Rig Spotlight: The GeForce Garage Antec 900
Customization is an enticing aspect for many PC gamers, especially when it comes to our systems; it helps connect us to our hobby on a personal level, and it’s a concept that just can’t be matched by the consoles. The potential for tweaking a rig is vast, and includes such areas as overclocking CPUs and GPUs, choosing parts and putting together PCs from the ground up, and modifying hardware. However, as cool as these things are, a lot of people are hesitant to jump onboard due to a lack of experience or a fear of accidentally damaging components. That’s precisely why we fired up GeForce Garage back in 2014—to give fledgling enthusiasts the instruction and modding knowledge to feel comfy altering their own systems, while simultaneously providing world-renowned pros the opportunity to showcase their craft and pass on their teachings to others.
Not too long ago, we showcased the GeForce Garage Red Harbinger Cross Desk, an absolute marvel of bleeding edge PC technology and ingenious modding. However, we do realize that not everyone has the ability to acquire such a high-end chassis and system, so we focused our next series on the ubiquitous and popular Antec Nine Hundred case. Like the Cross Desk, we pumped the Nine Hundred full of custom modifications and plenty of PC gaming power. In fact, there are so many awesome mods on this chassis that it’s almost unrecognizable compared to its original state. It’s truly inspiring to see how a group of like-minded, creative folks can make an already fantastic case even better.
By taking in the details that make up this build, you can harness some of your own modding insights, or strive to recreate its results using the step-by-step lessons and videos found on GeForce Garage (some of the mods aren’t as complex as you might think!). So buckle up and read on to see exactly what it took to fashion and assemble the Antec Nine Hundred PC, and how each unique modification enhances the overall system.
The GeForce Garage Antec 900
|Chassis||Antec Nine Hundred|
|Graphics Cards||GeForce GTX TITAN X in 2-way SLI|
|Motherboard||ASUS Z97 Sabertooth Mark 1|
|Memory||Corsair Dominator Platinum FURY 32GB DDR3|
|Storage||Corsair Neutron GTX 240GB|
Chassis: Antec Nine Hundred
For our second major modding project, we wanted a mid-range case that most gamers could afford, but we didn’t want to sacrifice features or performance in the process. The Antec Nine Hundred was a shoe-in here. Even without the mods, this chassis is a looker, and it’s a pleasure to build into. The mid-tower case is built out of sturdy steel, and the stock version comes with two 120mm blue LED fans in the front, and a single 120mm fan in the back. The front panel is equipped with two USB 3.0 ports and audio jacks. Above the front panel lies a handy, recessed tray for basic storage—enough room to hold a bundle of flash drives, or even a smart phone.
Of course, we modded the inside of our Antec Nine Hundred considerably, including adding a full liquid-cooling loop from EKWB, which includes a Supremacy EVO water block, Primochill rigid revolver diamond fittings, CoolStream PE 240 and 360 radiators, a D3 PWM pump, a black Acetal cover kit, an EK-XTOP PWM Plexi pump, and six 120mm EK-Vardar fans. In addition, all the cables are carefully sleeved by MainFrame Customs.
It’s a testament to the spaciousness and flexibility of the Antec Nine Hundred to allow for a dual-SLI setup with top-of-the-line GeForce graphics cards. Even a single TITAN X is a champion of modern GPU technology, with a huge 12GB frame buffer (the largest out of the current GeForce range), a 7.0 Gbps memory clock, a 1,000MHz base clock, a 1,075MHz boost clock, and all with a very cushy 250W TDP. All of those numbers mean that a TITAN X will positively shred today’s most intensive games, even at 4K resolutions. With two TITAN X’s in SLI, those same games can be run with their graphics settings maxed, with the TITANS barely breaking a sweat.
Like the GTX 970, 980, and 980 Ti, The GTX TITAN X is a Maxwell card, which means it supports amazing GeForce tech such as GPU Boost 2.0, DSR, G-SYNC, Multi-Frame Anti-Aliasing (MFAA), and loads of others. Quite simply, you won’t find a faster card on the planet.
Motherboard: Asus Sabertooth Z97 Mark 1
The Asus Sabertooth Z97 Mark 1 is a reliable, powerful motherboard that easily handles our duo of mighty TITAN X graphics cards. Its military-themed Thermal Armor compliments our modded Nine Hundred’s interior wonderfully, while simultaneously whisking away harmful heat from the board’s VRM. There are also plenty of connector options, including four USB 2.0 ports, two USB 3.0 ports, and two USB 3.1 ports. The Sabertooth runs off the Z97 Express chipset, and its LGA 1150 socket supports a wide array of Intel Core i7, Core i5, and Core i3 processors.
The rear of the board is reinforced with a solid metal back-plate, which Asus claims reduces the possibility of damage that can sometimes be caused by heavy CPU coolers and graphics cards. The back plate also keeps your fingers safe from being poked and prodded by wayward solder pins that reside on the rear of the PCB. To polish it all off, the Sabertooth Z97 Mark 1 has a generous five-year warranty—something that’s not too common amongst other motherboards.
While our quad-core processor isn’t a newfangled Skylake part, its Haswell architecture is still well-suited for all of our gaming needs, and it fits into the popular LGA 1150 socket. First and foremost, it’s an unlocked CPU, which makes overclocking it incredibly easy with our liquid-cooling setup. Even without any clock bumps, the 4770K isn’t exactly a slouch, with a 3.5GHz core clock and a 3.9GHz turbo boost. It supports up to 32GB of DDR3 RAM, packs on 8MB of Intel’s Smart Cache, and only needs a minimum of 84W of power.
In multithread optimized games, the Core i7-4770K’s value and performance really shines. On top of gaming, it has plenty of computing power for everyday PC duties, and it should last quite a while without starting to feel its age. For the discerning gamer with an LGA 1150 motherboard, the 4770K’s asking price remains alluring; you can typically pick one up for under $400.
Since our CPU and motherboard are capable of handling up to 32GB of RAM, we saw no reason to go for any less. And with an impressive PC such as this one, we wanted to lavish it with high-quality, speedy memory, capable of handling any overclocking we might want to toss in. That’s why we unleashed Corsair’s flagship Dominator Platinum series into the Nine Hundred. Corsair claims that each Dominator Platinum memory module is intensely screened and hand-selected, ensuring only the best performance and reliability. Each RAM stick is protected by Corsair’s DHX cooling system, which involves large metal heatsinks and heat spreaders covered by some stylish, customizable LED strips.
Since we maxed out the memory capacity of our system, it shouldn’t be astonishing that this should be more than enough RAM for years to come, especially for PC gaming. Plus, RAM prices are currently more affordable than they have been in ages, so it made sense to stockpile now for future-proofing. Of course, since our Z97 motherboard is designed around an LGA 1150 socket, we had to stick with DDR3 as opposed to DDR4, but that’s a pretty small sacrifice.
Super-fast SSDs are now practical for just about anyone, and they’re beginning to overtake traditional mechanical HDDs thanks to their increased storage space and affordable prices. That doesn’t mean that all SSDs are created equal though, and we didn’t want to settle for one that was merely decent. So, for our modded Antec Nine Hundred, we plugged in a 240GB Corsair Neutron Series GTX drive, which has won prestigious awards for its high performance and its generous five-year warranty. The Neutron GTX comes equipped with a LAMD SSD controller, embedded TRIM support, a max sequential read of 550MB/s, and a max sequential write of 470MB/s. 240GB leaves us with enough room to install a handful of our favorite games and still have some storage left over for pictures or other files.
Since we really wanted to show off the SSD and tie it in seamlessly to the rest of the system, we asked James Walter to make a custom vinyl decal to place on top of it. The end result is subtle, but equally fantastic. By looking at the SSD, you’d never know the label was created from scratch—it’s that convincing, and it matches our green color scheme perfectly.
With so many high-quality components in our system, we wanted to make sure they all got the love they deserved in the form of clean, efficient, trustworthy power. Corsair’s 850W HX850i was an ideal match, due to its 80 PLUS Platinum rating, smallish modular cables (which we stripped and re-covered with custom sleeves), EPS 2.92 standards, and wealth of extra wattage. The HX850i’s fan runs nice and quiet, and with Corsair’s Link Digital software, you can tinker with multi or single rail mode and dictate the fan speed manually. Since the unit is completely modular, we didn’t need to fuss about awkwardly bundling up unused wires. Because of that, the case’s interior ended up immaculate and uncluttered.
In keeping with our modding tempo, we chose to adapt the PSU’s look to mimic the rest of our system. Ron Lee Christianson of Blue Horse Studios added the green flames and NVIDIA logo to the PSU’s casing, turning the Corsair HX850i into a work of art.
The latest version of the Antec Nine Hundred comes with a respectable side-panel window by default, but we opted for a much larger opening instead. To tackle the project, we enlisted Rod Rosenberg of bsmods.com. Rod’s won a plethora of accolades for his past work, including awards from PDXLAN’s case mod contest and GeForce Garage’s MOD24. Turns out that recruiting Rod was a smart move indeed, because his cutting method eschews the typical Dremel approach to create a cleaner, safer, more professional-looking window for the case.
This particular mod requires quite a few power tools and a plethora of safety equipment, including goggles, mechanic’s gloves, ear plugs, and a face shield, but the end result is absolutely worth it. The clear acrylic panel blends seamlessly with the Nine Hundred, there are no metallic burs or jagged edges to poke at your skin, and the wider viewing area lets you see almost every piece of hardware inside the chassis.
The Antec Nine Hundred has plenty of room and access points for cable management, but sometimes it’s nicer to keep those wires and 24-pin holes hidden (especially if you’re not an expert at routing cables). To that end, we asked United We Mod’s Brian White—a metal fabrication modding expert—to create a custom motherboard skirt for the front, inside portion of the case. Instead of making the skirt out of traditional aluminum, Brian shied away from the norm and sprung for an awesome, rugged 16-gauge steel plate.
After a little bit of drilling, some deburring, and a handful of well-placed rivets, the Nine Hundred’s motherboard skirt went in smoothly and effortlessly. Now, instead of seeing some unused openings with random cables meandering behind them, there’s a sleek metal panel that matches the color-scheme of the finished PC. Not bad for just a few hours of work! If you’re a greenhorn to modding, or perhaps a rookie on working with metal, this is a fantastic starter project for building up your skills.
Custom Paint Job
Perhaps one of the most satisfying and immediately noticeable mods is gussying up your case with a spectacular, painted finish. But you can’t just hold up a can of cheap, off-brand spray-paint, hit your case a few good blasts, and call it a day (well, you could, but it would look terrible). To learn the tricks of nailing a race-car-like paint job, we brought in Dewayne Carel from Modders Inc. Dewayne has been in the modding biz since 2002. He hosted a case modding contest at QuakeCon, and he won the Create the Next Z Box title at CES 2014. Sufficed to say, Dewayne kind of knows his stuff.
It took about two days to get the whole case painted, but most of that was prep and waiting for multiple layers to dry. Remember the race-car analogy above? That wasn’t entirely hyperbole. Once the paint was ready, Dewayne used automotive wax and polishing compound to buff out the chassis’ shine. The end result is striking. The new paint instantly transforms the Nine Hundred from not-too-shabby-looking to drop-dead gorgeous. Additionally, this is another one of those mods that just about anyone can do, and there aren’t too many exotic materials associated with it.
It’s often the littlest touches that propel a modded rig from noteworthy to downright legendary. That’s exactly the case with the Nine Hundred’s hand-laced cables. By using such basic tools as medical clamps, electrician scissors, sewing scissors, and even—no joke—an unassuming paperclip, Jon “Pennywise” Hanz was able to thread together the system’s numerous wires into beautiful, impeccably placed rows. Like all of our modding veterans, Jon’s an undisputed master of his craft, and he won PDXLan’s mod contest two years in a row (2012 and 2013).
Once the cables were pre-sleeved, Jon put in the elbow grease and began the process of weaving them all together (about four hours of work in total). While the equipment and cost of materials are minimal, learning how to properly thread cables can take quite some time. This is a project that absolutely requires diligent practice. But once you see the final results, you’ll understand why such a mod is so appealing. Besides looking incredible, hand-laced and delicately routed cables optimize a rig’s interior airflow, allowing for better cooling for all components. A cooler PC is a happier PC, after all.
Backlit CNC-Milled Case Badges
Of all the excellent mods on our Antec Nine Hundred PC, this one was the most elaborate (and impressive). That’s because in order to create the case badges, some specialized pieces of software were required to get it started, and it needed a CNC (Computer Numerical Control) machine to carve out the designs. Mainframe Custom’s Thomas “Whitelightlaser” Harrel took the lead on this endeavor, and using AutoCAD—a 3D modeling program—he created some one-of-a-kind logos that would end up backlit on the chassis. Once the 2D file was converted to 3D, and the depths of all the cuts were carefully calculated, Thomas secured the badge’s acrylic materials and cranked the CNC machine’s ignition.
Once the dust cleared—or more accurately, was vacuumed up—we were left with a pair of multilayered case badges, complete with NVIDIA logos surrounded by GeForce Garage lettering. Thomas put in a little bit of hand-sanding and finishing to touch up the rough edges, and then placed some LED strips behind each badge to make the centers glow.
The Nine Hundred’s shiny new paintjob was already beautiful, but why stop there? To throttle our case’s paint scheme to maximum overdrive, we invited Ron Lee Christianson of Blue Horse Studios to add some sweet airbrush highlights. Ron’s resume includes runner up awards for the 2014 and 2015 PDXLAN Mod Contest as well as being placed on CPU Magazine’s cover not once, but twice. Armed with nothing but some water-based paint, an Iwata Eclipse HP-CS air-gun, and a credit card wrapped in painter’s tape, Ron walked us through adding an NVIDA logo to the Corsair PSU’s housing, and then later sprayed some green flames onto the chassis.
Ron carefully extricated the factory stickers off the power supply, and then created a stencil for the design. Once the stencil was applied to the surface, and the remainder of the PSU was blanketed in protective painter’s tape, Ron began building the colors up to a bright, vibrant finish. The result? A PC that looks like it’s blasting off from the desk with green fire surrounding it. With practice, just about anyone can achieve similar results. Just make sure to try your hand on test surfaces first!
Antec Nine Hundred: Modded Beyond Recognition
With the help of some of the best modders in the U.S., we transformed the standard Antec Nine Hundred into a unique and captivating gaming rig. On top of all the expert alterations, the rig packs a mean punch as well, rocking a pair of GeForce GTX TITAN X graphics cards inside. It’s truly a machine to be reckoned with, and a testament to the dizzying possibilities of custom modifications.
By watching all of GeForce Garage’s Antec Nine Hundred how-to videos, you can attempt to create a similar PC of your own, or even harness some inspiration to start your own brand-new mods. All it takes is a little practice and some perseverance. Be sure to keep your browser locked onto GeForce.com for even more GeForce Garage modding videos and rig spotlights, all coming soon!
Do you have a particular mod you’d like to share? Is there something we missed that would make the Antec Nine Hundred even better? Let us know in the comments section below!