal.
Three holes were drilled to keep all cables out of the airflow paths. An Ace 1-3/ 16" Bi-Metal Hole Saw was used to make the larger hole in the upper chamber. The two smaller holes on the mobo tray were made with an Ace 1" Bi-Metal Hole Saw. Any hole of smaller diameter in the upper chamber would probably have rendered cable manipulation too difficult. Any larger hole would probably be blocked by the PSU and/or DVD drive, defeating the purpose. A smaller diameter may work for the mobo tray holes. Both hole saws were attached to a Craftsman Professional 6 amp drill using an Ace 1/4" High Speed Steel Pilot Drill Bit. WD-40 was used as cutting oil for all holes. I still experienced smoke and too-hot-to-the-touch steel during and immediately after drilling.
A close-up of the upper-chamber hole, complete with sloppy deburring marks from using a Dremel 300 with grinding stone (#8193) too carelessly.
Pins had to be extracted from the 24-pin, female ATX connector to fit it through the holes. Make no mistake about it: unlike male and female molex pins, ATX pins are tough to extract, even with specialized tools.
I used this Dual Head ATX & Auxiliary Molex Removal Tool to depress the wire hooks, at the same time pushing in slightly with the removal tool while pulling the wire out the opposite side with my other hand. There is no magically easy solution for extracting pins this way; it's all about finding the right balance between the pin hook depression/push on one side and the wire pull on the other. Once I got the hang of it, some pins came out almost immediately. Others could not extracted this way because of either my inability to find this balance or the slight warping the pins sustained from all the force I had applied. For these trouble pins I had to use a small flat-head screwdriver to actually push the pin inwards (the opposite direction it needs to go to be removed) by pushing under the crimped piece of metal where it touches the rubber wire. From the other side, the pin hooks were then immediately depressed, followed quickly by a wire pull out the same direction as the original method. This basically had to be done all in one swift motion. The problem with the original method was that the ends of the pin hooks, even when depressed, were too close to the inner barrier to slide past it. Pushing inward with the screwdriver gave it room to breath, so to speak. Another word of caution: do you buy this 20 pin, 24pin and P4 ATX power supply removal tool: the flimsy prongs break off too easily, leaving no margin for error.
Success! As carefully as I labeled the position of each wire, I still labeled one redundantly, requiring the ATX12V PSU spec to rescue me.
A trouble-free extraction produced the result on the left. A problematic extraction produced the result of the right; notice how the crimped metal section has been pushed clear off the rubber wire (probably via a superfluous application of the aforementioned screwdriver technique); the pin hooks are also too depressed.
For the rest of my cable management, I used the following:
- One 12" extension cable for the 4-pin ATX12V cable
One 12" extension for the 6-pin PCI-E cable
One 7" extension for 3-pin rear exhaust fan cable
Two 36" straight-to-left SATA II cables; I probably could have gotten away with 24" versions
Various hooks and zip ties from Radioshack
Modifying the Front Bezel
For the front bezel, the objective was to plug the input holes to eliminate blockage of the main intake vents by the front input cables and to provide a cleaner look. That meant filling the above holes. Based on the recommendation of mnpctech, I used Evercoat EVERGLASS Short Strand Fiberglass Filler (found at my local autoshop) to do so. For more information on how it is applied, see minute 4:30 of mnpctech's video here.
Here is the application on on both sides. On the front side, I had already begun to sand with my Black & Decker Mouse sander (#MS500CB). I can't remember what grit of sandpaper I used (it came with the B&D kit, though). This is not the kind of sanding you want to do by hand, unless you like pain and tedium. You can see that the original color of the plastic is gray.
The sanding is basically complete. I did one more light application and sanding over the front holes to fill in the pock marks. The back is fine; no one will ever see it.
Here is a high res (1MB) shot of the final paint job. I used Kryon H2O Prime Coat (white), then Krylon H2O Latex (Black), and finally Rust-Oleum Clear Coat Enamel. The enamel really made a difference in terms of protecting the latex paint. I simply followed the instructions on the back of the cans. I don't know much about painting, but I do know this: there are many things that can mess up your paint job, and it's something you have to do very carefully. You need to eliminate dust as much as possible and understand how to create a steady, even spray technique. I included the high res so you could see little bubble imperfections and faint traces of the original holes.
I'm not going to list my procedure for the 5.25" faceplate intake, because I'm not happy with it and I won't be keeping it. I think my HDD temps will be fine without it. For now, it lets in too much dust and is no longer aesthetically pleasing to my eye. Basically, I just cut out the center of the 5.25" drive bay cover that came with the case, trimmed the edges around the metal grate that came on the inside of the case, glued the grate to the back of the bay cover, and painted it.
Idle (10 minutes after inactivity, computer not in sleep):
Exhaust @ 804 RPM, Intake @ 485 RPM
CPU @ 29C
GPU @ 33C
HDD @ 25C
10 minutes after two instances of CPUburn (K7, Normal):
Exhaust @ 1205 RPM, Intake @ 493 RPM
CPU @ 67C
GPU @ 33C
HDD @ 25C
20 minutes after CPUburn & 10 minutes after ATItool 0.27 beta (artifact scan), video card @ factory OC settings (700/875):
Same fan stats
CPU @ 66C
GPU @ 43C
HDD @ 25C
30 minutes after CPUburn & 10 minutes after ATItool 0.27 beta, video card @ 710/940:
No change in other stats
CPU and HDD temps plus fan RPM readings were from SpeedFan 4.33. GPU temps were from ATItool 0.27 beta. Ambient during all tests was 18.33C.
The loudest thing in my system in by far the exhaust fan. I cannot hear the HDD, PSU fan, or front intake fan at all.
But because the CPU heatsink is fanless and the exhaust fan is so far from it, the fan ramps maxes out on RPMs too easily.
I'm not entirely pleased with the noise of the fan @ 1200 RPM, but the overall noise characteristic of my rig is good.
There is only the whoosh of the air, and the rear fan responds quite rapidly to the bios-based PWN control of the AN-M2.
Figure out why the intake fan--rated at 1000 RPM max, set to 11V, and connected to a 3-wire, supposedly non-PWN mobo connecter--only exceeds 500RPM when the computer is booted with the case panels off
Figure out why, if the computer is allowed to go into sleep mode, the Watt consumption both increases and fluctuates wildly
Lower exhaust fan speed, experimenting by
- Ducting CPU heatsink to exhaust fan or by moving exhaust fan onto the Ninja
Increasing speed of front intake fan