FIRST STEPS

Custom PC - - MODDING /HOW TO GUIDES -

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.

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