When one wanders through the Project Logs forum here at Bit-tech, it's hard not to be amazed. So many people pour so much effort, time, money and talent into creating these works of art that sit beside our desks each day.
Unfortunately, not everyone has that time. Whether you build quite a few systems in short order, don't have a lot of tool and material knowhow or just plain don't have enough hours in the day, it's not always feasible to do a fantastic, jaw-dropping mod.
However, that doesn't mean your case has to look bog standard. One of the benefits of so many years of experience and so many giants' shoulders before you is that companies have started to recognize that modding is art - and business. Just the sheer amount of sponsorship provided by such industry names as Intel, Corsiar, OCZ and Seagate (just to name a few!) can tell you that modding has hit the bigtime.
The benefit to this isn't just in the hardware - it's that great companies have sprung up that are borne of the modding ingenuity. Companies like AC Ryan, MNPCTech, C3, Feser One, Danger Den...the list goes on and on. These companies have made things that we previously had to make by hand, and turned them into a ten-quid part. Rheobuses, LED fans, cable sleeving kits - even good old Tygon tubing has been given an update and some great colour.
Not every modding job needs to take months of work - some simple things sold by retailers like FrozenCPU, CoolerCases UK, Aqua-PCs and MNPCTech can make great looking cases out of a few bucks and a few minutes.
The 'pre-mod' propaganda
There are lots of people who read the lines above and cringe. I can hear it now - "Go and buy this stuff? But that takes all the point out of modding!" And, in many ways, I suppose that's right - but modding, at least back in the day, was about taking materials that were standard and arranging them into something artistic based on your limits - so what's wrong with doing just that?
Cases like this one set a lot of true modders
on edge. But not all premods are bad!
Sure, the "bog standard" materials have changed - what used to be a beige case, neon light and piece of plexi has now turned into elaborate laser-cut windows, LED spot lighting and a back-lit fan controller. But that doesn't mean that assembling those building blocks isn't modding - in fact, I'd say it can be more challenging to get a clean, attractive look from that than starting from scratch.
But, the argument of pre-mod or mod isn't what this is all about - it's about those cases that you throw together in a half hour, or build up for a buddy. Those things that you want to look clean, a little bit of bling, a quick splash of colour and light. And that's why I think we need to look at some of these quick solutions and little details that can make bog standard into beautifully built.
Is this meant to replace the hard and inventive work created from days, weeks or months of modding? Of course not! But with some of these simple supplies and tricks, you'll never have to settle for putting together a bog standard case again.
A quick guide to this guide
Everything in this guide is meant to be a mod that can be started and finished within a half hour assuming any familiarity with basic tools. Nothing that you see should require more than a very basic set of tools (many just scissors, knives and a screw driver). And hopefully all of them are cheap.
Because of the large span of possible retailers, I'm not going to have a lot of "buy it here" things - some items are only available from certain resellers and I will try to list those out. However, most of what you see should be available in your area with a little digging...and if not, that's what the web is for, right?
I've tried to break the mods down into location first, then specific type. So things are arranged by part first, then by purpose. For instance, if you're looking to silence your PC, then you'll want to read both Panels and Internals sections for some simple little tips that don't cost the earth. I've tried to separate things into the basic purposes of silencing, straightening, and adding bling. But of course, make sure to leave your own tips for each of these and other ideas in the forum thread!
I cannot stress enough that the purpose for this article is quick details that make a lot of difference in a final product. It's all about making great use of the products that have been made available for us - not about arguing whether you could or should build it yourself.