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Project: YOLO 2K13 (first time watercooling buildlog)

chrisnyc75
Level 12
Hello ROG Nation 🙂 Thanks for stopping by to check out the build log for my first custom watercooling project (and first official build log), "Project: YOLO 2k13".

Let me start by thanking YOU, my fellow ROGers, whose advice & patient tutelage made this build possible. Shout-out to Arne Saknussemm, kkn, Zka17, Profeus, whitepaw, JackNaylorPE, & of course HiVizMan, for always being ready to share their expertise and knowledge no matter how stupid the question. lol If you want to check out the Q&A thread that got us to this point click here.

tl;dr: here's a preview of the finished product.

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To find out how I got here, read on......

A little background (skip to next paragraph if you don't care): I've been building my own PCs for about 13 years. I've done 5 or 6 builds for myself, plus a few more for friends. When I built my first pc, though, I wasn't a gamer at all; in fact, I knew next to nothing about PC hardware, and cared even less. In those days, I only needed my pc for reliable internet access and audio encoding & storage. In those days, my aim was cost savings (Dell was expensive, & I was broke as hell! lol). Then, around 2006 the advent of the MMORPG brought me back to gaming 20+ years after beating Zelda and giving up gaming for more "adult endeavors". 😉 Suddenly obsessed with online gaming, it was then that I realized that I could design a system around my specific needs and have endless fun & adventure at my fingertips 24/7. I was hooked; all hope was lost. 😉 Flash forward to 2008 when I built my first "no budget" build - a system built with the best of everything, cost be damned. I picked up a 1st gen 940 the week Intel brought "i7" to market, learned how to overclock it, and paired it with the brand new "nvidia 3d Vision" 4 years before home 3d went mainstream. That "bleeding edge of technology" system lasted me FIVE solid years without so much as a single crash. Then, quite suddenly, after endless hours of gaming at max capacity, my trusty X58 finally showed its age in June of this year, becoming erratic and unreliable for no easily discernable reason (after weeks of troubleshooting came up empty, it wasn't until my new build was underway that I found out the problem was only a failing secondary [data] hard drive, but whatever - it gave me an excuse to upgrade hehe).

In July 2013 (~6 months ago), I undertook a new build on the X79 platform with a i7 3820. In the months since, the system has been tweaked, upgraded, & reconfigured practically nonstop. After 5 years on a 1st gen Nehalem that topped out around 3.9ghz, I was stunned at how well Sandy Bridge-e overclocked. I quickly turned into some kind of madman hell bent on designing a system to rival the baddest AI mainframe Sci Fi never even dreamed of. lol Most recently I swapped out the 3820 for a shiney new 4930K. Which brings us to my current configuration:

Asus Rampage IV Extreme w/ i7 4930K + H80i
6gb Corsair Dominator GT 2400 (CL9)
2xSLI EVGA GTX 770 SC ACX
Asus VG278H & nVidia 3d Vision
Creative X-Fi Titanium
2x Samsung 840 SSD [non-raid] (OS & games)
1TB Seagate Hybrid (data + games overflow)
EVGA Supernova 1300W
Corsair 600T

My PRE-watercooled system:
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It's a good build, well above average, but I needed better.
(the red LEDs are too much, I know)

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(pardon the cable management, it will be *immaculate* in Project: YOLO 2k13)

I agonized over Sandy Bridge-e vs Ivy Bridge-e, but ultimately took a chance on the newer tech since I want this build to last until Skylake (2015) or beyond. I'm mostly happy with my 4930K, with basic cooling it's proven to be a just-slightly-above-average chip, but it was immediately apparent that maxing out the oc on it was going to require more than high end air or a closed-loop cooler could provide. Thus "Project: YOLO 2k13" was born, so-named because despite my better judgment that custom watecooling is unnecessary and too expensive (a H80i cools it just fine at 4.3, why do I *need* 4.7ghz?), I realized that pragmatism was holding me back from climbing into the upper echelons of pc enthusiasts. I've never been one to settle for mediocrity, so - YOLO, right? 😉

So, after several months of research, designing, and waiting for my chosen chassis to come to market, I am finally beginning the final build phase of my project. In addition to my existing system hardware, I am adding:

1 x Phanteks Enthoo Primo
1 x Alphacool NexXxoS Monsta (80mm thick) 360mm Radiator
6 x Noiseblocker NB-eLoop B12-4 120mm x 25mm Ultra Silent Bionic Blade Fan - 2400 RPM
1 x Alphacool NexXxoS XT45 Full Copper 360mm Radiator
6 x Corsair Air Series SP120 PWM Performance Edition High Static Pressure 120mm Fan
1 x XSPC Raystorm LGA 2011 cpu block w/ 2x red LED (3mm)
2 x XSPC Razor GTX 770 - Full Cover GTX 770 block w/ 2x red LED (3mm)
1 x XSPC Razor SLI Flow Bridge (4-Slot)
1 x Arctic MX-4 Thermal Interface Material
1 x Swiftech MCP655 Special Edition 12 VDC Pump With Speed Controller
1 x Masterkleer 1/2" x 3/4" Tubing - UV Dark Red (10ft)
1 x XSPC Photon 170 Tube Reservoir w/ red 5mm LED
1 x IandH Dead-Water Biocide
1 x Mayhems Deep Red Dye
1 x Mayhems Dark Blue Dye
3 x 6-pack ModMyToys Carbon Fiber Enhanced Compression Fittings, 1/2" x 3/4" - Matte Black
4 x Monsoon 45° Rotary Angle Fitting - 3/4" - Matte Black
1 x Monsoon 90° Rotary Angle Fitting - 3/4" - Matte Black
1 x Monsoon Silver Bullet Antimicrobial G1/4 Plug
4 x XSPC 360mm Radiator Gasket
2 x 12" Cold Cathode kit - UV
1 x Logisys 8" corner LED stick - UV
1 x Logisys 16" corner LED stick - UV
1 x Bitspower Male-to-Male 10mm Extension Fitting
1 x Bitspower BP-MVV-BK Mini-Valve
1 x Bitspower Black Shiny Sealing Plug - 1/2"
4 x XSPC G1/4" Male to Female Extension Fitting (10mm) - Black Chrome
2 x Alphacool 45° Swivel Adapter - Matte Black
3 x EK 90° Swivel Adapter - Black
1 x pre-build component flushing loop:
1 x GE GXWH20S filtration system
1 x EcoPlus 185 Submersible Pump, 185 GPH
2 x 1" to 3/4" adapter + 1/2" barb
10 ft clear 1/2" ID pvc tubing
1 x 2 gallon bucket
2 x 1 gallon distilled H2O


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I seriously considered rigid acrylic tubing, as I absolutely LOVE the clean aesthetic of it. But after careful consideration, I decided it was one more complication I didn't need in my first wc project. My top priority for this build has to be safety & careful attention to detail -- the last thing I want is to get wrapped up in aesthetics (re: rigid acrylic tube bending) and miss an important detail that leads to catastrophe. Once I've proven mastery of the basics with this build, I'll move on to rigid acrylic with my next upgrade.

Stay tuned for more..... 🙂
Asus RIVBE • i7 4930K @ 4.7ghz • 8gb Corsair Dominator Platinum 2133 CL8
2xSLI EVGA GTX 770 SC • Creative X-Fi Titanium • 2x 840 SSD + 1TB Seagate Hybrid
EVGA Supernova 1300W• Asus VG278H & nVidia 3d Vision
Phanteks Enthoo Primo w/ custom watercooling:
XSPC Raystorm (cpu & gpu), XSPC Photon 170, Swiftech D5 vario
Alphacool Monsta 360mm +6x NB e-loop, XT45 360mm +6x Corsair SP120

14,472 Views
18 REPLIES 18

chrisnyc75
Level 12
First things first.... after unboxing and taking inventory, it was time to flush the radiators. Initially, I was going to do this by just filling them with water and shaking them around a bit to loosen any debris, but after seeing this video I decided to be absolutely safe (and follow through with my "YOLO" theme of going all out) and construct a proper flushing loop to clear every bit of debris, dust, etc from my hardware. I spent a lot on this loop, best not to skimp on protecting it from damage right up front, right?

Stage 1: Pre-build prep

Pre-build component flushing loop:
1 x GE GXWH20S filtration system
1 x EcoPlus 185 Submersible Pump, 185 GPH
2 x 1" to 3/4" adapter + 1/2" barb
10 ft clear 1/2" ID pvc tubing
1 x 2 gallon bucket
2 x 1 gallon distilled H2O

I placed the pump in the bucket, filled it with a little over a gallon of distilled water and ran the loop: pump > rad > filter > bucket. I was in no rush, so I ran each rad through this loop individually for about an hour. To save time, I'm sure you could do and single loop with both rads in series: pump > rad1 > rad2 > filter > bucket.

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At the end of the process, there really wasn't very much debris caught in the filter, but this probably speaks more to the quality of Alphacool's hardware than to the procedure. Honestly, I probably could have saved a few bucks by going with a much cheaper filter, or even just a sponge or coffee filter, but better safe than sorry, right? IMO, going with the "overkill" GE water filter method was "insurance" against future blockage in my loop.

Next, at 26" H & 24" D, weighing in at ~43 lbs empty, the Enthoo Primo is SO big and SO heavy I needed to create a movable base for it to reside on (my lower back insisted! lol). I had to get creative with this, as I live in a Manhattan apartment without the advantage of proper workshop or the open floorspace you would expect for a room with a system this large. So, rather than build a rolling wooden or metal dolly-style roller, I repurposed a floating wall shelf (which I picked up at my local Home Depot) as a pc platform. To make it movable, I used ceramic casters velcro'ed to the bottom so it glides across carpet as if it were weightless (I have felt pads that can be inserted underneath for moving across hardwood). *Ignore the unfinished side where the floating shelf was intended to affix to a wall, that has since been finished in gloss black duct tape (believe it or not, it looks seamless). lol

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With the radiators flushed and the chassis on its movable base, it was time to install the radiators & fans. I decided to do this first because I figured it was going to take some maneuvering to get two 360mm radiators situated, and I didn't want to risk damaging any other already-installed hardware in the process. I had intended to take pictures of the mounting process along the way, but mounting the bottom radiator proved surprisingly difficult and required my full attention. In the end, I affixed the fans directly to the underside of the radiator, except for the top right and bottom left corners, which I affixed through the base of the case, thus allowing me to get the entire apparatus aligned properly in place, but still anchored to the chassis so it doesn't shift or move when the case is tilted (also makes for MUCH easier removal if/when I need to disassemble the loop and take the rad out).

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Comparatively, the top radiator was much easier to mount. Both rads will be push-pull, but for now I mounted only the top fans as I don't want to obstruct access to the system internals for installation. The fans on bottom [of the top radiator] will be the last thing that goes in.

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Stage 2: System swap

Next, time to install my sytem in its new home. Mind you, this is not the final build result, just the midway point at which I move my existing system internals into a new case -- the big finale, custom watercooling, still to come. I did this "temporary build" in order to get everything in place to make final accurate judgments about any conflicts, additional fittings I might need, etc., and also to ensure I had a fully functioning build BEFORE taking the leap into watercooling. This should help rule out any non-wc related problems after the loop is installed (i.e. narrows down the possibilities if I run into any post-watercooling startup problems). Again, I didn't take a lot of pictures during the process since none of the system internals are new, but here's the pre-wc build...

*Keep in mind that the H80i is obviously temporary (doesn't it look "cute" stuck in there between a 360mm Monsta + XT45? LOL), and there are some panels that aren't even installed. Also, cable management is still half-baked since it will all be disconnected & reconnected in the next stage of the project ("install loop").

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I really don't like the look of the red pci-e power cables. The heatshrink is really rigid, it's almost impossible to bend them so they stick out any less....and the cables are 30" long (you should see them wrapped up in the back side! lol). I don't think I trust psu cable extensions (more connections just mean diminished power efficiency and additional room for problems), so I'll probably individually sleeve them after the wc loop is finished. For now, just pretend they're nice clean individually sleeved black cables tucked neatly away. lol

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More to come.......
Asus RIVBE • i7 4930K @ 4.7ghz • 8gb Corsair Dominator Platinum 2133 CL8
2xSLI EVGA GTX 770 SC • Creative X-Fi Titanium • 2x 840 SSD + 1TB Seagate Hybrid
EVGA Supernova 1300W• Asus VG278H & nVidia 3d Vision
Phanteks Enthoo Primo w/ custom watercooling:
XSPC Raystorm (cpu & gpu), XSPC Photon 170, Swiftech D5 vario
Alphacool Monsta 360mm +6x NB e-loop, XT45 360mm +6x Corsair SP120

chrisnyc75
Level 12
Update: sorry it's been so long since my last update. I ran into some hardware troubles with my motherboard and had to disassemble the whole system to RMA and replace it just before the holidays... and then the holiday season got me distracted, etc etc. But, I'm happy to say my YOLO 2K13 build is complete and purring along like a kitten.

So, I'm gonna try to be less wordy and let the pictures speak for themselves [mostly ;)]

(*Note: the pinkish/purplish glow throughout these images is reflections from uv/purple LED/cathode lighting that my camera magnifies. In reality, the reds are more pronounced and the violet is just a soft glow. I just don't know how to use my camera's manual color curve adjustment to reduce the pink reflections)

Before we get to the watercooling build, I upgraded my SLI bridge to the snazzy new EVGA branded bridge shroud. It only comes stock with white LEDs, but the shroud itself is easy to open, and the color can be easily mod'ed just by sticking some colored gel paper or cellophane over the 3 small LEDs inside. In my case, I used red gel paper from a local art supply store.

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With the SLI bridge set up, it was time to install my waterblocks. I went with XSPC Razor blocks for my 770s, and already had EVGA backplates. Unfortunately, what I did not know was that the bolts supplied with the XSPC block are about 3mm too short to penetrate the waterblock, pcb, AND backplate. At this point it was after midnight, and I had to close up shop until I could make it to Ace Hardware the next day to pick up some M3 30mm bolts and a few washers for securing the longer bolts all the way through to the backplate. I took some close up shots to illustrate:

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With that done, I spent the rest of the day on the main body of the build:

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^^^
Here you can see where I had to Dremel out a notch on the reservoir mounting panel to allow for a graphics card mounted in the 3rd slot on the RIVE. This was the only major complaint that is common amongst Enthoo Primo early adopters -- the mounting panel should have been cut to allow clearance for modern gpu's. As you can see, though, a few minutes with a dremel and some black duct tape to cover the edges (it's completely hidden from view in the assembled build) and it's good to go.
Asus RIVBE • i7 4930K @ 4.7ghz • 8gb Corsair Dominator Platinum 2133 CL8
2xSLI EVGA GTX 770 SC • Creative X-Fi Titanium • 2x 840 SSD + 1TB Seagate Hybrid
EVGA Supernova 1300W• Asus VG278H & nVidia 3d Vision
Phanteks Enthoo Primo w/ custom watercooling:
XSPC Raystorm (cpu & gpu), XSPC Photon 170, Swiftech D5 vario
Alphacool Monsta 360mm +6x NB e-loop, XT45 360mm +6x Corsair SP120

And last, but certainly not least -- the final Project YOLO 2K13. 🙂

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It's not "perfect", there are a few things I might have done differently, but considering it was my first foray into watercooling, I'm quite proud of it. The avatar head illuminated through the smaller side window didn't turn out right at all, I'm working on getting a proper Plexi print with backlighting to mount there, the decal I went with hoping it would look good enough is kinda awful, I know. 😉

Let me know what you think, or if you have any questions. Thanks for checking out my build. 🙂
Asus RIVBE • i7 4930K @ 4.7ghz • 8gb Corsair Dominator Platinum 2133 CL8
2xSLI EVGA GTX 770 SC • Creative X-Fi Titanium • 2x 840 SSD + 1TB Seagate Hybrid
EVGA Supernova 1300W• Asus VG278H & nVidia 3d Vision
Phanteks Enthoo Primo w/ custom watercooling:
XSPC Raystorm (cpu & gpu), XSPC Photon 170, Swiftech D5 vario
Alphacool Monsta 360mm +6x NB e-loop, XT45 360mm +6x Corsair SP120

chrisnyc75
Level 12
So, I'm not usually a fan of showing the cable management in the back side of a build, but since it's so unique in the Enthoo Primo, and because from the back you can see where my pump is mounted and my drain apparatus, here it is (there's a lot going on back there! lol). It's actually a bit more crowded, but better organized now than in this early pic from build day - but I don't feel like opening it up and taking more pics right now, so you get the idea....:

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And FINALLY, after about 6 solid hours work, it was time to leak test. I may have gone a little overboard with the tissues, but it was my first build and I was just short of TERRIFIED, so 'better safe than sorry' ;)haha I left it runnnig (with the pump plugged into an external PSU rigged with the paperclip trick) for about 3 hours, checking for dampness or discoloration (hence the red coloring in the water, which I actually did not use in the final build). No leaks, no kinks - I'm proud to say I got it right on the first try. 😄

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I wish I had been able to document the fill/bleed process, but I didn't have a spare set of hands to assist, and both of mine were very busy carefully filling my res and then doing acrobatics with my case to coax the air bubbles into the res.

Once filled, leak testing complete, bleeding in progress........

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Below, you can see my drain apparatus - the tube protruding up to a dead end out of the bottom drain port on my Monsta rad. It is connected to a Bitspower valve + rotating 10mm male-to-male adapter. To drain the port, I simply rotate it down so the exit point of the tube is below the rad, remove the cap from the tube, and open the valve. Cheap, easy, completely internal & hidden from view.

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Asus RIVBE • i7 4930K @ 4.7ghz • 8gb Corsair Dominator Platinum 2133 CL8
2xSLI EVGA GTX 770 SC • Creative X-Fi Titanium • 2x 840 SSD + 1TB Seagate Hybrid
EVGA Supernova 1300W• Asus VG278H & nVidia 3d Vision
Phanteks Enthoo Primo w/ custom watercooling:
XSPC Raystorm (cpu & gpu), XSPC Photon 170, Swiftech D5 vario
Alphacool Monsta 360mm +6x NB e-loop, XT45 360mm +6x Corsair SP120

chrisnyc75
Level 12
reserved for last pics & wrap-up
Asus RIVBE • i7 4930K @ 4.7ghz • 8gb Corsair Dominator Platinum 2133 CL8
2xSLI EVGA GTX 770 SC • Creative X-Fi Titanium • 2x 840 SSD + 1TB Seagate Hybrid
EVGA Supernova 1300W• Asus VG278H & nVidia 3d Vision
Phanteks Enthoo Primo w/ custom watercooling:
XSPC Raystorm (cpu & gpu), XSPC Photon 170, Swiftech D5 vario
Alphacool Monsta 360mm +6x NB e-loop, XT45 360mm +6x Corsair SP120

Arne_Saknussemm
Level 40
Cool beans! I like this LOG already...can't wait to see it develop...gonna be fun! 😄

chrisnyc75
Level 12
'stage 1' & 'stage 2' pics added above (11/20/2013)
Asus RIVBE • i7 4930K @ 4.7ghz • 8gb Corsair Dominator Platinum 2133 CL8
2xSLI EVGA GTX 770 SC • Creative X-Fi Titanium • 2x 840 SSD + 1TB Seagate Hybrid
EVGA Supernova 1300W• Asus VG278H & nVidia 3d Vision
Phanteks Enthoo Primo w/ custom watercooling:
XSPC Raystorm (cpu & gpu), XSPC Photon 170, Swiftech D5 vario
Alphacool Monsta 360mm +6x NB e-loop, XT45 360mm +6x Corsair SP120

Arne_Saknussemm
Level 40
Shoot how did I miss the update! looks a good start...love the movable system with optional frictionless surfaces....looking forward to seeing the final build and results once it's done!!:)

chrisnyc75
Level 12
Thanks Arne 🙂 Final update with tons of pictures + performance results coming soon, I promise. I need to get her overclocked and rock-solid stable so I have benchmarks to go with the final build.

So far, though, it looks like it was totally worth all the effort -- it's already oc'ed well beyond the fastest I ever got it stable on air, and with considerably less vcore. 😄 Still need to put her through 'boot camp' before she's officially battle-ready, though. Stay tuned....
Asus RIVBE • i7 4930K @ 4.7ghz • 8gb Corsair Dominator Platinum 2133 CL8
2xSLI EVGA GTX 770 SC • Creative X-Fi Titanium • 2x 840 SSD + 1TB Seagate Hybrid
EVGA Supernova 1300W• Asus VG278H & nVidia 3d Vision
Phanteks Enthoo Primo w/ custom watercooling:
XSPC Raystorm (cpu & gpu), XSPC Photon 170, Swiftech D5 vario
Alphacool Monsta 360mm +6x NB e-loop, XT45 360mm +6x Corsair SP120