Picture of From metal heater to computer
I had a perfectly good metal heater housing left over from a previous project (, so naturally I had to make something out of it.   The more I looked at it, the more I envisioned a new computer.  I just happened to have all the parts needed, including a mini-itx board, and this little heater housing was a perfect size for building a small desktop pc.
Remove these adsRemove these ads by Signing Up

Step 1: Materials required

Picture of Materials required
Since I had all the parts I needed, I really had to buy nothing.  The parts used were:

- empty metal heater housing
- mini-itx motherboard
- 160 gb hard drive
- 300w power supply
- DVD combo writer
- wireless PCI card
- momentary switch
- two LEDs for the front panel
- two IDE cables
- internal speaker
- 1gb PC2700 memory (maximum for this motherboard)
- software (operating system, hardware drivers, application software)
- miscellaneous nuts, bolts, and washers

The tools used were:

- drill & bits
- jig saw with a metal cutting blade
- files
- screwdrivers

Step 2: Determine layout

Picture of Determine layout
I began with taking all the major components and figuring out the best place to mount them.  I finally decided on mounting the power supply on the bottom right, the motherboard on the top right, and the optical drive at the bottom left.  This would give good access to the optical drive, the motherboard back panel ports, and the optical drive.  I mounted the hard drive behind the motherboard.

Since the heater housing came apart in two separate pieces (front and back half), I had plenty of room to work, even though when assembled very little space was wasted.

Please note that the parts shown in the photo are for reference only, and not the actual parts I used (a mini-itx board is significantly smaller than the ATX board shown).
bethmwl2 years ago
Really nice looking when complete. I bet hooking in the wires is easier from the side than the back. Handle makes it portable too. All of our PCs should have carry handles : )
I have a case just like this one I was looking for something to do with.

One last thing, Check your specs for the ram. seems a little low.

Nice Instructable,
knife141 (author)  mattadamsnet3 years ago
I used an older VIA motherboard. It won't address more than 1mb of ram in its one ram slot. Thanks for the comment.
You mean 1GB. The least RAM Windows XP can use is 64MB, can't go lower.
XP can run on 1 Mb of RAM. My netbook does, and my old standby machine cam with 1, but now has 2 because I added more memory. Have yet to update the netbook.
By starting this thread I was nicely trying to tell the author that he spec'ed 1 Megabyte of RAM while I'm sure he ment 1Gigabyte, and as I'm sure you mean 1 Gigabyte.

It says that you need atleast 64MB (128MB recommended).
Either you mean GB, or you're talking about Windows CE 6.0 which looks like Windows XP.
knife141 (author)  TheRealDutchOwner3 years ago
Yes, I did mean 1gb instead of mb. I often get my "m's" and "g's" reversed!

Very cool PC Case.
kurtnotkirk3 years ago
Very cool idea!! I wonder what it would look like if you put those lights on the inside of the case? Love it!!
rimar20003 years ago
Master, you are extremely creative.
knife141 (author)  rimar20003 years ago
Osvaldo, I doubt seriously if I'm a "master. I'm probably more practical and cheap than creative! I've seen your instructables, and you, sir, are the Master! I am just a humble man who attempts many things, some more successful than others! Thanks for the comment.
Well, in Spanish we have a saying: "tirarse con flores". It is "throwing with flowers", I don't know if it exists in English. You and me are giving new live to that saying ;)
Krayzi993 years ago
Man... I wanna try! But I can't at the moment (FrownFace) lol. Nice ible, weather I can do it or not!
razamatraz3 years ago
Nice, put a high end GPU in there and you can still use it as a heater too.
Or a Pentium 4 or Pentium D! :)
AG4RZ3 years ago
I love it!!! I just rescued a dead heater from a junk pile yesterday, with the intent of building a guitar amplifier in it. Your hack seems much cooler...
knife141 (author)  AG4RZ3 years ago
I think an old heater would make a great case for a guitar amp! Thanks for your comment.
80$man3 years ago
Very Cool! Bonus, if the PC runs slow you can shout more coal!
PS. referring to the first picture in step ten, please consider using Google Chrome instead of Internet Explorer... it changed my life!
knife141 (author)  80$man3 years ago
The picture in step 10 is of windows update running. Normally I use Firefox for all browsing, but when you run windows update it runs windows explorer by default. Thanks for the comment.
sylvain013 years ago
good idea
knife141 (author)  sylvain013 years ago
Thanks! The heater housing just sort of said "computer housing" to me!
tutdude983 years ago
really nice and idea is good
knife141 (author)  tutdude983 years ago
Thank you!
longwinters3 years ago
Very nice; from the pictures it looks like it was made from the start as a PC case.

No worries about air flow, thanks for posting what a plesant surprize.
knife141 (author)  longwinters3 years ago
Thanks for the kind words! The looks of this heater cabinet along with its built-in venting is what gave me the idea of turning it into a computer. It just seemed like a natural fit.