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What a stench: the Sleeper PC case

It's finally here. Freshly arrived from Germany: The tower for my Sleeper PC, which I'm going to raffle, of course. Before getting down to planning everything out, I'll first have to closely inspect this thing.

I enter the office on a rainy Thursday morning. There's a package on my desk. That can only be the old computer I plan on turning into a Sleeper PC. Now I'm positively gleaming, quickly forgetting about the horrible weather rain outside. As a reminder: A Sleeper PC is a retro case containing the best modern components. Find out how to win it at the end of this article.

The sleeper PC project: one <strong>ugly duckling</strong>
Know-howGaming

The sleeper PC project: one ugly duckling

I can't wait to rip the box open and take a closer look at the case. I rip and tear at the box. Everything needs to happen very quickly. I absolutely destroy the packaging. There it stands, the Big Tower, something that's sure to give me plenty of sleepless nights. Optically, it's quite pleasing. In all its grey ugliness and imposing size it represents a really fun 90s retro charm. Exactly what I was looking for. Two fallen floppy discs lay inside the case. This thing's really shabby. Awesome. I'm in love.

Bye-bye floppies, I guess there were some loose screws.

The AMD Athlon XP logo is emblazoned on the front of the tower. Cool, I used to have one of those – always having been a proud member of Team Red. Underdogs are just better. Still, I'm a little disappointed. Athlon XP ran from 2001 to 2004. I'm afraid the case for my Sleeper PC isn't as old as I would have liked. But hey, it's still filled to the brim with 90s charm.

I immediately try to switch the PC on, of course. There's no hard drive, but maybe I can get into the BIOS settings. I connect the power cable and press the ON button – nothing happens. Yeah, the salesman did say: for tinkerers. On resale platforms, this is basically synonymous for «no longer working».

A wealth of waste

Now I really want to know what's in this thing. As I go to remove the side panel, I notice that there's only one out of the three screws left that it was shipped with. I'm starting to like this thing more and more, it's definitely got quite a story to tell.

The dust only enhances the retro charm.

Once opened, I do a double-take. On the one hand due to the absolute magnitude of dust, on the other hand due to how the interior actually looks. Ketchup-mustard cables are strewn around like vines. The flat ribbon cables remind me of long hard hours of toiling away and the many bloody fingers I got way back when while working around the sharp-edged drive bays. To us modern PC geniuses of the future, the inside is anything but nice – and that's not even mentioning the task of fiddling around in there. You can forget about cable management. No wonder side windows weren't widely adopted back then already.

Cables as far as the eye can see.

What I also immediately notice: the power supply is more or less directly mounted on top of two metal poles. It won't make my job easy, on top of taking up too much space. I'll have to move it. The best location for it is at the top of the case. Not the best place for ventilation, but if I mount it at the bottom I'll have to redo the entire back of the case. A Sleeper PC should remain as unchanged as possible on the outside – this is on top of me not wanting to put in unnecessary work.

Four PCI plug-in cards and one graphics card are mounted unto the mainboard. As was customary around the turn of the millennia. Mainboards didn't have as many on-board features as they do today. Now, I don't just want to see retro, I also want to smell it. I take a nice big whiff and immediately jump backwards. Wow that stinks. The lovechild of faeces and vomit. My colleague Martin Jud happened to walk past just then. I think we all know where this is going. After also pulling back from the devilish stench, he's a little more reserved: «It smells musty. As if the thing had been laying around an attic for a long time.» Come on Martin, I worked really hard on that metaphor. He's right, it smells more like an ancient cupboard. And, to be honest, I quite like that smell.

The insides at a glance.

Time to screw... screws, I'm talking about screws

First, I opened up the drives. They include a DVD-Rom, a DVD burner, a floppy and a Super-Disc drive. And there's even something special included: a CD ROM storage system. It does exactly what it says on the tin. You can store up to ten CD format discs. What wonderful things exist. By the way, I'll be holding on to all the drives for the moment. I've already got a plan for both DVD devices and the floppies. I'll tell you what I'm doing with them in the next few articles in this series.

CD storage in a case, who needs that? You can see the stylish green control buttons at the top there.

What I can already tell you is that these drives definitely won't be in the final Sleeper PC. However, I will remove the panels and install them in the front. To preserve the retro look.

I gradually remove the other components. These include a modem, network, sound and IDE expansion cards as well as an MX440SE Nvidia Geforce series 4 graphics card. The part was released in February 2002, clocks in at 250 Mhz and has 64 MB of video memory. You could use it to play «Battlefield 1942», «Doom 3» and «Max Payne».

GPUs didn't need giant fans yet.

Time to find out what kind of a processor is even in this. Emerging from underneath the fan, I see an AMD Athlon XP 2200+ from 2002. The 462 socket processor clocks in at 1.8 GHz. Now, what does this mean from a pure performance standpoint? Luckily, wonderful tools such as UserBenchmark exist. I compare the Athlon XP 2200+ to the Ryzen 7 2700X. The Ryzen is 1375 percent faster than the XP. This results in a yearly performance improvement of 85 percent. You can find further differences between both processors here.

Even the CPU cooler is tiny compared to today, not to mention the die.

More screwing

Even though this is the perfect case for a Sleeper PC, I'm still a bit disappointed in the included components. I'd have liked to sniff a bit more 90s retro air. After all, I was practically raised on those PCs. On the positive side, however, the case comes in the ATX format. At least I'll be able to install the mainboard without any large-scale modifications. I like modding, but reconstructing the entire back wall on my first project of this scale is still a bit too ambitious for me.

The gutted case.

As I'm in the zone, I continue loosening all other possible screws. I also remove the front panel as well as the mainboard and floppy mounts. Unfortunately, the mount for the power supply is riveted in place. I'll have to undrill it if I want to move the component to the top of the case. Still, I've done a good job, and I'll be able to start actually inserting some components soon. Next time I'll tell you exactly how I want the conversion to work, and above all I'll tell you what new components are entering the box.

The old components at a glance.

You can win like this: Over the coming weeks you can read about the sleeper PC project on Tuesdays and Thursdays. At the end of the articles I'll ask you a question with three possible answers. You can find the correct answer in the article itself. You get one point for every correct answer. Answer as many of the questions as possible correctly and you will make it into the final draw. The draw will decide who wins the PC.
What kind of graphics card was installed in the Sleeper PC?

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Avatar

Kevin Hofer, Zurich

  • Editor
From big data to big brother, Cyborgs to Sci-Fi. All aspects of technology and society fascinate me.

29 comments

3000 / 3000 characters

User orCana

Die ganze Aktion ist sehr unterhaltsam! :) Wenn ich auf den vorherigen Artikel referenziere, denke ich, dass das dort gezeigte Gehäuse vielen Leuten besser gefallen hat. Besonders die schiere Grösse von dem jetzigen ist etwas gegen den Trend.

Dies soll nicht als Nörgelei rüberkommen - eher als Tipp :)

PS: Kennt jemand den Namen des Gehäuses vom vorherigen Artikel?

02.07.2019
User Sopur

Nur das grosse Gehäuse ist ein echtes 90er Gehäuse ;-)
Man musste ja Platz haben - Scasi-Karte für Scanner, Voodo für 3d-Graphik... Soundkarte, USB-Karte, Firewire-Karte - man, für alles gab's ne Karte :-O

02.07.2019
User jeevanandk

IBM Aptiva Komplett-PCs, denke nicht, dass man diese "ohne Inhalt" kaufen konnte.

02.07.2019
User jeevanandk

@Sopur nicht zu vergessen, das ZIP-Laufwerk, Bandlaufwerk, Wechselrahmen für Festplatten, vielleicht noch ein Audio-Interface und wer hatte nicht noch eine Sammlung von DOS-Games auf 5 1/2 Disketten? Besonders die vielen 5 1/2 Schächte machten den Reiz am Big-Tower aus, für Erweiterungskarten gab es überall maximal 8 Slots, meist nur 7 nutzbar, microATX kam erst viel später auf.

02.07.2019
User orCana

mit 91er Jahrgang habe ich wohl die Hochblüte der Oldtimer verpasst :D

02.07.2019
User Joepost07

Der PC vom ersten Artikel wird wohl ein IBM APTIVA 520 oder ähnliches Modell sein. "Aptiva" gab es von IBM ab 1993 bis Anfang 2000er.

03.07.2019
Answer
User brandenberger

Das ist nun mal ein wirklich komplett sinnloses Projekt

I LOVE IT !

Werde auf jeden Fall dranbleiben an deiner Story

02.07.2019
User Rextroy8r

"Als ob Fäkalien und Erbrochenes ein Kind gezeugt hätten." - Deshalb die Duftstäbchen : )

02.07.2019
User jeridian

Irgendwie fehlt da die Turbo Taste und die Mhz Anzeige die ich damals bei meinem Pentium 200 MMX hatte^^.

02.07.2019
User chaeppeli

Much love für den Turbo-Knopf!

03.07.2019
User Anonymous

Ohh der wunderherrliche Turbo Knopf :D gebracht hat er nix aber schon nur durchs draufdrücken lief der PC schneller :D

03.07.2019
Answer
User Freshmeat

Ui! Das Gehäuse hatte ich auch lange im Einsatz. Nach ein paar Jahren wurde es dann mal in den Clan-Farben angemalt. Alles ausbauen, lackieren, wieder einbauen. Damals hatten wir noch Zeit dafür.
Praktisch ist die Höhe des Gehäuses. Wenn man das CD-Laufwerk ganz oben hatte, musste man sich immerhin nicht bücken.

04.07.2019
User willi.wettstein

Ich verfolge mit Interesse das Projekt und bin gespannt was der Retro-PC am Schluss leistet, bin jetzt 77-jährig und fühle mich in meine PC Schrauber Zeit zurückversetzt. Ich musste mich mit dem ersten IBM36 herumschlagen, wir nannten uns damals Dick-Jockey. ( Stapelweise Floppy-Disks) Der riesen Kasten stand in einem gekühlten Raum. Ich finde es toll wie die junge Generation so genial alte Geräte aufrüstet und zu neuem Leben erweckt.
Super macht weiter so. Stillstand gleich Rückschritt.

04.07.2019
User ghostharibo

Userbenchmark ist möglicherweise falsch.

02.07.2019
User Vupi

TEAM RED!!!111 ;D AMD FTW!!!111

02.07.2019
User Anonymous

oh weh, mein Olivetti PC. Lange ist's her...

02.07.2019
User Sica1000

Also wenn ihr eine eigene Wasserkühlung einbaut, dann überrascht ihr mich. Ansonsten wärs einfach Standard, nette Unterhaltung.

02.07.2019
User fabianscherrer

Ich fänds geil!
Oben drin wär ja mehr als genügend Platz frei für das ganze Reservoir-Zeugs.

03.07.2019
User Misch_86

Dachte ich auch als erstes bei dem case!
Da kann man echt kreativ sein.
Nur für Radiatoren schauts schlecht aus.

04.07.2019
Answer
User Joepost07

Kennt jemand die Colani PCs von Vobis aus den 90er? Die gab es als Tower oder Desktop und waren sehr speziell. Denke die wären es auch Wert mal als Basis für einen Sleeper PC zu nehmen.

03.07.2019
User xyzrecords

Merci pour la traduction cela nous permets de suivre l’évolution de ce pc Sleeper également depuis la Suisse romande ! Très intéressant !

08.07.2019
User LuckyTech

Moment im Artikel steht man kann etwas Montags, Mittwochs und Freitags zum Sleeper-PC lesen. Aber unten in der Frage steht Dienstag und Donnerstag. Was stimmt denn jetzt? Dienstag und Donnerstag oder?

02.07.2019
User Vupi

Heute ist Dienstag, denke Dienstag und Donnerstag sollte so stimmen. =P

02.07.2019
User Kevin Hofer

Hi Luckytech
Merci für deinen Kommentar. Ups, da warst du wohl einer der wenigen, der in der kurzen Zeit den Artikel angeklickt hat, bevor ich das gefixt habe. Es ist jeweils Dienstag und Donnerstag.

02.07.2019
Answer
User Anonymous

Doom 3 mit der Geforce4 GPU?! Viel spass mit ca. 15fps.

04.07.2019
User Misch_86

Nur jemand, der das Zeug gratis kriegt, baut jetzt einen PC, ohne auf Ryzen 3000, Navi und Nvidia Super zu warten.

Und seis nur drum, weil die Preise der "alten" Hardware dann fallen...

04.07.2019
User DSola

Just be careful not to cut yourself on the sharp edges.
So there is plenty of space to put two computers inside ;-)
Some nice, quiet custom water cooling is a must, no?

05.07.2019
User pascalgail

Hehe ca me fait penser que j'ai encore un vieux 486 avec une grande tour qui m'attend chez mes parents ^^'

08.07.2019
User thuegaz

tout cela me rappelle le premier PC de mes enfants, nous avions récupérer deux vieux PC à la déchetterie et nous les avions démonté, trié les pièces pour choisir les moins obsolètes et remonter un PC fonctionnel sans débourser un centime et partager une expérience ensemble. Ils ont également appris le nom et l'utilité de chaque composant. Cela reste un très bon souvenir pour moi et pour eux.

13.07.2019