Introduction: Ikea Computer Case

Picture of Ikea Computer Case

How to build a simple computer case using a box bought in the Ikea store.

How many of us after years spent warehousing obsolete PC components realize that a new computer could be built with those components ?
If this is your case, with this guide I will give you an idea to realize a computer case from a simply plastic box. In particular I used an IKEA BOX but another kind of box could be used too.

This is my first instructables, so excuse me if I will be not so clear.

Ok, let's start. This is the box I have in mind to use. I bought one of this with his respective lid for just 2,99 Euros at the IKEA shop here in Italy. It is large enough and looks fine.

I am not an IKEA employee, but if you are interested these are the links:

The Box

The Lid

Step 1: Arranging Components Inside the Box

Picture of Arranging Components Inside the Box

I decided to put the power supply at the bottom. This becouse it's the most heavy component and in this way I will increase stability for the whole structure. Then the motherboard must be placed on the left side with the power connector close to the power supply. In my case the cable of the atx connector is very short, so I have no other choices.

The cd-unit is placed above the power supply and the hd-unit on the right side.

After marking the position of the screws and the plastic that must be cutted off let's proceed with the scissor, and the drill.
Ok, I know, I have to remove the label too.

A series of holes must be done head on the Power supply fan in order to have a good air flow. I think that It's better to do in this way because a single large hole could weaken the structure

Step 2: Mounting Components

Picture of Mounting Components

I will use this type of tiny screws with their lock nuts to fasten the motherboard and the power button to the case.

Yes I know, in the back of the case I made a real mess.
The power button is placed on the top of the case and the speaker is next to the cd-unit. It is fastened only by it's magnetic power at the metal case of the cd-unit.
I decided to place just under the power supply the inner part of a CD cakebox to support it.

Just one consideration.
In my case I have very old components. A Pentium II Motherboard, Celeron 466 mhz processor, 16 MB VGA card, and only 1 cd and 1 hd units. Probably I will have not heating problems.
If you plan to use something more powerful, you probably will need to mount an additional fan to cool the processor and the vga card.

Step 3: The Lid

Picture of The Lid

At the end we must cut off a little portion of the lid to let the cd-drawer pop out.

Step 4: The Test

Picture of The Test

Now we can start testing our new PC.

Wow... it works.

Of course I tested all the components before starting this project, it is very frustrating to perform a job just to discover that something is not working properly.

I left the computer working for two entire days and after the test is still functioning well.


Yerboogieman (author)2008-12-19

I just built a pretty nice puter with old parts... Celeron D 2.34 ghz 512mb DDR Ram 233mhz Unknown Video card More USB ports than i know what to do with And an ATI motherboard (yes i checked if the graphics were ATI, No, their not.) Pretty nice little file server.

zack247 (author)Yerboogieman2010-06-28

OLD? i have a 1995 computer running sdram, ddr isnt old enough

Wow, that ram is so slow.

henrywfstone (author)2007-11-06

interesting idea but if my physics serves me correctly you're gonna get some issues with static electricity. that's why computer cases are made of metal! plastics are insulators and store static electricity. i have no idea what it'll do but it must be something bad, seeing as all the computer cases i've seen... ever have been made largley out of metal.

hondagofast (author)henrywfstone2007-11-06

Metal cases are HEAVY AS HELL. I solved that by putting an old mobo (233MHz era) in a cardboard box. It has had no issues with overheating or shorting out in the year and a half that I've used it for playing music in my room. I'm currently re-building it because I sorta fell on it...

srwoodruff (author)hondagofast2009-09-26

lol, this made me laugh a lot...

varocha (author)2009-03-28

very good!

emuman4evr (author)2008-09-13

Uh wouldn't the static associated with plastic container boxes instantly kill anything you put in it?

spytech128 (author)2007-06-25

LOL! That is really funny yet, a nice attempt at being creative. Yes, static electricity is going to be an issue, here. Also, you have no venting for the power supply. You will overheat the power supply and burn it out, really quick. I thought the idea of having a computer was to make it not look like a mainframe, in size. LOL That thing is way too much box for what you have there. I've seen one created with a cardboard box that was even funnier but somewhat more practical! LOL

ekulmeekul (author)spytech1282008-08-11

but you could incorporate a screen into this case so its really quite good except for the static electricity thing!

carpespasm (author)spytech1282007-09-11

chill out on the guy, looks like a decent idea to me, i've done very similar cases with plastic tool boxes and it works well, never had a problem with static. He has plenty of open areas for there to pull through air around the expansion cards and motherboard ports, and as long as the machine doesn't run on the hot side it shouldn't cause any serious problems. for a first time this is pretty cool. Kudos to the creator and good luck with future projects.

emuman4evr (author)2008-08-06

I would of put an lcd monitor built into the case for an even more college dorm room style piece of furniture...

zachninme (author)2007-03-05

I really love this idea! This gives me the idea of a open case? Not 100%, but a lot less box than there is now. It actually may be less-dusty, as the dust can go somewhere :P

latobada (author)zachninme2007-03-19

Never use a computer with an open case. Lemme use this as an example. Imagine your computer as a house, and your Cooling Unit as your airconditioning. now imagine that it is 110 degrees outside, and you want to keep your house cool. having a computer open is like opening up all the windows and doors in teh house. sure it might be OK for like 10 mins, but then everything starts to suck. and the fridge has to work harder to keep to food cool (not really but i couldent think of anything else), and then the floors get sticky with sweat (discusting image). just cover a case, and if you think about fans. well they are there for a reason. they blow air out, not allow it all in.

askantik (author)latobada2008-08-05

This would be good logic, except for the fact that the ambient temperature outside of a computer case is almost always cooler than INSIDE the case, not warmer...

frosty1433 (author)2007-12-16

ehhh... I wouldn't do this with a new computer. obsolete as you said. static electricity was the first thing that popped into my head when I saw what you were using for the case.

killerjackalope (author)2007-09-15

holy moses you have the computer I had, these things are wierd as hell, by super cooling the CPU it can read 966mhz on the windows check, max I got was 1.07 GHZ basically in the original cas they are better as foot warmers but will run great when theres frost in your room. I used to live in a house house with a 6 ft tall window and I fell asleep with that open the night of first snow... reasult computer overclocked itself but watch out for the heat problem in them, your new case will make a real difference to it. should be far better (in the end el computo overheated)

klee27x (author)2007-03-05

The power supply is usually placed at the top, because it produces a lot of heat.

zupermax (author)klee27x2007-03-06

Yes I know, but in my case the box I choose is not strong enough to hold the power supply weight without warping.

a6t1wzbk0tb (author)zupermax2007-08-02

power supply is placed on top BECAUSE warm air rises and gets sucked out by the fan(s) in it cases are synergisticly engineered you need hot air sucked out at the top and cool air in at the bottom and perhaps an in duct over the cpu Mother_Board_Monitor_5 and EVEREST Ultimate Edition (portable) are free temp monitors

little_genius241974 (author)2007-03-30

Hmm, Very interesting! Just one thing, plastic creates static electricity. You are screwed if static electricity gets into the PC components.

Myself (author)2007-03-06

I implore you to use such clear cases for demonstration purposes only. PLEASE, for the love of the radio spectrum, don't run an unshielded computer for long! They spew interference like mad, everywhere from the AM broadcast band up into the wifi range and beyond. Note the part in the motherboard manual where it says FCC compliance of the assembled system is the responsibility of the assembler. That's you. Please don't give any irate radio users an excuse to send the FCC after you. Oh yes, this is also why case windows are a bad idea. You have been warned.

Brett (author)Myself2007-03-08

Wouldn't this be the same case with a wooden case? I remember seeing that somewhere on instructables a few months ago.

zupermax (author)Myself2007-03-07

I am not an engineer and probably you know much more than me about radio interference of an unshielded computer. I'd like to know more about this matter. Can you give me some technical references ? Thanks in advance.

Myself (author)zupermax2007-03-08

Some ham radio and antenna references, some techie perspective, some background from the ARRL, and some from ExtremeTech. For the nitty gritty rules and regs, look no further than the FCC's Equipment Authorization page, but be warned, it's legaltastic.

Nesagwa (author)2007-03-06

Wouldnt this kind of plastic also build up static electricity? Might cause a problem.

zupermax (author)Nesagwa2007-03-06

I read something about it.
Some people says that in normal condition there is no problem... but in some conditions this could happen.
If a fan throw it's air flow directly on the hd-unit for example, likely the unit will gain a little bit of static electricity.
Ultimately, this is not a serious issue, consider that also commercial plexiglass case miss that kind of connection.
To prevent this kind of problems however is sufficient to connect with a single cable each peripherals to the external enclosure of the power supply that normally it's ground-connected. The cable could be attached directly on the screws that connects the unit to the case.

Ther's a whole thread about it here ... I'm sorry but it is in Italian. :)

Thanks for your advices.

Jezza Bear (author)2007-03-05

Nice idea I would certainly think about installing CPU temperature monitoring software on the PC after booting up the first time and possibly think about creating some more ventilation. Most PCs are designed for a good movement of air through it to allow for cooling. If it is made of old kit, I would certainly try it but I may add extra support to the base of the motherboard to prevent any accidental kicks or knocks. Great idea :-)

zupermax (author)Jezza Bear2007-03-06

I agree with you, but as I told in the instructables, I used very old components and the heating is not a problem in my case. However, i left much space around the cd-rom hole on the lid, so the air can flow in a better way.

Jezza Bear (author)zupermax2007-03-06

No Problems I am sure you have taken this into consideration, I was just adding my comment to assit other would be builders:-)

zupermax (author)Jezza Bear2007-03-06

You are right, any suggestions are appreciated especially for those who wants to build something like this. Thanks for your advices. :)

Williz (author)2007-03-05

I probly wouldn't use that type of plastic(Looks like the type I should say) as it gets maleable( easy to mould) at around 50C which if you live in hotter places it will reach easyily. Just a head's up. Probly won't happen immediatly rather over time.

zupermax (author)Williz2007-03-06

Thanks for your suggestion. Maybe another kind of plastic could be better than this, but I were looking for a material that could be cutted/drilled without problems and of course not expansive. Maybe you couldn't use this computer case in the subsaharian Africa but I think that could be used in most places other than Greenland and Alaska :P I don't' know if after the summer the case will be still working... I'll let you know :) Thanks Anyway... I will look around for some other kind of box that could be used too.

jeffreyf (author)2007-03-05

Ooh. Another Ikea hack. You should add it to the group!

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