Showing results for 
Search instead for 
Did you mean: 

How to Design and Build Your Own Case

How to Design and Build Your Own Case


 This article has been created by members of the Red Team Community and the AMD Community Management Staff.


Abstract - There are so many computer cases available for purchase today that it can be difficult for your computer to stand out from the crowd and make it unique.  But if you want something resembling a work of art, then building your case can be both satisfying and elevate your stature in the world of case modding to the next level. This how-to article should help guide you in developing a solid design, fabrication of the case, and of course, helping you to avoid making costly mistakes. 

Concept - You need an idea for the custom case, and this part can take a while to finalize.  Do you have constraints on where the custom case will reside, such as under a cabinet or on top of a desk?  Do you want to mod something like an old appliance (toaster oven, microwave oven, small refrigerator, etc.) or perhaps you want to build something completely from scratch? One dilemma you might face is determining what computer components are going into this new custom case.  For example, a large modern video card isn’t going to fit inside a toaster.  It might fit just fine inside a microwave oven though.  The concept phase needs to be aware of the general size of the computer components you wish to use. 

It’s a good idea to search on the Internet for examples of what other builders have created for their custom case designs.  If you want your design to be unique, then you need to know what already exists.  Perhaps you will see several designs that others have tried, and you might determine that a few changes to those designs would work much better than your original idea.  Many things need to be on your mind while determining the concept – cooling, room for the components, your ability to fabricate the custom case, materials you have on hand or can easily obtain, and things of this nature.

Can you visualize what you want to build?Can you visualize what you want to build?


Budget – You generally need to have money available before starting a custom case build.  Maybe you have most of the materials on hand already, including the computer components that will go into the custom case?  On the other hand, if you are going to build a custom case you may want to install some of the latest computer components and now, we are talking about several thousand dollars!  Make sure you can afford this project before you start. 

Photography - Take pictures from the beginning of your custom case build.  People will ask how you did it and you can help others with your design ideas if you take pictures of what might just be a series of notepad sketches.  Once you start the cutting and fabrication step, take pictures and post them as you go in a blog or other online documentation forum, and you will likely receive suggestions for some next steps.  In the end, when your design is complete, you will want to share pictures with your friends and others who ask you about the build. 

A good photographer will consider the angles of the pictures being taken, the distance the lens is from the item being photographed, and what appears in the background of the images.  Having a few ‘bench-level’ pictures of the custom case pieces can look much better than having all pictures appear to be at the same angle or distance. 

Sometimes it's best to get a close-in picture.Sometimes it's best to get a close-in picture.


Design / Layout of Computer Components - Some people draw a simple picture (that is many of us) and some people use Computer Aided Design (CAD) tools or other things like stencils / French curves to draw out a detailed pattern of what needs to be fabricated.  Some of us just ‘wing it’ and almost skip this step entirely.  However, it’s best and less costly to make sure your design is big enough to hold the computer components and that you factor in the placement of vents/cooling fans so that airflow through your custom case is adequate for the amount of heat you expect the computer components will generate.  Stick to the concept that you developed at the beginning of this process and by measuring/drawing the custom case design to an accurate scale, you should catch the obvious mistakes like forgetting to allow enough room for a PSU to fit into its portion of the case.  This also means measuring your computer components too.  Figure out the general placement of your motherboard, storage drives, fans, video card, etc., and make sure everything will fit on paper before you start building. 

Can I fit all my computer components inside?Can I fit all my computer components inside?


Materials - Can you procure the things you need, such as aluminum bars, plywood, an existing appliance that no longer works, etc.?  If you are going to fabricate the custom case from an expensive material, then you need a very accurate estimate of how much material you need to purchase so you don’t waste money.  Waiting for the availability of materials can delay any project and lead to abandoning the whole thing.  Don’t let that happen to you.  Plan ahead.  

Aluminum bars and steel plate make a great combo.Aluminum bars and steel plate make a great combo.


Tools - You won't go far with just a screwdriver; the proper tool for the job plays a major role in being able to fabricate something without ruining it cosmetically.  You may have to disassemble some existing appliances to gain access to the area you are going to cut or modify, and even things like Torx screwdrivers can become necessary.  Here is a list of tools you can expect to need during most case construction projects:  set of screwdrivers, including Phillips head and different lengths of shafts; electric drill with a good set of drill bits for both metal and wood; cutting tools such as hacksaws (and blades), Exacto knife, metal shears, Dremel tool with a set of cutting disks; files for both metal and wood, chisel and hammer for those pieces you cannot figure out how to remove otherwise, various pliers and side cutters, soldering iron with solder so you can connect up custom switches, several types of glue (Superglue/epoxy/rubber cement, etc.), and tie wraps with mounts to hold down the cables.  Having a few electrical instruments handy, such as a multimeter for testing continuity between connections, will help too.  Don’t forget about good lighting either.  If you cannot see enough of what you are working on, you are likely to make mistakes.  

Aircraft shears can come in very handy at times.Aircraft shears can come in very handy at times.


 Measure Twice Before Cutting - We've all made mistakes in past builds, usually when we are in a hurry.  Do you have access to a 3D printer?  Printing some custom case parts, like mounting brackets or supports, can be much easier than cutting them from sheets of metal or pieces of wood.  However 3D printing requires accurate measurement. Some computer component manufacturers provide measurements in the metric system (millimeters) and others in the English system (inches).  Don’t mix them up and fail to convert one to the other when necessary.  Overall, do your measurements several times and write them down.  Don’t trust your memory to hold numbers that could easily be forgotten or confused. 

Test Fit as You Go - As you cut and assemble the parts, test fit some components to ensure you are allowing enough room (clearance) for things such as screws and other hardware that will be used for attachment.  If you make a mistake on one item, you might be able to adjust the design to allow that piece to still work in the overall build.  Before you, sand/file or otherwise clean up a recently cut piece, it would be good to know if it was ‘built to spec’.

Minimal space available means you need precise measurements.jpg


Assembly / Hardware - Build your computer outside the new case, if possible, to ensure everything works before you install the components into your custom case.  This is especially true if it is hard to install some components (like the motherboard) into the custom case.  You want to install the computer components once if possible, but generally, you can expect several installs to adjust your custom case mounting points for possible errors in design or for inaccurate drilling of holes, etc.  The hardware you use for mounting your computer components will vary depending on the materials you use to build the custom case.  Machine screws are likely for a metal case (or metal mount points) and maybe wood screws would be used for a wooden case.  Don’t go cheap on the hardware you select though, as details like this are the kind of thing that some people notice immediately. 

Cable management is another major consideration, but don’t do this right away as you are installing the computer components for the first time.  Make sure everything is working and laid out properly in your custom case before you spend the time getting the cables to lay out the way in an orderly fashion. 

Build it outside the custom case initially, so you know everything worksBuild it outside the custom case initially, so you know everything works


Case Finish - Are you going to paint the case?  Make sure all your cutting is complete and all the components fit; then pull them out and have at it.  A custom paint job can do wonders for bringing attention to your new custom case.  You don’t want to scratch it after painting it, so don’t plan on more than just reinstalling your computer components back into the case once it’s painted. 

Custom painting is one of your last steps.Custom painting is one of your last steps.


Testing / Benchmarking - Optional for some of us but you know people will ask about the performance of your new machine.  They will want to know how cool the Central Processing Unit (CPU) and Graphics Processing Unit (GPU) are running and if you think there is sufficient airflow through the custom case.  Several computer sites perform reviews of computer systems, and they publish benchmarks for those systems, so look for those to see what benchmarks interest you.  Testing your new computer means using it for a few things like gaming.  Just tell your spouse or partner that it’s part of your project development process.  Some recommended benchmarks and software tools can be found here: 

  • UserBenchmark – Go to and check out their free download to test your new system against what others have built.
  • Cinebench to test your CPU – Go to for a free trial of their Cinebench tool.  This is good only for a short trial period unless you pay for more.
  • AMD Ryzen Master – Assuming you are using an AMD Ryzen CPU, it makes sense to download the tool so you can try your hand at overclocking and monitoring the results of your overclock. 

Notes / Tips – Your first scratch-built computer case probably won’t be your last, because this is a hobby that enjoys new ideas and methods.  We all learn better from a hands-on approach, so take some notes as you proceed with each build and apply the methods that work best for you.  Here are some general things to keep in mind: 

  • Practice your drilling and cutting skills on scrap material first, if you have it available.
  • As with any computer build, avoid touching or otherwise damaging the electrical connections of your components.  We all know how sensitive the CPU / motherboard can be with all those pins either as part of the CPU or within the CPU socket that are easily bent.  Static electricity can damage components, so make sure you are grounded when handling them.
  • Measuring before you cut is one thing, but cutting where you mark a part is sometimes difficult.  Drill bits can wander, so use a center punch to give you a starting point.  Trying to hold down a metal bar with one hand and cutting it with a hacksaw using the other hand is both dangerous and hard to control.  Use a vice to secure things so you have both hands available.
  • Painting your case requires good ventilation and a restricted temperature range.  Trying to do this in the middle of winter just isn’t going to work well.  Factor in the anticipated weather outside for the finishing steps of your case.


A super, warm, “Thank you” to @blazek @johnnyenglish @filinux @red5 @jamesc359 @Weber462 @mengelag @BigAl01 @Axxemann @Amber_AMD @cpurpe91 @petosiris  and battle-tested @Wally_AMD  for helping me prepare this article!

Labels (1)
Version history
Revision #:
2 of 2
Last update:
‎08-28-2023 07:45 AM
Updated by: