MDD Tower Custom Case Conversion
(aka the M(ach)5)
by Louis LaRegina
Performing these modifications will of course void your Apple warranty. You assume all risk from the use of any of the information in this article.
For some time now I've wanted to make a "few cooling and aesthetic mods" to my Apple MDD tower. Many users have nicely modded their "el Capitan"cases but most seemed to be a contradiction between aesthetics and performance for me.
I was going to make an Aluminum frame and move the Apple internals to it but decided that I would create my own case shell using the Apple steel case frame as a starting point. I wanted simple design that would be interesting to look at and highly functional.
The Case Mod:
Since the front case panel is highly visible, the front panel design went through many iterations (concave top-to-bottom, convex, flat etc) and several methods of attachment were considered.
I wasn't sure if I wanted one or two (or zero) internal optical drives in the final design. I also toyed with using the mirrored drive door panel in the new mod. After some thought and experimentation I decided on a single internal drive to minimize heat. I also decided that I would not use any Apple case parts in my mod.
After about half a dozen design concepts, the shell properties were finalized: A rigid, flat perforated metal shell for the top and front and rigid, flat side panels.
Prior to ordering the raw materials I needed to create a model to obtain the proper parts dimensions, fitment and material quantities. The initial model was to be built with cardboard in order to create templates for the various case components.
First, the tower had to be disassembled. The entire tower was stripped down to the bare metal case. This means that the Apple case plastics, logic board, drives, fans, cables and anything else not welded/riveted to the steel case came off and were set aside.
I previously removed some case metal and I wanted to open up the front and top of the case to provide close to maximum airflow.
Rear of Case
Previous front metal removal
Right side panel, The fan guard was cut out
Left side opening cut
Openings cut adjacent to the PS
The integral 120mm fan guard was also cut out to help eliminate airflow restrictions.
Once disassembly was complete, measurements were made and various cardboard panel configurations were attached to the steel MDD case with tape as a visual aid for the general design.
Once the dimensional and cosmetic requirements were complete the raw materials were purchased. Locating retailers who had the materials I needed and would sell in relatively small quantities took a bit of research. There was considerable variation in material pricing, as much as 100% in some cases. Shopping around paid off.
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