The Hellcat.

ALXAndy

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Joined
Dec 16, 2018
Messages
17
I originally named this Time Sync. Mostly because it took three months to do. That was working on it for several hours a day, every day. However toward the end it was chop more of the case up or go with a theme. So I decided on the Hellcat.

Tech specs. CPU - Intel Xeon E7 ES. 14 core 28 threads
Motherboard - MSI X99 SLi Plus!
Memory - 8x4gb DDR4 running 2133mhz
GPU - Nvidia Titan X (P, Pascal)
Sound - Asus Xonar U7 MKII external USB
PSU - Enermax Platimax EPM1500EGT 1500w
Storage 1TB Intel 2280 NVME PCIE SSD
1TB Sandisk 2.5" SATA 500gb OCZ ARC 100 SATA
240gb Sandisk SATA 250gb
Samsung EVO SATA

Cooling

Radiators - 2x Bitspower Leviathan 240mm.
Reservoir - Bitspower Z-Multi tank (100mm)
Flow Meter - Bitspower hex RGB
Fittings - (red) Bitspower
Fittings - (black) Bitspower, EK & Barrow
Hose - 11/8 (OD/ID)
Fans - Bequiet! Silent Wings 3 (4x120mm 1x92mm)
Fans cont - 140mm (in PSU) 80mm Noctua Industrial (cooling floor)
Pump - DDC
Pump Top - Alphacool acetal
CPU block - Aquacomputer Acetal
GPU Block - EK 1080Ti/TXP
XSPC EC6 clear coolant

Electronics

Aquacomputer Poweradjust 3
Aquacomputer Splitty! 9
Aquacomputer Hubby 7 (X2)
Aquacomputer Aquaero 5 LT
Aquacomputer Farbwerk RGB controller
XSPC RGB splitter box (X2)
RGB memory module cooler (X4) 30CM RGB strip (X2)
7" 1024x600 touch screen
EVGA Powerlink
RGB Fan halo (X4)

Modifications
80mm industrial feet Complete interior refit (skinned with 3mm acrylic, painted with Hammerite)
Coolermaster vertical GPU riser and ribbon
Custom front panel constructed from acyrilic, hosts - Twin volt meters in front, with two way mirror/clock and coolant temp meter Completely rewired
Bitfenix Alchemy 24, 8 and 6+8 pin
GPU extensions (black) Dodge SRT "Hell Cat" badge

It's quite hard to explain to an average guy on the internet just how much went into this. I guess it takes extensive experience with this case and just how much is in there, and of course all of the things that I have added that you cannot see. The floor pan is literally covered in every square MM with extra computational add ons. It was incredibly tricky from start to finish, hence why it took so long to do. I mean, it literally took me a month of working evenings to wire it all up, with mostly custom made cables. Not only that but the entire case came apart and needed extensive cutting and surgery. Now I have modded every single case Alienware have ever made but I can tell you that this was by far the most difficult. By a long way. Firstly there are no manuals on actually deconstructing the case, and secondly you need to label and tag everything to get it back together. But that was really just the start. Most of the work here is not evident, but I will try and touch on what it took to do this. I have seen a couple of these modded before, but never to this degree. Usually a guy will take it apart, paint the inside and put it back together or, will hack away at it and destroy it.

I completed this back in January, but no sooner than it was done I had to move house. It was a long time coming. Moving this thing was no fun. I was absolutely terrified it would be broken. Those of you who know this case will know how ridiculously easy it is to destroy, break, or ruin the look of. You will never see one for sale (either case or PC) that doesn't have something broken or snapped from the sheer mass of it and the logistics of moving it around. They have a bent or broken front panel, or a broken vent, or a broken handle. It's always something.....

I shall truncate the three months of work to as few pictures as possible. Enjoy, and, if you ever need to repair or mod one of these just ask me. I've literally had to figure out what every single I/O does and how to work around it yet keep it functioning as it should alongside masses of electronics.

Prologue.

It all began in 2010 when I was sitting at my ex wife's house in Dorset. England, BTW. I was poking around on the internet and I came across a 2009 case with a 1200w PSU for £200. Undamaged. Like, perfect (or so I thought). At that time I did not have much cash, so I called around family members to borrow and beg from. No stealing happened on that day. I ended up scoring it, on the promise I would rip down and part out my Aurora (also Dell). So a few days later and it was mine. I originally just built into it, putting in a FX 8 and a couple of GTX 670s. Then I realised that non blower cards in SLi didn't fare too well, so I began to slowly remove parts (the duct went first) and so on. It started out like this.



Three years or so on and it looked like this.



It was not about looks. It was about upgrades, and putting two loops in for cooling. By this time I had stopped using it and had handed over the keys to my ex wife. She used it once (we tried Borderlands but she just got pissed off) and then it sat. Mostly because I had moved onto this.



However, as you can see I had also pushed the Triad about as hard as I could. Stuffing that sort of cooling in there was no mean feat and it took some serious working of angles to make the coolant level etc. Now obviously putting a 14 core CPU with 28 threads on a 120mm AIO was not the best thing to do. However, what else could you do? a Titan XP needs a double rad, so that leaves nothing more for the CPU but a 120mm exhaust. I had already won a couple of awards for that build in three various set ups, but now I wanted everything. Great cooling, space, more rads, more internal area etc. I thought about getting some monstrous case but it wouldn't be an Alienware and I have tried to stray a few times and always came back. So, given the Triad could be pushed no more I decided to go back to the 2009.

It took a few days to get here.



Mostly because I was labelling everything and bagging every last screw.
 

ALXAndy

Member
Joined
Dec 16, 2018
Messages
17
This part involved a lot of swearing.



Of course that was after the 40 or so screws it took to strip out the hard drive side. Most of which would not be returning.

Now for a quick look back. As I stated, when I got the case and PSU for £200 I was unaware of why this machine had been returned to Alienware. A couple of years later after a lot of instability I realised the stock PSU harness had actually melted. I scrambled to find a reason, but the answer lie in the original spec of this machine. See, it was X58 with a I7 980X. However, it also had two 5970s in Crossfire, and in those days that was an issue for many motherboards. Basically because of the serious strain on the 12v system (via the CPU and the PCIE lanes) the wires would melt and catch fire on the 24 pin. That is why nearly all modern motherboards have at least a 6 pin PCIE power connector on the board, or sometimes an 8 pin etc. It is to stop the strain on those wires which caused them to overheat and basically melt. So I had to change out the PSU for a "stock" one. This meant tracing every wire on the 10 pin Dell board connector (here)



And creating a custom loom. That was done, stock PSU went in. But, this created another problem. Firstly who makes rear fan firing PSUs any more? no one. So how would a PSU cope with no air? not too well. They get pretty noisy. So I ripped out everything.









And work began. Like, the real work.



As you can see I took a triple rad bracket, cut it down, worked out the size it needed to be for a dual (CAD, cardboard aided design) and then riveted it back together again. I also chopped the crap out of the rad mount in the roof so I could get better clearance for coolant lines and fittings etc.

Now I needed to let the PSU breathe.



Then I hacked out the PCIE slots on the case allowing me to fit a vertical riser.



As you can see I also started test fitting (and then having to chop up more and more) the rad mount for the front. Seems I chose the right vertical mount, as the hex pattern matches seamlessly.



Whilst there I chopped up the skid plate for the bottom and fitted a fan filter.



Paint time. Note the headphones. This was to relieve the boring pain.



However just as I was about to take a brush to the case I realised hey, I forgot about cable management and board. So I had to cut up the motherboard tray and take the lip off all the way around (you'll see why in a bit) and also cut some holes to get the cables into the back of the case.



No putting it off any longer, four days of painting. One coat one way up, let dry, flip over, paint the inside top, let dry, flip over.. I'm sure you get the message. I decided to paint smart instead of just leathering the entire case.

 

ALXAndy

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Joined
Dec 16, 2018
Messages
17
Then I let it sit for several days to fully harden. As until it does it's sticky.



And then the fun began. This involved 4 metres x 1 metre of grey acrylic.



Now you can see why I had to remove the entire surround from the mobo tray. It was fouling the acrylic from sitting flat. God that was tedious.



Then came time to finalise the rad mount and test fit.



Then build a clock, temp meter etc. This thing is rather natty.



But of course nothing ever goes to plan. I then realised with the case sitting flat on the ground the PSU wouldn't get any air any way. *sigh*









Better. Now not only did I like how it was going I decided to also make it ten times harder by introducing a 7" HDMI touch panel monitor.



Of course like the feet I failed to figure out the logistics and this took another few days, but hey it looks good, right? don't worry, I did make sure it wouldn't foul anything and would sit flat. That was one thing I did take into account.

PSU bought.



Front panel started. Contains coolant temp, 5v rail, 12v rail and of course the clock.





Then I moved onto some wiring. Well, testing wiring.



 

ALXAndy

Member
Joined
Dec 16, 2018
Messages
17
And controllers, and designing the res bracket and so on and so forth. Cooling got.



Note the fabric tape. Knowing there was no chance in hell I could braid all of that stock wiring I decided to wrap it. Looks almost as good, still takes a couple of days (but not weeks, which was nice).



And the new removable psu thinger.



Most of the loom was now wrapped.



Clock was built and I started playing with mirrored acrylic samples.



Clock was mounted, area blacked out, acrylic ordered...



Stock case board back in with wrapped wire.



Started fitting the USB and RGB hubs and a small portion of wiring.



Now the keen eyed among you will notice one of the XSPC RGB hubs is labelled "RAM only". Now see, this is where I found out that the RAM RGB heatsinks I bought were soldered together incorrectly. Numerous people complained over the coming weeks on Amazon. So I had to basically create a custom cable to go from the hub to the RAM sinks, to stop them displaying the wrong colour. Nightmare? oh yes. However I got there, and made sure I didn't blow anything up by printing a label so I would know in the future that only the RAM sinks can be connected to that hub.

PSU fitted and first custom PCB holder created. This would eventually hold the Farbwerk RGB controller, a Splitty 9 and a Power Adjust 3.

Fans corrected.



The first test.



More wiring.

 

ALXAndy

Member
Joined
Dec 16, 2018
Messages
17
Sinks modded.



More wiring, four SSDs.



As you can see, the arse end was now getting a little busy.



So what the hell, let's add one of these for a laugh.



Labelling everything.



Now in case you are wondering why I labelled it all like that? it's because once it was stuck in place you can't get to it. Like, you really can't. See where I mounted the Farbwerk? well you can see that. This though? is opposite. Meaning the only way you can see it is with one of these.



It was no joke. In fact, a pal of mine likened it to the way they build modern super cars. You'd be absolutely amazed at how much crap I managed to stuff into such a tiny area. Getting tired of wire I went back to this.





Clever :D The pump



The roof.

 

ALXAndy

Member
Joined
Dec 16, 2018
Messages
17
More testing and you guessed it, more wiring.



And more testing and guess what? more wiring.



Now if you were wondering how the floor pan was now looking then wonder no more.



That was about ooo, 70%? of it? believe me when I say it was terrifying.



So I decided to do something that involved little wiring for a while. And then I did this.



Block totally didn't fit with the build. So, back to wiring.



Better.



Now at this point I didn't tell you that I also decided to be a smart ass and put an EVGA powerlink on the card to make it look even cleaner. Well, once again I forgot to think it through and it looked stupid. It fit alright, but there was a large gap. So I made this.



At this point I thought I was finally ready to introduce the GPU and board. However, it turns out that once again I had been screwed. See, this vertical riser is not designed with water cooling in mind. It's designed for systems with lame AIOs in. Thus, when you tried fitting the riser it hit the mounts on the CPU block and refused to go in. So once again I had to mod, chop, cut, adjust and basically move the card an entire slot forwards.



Massive PITA.



More testing and yup, by now you'll know the drill. More sodding wiring.

 

ALXAndy

Member
Joined
Dec 16, 2018
Messages
17
And finally after three months of having it apart I looped it up (which took a day, if that) and.







And finally after six more months...



I decided to do my ass on peripherals and add ons. Add one hellishly expensive chair, and.



And the in between.



5" thick bubble wrap and I think the removal guys got the message.



I designed the screen to do many things. Some say it was daft, but it can also be used as a display screen, like this.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kJ3FaKpHMoY

Again the keen eyed fans among you will know where that comes from. Of course, I had to basically tear it apart frame by frame, rescale it and then compile it as a looped movie. It was worth it though. When I begin gaming I simply drag AIDA onto it, so I can monitor everything just by glancing down.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kJ3FaKpHMoY

Or simply put a cool wallpaper on. And now how she spends her days.



This will be the last Alienware I ever mod. For a few reasons, really. Firstly I own every Area 51 I could get my hands on. a 2006 Predator 1, modded. A Predator 2, also modded. A 2009 and of course the 2014. I was never able to obtain the old Chieftec Dragon, but I'm always on the lookout.

Sadly with the lack of progression and ridiculous pricing on the 20 series Nvidia, coupled with the lack of much of a gain over what I have now I decided I wasn't going to play the game any more. Spending over a thousand pounds on a GPU was getting silly, and I had not realised how much the consoles had been progressing whilst the PC sat stale. So, I bought a PS4 Pro and a Scorpio and I gotta say I do like my couch. I doubt I will upgrade the rig again. It doesn't need it, prices are stupid and I would imagine it still very much cuts it at 1440p.

It was a lot of fun though. I do consider this to be the best Alienware ever did. Not on the inside, but let's face it it was quite revolutionary a decade ago. It was just the sheer overkill build quality and the stuff they crammed into it. The 2014 is kinda plastic and also needed severe modding but that ridiculous overbuild quality was gone. And it's not getting better, they can't even be bothered to release a proper new Area 51 and the new Auroras are cheap crap cases in drag.

Any way, I do hope you like reading and I do hope you got this far.

AA
 

MattyB

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Mar 19, 2012
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2,763
Awesome work! I really enjoy modding machines (mainly laptops) but I don't have the patience or, more importantly, the skills to do something on this scale.
 

ALXAndy

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Joined
Dec 16, 2018
Messages
17
Cheers Matt. Yeah, it was a monumental amount of work. Just from the modding and tinkering I'd done I knew it would be a serious haul to do it justice. That's probably why I cut my teeth on the Predator 2 first. Those are relatively simple in comparison. I did the same sort of thing and ripped out the entire inner shell but yeah, that only took a month or so.

It's also hard being limited to basic power tools. Dremel, drill and a belt file. That was all I had, everything is hand cut and so on. The only thing that helped me along was a basic vinyl plotter which allowed me to design parts and cut 2d shapes to stick to the acrylic and cut out. The face panel with the meters and clock for example were hand measured, then converted into templates. That certainly made things easier.

When I sat and looked at all of the cases together it had by far the most potential.
 

Cass-Olé

Member
Joined
Jan 9, 2013
Messages
155
Hi Andy, the renovations performed to get her into a more modern trim was a job well done mate

1st question: the core metal chassis, in the roof area there are a pair of 'guides' that we might assume are there to help channel the cooling caddy in place but what they serve as is a hinderance to a 360mm rad
1RylrTz.jpg
Having stripped the entire chassis down, why didn't u cut those 90degree 'guides' out in order to make room for a 360mm rad up top? (alternative idea is a plumber's torch, heat them up & bend them out of the way etc), removing those 'guides' & hacking away at the sides of the cooling caddy could give room for a 360 (note: triple 120x38mm fans for rad-mounting), it's a mod I'd like to do someday, but for the residual mess & metal shavings (if Dremel rotary is used etc) (hence need for consumer-grade torch)

Also, these quotes re PSU: "Firstly who makes rear fan-firing PSUs any more? No one. So how would a PSU cope with no air? Not too well ... I then realised with the case sitting flat on the ground the PSU wouldn't get any air any way. *sigh* ... Now I needed to let the PSU breathe"

I remember reading last week that your post said something similar to 'how can the PSU fan breathe when it's face down?, so I decided to make a floor cut-out with filter' (or similar words), & at that time, I noticed you posted a pic of the Enermax staged in the caddy with fan facing up as it should be (post #4), & I couldn't make sense at the time of the need for a floor cut-out to help the PSU breathe since the fan already faces up (& I like to think my PSUs here have ample room to breathe). As I go back over your post tonight I no longer see mention of the worry that the 'fan faces down' = can not breathe = need for fan hole in case floor. I also see you fastened four feet to the bottom --> given that 51 R1 has a built-in rear foot that when deployed already gives the case an aggressive stance & some breathing room (if a bottom fan hole + filter where created as you did), why the additional need for the four feet?

Two other questions: can we see a photo of your hand-made MIO AlienFx daughteboard 10pin harness which allows the Enermax 1500w to work in the Hell Cat (Red Eye), & have you settled on a window'd door panel - if so - can we see it & how you made it? If memory serves, you already did a window'd door cut-out with unusual angles & a highly creative pattern ... at your leisure good Sir

Below, my Ax1600i at least feels like it has room to breathe. Note I've also exchanged the bottom front screen 'filter' w/a larger hole-diameter (breathier) black screen (= plastic-weld it on), though the original screen I feel could go back & not hamper breathing (so long as it stays clean)
A.JPG
MI/O hand-made 10pin, custom BitFenix Alchemy2.0 set
B.JPG
edit: due to the Enermax tucked under the false-floor I understand the need for additional ventilation which it will certainly benefit from, & it's a nice touch. I also like the black interior paint, digital displays & riveted case feet --> outstanding
 
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ALXAndy

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Dec 16, 2018
Messages
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Hey man. First things first the cooling. I simply didn't need a 360 in the roof. Two 240s are more than enough. It's kinda like why didn't I use big fat hose? Because it makes absolutely no difference. I've done all of that to mods before and it wasn't worth it.

I still hang onto X99 because Intel made some cracking Xeons on that tech. Broadwell E is no slouch. However the 14 core CPU is 140w and tops our at 3.4ghz, so it barely breaks ambient. I'm not into overclocking since I dumped £3500 on my dream pc a few years ago (3970x) and 11 months in the board caught fire with it at 5ghz. It was a very expensive board (MSI Big Bang Xpower 24 phase)and when I sent it back MSI said they didn't have any replacement or even any X79 board. This is mosy distressing when you have a £600 CPU and no board to use it with. So never again... I'd rather have more cores split into virtual PCs and have it cool and reliable than a rig screaming its lungs out. Must be old age lol.

The PSU looks upside down. However it's not. The carrier has been modified so that I didn't have to cut the large solid piece out of it. So the carrier is upside down but the handle and back are not.

The loom? Now you are asking. I'll have to do the timewarp and somw digging because I originally did that to run a RM750. I'll take a look when on the pc tomorrow for the mod thread I put up.

It's just 12v, grounds and the pink 5v sub? Wire on the 24 pin. Otherwise it never goes into standby. I learned that from other people's mistakes lol.

But yeah, give me a day or so and I'll find it. All you need is the original 10 pin harness and a 24 pin pass through extension with the correct cable colours (ketchup mustard orange etc)
 

Cass-Olé

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Joined
Jan 9, 2013
Messages
155
I can see faint glimpses of the cable in your posts, so when writing, I thought perhaps u had some pics saved (that went unpublished), & given the amount of work needed to pull the false-floor out just to take a new pic, it isn't worth it Andy. If what u did was snip the 10pin off the original case harness & splice it into a 24p extension, that's good enough information (= I've seen it before actually, I assume you reused it
Capture.JPG
As for the possibility for a 360 rad, the time to cut the roof to do that mod was when you had it all disassembled & were making other cuts on the chassis, I just wondered if u were hesitant to cut up there or not, or decided even if u did make the cuts a 360 wouldn't go in for other size & space reasons. Last, I was interested in your side panel plans if u had any (since I'm pretty sure u already made one, seen in another build log)
untitleda.jpg
 
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ALXAndy

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Joined
Dec 16, 2018
Messages
17
That modded panel is long gone. Cost me £120 for a new one from the USA. Lesson learned, don't cut the panels lol.

The fans are all pushing out so the side panel needs to be off really. I've got it though :)
 
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