I'd never used a Dremel before.
But I'd have to learn if I wanted a PC that stood out from all the nondescript beige boxes my friends owned. So I spent the afternoon tracing the pattern on side panel of my Lian-Li aluminum case using a stencil I'd found online. Had YouTube been around at the time, I would have searched for a Dremel tutorial but it would be few more years before it existed.
With Dremel in hand, I began to cut along the trace line in my dimly lit garage. I felt like I was back in 7th grade shop class, but without the teacher leaning over my shoulder. The first side of the square was rough, as I learned to control the vibration of the Dremel, but each side improved just enough that I didn't embarass myself.
With the square cut out of the side panel, I pealed back the adheasive on the clear plexiglass and gently pressed it onto the panel. After installing a blue light inside the case, my creation was complete. With a little work, I had created a PC that didn't look like anything my friends owned.
Cable management wasn't a high priority back then
At a time, everyone I knew had a biege or black box computer, but I wanted something unique. How my PC looked was as important as how it performed. By the time more innovative designs came on the scene, my interests had moved from appearances to performance, and overclocking became an obession. I spent hours scouring forums for tips on how to squeeze every last drop of performance out of my AMD processor and NVIDIA graphics card. My motto: If you're not overclocking you're leaving performance on the table.
Of course, overclocking came with its set of challenges that included a number of fried processors and melted motherboards. And the fans. Oh the fans! Every overclocker I knew had a set of sealed headphones to block out as much fan noise as possible.
But priorities change.
I no longer have the patience it requires to build my own PC nor the adventure to overclock components. Today, I just want a computer that works. Reliability matters more than appearances, and quiet operation trumps sheer performance. If my computer went down a decade ago, I was upset because I couldn't play Half Life or Dark Age of Camelot. But if my computer goes down today, my business is down. I've come to rely on my computer like I rely on dial-tone and electricity.
That's why a computer like the Obsidian or Serenity speaks to the grown-up in me. They are handsome but don't scream, "Everyone look at me!". They are crafted with the most reliable components, even if that means they cost more. In short, they just work.
No Dremel required.