What is a dormant PC?


When building a PC, your choice of components is arguably the most important decision you can make. But the form factor and case you choose should not be overlooked, and one of the most interesting “themes” you can choose is the dormant PC.

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The construction of the dormant PC

A dormant PC usually refers to a powerful computer presented in an unassuming case or casing. The term originated in the automotive world, where sleeper cars are high-performance vehicles that look normal from the outside. Under the hood is the real story, and the same goes for the PC world.

There are many different types of sleeper PC builds, from old beige boxes from the Windows 98 days to powerful machines built inside old console cases. Many of these cases require significant modifications to be used with modern PC components such as all-in-one coolers and graphics cards that are much larger than they were ten or two years ago.

Some versions require the use of atypical parts, such as smaller Mini-ITX or Mini-ATX motherboards. Builders often have to get creative with the positioning of components such as graphics cards, especially when building a chassis designed with specific hardware in mind.

Since airflow is an important consideration for any high-performance gaming PC, some builders will create additional vents to help with cooling. These projects are generally not recommended for those who lack experience in building computers, but once you understand the basics, you should be able to attempt a dormant build.

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Why build a dormant PC?

Building a dormant PC can be a fun project for someone looking to push the envelope in pursuit of a particular aesthetic. It can quickly become a hobby since the results can be quite impressive.

Adding custom RGB lighting and paint jobs to standard PCs is a creative endeavor, and dormant PC builds go one step further due to their bespoke nature. The choice of case or enclosure can present hurdles, but the results are almost always unique. The ultimate goal is to build something that looks pretty mundane, at least on the outside.

It’s also a fun way to make more use of old computer cases and console cases. The retro aesthetic of old computer cases appeals to many, and these parts are cheap and plentiful at thrift stores and second-hand markets. You may even already have a case in mind, sitting in the attic or basement. If it needs cleaning, check out our guide to removing that yellowed stain from vintage devices.

Once you’ve built your machine, you can show it off on YouTube or communities like r/sleeperbattlestations.

Build your own computer

If you’ve always dreamed of building a computer, there are plenty of resources to help you out, including our very own five-part guide. Once you’ve honed your skills, you might want to try building your own dormant PC.

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