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How to Create Cool Custom Case Mods

Cor Leonis

Of the three cases profiled here, Attila Lukacs’ Cor Leonis ( www.stillthinking.com.au ) looks the most like a conventional PC case. However, it is anything but: This case was built from the ground up using hand-machined aluminum pieces and sheets, in an attempt to create something as stylish and sleek as a luxury automobile.

“Very basically, I wanted to build a case with super car styling,” Lukacs says. “The original idea was to have a 'flat' shape, with the top opening a la auto hood, to reveal the 'engine' ... Looking at lots and lots of photos of many types of cars, various design ideas were used and adapted to suit my needs. So, in the end, the front and rear grilles, the curving and flared out top, the side panels and the support struts and feet all have the flavor I was looking for.”

Lukacs has detailed his construction process at forums.bit-tech.net/showthread.php?t=204512&viewmode=author. He began by creating a computer-generated layout for his ‘engine’; namely an Intel i7, GTX 480 graphics, 650 watt PSU, 128GB SSD and a 500GB hard drive. From there, he built the case around the computer; designing and specifying every single part that he made from rough aluminum slabs and sheets.

As the photos show, Attila Lukacs cut, ground/sanded, and polished every element of this PC’s case by hand. This meant that he had to work out every single element of his case beforehand, and then keep comparing his work against that design to ensure that he was indeed making the parts properly.

For folded pieces, Lukacs ground v-shaped grooves in the fold lines, so that the aluminum could be folded by hand. He then assembled the parts as he went along – inside first, then the outside. In some cases, Lukacs sent the metal out for professional; finishing, using black anodizing

For the gun metal case exterior, Attila Lukacs did everything he could to create a surface worthy of a luxury car’s glasslike skin. To achieve this effect, “body filler was used to smooth everything off,” he says. “The trim is polished aluminium ... Power and reset switches are incorporated into the ‘headlights’ at the top front.”

Clearly, the work involved in making Cor Leonis means that this is not a beginner casemaker’s project. But you can’t argue with the results; Cor Leonis is as smooth and elegant as custom cases come.

The Bottom Line

The three custom cases represent a range of skill levels, with the Project Performer design being the most accessible to case-building newbies.

The good news is that custom case building is within the reach of the average computer aficionado, as long as they figure out the component layout and requirements first, and then create enclosures that meet those needs while delivering true ‘Wow!' appeal.