Like many others who have undertaken this mod, I reviewed others’ work before me and was inspired by their designs. I want to acknowledge chaosdesigns and Porto412 in particular (from the site that shall not be mentioned).
Overall I’m really happy with how the build came out and it looks so much better than the Corsair 200r case I had been using. My goal was to have a stock Apple G5 look from the outside and inside something that was clean looking, simple, inexpensive, and organized. I really wanted to utilize the meshed aluminum to maximize airflow. Also, I live in a small city apartment so I don’t have access to many tools or a dedicated workspace.
Before I get started on the build I need to explain how I came to be in possession of this case. One day my girlfriend and I were driving down the street and saw a G5 tower sitting on the sidewalk! No joke. Before I claimed it I tried to find the owner but no one was home. Other than a cosmetic scratch on the door side it was in great shape.
First task was to gut the unit. I stupidly threw away a few parts that I later could have used. Looking back I would have kept everything, every screw, cable, electronic part, antenna, everything until I was finished with the build. I was surprised to learn how many different parts can be reused or converted. Since there are many other guides and pics of gutting on the internet, I'll just show what I did from that point on.
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I wanted to keep as much of the rear panel intact as possible, so I just cut out as much as I could towards the side of the stock rear fan assembly and to the other side's last row of holes. I wanted to keep the stock fan grills and attached 2 - 92mm fans to that mounting with screws attached from the inside of the grill mounts between the grill assembly and the grill. To do this I just got a mini hack saw, some 3:1 lubricant, and filed the edges. This wasn’t the prettiest process but it got the job done and the file smoothed and cleaned the edges nicely.
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I used JB Weld to attach the original short standoffs from the G5 case. It took some figuring out where to glue the standoffs and I couldn’t have done it without this old mATX mobo I got (free) from a local computer store. In retrospect I would have waited to use my mobo because this one didn’t have PCI-E and I couldn’t actually put in the graphics card. When I went to fit my graphics card it barely fit and that was only after I kept the mobo screws loose before putting the graphics card in then tightening them down afterwards.
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The standoffs without the mobo installed. In retrospect I would have put the JB Weld on the standoffs then put the mobo in place, then go back over the top with JB Weld to secure everything. I did end up going back and covering over the tops of the bottom feet of the standoffs. I hope it’s not going anywhere.
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For the fans in the front I first tried The Laser Hive’s 120mm acrylic mounting, but I didn’t like how it fit and it covered up the G5 mesh. I wanted to have good airflow and not cover the whole front with acrylic. I looked at a lot of other builds and I didn’t see anyone use do what I did. Basically I utilized the existing screws and nuts that attach the case together. I found that one brand of picture frame mounts fit perfectly over the standoffs on the far side of the door and another brand fits on the top row. These ones in the picture are not what I ended up going with but they demonstrate the concept. I ended up replacing these with silver ones with larger hinges to match the case. I then used the blue locktite to make sure any vibrations wouldn’t loosen them up. As the picture shows I used zipties to make a web to hold the fans in place. One the fans were in place I ziptied them tightly at the four corners. The fans don't vibrate at all and they can't be seen from the outside.
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Here’s a picture of the door side. Sorry the picture’s a little blurry but they’re there. The nuts are small but there was enough thread to get a good grip.
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One of the apple fans for a test. I ended up using 2 - 120mm fans in it’s place. Because the zipties are light in color they aren’t noticeable from the front of the case.
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I mounted my PSU on the bottom, set a little back from the rear so I can reach in and use the on/off switch. Right now I just have the cord running through the hole. I might make a PSU tail for a more finished at some point but I want to get the right gauge cable. The grey apple one that matched the case was much thinner than the one from my PSU and to be safe I didn’t want to use that.
Again I cut this hole with a hand saw and filed it round(ish). Cutting a round how with straight tools is difficult but it’s good enough for the bottom.
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Another angle of the PSU intake and rear panel. To mount the PSU I used one of G5 PSU holes and drilled the other three holes that matched the bottom of my PSU. On the bottom of my PSU are 4 screws that hold the fan in place. I unscrewed three (four and the fan would have come undone) and used those to attach the PSU to the case. Worked better than expected and is very secure!
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Here’s a good view of the top shelf and the small zipties that hold the fan in place. I used the G5 hdd cage to hold my two SSDs (I dual boot off of separate SSDs). With the fan right there, they remain very chilly!
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I was test fitting the mobo and new HDD tray caddy rack. I got this one one eBay for $23. It’s very simple but does the job. I just took out the top shelf, drilled four holes and attached it with some nuts and bolts from a hardware store. In between I put a few rubber gaskets and weather stripping for vibration dampening. This cage might have worked too.
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Here’s the completed build, but obviously before managing the wires. I kept the top shelf basically the same as the G5 but put a new 80mm fan up there. I only needed to drill one additional hole to allow me to use zipties to fasten the fan down. I used some thin weather stripping I got at Home Depot for vibration dampening under the fan and around the PSU intake. Also, in this picture you can see where I had to attach the front panel from my old case. I have since installed the BlackCH Mods front panel cable. That works great, now I have a functioning power button, USB, and audio.
Also in this picture visible are the two 92mm fans I put in the rear. All I did was remove the original G5 fans and the clip in mounting system. Then I unscrewed the grill from the case. Those screws are tiny and strip easily so be careful!. Then I lined up the new fans and drilled holes to screw through the back inside. When the grill is reattached the screws are covered and the fans are securely mounted. With the fans at the front intaking air and the fans at the rear discharging, there’s a good cross wind over the HDDs, mobo, and GPU. I’m planning on upgrading the chip cooler. I had an H60 in my previous case but there was no way that was going to fit in this case without renovations I didn’t want to do. I’m thinking of getting this Cooler Master one. I figure it should do the job, I’m not planning on overclocking.
I kept the DVD drive in it’s original position. It works from up there but it’s not strong enough to push the door open. I had to knock off two small plastic bumps on the drive so the tray would fit through. I rarely use the drive so until it becomes an issue I’m just going to use a piece of tape to hold it open when I’m using it.
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This picture shows how the 4 original G5 PCI ports line up perfectly with my mATX board. The hole I cut out is a just little smaller than the mobo’s back panel but all of the ports I need access are accessible. I think only a few of the 3.5mm audio ports are blocked and the digital audio out (which I don’t use anyways because I have an Arcam rPac DAC). I figure I can go back and enlarge this if I need to.
One other thing I tried but didn’t end up working. I bought a 2xUSB 2.0 to 10 pin header cable to connect to the mobo and put it at the very top inside of the case, above the DVD drive, hoping that my Bluetooth and mouse dongle would work from there. It seems the case does a good job of blocking signals. It was only $3.71 so I thought it might be worth a shot. Right now it’s temporarily hanging out of the back and works a lot better until I come up with a better solution.
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This image shows the completed inside of the case. I've swapped out the stock cooler with the Zalman CNPS9500 AT. It fit perfectly in the space and has lowered my temps 15 - 20C. Well worth the $35. With the cables all bundled up there's great airflow across the motherboard and graphics card. I'm really happy with how it all came out. The only other thing to fix is the bluetooth/mouse usb dongles. I was thinking about trying this (add a bluetooth card to your hackintosh), but for the time being I'm fine with the cord just coming out of the back.
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So this is the last photo of the front of the chassis. Can't see the fans at all even though they are black. I was worried they might show through a little, but they're invisible.
The items I had to purchase for this build:
G5 Case – Free!
USB 2.0 cable - $3.71
HDD Cage - $23.98
BlackCH Mods Cable - $30.41 (25 euros)
Acrylic sheet - $4
Oversize printing for Acrylic Sheet - $6
PWM power cable – $6.32
2 – 92mm fan – $14.90
1 – 80mm fan – Free
Drill Bit Set - $23.92
Anti-Static Wrist Strap - $5.99
Optical drive mounting screws – $7.93
Replacement Rear Grill - $8
Stanley Mini Hacksaw - $11.05
3:1 Lubricant - $5
Loctite - $4.05
Nuts and bolts - $6
Picture frame mounts - $3.05
Weather Stripping - $ 4
Zalman CNPS9500 AT - $35
I'm hoping to recoup some of my costs by selling my old case and H60 cooler (the one I pulled out had cracking on the tubing so Corsair is replacing the unit).
Here's a link to the Flickr Album with larger photos.