The Evolution of my CF Display Case


The Evolution of my CF Display Case


Over the past year or so, I have been upgrading my case designs to allow me to display my Crystalfontz LCD displays, for personal use and to make it easy to photograph the displays for use in the User Screen Library. After several iterations of case changes, layout changes, water-cooled upgrades, wire management updates, dead motherboards, and anything else I missed, I have finally settled on what I consider my ideal set-up. Ideal for me, at least!

Before I unveil my "Final Solution", I thought it might be fun (or embarrassing) to review the progression of my computer layout. At least from a point where I got a digital camera to document this evolution.

What is shown below is my first LCD case. The only thing the box had in, other than the displays, was a power supply to power the CFA-633. The floppy drive seen in this picture was there just to add a "stupid" effect. From top to bottom, is a CFA-632. CFA-635, CFA-634, and CFA-633. If I remember correctly, this is a case I picked up from Best Buy. I paid a fortune for it, simply because I was I was impatient to do something.

Yes, it is a badly taken picture!

The next picture is shows the actual computer, which I sat under the desk. Yes, this floppy drive did work. The display in this picture is a CFA-631. And the case is an old Thermaltake Xaser III. Also, these pictures were taken during a time when I was just figuring out what a digital camera was. BAD quality!

Then came my next iteration. I bought a Thermaltake Armor to replace the Xaser III. Much nicer, and quieter case than the Xaser case. I bought this one because I could put everything in one case. Also, the picture quality has improved a little.

Eventually, I obtained a bay insert for my CFA-632, so it was time to add a 2nd case once again. Picture quality has improved once again, however, the "ugly" factor is at an all-time high!

And it was about this time that I started to document the inside looks, or lack of, of my computer. Actually, this picture was taken as I started the upgrade to a water-cooled setup.

It was about this time that I decided that water-cooling my computer would be the "cool" thing to do. The end result for this upgrade was the removal of Xaser case once again.

The case front:

And the inside. It really looked much nicer than the air-cooled version. But it still needed more work from a wire management viewpoint.

So along came my next iteration. The Xaser III case gets resurrected once again! The following is a front view of the Armor. The Xaser case can just be seen behind the moniter.

The completed inside of the Armor. Much nicer! And look, Ma, no pump! No reservoir! Where are they?

There they are, in my "resurrected" Xaser III case! Along with a CFA-633 to control those case fans and my 2nd radiator fans. I also put an extra data-backup HD into this case. And some other miscellaneous items.

I never really liked this set-up, however, so I ended up getting a real cheap desktop case off of EBay. Amazingly, I was able to fit everything from the Xaser case into this one. I really did not want to put the Armor case on top of the desktop case, but the hoses were too short to do anything else with at the time. Hmm. Not the greatest picture, but that is all I have.

But I never really liked this version either. I really wanted a setup where I had all the Crystalfontz displays in one case and the computer down on the floor, which is where I really wanted it to go. So the search went on for the "next" perfect case. And on…

The Final Solution

Finally, I found the exact case that I felt would be perfect for what I had really wanted all along. A tape duplicator case! Nothing but drive bays on the front, and a fairly small footprint for a case sitting on the desk.

This was perfect except for one thing. If I put all my Crystalfontz displays in this case, how could I control the fans in the actual computer case? Well, along came Crystalfontz to the rescue. I ran my problem by the guys at Crystalfontz, and they found the perfect solution! Newegg was having a firesale on 20 foot long (yes, that was 20 feet!) parallel cables. They picked up some and made me an extraaaaa long (20 foot!) SCAB cable. Problem solved!

The following picture is the standard 16" long cable. Multiply that by 15 and it turns into a 20 foot cable!

So into this case went:

In Front:
- CFA-633 controlling the "LCD case" fans.
- CFA-635 to remote SCAB.
- CFA-632
- CFA-633
- CFA-631
- CFA-634
- Dual 5-1/4 bay reservoir


- Swiftech MCR-220 reservoir. I punctured the HW Labs radiator with a screw! Bummer!
- Swiftech MCP655 pump
- Swissflow SF800 flow sensor
- 4 temp sensors
- Colder HFC12 Quick Connects
- 3 120mm fans
- LED light array

Unfortunately, I could not get my extra HD mounted in this case, so now I have external "ghetto" version. It's out of the way and it works. 'Nough said…

Anyway, without further interruption, here is how it all looks.

The overall setup. Clean looking, and very quiet.

Just a shot of the desktop area. Once again, very clean looking and functional.

And a close-up of the physical computer. As quiet as it was sitting on top of the desk, distance from the ear just helps that much more.

An overall shot of the left side of the external water-box/LCD case.

A closer shot of the bottom area.

A picture of the inside rear half.

And the upper half.

And toward the front.

A close-up of the radiator mounting bracket. Barely visable.

Here is a better a picture of the brackets. They were designed for the Lian Li PC-343B cube case. But they work perfectly for any case. This saved me from having to do a hack job to mount the radiator.

A shot toward the reservoir. If you look real close, you can just see the LED light array I used to brighten up the reservoir.

Just a shot of the right side of the case. Lots of wires. This would probably make the wire-management gurus puke. In this case, wire management is not a priority, and with no side windows, who cares?

Just a close-up of the bottom again. You can see a portion of the SCAB cable coiled up here.

Just a shot of the back of the case. The unused 80-mm fan mounts worked perfectly for the quick-connects!

And finally, a shot of the LCD case in action. Very nice looking setup. Of course, I'm prejudiced!

So, other than assembling the components, what actual case mods did I do? Not many, since this was not the driving force behind this case setup. I simply wanted a cool looking external water box that I could mount all my Crystalfontz displays in. From that viewpoint, mission accomplished. I cannot envision another setup that would be better than this one.

So, back to the mods. They were quite simple.

1. I had to slightly trim a face plate from a Thermaltake Armor case to fit around my CFA-631. No biggie.
2. Drill 2 holes through the 80mm fan mounts for my quick connects. No biggie.
3. I replaced the fan in the power supply. I really liked this supply because it is designed only for powering drives. No ATX power leads. No 3.3V leads. However, it had a VERY loud Yate Loon fan cooling it. Yes, I said Yate Loon. It was not one of those normal low flow case fans, tho. It was a Yate Loon D12SH-12 high speed fan; 88 CFM @ 40dB. So I purchased one of my favorite Scythe S-FLEX SFF21F 63.7 CFM @ 28dB fans. I attached a temp sensor to the PSU heatsink, ran the fan leads to my CFA-633, and instant silence!

So that is that. If you want an external water box, and your computer under the desk; this is the nicest setup I can think of. Finally, no more mods for me! And, if you want to control your SCAB remotely, petition Crystalfontz for the UBER SCAB cable. It worked perfectly for me!

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