1st things first: I am posting from the new MATX Pro, so you should already see that as good news. Now I'll recap some of the things I went through and post I think 20 pictures of the build process. I had hoped for more pics, but it does become something you forget to do while you are actually working on something.
So yesterday (Saturday, March 22nd) I got a package from Laserhive in the post. This is the last thing I was waiting for, so it's time to begin! I masked off the whole back of my case with blue painters tape to guard it from scratches in case my Dremel went all 1-man-fire-hose (out of control). I then placed the custom (and NICE, thanks David @The Hive
) rear I/O plate onto the case, lined up where it needed to go, and marked the outside of the plate with pen.
I then marked where I would actually be cutting with a black pen, then a green pen, and finally a marker (outlined in red because my flash washed it out). Yes, I marked it three different times to make sure I would be cutting it correctly (more on this later...)
After marking, it's time for hardware modification:
Those holes through the tape on the outside perimeter of the cutout are where the Rear I/O plate mounts to the rear of the case. Make sure you leave something for them to screw into. Be careful with your cuts, I can't stress this enough...
Here is my initial cut (I had the WiFi antena on the rear left of the case. If you have a late-04 to early-05, you won't have this and don't need to cut as much). Please note that in my haste to get moving on this project I left the front panel board (in red) attached to the case. DO NOT DO THIS
, take the 30 seconds to remove all of the pieces. I just had a brain-fart because it's covered in metal and I forgot about it. It would be bad if metal shavings from the back of the case shorted out your board.
Here's where we start the FUN part:
Time Warp! Ok, so now I have the door latching mechanism rebuilt (that c-clip is a PITA), and you can see the basis for my modular HDD assembly. "What is this Modular HDD Assembly?", you ask. It's heavy-duty velcro. Now, before you say "That's Cheating!", I know
It helps me to be able to rearrange the interior of my case without making a lot of permanent, and irreversable, cuts, especially to the top tray. With this particular velcro I know that the adhesive will fail before the hook & loop will, and I also know that none of the pieces that I am "making modular" weigh enough to cause failure. Added benefit, The mechanical HDD now has a bit of a cushion against vibration.
However, cable management for the DVD drive, SSD, and HDD are making it a bit of a nightmare in the top shelf as shown in the next picture.
As you can see, I have 3 SATA cables running up to the top shelf. These are 18 inch cables, because my initial plan was to put the PSU where the HDD is now located, and as such, are a bit (about 12 inches) too long and end up filling the top shelf. What you CAN'T see is that I am using 2 of the modular SATA power cables from my PSU. Each cable powers up to 3 SATA drives, and I only have 3 drives, why wouldn't I be using 1? Because of the way that my drives are spaced, I cannot connect the DVD drive to the same power cable as the storage drives.
When they are connected there is quite a bit of torque where the plugin meets the DVD drive, so in order to not cause damage to the cable (not a problem) OR to the power port on the DVD drive (would be a problem) I opted to use 2 cables.
Next up I installed to front fan bracket made by Laserhive, I can't say it enough, MiniHack does some badass work, and these fans look like they are just floating in the case. Install seemed a bit tricky, but that's only because I was trying to mount it the wrong way. I was honestly fighting this thing for 10 minutes before I just let it do it's own thing. It's own thing, as it turns out, is the intended way for it to fit....
Here is most of my hardware in place. Please note that the red boxes indicate the fan power cables, and the green box is where they are supposed to plug in. Unless they can grow about an inch then they aren't going to reach. I have purchased a braided y-cable so I can run them both off of the same power. Also, since we are on the subject of fans.....This is where I ask for a bit of help.
You can see pieces of the Laserhive kit kinda plopped into place, but the metal part of the fan assembly (in the red box) is all that I got. I don't have the pieces that are supposed to attach to the pieces in the kit from Laserhive. That's not their fault, of course, and I am looking for this piece... If you have it, send it to me
I also have no idea if/how I am supposed to mount my fans to the rear fan assembly that I currently have.
If you know, please let me know.
This is another issue that I am facing. This is actually a straight on shot of the rear I/O panel, which sits about 1/2 inch inside of the case, and as you can see, sits a bit too much to the right. Did I just totally screw up on mounting this, or what? Currently there is no way for me to use an IO shield anyhow (it attaches to the fan bracket that I can't mount) but I would like to finish this area off in a cleaner manner.
As you can see, the expansion slots line up almost perfectly (it looks SOOOOOOO nice), so I know that I am doing something wrong
with the I/O shield.
So now I have all of the parts in the case in the basic layout I am going to be using. I'm not a huge fan of the PSU sitting right under the RAM and CPU, but with the dual 120s (when I get them powered) I think I'll be ok heat-wise. Without those fans I am sitting at about 35c on the CPU, so I don't want to do a lot of intense stuff, but for browsing and whatnot I should be ok.
This is about all I can do for cable management for now. I don't want to get too far into cleaning it all up (if I can) until I have all of my case fans up and running. Seriosuly, if you've been through this type of build and see something I have missed, and know how I can fix it, please let me know.
I still need to make this extension cable for the PSU, but I don't have the piece that I will be mounting to the case. Hard to build without it. For now I am one of those dudes that just has the PSU power cable running out of the hole.
Loading up Windows 8 (boooo... hisssss) nets me the following User Experience Index Scores. With the parts I selected I am not terribly surprised.
And here it is up and running (ignore those lazy fans for now)! As you can see, the power LED doesn't stay on. I'm not sure if I've done something wrong with the wiring as it lights up only while it is being pressed, then it turns off. My front firewire doesn't work, but that's because I don't have a firewire connector. USB, Audio, and the switches all work, and the cable by BlackCH is super quality.Today's Final Thoughts:
I have a few more things I want to accomplish, as listed below.
1. Get front fans working. (I ordered a Y splitter today, should have it on Tuesday. Thanks Amazon Prime)
2. Get I/O panel in the back sorted out. It works, but it doesn't look very "clean" right now.
3. Get Rear fans mounted and working.
4. Get front LED to light up when the system is on.
5. PSU to Case extension cable.
I'll be continuing my Build Log until I am complete, or until I run out of things I can do. Some people say that those are one and the same, but I think you guys know as well as I do that there is a big difference.
Thanks for following along, and thanks for the help.
PS: Buy Laserhive and BlackCH products. Their stuff is even better than you think it is.