Old 386 Case Gets Modern Internals For Gaming, Including An Arduino-Powered Front LED


The saying that PC mods are only limited by the builder's imagination proves to be true as old 386 case receives an outstanding upgrade.

Tylinol, a PC rig enthusiast, decided to try a unique approach with his next build. His next project would rely on an abandoned CPU, which he allegedly found on a roadside.

He was able to make use of the old computer and play DOS games on it until 2010 when floods in Nashville destroyed the device. It was kept in storage until an idea prompted him to resurrect the old tower case with modern components.

It Seems Like Destiny

According to the owner, he chanced upon the PC a couple of years back when he walked by an old man. The original owner reportedly intended to get rid of the old CPU when Tylinol apparently asked if him he could have it instead.

"Someone who wants this old computer walks by just as I'm throwing it out? That's serendipity for you!" said the old man as described by Tylinol.

Rebuilding Process

Due to rust and accumulated dirt, Tylinol had to tear the CPU down to its frame and use a sander to remove the unwanted gunk. Since the original mount was designed for an older 386 unit, he had to modify it with a metal sheet and drill the appropriate holes to accommodate the new motherboard.

He opted to keep the UV-exposed plastic, which was already yellowish in color, and left the core design intact except for the ventilation holes that were made with a Dremel.

The physical buttons were likewise repurposed along with the archaic LED display. The huge power toggle switch was connected to a Vantech Tornado fan.

Meanwhile, the Turbo button was wired to display the core temperature via the aforementioned LED unit after a bit of programming. The owner decided to name the project "SErEndIPITy" in honor of the old man who gave him the old CPU case.

A Decent Machine

Tylinol noted that he barely uses the machine for processor-intensive functions like gaming or multimedia editing. Instead, it is mostly being used for web surfing and code writing, which seems like something a regular 386 computer could handle.

Nevertheless, his retro build includes an Intel Core i5-6500 CPU, an 8 GB DDR4 RAM, and a GTX 970 video card. Subsequently, internal storage is delegated to a speedy SSD.

The project cannot be simply defined as just another rig assembly. After all, there was a bit of restoration involved along with a small C# plugin programming.

What makes it interesting is the effort the owner went through to maintain its stock appearance all the way to the yellowish plastic and LED panel.

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