Thursday, July 18, 2013

Retro Repurposing: NESputer

By Madison Davis

This is my attempt at using an old skool NES as the case for a modern computer.  
Everything you need... Sort of.
 Parts used for this build:

CPU: AMD A10-5800K 3.8GHz Quad-Core Processor   100.00
Motherboard: ASRock FM2A75M-ITX Mini ITX  FM2 Motherboard  90.00
Memory: Crucial Ballistix 8GB (1 x 8GB) DDR3-1866 Memory 60.00
Storage: Samsung 840 Series 120GB 2.5" Solid State Disk  80.00
Power Supply: Athena Power 400W 80 PLUS Bronze Certified Mini ITX Power Supply  80.00 (not pictured.  I purchased this micro ATX power supply but it was just too big to fit in my build.  I returned it and ordered a smaller power supply).
Total: $410.00

I also purchased a few parts here and there as I needed them, such as a 40mm fan, fan grill, power/reset buttons, power and hdd LED.

Parts already in my posession:
Windows 7 home premium and 500gb hdd.

I became close friends with my Dremel.  Had to gut the Nes to make room for its new parts!

Because of the large amount of parts I was shoving in this case, I decided to place the hard drives under the motherboard. The hard drives pictured are just a few small capacity I had laying around to use as a mock up instead of risking damage to my SSD.  I separated the hard drives from the motherboard with crafting foam to avoid any shorting out.
Using the NES buttons with shiny new switches
Dremeled out the area for the back plate.  Fits like a glove! 

Fitting The top with the bottom.  Also, cut out the spot for the power supply.  This was an extremely tight fit, I had to do a ton a sanding to allow the case to close properly with the PSU.  I also utilized the venting on the top of the case, opened it up a bit for better airflow and allowed it to be used as an intake.

Look at all those wires!  Tsk tsk.  Messy!

So I cut down the power supply wires and soldered it all back together. First time soldering anything, I am very proud of myself!

I cut a vent in the top of the case right above the CPU fan, I was heavily concerned about heat and airflow.  
It runs cool enough now with lid closed.  I added the HDD activity light under the lid as well as the case badges proudly showing my quad core AMD and SSD.  I ended up breaking the original red LED so I used a yellow one that I had laying around for the power. light.  I added a 40mm fan where the controller ports used to be.

A screenshot of some of her specs, she runs fast and stays cool!  I have her hooked up to the TV in my living room, when people see her they are at first surprised I have an NES hooked up and then they realize she is not a run-of-the-mill NES.

This was my first time attempting anything even remotely like this.  I've seen some of the NES computers online, but never anything as powerful as a quad core.  Making space was definitely a challenge and it took me about 6-8 hours of labor to get everything cut and fitted.  I'm sure I could have done it faster but I really had no idea what I was doing.

 - Maddy 


  1. Very cool machine, just watch out for nintendo purists (dan) who might have concerns about you gutting a poor innocent nes classic.

  2. That's probably the best use of an non-functioning console I've seen. Maddy you win the PC Nerd achievement in my book!

    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    2. Thanks! I had a lot of fun building it. I've built computers before, but nothing like this kind of thing.

      My next addition to this build may be an external usb NES cartridge hard disk drive like seen here

      --> <--.

      If I can manage that, I will post step by step instructions.

      Thanks for keeping up with the podcast!

      Maddy "The Mad Queen".

  3. out of interest, what type of switches did you use for the power and reset buttons?

  4. I just made a trip to microcenter and picked up a power/reset button/LED light package. It is a standard PC package, cost about 5 bucks. It worked almost perfectly.

    I had to do some minor modification to the physical switch to make it fit.... namely sanded it down in size to work with the NES bracket. The stock power button has a hole in it that made the switch not work properly so I super glued a PC screw into the hole to fill it and so that the switch would press properly when the stock button was pushed in. It is a bit hard to explain without seeing it in person but I hope I explained it a bit.

  5. I hate you for having raped the sacred plastics of the NES, though I love that people continue on restoring to glory the NES. I felt that the next gen consoles are posing a challenge easy to take enough this time. Building a gaming machine capable of challenge them in space and power limits (not money unfortunately). So I have a KFA2 750TI arriving in a few days and I'll start messing around with a Z97-E, M.2 ssd, bluray drive (i was hoping to get a slot load instead of the ugly tray load and laptop sshd) and a i5 4570s or similar power consumption. Using a Pico PSU 160XT kit and a Noctua L9i. Temperature and humidity will be kept in check by any possible mean. My plan regarding joypad ports are to use them with the original controllers, and if they are kinda broken just go for USB ports, or maybe just leave them as original look or revert to venting. My desire is to mount the MB topdown and the graphics card away with a flexile riser card. I was really upset for the Kaveri chips not being as expected. So I'm going with the GM107 400 and the i5 S, I'd wait for the 55xx series to show up if they feed some prototype benchmarks. I'm concerned more on power than in performance. I already now a dual core is enough to crush a 8 core netbook architecture.