Asus enlists hot local modder for a serious PC build. We chat to Alex about the Alpha Omega, modding, and how to get started in the hobby.
Asus recently put us in contact with the modder behind one of the more impressive PC builds we've seen this year. Alex Ciobanu built Project Alpha Omega on Asus' behalf to show off some of the vendor's latest kit, and the outcome of the collaboration is nothing less than stunning - not to mention insanely powerful.
You can check out the build in our gallery, but we also caught up with Alex to ask him a few questions about his hobby...
Can you tell me what drew you to case-modding in the first place?
I've been doing case modding for just over two years now and it all started with my passion for water cooling. I've been into PCs my whole life and I decided to get into water cooling in 2012. I started with a basic CPU loop with soft tubing and never felt like that was enough. I kept upgrading and changing things over the years until I did my first rigid tubing loop in 2014. From there I kept wanting to push myself and create the nicest and cleanest PC I could. From this passion my first mod, the Vault Boy, was born! From then on it's been non-stop and I now find myself working on multiple builds at a time.
I can remember a period a few years back when case-modding seemed to be dying out, but it seems to be going through a resurgence right now. What do you think has helped move it along?
I think case modding is now stronger than ever thanks to an amazing worldwide case modding community as well as increased support from different vendors and manufacturers. As this extreme hardware market was starting to move away from hardcore overclocking a few years back, case modding was there to lift itself up and it's been riding that wave ever since. I think vendors and manufacturers have realised how important case modding is for the industry and have continued to offer countless support to those with the talent to do it. I mean what's a new hardware launch party, a LAN party or any other industry event without a few case mods thrown in there? Huge tech expos such as COMPUTEX and even CES have been flooded with hundreds of amazing case mods in the last few years and it's definitely a great thing to see. There have also been a number of different competitions such as the Cooler Master CaseMod World Series along with the ANZ version of it as well, and other more exclusive competitions such as the Thermaltake CaseMOD Invitational, that have lifted case modding even higher. I think case modding is definitely here to stay!
So you’ve just done this very epic build for Asus – can you walk us through some of the building process?
For this build I've had the great pleasure of working with amazing companies such as NVIDIA, ASUS, Corsair, Bitspower and CableMod to create a special build for the GTX 1080 launch party in Australia. The case is the Corsair SPEC-ALPHA and it was chosen with the purpose of turning it into an open-frame design, which was all done by hand with a Dremel rotary tool and a jig saw. Once the case was cut, I designed some cover panels from acrylic and started moulding it into what you see now. My modding is very on-the-go, I start with a basic idea of what I want to do and this continues to evolve as I work on a build. I'm very happy with the finish on this one given the very short timeframe and I think that the open-frame design makes the hardware pop even more!
There’s a lot of relatively esoteric skills involved in modding, so how do you recommend some wanting to get into the scene learn the ropes?
Best way to get into case modding is to just do it - it's how I got started! A good thing to keep in mind is that if you want to be good and succeed at case modding you must have a real passion for it, a lot of time on your hands, and of course good knowledge of computer hardware. Come up with an idea and if you're unsure how to go about it, find a cheap second-hand case and start applying your idea to it. Don't be disappointed if it doesn't come out the way you want it to from the first go; keep trying and your vision will come to life. What most people think of when they think about case modding is that you need a lot of money to get into it and have to use the latest and greatest hardware; while that would be nice, it's definitely not necessary.
Always keep in mind that it's the mod that counts and not the hardware used in it. I built my first case mod from a $50 case I picked up on Gumtree and mostly second-hand parts. In terms of tools I don't use anything too extreme, probably my most advanced tool is my hobby vinyl cutter. Other than that I mainly use basic tools such as a Dremel rotary, jig-saw, your basic hand drill, and lots of different hand files. You just need the willingness to try and get into it and a true passion for computer hardware.
Once you're equipped with that, there's not much else stopping you.