November 18, 2019 | 09:00
It's that time of the year once more. The winter chills have rolled in, the Christmas tunes are erroneously showing up in Spotify playlists, and our venerable Mod of the Year competition is looming. This also means the conclusion of one of the largest events in the modding calendar: the Cooler Master World Series!
If you're not familiar with the 'CMWS', it's an annual modding event that's open to modders of all skill levels across the globe. With the competition hitting its 10th birthday this year, Cooler Master decided to push the boat out a little. The contest itself is spread across two categories, the Master League, aimed at professional modders and ambitious amateurs, and the Apprentice League, which is pitched towards newcomers to the hobby. Within the Master League there is a further subdivision, with the Tower Mod category for mods completed using a Cooler Master chassis, and Scratch Mod for those done without any existing chassis as a basis.
Being an open competition, the CMWS brings a tremendous amount of variety into the fold. One of the things I love most about seeing the final submissions is that one gets to observe how different countries approach the same field; it's very refreshing and also highlights just how much talent there is out there.
I was fortunate to be asked to be one of the members of the judging panel this year, and I can tell you right now that the standard was truly exceptional. There were so many fantastic projects, and looking through the logs definitely had me feeling very nostalgic. It genuinely brought me back to when I would browse all the Mod of the Year project logs here on bit-tech as a teenager.
In addition, I was also asked to make something a little special for all the Master League winners - more on that at the end. For now though, let's check out the winners!
There are five winners from the apprentice league, with each winning $1,000 in CM Store vouchers along with future modding support.
Now for the Master League meat! As mentioned above there were two categories to shoot for here: Tower Mod and Scratch Mod.
Tower Mod Prizes:
1st Place - $10k USD
2nd Place - $5k USD
3rd Place - $1k USD
Scratch Mod Prizes:
1st Place - $3k USD
2nd Place - $1k USD
Minimalistic is a master class in clever design and cohesive theming. AKMod replaced the entire interior of his C700M chassis with a custom, CNC-cut aluminium framework, which was later nickel-plated. He paired the frame with a couple of sumptuous wood panel reservoirs cut from solid walnut and sealed with epoxy. The wood theming is finished off via use of EK’s Lignum blocks along with custom-cut wooden cable combs. The rich materials continue to the outside too where AK coated the chassis handles with hand-stitched leather.
Tim chose to take a radically different route for his project than you’ll usually see in competitions. Instead of going big, he went small, deciding to mod an SL600M chassis into an ITX variant. This is harder job than meets the eye; every detail was covered with great care so that the result would appear factory-new. Tim saw to the cooling with an elegant loop featuring both a custom reservoir and pump mount. The internals were finished off with custom cabling and an iridescent flake finish.
Realgar began life as an exercise in seeing what Alessandro could achieve using non-automated processes. However, rather than opting for the easy route, he completely reworked his SL600M chassis, replacing many of the panels with scroll saw-cut patterns. The motherboard tray is constructed from poured resin, which is further continued into the front. Alessandro even grew genuine red crystals inside the motherboard heatsinks and behind the case seams, which contrasts beautifully with the textured paint finish.
X-wing truly was an endeavour of mammoth proportions, with the rig sitting at over six feet long! The majority of the mod was 3D printed in ABS, then painstakingly sanded, finished, assembled, then sanded again so as to have a seamless appearance. The rig is packed with details, such as how the switches and gauges are found inside the cockpit and how the wings open and close like the real thing. Stefan even went so far as to add tiny fans inside the thrusters to exhaust warm air out of the back. The build was finished off with a stellar airbrush paint job that makes it so incredibly authentic.
Leviathan is a testament to the capability of home 3D printing. It’s such an unusual shape that it would be exceedingly challenging to craft using other methods. So much care and attention was applied to the construction of the 3D model before manufacturing could even commence. The result is a stunning show piece build that is completely unique yet still oddly functional. The components were woven into the framework of the shark rather than hidden away, and similarly, ARGB lighting was built into the chassis and allows the shark to glow rather impressively.
Now I did also mention that there's a little more being added to the prize pool. What competition would be complete without a set of trophies? Rather than a bunch of cups that invariably sit on a shelf and consume precious space, however, Cooler Master opted for something altogether more appropriate and functional. Each Master League winner will be receiving a 140mm fan-mount reservoir designed and made in-house by yours truly. It was an honour to have this opportunity, and I can't wait to see them hopefully turn up in a project one day!
May 15 2020 | 11:00