Not sure what some
of the crazy terms you see mean? Or how to understand what specs are good or
not? Let us guide you with our Modding Dictionary. Filled with the important
terms to upgrade you from "noob" status to modder extraordinaire.
If you see anything
missing or want to know what something means,
let us know!
7v Trick –
(See Voltage Mod)
– An airbrush is a small, hand-held, air-operated tool that sprays various
substances (ink, dye, paint, etc.) by a process of nebulization. Air
brushing is the act of using an airbrush. In PC modding, air brushing is
generally used to give your case an unique paintjob.
Acrylic is a transparent thermoplastic, often used as a light or
shatter-resistant alternative to glass. In PC modding, it is generally
used on the outside casing of an object to show off the inner components.
For instance, a power supply’s housing may be acrylic, to allow you to see the
circuit board and capacitors within.
Windows – Many cases these days come with an acrylic window, which allows
modders to show off their inner components.
Cases – Aluminum
cases are lighter than steel cases, and, since aluminum conducts heat
slightly better than steel, they offer slightly better cooling peformance (vs.
the same exact case design made from steel). Aluminum cases are very
common these days, as they are typically cheaper to produce and ship than steel
cases, and tend to be more popular with modders as well.
Anodizing is the process wherein the thin top layer of a sheet of aluminum is
turned into aluminum oxide. This protects the surface of the aluminum from
oxidation, and allows for a long-lasting metallic color to be evenly applied.
In PC modding, many aluminum parts are already anodized, from full aluminum
cases, all the way down to anodized aluminum thumbscrews. Anodizing is
generally not something modders do themselves, as the process requires
potentially dangerous chemicals and equipment.
An appliqué, as it relates to PC modding, is basically a sticker that you put on
your case window (or sometimes the case itself) that gives the appearance of a
sand-blasted or etched image.
– (see Case Lighting) In PC modding, backlighting is accomplished through the
use of items such as cold cathodes, to illuminate the interior of your case.
Backlighting – Badge backlighting is simply a specialized form of backlighting
used for case badges. Most modders who do this simply use an LED or
electro-luminescent square behind the case badge.
(fitting) – A barb fitting is a
type of fitting used in water loops that has a thicker “lip” around the end of
it that helps to prevent the tubing from detaching from the fitting. Hose
clamps are commonly used with barb fittings, as they help create a more secure
connection than the barb fitting by itself.
BayBus – A
baybus is any device that resides in a drive bay and provides a method to attach
and power fans. Most will also include various other features, such as
on/off switches for individual fans, LED status indicators, etc.
Grinder – A bench grinder is a heavy-duty powertool that allows you to
accurately grind or polish a metal object.
Bezel – A
bezel is the front-facing, visible portion of any component that occupies a
drive bay. It can also be used to describe visible parts of other
components, such as the front bezel of the case itself.
Painting – Bezel painting is performed to match (or mis-match) a particular
drive bezel to the case or other adjacent drives.
BIOS – Basic
Input/Output System, this is the firmware stored on your motherboard, and it is
the first code your computer runs when first booting up. A BIOS generally
has a user-accessible interface, where many configuration settings can be
changed or tweaked. The BIOS in a store-bought computer (such as a
computer built by Dell, Gateway, HP, etc.; also called an OEM computer) is
generally much more limited in the settings that can be changed when compared to
the BIOS in a custom-built computer.
BIOS Logo –
This is the logo that displays on-screen when you first start your computer,
before your OS loads up and even before the BIOS itself loads. This is
generally going to be your motherboard manufacturer’s logo, but it can be
changed, albeit with varying degrees of difficulty. Some motherboard
manufacturers now include software utilities for changing this logo as you see
fit, which make the process much safer and easier.
Blow Hole –
In PC modding, generally refers to a fan mount on the top of a case, designed to
be used with an exhaust fan.
Sleeving – As a noun, cable
sleeving is mostly synonymous with “wire management,” and refers to any
assortment of items designed to clean up the general “rat’s nest” of wires
present in many computer systems. As a verb, cable sleeving is the act of
using such items. Sleeving allows you to bundle multiple wires together
and run them as a single wire throughout the case, or to take single wires and
give them a more finished look. Cable sleeves are offered in a variety of colors
including UV reactive to give you cables a consistent look of your choosing.
Case Badge –
A case badge is a simple picture, usually a logo, designed to be placed on a
computer case. They generally measure about 1” x 1”, and are usually
composed of a metal back with an adhesive for attaching to the case, the picture
itself, and a small Lexan dome to prevent scratching.
Lighting - In PC modding, case
lighting/backlighting is accomplished through the use of items such as cold
cathodes or LEDs, to illuminate the interior of your case.
– Also known as a case mod gallery, or simply a mod gallery. Case
galleries are collections of pictures of, or pertaining to, PC mods. Many
PC modding forums and websites host case mod galleries, and we here at Xoxide
take it a step further with our “Mod of the Month” contest.
Painting – Just as it sounds, case painting is the process of painting your case
to a color/style of your choosing. The best methods, techniques, and
materials to use for case painting are generally the same ones used in
automotive painting. Paints are offered for brush-on or aerosol and can also be
– see Acrylic Windows
– Cold cathodes (sometimes
called CCFLs, Cold Cathode Fluorescent Lights) are a type of case lighting
commonly used in PC modding, due to their cooler operating temperature, thin
structure, and diffused light. They are easy to find in pre-made kits
designed for PC modding in particular; such kits usually include one or more
cold cathode “lamps” or “tubes” and an inverter to power them, which usually
plugs directly into a 4-pin Molex power connector from your power supply.
Offered in a variety of sizes and colors including UV.
Sizes – Common screw sizes
for various PC modding applications are as follows:
-Self-threading fan screws: 3/8” diam. (1/8th bolts & nuts may
work as well)
drives (floppy, CD-ROM, etc.): #4-40
(hex head): #6-32
Sizes – Common wire sizes
for various PC modding applications are as follows:
smaller/lower speed fans: 22 gauge
-Larger/higher speed fans: 20 gauge
-Baybus/Rheostat/Drives/Peltier chips/various other components: 18 gauge
Solid or stranded wire can both be used, the major difference being that solid
is much less flexible than stranded.
(fitting) – A compression fitting
is a type of fitting used in water loops that compresses an outer ring around
the tubing, creating a more secure (and, to some, more stylish) connection.
DPI – Stands
for Dots Per Inch. This is most commonly used as a specification to relate
the sensitivity of a computer mouse
to movement. The higher the DPI, the more sensitive the mouse will be.
Dremel – A
Dremel is a particular brand of rotary tool, which has become basically
synonymous with the type of tool itself. These tools can be used for a
variety of purposes, including cutting, grinding, sanding, detailing, etc.
A power supply’s
efficiency rating is the percentage of power that is preserved when the power
supply switches the 120V AC current into 12V DC current for use in computers
(and many other electronics). A higher percentage means less energy is
lost in the transition, which is better. Energy lost this way is released
as heat, meaning power supplies with higher efficiency ratings will generally
Electro-Luminescent wire/cable (EL wire/cable) –
EL wire is simply a wire that
lights up. It is a thin copper wire coated in a phosphor that glows when
alternating current is applied to it. Rather than individual lights like LEDs,
EL wire glows in an unbroken line. It is also highly flexible and can be bent
and even resized easily. There are many different kinds of EL wire, from the
strictly-decorative EL wire kits, to fully-functional SATA cables with EL wire
imbedded in them. EL wire almost always requires a power inverter, much
like cathodes, but is highly efficient with power.
Etching is the process of engraving a design into a hard surface, such as an
acrylic window or a steel side panel.
Controller – Also referred to as a Rheostat, a
fan controller is any
device which allows you to adjust the speed of your case fans from a single,
separate control module. They often have other features as well, such as
RPM and temperature monitoring, alarms, built-in card readers, etc.
Adapter – Fan size adapters
allow you to install a fan to a differently-sized fan mount. For instance,
you could use a particular fan size adapter to mount an 80mm fan to a 120mm fan
mount on your case, or vice-versa.
Fan Grills –
Fan grills (sometimes called
fan guards or finger guards) are protective coverings designed to prevent
objects from coming in contact with the fan blades during operation, while
restricting airflow from the fan as little as possible.
– Fan filters are similar
to fan grills in that they cover your case fan opening, but filters are designed
to prevent dust and very small debris from entering your case via the air
circulated by your fans. As such, they impede airflow more than a fan
– The form factor of a component refers to the general standardized shape and
size of the component. In cases, this mostly refers to the overall size of
the case or the orientation of it. With motherboards, this refers to the
standardized specification that the mounting holes follow, which makes it easy
to compare the form factor of a motherboard to a case’s motherboard
compatibility spec to determine if a specific board will fit in a specific case.
(Rubber Washers) – Grommets are small rubber washers which lessen noise caused
by vibration and can also protect against fraying of your wires from sharp
edges. Many high-end cases come with pre-drilled grommets to easily run
water cooling tubing from the inside of your case to a radiator or other such
component on the outside.
Hole Saw – A
hole saw is a specialized drill bit designed to cut a hole into a surface.
Different hole saws come in different sizes, and are designed for cutting
different materials. You can use this to allow wires to pass through panels in
your case or other uses.
Jigsaw – A
Jigsaw is a fairly common power tool used for large-scale cutting. In PC
modding, they are most commonly used for things such as cutting a window into a
Lapping is the process of sanding down the base of a heatsink or top of a CPU to
provide a better contact for thermal transfer. Thermal compound is still
required after lapping, but you may need less overall.
LCD – LCD
stands for Liquid Crystal Display. LCDs are used in many different
applications, from your computer monitor to your digital wristwatch. Many
fan controllers or other multi-function panels now offer LCDs to display a
variety of information about your case or component activity.
LED – LED
stands for Light Emitting Diode.
LEDs are used in many different applications, such as the power/HDD activity
lights on your computer case, or even effect lighting inside your case.
LEDs are very common, due to their low cost, small size, low power drain, and
Mod / Modder
– Mod is an abbreviation of the word modification (or, as a verb, modify).
People who partake in modding are called Modders.
Modular – A
term primarily used in modding to describe a type of power supply. A
modular power supply is one that allows you to quickly and easily detach unused
or unnecessary cords from the power supply itself, creating a cleaner look
inside your case and usually improving airflow.
A designation for a type of biased switch that closes the electrical circuit
only temporarily, upon either pressing or depressing the button. The
alternative is a latching switch, which closes the connection when activated and
leaves it closed until activated again.
Ohm’s Law –
Ohm’s Law is a commonly-used equation relating voltage, current (amps), and
resistance. The equation is: Voltage = Current x Resistance
Sander – An orbital palm sander is a power tool designed to sand large areas at
a time. They are generally used to finish a surface or remove paint.
– Overclocking (OC’ing) is the process of forcing a device to run faster than
the factory default. Overclocked devices use more electricity and produce
more waste heat.
Cooling – Passive cooling is simply cooling without the use of fans or other
active heat exchangers.
PCB – Stands
for Printed Circuit Board. PCBs are the actual boards that many different
components are constructed on, such as your motherboard or graphics card.
PCI – Stands
for Peripheral Component Interconnect. These refer to the bus on a
motherboard that connects peripherals such as graphics cards to the motherboard
(see Fan Controller)
Cables – Rounded cables are used in place of traditional flat ribbon cables to
Blasting – Sand blasting is the process of using a device with an air compressor
to shoot tiny pieces of sand or silicate against a surface at high velocity.
In PC modding, it is generally used to remove initial coatings on a surface or
to etch a design into a surface.
/ Heat Shrink – Heat shrink is a
plastic tubing that shrinks when exposed to heat. In PC modding, it is
used to insulate wires or to tidy up cable sleeving.
SLI – Stands
for Scalable Link Interface. This is NVIDIA’s proprietary solution for
using multiple video cards in a single computer system.
Also known as the CPU socket, this term refers to the physical specifications
and pinout that a CPU or motherboard is compatible with. For instance,
most Pentium 4 CPUs are socket LGA775, so to install this kind of chip, you need
to have a socket LGA775 motherboard. The socket provides an electrical
connection between the CPU and PCB without the need to solder the chip directly
to the board, thus allowing for much easier installation or replacement.
Iron – A soldering iron is a metal heat probe used to melt a conductive alloy
(solder) in order to create an electrical connection between two points.
Switch – A toggle switch is a
simple on/off switch operated manually. They are used for a variety of
different applications to turn a component on or off or change the function of a
– UV reactive materials give off a unique glow when exposed to UV light from a
UV cathode, LED, or other source. UV reactive items generally do not
produce light on their own.
– UV additive
is a solution you can add to your coolant in a water cooling loop that will make
the coolant UV reactive.
– To perform a voltage mod is to alter the normal voltage flowing through a
component, in order to change its performance. A common voltage mod is
called the “7V trick,” and involves reducing the input voltage for a 12V case
fan in order to limit its RPMs and make it run quieter.
Cooling – Water cooling is
an alternative to standard air cooling for computers, particularly CPUs, using
water or other liquids as opposed to air from fans. It functions much the same
way as the cooling system in a car does. Typical components include a water
block, water pump, and heat exchanger such as a radiator. Water cooling can
allow quieter operation and improved processing speed.
Zip Ties –
Zip ties are very common items
used in cable management to bundle cables together. They are typically plastic
and available in a variety of sizes depending on the size and volume of cables.
You can also use them to bind cables against other non-stationary objects to
keep them in place.