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Custom Inverted PC Case Project

dmcke5
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Hi guys, just thought I'd share a few photos from a project I have worked on over the last week or so. I needed an inverted case for my work from home setup due to the existing layout of my table (cable management holes already drilled etc) and I couldn't find one available that I liked so I decided to set about making my own.


I designed the case around a 19x19x1.2mm square aluminium tube frame with 3D printed corner pieces to give it some strength. The front and top is all one peice of sheet metal that has been pressed to fit and then epoxied to the frame (after I roughed up the surfaces first of course). I choose to use glue to avoid having external fasteners visible however I have added a few rivets at either end of this piece to ensure the ends don't start to lift up over time. The rear and bottom of the case is a second piece of folded sheet metal. Unfortunately it came out a little short so there is a small gap on the bottom of the case that I will probably fix up in future but its barely noticable so I will leave it for now. There is a third piece of folded sheet metal that forms the motherboard tray and the PSU cover which is riveted to the inside of the frame. I have a machined IO spacer for the back of the case that isn't pictured yet but it will take the IO insert for the motherboard and support the PCIE cards.

I have painted the case with an automotive style touch up paint as I find this works best for me on Aluminium surfaces. All surfaces were sanded and thoroughly cleaned prior to undercoating and then finally painting.

I still have some work to do, I need to cut out some opaque white inserts for the top and bottom triangle sections at the front of the case as I plan to have RGB strips behind these. I also have to create a thin frame to hold the fan filter material on the front of the case. I will post an update once those parts are done!

Most of the models I used to design the case were found on Grabcad and the critical dimensions were verified against spare older parts I had available to check.
I haven't ordered any hardware for it yet but I will do in the coming days once I've made the final decisions on what I want to get.

 

Let me know what you think so far and feel free to ask questions about the process, I'm happy to offer any help I can.

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That's really cool! Love the effort put into this, that's a gorgeous custom case - plus the fact that you probably had to do quite a lot of the designing for a niche application. 

Also, nice Alienware laptop being used as a stand... 

 

Reminds me of when Dell woke up one day in like 2005 and decided "Hey, let's build our computers backwards from the way it's been done for 25 years!", so for several years, Optiplex cases opened from the right side panel, and the GPU fans faced up instead of down like normal. Just, your execution looks quite a bit better. 

I'm not a professional, just an enthusiast. I don't know everything.

HGST Ultrastar: The last HDD you'll ever need to buy (and the one I always recommend).

Schrödinger's CPU: The Q9650. Is it irrelevant? Is it not? 

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28 minutes ago, Mel0nMan said:

That's really cool! Love the effort put into this, that's a gorgeous custom case - plus the fact that you probably had to do quite a lot of the designing for a niche application. 

Also, nice Alienware laptop being used as a stand... 

 

Reminds me of when Dell woke up one day in like 2005 and decided "Hey, let's build our computers backwards from the way it's been done for 25 years!", so for several years, Optiplex cases opened from the right side panel, and the GPU fans faced up instead of down like normal. Just, your execution looks quite a bit better. 

Thanks! Yeah it was a fair bit of work, but hopefully worth it once it's all put together. The Dell laptop (not an alienware, unfortunately!) is what this build will be replacing. I bought that laptop pre-pandemic when it was only a year old and it's served me extremely well but it's only a 7th Gen i5 and I'm in desperate need of some more horsepower so it's time to upgrade!

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That's a crazy sick build!  

 

I fucking love it!  (Makes me wish I had the time and machinery to do work like this!)

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1 hour ago, dmcke5 said:

Thanks! Yeah it was a fair bit of work, but hopefully worth it once it's all put together. The Dell laptop (not an alienware, unfortunately!) is what this build will be replacing. I bought that laptop pre-pandemic when it was only a year old and it's served me extremely well but it's only a 7th Gen i5 and I'm in desperate need of some more horsepower so it's time to upgrade!

Ah I was thinking Alienware since I've only seen that blue ring on the higher wattage Dell chargers, my Precision laptop has one. 

I'm not a professional, just an enthusiast. I don't know everything.

HGST Ultrastar: The last HDD you'll ever need to buy (and the one I always recommend).

Schrödinger's CPU: The Q9650. Is it irrelevant? Is it not? 

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5 hours ago, Mel0nMan said:

Ah I was thinking Alienware since I've only seen that blue ring on the higher wattage Dell chargers, my Precision laptop has one. 

You're right it is a high watt charger as this is an Inspiron 15 7000 Gaming series, basically an entry level gaming laptop. Just doesn't attract the "alienware tax" which is one of the reasons I bought it as it was very cheap at the time and still had a year of warranty left. Whilst it has been good for work this machine has also been my gaming setup and the little i5 7300hq has always been a bit lacking in that department. Now that I'm driving an ultra wide with it, It struggles to run a lot of the games that are coming out at the moment with any sort of decent frame rate so its time for an upgrade!

 

6 hours ago, tkitch said:

That's a crazy sick build!  

 

I fucking love it!  (Makes me wish I had the time and machinery to do work like this!)

I'm fortunate enough to be designing the machines that do this for a living, and occasionally I get enough time to play on them when I want to make something of my own! I do have my own little cnc machine but its not big enough to tackle projects like this. Its much more suited to handheld sized computers! One day when I can afford to build my shed, I will probably build a bigger machine of my own so I can do projects like this at home.

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2 minutes ago, tkitch said:

If you want to cheat and save a bunch of time:

Mountain mods sells an anodized (or glossy) black aluminum MATX backplane already built for fairly short money, given the annoying nature of making them.  I got one for a project and they're REALLY nice.

 

https://www.mountainmods.com/index.php?cPath=21_34_66&sort=2a&page=2

 

Ah nice, had no idea this existed. Unsurprisingly, pretty similar to what I came up with too. The main difference is that I did mine out of billet because I don't have acurate enough pressing equipment for such small intricate work like that. Looks like an awesome solution if I decide to do this again though, so cheers! I wonder if they ship to Australia?...

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I imagine they would, you'd just pay extra for it, because the air freight would be kinda insane

 

I only suggested it, because having done one by hand out of plastic, I know just how absurdly fiddly it is.

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16 minutes ago, tkitch said:

I imagine they would, you'd just pay extra for it, because the air freight would be kinda insane

 

I only suggested it, because having done one by hand out of plastic, I know just how absurdly fiddly it is.

Yeah, understandable. I'm pretty sure the one I've done would work okay as a 3D print too as long as you had a large enough printer. Would just need a couple of brass inserts for the threads.

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13 hours ago, dmcke5 said:

Let me know what you think so far and feel free to ask questions about the process, I'm happy to offer any help I can.

Love it. This is a tight looking built. 

 

Random question, when designing the case, how much allowance do you add to the overall panel length to account for bend radius? I assume that the panel stretches when bending? For example, these scribe lines (and all the others) Is there a set amount that you add for each bend?

 

 

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3 hours ago, Blue4130 said:

Love it. This is a tight looking built. 

 

Random question, when designing the case, how much allowance do you add to the overall panel length to account for bend radius? I assume that the panel stretches when bending? For example, these scribe lines (and all the others) Is there a set amount that you add for each bend?

 

 

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It's all calculated by Solidworks for me when I use the sheet metal tool. It all depends on the die in the press and the type of material used so it can vary a fair bit so it's hard to give you an exact number. If you want to have a go yourself I'm pretty sure fusion 360 (which is free for hobbyists) has similar sheet metal tools if you don't have access to Solidworks.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Thought I'd share a photo of it now it's got some hardware in it! Decided on a 12400f and a RTX3070. 

 

Still need to make a fan filter cover for the front and I may end up adding some fans to the back of the case depending on how my temps go when the weather warms up a bit but for the most part it's complete!

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