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Case Mod - In Progress The Return - A Dell XPS Mod (Update 05/07)

Discussion in 'Project Logs' started by DAE_JA_VOO, 9 Jun 2011.

  1. DAE_JA_VOO

    DAE_JA_VOO New Member

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    About a year ago, I got an email from a guy here in Pretoria telling me that he has this Dell case that's "scrap", and if I want to "salvage" it for a mod, I'd be welcome to have it. Now, I've always had an eye for Dell's cases, so I figured I'd take the guy up on his offer, especially considering the fact that you can't actually buy these cases - they're OEM. As far as I know, you need to actually buy a whole rig from Dell. So this was something I was definitely interested in.

    I drove out to the guy's house, and there stood this "scrap" case. I say "scrap" because it was hardly scrap. It was a brand spanking new Dell case, still sealed in the plastic, imported from the UK. It was also accompanied by a 1000W Modular Dell PSU. Neither of these things had ever been used.

    The case was absolutely beautiful, and it's construction and build quality was amazing.

    I couldn't get started with it yet, though, because I was busy with another big project, and once that was done, the renovations we were doing to the house rendered my workspace unusable until just recently, so now I can finally get going :D

    I took some quick photos after I got it:

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    I quickly shoved my hardware into this case. I didn't do a great job, but I just needed my hardware in there.

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    Cable management-wise, this case isn't particularly awesome. It's not TERRIBLE, but it's a little stingy. That's alright, though, that's what case modding is all about.

    So, to start off, I stripped the whole thing. This actually took WAY longer than I was expecting it to. The amount of rivets that Dell used to put this thing together was nauseating:

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    The bottom is super ugly. I need to cover that up:

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    Now, one of the interesting things about this machine is that it comes with it's own proprietary PCB that controls the fans and LEDs in the case:

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    These are some of the LEDs that it comes with:

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    My plan is to mount this on the bottom of the case, like so:

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    I'll then place a cover over that entire floor so that it's all hidden and the bottom of the case looks good. So this is the first one I made:

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    If you look closely, you'll see that I actually had to key out a few spots so that the side panel mounts had some space:

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    I ended up scrapping that piece though. It was a little too wide, and I needed the floor of the case to be a few millimeters lower. So, a new one. No need for the keys on this one:

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    Then I needed to drill 3 holes for mounting screws:

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    By the way, if you don't have a decent ruler, get one. I bought this guy for something like R40 (less than $6):

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    The screws I was going to use for this would be countersunk screws, like this:

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    One down:

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    All done:

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    In place:

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    As you can see, it fits really well:

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    And the screws look great:

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    So that was step one. The next thing I needed to make was a motherboard tray. The reason the previous owner didn't use the case was because of its lack of a tray. I made a quick temporary one out of some plexi, but I needed to make a nice one for this mod:

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    I had to thread a bunch of 2.4mm holes with a 3mm tap for the motherboard stand-offs:

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    Fitted:

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    I made two holes through the tray that line up with 2 threaded 3mm holes in the chassis for the tray to be fixed to. I made sure to use screws with low profiles to hold it together:

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    I also knew that I absolutely HAD to cover up that whole top "cavity" that the case has - the place where the PSU and HDDs reside. Even though it's not all that visible when the case is closed, it's wide open when the case is open. This is what I'm talking about, this whole section above the new motherboard tray:

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    So, a rectangular piece of alu was cut up, and then I started drilling and countersinking the holes:

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    All done:

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    And fitted:

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    The screws look so good I could scream :D

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    This panel still needs some work, though. I don't know if I want to leave it looking so plain.

    The next step was to make some cable management changes to the case. The "back" side panel has a few channels in it that are part of its structure, so I figured I'd use those to my advantage. Sure, I'll never be able to take that side panel off, but the case was designed in that way in any case.

    So I checked to see where I needed to cut:

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    And according to my slick new ruler, the distance between the start of that panel and where it ends is about 14mm:

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    Now I need those holes to be a little smaller, because I'm actually going to be covering all of this up. So I made them about 13mm in height. Anyway, here they are, marked off, ready for some Dremel love:

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    And here we go:

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    Here's after the Dremel work. Now it's filing, sanding, etc:

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    All done:

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    Fitted:

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    And here's a cable, just to show you what I mean:

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    Now, all of that will actually be getting covered up with a panel, so you'll never actually see that, but it'll be neat, and that's what's important to me. Hahahha.

    So that's it for now. What are my plans? The black plastic of the case will be staying black, but the rest of the case is going white. These panels inside will be getting some paint as well. I'm pretty sure I'll be making those white too, but I'll see how I feel about that as I progress.

    The whole machine is getting watercooled as well, so that should be a lot of fun. The raddy will sit right at the front of the case, with the pump at the top in the same cavity as the HDDs and PSU.

    So, what do you think? Any advice or feedback?

    Thanks for taking the time to read my log. I hope you liked it :)
     
    Last edited: 5 Jul 2011
  2. bulldogjeff

    bulldogjeff The modding head is firmly back on.

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    I looked at these cases before and thought they looked good for modding, but I've never seen any one actually do one. You were right about the bottom being an ugly bast*rd, looks so much much better with the new plate in there. Good work so far, I'll be following this one thats for sure.
     
  3. avolla

    avolla Mini Water Modder

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    Ah, a fellow xps modder. I have that exact case with a rampage 3 board in it and a gtx 580 graphics. Setup right this thing has amazing airflow. I'll be watching your progress and nice start.
     
  4. bruce_rob

    bruce_rob New Member

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    Nice mod Good luck an will def be following
     
  5. Parge

    Parge the worst Super Moderator

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    I'm soooo glad this case got into the hands of a quality modder who'll give it some love! Looking forward to seeing how you get on!
     
  6. MrBean

    MrBean Member

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    Good work, Ettienne, happy you're the one doing one of these :) Always luv'ed the XPS series.

    Well, after my HP BB is done, I would like to get my hands on an Acer Predator. Where to find though....


    Good luck with this, I shall be a regular observer on this one!
     
  7. DAE_JA_VOO

    DAE_JA_VOO New Member

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    Thanks for the replies guys :D I'm excited for this one. I don't have any ridiculous plans for it, but I expect it to look really, really clean when I'm done :)
     
  8. cErAtEd

    cErAtEd New Member

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    Man I'm soo jealous that u have this case and ur modding it out, well I'm very excited to see the end result.
    One question to u I read it that u imported this from the UK and I live in the UK and I would be over the moon if I could get my hands on one of these and I'm willing to pay for a case.
    Thanks and subscribed
     
  9. Guest-56605

    Guest-56605 Guest

    I've always wanted to get my hands on one of those and you've struck on a mint unused one; nice one :thumb:
     
  10. Knighthammer

    Knighthammer New Member

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    Looks like your off to a great start. Keep up the good work, following for sure!
     
  11. bagman

    bagman Well-Known Member

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    always wanted to see one of theses cases modded and now there are 2 at the same time!
     
  12. Cheapskate

    Cheapskate Insane? or just stupid?

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    The pajama modder returns!:D -and you have one of those pretty-on-the-outside/ugly-on-the-inside Dells. I can't wait to see what happens.

    The insides always make me think Dell manufactures razor blades on the side.
     
  13. tp148

    tp148 Member

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    DAE_JA_VOO:

    Just wondering why you used 2.4mm holes for your m3 threads?
    As the pitch of m3 is 0.5mm, would it be better to use 2.5mm holes?

    cheers
     
  14. Razer2007

    Razer2007 Building Proxima

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    Awe Ett! Good to see you back on the web and modding. Good luck.

    BTW where did you buy those crews? Do they have silver stainless steel ones?
     
  15. voigts

    voigts New Member

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    Talk about a nice find for free with a 1000w modular PSU. Nice. That bottom area really does look a lot better. I often have wondered when seeing the inside of some of the Dell cases what they were thinking. They seem to be needlessly complicated. I'll be curious to see how well watercooling fits into this case.
     
  16. DAE_JA_VOO

    DAE_JA_VOO New Member

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    Thanks for all the replies, guys! :thumb:

    I have no idea where you'd find one of these, unfortunately :( I live in South Africa, and the guy I got the case from picked it up off ebay IIRC.


    Cheapskate! Wow man, long time! How are you?

    Believe it or not, I still mod in my pajamas from time to time :p I need to stop, though, because I'm always getting them covered in alu shavings and stuff :p


    To be honest, I use 2.4mm because that's the next smallest drill bit I have after 3mm :p And 2.4 works fine anyway. I can thread a 2.4mm hole with a 3mm thread without any problems :)
    I'm not sure how the pitch is relevant though? Care to explain?


    Razer! How are you man? Mod jy nog?

    I got the screws from "The Screw Man" on the dodgy side of Pretoria Central. And yes, my friend, they have silver ones too :) Furthermore, they're dirt cheap. I think they're something like 41c each :)



    Yeah, Dell does a pretty horrible job with the insides of their cases, really. I'll fix that, though :) The cooling should fit pretty well. I'm going to have the raddy along the front, with the pump living in the top section of the case. Haven't decided on a place for the res yet, though.
     
  17. Razer2007

    Razer2007 Building Proxima

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    Yup. Getting everything together for my project I'll begin after the holiday.

    Doesn't look like there's a branch near me though. Gotta get another place.
     
  18. DAE_JA_VOO

    DAE_JA_VOO New Member

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    Awesome.

    Well, if you like, I could pick some up for you next time I'm there and send them down to you?
     
  19. tp148

    tp148 Member

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    My apologies, the pitch is actually 0.4mm nominally, and it's the minor diameter that's important here, my bad!

    I think the main reason is that if you drill much less than the minor diameter of the screw thread then you are asking the tap to cut more metal away i.e. stressing the tap and shortening it's life.

    However you're probably not going to be threading many holes day in day out, and if it works ok for you then happy days!!

    cheers
     
  20. DAE_JA_VOO

    DAE_JA_VOO New Member

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    Aah I see. Well, I either have an amazing set of taps, or the hole size is perfect, because I've been using this same set for years and it's still going strong :D
     

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