SUMMARY: The GenXTEch GXT912 case is a good one, but the mods I made make it a better one (IMHO). Increasing air-flow increases cooling efficiency and it pays off.
I reviewed the GenXTech case HERE. I like this case for its roominess, sound construction, fan locations and flexibility. However, like most of us, I looked at this as a starting point. It didn’t take long (1 day) before I knew what I wanted to do. Naturally, take everything out of the case first.
FIRST: Remove the Fan Cage
In the GenXTech case, there is a fan cage at the inside front of the case. I had a plan for this but it required its removal. It is held in by pop-rivets. They are easy to take off – I ground the heads down and the shafts pop right off. Don’t grind too far. This took about 15 minutes using a drill and carbide wheel.
SECOND: Modify the Fan Cage
My plan for the fan cage was modify it to house my AquaStealth’s radiator. The radiator measures about 5″x6″ and serendipitously this was the size of the fan cage. However, this required removing its rear piece designed to hold the ends of long cards. Not having any, this was expendable. Removing it required grinding more pop rivets and after about 15 minutes, the fan cage was open as pictured below.
THIRD: Increase Air-Flow
Every case I have and make for friends has a distinctive hole in its front – this is to increase the intake fan’s airflow (lower resistance) and to decrease noise. The GenxTech has room for 2 large intake fans – one primary 120mm and one secondary 92 mm for hard drive cooling. The first step in maximizing cooling efficiency is to let the fans breathe.
As the above picture shows, I accomplished this by cutting holes in the metal front of the case large enough for each fan. What you do first is plop the fan where you want it, draw its outline on the case, then draw a circle inside the square. Cut along the circle’s perimeter and you have an unobstructed opening for airflow.
There are three ways to cut this hole:
- Metallic Hole-Saw: These are very wicked looking cylinders with very sharp teeth that fit on a 3/8″ drill. Somewhat tricky to use, I use these to cut opening in the plastic case front – much less dangerous.
- Jig Saw: With a metal blade, these are very fast but noisy. I use a slow speed and take my time to make a nice clean cut.
- Tin Snips: The old way – basically a metal cutting scissors. In this case, very easy to use as cutting a large hole in a sea of small holes is not hard – just tedious. This is the cheapest ($10-$15) and least messy option – no metal dust all over the place.
I used the tin snips and in about 10 minutes had the two large holes pictured above. After the rough cut, use some emory cloth to smooth any rough edges and remove any loose ends. Doesn’t have to look pretty, just clean.
Before putting anything electrical back in the case, vacuum every nook and cranny. No matter what method you use, there are always stray pieces of metal floating around.
FIFTH: The Fan Grill
Last cutting step is to cut a hole for the 120 mm intake fan in the plastic case front. I used the hole saw for this – just do it slowly. The plastic is very soft and melts quickly, so avoid a mess and take your time. If I had another fan for the hard drives, I would have cut a second hole for the 92 mm fan. I use finger guards to protect stray cats from getting chopped up. Place it over the opening, drill a pilot hole and use small metal screws to hold it in place. The result is shown above.
SIXTH: Assemble Case
I did not mount a hard drive fan because I am not using a “hot” drive in this case. If you do, the easiest way is to use silicon glue because it’s fast and acts to absorb sound. Simply put a gob of silicon on each corner of the fan and put it in place. Make sure the airflow is going inside the case.
For the AquaStealth’s radiator, I bought some ¼” weather stripping from the hardware store. I used this to sound insulate the fan from the case and also to hold the radiator in place. The stripping has a sticky side and I place it on areas where the fan cage contacted the case. I used metal screws to hold the fan cage in place.
Once mounted in the case, I then placed the radiator inside the fan cage as pictured above. The weather stripping and tight fit is more than enough to hold it in place – maybe not for shipping, but enough for my use. What’s neat about this setup is that the fan is easily removable so you can change at will. For this case, I used a Panaflo fan that is quiet and pushes about 50 cfm through the case. I used this to keep the noise down.
Another way to control noise is to use a rheostat. This is a variable resistor that you can use to dial in fan speeds. The one shown below is from Radio Shack – I am using this in my KryoTech and it works very well at keeping noise down when cooling is not critical. The GenXTech ships with a 90 cfm 120 mm fan that is noisy but by using the rheostat, you can dial in full blast when required. I mounted it at the back of the case to keep it out of sight.
To wire it up, cut the hot lead to the fan and attach the lead from the power supply to the center post. Then attach the lead to the fan to either of the other posts. The fan should rotate slowly to full blast as you rotate the knob.
So how good is this setup? Case temp is 2 C over ambient with my 500E at 667 MHz, and the 500E is 5C over ambient (thermal diode) running Prime 95. Noise is low (I also use a PC Power and Cooling Silent 275 watt power supply). Water cooling is the most efficient and least noisy way to cool any setup and I highly recommend the GenXTech case modified to fit the AquaStealth.