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Red Rig Showcase

1998 Dell Dimension Sleeper PC


Just a Pentium II windows 98 box... with a Ryzen 7 heart transplant.



 Hey Everyone! Please disregard the mess of wires in the PC, as this picture was taken during a test boot to ensure I connected the front panel correctly. This is my "Sleeper" PC - The case is what remains of my first computer I ever remember using. It was sitting in the basement collecting dust ever since windows XP, and I finally decided to breathe some new life into the old box. I'll go through some of the challenges of working in old cases, some of the tips and tricks I used and absolute necessities when doing a project as such. It's absolutely not for everyone, but I hope you enjoy the novelty of this project - I know I do! 

The biggest hurdles of building in an old OEM case are form factor, front panel connections, and heat dissipation. My Dell Dimension XPS R400 was a fairly painless candidate from the form factor side, but not all Dell cases are this agreeable. Many have proprietary metal standoffs that prevent standard ATX motherboards to fit. either get a hammer, saw, or do your research before selecting a case!

Propriety motherboard pinouts, in this case, were unavoidable. tracking down what the possible pin order could be was a nightmare. The connector was one group set of pins and was not separable like the DIY cases. First I started with the users manual for my model machine. tricky to track down on the web in 2020, and no luck. Then i swept Dell's website for a Technical Manual. This didn't yield the pin out, but it provided me a "connector code" of "JH81" - I sent the code to dell technical support, who told me they no longer carried the information for that connection since it was no longer in use. I was about to scrap it, when I read somewhere that Intel supplied Dell proprietary motherboards. So I searched intel motherboard's standard configuration. The interesting thing here, is that the Dell connector fit into a spare intel board (from early Vista era) I had lying around, but the case connector had an additional 4 or 5 open pins that hung over the edge of the motherboard. Deciding to roll the dice, I booted the system and I was shocked to find out the Dell proprietary connector was the EXACT SAME as the intel pin out, and EVERY EXTRA PIN SLOT WAS SIMPLY AN UNNASSIGNED PIN. the power button worked, reset, and all the LEDs. Holy laziness, Batman. 

From there I was able to buy some front panel extensions. I highly recommend Phobia's offering. They are inexpensive and look very nice in the threaded black. Using the Intel pinout to create a template, I connected the extensions, which then provided the flexibility I needed to connect my Asus board. 

Heat dissipation was the last challenge. This was the entire reason I stayed away from any "X" skew ryzen or "XT" radeon components. the 65w TDP of the 2700 means it is fairly tame, but you have to remember this case was designed to passively cool a Pentium II. The first thing I did was realize there where vents on the front of the case that were entirely underutilized. Behind the vents was a vertial mount for a hard drive. That was the first to go, and replacing the hard drive cage was an intake fan. I also threw a beefier fan in the rear. There's a noticeable hum, but the ridiculously thick metal and plastic in these old cases makes it pretty bearable, and actually sounds a lot like it used to with its stock parts. I also left all of the expansion drive slots open in the rear, so the GPU could vent a little more naturally. You could get really aggressive and start chopping up the side panel to make it even better, but I really wanted to preserve the original look. Thermals have been... ok. I don't notice any thermal throttling when gaming, and when benchmark the system it gets toasty but is stable. It's probably work mentioning the GPU is undervolted (stock clocks preserved though) and I wouldn't dare overclock in this case. 

Those are the big ones! Other small modifications made drilling a few holes in the metal drive vage, because I wanted support for 2 hard drives and an SSD. Since I already chopped up the OEM drive cage and SSDs didn't really exist in the case's time, I got creative and used the second disk drive bay. The SSD solution was a bit sketchy, it involved electrical tape to mate it to the top of one of the HDD, but I planned to allow room for it when I drilled the holes, and it has worked flawlessly. 

The last step I have is to disassemble the face of the CD drive (Which yes I do use), sand it, and spray it tan to complete the retro look, but that will be for another time. 

If you take on a project like this yourself follow me and shoot me any questions you might have. I had a ton of fun making something as unique as this. 


   The Shell. Notice the front drive cage is removed and a fan has been added. 
All the modern parts fit. The absence of the drive cage was the only reason such a monster GPU could fit.


Test boot before connecting the entire front panel. I tested with only the PWR led plugged in, as LED voltage is low enough you do not need to worry about damage to your motherboard if it was connected incorrectly. If you look closely, you can note the silver screws in the empty disk drive cage that are mounting a HDD.

All buttoned up, and no one would be any the wiser


CPURyzen 7 2700
MotherboardAsus PRIME B450 PLUS
Memory16g G.Skill Trident Z @ 3600 Mhz
GraphicsRX 5700
Disc Drive 1
Disc Drive 2
Disc Drive 3{drive3}
CaseDell Dimension XPS R400
MonitorDual 1080p Displays
3 Replies
Adept I

Re: 1998 Dell Dimension Sleeper PC

this looks amazing! cheers on the effort! I need to make a sleeper pc aswell!

Re: 1998 Dell Dimension Sleeper PC

Thanks! best of luck if you decide to pursue it!

Adept III

Re: 1998 Dell Dimension Sleeper PC

Nice! My brother has a dell Inspiron T-5500 with and RX590 Fatboy and the original MOB. (Meaning that it has dual Intel Xeon. which are great processers) and it only cost him $900 (Computer, RGB light strips, Xbox controller, Corsair gaming keyboard, mouse, and headset)