Introduction: NES Computer

Picture of NES Computer

I decided to make one of these after seeing the one made by hatsuli (rest in peace).  So here is my version of an  NES PC. For what it is, it was a beast of a build. This is my first computer build. Consequently, this is also my first Instructable.

Step 1: Getting the Gear

Picture of Getting the Gear

First you'll have to get all the gear. For the NES I got just what I need from here fast shipping, reasonable pricing. They were great. As for the rest, the motherboard I got is a mini board. 6.7in by 6.7in I got this board since it comes with a laptop style power source. Which saves a ton of room for the rest of the stuff. I got that idea from nemaster203.

NES and power switch                                                  $ 30 
Motherboard: Zotac IONITX T-U                                    199
RAM whatever your board supports. Mine was            24
Hard Drive: Western Digital Scorpio Black 160 Gb     75
USB Hubs                                                                            20
CD Drive Slim line preferred                                            30
Velcro or like substance                                                      4
Rubber Feet                                                                           2
CPU Fan I cannibalized one from another comp           0
Total                                                                                  $384  

Step 2: Making the Cut

Picture of Making the Cut

Next thing you're going to have to do is make the first cuts. The only posts you need to not cut are the four posts in the corners all the rest can go. SAVE THE POSTS!!!! In hindsight I should have done the same. You can use the posts you cut off to make posts you screw the motherboard into. I did not.

Sand down the part of the post that you were unable to completely cut off. This will give you a nice flat surface to work with.

Place your hard drive in one of the two back corners to see which one works best for you. Hook up the cables, mark where you'll need to cut through the bottom, cut only what is necessary for the cords to fit into.

Next comes the cartridge compartment.  Place your CD Drive where the cartridge would go. You NEED to place it on top to leave as much space for the motherboard as possible. Mark where you need to cut. As you can see I wanted to cut as little as possible so I only cut one side.

Step 3: Cutting the Back

Picture of Cutting the Back

Remember to Measure Twice Cut Once

Now here comes the moment of no turning back. Cutting the back. What I did was to place the motherboard where I wanted it. Then I marked the width on the back. I knew that the motherboard would be sitting above the power and reset switch. I measured where the top of those switches stopped then made my marks.

Now cut the back. Once you have it all cut you can set the motherboard in and measure how high the back plug ins go past the dark grey portion. Mark it on the light grey portion. Make your cut. You can see where I marked where I needed to cut. You can also see I didn't cut for the back plate but only what I needed. That way the fan will have a place to blow out all that hot air.

Hard parts over.  Get a beverage of your choice and celebrate. Mine is a Vanilla Porter I brewed up.

Step 4: Controller Ports

Picture of Controller Ports

This is where the USB hubs come into play. I got two of these powered USB hubs for the front controller ports. You are going to have to take the black case off. Its pretty easy. Wedge whatever you can fit in the seam on the side and pry it open.

Take them and wedge them into the ports.

You can see that I have the white rubber feet on the back side of them. Those are there to prevent you from pushing out the USB hub you just wedged in. You'll also see that I have the rubber feet on top of them also. That is there to prevent them from coming out as you pull out whatever you have plugged in.

The plug for those go right through the back and plug into the ports in the back of the motherboard.

I suggest making a couple of the NES USB controllers found on this very link. For nostalgia reasons of course.

Step 5: Power, Reset, and LED

Picture of Power, Reset, and LED

Time to Solder. If you don't already know how to, here you go.

You need to solder the power switch, reset switch, and LED to the adjoining wires to hook up to your motherboard. I salvaged mine from a cannibalized mini PC. You can find yours at a computer supply website or store of your liking. 

You'll also have to take the piece off that holds the power switch in. This way your computer isn't always turning on. I know its way cooler to have the button stay in, but my motherboard wouldn't turn on and stay on until I took that off.

Screw it back into place. That's it until you plug everything in.

Step 6: Putting It All Together

Picture of Putting It All Together

Now is that wonderful time you've been waiting for. Time to put it all together, close it up, and turn it on.

First Hard Drive.

Put some velcro, or whatever you used on the bottom of the NES and on the hard drive. Plug in the cords.

Second Motherboard.

If you kept the posts hot glue them into position where you can screw your mother board in place.  I did not so I just have it "floating" in there.

Third Disc Drive.

Place velcro on the top case and the disc drive. Slide it in the cartridge slot.  Attach the appropriate cables.

Forth Connect everything.

Attach the fan. Plug everything else in.

Step 7: Closing the Case

I know it seems like there is a lot of stuff in such a small space. There is! It all fits, you just have to move the cables around so the case will close. It will be a bit snug. That's good. Things won't move around. You may need to squeeze the case shut. It should only be a little. 

Hold it like a sandwich, flip it over.  Continue to hold the case shut while you are screwing the case closed.

Step 8: You're Done!!

Picture of You're Done!!

Plug everything in. Pat yourself on the back for a job well done. Show off to your friends that you have a NES computer that, if you've gotten a NES Emulator, you can play all your old favorites again..... with out winding yourself by blowing inside the thing.


maxseech (author)2017-11-16

I hope that you have used a game system that didn't work no matter what you did to it, if it still worked i shall have to cover everything in your house with foil.

Pax88 (author)2013-03-17

Im curious as to which PSU you used.

cowstick (author)Pax882013-03-18

The mother board comes With an external one.

SamS153 (author)cowstick2016-01-12

How strong is it? Would it support a full gpu?

cowstick (author)SamS1532016-01-13

I'm sure it would if you have all the appropriate hardware for it.

SamS153 (author)cowstick2016-01-13

Full load @ 250w +?

cowstick (author)SamS1532016-01-14

no idea. You should try it out and let us all know.

mixahman (author)2015-03-25

Nice, I thought about using Velcro but I used the cover itself to harness the slim dvd drive in place with 2 screws and a thick piece of aluminum. I used a Dremel and added to holes to each side and screwed it on. The aluminum piece has enough room to place the sata & power cables.

Check it out.

cowstick (author)mixahman2016-01-13

nice work!

cowstick (author)mixahman2015-03-26

Nice work! This is why I love Instructables, every project is ever evolving. I wouldn't have thought about using an Aluminum piece to hold it up.

aaramirez2008 (author)2015-09-29

I just want to say you did an excellent job putting it together. I actually made one myself about. 7Years ago with an apple ibook G4, i gutted out the laptop and surpeisingly it fit perfect. I too used the ness power button to turn it on and off. The power jack i places it where the original nintendo power jack was and mounted the cd drive prety much the same way you did. To hold it up i used double sided foam tabs atleast thats what i call them lol. The adhesive was strong enough to hold the dvd drive in place. I also used them on the motherboad and the dvd drive but they kept falling off because the hdd and motherboard would get hot so later i used hot glue, the gap under the cd drive i coverd it with plastic simmilar to those of a school notebook cover jut cut it to size and paint it and glue it with hot glue or super glue and the back where the I/O panel went i also used the same plastic to cover the gaps of the hole to make it look cleaner. Ot qorked very well untill i erased the hdd to upgrade the os. Apperently i was not able to use the external display to see what i was doing so with out the oeiginal lcd i was not able to re install the os back into it. I had it gor a long time till i tossed it out by accident when i moved.

xkinngotedx (author)2014-01-04

How big of a video card could you fit in this? would it be possible to fit a gtx 660 in there with the riser card?

mechagen (author)2013-12-22

Do you know if this would have a large enough amount of space to fit a decent single slot graphics/video card. If that said card was low profile/slim line or such. Or would I have to get a 90 degree pci-e angle adapter.

cowstick (author)mechagen2013-12-22

You would need to get a 90 pci-e. I also highly suggest getting a graphics card. You don't need o e, it is just better with one.

mechagen (author)2013-08-22

Just for the record what OS do you prefer Linux, Windows, or Mac, and since I'm a noob, whats Zune?

cowstick (author)mechagen2013-08-22

I'm rocking out Windows 7 on it. Zone was the Microsoft answer to the ipod.

mechagen (author)cowstick2013-09-05

Thanks i haven't been on this site in a while so I'm just getting to replying to this while at school (after having completed my school work of course). So thank you again for clearing the Zune thing up. However I kinda pegged you for a Linux type guy.

cowstick (author)mechagen2013-09-05

I am a Linux guy but more of an anti-apple person.

mechagen (author)cowstick2013-09-06

Cool what Linux distribution do you regularly use? I use Slax Linux it kinda sucks that it is all module based but that happens when you pick a live USB Linux distribution.

cowstick (author)mechagen2013-09-06

Ubuntu for my comp and raspbian for my RPie.

cowstick (author)2013-04-20

The video card isn't powerful enough to play Diablo 3. I don't know how well it would with PS1 games.

jrudisill9182 (author)2013-04-19

Looks really nice. Can it play PS1 games smoothly? Im sure it does all the older systems.

DIYourselfer128 (author)2012-12-20

Maybe if you ever need to build one again you could use a sheet of plexiglass to screw the motherboard into to prevent any electrical jumps and to keep the motherboard in place.

DIYourselfer128 (author)2012-07-03

Can you tell me where you got the rubber feet from? that is a good idea how you used them. Does anybody know how to clone hard drives? I would like to clone a 3.5 inch HDD into a SDD.

Still looking to clone the drive? There's plenty of free software that works decently good. It's just slow if you have a bloated drive like I did. Make sure the drive to be cloned isn't the OS drive on the PC or else you need a second machine to plug it into. Plug the old and new drives in, direct the software to the drives, clone, done, ..., profit?

Thanks for the advice. I I think I have enough space to put in the full 3.5 inch in. I might need to clone a hard drive in the future though.

cowstick (author)DIYourselfer1282012-07-03

I got those at home depot.

DIYourselfer128 (author)cowstick2012-07-05


zmohammadi (author)2012-09-29

or this forsale ? item i wanna buy one

sonicdude10 (author)2012-06-13

No matter how many times I've seen this it never gets boring. Now I really want to build one myself. Epic win here.

cowstick (author)sonicdude102012-06-13

Thank you. Now go build one.

frisbeechamp1983 (author)2012-05-04

Remember Zork?

Calico Jack (author)2012-04-15

Can you tell me what kind of RAM you used? I am making something similar to this with a custom built case, and this motherboard is perfect, but I am having trouble finding RAM for this motherboard.

cowstick (author)Calico Jack2012-04-15

Yeah. I used a 204 pin DDR3 4gb kit from micro center. Here's a link.

weirdalyanksyou1 (author)2012-03-29

where did you get the adapter for the dvd drive?

At New Egg. Here's the link for the product.

The sata cables sit very loose on this. To the point where if its not held on it will fall off with movement.

If you can find a similar product I would go with it instead.

MongooseDundee (author)2012-03-23

You do hatsuli an honor, nice instructable!

cowstick (author)MongooseDundee2012-03-25

Thank you.

then-comes-dudley (author)2012-03-25

Kudos on the Mastodon poster on your desk!

\m/ I love those guys. Ive seen them 4 times now. Crack the Sky is amazing.

nemaster203 (author)2012-03-25

There's a few things that I would have done differently, but I'm pretty sure most people would after their first time building something like this. I would suggest replacing the red power LED with a dual- or tri-colored LED so you can also have a HDD indicator light. Also, using resistors to connect the LED is always best, but if you get the right LED you may not need to with the power coming from the motherboard.

I would also cut holes on the top vents (the bottom side) because those L-shaped vent things prevent airflow, and then add 40mm fans to that part to get some extra airflow. I know that when I built mine from hatsuli's instructable, the dual core Atom processor in the motherboard I used was getting into the 80C range, so I had to add those extra fans and cut those holes in it so it would actually work. You'll see what I mean about those vent holes if you actually do that.

Another thing I would suggest doing is using one of the controller ports or the black plastic space above the controller ports to add a IR remote sensor, in case you're going to be using this as a HTPC like I am.

If you don't choose to use a motherboard that has a built-in picoPSU, you can just buy a picoPSU and use your own power brick for those, if you have one the right voltage and amps for your particular picoPSU you ordered. A picoPSU is basically the same thing as having the motherboard come with a built-in PSU, except you buy it separate and it takes up just a little bit of room, it's not even that much actually.

Another thing you can do is use high-quality black cardboard like I did and glue that to all the ugly holes when you're putting your stuff in. It makes it look a bit better (Controller ports and where the DVD/BD drive goes). You can also cut holes in this cardboard for things like front audo ports, more USB ports, or just make a grill for it instead so you can lift the DVD drive cover for some extra airflow.

You can also fit 2 regular sized 2.5" harddrives or SSDs underneath the motherboard if you do it right, so if you think you're going to need extra storage, that's an option.

You can omit the DVD/BD drive if you don't think you're going to use them and get a 2.5" harddrive hotswap bay instead, so you can put games on a SSD to insert your "cartridge" to play games.

I hope some of these ideas can help people when they're building their own NES PC.

cowstick (author)nemaster2032012-03-25

First let me thank you for the assistance you gave me. With out your help I would not have been able to finish this.

Second, Excellent additional information. All of these are great suggestions. Like with most instructables you can make them your own.

cowstick (author)2012-03-23


If I had a few grand to spend on a computer, I would have made a much larger version of an NES to fit all that amazing gear I would buy with the rest of the cash.

cowstick (author)2012-03-23

Thanks skuishingbugs. Since I'm not an Apple person, there was no other option.

skuishingbugs (author)2012-03-23

i respect you for having a zune.

TheBlackSharpie (author)2012-03-22

Wouldn't it be awesome to use a few grand worth of components in your PC to make it an amazing "gaming" computer

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