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I Rest my Case?
The time had come.  The InWin A500 case had grown too small and too hard to work with.  Having to remove the entire cover to gain access, and having to pull the motherboard tray to get at the processor and heat stink was becoming a bother.  The final straw was that the Alpha P125 heat sink was going to be too tall for the tight confines of the A500.  What to do?

The finished product (for now).

The Solution
An InWin Q500.  For those of you who are unfamiliar with the case, it is an ATX form factor, full tower, measuring 23 5/8" X 7 7/8" X 17 1/16".   It has a total of 6 external drive bays  (5 - 5 1/4" and 1 - 3 1/2"), and 5 - 3 1/2" internal bays.  The power supply that came with my case is a PowerMan 300 watt  mounted at the bottom of the upper compartment.  This places the power supply's air intake conveniently over the top of where the processor resides on the BX6r2.  While the power supply fan is set to exhaust, the fan is a little too anemic to produce the airflow necessary for high performance cooling..  I will probably end up replacing it sometime in the near future.

Easy Access
Access to the inside of the case is provided by 2 removeable side covers after the top cap is slid back.  The case is made with enough precision that it fits together tightly without requiring the retaining screws to be in place.  This is a real plus if you are constantly opening the case.  Most of the sheet metal edges of the case are rolled. This greatly reduces the risk of cutting yourself while working inside it.  Definately a plus if you spend a lot of time tinkering. 

Moving Air
Ventillation on my case was limited to just the power supply fan.  This, of course, meant that some more cooling was in order.  After the learning experiences I went through with the A500, I had a good idea of where to start.  The first thing I did (after checking to make sure that the power supply worked) was to cut the intake hole for my 4" (105mm) 110 volt front fan. I mounted the fan using a gasket made of an old mouse pad to keep noise and vibration to a minimum. 

Left: Another hole.   Right: Temporary fan placement with duct made from the fan box.

Another Fan
For the exhaust fan, another 4" 110 volt unit was used.  The placement of this fan is still under consideration.  I have not yet determined that it's present home is producing the best possible air flow.  For the time being a I have assembled a duct out of the box the fan came packaged in.  A little recycling never hurts.  The reason behind the duct is to take full advantage of the many vent holes punched in the rear of the case.  For the fan to operate at its full potential, the surface area of the exhaust holes should at least equal the amount of surface area of the fan blade opening.  The fan should also be placed far enough from these holes that it can utilize them without causing back pressure due to the air rebounding.

Front Cover
The front cover modifications started the same way I started with the A500.  I cut a mock-up from some cardboard and tested a few configurations before I took the drill and Dremel tool to the plastic.  Unlike the A500, I got better flow in the case with some air holes cut directly in front of the fan blades.  Like the A500, openings cut along the side of the cover did a lot to increase flow.  The end result is not too bad to look at and the openings have enough surface area that I should be able to rig some type of filter without slowing down the airflow too much.

The front cover gets its share of holes and cut outs.

Splitting Cables
One of the big plusses of a full tower case is all of the room.  To fill that room with wide IDE and SCSI cables strewn about would hinder the air flow.  I had heard of people splitting their IDE drive cables between the ribs with a razor knife and stacking the cut ribbons together to shrink its profile.  With a couple extra cables handy in case I made a mess of things, I split and stacked the cables into neat little bundles.  I also routed all of the wiring to stay as far from the air flow as possible.  So far, no problems with the split cables - SCSI or IDE.

The split cables take up less space.

At this point, the case is a little too new to get a real good feel for how it will perform under all conditions, but with a room temperature in the 78°F range with the peltier active and Quake2 timedemos going, the maximum air temperature in the center of the case was 82°F.  This is not quite as good as the results I got after cutting a hole in the top of the A500 and mounting a 4" fan to blow straight up, but it's not too bad either.  I think with a little more work, I'll be able to get the case temp down a bit more without resorting to more fans.  The end result has lots of room and is pretty cool.  At $91 from the folks at American PC (close to home to avoid shipping) it was money well spent.