Looking for a retro case

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Looking for a retro case

Postposted on Sat Aug 31, 2013 3:48 pm

I have a friend that wants me to build a system for her. The catch is she wants a old style IBM PC/XT case, you know, the kind you can set your monitor on. :o

I have been searching on Google, Bing, and every other search engine I can thing of and not having much luck finding any cases still made in this form factor. Any ideas on where I can find such a thing? At this point I would settle for custom/hand built one of a kind case if the price isn't outrageous. :roll:
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Re: Looking for a retro case

Postposted on Sat Aug 31, 2013 4:16 pm

The short answer; search auction sites.

A long list of questions:
Why a PC/XT case? Is it for retro aesthetic or nostalgia? The sturdiness of 1/8" steel? (It's really heavy.) Size?
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Re: Looking for a retro case

Postposted on Sat Aug 31, 2013 5:49 pm

Do you mean retro as in having the early '80s aesthetic, or just a case with that general size and shape?

If you're wanting a modern case in that size, you want a "desktop" case. Dell makes computers like that, probably some of the other OEMs do too. Perhaps one of these will be to her liking:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/ProductLi ... %20Desktop
http://www.newegg.com/Product/ProductLi ... lim%20Case
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Re: Looking for a retro case

Postposted on Sat Aug 31, 2013 6:46 pm

Just noticed looking through the "desktop" cases @ the Egg and ... damn none of what they have is a real desktop case. They had them still just a couple of years ago, but now they seem to be gone. Sad in a way.

You can take a IBM desktop case and it could be modded, but most likely it'll be a fairly large pain in the ass. I looked at my own IBM PC "original" and it's just totally different. I think it would be less work to make a "new" version of it. It can be done for a couple $100 or so, if you have tools/metalworking skills. Otherwise it'll be custom metalwork and probably cost you around $500-600.
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Re: Looking for a retro case

Postposted on Sat Aug 31, 2013 6:52 pm

Would an HTPC/Media Center/Desktop case like the full-height Micro-ATX Silverstone Grandia GD05 or the low-profile Lian Li PC-C37U meet your criteria? The In-Win K2 is literally a thin mini-ITX case built into a monitor stand.
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Re: Looking for a retro case

Postposted on Sat Aug 31, 2013 8:18 pm

She wants to get away from the whole tower concept and the cube shaped cases got a definite "not in this life" comment when I showed them to her a while back. The Lian-Li, SilverStone, and In Win case are all possibilities but they are all too small for what she wants to do.

She uses her system for everything. Gaming, work(photographer), video and photo editing, HTPC, and probably more.

What she wants is everything she has in her current tower only laying on its side and I don't think its possible. She had to have a white Corsair 600T after she saw mine and its stuffed full. If anything she should be going to a Cooler Master Cosmos II since she has all the 600T's drive bays in use and even has a couple external drives that get used from time to time. Actually what she needs is a server in a closet some where and one of the mATX versions on her desk.

I can understand her desire, she lives in a small 5 room house and space is at a premium. Her desk is only 4 foot wide and the tower is wedged between her desk and the wall. Rather inconvenient when she is busy trying to burn Cd's for her work.

At this point I think its best if I semi keep the search going until she finally sees the light and gives up on it.
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Re: Looking for a retro case

Postposted on Sat Aug 31, 2013 8:46 pm

You're simply not going to find a pizza-box case that can both support a monitor and provide sufficient space (or airflow) for a decent CPU cooler. As you noted, modding a 5150/5160 case will be a bitch (not least because all of the new cooling air vents needing to be cut into that heavyweight steel), so it's time to buy some metal stock, fire up the MiG/TiG welder, and go solo.
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Re: Looking for a retro case

Postposted on Sat Aug 31, 2013 8:51 pm

Khali wrote:...Her desk is only 4 foot wide and the tower is wedged between her desk and the wall. Rather inconvenient when she is busy trying to burn Cd's for her work...


External CD burners? Place them conveniently on the desk while the tower remains a shunned ugly child stuffed away out of sight.
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Re: Looking for a retro case

Postposted on Sat Aug 31, 2013 9:06 pm

Wil something like this work?

http://www.coolermaster.com/product/Lin ... eries.html

Or is it too cubeish?

maybe this one?

http://www.coolermaster.com/product/Det ... te130.html

Something along those lines?
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Re: Looking for a retro case

Postposted on Sat Aug 31, 2013 9:13 pm

It's not a good idea. She's going to be looking up at her monitor. That's terrible for the neck.
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Re: Looking for a retro case

Postposted on Sat Aug 31, 2013 9:30 pm

slowriot wrote:It's not a good idea. She's going to be looking up at her monitor. That's terrible for the neck.

Got it. You're really looking for a PS/2 Mod 30 case. No way to shoehorn modern cooling into that beastie.
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Re: Looking for a retro case

Postposted on Sat Aug 31, 2013 9:38 pm

She wants a ginormous ATX desktop case like a $145 or $155 Grandia GD08 or $180 PC-C60? :o At what point do you simply start looking at rack-mount enclosures?

One good way to free up some desk space is to float the monitor above it on an arm. That way, the monitor stand doesn't take up desktop real estate.
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Re: Looking for a retro case

Postposted on Sat Aug 31, 2013 10:09 pm

1. Hmm, if only there was a type of computer that manages to fit all its components in a compact form factor.
2. If she has the desk real estate to handle a desktop, she has the space to rotate a tower 90 degrees and place it behind the monitor.
3. http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16811219029 Depth is a problem. Noise is a problem, but can be mitigated.
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Re: Looking for a retro case

Postposted on Sat Aug 31, 2013 11:22 pm

I've enjoyed a very respectable quantity of sparkling wine tonight so apologies if this is an asinine suggestion but what about just putting an ATX midtower on its side? Assuming she's got a bog-standard <=24 inch LCD monitor the frame should be strong enough to hold it, yes a 5.25" optical drive won't work right but a $40 USB drive is gonna cost a lot less than the custom work you would otherwise need. You might need a piece of plywood to ensure the force is distributed to the frame edges and the metal cover doesn't sag, not a difficult thing to do.

Barring that, maybe you could ebay something like an early Dell Optiplex and hack it so it supports a modern motherboard. Alternatively, if you're good with designing parts and don't care about money, a maker with a laser cutter could probably help you out for a couple hundred bucks.
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Re: Looking for a retro case

Postposted on Sun Sep 01, 2013 1:05 am

This is a very nice woman but she wants what she wants and nothing else will do. If I had to pick a word or two to describe her once she gets going with something it would be uncompromising and relentless. Yet she will listen if there are good reasons why something can't be done or shouldn't be done.

Hmm, the Lian-Li PC-C60 has possibilities. From what I have been reading about it I would have to replace the stock fans and do some other modifications. Not sure I want to take the job on but I will let her look at it and see if its acceptable. I am leery of the all aluminum build though. I can see this getting bent out of shape fairly easily in the process of being moved around or even during a build.

Those other cases suggest by JustAnEngineer might work as well. Seems like I should have been looking for HTPC / Media Center Cases instead of PC/XT cases. Same thing just a new name.

Thanks for the help gang, found some possible solutions for what was looking like a doomed to failure project.
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Re: Looking for a retro case

Postposted on Sun Sep 01, 2013 7:29 am

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Re: Looking for a retro case

Postposted on Sun Sep 01, 2013 7:50 am

How about an all-in-one

This has a slot DVD and a 24" monitor.

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.a ... 6883117114
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Re: Looking for a retro case

Postposted on Sun Sep 01, 2013 7:55 am

This seems like a good desktop case.
Extra HDDs that don't fit can go into a NAS box.
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Re: Looking for a retro case

Postposted on Sun Sep 01, 2013 8:55 am

Is there a possibility to just mount the VESA bracket (from the monitor) onto the side of a tower case, and then mount the monitor to the side.
If the case had 5.25" bays the whole way down, you could mount the CD/DVD/Blue-Ray burner toward the bottom, and she'd still be able to access the drive with minimal inconvenience.
Also, if she complains about having to reach around, to get to the power button, you could just set a key combination to power on the system, in the BIOS (I use this option on most of my systems).

Anyway, good luck.
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Re: Looking for a retro case

Postposted on Sun Sep 01, 2013 9:58 am

Maybe something on this page will do the trick?

http://www.directron.com/desktop.html
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Re: Looking for a retro case

Postposted on Sun Sep 01, 2013 11:50 am

Does she also want a 5 1/4" drive with that? :-)

Seriously though, even if you do find an antique PC/XT case, be prepared to make some modifications for it to accept a modern motherboard.
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Re: Looking for a retro case

Postposted on Sun Sep 01, 2013 12:16 pm

At least the IBM PC case I have would not be good enough due to heigh and internal metal. It would seriously be less work to DIY the case anew and just paint it to the color you want. Or use a Mac Mini. :)
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Re: Looking for a retro case

Postposted on Sun Sep 01, 2013 3:11 pm

Khali wrote:She uses her system for everything. Gaming, work(photographer), video and photo editing, HTPC, and probably more.

What she wants is everything she has in her current tower only laying on its side and I don't think its possible. She had to have a white Corsair 600T after she saw mine and its stuffed full. If anything she should be going to a Cooler Master Cosmos II since she has all the 600T's drive bays in use and even has a couple external drives that get used from time to time. Actually what she needs is a server in a closet some where and one of the mATX versions on her desk.

A better approach to this topic would be for you to list every component she has so that we can suggest cases that will house everything. It sounds like some good case ideas are being thrown around here, but nobody knows if all of her components will fit inside.

Is she up to the idea of buying anything other than a case? Going from an older mobo with lots of expansion cards to a more modern one with everything integrated or ditching multiple "small" hdds in favor of a single 2-4TB can save a ton of space.

What she really needs is a DESKtop computer
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Re: Looking for a retro case

Postposted on Sun Sep 01, 2013 3:27 pm

Dang I just threw out an old packard bell case last month that I have had since 1995. Like the one in the second pic here.
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Re: Looking for a retro case

Postposted on Sun Sep 01, 2013 7:13 pm

I'm leaning toward the advice you've already seen : modify an old case or build one from scratch... But if you're considering going to those lengths at all, maybe you should look at 3U rack mount cases. they're more expensive but are close to the form factor to what you're looking for.
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Re: Looking for a retro case

Postposted on Sun Sep 01, 2013 7:29 pm

She has two 24" monitors on her desk so any ideas about putting the case behind them is a no go. I suggested the monitors on arms/brackets already and that got shot down as well.

A better approach to this topic would be for you to list every component she has so that we can suggest cases that will house everything. It sounds like some good case ideas are being thrown around here, but nobody knows if all of her components will fit inside.


Her system is a copy of mine with some extras and larger HDD's.

Intel Core i5-3570K
ASUS P8Z77-V LK LGA 1155 Intel Z77 Motherboard
CORSAIR Vengeance LP 32GB (4 x 8GB)
EVGA 02G-P4-2680-KR GeForce GTX 680 2GB
2x SAMSUNG 830 Series MZ-7PC512D/AM 2.5" 512GB
Seagate Barracuda ST1000DM003 1TB 7200 RPM 64MB Cache SATA 6.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive
SeaSonic Platinum Platinum-860 860W ATX12V
SAMSUNG DVD Burner 24X DVD+R 8X DVD+RW
Corsair Special Edition White Graphite Series 600T
COOLER MASTER GeminII S524 120mm Long Life Sleeve CPU Cooler

Her system has everything mine has plus three 4TB HDD instead of the one 1TB in mine, a 840 pro 256GB SSD as a boot drive, two GTX 680's compared to my one, a ASUS sound card, a PCIe USB adapter card, two DVD burners, a Blu ray Burner, and a all in one card reader for the last 5.25 bay.

Since some of this stuff is work related I have put the idea in her head that we should be looking at separating out what she needs for work into a case like she wants and could keep the tower for the gaming system and move it into her living room where she could game and watch videos from the comfort of her recliner.

She is finally realizing what she wanted wasn't practical. There is no way we are going to fit her current system into a HTPC case and not have heat issues, assuming we could find a case to fit all that into any way.
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Re: Looking for a retro case

Postposted on Sun Sep 01, 2013 8:19 pm

Whoa, that's a lot of stuff.

I think you should explain her that there is no horizontal (desktop) case available with 4 external 5.25" bays and 6 expansion slots.
Hacking one together is too costly in terms of time, money and effort.
So let her choose what she feels most comfortable sacrificing.
Or, as you wisely suggested, she can give up the idea.
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Re: Looking for a retro case

Postposted on Sun Sep 01, 2013 8:25 pm

Khali wrote:She is finally realizing what she wanted wasn't practical. There is no way we are going to fit her current system into a HTPC case and not have heat issues, assuming we could find a case to fit all that into any way.

I'd have to really think hard to get all of that into my P182. I don't care how you remod an XT case, but Scotty will tell ye "I canna do it".
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Re: Looking for a retro case

Postposted on Sun Sep 01, 2013 11:28 pm

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Re: Looking for a retro case

Postposted on Mon Sep 02, 2013 12:02 am

Laying a case on its side might support one of those monitors but definitely not two. Splitting it into two systems sounds like a good idea for psychological as well as technical reasons...I'm not a fan of using a work PC for anything but work.
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