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-2. The Procedure • Section 2 – Rebuilding the Pre-Made into a Custom

The New PC Case
Figure 6: The New Replacement PC Case.

I think it’s pretty known from my ITX Build article, I am a huge fan of Corsair products. They’re of very high quality and this case is no exception. This is a Corsair Carbide 100R Mid-Tower Case, and it has plenty of space and then some for the new system. It comes with two sleeve bearing fans, all of the screws needed, and tool-less mounting racks for the internal and optical drives. The price was pretty reasonable to boot.

Cleared Out Case
Figure 7: New Case all Cleared Out.

Here’s the chassis opened with it all cleared out as best as possible. It’s always good to clear it out to have a nice open working space to help keep things from getting in the way or messed up. The wires down the center are the new front panel wires that I moved off to the side after taking this photo. Notice all of those holes in the middle of the back panel; those are the bottom mounting holes for the motherboard. Sometimes the manufacturer of the PC case will fill in the most common holes with the bottom mounting screws (see Figure 7a) and one just has to fill in the remaining depending upon where they line up on the motherboard.

Motherboard Bottom Mount Screw
Figure 7a: Standard Motherboard Bottom Mounting Screw.

There’s a couple of ways to do this: one can reference the motherboard or the new cases’ manual, or can just lay the board down on top of these holes to see which ones align with what. I tend to just place the board into the case and make a mental note of which ones I need to install the mounting screws at. If there is a dome with a small hole in that, then those do not need a mounting screw. Those spots are ready for the top screw to be utilized for holding the motherboard in place.

Be sure to tighten those firmly! Sometimes the cases come with a tool that goes over them, and then a Phillips can be used to tighten them into place pretty easily. Once that’s done, install the motherboard’s back plate and then install the motherboard with either the screws provided or can use the previous case’s screws instead. If the new chassis came with screws, I normally use them.

Motherboard and Fans
Figure 8: Motherboard and new Case Fans Installed.

Okay, this is a pretty extensive jump from the last Figure. I’ve installed the motherboard, and also installed three new case fans. Those are Cougar Hydraulic 120mm fans, but they’re not illuminated. I didn’t want ones like I used in the ITX Build that lit up like that here. They still have the near silent noise and 100,000 to 300,000 lifespan like the LED ones do. The one in the front is an intake fan, while the other two are exhaust fans. I didn’t go crazy with fans since this system doesn’t need the excessive fan usage. The motherboard mounting screws can also be seen since their color is very contrasting to the motherboard’s.

Inside Completed
Figure 9: All Components Installed and Test Running.

Another fairly big jump from the previous Figure. This is a test run to make sure that the transfer was successful or not. I have connected all of the drives, installed the new power supply, and hooked up the front panel connectors. The one thing that I was not successful was reconnecting the front panel’s USB ports as this board’s connectors for those were older than what the chassis had. I was okay with this, but if one wants those to work, make sure the new case has those connectors. Let’s start with the repair and then move on to the modifications, as those might not apply to all conversions.

The new power supply is a Corsair CX 750M, which is a 750 Watt Power Supply and is Semi Modular. Semi-Modular basically means that the primary cable from the Power Supply to the Motherboard (20+4 Pin) is not removable, but the rest are modular and can be added or removed as needed. Whereas a fully modular, all of the cables can be removed and inserted as needed or non-modular none of the cables can be removed.

I picked the CX over the more expensive HX, or AX is because this was in fact an older system nor could it SLI, and I didn’t need a overpowered power supply for it. The power supply that this replaced was only a 300 watt one, which is kind of how I guestimated what I needed to get for a replacement, especially since I knew I was going to add some upgrades to it also. Generally speaking, if one is considering heavy computing, GPU rendering/usage, or SLI, then I would not use a CX and would pick the HX or AX with the needed wattage for whatever it is being used for.

As for modifications, the first more noticeable item that is new is the Graphic Processor Unit (GPU), or Graphics Card right above the new Power Supply. I had planned on upgrading the older GPU that this system came with well before the Power Supply decided to go out on me, so figured this was a good time to install that as well. Was a little tricky since it covered up the SATA connectors, so I ended up replacing a couple of the original stock SATA cables with new angled ones so they would work with the new behemoth GPU’s. This is an old GeForce GTX 275, and a few months later after I made sure it worked great, I replaced it with a GTX 580. Newer GPU’s require separate power cables from the Power Supply, so make sure they’re plugged in as well!

The final additional modification was installing an Solid State Hard Drive as the primary boot-up drive, with the original system’s hard drive being used as a secondary large storage drive. This allows for the system to boot-up far quicker and then to just have personal files stored on the slower mechanical drive instead. Indirectly, this was because I wanted to upgrade the Operating System from Windows Vista to Windows 7.

Side note about modifying a pre-made’s Operating System, check with the manufacturer’s website to make sure that it is supported before considering changing the Operating System. Sometimes they don’t support newer system drivers!

That’s it for the modifications. It’s kind of difficult to tell in this photo, but cable management is utilized here to the best ability. The wires come from the power supply, and then go through an opening at the bottom of the motherboard’s plate and travel up to another opening at the top near the optical drive bays to help airflow through the middle of the chassis. Sometimes cables don’t cooperate depending upon where they are on the board versus where the Power Supply is, so if there are ways to run wires behind the motherboard’s plate but they won’t reach, just run it on the front side.

With it successfully running, the problem has been resolved with the conversion, and the modifications seem to be working, it’s time to close it all up!

New System Front
Figure 10: Front Shot of the Newly Completed System.
New System Back
Figure 11: Back Shot of the Newly Completed System.

All closed up! Notice on the back the old motherboard’s panel that was transferred with the system.

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