Just a few notes about my build: This was my first w/c attempt with the primary purpose to create a quiet(er) PC that had a lot of gaming power, good potential for o/c if I should choose to, and also to look really cool.
For original theme was going to be red and silver, mostly because I thought the Heatkiller GPU-X3 block looked amazing. But after a lot more looking around, I settled on using all EKWB blocks as I could get matching clear-acrylic blocks for my GPU, CPU, and MB. I was going to go one step further and get blocks for my RAM, again mostly for look, but decided on the red themed Vengeance RAM from Corsair – looked pretty sweet.
All of the fittings were shining silver BitsPower compression fittings.
I got my parts from 4 sources – all of the computer hardware came from NCIX, most of the w/c parts came from DazMode, with a few spare parts from FrozenCPU and the tubing from SideWinder (for some reason I got fixated on Tygon 3/8”ID ½” OD food grade tubing.
Most of the parts are stock, with some extra accessories for the pump to add a clear face and a silver backing. The extra radiator is clearly for show (and the bay res has a flow indicator and is used for filling).
Overall, it was a pretty fun experiment and just had the following few points / shout-outs:
1) - Thanks to Linus and his tech-tips which is what got me started on this. His “Ultimate Water Cooling Guide” series (Ultimate Water Cooling Guide Part 1 - Preparation Procedure NCIX Tech Tips - YouTube) was hardware porn for me.
2) - Thanks to Daz as well for some parts advice, as well as the quick and efficient job of shipping parts to me.
3) - EKWB – PLEASE!!! Re-release the all silver backplate for the 680 reference board. It was available for a very short time, but got discontinued for the black version. I think the bright silver looks awesome (and okay, it went with my theme).
4) - This took a lot of research time – a lot! Mostly to find the exact parts that I wanted (both for functional and for look and feel)a, and a lot of searching through different sites and forums. But it was definitely worth it.
5) - For those that are building their first rig – one thing to note: you loop will only leak one place at a time (due to some laws about physics…fluid dynamics) meaning when you fire it up for the first time, and find a leak, tear it all apart to get at the leak, fix the leak (usually by tightening something) – DON’T put it all back together. Start it running again, and wait for the next leak. Fix that, repeat 3 or 4 more times. THEN put it all back together.
Other than that, it went pretty well and I am getting some great performance on BF3 in 3D (which is basically all I am using for a “benchmark” right now).
Once the 680’s come down in price (I didn’t mind paying $500 once for leading edge, but won’t do it twice), I will work on the next round of the build which will be the following:
1) - Add a second GPU to the rig (which is why I have left the SLI bridge installed so the tube runs won’t change
2) - Add an Aquacomputer, flow and temperature monitors – mostly for curiosity
3) - Maybe add a second pump – theoretically good for redundancy?
4) - Change the fluid to EKWB blood red coolant. The Feser One red that I am using is a little too bright – I didn’t see the pictures of the EK fluid till after
5) - Figure out how to better access a re-fill point for my loop – right now the best option is on the top of the bay res, and I still have to half unscrew it to get at it
6) - Go with individually sleeved cables, perhaps red, to help clean up wiring and make it look slicker.
Okay, that is all – hopefully you enjoy the pictures and I didn’t go overboard!
(hopefully the posts will show up in the rest of the thread)
And now for some unpacking...
I love the EK blocks - something about the clean lines and clear acrylic - was so stoked that I managed to find a matching set for all of my blocks.
The rad and fans - everywhere I read commented on Typhoons as being a high quality, low noise fan. I bought to types - 3 lower CFM and 2 higher CFMs. The lower CFMs were going to be mounted on the rad, and the 2 higher CFMS were going to be used to push air into the case through filters (to try and control the dust).
Now for the pump...
And now some pump mods...
Another acrylic block and shiny silver backing..
The pump before:
The pump after:
oooo baby! love those fresh deliveries from Dazmode!
For the reservoir(s) I know having 2 is redundant, but I wanted to carry on the EK theme, as well as to have something in the main chassis for show. Again, clear acrylic from EK for the bay res, and I found a similar clear tube version from Bitspower.
Now for some heavy hitting hardware - the GPU! At the time I bought this (October) the 680 was almost bleeding edge, pricey ($500ish) but not as bad as the 690 that was running just over a grand. I chose this version with the plans to buy a second one and SLI it.
Okay, for $500 its nice to get a metal logo (and not some flimsy plastic one).
Un-boxing the GPU and getting it ready for the water block...My 680 in it's black dress!
Again, what is nice to see on a well made card is loctite on the screws..Sometimes its the little things..
Whoopss...I lied..Now it's naked!! Completely...
Jumping to the motherboard - again this is a little overkill for my system, but what the hey..
I read up a lot online about whether or not it makes sense to w/c the mb. There was a lot of different opinions online, but since I could get the matching blocks, I say go for it. (and mind the hairy leg in the picture there).
Okay, a bit of jumping ahead but here is the mb with the CPU and CPU and MB waterblocks installed in the case..
And now for the GPU. Again, one of the reasons for going SLI (in the future) is just so I can have more water-cooling blocks in the loop. EK has a slick bridge which comes in 2 way and 3 way, as well as in serial and parallel configurations. Again, after trying to figure out what was the best option, I went with a parallel configuration and installed the 3 way block as according to the MB specs, slot 1 and 3 are PCIx16 (whereas slot 2 is PCIx8) - again not sure how much this will ultimately impact me, but x16 sounds better then x8?
Okay, this is a picture showing my original 2 way block (before I read about the 2nd slot being a PCIx8) with the two GPU blocks (and one GPU) - gives you an idea what the upgrade will look like:
Okay now on to some more assembly...I spent a lot of time planning out the tube runs to make sure they were as clean as possible while also trying to keep the bends to the right radius so the cables wouldn't kink. I have to say this tygon tubing was very soft and worked very well - also useful that it came in a 3/8"ID x 1/2"OD configuration which was still pretty slim.
I also installed the GPU with the SLI bridge so that the tube runs would not change when the second GPU is added (also looks kind've cool!).
Damn - the CPU block is a little higher than the mb block (as you can sort've tell by the slight bend in the tube between the two fittings).
BAM! Install a 3/8" spacer (well - order a spacer, wait a week or two for it to be delivered, and then BAM!)
Here's the rad completed. Note that on the rad comes default with plastic plugs - the two on the bottom got replaced by my fittings, but I forgot about the two on the top. One of which leaked, probably not because it was plastic, but because I didn't follow other people's advice and properly clean and prepare my rad before installing. I did end up replacing the top plastic plugs with metal ones.
Here is the rad installed, along with the Corsair ram...Again red to match my theme.
A closer look at the RAM installed, as well as some of the tubing...Again soooo sexy...
Adding the GPU in...
The tube run was a little hairy between the GPU bridge and the CPU, but thankfully there are a lot of variations for fittings..30, 45, 90, S curve, so many different fitting types. I actually planned out all of my tube runs before I bought the gear and estimated what type (and how many) of each fittings I needed, but as you can see from my previous posts, I ended up missing a few (which put my project on hold for a couple of weeks).
Here is a shot of the two reservoirs - again, the tube one was for show..
Okay, this was probably the most crazy part to plan out. Between wanting to put in a cut-off valve, a drain valve, and a flow meter I had to settle with not getting a flow meter in (there was just no space). There is probably about $100 of fittings here just to get from the res to the pump to the bridge. This obviously wasn't the most efficient way to do it, but was more for show.
And here is the finished product..
What exactly is the purpose of the ball valve where it is located?
And now things start to get interesting - time to start adding fluid. And this is where having two reservoirs was neat to see how they reacted.
I originally thought I could add fluid to the tube res, but as it turns out, that didn't work too well because of my second res (something about it being higher then the other one and messing up pressure, fluid dynamics, something that a smarter person would understand). Anyway no biggee, although it is a bit of a pain to access this hole to fill so addressing that will be part of my upgrade plan.
Okay - this took a little more research here...In Linus' video, he said to jump the green wire on the ATX connector to fire up the PSU without being connected to a MB (this needs to be done in order to get the pump running). Problem here is my fancy Corsair PSU has all black cabling!!! With a bit of reading and a somewhat modified paper clip, jumping the green wire (pin 4) with pin 3 (ground) works.
And now for the leaks! Again, something about the laws of fluid where it only leaks in one spot at a time. The first leak though was from the top of the rad (from the original plastic plug installed in the rad).
This is non-conductive solution, but since the MB isn't powered on anyway it's no big deal...
And now the expansion of the paper towel...Lots of places for leaks!!
Okay - all of this work requires nourishment... Behold coconut milk, raspberries and blueberries and cocoa powder. Tastes awesome and is paleo friendly (for those who care)..
And as a little before and after (and yes, my desk could've been cleaner even without the fancy new rig but it was a good time to refresh everything)..
Here is the after shot with the new rig and general clean-up...Interesting thing here (for me at least) my wife and I share 720sq' and there is still lots of room for this huge case and 27" monitor. Go organization!
And now for some close-ups of the final working product...
The MB block..
The pump assembly (with all it's red glory!)
The SLI bridge..
This shot was a tough one - it's of the GPU block which normally you can't see from straight on (camera is pointing up from the bottom of the case). I am almost tempted to put some mirrors in just so I can see this as well.
And here is the final shot, which is just another close-up of the CPU.
Hope you like it and I will answer any questions that you might have. Overall I was really impressed with the outcome - I love the red theme (will like it even more when I go to the blood red coolant - just a better colour), I love that I can see the fluid running through everything. It was worth the time spent to plan it all out, fuss and fiddle and curse with all of the tiny pieces.
Overall, it is obviously faster then my old rig, but more important quieter. The 5 Typhoon's running at full bore are still quieter then my old stock system (which would scream like a banshee every time I ran Civ5).
Oh crap..I just realized..I can't drain the loop because the drain is after the pump, meaning I would need to run the pump to drain it.
That was supposed to be the goal of the valve (so I could control the draining!) - ummm, that will be fixed in v2.0?
I would suggest not running the pump to drain the loop. Disconnect a tube and blow it out instead.
Yea, I kind've realized after the fact how my original plan was not going to work. Perhaps I can change the fitting at the bottom of the res so I can run the drain line straight down from there.
Going to be interested when I get to the rework on this. I have been looking around to figure out how I can also add another radiator to the loop - I am not sure if my 3x120mm's would be enough for 2 GPUs and a CPU, and if I do get some temperature gauges installed it would be cool (I hope) to see the actual impact of an extra rad, or if I turn the top assembly into a push/pull configuration.
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