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Antec Three Hundred Two Computer Case - Creating an Internal Air Scoop
Part II

Introduction:I bought this case because my computer was waking itself up in the middle of the night for no reason, and I was worried enough about the heat to choose drastic measures for added cooling. I need WOL wake-on-lan too badly to disable the feature. I decided I needed a case with room for a fan in the back. I hated the design of the Antec 302, becoming aware of it's release because of my Antec 300 satisfaction, but the price and feature set was right. Notice I said "hated" past tense, because I'm actually very happy with this case now that I've created an 'air scoop' that greatly increases air flow. I'd be miserable trying to use the top fan the case provides for, and the noise, but if those aren't your concerns you might be happy with a stock version of this case. I'd be happier if I didn't also need to modify the furniture it sits under, but much like the WOL, I can't move the current location, not even about an inch. The 302 is over two inches longer, and wider.

The first thing to know about this modification is that the metal work went very quickly both times. I think all the sabre saw cutting, dremel cutting, flattening, and placement of the two rivets took about four hours. That's compared to about five days of work for my previous 300 modding.

The second thing to know is that I had two undesirable effects Update: I cut a second case, and eliminated the cut or gnarled tabs problem on the case from my sawing. As I was cutting up and down from stop tab to stop tab, I cut a tab off accidentally, and another was only hanging by 3/16" of metal when I was finished. They aren't essential, as the tab on the other side will work for the purpose of stopping your hard disk from going too deep. Also, the Antec hard drive rails click into place, so there isn't too much worry, but aesthetically it was an error.

The other concern is that after the cut, the side freed up has too much flex for my liking. If I had a welder or possibly brazing equipment, the problem could easily be reversed with a reinforcing strip of metal. Maybe I'm worrying too much, but you've been warned. I've had two 2.5" disks in that rack in adapters and monkeyed rails for about a week now [Update: The summer of 2016 I took the case to a metal shop and we reinforced the side of the cage. I have confidence the case would have been perfectly fine without reinforcment for many years. I just wanted to try the extra step.] without problems, rattles, or hums. The Antec supplied rails had permanent pins that only fit 3.5" disks so I pushed them out and used screws.

This is the first cut. Notice how my sabre saw's base plate is at full slant. You'll probably need to do the same. Stop at each tab space to avoid damaging them.

You won't be able to cut right to end, so nibble in with a dremel and cutting wheel. Then remove the rivet at the top of the cut in the 5-1/2" bay, and the second holding the flap from the bottom of the case.

The new rough window onto the motherboard.

Second Case

Notice how much flatter the creases have been hammered here, because I did the straightening before making the small perpedicular cut (circled) at the top.

One of the two new rivets (circled), one on top as well. The cables hide the gnarly paint job on this first case well.

Second Case

Notice the tab at the top to be bent back for a second rivet. Also notice the slight damage above the horizontal cut, but worth it for the flatter creases.

Also notice the layer of wood and good cardboard taped on the front. This allowed for the better long cut.

Here's the back of the computer after installation. The air-scoop with 'box end' now running along the back of the hard drive cage is very effective at keeping the front fan air focused on the face of the motherboard.

Here's another view of the case in use, the modified desk hutch, and the hand made stand so that the rear fan and DVD drive clear the ledge created by raising the shelf.

You might notice, if you read my previous case modding project, that a lot of the equipment on this new build is taken from the predecessor. The new components are the Asus P8Z77 Pro motherboard, a Radeon R7, and the beefier OCZ power supply. The taken parts are the Intel i5 CPU, the Sapphire Radeon R7, [Update: I gone down to one graphics card, since the onboard graphics and drivers updates are now handling my triple set of double monitors with the one.] the OCZ 90GB SSD, and the Thermaltake water cooling.

-First Posted July 13, 2015.
-Second Version Posted August 7, 2016.
-Slight Text Revisions February 17, 2017.

Stage Two - Summer of 2016 - Cut Air Paths and Optional Reinforced Case

I noticed the fans mounted behind the front grill had to push air past a lot of metal meant for mounting hard drives, so I decided to cut out about 40% by rough estimate of the total area in front of them. I didn't cut them square (all the metal in front of the fans) because I can still use the cut disk slots if I ever need to add more disks...a long shot I know. I made the decision to cut much more in front of the top fan than the bottom to retain strength from flexing when being moved.

Notice that on the left half of the hard drive cage there are two rivets just below the level of the top mounted drive. I had two bars created that go between the cage sides and firm up the structure. This is also a better view of the air scoop area I've created. I had to take the case to a metal shop because reinforcing was beyond my limits as far as equipment at home, and I wanted to take the extra step, although strictly speaking the work isn't necessary, as I stated above in the introduction.

My setup of March 9, 2017, down to one graphics card, with the added benefit of an extra NIC card I dedicate to virtual machines. Since this picture I've downscaled my PSU to a 550 watt of the same OCZ model, and removed a TV card I used with Comcast before I got NBC over-the-air. That was a low definition setup, and now I just take internet service for my home.

-Stage Two first Posted March 9, 2017.
-Slight revision May 13, 2017.