If you’re old enough to remember CRT monitors and TVs, then you may well join us in our love for this water-cooled gaming PC with a vintage twist. PC modder János Kerekes took his Dremel to an old grey Sony Trinitron CRT monitor in order to create this unique water-cooled PC, which is called Oazis ROG.
Custom PC has been celebrating the best PC builds since 2003, and our Facebook group has over 300,000 members. We’ve seen many custom gaming PCs, from mods based on existing case designs to scratch builds. Here we talk to János about how he created this retro all-in-one gaming PC.
Custom PC: What inspired you to build a PC inside a CRT monitor shell, and where did the name come from?
János: One of my best friends asked for it. His company sells monitors and he wanted a special computer. The name was the company’s idea.
Custom PC: Why did you pick that particular Sony Trinitron monitor for this project, and why has it been rebranded Asus?
János: The CRT monitor was provided by the customer, just like the hardware that was built into it. All the hardware was made by Asus, so that’s the reason why it has been rebranded.
Custom PC: How hard was it to gut the insides out of the monitor, and how did you go about dismantling it?
János: At first it gave me a huge headache, as this monitor weighs approximately 50kg. In addition, Sony has taken care to assemble this monitor as precisely as possible, using all the available space. A lot of care and a little bit of brute force were required.
Custom PC: We love the neat and tidy front I/O panel with the USB ports, power button and so on. How did you go about doing this?
János: The monitor already had USB ports, but because I was building a PC inside the monitor, I had to construct a completely new I/O panel. For this, I used a 5.25″-wide I/O panel from a previous PC. It was almost the same size as the gap, so I just had to make a few small changes.
Custom PC: How did you make the rotating bit on the stand glow like that?
János: My idea was to make the structure of the monitor look better, so I cut a plexiglass sheet to the same size and shape as the bottom of the monitor. Then I placed LEDs in it and connected it to the original power button. Because the monitor stand can rotate, it was particularly tricky to manage the routing of all the cables through the case.
Custom PC: Take us through the process of modifying the Sony Trinitron monitor shell in order to mount a PC inside it.
János: It took days to find the appropriate layout, as I had to consider the features of the monitor shell and the fixing points that I had available. I didn’t want to create visible fixings, so I had to make custom mounts for all the hardware and water-cooling components. On the monitor, there was a part covered with plastic sheet, which I’ve used to hide the necessary screw connections.
Custom PC: How did you make the custom metal frame parts, such as the radiator and PSU mounts?
János: For the motherboard, radiators and PSU I used aluminum sheets, which I cut and filed to the right shape, then I fixed them to the case. I had to think a lot about the design of the original CRT monitor and its weight distribution.
The glass of the ray tube makes it heavy at the front, and when the tube is removed, it hugely alters the balance of the screen’s chassis. I couldn’t just install all the components towards the back of the monitor shell, as this would end up tipping the screen.
Custom PC: Those are some really tidy blowholes – how did you make them so neat?
János: To make the blowholes, I marked the openings for the 120mm fan on the top of the monitor shell, and then I cut them with a rotary multitool. The fans were then cut from their surrounds and fixed in place with silicon glue.
Custom PC: Why did you paint the monitor white, and how did you go about painting it?
János: I painted it white at the customer’s request – he wanted to make the PC white instead of the factory grey of the original Sony Trinitron monitor. To achieve a smooth finish, I had to sand the whole shell and I then painted it with several layers of special plastic paint, using an airbrush.
Custom PC: How did you create the windows and the red/black accents?
János: The original case didn’t have any clear sections or openings that allowed you to see the insides, so I made a few openings that I filled with clear plexiglass, so you could get a better view.
The two side windows weren’t that hard to make because they were simple, flat shapes. However, the top part was curved from the front to the back, and from left to right, so I had to use a heat gun to gently bend it into shape. It took three hours to get it right. To finish off the look and introduce the Asus ROG color scheme, I cut some black and red foam PVC sheeting into strips and used them to line the edges of the windows.
Custom PC: Mounting a new LCD panel inside the monitor must have been hard work – what monitor did you use and how did you go about fitting it into the CRT shell?
János: All the hardware came from Asus, including the monitor, so we chose to use the PB248Q, which is a 24″ display with an IPS LCD panel. The original frame for the LCD monitor had to be removed so that the panel would sit flush with the CRT monitor’s frame. The hole in the CRT frame also had to be enlarged.
The panel was then secured in place by tapping some of the plastic parts of the original frame and using bolts with large flat heads to hold the back of the panel. I also cut away the on-screen menu controls and mounted them on the little cylindrical section on the Sony monitor that held its on-screen controls.
What components did you choose for this build, and why? Did you make the lettering on the water-cooled Radeon Nano waterblock yourself?
János: Because of the small amount of space inside the monitor, I had to use only mini-ITX parts, so that what was part of the reason I chose the Nano card.
Another consideration here was that the appropriate water-cooling blocks for the motherboard and graphics card were available from EKWB. I made the backplate and lettering for the graphics card, with the letters being made from the same foam PVC material as the window surrounds.
Custom PC: There are a lot of tight bends in the hard tubing – what’s your process for measuring, cutting and bending your tubing?
János: I care a lot about design, which is why I chose to use hard tubing. My plan was to create a harmonious arrangement between the tubes and the hardware, rather than just adding the tubing as an afterthought. This added work but I had a lot of experience from my previous builds and the right tools for the job, including a homemade bending template.
Custom PC: How is the monitor wired up so that it powers on with the display, and where does it get its display input?
János: It was important to include two different power supplies inside the case, neither of which is visible from the outside. I had to build an external disconnect switch into the PC to introduce the mains power, then split that to the PC and monitor.
I utilized the original rotary switch on the Sony monitor’s control panel to turn on power to both the PC and the Asus monitor. The monitor connects to the video card through the DisplayPort input, which is reachable via a hole in the back of the CRT monitor.
Custom PC: Did you come across any difficulties?
János: Maybe the biggest challenge was integrating the Asus monitor’s control panel within the Sony monitor’s cylindrical control panel. It was a very tight fit and I wanted to retain the original power switch function of the Sony monitor, so it was very fiddly.
Custom PC: How long did it take you to complete this build?
János: I was working on this project for a month with no days off.
Custom PC: Are you completely happy with the end result, or do you wish you’d done some of it differently in retrospect?
János: I can never say I’m completely satisfied with any work that I’ve done. I always find there’s a detail that I could have made in a different way, and that’s true of some parts of this build. However, it’s all part of the fun of modding, and mistakes lead us to improve our knowledge and experience for the next time.
Oazis ROG CRT monitor PC specs
- CPU: Intel Core i7-6700K
- Case: Sony GDM-FW900
- Graphics card: Asus R9 Nano
- Storage: 240GB Samsung SSD
- Memory: Kingston 16GB (2 x 8GB) HyperX Predator DDR4 2666MHz
- Motherboard: Asus Maximus VIII Impact
- PSU: BitFenix Fury Gold 750W
- Cooling: EK-FB Asus M8i monoblock, EK-FC R9 Nano, EK-XRES 100 DDC 3.2 pump res combo, EK-CoolStream PE 240, EK hard tubing, EK hard tubing fittings
The PC builder
- Name: János Kerekes
- Age: 55
- Occupation: Construction company site manager
- Location: Hungary
- Main uses for PC: Due to the design it’s on display in an exhibition room
- Likes: Watching movies with the family and the popcorn of course
- Dislikes: If something happens differently from the original plan
As aging PC veterans who remember the CRT era well, we love this mod – it’s like a first-gen iMac but actually good. You’ve done amazing work here, János – gutting a CRT is no mean feat, and we’re amazed that you’ve not only squeezed a full PC system into it, but also water-cooled it.
Check out our best gaming setups guide if you want to see more outstanding custom PCs, and if you’ve built an extraordinary PC of any description yourself, then we’d love to see it! Join our Facebook group if you’d like to submit your own work for consideration.