Destruction is Fun: An Intro to PC Modding
By Luke "Fuzzy" Anderson

   Have you ever been sitting around on the computer and had some sort of authority figure (parent, teacher, policeman, IRS agent) approach you and say, "Why don't you do something constructive with that computer!" I know I have. I am here today to share with you the constructive joy of PC Modding. (No, Fragging your friends online isn't considered constructive. Fun, but not constructive.) 

PC Modding is the time-honored tradition modifying your computer for aesthetic reasons. In other words, adding flashing lights, blinking bulbs or sparkly paint to make it look pretty. Modding changes a computer from a machine into a status symbol. It's the geek's equivalent of tricking out a car. There are many ways to do this, from adding fans to cutting holes to installing blinking lights that don't really do anything. In this article I'll give you a brief overview of the many types of "mods" you can make to a PC.

   Case modding is the result of tech-envy. Take two identical computers. Same CPU, same HDD, same everything. They may even have same case. Modding breaks the stalemate. If one has a round window cut into the side and a neon light bathing the interior components in an eerie purple glow, and the other has a normal beige case, which one is cooler? The modified one, of course. Plus you get to cut things. That's always a plus.

Mod 1: The Fan/Blowhole Mod
   This mod is less for the aesthetic reasons and more for cooling. Adding extra fans gives a PC individuality (plus, the benefit of a nice, cool CPU) and, since it is relatively easy, can be attractive to first time modders. There are two ways to do this: The "fun" way and the "lame" way (you'll see in a minute why.)

The "Lame" Way:
   The lame way to add a fan is to do just that. How boring. Just put one in, and go about your business. This might add a little noise, and move a little air, but no one else can really tell what you did at first glance to your PC. Hence this is "lame" because your pals at the local LAN-Party won't even know what you did.

The "Fun" Way:
   Remember when I said PC-Modding was a constructive thing to do? Well in a way it is, but that was mostly a lie to keep The Man off of my back. The truth is, The "Fun" way of installing a Fan/Blowhole mod is quite destructive. It involves (everybody gasp) cutting a hole into your computer (everybody cheer). This is why it's so fun. Because you get to cut something! So, using your trusty cutting torch (okay, a Dremel tool or hacksaw may be more practical), you cut a round hole in your case, add your fan, and place a grill over the hole. Not only do you get better cooling, but a pleasant breeze coming out of the side/front/back of your case. Won't your friends be impressed!

Mod 2: The "Blinking-Lights-and-Buttons-Oh-My" Mod
   Who would have though that ignition switches and blinking lights from 1978 would be so freaking cool? Well, they are back and better than ever. You will be the talk of the town if you get some of these. There are many ways to do this. You could buy a blinking thing that might serve some purpose, or buy new LED lights to replace your generic green and amber HDD and power lights. 

   The actual panels you can buy can do a couple things. You can buy some that measure the temperature inside your PC, and thus helping you out, or you can buy ones that take up a 5-¼ inch bay on your computer and they leave space to mount a hard drive behind it, or other ones like that. 
,br>   Or, you can be Mr. Destructive again and buy a couple new LED lights for cheaper. Then, crack open your case, cut off the generic ones your computer came with, with a little soldering and electrician's tape, (always wear a helmet when working on electrical equipment requiring electrician's tape) and voila! You have some new different colored blinking lights!

Mod 3: The Panel Cut-Out Mod
   This Mod is in my opinion the coolest. This mod is the most awe-inspiring, cool, versatile, and destructive mod of them all. This mod goes where no previous mod has gone before: The Side of the Case. Purpose: to cut a hole in your computer case for the hell of it and put a piece of Plexiglass in it's place.

   There are a few different things you can do when you do this. You can use colored Plexi to get whatever color you desire, shape the hole to an odd shape, or slap a sticker on top of your new window. Then, of course, there's neon lighting. Very cool. Frankly, this type of mod can't be described. You just have to see for yourself what bored computer geeks did to amuse themselves. 

   As you can see, there are a lot of "constructive" (there's that naughty word again) options you have when you want to mod your PC. In the future I hope to bring you a step-by-step How-To for each mod listed here. I enjoy the art of modding because in this age of technology it seems that it's just "what's inside the box" that counts, PC Mods are a way to gain our individuality back from corporate America. For more info on PC Modding, has some great products and information, and Virtual Hideout some great tutorials, in addition to an awesome "cool case gallery." 

**One quick thing to mention before we leave** Even though cutting things and soldering things is a great thing to do, and fun besides, there are a couple precautions it would be best to take into consideration before going gung-ho with your Dremel. 

1) Avoid cutting your case while it's connected to your PC. Your PC is important, and any excess metal shards could cause a short circuit, and though you'll have a cool window, you're computer will be worthless.
2) Wear clothing that covers as much skin and protects as much as possible. (Again, a metal shard in your eye wouldn't be worth a window in your case, now would it?)
3) Soldering things requires heat. Don't overdo it.
4) Have fun! This is your case. Do what you want with it.

That said, Happy Modding, and Good luck!