Making my own midrange tower...

Discussion in 'iMac' started by mrgreen4242, Apr 1, 2007.

  1. mrgreen4242 macrumors 601

    mrgreen4242

    Joined:
    Feb 10, 2004
    #1
    So, I've started on my iTower, or my miniTooth, or something like that. Started with the outside of the case, since that's what I had first. :p

    So, I started with a Sawtooth, decided to make it look more like an iMac, since I figure that if Apple made a mid-tower it would look kinda like an iMac meets a mini (white+aluminum). Here's how it came out! I'm pretty happy with it, hope people think it's as neat as I do.

    Next step is to mount a Core Duo Mac mini in there, sans the top of the case, and stock HDD and optical drive (it'll be mounted on the drop down door such that the back of the mini is flush with the back of the case where the old ports were located), then attach a 400 or 500gb 3.5" SATA HDD, a 5.25" DVD-RW, and max out the RAM to 2gb.

    After that, in a year or two, I'll be dropping in a 2+ghz C2D (once I can get a chip over 2ghz for ~$200). After that I will be adding an array of drives via firewire for hosting an HD media library to a frontend (maybe an AppleTV).

    So, without further ado, here's stage one of my custom mid-tower Mac!

    (the first pic is the original machine, just for reference)
     

    Attached Files:

  2. dartzorichalcos macrumors 65816

    dartzorichalcos

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    Mar 23, 2007
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    Atlantis
    #2
    If you can make a midrange tower, so can Apple.
    Anyway, does it work fine? You really have a unique Mac.
     
  3. Eraserhead macrumors G4

    Eraserhead

    Joined:
    Nov 3, 2005
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    UK
    #3
    That you are "Sensible mrgreen4242" goes well with this project ;). Seriously though it does sound interesting.
     
  4. mrgreen4242 thread starter macrumors 601

    mrgreen4242

    Joined:
    Feb 10, 2004
    #4
    I wish they would! Dunno if it works, yet, still buying the internal hardware! :p It's an empty case right now - had the case around and needed a project over the last week. The rest of the setup is nothing new, really. Several people have attached a full size HDD to a mini, and a couple people have put minis into larger cases and/or used 5.25" optical drives.

    Thanks... it's fun to build a computer again, haven't done it since my dark PC days. I like the look, and the specs of what I'm planning should be a nice upgrade from what I use now, and give me at least a little bit of upgrade room in the future (with the C2D) without having to get a whole new machine.
     
  5. QCassidy352 macrumors G3

    QCassidy352

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    Bay Area
    #5
    looks really great so far. Of course, the one thing you aren't going to be able to do is add dedicated graphics, but I think it's an awesome project nonetheless.
     
  6. jesteraver macrumors 6502

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    Location:
    Montreal, QC
    #6
    Why didn't I think of that make myself a custom Apple computer lol.
     
  7. mrgreen4242 thread starter macrumors 601

    mrgreen4242

    Joined:
    Feb 10, 2004
    #7
    Ya, no dedicated GPU so that's the downfall. I've budgeted out this project, and after the resale of the stock drives and RAM from the mini and the parts inside the old Sawtooth I'll be spending about $750 on the computer (not shappy for a CoreDuo computer with 2gb RAM, 400gb HDD, 16x DVD-RW, and wifi/BT - I mean, can Dell even touch that?). I have an LCD I'm happy with, so I plan on dropping a few hundred for an XBox360+VGA adaptor. Since the 950 handles media/video fine, as well as decent in Core Image tasks (better than the 9200 in my current Mac) I'm satisfied and still spending less than an iMac. ;)

    Heh, well now's your chance! There's plenty of PowerMac G4 cases on eBay (I really wanted to use a Quicksilver or MDD for this but got the Sawtooth so cheap that it will cost me negative money after I part it out!) so I went with that and just painted it to look a bit more unique... I didn't care for the bondi blue color at all. Had I used a QS or MDD I would have left it stock looking. :p
     
  8. jesteraver macrumors 6502

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    May 16, 2006
    Location:
    Montreal, QC
    #8
    What kind of motherboard can fit in the PowerMac G4 case anyways?

    Hmm... I can finally make an insane system bahaha.
     
  9. mrgreen4242 thread starter macrumors 601

    mrgreen4242

    Joined:
    Feb 10, 2004
    #9
    Well, I'm putting in a mini. I'll be pulling off the top case and the drives that both sit above the main logic board. I'm leaving said logic board along with the CPU and stock heat sinks attached to the bottom half of the mini case and mounting that whole assembly right to the interior of the Sawtooth case.

    So, not much of a monster system, but one that fixes 2 of 3 major mini flaws (of which I rate all three equally important) - the slow/small HDD, the slow optical drive, and the GPU (the one of three not fixed).

    As far as what you can get in a G4 case, well, you can't get a standard ATX board in there (and you can't easily get OSX to run on it either). You might fit an iMac board in, but that would be really expensive, and not all that much of an improvement over a regular iMac - plus it'd be a bit awkward getting the video working, since it might allocate some VRAM for the internal display even if it's not there.

    A Mac Pro logic board wouldn't fit, as best I can tell, and you wouldn't really get anything out of that mod anyways. Pretty much the only system worth transplanting into a new case is the mini, and maybe an AppleTV along with some hardware upgrades and a hacked in copy OSX - and even that wouldn't really be very good value next to a cheap mini.

    Ah well... I'm on the hunt for a good deal on a mini, since some of my sales threads are going well I should be able to get this finished up in the next month or so. :) I'm blogging this over at my website, www.infojunkie.net. I posted a few of the early phases (getting the system, taking it apart, etc) and then a big post today with these pics and kind of my project outline (it's really long and boring so feel free to ignore it). I'll be posting about each step as I do it, so check back there as I go to see more. I'll post on MR when I am all done, of course. :D
     
  10. szsiddiq macrumors 6502

    szsiddiq

    Joined:
    Dec 21, 2005
    #10
    nice paint job :)
    my own modding has been put off by the difficulty of getting to home dept :mad: i need a car:(

    Anyways, I'm glad to see you took the initiative
     
  11. mrgreen4242 thread starter macrumors 601

    mrgreen4242

    Joined:
    Feb 10, 2004
    #11
    Thanks... the pictures make it look better than it really is. There's a tiny bit of puddling (those curved surfaces make the clear coat tough to get on level) and a little bit of uck trapped in the clear coat as well (I swear I watched some sort of fiber fly out of the can and onto the surface!). I was considering sanding it and trying again, but decided it wasn't worth it. I'm not trying to make a show piece, I just wanted something that looked nice under my desk. And I really disliked that blue color (though my wife preferred it to the white, I think).
     
  12. Mr. Gumby macrumors newbie

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    Mar 30, 2007
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    My brain hurts!
    #12
    Looks great! I love seeing people customize their macs; I seem to remember reading about a few people (I think on this site) trying to get a mini in an iMac G4 case - that's pretty cool too.
    I once painted a powerbook g3 wallstreet case white but never finished the project. It was "unique" though. Anyways, good luck with the remainder of the project.
     
  13. Captain Planet macrumors 6502a

    Captain Planet

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  14. mrgreen4242 thread starter macrumors 601

    mrgreen4242

    Joined:
    Feb 10, 2004
    #14
    Thanks. :) There's been a few mini mods I have seen so far... once was a fantastic mini in a cube job. Looked stunning, had an upgraded HDD, but the optical drive in the cube was a slimline slot loading deal, so didn't work for me.

    Another was a mini into an old Centris case. Ugly, imo, but functionally great - full sized drives and fit on his desktop still. I've not seen anyone do a mini into a G4 case, though I am sure someone has done it already.

    I considered for awhile trying to find a G5 case so I could have room to build an Xbox 360 INTO the case as well (I think it would have fit) just to mess with people. ;) Decided against it because (1) G5 cases are hard to find and expensive, (2) got a great deal on the Sawtooth so that ended the case search, (3) 360 is so hot and I was concerned about getting all that heat out quietly when both the 360 and CoreDuo were going at top speeds (which is a likely occurance). Would have been neat, though. :p

    I'm really excited about this project. I've got the tower sitting in the dining room staring at me while I get the rest of the project together (just money now - I'm a few weeks ahead on the case because it sort of fell in my lap). It also means that my wife will finally get a Mac (my G4 mini) and we'll be PC free, cheer! I'm excited about future mods, too.

    Generally, I get the upgrade itch every 2 or 2.5 years, so I'm hoping that upgrading to a C2D in 18 months or so from now will extend that out to closer on 4 years and save me some money. :)
     
  15. Hugh macrumors 6502a

    Hugh

    Joined:
    Feb 9, 2003
    Location:
    Erie, PA
    #15
    Moded MacMini

    On Apple's MacMini hardware page. There are links to show what people have done to their MacMini's.

    http://www.apple.com/macmini/

    Hugh
     
  16. G5Unit macrumors 68020

    G5Unit

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    Apr 3, 2005
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    I'm calling the cops
    #16
    Great job. You should take out the center and make it even smaller. Then is would be a Mid tower.:cool:
     
  17. mrgreen4242 thread starter macrumors 601

    mrgreen4242

    Joined:
    Feb 10, 2004
    #17
    The Sawtooth is actually pretty small... the handles sticking out on the corners make it look big, but compared to the G5 and MacPro (or even your standard Dell box) it's quite small. Heavy, though.

    Cool! Didn't know Apple recognized the mod community. Those are mostly car installs, but the minitosh is neat (someone on the forums mentioned doing that yesterday). Maybe I'll get up there. :p
     
  18. mkrishnan Moderator emeritus

    mkrishnan

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    Jan 9, 2004
    Location:
    Grand Rapids, MI, USA
    #18
    Nice work so far! :) The white casing looks great, and really makes the Sawtooth case look fairly modern. When do you plan to take the next step?
     
  19. mrgreen4242 thread starter macrumors 601

    mrgreen4242

    Joined:
    Feb 10, 2004
    #19
    Soon! I've got some cash earmarked already for the mini I need, and I'm selling some things here/on eBay to get the rest together. I'm kind of waiting until I have ALL the money I need to get the mini, RAM, drives, misc cabling, etc just in case Apple drops a new mini on us before June.

    I don't want to wait for June to finish this, but I'd really like to have an x3000 in there if one becomes available. Don't really NEED the more powerful GPU, but would be nice for the future. Since the only updates the mini is likely to see before June is a faster CD or a similarly clocked C2D and maybe more stock RAM/bigger HDD (both of which I'd replace anyways) it's kind of a crappy situation to be in. Ah well.

    I'm hoping to buy the mini and have it inside the case this month. I figure I'll have the drives and RAM done by early May, and the little things like the power buttons and any improved fans/cooling (don't think I'll need it, but I want to make sure I have some cooling options for the future if I add another 3-4 HDDs in a multi-terrabyte array) done by the end if May. (See, if I waited till June for a new model mini it would be August before I finished! Far to long... :p) I also hope to snag a good deal on a 360 sometime in there... I'm building that into this project and it's budget so my wife doesn't notice. Shhhh!

    Anyways, I appreciate the comment of the case looking more modern, it's precisely what I was hoping to achieve. I think there's a little too much white on the front, which I think I will touch up with some accents to break up the white a little. I happen to have a car that is just about that exact same silver color, so I have some high quality silver paint pens around (somewhere) which should come in handy. The buttons and the small Apple logo to start, and then if I'm still not happy I'll maybe look at the drive door(s), but I think those small things will be enough. Perhaps the bezel around the drive door... I'll have to fire up Photoshop and see. :)
     
  20. nplima macrumors 6502a

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    UK
    #20
    MiniATX probably fits... and since the computer is of Apple brand ... ;)
     
  21. mrgreen4242 thread starter macrumors 601

    mrgreen4242

    Joined:
    Feb 10, 2004
    #21
    Ya, miniATX would definitely fit in there... I considered doing a complete 'hackintosh' and using OSX86 but decided against it for a couple reasons:

    1) it's just not legal, and I'd feel bad if my main Mac was criminal in nature :p
    2) it's a PITA. You can build a nice machine, but you're limited in hardware choices anyways, and it's not 100% stable 100% of time (nor or all features available with all configurations, etc). Since this is my primary computer I need that Apple reliability.
    3) the price isn't all that much better. As mentioned, I figure this will run me about $750 all said and done, which is pretty close to what I would have spent for a dual core hackintosh.
    4) 10.5 is coming, and I'll probably want it, so...
    5) This was easier, and I am lazy. :)

    But, still, that sort of set up would be doable, you are correct!
     
  22. InfernoSoul macrumors newbie

    InfernoSoul

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    #22
    I'm a noob.

    I don't mean to hijack your thread or anything, you just got me interested in doing a mac mini to tower conversation. I was wondering if it would be at all possible throwing a mac mini into a G5 case or maybe into a PC case? I was kind of iffy on the PC case. I was looking at some at newegg.com. I have no idea on this type of stuff that is why I thought I would ask some more knowledgable people about this type of stuff. I am not saying I want to but would it be possible to throw in the mac mini guts(upgrade the HDD to a 3.5" and a new CD/DVD drive) in say this case* or a G5 case? Would that case's powersupply be plausable or the G5's. Sorry for the off the wall questions I just thought this would be a fun project if at all possible. Thanks for any info, sorry for being a noob, everyone is a noob at one point in their lives.

    *Case: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16811144089
     
  23. mrgreen4242 thread starter macrumors 601

    mrgreen4242

    Joined:
    Feb 10, 2004
    #23
    Nothing to stop you from doing it into pretty much any case you want! I've never done anything like this before (I mean, I've built several PCs from parts before, but no mods like this), either. You should check out my blog, www.infojunkie.net, and read the really long post about my plans; it might give you some ideas! Good luck!
     
  24. InfernoSoul macrumors newbie

    InfernoSoul

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    #24
    So when looking at cases what type of motherboard option should I look for. None of them list MiniATX. I have only seen them list: Micro ATX, ATX, Extend ATX, Baby ATX and BTX. Thanks again for the help!
     
  25. mrgreen4242 thread starter macrumors 601

    mrgreen4242

    Joined:
    Feb 10, 2004
    #25
    Hm. Well, it'll fit into an ATX case no trouble... the Micro ATX/Baby ATX SHOULD work, but it'll depend on the specific case layout, really.

    What you need is a space that is 7" x 7" x at least 2" tall to fit the mini main board/CPU/heatsink. You'll need to be sure that that area is near a case fan that can blow or suck air right over the heatsink in order to be sure you keep the chips cool. This will work in most cases that have a side case fan and a standard ATX mounting scheme.

    After that it's just a matter of having room for all the drives you want to use. I'd also recommend that you get a case that has a metal frame under a plastic panel so you can build mounting hardware onto the frame and cover it with the plastic piece so it looks clean.

    I'd recommend getting an old PowerMac case, still. They're the best looking out there, imo, and they should all take mini with no trouble, plus have separate outer paneling that will cover up any hack jobs you have to do.

    As far as power supplies, I'm going to use the mini PSU to power everything but the drives. I'll be running the drives off a separate PSU, though. You could power the mini with the internal unit that powers the drives, but you'd need to get a fairly decent one and then figure out all the voltages that the mini needs and build some custom wiring, etc. More hassle than it's worth, imo. You just have to use two outlets, but not the end o' the world.

    I've seen directions to use the mini's HDD power connector to trip the main PSU on when the mini boot's up, doesn't look hard at all, so I'll be doing that. I'll post about how it goes as soon as I actually do it. :p
     

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