DIY PC Test Bench Puts Hardware Troubleshooting Out In The Open

If you’ve built a few PCs, you know how frustrating troubleshooting can be. Finding a faulty component inside the cramped confines of a case can be painful — whether its literal when sharp edges draw blood, or just figurative when you have to open that cramped case multiple times to make adjustments.

[Colonel Camp] decided to make life a bit easier by building this PC test bench which makes component troubleshooting much easier and can be built with old parts you probably have lying around. [Camp] was inspired by an old Linus PC Tech Tips video on the same topic. The key to the build is an old PC case. These cases are often riveted together, s a drill makes quick work of disassembling the chassis to easily get to all of the components. The motherboard pan and rear panel/card cage become the top shelf of the test bench, while the outer shell of the case becomes the base and a storage area. Two pieces of lumber support the upper shelf. The build was primed and painted with several coats of grey.

[Camp] built up his testbench with a modest motherboard, cooler and a 970 video card. He loaded up Manjaro Linux to verify everything worked. The basic hardware has already been replaced with a new system including a ridiculously huge cooler. But that’s all in a day’s work for a test bench PC.

We’ve seen some wild workbenches over the years, and this one fits right in for all your PC projects. Check out the video after the break!

20 thoughts on “DIY PC Test Bench Puts Hardware Troubleshooting Out In The Open

    1. Indeed, we are hackers, I use a piece of cardboard, or my cutting mat and throw the PC equipment on there. Never had an issue.

      However, I do wonder the ‘function’ of the wooden stand offs – is it just to raise the level of the motherboard? My desk is already high enough that I wouldn’t actually want to raise it any higher…

        1. Just because you’ve not had a catastrophic failure (yet) doesn’t make cardboard (or your cutting mat, or a cardboard box, or any of the other wrong suggestions so far) ESD safe. Google latent ESD damage.

          As he said in the video, the wooden standoffs put the motherboard tray up at the exterior width of the case and creates a storage area within.

          1. I’ve built hundreds of PC’s and threw parts together for testing on the motherboard box FFS. Never once have I had an issue with anything. I’m sure as hell not going to go out of my way to hack a case to make a test bench with

        2. By “backplane” do you mean the old back of the case where the I/O brackets are?

          Why is that pointless? It protects the cards from the strain of the cable due to weight. Granted it’d be better if they were actually secured (a retention bracket with a thumbscrew would be great) but something’s better than nothing. Also holds a second fan in place, although I’m not sure how much help that is.

  1. nice build and all, but these things are pretty common for the last at least 20+ years. i do not see what is special about this one?

    next article will be like: graphics card connects PC to a monitor!

  2. IMO not worth a Hackaday post. There’s a lot of empty space that’s not used at all– for example, the PSU could have been placed below the system board to reduce the footprint (AKA desk/tabletop space it eats up). Then the desktop footprint would be the size of the mATX board (9.6 in x 9.6in) plus around two inches width and depth.

      1. Yeah, the AeroCool DreamBox could use a howto guide, and some 3d printable parts of useful lengths. They toss some 135 degree elbows in, but none of the included rails work out to be the hypotenuse to the others, and the various clamps & brackets are practically useless.

  3. I use the cardboard box the MB comes in to do testing. As long as one supervises it, since these days, the VRM modules can get quite toasty and possibly cause a fire. For the quick DOA test, that works fine.

  4. Back in the 90’s we were doing this kind of thing a lot. Usually just a piece of cardboard. I liked to use the box the motherboard came in. It was the right size, after all. I even worked at a shop that had made a wooden fixture to do the needful. HaD worthy? Sure. It’s a hack. Not a high end one, but very functional at least.

  5. The article fais to describe its use case. What does he uses it to test for ? Network cards, graphic cards ? If all of the other bits ( motherboard, ram, hard disk, etc ) are already installed, it seems just a common pc.

    We did something similar in the past, but it was a proper atx case ( not a mini tower one where the psu gets over the motherboard ) , with just the psu screwed to the chassis and the backplane to fix cards to. We kept the front part on it, to have a hard disk and a cdrom, and would use it when necessary to test motherboards , or when it was necessary to rig something just for some quick job, like formatting a bunch of hard disks, testing ram sticks and the like.

  6. The first time I put together a naked computer to check things out I expected a lot of RFI. I had a FM station on from 90 miles away and noticed no RFI at all. Nothing on AM either. Sure makes it easy to see any silk screen labels on the motherboard, jumpers, or damage.

    I like the story of the auto shop where the tech came in regularly to fix clogged fans and dead issues. He took the cases off to expose the guts and got a power screwdriver off the floor and screwed them to the wall over the cramped desk in the tiny office. They resided on the floor.No more calls as they could simply see that dust and give it a blast with shop air. An auto repair shop won’t be on any designer decor office space.

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