First post, by x0zm_
Guess this is becoming a dual Tually system now. 😲
Thank you everyone for your support, kind words and advice over the last 1 year and 6 days. Please feel free to check out the gallery of pics >>here<<
::To Do List/Current Progress::
- Gather Hardware Components
- Test Hardware
- Setup Software
- Measure, design and fabricate acrylic internals
- Install hardware and create custom cabling
- Misc case modding
- Plan watercooling loop
- Install watercooling Loop
- Leak Test
- Tidying Up
- Build Finished!
For anyone looking at this thread for the first time, hi! 😀
The parts lists and ideas in the original post below are pretty old and the build has evolved since then due to a series of both fortunate and unfortunate events. Here is the 100% final parts list, and reasons for picking those parts over my original ideas.
Case: Corsair 570X RGB Tempered Glass Case (got it at a great price during an eBay sale, phanteks case quality didn't impress me in person)
CPU: Pin-Modded Tualatin Pentium III 1.4GHz (was cheaper than any other Socket 370 chip with a heatspreader (req'd for block)
Motherboard: AOpen AX34-U (Black PCB - cost me a couple of dollars locally. Recapped.)
RAM: 2 x Micron 256MB SDRAM PC133 CL2 (original planned RAM, works. That's about it.)
AGP Graphics Card: Canopus Spectra 8800 (GeForce2 Ultra, non reference design - original plan)
PCI Graphics Card: 3dfx Voodoo5 5500 PCI (Original plan)
Sound Card: Creative Sound Blaster Live! 5.1 Platinum (CT4760 - original plan)
SATA Controller: Promise SATA150 TX4 (AGP card overlapped the IDE ports on this new motherboard and even my smallest IDE cables wouldn't fit, so had to get an external controller and settled on full SATA since I'd needed one anyway)
HDD: Seagate 80GB 7200RPM (SATA - see above)
SSD: Either a Samsung 850 EVO. (original plan)
PSU: Corsair CX850M (original plan)
CPU Block: Koolance PLT-UN50F Cold Plate, 50mm x 50mm mounted with a modded Socket370/A Retention Clip (original plan)
RAM Block: Barrow RAMWBT-PA RAM Water Block (got it as part of a hardware swap and decided to through it in here)
Radiator: XSPC EX360 (good price, fits at the front of new case)
Pump: Laing DDC-1T Plus 18W (got it for an absolute steal on eBay brand new)
Pump Top: Barrow Acrylic DDC Pump Top (worked well with unplanned pump)
Reservoir: Barrow 250mm Tube Reservoir (above)
Pump, Pump Top and Res are all one unit.
Coolant: EK Ekoolant EVO UV Lime Green (fits the theme)
Fittings: Various Chrome Barrow Fittings (matches CPU block)
Tubing: EK HD 10/12mm Acrylic Tubing (original plan)
Fan Controller: Bitspower X-Station Power Female I UV (after RGB fans died and caught fire... that's a fun post to read about.)
Colours: Still absolutely sticking to my original plan for the black/UV Green/UV Blue Highlights theme.
Lighting: 2x 30cm Bitspower UV CCFLs. Multiple Nanoxia Rigid LED UV bars as required.
Fans: Noctua NF-F12 x 5.
UV Acrylic Mods: We've got custom made UV reactive GPU/Audio card backplates, custom internal UV case panels!
Custom Case Panels: Long time in the making, and a fairly unique case mod by any standard. Custom acrylic panels with direct printed ink onto them with custom art - not stock clipart or anything!
Cabling: Custom sleeved 20 pin ATX cable. Custom sleeved molex cables.
Optical Drive - No ODD slot in new case.
NB Cooling - Not worth it.
Sleeved IDE cables - See SATA note - won't work on new board.
3dfx V5 water blocks - I know what block I want, but it's expensive to ship internationally. If I end up doing it in the future, I've reserved space for a second pump/res at the back of the case.
If I do it, it'll be on a separate loop.
As I posted in another thread, I'm currently undertaking quite a unique build. I thought I'd give it its own thread so I can share my progress, thoughts and pictures -- and hopefully what I learn along the way. My build logs tend to be quite text heavy, so feel free to skip all of it and just look at pretty pictures as they come. 😵
This first post is a bit of a prologue to the build log to describe the whats, hows and whys of this build.
I have a garage full of lovely yellowing beige boxes with nice grey IDE cables, rainbow PSU cables and delta fans that make it feel like I'm back in a server room if I turn more than one on. I love them all and use them regularly. Each serves its own purpose. One is for DOS gaming. One is for Win9x gaming. One is for Glide games. One is exclusively built for ScreamTracker. Some are just OEM models that serve as nothing more than relics and reminders of an age gone by.
Going back to 2014 or thereabouts, I vividly remember having a laugh with a mate of mine while we were out having dinner on the weekend, discussing some new PC cases we saw on YouTube from a trade show. "Wouldn't it be awesome to build an old computer in a new case?" We discussed it for a couple of minutes and the conversation naturally changed course. Regardless, the idea was stuck in my mind.
It went through many phases over time, often just ideas that floated into my head while doing something completely different and unrelated. I always ended up shrugging it off as nothing more than bordem at work, but over the months the idea evolved and I eventually started taking notes, making sketches.
I'm still not sure what triggered it, but I recently put my foot down and decided that I wanted to do something different. I want to make a build that is truly unique and my own.
The plan is to build a full retro PC system, decked out with some of the best hardware (excluding SMP since it'll run W98Se) from the year 2000 or so. The overall computer is inspired by the case mods of old, while embracing and incorporating the modern luxuries of high-end computer building and modding.
Putting off my biennial main PC upgrade to have some spare cash to put towards this project, I really want to make it the best it can be. I try to attend LAN parties and similar events when I can, but no matter which cool new games come out, I always ending up playing the exact same games I play on retro PCs. As I've never had a dedicated LAN box, this will be the PC I begin to take to them from now on.
When I started properly planning this build, I knew there were going to be some big challenges to overcome:
- Finding a case that is suitably modern and visually pleasing, with water cooling support and a nice side panel - while also keeping a mid-tower footprint, an optical bay and hard drive compartments not visible through the window. It would preferably also have a PSU shroud.
- Sourcing water cooling components that work with 15+ year old hardware. Not only that, but they had to work with each other without mixing metals or having to use too many different adapters due to thread and tube sizing differences.
- Keeping a modern look with old, colour mismatched hardware.
- Be able to pass as a fairly modern PC at a glance, but clearly be an old computer when actually looking at the components.
- Keep the spirit and aesthetics of late 90s and early 00s modding within the design choices.
- All water cooling or mods done should be completely non-destructive and one hundred percent reversible to the old hardware, allowing them to be taken out and put back into their original state with no issues. No thermal epoxies on graphics cards, for example.
- Make sure all the hardware and cabling fits and looks great.
So we'll first start with the retro hardware. The parts in green are set in stone, the parts in red are subject to change.
CPU: Intel Pentium III 1.0GHz/256k/133MHz (SL52R) - May swap to SL5QJ model with the heatspreader for easier CPU block usage.
Motherboard: ASUS CUSL2 - Will likely be using this, but will swap to an ASUS CUSL2-C Black Pearl or AOpen AX34 Pro II for the black PCB if I come across one at a price I'm willing to pay. I would also consider a Supermicro 370SSR onboard SCSI and LAN.
RAM: 2 x Micron 256MB SDRAM PC133 CL2 - I'm not super fussed on the memory side. Might use some more exotic VCM SDRAM if I end up getting the AX34 Pro II.
AGP Graphics Card: Canopus Spectra 8800 (GeForce2 Ultra, non reference design)
PCI Graphics Card: 3dfx Voodoo5 5500 PCI
Sound Card: Creative Sound Blaster Live! 5.1 Platinum (CT4760) - Would be happy to swap if I come across something better. I do have a Guillemot Maxi Studio ISIS, but the drivers for that are pretty awful.
HDD: 2 x Maxtor DiamondMax 40GB 7200rpm drives - I have quite a few Maxtor DiamondMax drives, but may swap for a Deathstar 75GXP 75GB. Not sure I want to take the risk. Probably won't.
ODD: Undecided - Part of me wants to use an oldschool high end 16x DVD drive, but I also want a black drive to match the case. Might go with a faceplace or vinyl cover, or might just use a 2004-2005 era black IDE drive.
Next up is the modern hardware.
Case: Phanteks Enthoo Pro M Tempered Glass Edition - It is one of the few cases I could find at a reasonable price point that incorporated nearly all the features I wanted. Black case with side panel, optical bay, water cooling support, 3.5" drives hidden out of sight, PSU shroud, not a full tower case. There will have to be some modding done to get it to look the way I want though.
SSD: Samsung 850 Pro 128GB - I have a spare one and wouldn't mind sacrificing it to the lack-of-TRIM-support Gods with a SATA to IDE adapter after aligning partition w/ blocks. No clue if it'll even work. Will find out.
- Corsair CX850M[/url] - I have this spare already. 25A 5v / 25A 3.3V @ 130W, with a single rail design. Might change if it not powerful enough. I've never put two top tier video cards in an old PC before.
CPU Water Block: Koolance PLT-UN50F - I was originally going to use a Swiftech MCW372, but for a little bit more I could get this block. Being only 12mm tall, I'm certain I can mount it using a salvaged Pentium 3 retention clip from a spare cooler. It has the benefit of being a new block with new manufacturing techniques, so less likely to leak and uses the fairly standard G1/4 BSP threading. It was built for industrial applications so it doesn't come cheap, but no standard modern CPU block will fit.
Northbridge Water Block: Undecided - Don't want to pick one until I've 100% confirmed my motherboard.
RAM Water Block: 2 x Alphacool D-RAM Module + Alphacool D-RAM Cooler X2 Universal - a nice, simple RAM watercooling set that also shows the liquid.
3dfx Water Blocks: 2 x EK-VGA Supremacy - possibly the best water block that'll fit on the V5 5500 without any modification or custom fabrication. A bit pricey though so I may shop around some more, but I want to avoid the cheap Chinese/eBay blocks as the last thing I need is leaks.
Now let's talk a little bit about the mods and the overall look.
It's quite important to me that this build looks modern, while staying true to its late 90s and early 00s roots. To me, that means modern design with oldschool style.
Taking a look back at the early days of case modding and LAN parties, there are a few things that really stuck with me. UV CCFL tubes and UV reactive components -- blue and green mainly. UV acrylic panels everywhere. UV/LED fans. Rounded IDE cables. Single sleeved paracord cables. Acrylic/Aluminium fan grills. Case stickers. Soft tubing watercooling that looks like spaghetti. 5.25" fan controllers.
Compared to modern design, there are some parallels and some stark differences. UV has gone out of favour to be replaced with RGB. RBG everything. Everything is colour coordinated to the minutest detail. Single sleeved cables have been replaced with individually sleeved paracord or PET wires. Fan grills have been replaced with dust filters. 5.25" bays have all but disappeared. Minimalist is more in favour - people want a clean, tidy case where cable and tube management is king.
I believe in many of these cases, the two eras can be married together to create something that's both old and new.
- Colours: The modern trend of colour themed builds can be applied to the UV trend of the 90s/early 00s. The build will consist of a black case, with a green UV cabling/water cooling liquid, with some blue UV highlights.
- Cabling: I will use the modern single wire sleeving trend, using the aforementioned colours. The ATX power cable will have black and UV green sleeving, the Molex cables will be green UV sleeving. I will also sleeve the IDE cables (already done some early testing) to match the ATX cable.
- UV Acrylic: Acrylic is still used in case mods to this day, but often not UV. I plan on using green UV acrylic subtlety. The whole back of the case surrounding the motherboard will be a cut-to-size UV green acrylic sheet with holes cut for cable runs. With vinyl stickers placed around the edge of the holes with a few millimeters of margin, the sheet will be painted black before peeling off the vinyl. This will leave a UV green glow around each of the cable holes that should look nice!
- Lighting: There will be NO RGB lights in this case. I will decide between either Darkside Modding UV LEDs (heard great things and love their sleeving), or a Monsoon UV CCFL kit. Leaning towards CCFL for the oldschool factor, but with this kit being modern and up-to-date, the inverter shouldn't burst into flames...
- Backplates: I will likely fabricate a backplate for each of the expansion cards in the system out of acrylic.
- Fans: I am undecided on fans. I don't want to go full oldschool UV fans since they tend to be loud and likely won't work well with radiators. I may use a modern high static pressure non-LED fan with the shroud painted.
- Other Water Cooling Components: I plan to use a 280mm radiator at the top, with an undecided reservoir/pump combo mounted to the right of the motherboard tray. I am hoping to get one that has some form of UV reactive component. Will probably use Barrow fittings, since they tend to be of comparible quality to Bitspower (top water cooling brand), but cost a lot less. Some people think they are made by the same people.
At the end of the day, if I can make a system that performs like a beast, but is interesting enough for me to be able to have a conversation about it at LAN parties and talk to some people about retro hardware who might not know about the hobby and the fun/challenges associated with it, I'll be happy. Though it will (hopefully) look new and shiny, it's still absolutely retro at its core, and that's what matters most to me.
I should be getting my proper camera back from its RMA shortly, so once I have that and the new parts I'll start posting pictures and the build log.
Always happy to hear any suggestions, comments or criticism on part choices, design or just calling me an idiot for doing this. 🤣