Thanks to "Getchuuked" for giving me the inspiration to create a beautiful computer within the Corsair 200R case. (check his out, it's one of the most highly rated builds in this case), "skiskate10"s ALEX for the idea of using Carbon Fiber Vinyl as an accent, as well as my Dad for supporting my PC building efforts and helping me with the various modifications done to this computer.
I use this computer for gaming, schoolwork, basic browsing and content creation, as well as for LAN parties. It serves me extremely well through everything I do.
- This is going to be a long description, so I've separated it into sections with a TL;DR (too lazy; didn't read) at the end of each section for all the lazy members of the community. If you want my rationale and short reviews on most of the core components, go to my original build post, as I will only be covering what's new here. This was a ton of fun to build, despite the limitations in terms of money and tools that I face, being 16. I sincerely hope you enjoy this build, and I would love any feedback in the comments. *
Side Panel Window Mod
Cutting a side panel may seem incredibly daunting with the relatively minimal information on it on Youtube and forums, but if you have decent tools and everything you need for the job at hand, you can make one in under an hour. Being 16, I have limitations in terms of getting tools, but luckily my dad had a jigsaw with the proper type of blade for cutting metal. If you want a video guide as to how to do this, Bill Owen from mnpctech.com has arguably the best one on Youtube, and he's incredibly experienced. I encourage anyone doing this to experiment though, and to forge their own path if they can.
We started by measuring out the window, and drilling pilot holes in all four corner. It was just jigsawing from then on. The Plexiglass we got was from our local Ace, which we cut to size with a jigsaw as well. I wouldn't recommend this, as plexiglass is extremely fragile and can crack very easily when using a saw. Mine cracked slightly, but was fortunately minor enough to be covered up by the side panel.
The next step is to line the perimeter of your window with double sided tape. Put on your plexiglass and apply pressure to each side to ensure good adhesion. I also recommend getting rubber U channel to cover up the edges of the window, but at over 15 dollars including shipping, a careful cutting job often eliminates the need for it. It's still useful if you have a lot of blemishes from cutting. Speaking of blemishes, the paint on the panel scratched off in some places where we had clamped it for cutting, so I bought some Rustoleum Satin Black paint and sprayed over all the problem areas.
TL;DR: Watch This
Painting the GPU
What I expected to be the most difficult modification in the whole build surprisingly turned out to be the easiest. The 270x was intended to used in a PC I had built for a friend, but upon realizing how cool it could look if I painted it's side support bracket, I decided to trade my current R9 270 into his system and use the 270x for my own PC. There's also no real tangible performance difference between the two except for the fact that the 270x is clocked slightly higher and comes with a quieter cooler from Gigabyte than the 270 Gigabyte cooler.
Taking apart the card was easy, and I didn't even have to take off the cooler to remove the part that I wanted to paint. After removing it, I gave it a few quick passes with the first piece of sandpaper I found, and then took it outside and gave it about 5 light coats of Rustoleum 2x Gloss Apple Red in 5 minute intervals. I let it dry overnight, and voila. If you want my thoughts on the card itself, that'll come later in this description.
TL;DR: Scam friends (not really), take your GPU, sand what needs painting, give it some coats of whatever color you want, let dry.
Gigabyte Windforce R9 270x
Of all the two GPUs in my extensive collection, this is by far the best. I was worried that the 3 fans would make it quite loud despite the reports from reviewers saying it was quiet, but having used it for several months now, I can can confidently say that this card is wonderfully quiet. The fan speed curve can be modified in MSI Afterburner gracefully from 0 RPM to 2500, where they still remain quite unobtrusive, if not somewhat high pitched. The card's thermals, even when the fans are barely spinning, are excellent, never exceeding 75 C, thanks to the massive surface area of it's heatsink even in my airflow-deprived case. If you're in the market for an aftermarket R9 270x, look no further. It even overclocks quite well, and with a little painting can be easily modified to fit with any color scheme that you prefer.
TL;DR It's quiet, cool, powerful, and can be easily painted to match any system.
Red Sleeved Cable Extensions
Most of these cables are from Bitfenix, with the exception of the front panel extensions and the SATA power cable. I'll give my thoughts on the Bitfenix ones first.
- Bitfenix Alchemy Red Sleeved Cables *
They're great. They're durable, soft, and a dream to cable manage. My only gripe is that specifically the PCI-E extensions seem to be a bit faulty (this may be due to harsh bending of the cables), and with them on, I can't manage much of any overclocking. I can overclock very well without them, but I much prefer the look of the red sleeving to a marginal performance gain in games. It's likely just a fluke. Be mindful of the cable management room in your case though, as these add considerable length to your cables.
- Shakmods Front Panel Extensions & NZXT SATA Power Cable*
Both of these are a bit, well, meh. They're both quite cheaply sleeved, and the NZXT SATA extension is already fraying slightly. The front panel extensions, which you can find from Ebay, are equally cheap feeling, and arrived at my doorstep in what appeared to be a box of Russian Male Performance pills. They use a heatshrink that unfortunately does not match the rest of the sleeving very well, but they filled an annoying gap in my cable management and look fine if you don't look too closely at them.
TL;DR All these sleeves are great, just be mindful of how much room you have in your case to fit the additional cable length.
Red Carbon Fiber Vinyl from first2checkered
This was not nearly what I had expected. The adhesive isn't very reassuring, the color isn't terribly vivid, and its somewhat transparent, allowing the color of whatever is behind it to show through. However, it does a good job for covering the ugly stickers on the back of the Corsair fans, and putting go-fast stripes on the side panel. Also thank you to "skiskate10" for the idea of using carbon fiber vinyl as an accent.
TL;DR: Vinyl skins are great for accents in and around your case, just make sure to buy some of sufficient quality.
Western Digital Green 1TB HDD and my Ghetto Mounting Adventures
It's a nice drive, and the read head stopping every 8ish seconds, causing rapid wear over time seems to have been fixed for a while now. The drive is nice and quiet, which was my main priority, and plenty fast enough to load some of my lesser played games and spare photos. As for mounting it, there were two holes in the bottom of the case through which I threaded two screws for one side of the drive, and Velcro was used for the other. Ironically, these holes once held in the plastic hard drive cage that comes with this case. It holds the drive flat enough, and causes no unnecessary vibrations.
TL;DR: Keep your drive cages, kids, even if they're ugly. Also the drive is nice.
It works, man. Pretty simple.
NZXT Hue RGB LED Controller.
Looks nice from the front, and has a nice variety lighting modes, and can light up your system any color under the sun. I keep mine on white most of the time. The adhesive for the LED strip isn't great though, so you might have to give it some help if you have the strip on the top of the case. Velcro or double sided tape would work best.
TL;DR: A great addition to any build in need of some serious pimping. A great buy.
Silverstone Foam Noise Dampening
When I didn't have a windowed side panel, it did a good job. When the time came around to cut a side panel however, I had to remove it, which was a colossal struggle. We ended up having to break out some seriously hard to pronounce chemicals to free the adhesive from the case. It's bad, and I don't recommend it. Just get a case with pre-installed dampening or use your BIOS to slow down some of your fans.
TL; DR: The awful adhesive makes this an almost permanent alteration, so tread wisely.
Thanks so much for looking at this build! Leave any feedback or questions in the comment section, and I'll be sure to get back to you.