Written by: Calen Saddler
Not long ago we made our PCs stand out by custom making our own water-cooling systems. Using automotive heater cores from cars as radiators and hand-made water-blocks by drilling holes through massive heatsinks. We adorned our rigs with neon everything and as much UV as we could get our hands on. Need I say, “cold cathode.” There’s also those purpose fueled trends as well. For many, modding started out as way to get more out of their computer. Now, we look back at a lot of those trends with a feeling of nostalgia. Some of these are more than trends as they have become a staple in the custom PC building and modding industry. It’s time to look back and hopefully find out more about trends in PC modding history.
We begin a multi-part series talking to modders from the community to give us their thoughts on how mods have evolved and where the trends are heading. We talked with Pro Modder, Jim Weist from Clockwerk Industries to find out what his perspective is on modding trends. Jim Weist from the USA is a master machinist in his own right. He’s well known for his amazing creations that include everything from water manifolds to fully modded rigs.
To start out, we had to ask Jim, “What was the first trend that you were involved in and what attracted you to it?”
“I think the first thing I got into when I started modding was sleeved cables and hardline tubing. Both were kind of new to the game when I started modding back in 2013. Now these are the norm. When I see a mod I think I look at it differently than most, when I do my work, especially on my personal builds and time permitting, I make sure every item in the build is modded somehow. Something like sleeved cables to me is less of a trend and more like something that is mandatory unless you have a different unique spin on wire management for your build.”
Hardline tubing has definitely had some staying power. It’s one of those trends that gets pushed up into a position that is highly regarded by modders and enthusiasts alike. I think trends are a combination of the right people adopting something and the want of others have it for themselves. There are many ways trends are set and at times it’s done by the manufacturers.
We asked Jim Weist, In your opinion; who sets the trends and how do you think mods become trendy?”
“Well to be honest, I think it’s the same as anything else. Good ideas set them. I think most of the time it’s by modders, as now case manufacturers are flying out modders to help design cases. If something is cool enough, it will become a standard eventually. The modding community is basically an art community, ideas come and go, some stick depending on how expensive it is, and how easy it is. Sleeve is cheap and easy to do, as is hardline tube. Then modding businesses find ways to simplify these ideas, bring them to the open market, and make it for anyone to purchase and enjoy.”
My favorite current trend is water-paths/water-distribution blocks. These are usually CNC milled out of acrylic and distribute the coolant throughout the case. Water-paths/manifolds first cropped up a few years ago. By the time Computex 2016 came around it became obvious that this would end up being a full-fledged trend and I’m glad it did. Professional modders and enthusiasts alike are currently exploring new variations of water-paths/water-distribution blocks. Jim Weist has made more custom water-paths/manifolds than just about anyone else in the PC Modding Industry.
Jim told us, “I think it comes from the desire to innovate, and be different. Water manifolds are a unique way to run water and I think it’s so popular because not everyone can do it. It’s a tricky part to make without a CNC and only the skilled craftsmen are doing them without a CNC and most people are paying to have them made. I think these things get popular as they are one of the cool items that requires some skills or some cash to get and becomes a status kind of thing. They also clean up the builds really well and eliminate tubing, leaving a great view at the hardware in the PC.”
So all this talk about past and current trends has me wondering what’s in store for the future? How do trends affect Pro Modders in the industry? I’ve noticed that the trends in modding world come full circle and sometimes they spur on the next wave of trends. Case modders like to be different and push the boundaries when it comes to projects. A trend may serve as a platform to do something different that facilitates new trends versus being something for them to follow.
We asked Jim, “What is your favorite trend to do in your own mods?”
“Personally, I like to find what the trends are and try to do something totally different. That has been my goal since I started modding. I want to do all I can to stand out and be unique. I float around and don’t like to have a set in stone rigid line up of mods. I go with how I feel heading into the build. I just want to make sure my work stands out and looks good.”
Jim left us with this, “I just say when modding, remember, it’s art. It’s a reflection of the person with the tools and the canvas. Be yourself and be original, don’t skimp on things to be different, and elaborate on things to be different. It’s hard to come up with something totally original, so find your own spin on things!”
This advice rings true and runs through to the foundation of what makes us, “modders.” We celebrate originality while honoring the ideas and trends that brought us to where we are today. Regardless of what the current trends are, it’s important that we all do what we love and what makes us happy. Always strive to do something new or original. Modding isn’t a hobby or a job; it’s a lifestyle and a wonderful one at that. The view of future trends in PC modding looks bright (not due to the RGBs) and we can see the seeds of tomorrow’s trends already popping up. Next time you see a new trendy mod, smile and reminisce about where it all started; with people like you who strive to make something better, cooler and truly “yours.”