Salem’s Fire #20: Case Work

Case Work

The computer is home and set up. The mouse, the monitor, the cable modem are all plugged in. Everything is set for hours of gaming fun. But… something is missing. After all that work, something does not seem right. The box is, well, bland. It just sits there. Surely something as powerful and fun-filled as the latest, greatest gaming computer known to man should do more than just sit on the floor, right?

Right. And for thousands of people, it does do more. It houses fish. It lights the room. It makes toast (yes, toast). These technological marvels are the product of a little know-how, a lot of imagination, and in most cases, some well written web tutorials. There is no longer any excuse for idle and boring beige boxes. The revolution is called ?case-modding,? and it is a movement well worth joining.

This is not a tutorial on how to mod a case. In fact, I am not even going to provide a list of other resources. The Googles of the world were made for such a time as this. Any fine search engine can provide more quality information than I could in a hundred articles. When you have finished here, feel free to Yahoo as you Excitedly make your way to Google to Ask for more information. In the meantime, some may be wondering why bother with taking a perfectly functional case and adding functionally pointless features?

First off, not all case mods are functionally useless. The most basic type of modification would probably the installation of an additional fan. In the world of computers, fans are the equivalent of a nice cold glass of lemonade on a sweltering hot day. Even if your system is not suffering from heat problems, it could probably use more ventilation to aid the cooling process. Keep in mind that most processors run at temperatures well over one hundred degrees Fahrenheit. The heat dissipation argument can be a handy one when trying to explain to the family why the computer is now glowing and sounds like an airplane warming up.

Fans, however, do not have to be bland and boring. It is not hard these days to find a fan with LEDs in several colors built into the fan itself. What was a very sober and rational decision to prolong the life of the computer now takes on a whole new dimension. However, flickering lights shining from the back of the case is not all that impressive. As any fireman knows, though, heat rises. Unfortunately, the top nearly every case is a solid sheet of metal that is not very good at letting that heat escape. Lucky for us that methods do exist for opening up a hole for that extra heat. And of course, any exhaust hole needs a fan, and why have a dull fan when you can have a fan that glows blue? No one says that a fan on the top is the place to stop, either. The side of the case (the side opposite the board everything plugs into, that is) is a great place to add another fan. Or two.

Or a window. This is a little harder to justify logically, so I would not bother trying. Find a window kit online, or make your own, and let the world see the inside of the Greatest Gaming Box. Add a nice cathode tube to the interior of the case, and we now have a box that gently glows a lovely red as the war in Sanctuary progresses. Think of the lovely Valentine?s Day surprise it would be to add a nice glowing red heart-shaped window to the side of your loved one?s case. The possibilities are limited only by the imagination.

And imagination is exactly what it takes to go to the extreme levels of case-modding. Trust me, fans and windows are preschool stuff compared to the antics of the Case-Mod Masters. Cases in which fans are replaced by water pumps and tubes, cases in which nearly the entire system is submerged into cooled mineral oil, and cases cooled on liquid nitrogen are among the highest honors of the over clocking and super cooling crowd.

But they do not stop there. Having conquered the depths of below zero computing, attention has recently turned again to placing computers in as small a space as possible. For example, imagine a fully multimedia, internet capable, Doable 2 playing machine packed into the confines of a toaster. No, not the size of a toaster, a real live (former) toaster. Stick in a CD where once the bread went. Not up for burnt game disks? Then imagine that same machine tucked into an old radio, or an old wooden crate, or a lamp. With the ever increasing pace of miniaturization and performance, perfectly functional low end gaming systems can literally be squeezed into spaces that just last year would have been utterly impossible. No doubt we are heading towards a day when frame rates that are multiples of what we can now achieve will be reached in Quake 3 by a box the size of a paper back book.

But to return to the boring old box sitting by your feet. Why would anyone what to sink such time and money into making a computer look nifty? Appearance. LAN parties are becoming increasingly common as more people join the ranks of gamers and seek places to play. Some people build special, small but powerful systems, LAN boxes, just for LAN parties. Others take their normal case, and make it look as awe-inspiring and impressive as possible. Showing off the case can be as much fun as showing off the skills in whatever the game of choice happens to be.

Take a hard look at the box that allows you to read this article, and think. Is that box really being all it could be? Could it really hurt to add an extra fan… just a little one?

Disclaimer: Salem’s Fire was written by Luke Blaize and hosted by The opinions expressed in these columns are those of the author, and not necessarily those of

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