1 / IDENTIFY MOUNTING POINTS
Locate the mounting points for your existing backplate or, in the case of a cooler or waterblock without a backplate, locate the screws that secure your cooler in place.
2 / CHECK THREAD TYPE
We’ll replace the existing screws with longer ones so they pass through our acrylic backplate to hold it in place. Remove one to identify the thread type. Alternatively, check the manufacturer’s website. Our EK waterblock used M2 threads.
3 / MEASURE SCREW LENGTH
Work out the required length of screw thread to pass through the acrylic as well as the washer you’ll be using as a standoff support. We needed 10mm threads for our 3mm acrylic.
4 / MEASURE BACKPLATE AREA
Measure the area you need to cover on your graphics card. You can use an A4-sized sheet of acrylic to cover most graphics cards, which is fairly cheap.
5 / BUY ACRYLIC
We’re using solid-colour acrylic, as you can spray over it with masking to make a custom design. A thickness of 3mm is perfect for the job. Some eBay shops and retailers will even cut the sheet to size, but it can be much more expensive.
6 / BUY SCREWS
Once you know the thread length of screws required, buy your replacement screws. You’ll have several head type options from which to choose – we’ve opted for button-head screws with hex sockets.
7 / USE WASHERS
It’s important to use washers to ensure the backplate sits evenly and spaced away from components on the PCB. Measure the tallest component on the PCB and use appropriately sized washers for your screws, so they fit and clear the components.
8 / MARK UP ACRYLIC
Measure the exact area of PCB you need to cover, then draw an outline of this area onto the protective sheet on the acrylic, so you can use it as a guide.
9 / CUT TO SIZE
Now it’s time to cut the acrylic sheet to size. You can use a table saw, a Dremel on a low cutting speed or a hacksaw with a fine blade.
10 / SAND BACKPLATE
The edges will likely be rough, so use 800-grit sandpaper to smooth them down. We’ll be painting out backplate, but if you want to use bare acrylic, it’s worth using finer-grit sandpaper, followed by flame polishing using a mini blow torch.
11 / MARK UP SCREW HOLES
Measure the distances between the screw holes and mark them onto the acrylic. Alternatively, remove your waterblock or cooler and use the appropriate holes in the PCB to mark the positions directly onto the acrylic.
12 / DRILL SCREW HOLES
Use an appropriately sized drill bit to drill the screw holes. Use a slow speed and light pressure to ensure the acrylic doesn’t crack or melt.
13 / CLEAN PAINT AREAS
Once you’ve sanded and drilled your acrylic sheet, clean the entire surface to prepare for the paint. Use warm soapy water and rinse it off thoroughly. From here, it’s a good idea to use protective gloves as well.