LEGO Computer Case

With over 40,000 pieces in his possession, [Mike] is definitely a huge fan of LEGO. Given that he’s also very much a fan of technology, it’s no surprise that he has built more than one type of LEGO computer case. He wrote in to tell us that he’s finished work on a well-rounded system designed for everyone.

[Mike] is no stranger to interesting case builds. In the last couple of years, he’s also made a functioning wind tunnel case and a bio computer that uses generated heat to warm soil for wheat grass plants. In the course of planning the LEGO computer, he thought a lot about heat and airflow, ultimately deciding on a top-down cooling path.

He’s quoting custom LEGO computer builds, providing the choice between an i3, i5, or i7 with either 8 or 16 gigs of RAM. They will run Linux or Windows 7/8 and are 10-compatible. There are a few choices for the top of the case: classic LEGO brick, the industrial look with diagonal slats, and a colored, tiled top. These systems are completely upgradeable and are held firmly together with great engineering and the occasional support rod.

28 thoughts on “LEGO Computer Case

    1. shameless plug: go to bricklink.com for your LEGO needs. I don’t work for them and I don’t earn anything promoting them but the sellers there are much cheaper than eBay for anything from one piece to huge order.

  1. Excellent concept, brilliant execution! My only question is the lack of shielding/ground plane as I saw no metal anywhere in the pictures. I am curious as to how important this really is as I have been fooling around with a couple of “case-less” systems recently myself, built from the guts of old computers which I put new motherboards and PSU’s in. Is the ground plane that important and am I going to fry my nuts with >2ghz radiation?

    1. Skin depth of microwave radiation is very shallow, less than the thickness of the human eyelid. Mcrowave radiation can’t fry your nuts.

      How you’re getting microwave radiation from a home computer is a conversation to itself.

      1. Most CPU’s are clocked well in excess of 1ghz and most newer RAM is getting up there so there is energy floating around at those “microwave” frequencies. Also power has something to do with the equation, I believe, you won’t catch me staring into a serious uplink horn, even with my eyes closed. I once worked with a guy who did and he couldn’t see very well any more, they told him it was shut off and it wasn’t.

          1. @Miles
            That’s horrifying.

            Have you ever read about the Soviet microwave array (some kind of early warning system, I think) that was activated while being serviced? Most of the techs went blind pretty quickly. Evidently eyes are pretty sensitive. Who knew?

    2. Thanks!

      The system is grounded through the power supply. This helps keep static that could be discharged into the case from frying the computer components.

      As others have said, the radiation coming from the actual computer itself is far to low to cause harm to you.

      1. The biggest radiation problem is not the microwave or anything like that, it’s the heat. A poorly cooled computer could easily reach 80°C or more in no time and that can cause uncomfortable sensation if you touched anything inside while it’s running.

        LEGO are made mostly from ABS and they start to melt at 105 so if the case melts, the computer is probably fried.

        1. Agreed. That’s why I spent a lot of time working on and developing the cooling system to ensure that the cooling system was as good as it could be.

          During a stress test at 100% CPU usage for 24 hours using Intel XTU the i7-4790s never went higher than 66c.

          The BIOS has built in fail-safes that would prevent the temps from getting too hot, they are setup to auto-shutdown the system well before it could get too hot. Since Lego doesn’t melt until about 220F and the case temps never rise more than slightly above ambient, it’s not an issue at all.

  2. Microwave radiation most certainly can fry you, any part of you. Not the ones coming from your PC of course, far too low in power. The “skin depth” you are talking about is the skin depth in a conductor. The frequency of RF radiation doesn’t have to be a particular frequency to hurt you but the ones used by microwave ovens work best to cook something with water in it but any frequency with enough energy can hurt/damage/kill etc.

    The reason you would want a metal case around your pc is to reduce the interference it causes radios and over the air TV reception, WiFi, Bluetooth etc. Shielding your pc is a non-trivial thing to pass EMI compliance testing.

    1. “Skin depth” is also colloquially used to talk about the decay of EM waves inside a given material; depth of penetration. RF damage isn’t limited by frequency but the area with which it can affect is. Had I bothered to google before my first reply I would have seen that the Active Denial System (~96 GHz; mm wave crowd control) is absorbed w/in the first 1/64th of an inch while microwaves can go ~2/3″.

      1. I’ve only ever talked about skin depth; how far into a material a given wavelength of energy will penetrate. Apologies if my verbage indicated otherwise. Penetration into a material is entirely wavelength dependent (you can sub in cv if you’ve got frequency).
        Attenuation Factor= 4Pi(refractive index)/ wavelength.
        From there it’s just exponential decay,
        Observed Intensity = Emitted Intensity*e^ (-A.F. * thickness)
        Depending on wavelength, the RF it will not pass completely through a human body. Power only plays a role in how fast you cook things, as does an antenna (effective power).

        From your link ” Although the term “skin effect” is most often associated with applications involving transmission of electrical currents, the skin depth also describes the exponential decay of the electric and magnetic fields, as well as the density of induced currents, inside a bulk material when a plane wave impinges on it at normal incidence.”

        1. Thanks for the clarification, I did not know that and am suitably humbled. Still not a good idea to spend a lot of time in any high energy RF field if you can help it, all of the RF guys I have worked with were ex-military but that probably wasn’t the only reason they were a little “off”, praise the Lord and pass the Klystron.

    1. vonskippy, you ‘aint fooling’ nobody… If I left you in a room with a huge box of Lego and a copy of War and Peace, you, me and the rest of this audience would all be in the Lego corner. You may protest, you may deny, but we simply don’t believe you }:¬)

          1. On further research Larry would not have encountered the modern Lego until he was in his twenties, I forgot how old he is. I read Ringworld when it came out which tells you how old I am.

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