I've always liked the idea of building a desk pc, but its always seemed like a pretty daunting task. Well, after seeing a bunch of cool builds I picked one to sort of model my build off of (https://www.pcworld.com/article/2047642/how-a-lege...
and got to work.
If you like this build be sure to VOTE for me :) thanks!!
Also, sorry if some of the pictures are rotated funny, they look good on my computer, and even in the overview of my draft, but when I go to preview they're weird. I'll try to get it worked out.
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Step 1: Design
The important thing here is really just deciding your dimensions, and making sure your parts will fit.
I started out by downloading some 3d models of components from grabcad.com then sort of designing my case dimensions around that. I could have made the case much smaller but I really wanted to be able to use the desk for much more than just the computer. And I knew I wanted a glass top because 1- I wanted to see the sweet build inside, and 2- I really like being able to quickly do math, or draw out a design using dry erase markers on the table top.
I ended up going fairly thick to accommodate the graphics card height, but in the end I used a PCIE extension, and would've been able to go much thinner if I would have decided that from the start. Also because of the thickness of the desk I ended up putting a cutout in the middle for your legs to slide into. when I did that it kind of ruined my plans to use the two side sections for rack mounts to mount studio gear to. (Did a last minute adjustment thinking I needed more leg room and that made the sides less than 19")
I didn't know what kind of I/O or mounting holes I needed at the start of this, and ended up thinking I had it all, then painted. Turns out I was wrong. Even though its a huge pain I'd strongly suggest building your whole rig, and assembling all the components and testing it out, then disassemble and paint. It's worth it in the end to only have to paint once.
Step 2: Metal Fab and Paint Prep
There are a lot of instructables out there on how to do metal work, and most of them are better than what I know how to do, so I won't go into much detail on that. I mostly drew from my experience doing body work on old cars. built the frame and legs, got the metal as straight as I could, then started in on a bit of filler work.
I used automotive primer and paint, did a single stage acrylic enamel paint. Great place for cheap auto paint and supplies is tcpglobal.com I use their restoration shop line, pretty cheap and great quality for the price. Pro tip, don't do what I did and get impatient painting your desk on a warm night with lots of bugs out, you'll just be disappointed and end up repainting wasting your expensive automotive paint.
A 4.5" hole saw makes some great cuts for 120mm case fans, I've tried a jig saw before too, but in 16g steel its kind of hard to get a clean cut that I was really happy with how it looked. This things all about the presentation after all.
Don't forget your cutouts for the power suppply, I/0 on the bottom, I used a panel mount usb on the bottom for keyboard and mouse and then a 1" hole and a rubber grommet to run cables through (network, display port, audio) Then on the front I did a cutout and mounting points for a standard sized drive bay, and the floppy sized one as well. Mounted a fan controller on one side, and a usb/audio port on the other side.
Step 3: Installing Components and Making the Cabling
Now its time to start placing your components where you'd like them to be. Obviously there's a lot more real estate in a desk pc than there is in a typical computer case (unless your going for something like one of my dream cases, the thermaltake tower 900) so you are going to have to most likely buy extensions for everything.
Even though I'm a younger guy, I'm and old school audio guy. Love analog gear, analog cabling over digital snakes, and start to drool over good cable management. So not knowing that people actually made extensions for practically every cable in the computer I broke out my soldering iron, my cable, and some plastic cable sheathing and got to work making custom length cables.
My buddy told me after I got done that most of these cables are available for $20-30. He told me that after I spent hours and hours of soldering. If I would've known they where available I would have never even touched those. So if you're reading this...... They make these really cool extensions for pc cables, they're cheap, and supposedly work well.
Be careful putting your glass in, I had my glass cut but built my case just a little bit to tight for it, and because it was tempered it ended up shattering everywhere. Luckily it cleaned up well no components where damaged, and it gave me the opportunity to repaint because I wasn't really happy in the first place with how the first paint job turned out.
Step 4: Lighting and Cool Pictures
All that's really left is putting in some cool lighting and taking some cool pictures to show off your new desk pc to all your friends!
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