What will your next chassis be? I’m sure you’ve asked yourself a few times when you’re planning a build. Do you go for the big and expensive one that’s going to look great and offer lots of space, or do you save on costs and get something more reserved, allowing you more budget for that graphics card you like? How about the Aerocool Dream Box? I can assure you, you’ve likely never thought of having this chassis in your build list, but given that this can be virtually any shape, size or configuration you desire, it’s certainly one of the most interesting chassis we’ve ever seen land here at eTeknix HQ.
From mini-ITX to E-ATX, the Dream Box can hold any of them. The idea is that you take this “chassis” and built it how you want it. I use the word “chassis” in quotes, because a chassis isn’t exactly what you’re buying here. What this really looks like to me is a several hundred piece Meccano set with a few screw holes to put on a motherboard and PSU, and well, that’s because that’s exactly what it is. Free from the box-like constraints of most chassis, you don’t even have to build a chassis from this, you can build whatever you want. We’ve seen people build helicopters, bridges and more. Today though, we’ll be building a PC case, that’s what we want to see.
“Dream Box” is a revolutionary DIY kit created by Aerocool to give you the flexibility to build a computer case like no other! Furthermore, you can make anything you want out of this DIY kit. The creation can be a table, a lamp, a cup holder, a coat hanger, a toy and the list goes on and on. There are NO LIMITATIONS!! THE ONLY LIMITATION IS YOUR IMAGINATION!! Have fun with “Dream Box” DIY kit!! Make your own creations and make your dreams come true. BE UNIQUE! BE COOL! BE AEROCOOL!
Aerocool provides a guide to building a tower from the parts, but that’s a little boring, so we’re just going to let you watch this video then we’ll move on and “try” make something of our own doing.
The box gives us a few examples on the front, such as a full-tower chassis, a helicopter style mini-ITX build and a headphone stand. I love the bright yellow box too, it certainly stands out.
On the back, another set of random examples of what you can do; a cup holder and a hat and coat stand!
There’s a run down of the components too and well, there are a LOT of components. We’ve got a grand total of 118 parts and around 500 screws; this build isn’t going to be quick, that’s for sure!
Opening the box, you’ll find that every single component is carefully packed in protective foam. This not only keeps the parts safe but also makes them incredibly easy to find while building your system, almost like a custom tool drawer.
All the components come in four of these trays and as you can see, there’s really not much in terms of a chassis here, at least not yet.
All of the components are of a fantastic quality, all aluminium tubing and a gorgeous matte black paint job that gives everything a premium look and feel. Here you can see the longest and shortest poles, as well as the two sizes of mounting plates (used for motherboards and other hardware).
The two mid-size poles, as well as some joint caps and the angle bracket.
More joint adaptors here, offering a wide range of installation options, as well as the ATX PSU support bracket.
Extra fittings allow you to extended poles, angle brackets are self-explanatory, and those C rings are used for mounting virtually anything to the poles; hard drives, fans, motherboards, radiators, you name it.
Finally, we have the I/O panel, a frighteningly empty instruction book and about five hundred screws!
The I/O panel is quite nicely designed, with a thick braided cable keeping all the important stuff neat and tidy, there are four USB ports, HD audio jacks and a nicely designed power and reset button arrangement. so that’s all the basics covered, let’s try to build something!
Building Your Own Dreambox
There’s no doubt about it, this was not an easy thing to build. Even the basic rectangle instructions from the video we have on the first page is going to be a time-consuming process. I jumped in trying to make my own chassis and after four hours, I took it apart, put it all back in the box and admitted that there was no way it was going to work. So, day two and I went for it again, this time with some more experience in what I was doing and came up with what you see below. What is it? It’s unique is what it is! And given the “build whatever you want” nature of the Dream Box, I did just that, for better and for worse!
The idea I wanted was a more accessible test bench for CPU cooler testing, at least in theory. The motherboard is angled at 45-degree towards the front, giving you pretty uncompromising access to the motherboard, while having room behind it for mounting kits.
I used some C brackets here to create and SSD mount, which will also be angled at 45-degree to match the motherboard orientation.
The two long bars at the top have been fitted with motherboard standoffs; this particular configuration will be suited for a Micro-ATX build, but you can set it up for any motherboard size you desire.
I added this bar for extra mounting solutions. There’s nothing directly required here, I just wanted to see how many other parts I could bolt on and see if they became useful later on. I could see this being a good place to mount some water cooling hardware, making it practical for testing custom loop equipment.
The I/O panel is mounted using C brackets and is also angled at 45-degree to match the other components orientation. I could put this on any bar of the framework, but having it down here makes it accessible and looks pretty cool too.
Fitting the C brackets and the bars is a little tricky, but thanks to some rubber grips on the interior of the rings, they’re incredibly secure.
Another bracket across the top, which I could again use for mounting hardware, but I actually thought it would serve well as a place to strap any of excess cables from the back of the motherboard too, helping keep things neat and tidy.
Overall, the “chassis” built it quite large, you only have to take a look at the PSU bracket to get an idea of the scale. However, it only used about half of the included components in the box, and I could have made it much bigger, not that I need to of course.
There’s a large open section here, which you could always expand into should you need more cooling mounts, hard drive bays or anything else for that matter.
The PSU bracket is mounted at the back. I think this may be the wrong way around and will be changed in the build; there’s a good amount of trial and error with this chassis.
I created a raised section here to allow something to deal with excess cables. It’s behind the motherboard, but also facing the PSU, so should work well for cable management.
So here we have it, a complete system of sorts and without a doubt, it’s unlike anything we’ve built here at eTeknix before. I aimed for a test bench like format where the access to the graphics card and CPU cooler installation process would be as open as possible, making it easy for testing components. Of course, what you choose to build from this bundle of bits is up to you, but I like that fact that I made something unique to me, even if no one else likes what I did. The motherboard is tilted away, as are the I/O panel and the 2.5″ SSD in the bottom right, creating a more unified and unique look for the build.
It’s pretty obvious that airflow is not going to be a problem here. I could take a few C-rings and mount a few fans blowing at any bit of hardware I wanted, but for now there really is no point. This could prove incredibly handy for those doing extreme overclocking though, as there’s very little in the way of the components and you really can put things exactly where you want them.
Cable routing wasn’t as easy as I had hoped, but If I was to keep this system in its current format, there’s plenty of scope to cable tie things to the frame and keep it looking a little more organised.
I did put the PSU bracket on backwards before, so when building, I simply turned that around and fitted the PSU. Of course, I also made another error, as there’s nothing to support the back of the PSU from drooping. I didn’t fix this, as I wanted you to see how it looked wrong, and point out that if you do have a problem like this, just get the bits out again, add another bar to suit the size of the PSU and your problem is solved. Need a bigger motherboard, PSU or anything else? It’s only a screwdriver and a few extra components away from being supported.
The front I/O panel fitted easily enough.
Lots of room to access it from the front and it looks pretty cool mounted at an angle; well, I think it does.
There’s clearly a lot of room back here, so adding hard drives, optical bays and all kinds of cool stuff back here should be easily done; although you’ll likely need a few more bits of out of the box first.
The motherboard I/O is within easy reach, and there’s a good amount of space to take excess cables and hide them behind the motherboard, keeping the view from the front as clean as possible.
The Aerocool Dream Box is currently available from CCL Computers for £90.05, which isn’t exactly cheap, but when you open the box and realise just how many bits and pieces that you get for your money, it’s actually pretty great value. I’ve seen Lego sets with less in for more money, and the idea that you can make it into whatever you want, even if it’s not a PC case, is pretty priceless.
I’ve got to say it, the Dream Box is completely and utterly bonkers. It’s wildly impractical for most day-to-day users and it requires a level of creativity and patience to put together that not everyone will be able to commit to. However, I absolutely love this bonkers, wildly impractical, patience-testing pile of pipes of screws, because there’s really nothing else quite like it in the chassis market.
For most desktop gaming systems or office systems, there’s little practical benefit to what Aerocool is offering with this kit. For those who are looking to build a unique design to show off some cool hardware, such as companies who are building a demonstration system for an event, case modders, and even enthusiast overclockers and hardware testers/reviewers such as us here at eTeknix, there are tangible benefits, but they come at a cost.
A lot of the benefits of this kit can be solved by investing in a pre-made open air test bench, but that’s hardly an imaginative solution. You’ve really got to want to build your own to buy this kit, but if you’re creatively inclined, then you’re going to love every aspect of it. It’s not the most intuitive thing to put together, and will take some trial and error, but at least if you’re not happy with it or you need to expand it, it’s only a bit of tool time away from being just how you like it.
Obvious benefits are that the open air design is going to be great for cooling. It does also mean that dust and other debris can be a hazard to your components, but this is true of any open design, test bench or similar hardware installation. Then again, it’s also easy to reach, clean and generally maintain your components too. Cable routing, or getting a clean-looking build at all can be tricky, but certainly not impossible. What’s really cool is that there’s nothing stopping you adding your own custom components, brackets, or even taking a saw to the aluminium pipes and cutting them to a length that suits your needs. Furthermore, you can always buy more than one kit, and build something truly massive. If you wanted a three level, triple motherboard, E-ATX water cooling test bench, then it’s certainly possible to create one. Or you could just build a hat and coat stand, it’s really up to you.
- Endless building possibilities
- Supports any hardware you want it to support
- High-quality components
- Good price (relative to how much hardware you get in the box)
- Lots of fun to work with
- Open-air design is great for cooling
- Ideal for custom test bench installations
- Limited instructions included
- Exposed components prone to collecting dust
- Can be time-consuming to construct
- Not ideal for first-time system builders
“The Aerocool Dream Box is unlike anything else on the market today. It’s really up to you if you want to build one of the most unique chassis’ on the market, a high-end test bench or a humble mini-ITX LAN rig with carry handles. The possibilities are endless and if you’ve got the creativity and the patience for it, it can be a lot of fun too!”
Thank you Aerocool for providing us with this sample.