More than meets the eye
For many people, PCs are just a tool; a bland beige or black box shoved underneath a desk and physically ignored except for when you press the power button. But not for everyone. In the right hands, PCs can be transformed into works of art inside and out.
Want proof? Look no further than this collection of jaw-dropping computers from case modding masters that don’t look like computers at all. Hit that See larger image link underneath each picture to gaze upon the outstanding workmanship in greater detail.
Let’s start with the inspiration for this article: Geek Seek’s masterful all-AMD PC designed to mimic a freakin’ M134 minigun. The father-and-son team achieved the effect by crafting a custom-welded steel and acrylic chassis, modifying all sorts of hardware, and building out DIY hardline water-cooling loops to resemble the gun’s barrel. It’s nothing short of amazing.
Be sure to check out PCWorld’s original minigun PC coverage for a full list of hardware and a video explaining how Geek Seek created this wonder.
Prefer your weaponry more fantastical? Only Thor himself can boot this PC, spotted at Thermaltake’s booth at Computex 2015.
Thermaltake has a thing for fancy PCs. The winner of Thermaltake's Case Mod Invitational Season 2, Jesse Palacio, transformed Thermaltake's Core X9 case, altering it to resemble an unmanned tank…
Thermaltake tank, part 2
…complete with glowing fans for treads.
If you prefer your robot-themed mods to mimic more friendly automatons, checked out this jaw-dropping creation by Ethan Prus, who runs the Jelloween web comics site. This life-sized homage to Fallout 4’s loveable Nick Valentine took Prus two months to create, and it’s easy to see why: Virtually every aspect is hand-crafted, from the molded epoxy that formed Valentine’s facial features to his robotic hand crafted from popsicle sticks, a wire hanger, and a dowel rod.
Even though this PC’s built into a mannequin, Prus still had to scrounge for space. “I had to take out my GTX 970 and downgrade to my old GTX 560 ti, because the 970 would have been hanging out of his back,” he writes in his build log of this fantastic creation, which you absolutely have to check out.
Even better? Prus spent QuakeCon 2016 playing games on Nick Valentine, which feels like it could be a Fallout quest itself.
Nick Valentine wasn’t Ethan Prus’s first Fallout-themed mod, though. At Quakecon 2014 Prus created an amazing PC built to resemble Fallout Eyebot (and now I want to play New Vegas all over again). Forged from an exercise ball covered in window A/C unit insulation, Prus included an especially killer touch that helped his Eyebot place third in the mod contest that year: “It had some speakers inside that were playing the Enclave radio station,” he writes on his Eyebot build log.
“Three parts Cooler Master Elite 130. Twenty parts leg. And a thousand parts nightmare,” reads the entry for David Cathey’s Gigantea in the Cooler Master Mod World Series 2016, and well, that sums it up succinctly. This centipede-like beauty required Cathey to chop up not one, not two, but three different cases. Check out Nvidia’s interview with Cathey for a full Gigantea build list and more background on its creation.
An oldie but still a goodie, Adam Bertram’s funky toaster PC is, well, a PC built in a toaster—and it was the first PC he ever built! Be sure to hit his site for the complete project log and a drool-worthy gallery of the process.
Speaking of shoving hardware into bizarre enclosures, Kasey McMahon’s Compubeaver blends taxidermy with PCs. Uh, moving along….
Microsoft—yes, Microsoft—brought its modding A-game to E3 2016, with a custom PCJunkieMods rig built to ape the ape everybody loves to hate, Overwatch’s Winston. Quit screwing around and get on the damned payload, Winston!
Alien power loader
One modded PC that wouldn’t flinch at those ferocious teeth on Winston: this homage to Ripley’s power loader from Alien, complete with a keyboard in its grasp.
Did somebody say mechs? Machel Barreto’s “Mouseketeer” from Gigabyte’s booth at Computex 2015 swaps out Ripley for a rodent. Yes, there’s really a functional computer in that thing!
Mechs and robots are a popular source of inspiration for kick-ass PC mods. S.PiC’s killer “Project Vulture” was inspired by the Battletech mechs of yesteryear and placed highly in the Cooler Master Case Mod World Series 2016. You can find a video build log for Vulture as well as S.PiC’s new “Project Vega” on his YouTube page.
Not all mods look to the future, though. This awesome project from Gigabyte’s booth at Computex 2015 harkens back to the Asian war elephants of old.
Wells Fargo Stagecoach
Yazi Star Destroyer
This massive Star Wars Venator class Star Destroyer dubbed "Yazi" is the brain child of modding mastermind Sander van der Velden, a.k.a. "Asphiax"—the hands behind the glorious Imperial AT-AT Walker mod from a few years back. We couldn’t underestimate the power of the Dark Side after laying eyes on this beauty at MSI’s booth at CES 2016.
Yazi earned its spot by winning MSI’s PROMOD Season 3 competition, and you can find a full build logs for the PC on Asphiax’s website.
Corey Gregory went for a slightly smaller scale with the TIE Bomber mod he entered in Thermaltake’s 2016 CaseMod Invitational, but it’s just as impressive. Even more impressively, he managed to cobble this together after dipping his toes into case modding a mere 18 months prior. Like I said: Don’t underestimate the power of the Dark Side.
Back here on earth, this modded PC, built by ACE_Finland to celebrate the 500 millionth Asus motherboard sold, is a meaty little system. Inside is a Sabertooth Z97 Mark S, an Asus Strix GeForce GTX 980, and 32GB of Kingston HyperX Fury RAM.
Humvee, part 2
What's really clever is the use of the Cooler Master V850 liquid cooler, which looks like it actually belongs on top of the Humvee.
Sticking with the off-road theme, this beefy rig at Computex 2015 is big enough to house a full-length GeForce card and motherboard. Pro tip: Even if your PC looks like this, you still don’t actually want to take it outside.
Back to the Future
Marc Molella of Precision Computing went back to the future with this DeLorean-themed PC—right down to a flux capacitor crafted out of matching spark plug wires and a custom LED light strip. Check out Nvidia’s interview with Molella for a parts list and details about every aspect of this futuristic PC.
Finally, there was something fishy going on at Corsair’s booth at Computex 2016. The lack of flashy water-cooling (or even full-blown mineral oil submersion!) feels like a bit of a missed opportunity, though you can't deny this mod's creativity.