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GF's productivity PC & first window mod

by Bladedrummer



Date Published

Dec. 7, 2014

CPU Clock Rate

3.5 GHz

CPU Temperature While Idle

27.0° C

CPU Temperature Under Load

38.0° C


Hello PC part pickers!

My GF had been wanting a Windows desktop PC for a while now. She owns her own business so she needed something to do her books, keep records, ship orders, edit some pictures, write emails, and all the usual things one might do for a business. She's only going to do some mild browser-based gaming so she didn't really need a GPU. Her requirements were mainly aesthetics and I had to look for middle grounds in some instances. She wanted a cute, small form factor case. She originally wanted it pink but I couldn't find a decent and affordable pink case. (I should have painted it, like someone else did on here recently for their gf. I might go back and do that at some point). She also wanted LEDs. Then, she saw UV lighting on Newegg and was adamant about wanting those. I told her that she would need a side panel window to show it off but side panel window cases were an extra $30... I ended up cutting a side panel window into the case myself. ^'


I installed two UV cold cathode tubes. Going back I would insist on using LEDs since these are a bit too bulky for the case. I had to install one of them bridging between the PSU and the HDD cage because it wouldn't fit on the bottom. I used 3M double sided tape to hold the tubes and the inverter in place. They UV tubes have a switch on the back to turn them ON/OFF. I also wrapped the cables from the inverter in black electric tape because they were really unsightly in black/yellow/red.

The front panel audio cable had both the HD Audio and an AC'97 audio plug. I just snipped off the AC'97 connector and used electrical tape to make it look as clean as possible. I also did this on the back fan which had a dual molex/3pin connector. (I snipped off the molex, insulated and covered everything with black electrical tape).

The side panel widow: my GF was kind of bummed out that there were no small form factor cases with a side panel window at our price range so... I had never modded a case this way before so I figured I might as well have a little fun with it. I used one of the many tutorials online and a rotary tool to cut the case. I flat out cut off the perforated part of the side panel since I wasn't going to install any fans there. I used a hooked blade on my cutter to dig grooves into a piece of acrylic and then bent it along those grooves until it snapped off clean. A bit unorthodox, but I didn't want to go buy another power tool. I picked up the acrylic at a local plastics store. It was actually a piece I dug out of the scraps bin, priced $2/lbs! I bought some u-channel (or edge trim) to hide the rough cut edges and make it look a little more professional. I got the u-channel off of bestbyte.net for $0.75/ft + shipping. The acrylic piece is just taped with 3M double sided tape to the back of the panel. I think it came out looking pretty good for a first mod. I could have done a little better with the u-channel on the corners. 3/4 came out a little uneven.

Component Choices

  • CPU: I chose a Haswell i3 because it has solid single core performance and is hyperthreaded which will come in handy when she opens ten million browser tabs, which she does...
  • CPU Cooler: I just needed something to keep the CPU cool that is quieter than those annoying stock coolers. Very impressed with this little cooler for the price.
  • Mobo: this is a fantastic mobo for this price. It has everything you need for this kind of build. USB 3.0, SATA 6 Gb/s, and so on...
  • RAM: I honestly would have settled for any 8GB of RAM with the same specs but G.Skills were on sale! For this RAM that is a killer price so I couldn't pass up. I went with 8GB because she uses Photoshop (mild use, but still) and she "multitasks" a lot.
  • SSD: I just really wouldn't build a PC without one anymore. I found out Kingston V300 models have a bad rep, mainly because the controller got switched with a lower quality one, but in all honestly it's fast enough and I'm having a good experience with it so far. Also, the price was really good.
  • HDD: 1TB should be enough to store all her pictures, documents, and so on. WD Blue are great quality drives and they are definitely affordable.
  • Case: I had already built one PC with this case and it was pretty good. Given the low price, I just went with a case I knew rather than experimenting with unknown cases. I have a few minor issues with it, but nothing too bad. The SSD tray is so far from the back of the case that it's near impossible to use a single SATA power cable to hook up all your drives. I ended up just putting the SSD in one of the bays so I wouldn't have to use an extra power cable from the PSU. The other thing is that the fans that come with it are molex only. That means they have to be plugged into the PSU directly. I had a better 3-pin fan lying around so I swapped out the back fan. Mainly for cleaner cable management.
  • PSU: Corsair makes excellent quality products. I've built quite a few systems with Corsair PSUs so when I saw a Gold-rated PSU for that price, I just went for it. 450W is good enough for this build.
  • Disc Drive: she wanted a disc drive and I trust these Asus drives. It was a few bucks more than usual but whatever...
  • OS: I like Windows 7 better but 8.1 is also a good choice right now. It definitely boots incredibly fast. I got it for free through my college (I work full time and study programming part-time).
  • Monitor: I also own an Asus monitor and for that price, I think it was an excellent buy. I love the thin bezel!
  • Wi-Fi Adapter: eh, it's a wifi adapter. It's a little ugly but it definitely works well and it was plug and play.
  • Keyboard: we have these keyboards at work and they are just cheap, reliable keyboards. She might want a fancy backlit one at some point but this had to do for now.
  • Mouse: she saw it and said "I want that." I know better than to argue. :D Tbh, for that price it's a great mouse imo.

Comments Sorted by:

Pahrzival 1 Build 3 points 51 months ago

This is pretty awesome! Very well done all around. Definitely a great price on that monitor. Jelly!

Bladedrummer submitter 4 Builds 2 points 51 months ago

Thanks! Yeah, gotta love those Black Friday deals! (That price is after a $20 mail-in-rebate).

nathan316 2 Builds 2 points 51 months ago

But dat wallpaper dough +1

Bladedrummer submitter 4 Builds 1 point 51 months ago

Hah! She loves pugs and puggles. We have a puggle and a shih tzu.

Variable.variables 2 points 51 months ago

Now just put in a 760 or 280... +1

Bladedrummer submitter 4 Builds 2 points 51 months ago

Yeah, I'm thinking of getting her a GPU for Xmas. Although she doesn't game so it's really kind of overkill. ^' Maybe a 270 or a 750 Ti? Not sure.

UTL 1 Build 2 points 51 months ago

IMHO, If she won't use it, don't get it!

Bladedrummer submitter 4 Builds 2 points 51 months ago

Yeah, if she starts gaming (maybe some smaller indie stuff), I'll look into it. For now I 100% agree with you.

Variable.variables 1 point 51 months ago

Ok. Have fun!

Eltech 20 Builds 2 points 51 months ago

Wow, very awesome build you modified here! First time I seen someone actually cut out some metal and removed a case's side to give it a window view and makes UV lighting more effective this way. It's also nice to see lovely cable management.

Great work on budget and modification! I'm certain your GF will love it or has loved it! +1

Bladedrummer submitter 4 Builds 2 points 51 months ago

Thank you, sir. It's not that uncommon to cut out a side panel window but not many people do it since now a lot of cases come with it. There are a lot of subs on reddit about PC modding and the like. (http://www.reddit.com/r/pcmods). Still, this was kind of a big deal for me since I had never done it before.

Eltech 20 Builds 2 points 51 months ago

Ah I see. I wouldn't have known about the side panel windows being "common" to cut and mod these days but I don't know a thing since I'm new to this stuff so I do apologize for my lack of knowledge!

Again it's just amazing to me on how you did it, so it's great.

Bladedrummer submitter 4 Builds 3 points 51 months ago

Hehe, thanks again. No need to apologize, we're all learning one way or another. There are plenty of things to learn about PC building no matter how much of an "expert" you think you are. =)

Retroman 2 points 51 months ago

Great job on the custom case mod! Looks great! Merry Christmas +1

Bladedrummer submitter 4 Builds 1 point 51 months ago


Liam81 2 points 51 months ago

Well done and it is nice to see a case mod as well. I hope there is some sort of back up as this is being used for her business.


Bladedrummer submitter 4 Builds 1 point 51 months ago

I actually set up her portable hard drive so that once a day she can plug it in and synch her important files. She said she didn't need it to be "bomb proof" since a lot of her paper trail is actually online. However, you do make a very valid point.

Liam81 2 points 51 months ago

Sounds like you already had a plan... and a solid plan at that.

UTL 1 Build 1 point 51 months ago

+1 for nice window mod and for non-overkill parts - just what's needed. Seems like a lot of these lately are "I know it's overkill but I couldn't resist!" Could have saved a few bucks with a quad-core AMD APU, but single-threaded performance on Intel is undoubtedly better.

Bladedrummer submitter 4 Builds 1 point 51 months ago

Yeah, I thought about going the AMD route. I don't have any deep-seeded preference, I just go with what seems best at the time. I just feel Intel has been a little better lately. I use AMD and Intel stuff on my job every day, and in my direct experience Intel is just doing a little better on PC. It seems like AMD focused all their efforts on console stuff, and they did kill it on that front: the PS4 is amazing. Also, I completely agree with the overkill trend. I see people spending way too much on gaming rigs, without realizing they could have had the same performance for a lot less. Eh, to each their own!

Wojcei20 1 Build 1 point 51 months ago

Solid work on that window mod and I'm digging the cold cathodes. Nice job!

Bladedrummer submitter 4 Builds 1 point 51 months ago