Dream Box, Dream Build

mirositeLike a dream vacation, or dream job, you’d expect a certain amount of satisfaction from a product named “Dream Box”. As long as you set aside your normal perception of what a PC enclosure is, the Aerocool created Dream Box will certainly satisfy in a multitude of ways. Let’s explore the capabilities of this box of possibilities.

P9082546.JPGThe Aerocool Dream Box describes in apt manner what to expect just from its name. There’s no “enclosure” to be found once you open up the well-made packaging; instead you will find pipes, connector, tri-joints, 4-way joints, holders and some vaguely computer-related looking thingamajigs included that seems to have come off from a traditional enclosure. In short, you’re looking at a huge lego box that’s meant to be formed into a holder of PC components, but can also be turned into whatever you fancy, parts and time permitting.

Pulling up the Dream Box microsite, you’ll be greeted with words such as “creation”, “dreams” coming true,a menu heading named “Parts Explained” and a page dedicated to the different, unique projects built by owners of the Dreambox. It’s noteworthy that there’s no mention of “PC”, “computers” or “enclosure” – this is truly a brave departure from the traditional for Aerocool, and this approach to a PC component is unique in an industry grown stale with a focus on just the bigger, better and higher specs.

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Instructions revealed the sheer number of parts, but was pretty sparse. Users will have to figure out connections like metal beam to C-ring, or PSU bracket to multi-purpose bracket, and what the other screws are meant for.

So the Dream Box is not a traditional PC product. What can PC enthusiasts expect from it? Lots, as we discovered. The most obvious appeal to this type of product is the modding – PC modding is still a big, though niche business, and the Dream Box makes it easy to participate in without having to bust out the Dremel. Anyone who accesses their PC internals regularly will also benefit from the Dream Box, as will users who like to create with their hands.

 

You can also expect a lot of parts. Here’s a quick run down: a total of 37 aluminum pipes in 50, 150, and 200m lengths, 37 assorted connectors/joints (2-way straight, 2-way bent, 2-way 90º, 3-way and 4-way joints) and 12 end caps, sundry items like a PSU bracket, a “front panel”, 2 multi-purpose brackets and the versatile C-rings that grip the pipes and offer mounting nearly anywhere you want. There’s also an awe-inspiring (and somewhat frightening) 400pcs of M3x4 screws for connecting the joints to the pipes, as well as various other screws, mounts, standoffs and even some cable ties.

The parts were created and combined into a single package with utmost care, taking into consideration the typical dimensions a PC enclosure would take up. We noticed this when we started to take stock and sketch out what we wanted to build, more or less.We originally wanted to use this kit to create an ambitious VR centered, space saving PC rig, with the headset, controllers and detectors all in individual Dream Box holders, but the Vive was unavailable at the time of testing. this turned out to be a good thing with the amount of work that went into a standard build.

For this write-up, we went ahead and completed (or tried to) a space-saving, all-in-one type “enclosure” for our test display – it came out looking like scaffolding, but still looked cool to everyone in the office. My plan was to make a stable enclosure that fit around the display while still being able to stand by itself. I also wanted it to occupy very little space. We show you through the following photos how we went about this build.

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Mission: turn the above donor display into an All-In-One PC.
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Connecting the first joint to a pipe was a revelation. “Oh. So many screws.” and: “This is pretty sturdy.”

It was at this point when I realized how everything would fit together. I had a hazy idea on how it would look in the end, so I started out with the main framework and figured I could add or change things on the fly. That was a pretty bad idea. I’ll show you why.

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This will form the main corner of the frame surrounding the display.
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Even knowing about the flexibility of combining the different sizes of piping, I was pleasantly surprised with how well it fits our test display’s screen size.

Next came the hard part. It took a lot of screwdriver work to test out possible mounting options for the motherboard, which I planned would go behind the screen. I wanted the rear panel of the motherboard to face either upwards or to the rights side, where it would be easy to access both USB ports and other connectors. It turns out I had to change joints and extend the pipe supports 3 times, and that’s not a joking matter when each change involves removing and returning up to 8 screws per configuration change – which when multiplied by 3 means 24 – and this wasn’t the first layout change I made. This quickly teaches you to plan more before jumping in.

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This is how my first configuration looked like. I scrapped this because the motherboard would have hung down too far to reach easily.
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This configuration neglected including a space for the PSU.
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The next configuration includes space for the PSU bracket, and with the motherboard mounted we can see how it’s sagging too much – so another change is necessary.
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After a few more changes and a sore wrist, I end up with the above configuration.

The contraption I end up with after a few hours of work could hardly be called a masterpiece, but I’m still unjustifiably proud of my creation. I could be sure there’s nothing exactly like it anywhere else, and it seems able to serve its intended purpose admirably – with the display or without, it could stand on itself while keeping all the ports accessible, provided good cooling for all the components (an innate advantage to this product or any open test bench) and occupied very little space.

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The front panel included in the package, mounted on top for easy access.
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The frame fits the display size nicely, and can be mounted with additional C-rings for mounting HDDs, cable holders, and other stuff – like a paper holder.
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Clearance at the rear is more than adequate. A PCIe videocard flexi-cable would be perfect here to mount the videocard beside the motherboard.
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The motherboard doesn’t sit straight but is perfectly secure with 4 mounting points. There is space for mounting the PSU on the left-lower portion of the frame.
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Space here can be used to mount additional storage drives or fans.
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Even after building my contraption, there’s still a large number of parts available for further expansion.

The Dream Box isn’t for everyone. It’s a bit too fiddly, involves too many screws, and requires a decent amount of time for planning (and execution!) to finally end up with a product that might not be all that practical. For all of its faults however, the Aerocool Dream Box is a crazy-cool contraption that occupied this writer for a few not-quite productive hours. The re-configuring and re-attaching wasn’t so much fun, but the end product swelled me up with a small amount of pride and a whole lot of satisfaction.

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Some sample creations from the dreambox site

Time constraints prevented us from finishing the project, although we could see where everything would go and how everything would fit. For people who like to create, people who like to let go and create stuff on the fly, and perhaps people who has a nice electric screwdriver handy, the Dream Box is a slightly expensive but very unique and fun purchase at 150 bucks, or roughly P6800. Sure there are cheap enclosures to be had out there, but this isn’t an enclosure. It’s a creation kit for the PC builder looking for the ultimate in crazy and unique builds.

 

We’re still aiming to create a setup for VR using this kit, stay tuned for updates!

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