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Project Iceberg (v1)

But I digress, back to the case... The window in the side panel obviously exposes all of the computer's internals for inspection. Therefore, they have to look as good as possible - after all, there's no point having such a good looking case if the internals are a rat's nest of wire, cheap and nasty components and dull, ugly chassis parts.

For their part, Lian Li have paid as much attention to the interior of the PC-6089 as they have to exterior, so it's polished aluminium, thumbscrews and beautifully machined metal throughout. Therefore, it was my job to make the components and wiring as neat as possible.

Let There be Light...

The biggest (and greatest) boost to the cosmetic appeal of the insides of a computer (and let's face it, a computer's boards are not that great to look at - even for the most committed geek) is to add lighting. A few strategically placed lights can transform even the dullest machinery. However, lighting usually generates heat and heat is anathema as far as your sensitive electronics are concerned. So I added a type of light called a "cold cathode". This is a very thin strip similar to a neon or flourescent bulb and, as the name suggests, it runs cold; generating no discernible heat even when it's been running for a few hours. Cold cathodes are available in several colours and, in-line with the existing colour-scheme of my case, I chose a blue, 12" light. As a result of this, I had to make my first modification to the PC-6089, I drilled a small hole in the back panel to accommodate the switch that controlled the cathode. The cathode was also supplied with a dual output invertor, so I'll be able to add an additional cathode in the future without having to buy another invertor and without tying up an additional molex connector. Sweet!

There are other light sources inside the Iceberg: The Akasa "Nebula" fans have four blue LEDs in each of them, these create amazing patterns across the clear blades of the fans. Furthermore the fans, in conjunction with the PSU, receive more power as the system temperature increases and, under heavy load, these cast enough light to illuminate the interior with the cold cathode turned off.

The PSU also has blue LEDs within it, which illuminate both the interior of the PC and the wall behind it!

The effect of the lighting is fantastic, casting an eerie blue glow throughout the case. It looks great during the day, but really comes into its own at night, with the lights down low.

The Rat's Nest...

The next item to address was the wiring. The Iceberg has two optical drives, an LCD panel, a 3" floppy and two hard disk drives all with power and data cables. Then there's the fans, lighting and wiring to the front panel. The motherboard has a cluster of wires between itself and the PSU. The graphics card requires an additional power source and, finally, there is the audio link between the DVD player and the sound card. This obscene network of electron highways needed a major makeover.

There are two very cheap and very easy "mods" for cabling that, together, make one hell of a difference:

  • Routing - simply relocate cables to hide as much as possible. Most chassis have little nooks and crannies that can accommodate cables and if they are hidden, then no further changes are necessary (unless you're a true perfectionist).
  • Cable ties - these can be used not only to cluster cables together, but also to keep routed cables in position.

In many cases these are the only changes you'll need to make. In my case, a design "feature" of the PC-6089 presented me with one small issue: the two intake fans are located between the front bezel and the HDD cage. The ribbon cable from my HDDs, optical drives and FDD very effectively blocked the flow of air from those fans - not a desirable condition. I solved this problem by replacing all those ribbons with rounded cables. Rounded cables come in many colours, even illuminated and UV-reactive versions are available (and they look sweet). I tried blue cables (naturally), then changed my mind and settled on Akasa luminescent ones. The rounded cables are obviously more aerodynamic than flat ribbons, so they improve the airflow and look gorgeous to boot. As a final touch, the power supply cables to the motherboard are sheathed in nylon cable braid (with heatshrink at either end) again improving airflow slightly as well as looking more tidy.

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