--(Some of the photos are watermarked with "PC Edge". I did not steal those images, they are from my Instagram (pc_edge) and that is my own side business in-which I do these custom builds, just FYI. )--
This was the most ambitious custom PC build I’ve done yet. I love rat rods, old antique machinery and old farm buildings. The goal with this build was to create something of a ‘rat-rod vintage-looking PC’. Like an old invention someone built back in the early 1900’s that had been forgotten in some damp basement of an abandoned building for the last century. I had a rough concept of what I wanted to do in my mind, but wasn’t sure I’d be able to pull it off.
As with most of my builds in recent times, I was working with a very tight budget. So if you’re expecting the latest Core i7 with a boat-load of RAM and a 1080Ti, you’ll have to look elsewhere. The CPU I chose may be older and unloved by many, but it’s still fairly capable even today and for only having paid $25 for it, I’m not complaining. I also didn’t want to risk damaging more expensive hardware with the work I was planning to perform on some of the components.
For what it’s worth, the FX-8350 is not nearly as bad as many make it out to be. In gaming I have yet to see it much over 60% usage, and that’s in fairly CPU-intensive games. Coming from an i7-4770k @4.3, I honestly really haven’t noticed much of a difference. It was for sale on a local classified platform and listed as "damaged". I asked what was wrong with it and they said it didn't work. I took a chance and what I found was one slightly bent pin. Fixed that up with tweezers and it's now good as new! :)
In the pictures, what you are looking at is actual oxidised steel (motherboard tray, PSU housing and CPU cooler bracket), copper (CPU and GPU coolers) and bronze (all fans and power toggle switch). The end result you see was not achieved by paint, alone. I used a special metallic paint that contains actual metal particles. An ‘activator’ is then sprayed on before the paint dries to initiate the corrosion. Once the desired look is achieved, you then clear-coat to seal it. It’s not fake, it’s actual, real corrosion. ;) A corrosion-inhibiting primer is painted on first to protect the materials underneath, in case you’re wondering.
Lesson learned the hard way with the RAM. I tried taping off the heatsink and treating it while still attached to the sticks. Some of the corrosion activator must have seeped in and damaged the RAM modules as you can see in the one or two pics. It was Patriot Viper 1866 RAM. I had to then use 2 sticks of AData 1333 RAM I had laying around, overclocked it to 1600 and swapped the heatsinks over. :P
For the PSU, I disassembled it to protect the internal components. I then sanded the housing down to the bare metal with a palm-sander and sprayed the activator directly to it. I wanted to keep it looking original instead of painting over the logo and text on the side with primer. The fan I removed and treated separately with bronze, to match the other fans.
“But what about temps?” you might ask. The reality is; it’s completely fine. The CPU stays within safe limits, even when overclocked to 4.6GHz. The GPU stays very cool with the single 140mm fan on it. It even runs passively at idle and low loads just fine. The paint does not cover all the fins over the entire cooler for both the CPU and GPU. Where it really counts and where most of the heat transfer takes place is right around where the heat pipes touch the fins. Beyond that, there’s very little transfer to worry about. Running prime95 with Valley loop with everything overclocked, the system ran totally fine. The only issue I had was tripping the breaker in our living room during testing, lol (old house with poor circuitry). So yeah, temps are normal and the corrosion doesn’t really affect anything in that regard. I also added additional fans to help cool the VRMs and north-bridge heatsink.
Cable management was tricky. I wanted to keep as many cables and wires hidden as possible. Did what I could to tuck everything away, and any wires I couldn’t hide I slipped some flexible harness tubing overtop. For the power switch, power and HDD activity LEDs, I made my own harness using a motherboard connector from an old Dell I had laying around (the same one I cut the motherboard tray out of) and scavenged some extra wires from another old case for extra length. Spliced and soldered the wires together and that was done. The power switch is a spring-loaded toggle from a local hardware store. The power and HDD activity LEDs (orange and blue) are still there, I just positioned them in two small holes below the toggle switch so as to not clash with the aesthetics.
Putting the whole thing together was quite tedious and I dread having to do any troubleshooting if anything goes wrong. It all has to be assembled and disassembled in a specific order, lol. Regardless, I had a lot of fun building this and I’m very happy with the way it turned out. :)
Thanks for looking.