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Project Out of my depth and paddling furiously

welshy46
Level 7
I have wanted to liquid cool a Pc for a long time now, but have put it off with excuses of a lack of time, know how and most importantly, cash. I satiated my need by fitting a Corsair H110, a very good cooler and well worth the cash. Telling myself you are a Pc modding god now. Fluids flow within your system. It's not really liquid cooling though is it, it's no more difficult and in many instances a lot easier than fitting an air cooler.

So, armed with the most powerful knowledge tool known to man. Google, and a brain of putty and hands with fingers of butter. I decided 2014 is going to be the year of liquid.

The parts list

Coolermaster HAF XB lan box
Asus Republic of Gamers Maximus VI formula
Asus Republic of Gamers Raidr 240gb PCI-e SSD
Asus Republic of Gamers GX1000 mouse
Asus 27" PB278Q 2560x1440 monitor
Intel core i7 4770k
Gigabyte oc R290x
16gb Corsair Vengance 2133MHz
Corsair CS750M psu
Magicool Xtreme Hexa 6 x 120mm Radiator
EK Supremacy Clean CSQ Universal CPU Waterblock : Gold
Monsoon Mod My Toys Compression Fitting : Matt Black / Red Carbon
Feser One Non Conductive UV Cooling Fluid UV Red
Masterkleer (13-19mm) Tubing : Clear
XSPC D5 Photon 170 Reservoir and Pump Combo
EK Water Blocks EK-FC R9-290X Full Cover Water Block - Acetal+Nickel
Magicool Xtreme Dual 160 Radiator
EK Water Blocks EK-FB KIT ASUS M6F Asus Maximus VI Formula Motherboard Water Block - Acetal+Nickel
6 Corsair AF120mm red led fans
2 inwin 140mm red led fans ( taken from inwin GRone case)
2 80mm arctic cooling F8 pro fans
200mm coolmaster red led fan
and a shed load of other bits to connect this lot together

The case and system pre liquid, apart from the H110 which is destined for a lucky fleabayer
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This was the original case, an Inwin GRone full tower. A case so big a 5 year old could hide in it. After building the system and seeing all that space I decided this was not the case I was looking for. Then I saw the corsair 540 cube and after looking into alternative form factors. Settled on the coolermaster haf xb. a well thought out design, different and well worth a look at if you're as board as me with tower cases.


I started this build thinking I was going to put a 420mm rad in the front of the case in place of the corsair h110 that was there. After searching through many online shops in searh of all the various parts, I came across the Magicool 6x120mm radiator. It's basically two 120mmx360mm rads in on top of the other with a single port in each and just happens to be just around the same size as the side of the case. If you've read the parts list you'll have noticed I'm cooling the cpu, gpu, chipset and south bridge. So I'm going to need a rad big enough to cope and be able to fit mostly in the case. At present I have the fans on the inside pulling air out of the case but should the need arise, like a summer like last year in the UK/ girlfriend coming round and whacking the thermostat on max. I can fit another 6 fans six to the outside for a push/pull or even turn the radiator around to blow into the case. as it is only held in by cutting the whole very slightly bigger than the rad and cutting and sticking the unused middle part from two 360mm neoprene rad gaskets to the top and bottom of the rad and squeezing it in, it should help to reduce vibration not being mechanically fixed to the case. On the other hand it might just fall out one day and spoil the party.

I'm still waiting on some of the parts to arrive. I have the big rad cpu block and all the components from the original build, I'm
still witing for the gpu and chipset blocks, tubing and some of the compression fittings I've gone for EK blocks all round on the build as they have a good reputation and most importantly they were in stock unlike the xspc stuff I was going to buy. i was hoping EK would sell the southbridge block separately from the chipset block. Getting the MVIF finally came down to the already installed chipset block when i was looking to upgrade. Now it might as well go in the bin when the EK version turns up.

Here's some pics of the work so far.


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the next photos will hopefully be of the finished or at least operational system. that or me weeping in a corner.
Board: MVIF
CPU: intel core i7 4770k@4.8GHz
GPU: R9 290x
RAM: 16gb Corsair Vengence 2133MHz
SSD: ROG RAIDR 240gb PCI-e SSD
Case: Coolermaster HAF xb
Cooling: custom water loop
Monitor: Asus PB278Q

My build log photo dump
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welshy46
Level 7
It's last photo before it gets dunked.

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Board: MVIF
CPU: intel core i7 4770k@4.8GHz
GPU: R9 290x
RAM: 16gb Corsair Vengence 2133MHz
SSD: ROG RAIDR 240gb PCI-e SSD
Case: Coolermaster HAF xb
Cooling: custom water loop
Monitor: Asus PB278Q

My build log photo dump

welshy46
Level 7
Well that was a rollercoaster week of highs and way lows. what started as a simple enough idea to cool the cpu and waterblock got a little bit more serious with the edition of added chipset and southbridge block along with a full cover waterblock all from EK waterblocks. I had a little help from the guys at Specialtech with sourcing and sorting the bits for this build, also some good advice on underclocking th 290x to reduce it's heat issues.

As you can see from the previous pics, fitting the 360mm x 240mm rad in the side of the case was a simple job of chopping out the front and rear corner along with all that lay between with a grinder and tin snips. To get the rad a bit further inside the case, I had to also cut down the motherboard tray and reposition it's carrying rail. I also added a 180mm fan to the opposite side to blow air through the case. All of the fans now push air into the case to feed the 6 Corsair AF120mm fans on the rad. There's 2 140mm and 1 120mm on the front, with a 180mm on the right side. A 120mm on the rear and a 200mm roof fan.

The first attempt ended badly with on of the rotary compression fittings on the chipset failing and flooding the cpu area and graphics card in red UV fluid, along with the now partly pink kitchen wall. Luckily the pc wasn't powered up at the time as I was leak testing the system, this is a must. The fitting failed after about 4 hours into testing. My fault, I had to much twist in the tube which pulled the fitting apart. After having to completely disassemble the whole thing to hopefully dry it out and get it working. After 24 hours in front of the radiator the board and graphics card had dried out and were only slightly pinker than before their soaking, but would they still work.

Removing all the residue from the board meant having to remove the ROG armour. Any owners who wonder what it looks like under the armour can have a look at the pics below, there's also a pic of the 24 pin bridged with a tie you get around cables when you buy them. This allows the psu to power up without the 24 pin being plugged into the board. Ideal when testing the water loop for leaks, which saved me over £700 when the floods came. The armour itself is east to remove, just remove the 9 screws on the back. Lift off the rear metal armour, watch you don't drop the thermal strip on the back of the chipset, mine stayed attached to the armour but just in case yours doesn't. Then turn the board over or just lift off the plastic front armour. I haven't tested it, but I'm pretty sure that in the case of coming under fire, hiding behind your pc won't prevent you from being shot. Once inside I was met with a vista of pink. The whole board had took a drenching, the empty ram and pcie slots were full of fluid. Thankfully I had opted for Feser non conductive fluid, after a thorough bath in isopropanol and 24 hours of drying out they both worked.

Back to the build. The choice of the case came down to seeing so many tower cases, many beautifully crafted but ultimately an idea done to death. I'm not knocking the guys who built them, some of them are just pure art, I just wanted to try something else so for my first build I junked the Inwin GRone full tower case in favour of the Coolermaster HAF xb to make it a bit more of a challenge do something different. Admittedly half way through I'd wished I'd just gone with the tower and more so when it leaked and all had to be removed to get at the board and psu in the bay underneath.

Installing the cooling loop is no more difficult than plumbing up a kitchen sink, the second time anyway. The first attempt was a mess of tubes and after deciding to change from clear tube and red fluid to red tube and clear fluid to avoid having to redecorate and carpet the living room as well as buy a new pc if it fails again. also using red tube gives it a more uniform colour, the res and tubes on the back looked red but the fluid in tubes inside the case looked wrong. I also rerouted the tubes to give a cleaner run and removed the 80mm x 160mm that added a little extra cooling between leaving the cpu and chipset and entering the southbridge and gpu. Once funds are sufficient for anther 290x and block, I will use it or add a bigger rad to the front to the front to cool the cards alone.

with the exeption of fininshing the front panel, so no power/reset button or USB's and the fan grills for the front 120mm and side 180mm fans need to ordered yet. Then strip the lot down again to respray and finish off it's rough edges, the pc is working. the cooling loop has already proved it's worth with a couple of quick overclocks and a few 3Dmark11 runs to check it's cooling ability. The cpu clocked to 4.7GHz easily, but was a little flaky at 4.8GHz but that was only a quick tickle. so hopefully there's more to come. The 290x is loving the waterblock, obviously it's silent now the stock cooler is gone. I can only imagine how loud 2 or 3 of these things must be. One was loud enough or quiet but hot emough. Now it's no louder or hotter than the ROG pcie ssd next to it. There's still 11 fans in the case but even at their lowest speeds, thanks to the Phobya 30w per channel fan controller. I now have a pc that is faster and quieter than before. Especially now that stock cooler has gone from the 290x.

I've not written a build log before and was too busy figuring out what I was doing to keep posting updates on this. So here's some photos to show how the build went. i have wanted to do watercool a pc for a while and wish i'd done it sooner now. It's not that hard as long as you take your time and do plenty of research into all the different parts that go into a loop. I'd also recommend using someone like Specialtech who specialise in watercooling and can give helpful advise on what you need for your build.

having a little trouble uploading pics, trying get my phone to talk to my pc again. More pics will eventually follow.
Board: MVIF
CPU: intel core i7 4770k@4.8GHz
GPU: R9 290x
RAM: 16gb Corsair Vengence 2133MHz
SSD: ROG RAIDR 240gb PCI-e SSD
Case: Coolermaster HAF xb
Cooling: custom water loop
Monitor: Asus PB278Q

My build log photo dump