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Case Mod - In Progress DELL XPS - BTX to ATX mod.

Discussion in 'Project Logs' started by d_stilgar, 22 May 2011.

  1. d_stilgar

    d_stilgar Old School Modder

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    At the end of last summer I got a DELL XPS case at a WSU surplus sale for $15. Now that the school year is over I'm finally getting around to modding the thing from BTX to ATX and moving my current rig into it.

    Here are the before pictures. It's a really solid brushed aluminum case. It weighs about a million pounds and looks great. The only problem is that it is BTX standard.
    [​IMG]

    Here's the back, where the problems are and the only part of the case I will be changing at all.
    [​IMG]

    . . . And the side. The case is designed to look like it's leaning forward.
    [​IMG]

    I started by removing the motherboard tray.
    [​IMG]

    I'm going to try and salvage that front bit. It holds a fan and I'll mod it to hold the radiator on my Coolit Vantage.
    [​IMG]

    Here's the new motherboard tray. It's a Lian-Li something . . . It's ATX standard and a nice red anodized aluminum. I got it for $50 at performance-pcs.
    [​IMG]

    Next step was to remove the back plastic plate. I will have to cut it apart and glue it all back together so it conforms to the ATX standard of everything else.
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    The next step is where the modding really begins. The back metal plate was riveted to the case, so I had to drill through the rivets to remove it. I'll have to buy a rivet gun to get this thing back together. It's about time I got one.
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    And from the metal backplate I drilled out the rivets holding the IO shield. This will eventually go, but it has a neat LED array at the top so you can light up the back of your case to get things plugged in and out. I'll be recycling that.
    [​IMG]

    Next, I marked out everything that needed to be cut out from the inside so the new motherboard tray can be mounted. I cut everything out, did a few test fits, then drilled and tapped a few holes so the motherboard tray would be flush and secure. I'll probably add a few more screws to this before I call it done.
    [​IMG]

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    After the motherboard was mounted I marked where the metal back plate needed to be cut. I would then cut it and hold it up again to make sure everything fit, and then made more adjustments until I liked the way it looked. I replaced a big area I had cut out for the new expansion slots and glued it to the location of the old ones. This is good enough for me at this point. The plastic back plate that goes over this will have to be modified as well, but will cover any imperfections the metal plate has.
    [​IMG]

    That's all for now. I need to get 5/32 rivets to get everything back in place, and I need to start and finish the plastic back plate. After that though, this will be finished. The whole point of this mod was to take the BTX case and make it ATX. It doesn't have to be pretty since it's the back of the case, but I'm going to do my best anyway.
     
  2. stuartwood89

    stuartwood89 Please... Just call me Stu.

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    I remember these when they came out. The case is a beast, it's a shame the hardware inside them was not up to scratch.
     
  3. KidMod-Southpaw

    KidMod-Southpaw Super Spamming Saiyan

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    The red tray looks great with the black of the case, very good start, I really like this.
     
  4. Cheapskate

    Cheapskate Insane? or just stupid?

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    Typical Dell. Even when they have an outstanding outer shell, the inside is razor-sharp crap metal and proprietary form factor.:lol:

    I'd keep the shell and rebuild everything else.
     
  5. stuartwood89

    stuartwood89 Please... Just call me Stu.

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    I think that this Dell XPS case is one of my favourites, alongside the Apple G5. It's a shame that you have to do so many modifications to fit proper hardware inside them, and they're expensive to start with. You're lucky to get yours so cheap.
     
  6. randomhero

    randomhero Minimodder

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    Looks like a great start! Mean looking case from dell too! My favorite Dell case is the Dell XPS Studio 435 tho:[​IMG]
     
  7. zeBriukas

    zeBriukas What's a Dremel?

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    This going be badass, subbed !
     
  8. Jipa

    Jipa Avoiding the "I guess.." since 2004

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    I really like the exterior, but the interior looks nightmare-ish. I'd probably be tempted to do what Cheapskate already suggested and just build something from scratch which can then be wrapped in the beautiful outer skin :)
     
  9. j0rd

    j0rd FLOSS folder

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    It wasnt propriety, Intel developed the form factor to replace ATX and had it standardized. It had alot of problems though and never took off, doomed to go the same way as apples ill fated ADC and Fire Wire 800.

    Its great to see that it isn't too hard to convert a BTX rig to ATX and this conversion is looking sharper than the metal edges in the chassis :D
     
  10. d_stilgar

    d_stilgar Old School Modder

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    The next step in the project was to mod the back panel plastic. This was about the same as the metal, but instead of using a grind wheel on my dremel I used my scroll saw. It was easier to cut and the blade on it is thinner, so I would lose less plastic.

    Here's the finished plastic panel. The only thing left for the back panel is to get the original I/O shield shroud and put it in place. It will go on the inside of the case and I will rivet it in place, but I'm going to wait until I have my motherboard out and ready to install so I can do this exact.
    [​IMG]

    It really turned out good. To get this result I cut the plastic from its original position, but I couldn't just glue it in a new place. There wasn't enough plastic there to do it, so I had to add more. I got out my 2mm sheet styrene and just strips to the appropriate length and width, painted them high gloss black, then glued them in place. The only problem with this is that super glue leaves a white residue sometimes. Most of it should clean up (which I haven't done yet) but there stands to be some white residue that remains when all is said and done. So here's the question, do I repaint the whole thing in gloss black, or do I just leave it? Part of me really just wants to see this thing finished. These pictures show some of that residue.
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    Near the bottom left of the case is a new hole. I'm not sure what I'm going to use it for. I could use it as a blower exhaust or I could put some fan/LED control knobs there. For now I'm going to do nothing and leave my options open. Ideas?
    [​IMG]

    On the inside of the case I cut out part of the original motherboard tray that held a fan or radiator and put it back in its original spot. This might just hold a fan in the end, or I might use it to hold the radiator on my CoolIt Vantage.
    [​IMG]

    My other option for holding the CoolIt Vantage radiator would be the original CPU cooler shroud, but that will leave me with the problem of figuring out how I'll remount it onto the case. I would prefer this though since it would turn the whole thing into a true all-in-one liquid cooling solution right on the motherboard.
    [​IMG]

    Next, I removed the PCB at the front of the case that controls all the front ports and traced the leads back to that mini version of an IDE header and then wrote down everything. All the surface mount LEDs share a common ground. There's power, network activity, Primary HDD activity, and HDD activity 1-4. For the USB and firewire I just got on ebay and got an official version with standard connectors to standard motherboard headers. Thank goodness DELL did one standardized thing. I couldn't for the life of me get the front panel LEDs to light up. I tried every combination of pins on the mini-IDE header, but nothing was working. There's probably something else that controls them on the board. To get this to work then, I just went straight to the source and found which pin was the common ground then poked around til stuff lit up. There are actually three different colored LEDs in the front, red, green and blue, so with some potentiometers I'll be able to vary the colors, mix and match to get pretty much whatever I want.
    [​IMG]

    Thats it for now. I'm waiting on some parts to come in but then I'll get this finished up and loaded with hardware to boot up and use!

    I've debated doing this, but it would be a lot of work and I have many projects I'm trying to get done this summer. I might, however, build out some hardware shrouds to cover the hardware even when the door is open to make it look really nice when the case is opened up. I'll just have to see how much time I have. I'm kinda getting behind already.
     
  11. chris4060

    chris4060 What's a Dremel?

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    hi buddy good thread im in the middle of doing the same but im stuck at the front panel i want to wire up firewire and audio and mic but i aint got a clue on how to do this lol. have you got anymore updates yet.

    cheers chris
     

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