What makes modding so special is that there's no formula to follow—it's all about having a creative vision and then executing on it however the modder sees fit. Some opt for fancy paint jobs and lighting effects to showcase comic book heroes (or villains (opens in new tab)), while others harness spare parts (like bamboo (opens in new tab)) they have lying around. Ken Byrnes (known online as ZenModz), a 46-year-old Australian who's relatively new to the modding community, chose to build his custom PC from the ground up.
You wouldn't know it by the craftsmanship involved, but this is only Ken's second mod. Prior to this, he spent some 900 hours over the course of a year constructing a Fallout 4-themed PC. By the time he was finished, there were several other Fallout 4 mods garnering attention on the Internet (we even featured one here (opens in new tab) a few months ago). Talk about a buzz kill!
For this build, Ken wanted it to be something totally unique, yet still have a recognizable theme. With that in mind, he chose Star Wars as his inspiration for the Power Cell.
With a little help from Asus, which provided the motherboard (H97I-Plus Mini ITX) and graphics card (Asus Turbo GeForce GTX 960 OC Edition), Ken was off and running. He had a deadline of completing the mod in just three months, and not only did he meet it, he did so without the end result looking rushed.
Asus was so blown away by Ken's mod, he was invited to become part of the AUS/NZ Asus Modding Team and will be working closely with the company on future mods. We can't wait to see what he comes up with. In the meantime, let's have a closer look at his Power Cell.
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Ken didn't start with a case or any kind of pre-designed structure, he built his own from scratch. What you see above are the fruits of his labor from learning how to use a CNC router at his job—he's a spray painter at a sign shop, though also a pro game texture artist with a diploma in game design.
Here you see a rough skeleton of the Power Cell. The custom built motherboard tray with a mini-ITX mobo is already installed to the base, there's some fans at the top to help with airflow, and unpainted pillars that are two layers thick to help support everything. The pillars also serve to hide cabling—there's a 20mm space in between to run wires—and behind one of them will sit the graphics card.
As a professional paint artist, Ken found the easiest part of the build to be the outside decorations. "I love working with texturing and it just comes natural to me when I paint something," Ken told Maximum PC.
Since Asus sponsored the build and provided some of the parts, Ken paid homage to his benefactor by including the company's logo at the top, albeit in a way that blends in with the overall theme of the system.
Here's a closer look at the base and some of the water cooling elements. Inside is a custom 400mmx60mm reservoir and a series of custom water clocks, along with three 120 EK slim rads, an EK CPU block, an EK pump, hard line Monsoon fittings, and both neon green and UV lime green fluid. There's also a black light an some white LEDs for the added bling factor.
It's tough to get a sense of perspective from the pictures, but this is a tall build consisting of a base, top section, three pillars, and three clear windows. Fully assembled, the Power Cell measures 730mm (~28.74 inches) high and 430mm (~16.93 inches) wide.
Inside the Power Cell sits an Intel Core i5-4690K processor, 16GB of G.Skill DDR3-2400 RAM, Asus H97I-Plus Mini ITX motherboard, Asus Turbo GeForce GTX 960 OC Edition graphics card, two OCZ Trion 100 240GB SSDs, and a Corsair 1,000W PSU.
In addition to modding, Ken is a pretty talented artist. You can find more of his artwork on his website, zenator.eix.com/zenator-art (opens in new tab).