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Pimpin' Your PC: Cheap, Do-It-Yourself Computer Modifications

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By , dealnews staff writer

Let's face it, the personal computer has almost replaced the automobile with regard to being the first thing a kid customizes. Just like putting a set of 24" dubs, a killer stereo, and lowered suspension on a car, the PC has become a playground of personal customization and modification.

We all know you can rock some serious PC horsepower with the addition of a faster processor, more RAM, an impressive video card, and for the really adventurous ... overclocking. But you don't have to get all nerdy to pimp out your PC. In fact, there are plenty of low-cost options to make your PC stand out from the crowd.

Hey Man, Get off My Case!

The first — and most obvious — mod you can make is to swap out your computer case. Is your computer's body beige and plastic? Was it made in the early 90s? Thought so! By swapping out your computer's case, not only will you be getting a much higher quality box than the one your PC's guts currently reside in, you'll also be able to knock out a couple of mods without even busting out a dremel.

One of my personal favorite cases is the Lian Li PC-8N Black Aluminum ATX Mid Tower Computer Case ($109.99 with free shipping, a low by $26). It's got a sleek, black-annodized aluminum exterior and plenty of room inside for upgrades, but also has a clear plexiglass side window! Look, you could have a chorus line of dancing hamsters inside your PC, but if there's no window no one will know. This case has eight expansion slots, three 3.5" bays, one 2.5" bay, four 5.25" bays, front side USB 3.0 ports, audio ports, and more. It's the first step to joining the mod squad. Mmhmm.

And speaking of cases, most come with fans, which are essential to keeping the interior of your PC cool. To make it even cooler, why not swap out the boring stock fans with a really sweet LED ball bearing fan. You can opt for a single color scheme ... or go rave-crazed and install multiple colors. The sky is the limit when it comes to customization. One of the better LED fans on the market is the Antec 120mm LED Dual Ball Bearing Fan in Blue ($12.95 with free shipping, a low by $1). Not only is this baby quiet, it's also got three blue LEDs and a volumetric air flow of 56 CFM — that's quite a bit of air!

Light 'Em Up!

Have you ever walked by a really cool store, but couldn't see inside because the lights were off? Well, the same thing is true for your PC. Having a side window is great, but to really show off the uber-coolness that's going on inside, you'll need some light, and there are a couple ways to do it. The first way involves a Logisys Computer LNSRD Liquid Neon Thunder Pattern LED Light ($7.99 with free shipping, a low by $2). This isn't some light you want to hide; you'll want this baby in full view! It's got a rippling neon effect that will give the inside of your PC a mad scientist or steampunk look.

Or you could opt for the EL Wire. This light makes for a ton of effects depending on where you place it inside you computer. You can line the bottom of the case with it, make an accent around your hard drive cage, or secure it under the motherboard — put it where ever you want! Kits come in a multitude of colors starting at 5 feet in length. One of the coolest looking wires is the 9-foot EL Wire Kit in Red ($7.25 with free shipping via Prime, a low by $5). If you want to get really crazy, get two different colors and run them side by side or braid them together.

Another awesome way to light up your PC is to use UV SATA cables. These feature a special coating that reacts to blacklights, causing the cable to "light up" ... kind of like those blacklight posters your parents used to own in the '60s. Of course then you'll need a blacklight for your PC. The LOGISYS 12" UV Cold Cathode Light Kit 2-Pack ($8.34 with free shipping, a low by $1) should be mounted close to the SATA cables to achieve optimal results. You'll then need some SATA cables for your SSDs, hard drives, optical drives and such. The pictured 24" SATA 3 Cable with Locking Latch in UV Blue ($3.95 with free shipping, a low by $1) is perfect. When these cables are exposed to a UV light, they'll glow like a light stick at a rave! They also feature a locking clip to keep them secure.

This is a list of just a few of the modding possibilities you can make to your PC. Do a Google search for "computer modifications" and you'll see a ton of other ideas. And if any pique your interest, let us know and we'll scout out some deals! We'd also love to hear from our readers to see what you all have done to your computer. Drop us a line below.

Front page photo credit: Neon Cafe


Dan Leadbetter is a staff writer for dealnews and a member panelist on the weekly dealnews podcast. When he's not trying to figure out how to sew EL wire into his tuxedo, he likes to eat Pringles and play Diablo III for 48 hours straight. You can follow his misadventures on Twitter @danleadbetter.

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Please note that, although prices sometimes fluctuate or expire unexpectedly, all products and deals mentioned in this feature were available at the lowest total price we could find at the time of publication (unless otherwise specified).
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