We know you guys have got some interesting case mods out there and we want to see them! We're also sure lots of other readers would like to gawk and drool over them as well so let us help you share your cool custom computer case with the world!
If you’re a case modder with something that deserves the Rig of the Month title, let us know by dropping us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org . Make sure to include your name, a 300-word description of why your PC is amazing along with specs (and how it was modified), and no fewer than three high-resolution JPEGs of the build. Please try and use a high-quality camera with good lighting and make sure to bust out your photography skills! We will not accept any blurry, low-res camera-phone grade images because we'd like readers to see your awesome rig in the best light possible! Here are some specific case-shooting photography tips:
- Try to avoid using flash and opt for existing natural light. In addition, use things like white curtains to diffuse the bright sun.
- Make sure your case is in focus! Nothing ruins a picture of a nice-looking case than a blurry shot.
- Clean your case before you shoot it. No one wants to see all that nasty dust all over the place!
- Experimenting with shooting from multiple angles.
- Select the right backdrop. Your system could look cooler with a nice/clean background as opposed to on your messy floor with cables strewn about.
- When shooting, use a tripod or if you can’t get one, shoot from a stable surface such as a box or even a pillow.
- If your camera has exposure compensation, try playing around with under-exposing or over exposing until you get the effects you want.
In addition to requiring pretty photos, we’ll be judging the rigs based on creativity and craftsmanship.
To kick things off, we’ve gathered up some of our favorite Rig of the Month winners in the gallery below. Click the gallery image for the full shot and feel free to get more detail on each custom case by clicking on their individual respective links in the descriptions.
This month's Rig of the Month is a bit of an oddball. It's no DotaBox or Weighted Companion Cube, but we still think it's pretty awesome. Anthony Febre was inspired when someone asked if he was running a toaster. It's not the most original insult, but it makes for an amazingly original case mod.
There's honestly not that much to it. Anthony says that the whole setup cost a measly $20 (minus all of the actual components) since all it required was a toaster. Inside the Proctor Silex toaster sits an Intel Core i3-530 on top of an Intel DH55TC mATX motherboard. It's not exactly a powerhouse, but it'll do the job with 4GB of Crucial DDR3-1333 and an XFX Radeon HD 7750.
All we know is that he's got an amazing comeback to potential toaster jokes. Anthony apologizes for the less-than-stellar photos and blames his phone's camera.
Based on the design of the limited edition Xbox One Titanfall controller, Parvum Titanfall is a masterclass in clean, crisp PC building. From the moment James saw the orange, white, and black controller he was immediately inspired to create a matching rig. He decided to create something straight out of the Titanfall universe. The military theme, serial numbers, and paintwork are the result of James’ initial decision. We think it looks amazing.
Jonathan '-=SpH!Nx=-' Garlit isn't a professional modder, but we're convinced that he's got potential. He's a die-hard fan of Dota, but with a son on the way, he's giving up the game to become a full-time father. The DotaBox is a memento that represents seven years and countless hours of Dota matches. Jonathan says he wanted something to commemorate his favorite game and we think he did it justice. Enough that we're happy to make it our July 2014 Rig of the Month.
Some rigs are built to stand out. Others are purely functional with little to no attention given to aesthetics or design. Adam Birli’s Black Gold stands somewhere in between the two extremes. It’s sexy, but understated; flashy, and stealthy at the same time. Under the hood, Black Gold is no slouch. In fact, it’s a well-powered machine with an Intel i5-4670K and two Titans.
Sean Stebor's Orogenesis is named after the Greek word 'oros' (mountain) and 'genesis' (creation). His coworkers think 'Thunder-dome' is more fitting—and we're inclined to agree. It's made from steel rods welded into 12 mesh-covered pentagons. Each corner of the case is lit with full-spectrum LEDs with cheap plastic tubing serving as an easy way to diffuse the light. We think the pictures speak for themselves.
Johan Nyman’s Cold Winter V.3 is a scratch-built HTPC that’s as cool as it is clean. It isn’t the most ambitious project, but it’s a tidy machine that crams a mITX build and a complete water cooling setup into a small case. He used a heat gun on some 8mm-thick acrylic to create the case’s unique contours. The LCD on the front panel really completes the case with a digital readout of temperatures and whatever media is currently playing on the machine.
Richard Clinton’s 8-bit Black Mage stunned us back in 2009 and it might just be one of our favorite mods—even if it’s based on a character from a console game. Building the Black Mage involved stacking, gluing, and painting exactly 2,000 1”x1” cubes. After four months of work, the 8-bit Black Mage was complete and we think it’s safe to say that it’s pretty amazing.
The CinematographHD may not have the most clever name, but it’s a pretty outrageous case mod. Will Urbana wanted the ultimate, (somewhat) portable video-editing machine. He couldn’t find the perfect match, so he made it himself. The result is an 82-pound behemoth with integrated screens, speakers, and a full desktop setup.
Portal’s one of those games that we’ll never forget. We’d call ourselves fans, but we’re a long way off from the guy who commissioned the Weighted Companion Cube case as a gift for his wife. The builder, Scott Dacus, spent 60 hours on the project and that was without any major problems. The finished product was outfitted with media center components and made use of three refrigerator magnets to hold the Blu-ray drive in place.
Project FiveWood does as its name suggests and combines nine different types of wood—mahogany, cherry, pine, cedar, and more—to create a custom case made entirely of wood. The case’s creator, Chris Cook, took it a step further by putting the case together without a single screw. We’re impressed not only by his craftsmanship, but also his sheer dedication, with over 350 hours spent on the project.
Rigs like Thom Davis’ Seizure don’t seem very audacious in the age of curved displays, 4K monitors, and gadgets like the Oculus Rift. Jump back to 2008, when we featured the setup and it starts to make a lot more sense. Throw in 1,500 LEDs, a fully-functional set of switches—for the monitors, audio, lighting, and minifridge—, a universal power supply, and you’ve got the recipe for a full-on Seizure.
HawgWild U.S.A. started with a custom case found in a computer store’s junk pile. After a little tender loving care and a paint job fit for any Harley, Vic McGuire had himself a real rig. He decked out the case with Harley-Davidson badges to fit the décor and even planted a model Harley in the window of the case. Some neat cable management seals the deal and makes HawgWild U.S.A. a true Rig of the Month.
LAN parties are the perfect place to show off your rig, and Sheldon Bright wanted a compact machine that was easily transportable and would draw attention. Project13 was his answer. He decided that a 13-inch cube was the ideal balance between components and portability. Carry that number over to the design side and you’ve got a morbid case covered in pentagrams, the number 13, and a woman in a questionable pose.
Ken Kirby may not know much about cars, but his Super Bee case mod is a great attempt at capturing the things that car junkies go crazy for: stripes, color, and gauges, and powerful components. Built for his Dodge-loving father-in-law, the Super Bee survived a dead-on-arrival motherboard and rocked an Athlon X2 3800+ with 1GB of RAM and a GeForce FX 6600—not amazing by modern standards, but plenty fast for 2008.
It’s not every day you see a castle built around a computer. Daniel Klus channeled his love for Total War and the Middle Ages by building the Castle case. Made out of Spanish cedar, the case features the Polish coat of arms and a cubby with room for games and movies. It’s also covered in stones and ancient-looking grates that really complete the medieval look.
Chris Cook likes to call the Phase III “the perfect cage design.” Using his skills as a 3D design engineer, Chris made use of Lightwave 3D to design the case before cutting out the pieces with a waterjet CNC system. After four months of hard work, Chris has one of the best test beds we’ve ever seen. The Thermaltake reservoir and water cooling setup don’t hurt things either.
The "Max PC" is unquestionably badass. A great idea and superb execution combine in Chris Blarsky’s Hulk-inspired mod. Chris calls this “the raw essence of PC building in the design of a system.” We’re inclined to agree—especially with the Hulk towering over us. The attention to detail is absolutely stunning with all of the components cleverly hidden away as various fixtures and destroyed parts. Chris won a well-deserved $500 gift certificate for his efforts.
If you’ve ever wanted to combine two cases into one, you’re not alone. Brian Carter decided to do just that and put two Mystique 631 cases together. The Mystique2 is a great looking media center rig with two doors covering the drive bays. Brian even threw in a bunch of media options with a 10-in-1 card reader, iPod dock, and two slot-loading DVD drives.
Kevin Core’s Batmobile Tumbler is a fully-functional computer that just happens to live inside of a 1/6-scale RC model of the Tumbler. It doesn’t work as an RC car anymore, but we’d rather have a badass Batman-themed PC any day. Kevin says that his biggest challenge was fitting in the power supply and motherboard. His solution was to create a two-level design with the motherboard on top and the power supply underneath.
It’s hard to see how Troy Fryfogle’s Hellusion mod is a computer until you open it up. Why? Because it masquerades as a puzzle box illusion with a floating Hellraiser puzzle inside. It gets even more impressive once you open up the scratch-built case which was made without any screws or rivets. The components are all positioned along the edges of the cube with the puzzle sitting in the center.
Our Rig of the Month for October 2007 was both timely and impressive. Gary Willett’s Animatronic Mod case features a moving and talking monster on the top. Covered in goat, yak, and horse hair, the beast’s creation was documented in 90 hours of video available on Gary’s YouTube channel. Check out those chompers—Gary’s full-time job involves making dentures.
We’re not sure about the Spider-Man movies, but we’re huge fans of Jason Dumbaugh’s Spider-Man/Venom mod. The project wasn’t without its hiccups. Jason wired up and epoxied 26 LEDs before realizing that each light would require a resistor. In the final design, he cut it down to 5. The spider was cut out of zinc sheet metal and the entire case was covered in eight layers of clear coat. The webbing and two-tone color scheme really complete the design.
Todd Eisner is a Serious Sam mega-fan and built Serious Bomb to pay homage to the iconic weapon from the game. It took 600 hours to build the bomb, but we think it was worth it. He used a beach ball as a template and covered it with plaster. Once he got the mold down, he fabricated the actual case out of fiberglass and an aluminum casing. The teeth are made out of balsa wood and the tongue is a CD-ROM drive trimmed to shape and painted pink.
Matt Webb’s first case mod is impressive—especially if you consider that he did it on a college budget. After he made the move from Pittsburgh to Colorado for school, he decided to make a case that paid homage to the Steel City with the Steel City Rig. Built on top of a stripped-down ATX case, Matt used sheets of aluminum and some diamond plate to sheathe the case in shiny metal. The huge Steelers logo cutout really completes the design.
Joe and Jesse Nuzzo got their hands on an empty Atari 2600 shell after a friend bought out a pawn shop’s video game inventory. Despite a few setbacks—a problematic PSU and a dead hard drive—the brothers fit a mini ITX system into the casing with a 2.4GHz Pentium 4 and 512MB of DDR RAM. They call it the Vader ITX and it’s used for playing old school games like Golden Axe and Final Fight. After a bit of paint and some Bondo, the mod looks perfect.
John Silis isn’t your ordinary case modder. He’s not into flashy designs with LEDs and hotrod paint jobs. He is however interested in fighting neighborhood crime. After hearing reports of vandalism in the neighborhood, he installed a rig into a plastic junction box and hooked it up to a surveillance camera. To make sure it could handle life outside he used it as a makeshift piñata. Needless to say, the Weatherproof Rig was still functional.
Mathieu Heredia was inspired by the high-fashion world of flashy purses, coats, and shoes. The Watermod Gold 24k is the result of his labor and we think that it perfectly captures the flashiness of designer clothing and accessories in the guise of a case mod. It may not be actual crocodile skin, but the gold and black crocodile vinyl covers most of the case's exterior as well as key bits of the interior to make this a case worthy of the Prada name.