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Old 6th Feb 2012, 16:25   #1
digitalspy
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Project Arora - Dell Dimension E520

OK so I have actually finished this project now, but I have been keeping a log on another forum so feel its only right to post one up here too.

I was on a very tight budget (260 - tower only), to put together reasonable graphic design desktop. Sadly this meant a new build was out of the question and I needed to turn my sights toward some quality used components.

So first things first. I needed a suitable mother board. After a week of trawling the free Adds and ebay I had no luck finding anything suitable within my budget. The following week a local seller was offering a Dell Dimension + monitor for 100. After a bit of re-search....and "um and ah'ing" I decided to take a punt at it.

Upon collecting the computer it was all ticking over nicely, and looked pretty clean! Opened her up, cleaned out 4 years worth of dust! But for 100, I was very happy with my purchase. I had a decent case to start from, and a reasonable motherboard for my requirements (fair enough its a BTX layout)

So this is where we start from:



Not actually that bad looking for dell! But still could do with a bit of a face lift So I set to thinking about customizing it to suit my taste. I decided upon a nice clean, simple and effective look. Nothing fancy.

After a few brainstorms I produced this mockup on photoshop, it wasn't real of course but gave me a good visual representation of what I will set out to create. I wanted to play on the white case, blue lighting and window contrast.



The rest to follow later today
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Old 6th Feb 2012, 16:59   #2
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Sorry, but:

Quote:
Rules of the Project Logs forum

2. Your first post must contain pics of the actual mod in progress. If all you have is an idea, you don't have a log. If all you have is some conceptual sketches, you don't have a log. If all you have to show is a heap of parts, you don't have a log. This forum is purely for concrete work in progress - the other modding forums are more appropriate for concepts and thoughts.
When there are photos of work in progress we'll move it back.
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Old 7th Feb 2012, 13:51   #3
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Sadly the first few days I had no camera at the ready....so pictures are few and far between...

So First up is cutting out the window in the side panel. I decided to opt for a small sized window to add a dimension without over taking the panel itself. I took the panel off and Marked out a 7" x 10" rectangle in the middle of the panel. Tapped up along the line read for cutting. The side panel itself was 3mm Galvanized Steel plate, so to save time I took to it with an Grinder + Cutting disk.

With the window cut out, I took off the worst of any burs left behind with the grinder and then filed the rest down by hand. I then used a fine grit paper to take back the edges that little further so they were silky smooth. I continued to sand back the panel to provide a good surface for spraying. I also started sanding the other side panel as well, although already white I wanted to ensure they would be the same shade.

Once both side panels were sanded back enough it was ready for spraying. I opted for a nice simple Gloss White. The first coat went on, dried and was sanded back a little then a second (and final coat) was applied and left for 24hrs. When I checked it over I found a slight run on the very edge of one panel, I took this back a little and touched up with a very thin coat and left for a further 12hrs.

Now everything is dry I fitted to the panel back on, just to check that the extra thickness (added by the paint) hadn't caused any fitting problems. I already had a couple of pre-cut 8" x 12" pieces of clear acrylic from several months back left over. So its would be perfectly suitable to use a piece to fill in my window. Because of the "clean" look I was going for I didn't want any bolts, screws or rivets showing so I went down the Resin route. I picked up a 2 part Acrylic friendly Epoxy resin.

There is a 1/2" overlap on every side of the window perfect for applying the resin to. The window was fitted on the inside so as to hide the resin and overlap from the outside face. I was quite surprised at how strong this resin is! There is no way that window is coming off! And it set in under 10 minutes. So with the window now in place I turned my attention to the inside of the machine.

First things first, make a few hardware changes. I swapped out the 2 x 1 GB Dell DDR2 RAM already in place with 4 x Kingston 1GB DDR2 RAM (already had 2 x 1GB so had to buy two more....11, bargain )



I then purchased a 1GB ASUS graphics card ready to fit (there goes 1/4 my budget!), the carded fit nicely. Next up was the Wireless card (PCI - 14), only a 58mbps but when you consider that my broadband connection is currently under 3mb its plenty suitable!



I kept the stock 120gb hard drive, and also connect a 600gb as well. The 120gb runs the operating system and contains all software, larger is simply used for storage. With these new components I needed to up the PSU, the stock PSU was only 350w, so I replaced this with a silent 650w. PSU was free...kinda! I built a basic system with rejects from this build, and some old bits lying around. Done a straight swap with local shop of this "scraps" system + The monitor from the E520 for the PSU!

Everything was running smooth! But a little on the slow side...which is what I expected from a Pentium D Core Duo. I had already put a bit of research into it, and decided to spend a good chunk of my small budget on a new CPU. I picked up a top quality used Core 2 Quad Q6600 2.4ghz CPU for 70 (inc delivery). Once that arrived, I dropped it in place, re-plied thermal paste and fitted the heat-sink back on.

With the extra heat being produced I picked up a small Aspen Blue LED case fan, and attached to to the back just above and inline with the GPU to suck the hot air out. I also spent hours trying to located a 120mm Blue LED PWM fan. Almost giving up! But I stumbled across Gelid Solutions, and picked up a smashing 120mm Silent Blue LED PWM for 18 (inc delivery from Hong Kong). It arrived in only 5 days!!






Dell have a funny plug for their fans, a 5 pin plug to be precise. Where as my Gelid fan has a standard 4pin Molex....Ohwell. Cut the original 5 pin plug from the stock fan and spliced it onto the new Gelid Fan.



So, that's all the hardware sorted and even half of the lighting. I next fitted 2 12" Blue LED strips along the bottom (on the inside) of the case to add a glorious Blue Glow which will compliment the glow from both fans.


Some of this, cut to 12" length and coated in a clear silicone.

Closed the case back up. And this is where were are so far!




Last edited by digitalspy; 8th Feb 2012 at 13:21.
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Old 7th Feb 2012, 13:59   #4
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Next up was sorting out the face of this case. It all looks very silver....and typical dell. My original idea was to just paint the entire case white, but I actually quite like the silver contrast with the white paint and blue LED. I want to leave a nice thin silver trim down the edges of the face and around the side vents. Along with this I decided to un-brand this case! And remove that dell logo.

I removed the dell badge, and applied some standard car filler to the recess left behind. I masked up the trim I wanted to leave silver and set about sanding down the mountain (or at least that's how it felt) of filler...



Once I felt I had taken enough of the filler down and it ran flush with the rest of the case it was time for more painting! Same as the side panels, first coat, rough up then second coat. left for a total of 36hrs. I Was pretty pleased with how it turned out!



Needed a little tidying up along the silver trim, but nothing major! I fitted the front back on and it was all pulling together nicely. Here's a picture of the system not powered up.

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Old 7th Feb 2012, 14:03   #5
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The 2 small vents at the front seemed a little dull when the machine was powered up so I needed to fit a little extra lighting. Time for some more Blue LED strips, well one more strip. This time not coated in silicone because it will be tucked away out of contact with anything.



I know, I ran out of shrink tube! Electric tape will have to suffice. Its going to be hidden anyway. Next I needed to coat the contacts in Resin to prevent any problems.



OK. So the system now has full blue lighting (ahhh, much better on the eye ) I thought about the top black section and what to do with it. I settled on a carbon fibre effect! Picked up some top notch car vinyl and got to cutting the sections, and adheasing them in place.







Now all the bits have been coverred its time to put it back together.





Sadly these photos dont do the carbon fibre effect vinyl much justice. Its looks brilliant to the naked eye, much lighter silver!! I am absolutely over the moon with the finished effect.

Oh and of course, my system is now silently cooled by Gelid Solutions....



Well there you have it guys, its all done for at least a week Its just a nice clean, simple mod. But I am very pleased with the end result

Last edited by digitalspy; 7th Feb 2012 at 21:49.
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Old 7th Feb 2012, 16:23   #6
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Sorry for the delay in getting the pictures up, its been pretty hectic!

Thanks

Last edited by digitalspy; 8th Feb 2012 at 10:34.
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Old 7th Feb 2012, 21:06   #7
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I have this Dell, and I wish my dad would let me do what you've done to it One good thing about the E520 is the fact that (most of the time) it's completely silent. Did you use the Dell heatsink with the Core2Quad or did you put in a new one? Also, in yours was the heatsink at a 45 degree angle to how they normally are?

Thanks in advance. This mod is awesome - it's amazing how much removing the Dell logo improves its looks
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Old 7th Feb 2012, 21:43   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fredcompany View Post
I have this Dell, and I wish my dad would let me do what you've done to it One good thing about the E520 is the fact that (most of the time) it's completely silent. Did you use the Dell heatsink with the Core2Quad or did you put in a new one? Also, in yours was the heatsink at a 45 degree angle to how they normally are?

Thanks in advance. This mod is awesome - it's amazing how much removing the Dell logo improves its looks
Hey thanks. I know what you mean about the dell logo, it still looked better with as pink splodge of filler lol!

I do actually have a new Heatsink and cooling fan for the Core 2 but I haven't needed to use it yet, the original heatsink is keeping temperatures nice even mid game.

Not sure what you mean about the heatsink position. My heatsink sits square with the motherboard, so the bottom face runs paralell with the base.

Last edited by digitalspy; 8th Feb 2012 at 10:36.
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Old 8th Feb 2012, 10:35   #9
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Moderator help please.

Pictures are up now. Can a mod please move this back to Project log section.

Thanks
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Old 8th Feb 2012, 18:22   #10
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Done.
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Old 8th Feb 2012, 21:17   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nexxo View Post
Done.
Smashing! Thanks!!
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Old 9th Feb 2012, 21:14   #12
Fredcompany
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Quote:
Originally Posted by digitalspy View Post
Not sure what you mean about the heatsink position. My heatsink sits square with the motherboard, so the bottom face runs paralell with the base.
THis is what my mobo looks like:
Piccy

It's pretty weird with one having it the normal way round, one having it at 45 degrees. Mine is a pre-core2duo Pentium though (still 775), so it's probably just because they changed the design after Core2 was announced.
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Old 10th Feb 2012, 10:13   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fredcompany View Post
THis is what my mobo looks like:
Piccy

It's pretty weird with one having it the normal way round, one having it at 45 degrees. Mine is a pre-core2duo Pentium though (still 775), so it's probably just because they changed the design after Core2 was announced.

Yeah my CPU is situated dead square on the board, so it is a little different. Mine I believe is the 2006 design...Could be wrong as it was a second hand buy.
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