Pre-Made to Custom Conversion Guide


Table of Contents
I. Reasons for a Conversion
II. Before Beginning – Get all of the Knows!
III-1. The Procedure • Section 1 – Breaking Down the Pre-Made
III-2. The Procedure • Section 2 – Rebuilding the Pre-Made into a Custom
IV. Closing and Aftermath

III-1. The Procedure • Section 1 – Breaking Down the Pre-Made

The Pre-Made in Original Form
Figure 1: The Pre-Made System in its Original Form.

This is the pre-made system that I went about doing the conversion to. It’s an HP Media Center with a dead power supply. I wanted to replace the power supply with a standard sized one, but in this chassis that was practically impossible. This is my usual anti-static work space with wooden plank and clear work space. Just like I mentioned in my General ITX Guide, one still needs to make sure and not generate static electricity for this process.

The Pre-Made Opened
Figure 2: The Pre-Made System Opened.

Here’s the inside of the system just opened. Immediately the model number jumps out at the center of the photo with it’s super large blocky numbers. Sometimes they can be hard to make out (8’s and B’s look the same), but that is the model number for this board. The brackets used for mounting the optical drives and the hard drives are not the normal kind, and this is where the user’s manual comes into play quite helpfully to understand and navigate around removing all of the parts that are trapped in them. This is also very necessary to get the motherboard out of the chassis safely. Make a quick mental or written note(s) of how things are connected to and from the motherboard where they are not either being replaced or upgraded, especially the front connections if they’re all separate wires. If they’re a “quick-connect,” that is it’s all one piece with a bunch of wires coming out of it, ignore that as it won’t help after transferring it over to the new case.

There’s quite a bit of dust build up in this system, so I used a can of compressed air to clear all of that crud out. Dust build-up is never a good thing to have in a system, so I do recommend giving a PC a good compressed air blast out every once and a while. Just be sure if one is using CO2 can, that it does NOT get used upside down or it will leave a frozen residue on the board. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but try to avoid that.

The Pre-Made Front Panel Removed
Figure 3: The Pre-Made System with Front Face Panel Removed.

I had to remove the front face paneling of the chassis to remove the optical drive. Removing the front paneling on PC cases to install or remove optical drives is a pretty common occurrence, even on custom built systems. The two lower things were not transferred as the item on the left was a drive tray, and the audio ports on the right were soldered directly to the frame.

The Pre-Made Stripped to the Framework
Figure 4: The Pre-Made System Stripped Down to the Framework.

Here I have completely removed all of the drives, cables, power supply, and disconnected everything from the motherboard. At this point, the motherboard is freely and safely capable of being removed completely from the chassis and moved over to the new one. Before yanking it out of the case, be sure that all of the top mounting screws have been removed from the motherboard that are holding it to the case. These are typically silver screws placed inside of a white ring in a grid-like fashion across the board (see Figure 4a).

Mounting Screw Hole
Figure 4a: Example of a Top Mounting Screw Hole on a Motherboard.

On ATX boards, there are usually eight to nine screws holding it in place. I must emphasize here to utilize the best Ant-Static practices to keep the motherboard safe while transferring it from this case to the new one. However, this cannot be accomplished quite yet. Ideally, the board needs to be placed onto an Anti-Static Bag or material and placed off to the side momentarily. I did not remove any chassis fans from this case, as I used new ones in the replacement chassis.

The Motherboard's Back Panel
Figure 5: The Motherboard’s Back Panel.

This is the motherboard’s panel piece, and they’re usually tailored specifically to the motherboard, but the size of them to fit within a PC case is universal. This has to be removed from the old case and installed into the new one before the motherboard can be put into place. Once the motherboard is removed and safely placed elsewhere, just firmly and evenly push onto the panel from the outside of the chassis and it will pop right out. Careful not to get cut in the process! I have done that numerous times.

Once it’s been removed, place it off to the side. Make sure there is nothing else to remove from the case, and then proceed with getting the new one out and ready.

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