Case modding
Case modification is the modification of a computer chassis
Computer case
A computer case is the enclosure that contains most of the components of a computer...

 (often just referred to as the case
Computer case
A computer case is the enclosure that contains most of the components of a computer...

), or a video game console
Video game console
A video game console is an interactive entertainment computer or customized computer system that produces a video display signal which can be used with a display device to display a video game...

 chassis. Modifying a computer case in any non-standard way is considered a case mod. Modding is done, particularly by hardware
Computer hardware
Personal computer hardware are component devices which are typically installed into or peripheral to a computer case to create a personal computer upon which system software is installed including a firmware interface such as a BIOS and an operating system which supports application software that...

 enthusiasts, to show off a computer's apparent power by showing off the internal hardware, and also to make it look aesthetically pleasing to the owner.
Cases may also be modified to improve a computer's performance; this is usually associated with cooling and involves changes to components as well as the case.


When personal computers first became available to the public, the majority were produced in simple, beige-colored cases. This design is sometimes referred to be as a beige box
Beige box
In consumer computer products, a beige box is a standard personal computer . It has come to be used as a term of derision implying conservative or dated aesthetics and unremarkable specifications....

. Although this met the purpose of containing the components of the personal computer
Personal computer
A personal computer is any general-purpose computer whose size, capabilities, and original sales price make it useful for individuals, and which is intended to be operated directly by an end-user with no intervening computer operator...

, many users considered their computers as "tacky" or "dull", and some began modifying their existing chassis, or building their own from scratch.

A new market for third-party computer cases and accessories began to develop, and today cases are available in a wide variety of colors and styles. Today the business of "modding" computers and their cases is a hugely profitable endeavor, and modding competitions are everywhere.


  • Window mods: This refers to a window placed within one of the panels of a computer case. This is most often done to the left hand side panel, and less often to the top panel. This modification is so popular that many of the major case manufacturers now offer cases with the windows pre-installed, or replaceable side panels with a window installed. Some companies even offer entire cases made out of transparent materials. A window kit may be modified to hold an LCD screen. Laser engraving
    Laser engraving
    Laser engraving, or laser marking, is the practice of using lasers to engrave or mark an object. The technique does not involve the use of inks, nor does it involve tool bits which contact the engraving surface and wear out...

     can be done on acrylic windows
    Acrylic glass
    Poly is a transparent thermoplastic, often used as a light or shatter-resistant alternative to glass. It is sometimes called acrylic glass. Chemically, it is the synthetic polymer of methyl methacrylate...

     to add a distinct look to a modded case.

  • Lighting mods: A lighting mod refers to lighting in or on the computer cases. This is usually achieved with cold cathode
    Cold cathode
    A cold cathode is a cathode used within nixie tubes, gas discharge lamps, discharge tubes, and some types of vacuum tube which is not electrically heated by the circuit to which it is connected...

     lights (CCLs), LED
    Light-emitting diode
    A light-emitting diode is a semiconductor light source. LEDs are used as indicator lamps in many devices and are increasingly used for other lighting...

     case fans, or electroluminescent wire lights. The lights are sometimes paired with sound controllers that make the lights pulse in time to sound. CCLs come in long tubes and generally produce a little bit of heat. LEDs come in many sizes and forms, most often seen in bars similar to CCLs or within fans, called LED fans. Electroluminescent wire, which takes the form of a small light rope, is often embedded in cables such as SATA
    Serial ATA
    Serial ATA is a computer bus interface for connecting host bus adapters to mass storage devices such as hard disk drives and optical drives...


Lighting modifications are often paired with window mods to help show off the components. Although not as common, they are also placed in cases without a window, allowing light to shine through any holes or gaps of the case which add subtle aesthetics to an otherwise plain looking case; this is also done for practical purposes such as to make a computer double as a night light. Internal components such as case fans, CPU heatsink fans, and power supplies are often available with built in lighting.
  • Spray paint: Painting a case is another method of distinguishing your work from others. Spray paint is the common method preferred among amateur modders. There are many spray painting guides for amateur modders. The finish cannot be compared to automotive paint or powder coating
    Powder coating
    thumb|right|Aluminium extrusions being powder coatedPowder coating is a type of coating that is applied as a free-flowing, dry powder. The main difference between a conventional liquid paint and a powder coating is that the powder coating does not require a solvent to keep the binder and filler...

    , but is a simple way to change the look of a case.

  • Vinyl dye: Re-colouring the plastics of a case, keyboard, mouse and speakers is another method of highlighting your system and making it different than the rest. Vinyl dye
    Vinyl dye
    Vinyl dye is a product often marketed for use in recoloring vinyl upholstery in vehicles. It is also useful in recoloring soft plastics. Unlike conventional paint, vinyl dye seeps into the surface it is applied to, resulting in a color that will not peel or chip.Those who perform 'casemods' on...

     has the advantages of ease of use like spray paint, but is much more durable as it does not chip or scratch off, it also does not create a ‘layer’ like paint.


  • Cooling mods: There are many modifications that can fall into this category. The most common one is simply drilling a mount for a new fan, or removing a restrictive fan grill. Others include air ducts, water cooling, filtering, sealing openings to make air flow over hot components instead of escaping near where it entered, or even the adding of a tank of pressurized carbon dioxide
    Carbon dioxide
    Carbon dioxide is a naturally occurring chemical compound composed of two oxygen atoms covalently bonded to a single carbon atom...

     or liters of mineral oil
    Mineral oil
    A mineral oil is any of various colorless, odorless, light mixtures of alkanes in the C15 to C40 range from a non-vegetable source, particularly a distillate of petroleum....

     to the case. These modifications are often performed by overclockers
    Overclocking is the process of operating a computer component at a higher clock rate than it was designed for or was specified by the manufacturer, but some manufacturers purposely underclock their components to improve battery life. Many people just overclock or 'rightclock' their hardware to...

     either looking for better cooling for hot components or noise (sound) reduction
    Quiet PC
    A quiet PC is a personal computer that makes little noise. Common uses for quiet PCs include video editing, sound mixing, home servers, and home theater PCs. A typical quiet PC uses quiet cooling and storage devices and energy-efficient parts....

    . Some fan modifications are merely a show of modding skill or talent and have no functional purpose.

Less common modifications

  • Automotive paint & other finishes: Automotive paint refers to the paint typically seen on cars and trucks. This type of finish requires a compressed air source, such as an air compressor
    Air compressor
    An air compressor is a device that converts power into kinetic energy by compressing and pressurizing air, which, on command, can be released in quick bursts...

     or CO2 tank, and a spray gun. It is more expensive than a finish using spray cans
    Aerosol paint
    Aerosol paint is a type of paint that comes in a sealed pressurized container and is released in a fine spray mist when depressing a valve button. A form of spray painting, aerosol paint leaves a smooth, evenly coated surface, unlike many rolled or brushed paints. Standard sized cans are portable,...

    , but when done skillfully it can be better looking and much more durable. Other methods of painting can include powder coating
    Powder coating
    thumb|right|Aluminium extrusions being powder coatedPowder coating is a type of coating that is applied as a free-flowing, dry powder. The main difference between a conventional liquid paint and a powder coating is that the powder coating does not require a solvent to keep the binder and filler...

     which is highly durable though not quite as aesthetically pleasing to many modders as automotive paint. Electroplating
    Electroplating is a plating process in which metal ions in a solution are moved by an electric field to coat an electrode. The process uses electrical current to reduce cations of a desired material from a solution and coat a conductive object with a thin layer of the material, such as a metal...

     can also be done on steel computer cases and parts. Aluminum cases can be plated or anodized as well, and processes are available to plate plastic cases. Plated coatings can range from nickel to chrome and even gold. More elaborate finishes can be crafted by using a combination of techniques, such as chrome plating with a transparent color coat.
  • Body filler: Body filler (or Bondo
    Bondo (putty)
    Bondo is a brand of two-part putty manufactured by 3M. Originally used mainly for automobile body repair, Bondo has been widely used by carpenters to repair wood. The Bondo brand of filler or putty is composed of a polyester resin that, when mixed with a hardener or catalyst, turns into a putty...

    ) is a two-part putty often used to fix dents in automobiles. Case modders use it to fill and sculpt their own creations. When mixed with a paste catalyst the filler hardens in a short period of time and can be sanded, ground or cut to a desired shape. An alternative system uses fiberglass
    Glass fiber is a material consisting of numerous extremely fine fibers of glass.Glassmakers throughout history have experimented with glass fibers, but mass manufacture of glass fiber was only made possible with the invention of finer machine tooling...

     resin (catalyzed with liquid hardener) and either fiberglass cloth or mat to fill holes and form shapes. Lacquer based Spot Putty is often used to fill smaller imperfections before the application of primer
    Primer (paint)
    A primer is a preparatory coating put on materials before painting. Priming ensures better adhesion of paint to the surface, increases paint durability, and provides additional protection for the material being painted.-When primers are used:...

    . Typically, a case modder uses a combination of these materials to obtain the desired result. This method is usually used on the front plastic bezel of a computer case to give it a new look.


  • Peripheral mods: Peripheral
    A peripheral is a device attached to a host computer, but not part of it, and is more or less dependent on the host. It expands the host's capabilities, but does not form part of the core computer architecture....

    s like the keyboard, mouse, and speakers are sometimes painted or otherwise modified to match the computer. Some system builders, in an effort to make their system more portable and convenient, install speakers and small LCD screens into the case.
  • Case building: Sometime modders build entire cases from scratch. Some may attempt to treat the case as a work of art
    Art is the product or process of deliberately arranging items in a way that influences and affects one or more of the senses, emotions, and intellect....

    . Others make it look like or appear to be something else, like a teddy bear, wooden cabinet, a shelf mounted on a wall, or antique equipment such as a Macintosh Plus
    Macintosh Plus
    The Macintosh Plus computer was the third model in the Macintosh line, introduced on January 16, 1986, two years after the original Macintosh and a little more than a year after the Macintosh 512K, with a price tag of US$2599...

     or an old Atari 2600
    Atari 2600
    The Atari 2600 is a video game console released in October 1977 by Atari, Inc. It is credited with popularizing the use of microprocessor-based hardware and cartridges containing game code, instead of having non-microprocessor dedicated hardware with all games built in...

     video game console
    Video game console
    A video game console is an interactive entertainment computer or customized computer system that produces a video display signal which can be used with a display device to display a video game...

    . Relatively few case modders or builders make their computer cases from scratch; those who do sometimes put hundreds of hours into their work. The WMD case, Project Nighthawk, and Dark Blade case are a few examples of professional cases built from scratch.
  • Component modding: This type of modding, as the name suggests, involves modifying the PC components themselves for a perceived improvement in appearance. An example is the relocation of buttons on optical drives. This is often done in combination with "stealthing", which hides the drive's visibility by masking it with a blank face. A riskier modification is installing hard drive windows which show the platters and mechanism, which must be done in a clean room without significant dust. Few people have attempted it and results seem to vary. Some hard drives, including the WD Raptor
    WD Raptor
    The Western Digital Raptor is a series of high performance hard disk drives produced by Western Digital. The drive currently occupies a niche in the enthusiast, workstation and small-server market...

    , now come with a window as standard.
  • Laptop modding: Laptop
    A laptop, also called a notebook, is a personal computer for mobile use. A laptop integrates most of the typical components of a desktop computer, including a display, a keyboard, a pointing device and speakers into a single unit...

    s can be modified much like a typical computer case. While most laptop mods consist of new paint or other finishes, others have chosen to engrave or cut out designs into their laptop cover (behind the screen). Laptops may also be turned into digital photo frame
    Digital photo frame
    A digital photo frame is a picture frame that displays digital photos without the need to print them or use a computer.- Features :...

    s. These types of mods will typically void the warranty of the device. To avoid warranty issues, skins or stickers can be purchased that are easily removable from the casing.


  • Unusual cooling mods: Hardcore overclockers
    Overclocking is the process of operating a computer component at a higher clock rate than it was designed for or was specified by the manufacturer, but some manufacturers purposely underclock their components to improve battery life. Many people just overclock or 'rightclock' their hardware to...

     often install cooling systems for the sole purpose of achieving performance records. Such systems may include water cooling, phase change materials, thermoelectric/Peltiercoolers, and liquid nitrogen
    Liquid nitrogen
    Liquid nitrogen is nitrogen in a liquid state at a very low temperature. It is produced industrially by fractional distillation of liquid air. Liquid nitrogen is a colourless clear liquid with density of 0.807 g/mL at its boiling point and a dielectric constant of 1.4...

    . These systems may be noisy, over-complicated, and expensive, and are rarely used for normal working for extended periods of time.

Case modding contests

Many websites and companies run contests for case modders, awarding prizes and accolades to the winners. Some of these contests are sponsored by computer enthusiast magazines and others by computer retailers.

Console case modding

Console case modding refers to gamers who modify the case of their game consoles. The most common consoles to modify are the Xbox and Xbox 360, because there is much more room inside to customize them with items such as lights, fans, etc. Moreover, the Xbox 360 requires additional cooling over the factory configuration to avoid overheating issues
Xbox 360 Technical Problems
The Xbox 360 video game console is subject to a number of technical problems and failures that can render it unusable. Many of the issues can be identified by a series of glowing red lights flashing on the face of the console; the three flashing red lights being the most infamous...

 due to the use of EEC-mandated lead-free solder, which is not capable of handling the temperature limits standard solder can. These consoles and their controllers are also relatively easy to take apart. For those who do not wish to scratch-build mods, there are several companies that sell transparent Xbox cases and various cooling/lighting equipment for them.

Console case modding started in the late 1980s when the NES
Nintendo Entertainment System
The Nintendo Entertainment System is an 8-bit video game console that was released by Nintendo in North America during 1985, in Europe during 1986 and Australia in 1987...

 and Sega Genesis
Sega Mega Drive
The Sega Genesis is a fourth-generation video game console developed and produced by Sega. It was originally released in Japan in 1988 as , then in North America in 1989 as Sega Genesis, and in Europe, Australia and other PAL regions in 1990 as Mega Drive. The reason for the two names is that...

, were released; many customers simply put pictures or stickers on them until the PlayStation
The is a 32-bit fifth-generation video game console first released by Sony Computer Entertainment in Japan on December 3, .The PlayStation was the first of the PlayStation series of consoles and handheld game devices. The PlayStation 2 was the console's successor in 2000...

 was released. Many case modders started to change hardware, for example by altering them to play copied games (known as 'chipping' the games console). The most common modification for the PlayStation was the 'chipping' process (mentioned above). When the Nintendo 64
Nintendo 64
The , often referred to as N64, was Nintendo′s third home video game console for the international market. Named for its 64-bit CPU, it was released in June 1996 in Japan, September 1996 in North America, March 1997 in Europe and Australia, September 1997 in France and December 1997 in Brazil...

, Dreamcast and PlayStation 2
PlayStation 2
The PlayStation 2 is a sixth-generation video game console manufactured by Sony as part of the PlayStation series. Its development was announced in March 1999 and it was first released on March 4, 2000, in Japan...

 were released, many chipped them, styled them, and added additional cooling; some went as far as changing the hardware itself. When the Xbox
The Xbox is a sixth-generation video game console manufactured by Microsoft. It was released on November 15, 2001 in North America, February 22, 2002 in Japan, and March 14, 2002 in Australia and Europe and is the predecessor to the Xbox 360. It was Microsoft's first foray into the gaming console...

 and Xbox 360
Xbox 360
The Xbox 360 is the second video game console produced by Microsoft and the successor to the Xbox. The Xbox 360 competes with Sony's PlayStation 3 and Nintendo's Wii as part of the seventh generation of video game consoles...

were released, many modders personally customized them further, using neon lights, transparent cases, fans, and PC hard drives (as opposed to Xbox-branded drives). Many modders found that altering the interior of Xbox 360s was difficult due to absence of a power cable (normally in a PC, this cord attaches the hard disk drive to its motherboard). Despite shortcomings, modders also found a way to power neon lighting and other powered equipment by using the DVD-ROM power supply; however, due to insufficient power to the hard disk drive, it often caused freezing during disk access. Another common method for internal case modding uses the power outlet for the internal fan by splitting the cord with a "Y" connector. However, the most up to date modders will use power points under where the PSU (power supply) plugs in, which doesn't diminish any (or very little) power from the console.

External links

  • Battle Of The Geeks
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