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retro PC mods - HYDROPOWER (Scratch Build)

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HYDROPOWER by retro PC mods, AKA Dante Mutti.

Corresponding Peripherals Mod located here.





The idea for this mod was to create a scratch built chassis that would showcase the water cooling components in a retro/industrial hydro-electric theme.



I love building mods that have a retro, industrial, semi-steampunk feel to them. Within this design style I wanted the theme for this mod to center around water and electricity, while showcasing the water cooling components because this would be my first custom loop. I set out to make something that would not look like a computer, but rather some type of lab equipment that would be right at home in a post-apocalyptic underground laboratory.  



EK Water Blocks:          Water Cooling Custom Loop

Kingston HyperX:         Memory

Fractal Design:             Power Supply

Patriot Viper Gaming:  M.2 SSD


IMG-3135-CMWS20.jpg.91b683875e290a8a06ea96efb5f60f61.jpg   IMG-3148.jpg.60a7730d043289c95edec82900076f73.jpg


IMG-3145-CMWS20.jpg.9d661e5b64922a4f9a83ffcaaaa4b6a0.jpg   IMG-3650-CMWS20.jpg.e755b06b3251770ea751b1da013f322d.jpg



CPU:                    Intel i7 9700

Motherboard:     ASUS TUF B360M-PLUS Gaming S

Memory:             32GB Kingston HyperX Fury [8GB x 4]

Storage:              500GB Viper M.2 NVMe + 1TB Viper M.2 NVMe

GPU:                    NVIDIA Titan X Pascal 12GB

Power Supply:    Fractal Design Ion+ Platinum 860W

Water Cooling:   EKWB - Pump/Reservoir, Radiator, Water Blocks, Flow Indicator, Fittings, ZMT Soft Tubing 

Fans:                   Cooler Master SickleFlow 120 V2 RGB PWM [x 4]


Original 3D Concept

The original plan was to make a chassis that was not a conventional shape. I would have the Motherboard, GPU, and water cooling components on the top, and the PSU inside a compartment in the base. The base would have vacuum tubes illuminated from below to give it a retro/vintage feel.





Cooler Master items used in the entire project (scratch build mod + peripherals)

  • Scratch Build: SickleFlow 120 V2 RGB PWM [x 4]
  • Scratch Build: 1-to-3 RGB Splitter Cable
  • Peripherals: ControlPad [Sponsored, Huge Thanks to CM!]
  • Peripherals: MM830 Mouse
  • Peripherals: MP510 Mouse Pad
  • Peripherals: MasterPulse Headset
  • Peripherals: GM27-CF Monitor


IMG-3177-CMWS20.jpg.6182d9823634fc29c363d4d76e33ef0f.jpg   IMG-3185-CMWS20.jpg.7415e4940b037b3fac329914ecfd9bd2.jpg


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  • retro PC mods changed the title to retro PC mods - HYDROPOWER (Scratch Build)

Constructing the Chassis


The base and top were made out of brand new pieces of wood.

Pieces were measured, cut, and loosely put together to make sure they looked the way I wanted before the the stain was applied.




IMG-9155.jpg.d561b225ad160c382b7712b3016f46e1.jpg   IMG-9153.jpg.d2c955a3979c697aa4044e0f8b60c37d.jpg 




The wood was then stained using an Ebony color wood stain.



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Electronics: Switches and Lightning


Part of the theme of this mod is water, so I wanted some industrial items that related to this. 

I decided to use water valves to control the Power of the PC, and also various lighting zones throughout the PC.


Brand new valves as I began to take them apart.




After they were dismantled, they were then painted and distressed.


IMG-0154.jpg.8f13e1f35722292418a0d6ae79f66464.jpg   IMG-0155.jpg.762ebd19eb2f6524bf8ba64711f768f3.jpg


They were then wired with electrical switches that would be activated by rotating the vales.


IMG-0168.jpg.fb402bd5e86beb2ad0fad0941b03285d.jpg   IMG-0169.jpg.f1bf55baafafe2d4e7ae2f696540c1d8.jpg


IMG-0216.jpg.f190dde3ef19b60c62c99396d7f404e6.jpg   IMG-0218.jpg.4f4c7c28a10d97f4cecda690e7e28eb2.jpg


The top of the base was then wired with amber LEDs, half of them the type the flicker so there would be movement amongst the lights.




After the base was assembled, underlighting was then added to the bottom of the base.





Once assembled, turning the Left Valve will turn on the computer, the Middle Valve will control the underlighting and vacuum tune lighting, and the Right Valve will control the lighting on the top panel.





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Computer Components


On the top panel, the Pump/Reservoir Combo and the Radiator will be in the front, while the Motherboard and Video Card will reside in the back.

Although the original plan was to have the motherboard in the front, I decided that I wanted to showcase the water cooling components a bit more, and to really try to have the mod not look like a computer at first glance.


All of the components were mounted on aluminum sheets that were mounted as platforms on the top wood panel.


Pump/Reservoir Combo and Radiator (Front)




Motherboard Platform and GPU (Rear)

*GPU will also be installed on it's own platform, this picture was taken as I was sizing the available space












A hole was cut into the base, so that the Power Supply would sit inside (not on top of) the bottom panel of the wood case.



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Rear Custom I/O


Due to the location and position of the motherboard, I did not want to plug anything directly into it when it was time to use the computer. So I used panel mount extension ports for the power from the PSU, Video from the GPU, as well as USB, Network, and Audio from the Motherboard. I fabricated the rear I/O out of the same aluminum that I used for the back cover, and the platforms that all of the components are mounted on the upper panel.











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Custom PSU Wires


I hand-made all of the wiring in this mod, and about 200 Feet (61 Meters) of wire was used in total. I wanted the wiring to keep with the retro industrial theme, and because of this I chose to use yellow and black striped wire, and expose it in a controlled manner throughout the mod. This being an open-air chassis, wire management was one of the most challenging aspects of this project.



Wires-2.jpg.68390e8dba6d57a2f334caa3548fa695.jpg   Wires.jpg.c7994fe2ccb4e3eebcfb11b37dc2670a.jpg


Wires-ATX.jpg.ee0a28f84433b9edba864027d62b1ffb.jpg   Wires-PCIE.jpg.547033e50328c1d5b63d36666b18bbc3.jpg   


Wires-CPU.jpg.de440168a14059daacb6c586c7fa8bfa.jpg      IMG-0704.jpg.b538b780e45c90f4d49fb5380524ae9e.jpg





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PCIe Riser Cable + The Mesh


One of my favorite things about this mod is the PCIe Riser Cable. I really didn't like how it looked when I first plugged it in, so decided to turn an eye-sore into a focal point.


I know it's a simple thing, but as a modder, this is one of the items I am most proud of in this mod, as I have never seen anyone else mod the PCIe Riser Cable and I feel it makes a huge difference in the look of the components.


I used metal mesh throughout the mod that I purchased from an old farm sale. I wanted to have the materials I used be prevalent throughout the design and the metal mesh was no exception. I wrapped the PCIe Riser Cable in the metal mesh and then shaped it the way that I needed it to fit between the motherboard and the GPU.


Mesh.jpg.2b68b3e9e222bd3e044eac9e80e235de.jpg   Riser-02.jpg.0811eba9d536d00cc8787b4c1d77eedc.jpg


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I continued to use the mesh in many other places of the mod, which helps to bring the design together.


IMG-1297.jpg.5c095d27561d48bc4a254125050f9e82.jpg   IMG-3100.jpg.942c0132a5a5145caeb8bd08e1a3d6a1.jpg


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IMG-2617.jpg.e92a969d8cd0115f0f8939a41f2d7665.jpg   IMG-2627.jpg.053084e7f0c3a7376fa659f3beb513af.jpg




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Final Pictures


4 Cooler Master SickleFlow RGB PWM Fans were used on the radiator in push/pull configuration.




IMG-3231-CMWS20.jpg.e869ae9e2d1fdeb7425f1a89e9d8c249.jpg   IMG-3611.jpg.60f9179dfb2036eb8d37542ebacabfb8.jpg


IMG-3281-CMWS20.jpg.e20dbe5d6e995b52ff903bd19af00258.jpg   IMG-3273-CMWS20.jpg.8f97a448db34abd16b1b90808c2681ef.jpg



HYDROPOWER-PSU-CMWS20.jpg.7b147f64d0f5e749a2ca19d3f121d3f4.jpg   IMG-3344-CMWS20.jpg.1467777c4a3ed49ee136e2f64bec7ce9.jpg


IMG-3324-CMWS20.jpg.03de114473ad02662a5c5bc80f369a14.jpg   IMG-3300-CMWS20.jpg.db95e47720814acb6468e90df6098bb3.jpg








Corresponding Peripherals Mod located here.



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