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First custom watercooling build: seeking feedback/advice

chrisnyc75
Level 12
So, I’ve decided to take on my first custom watercooling build to go with my upcoming IB-e upgrade. I’ve done quite a bit of research and formulated an initial build and setup plan, and am now at the point that I want to run it by the experts here and solicit feedback & advice.

To start off with, here’s a VERY rough diagram of what I expect my build to look like (please forgive my horrendous artwork, but you get the idea):



My planned loop is: pump > res > cpu > rad > gpu > gpu > rad > pump. I would like to be able to mount the pump directly under the reservoir, allowing me to make that last connection shorter and more direct, but I need to see the case first to figure out if that’s possible. Where I have the pump in the diagram (bottom right corner) is the designated default pump mount.



I’m still working out how many additional fittings (i.e. 45 degree, 90 degree, etc) I’ll need.

Now, a few notes on the less obvious choices I’ve made:

One thing that concerns me about this build is fan noise. I’ve never been one to be concerned about fan noise, but I’ve also never planned a build with 15 fans before. lol I’m concerned that 12 Corsair high-flow fans at full speed could sound like a freight train, so I’ve made some compromises. I figure with 2 large radiators + 12 fans, I can afford to dial back the rpms & airflow just a bit in favor of less noise (Swiftech, on top) and aesthetics (the red Phobya, on bottom).

For the top radiator, I went with the XSPC low profile 36mm radiator because I have exactly 70mm clearance between the top of the case and the top of the mobo. To compensate for the slim form factor, I decided to go with the (3x)140mm model. This will allow me to have the top radiator in push-pull config while not conflicting with the NB heatsink or ram. I could, of course, have gone with a thicker radiator (up to 70mm) and just one set of fans, but I think it’s more effective to go with the thinner radiator w/ push-pull since the top will also serve as the main air exhaust – I want to make sure I don’t get warm air building up inside the case faster than it can be exhausted out the top.

I have made a conscious effort to keep all components in the system pure COPPER/BRASS, no nickel; and I do not plan on any additives to my H2O (besides the silver killcoil). My understanding is that this should keep my system from reacting with itself and keep my components clean and operational with minimal maintenance (clean/flush once a year or so).

I'm not thrilled with the the idea of using cold cathodes for lighting, but I don't think I've ever seen a UV LED (?). I could just go with red LEDs, which is what I have in my current build, but I rather like the idea of highlighting the tubing with UV light.

I considered going with universal gpu blocks instead of full coverage, but I intend to overclock the crap out of my graphics cards once I get them under water, and I'm not sure how the voltage regulators would do with passive cooling. I'd love to hear insight on universal vs full coverage gpu blocks. If I could go with universal blocks it would save me a lot of money down the road when I decide to upgrade my graphics cards, but I don't want to go that route at the expense of overheating VRMs.

Finally, the Enthoo Primo chassis won’t be available for purchase until mid-October, so I have a few more weeks of planning to do before I can get my hands on it, but that just gives me plenty of time to be meticulous about planning.

I think that about covers it. Any & all feedback, advice, or insight is welcome and appreciated.

Thanks! 🙂
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

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73 REPLIES 73

Arne_Saknussemm
Level 40
Looks like a good project!

Just a question first...order...I guess you didn't mean this but your order sounds backwards...like the res before pump is the only real order rule...res>pump>rad>gpus>rad>cpu>res>pump> right?

Yes you can dial down the noise a bit...of course you might drop a bit of performance compared to screaming fans through high fpi rads but nothing mind blowing....it will cool well ..

The coolant I would say great....I run deionized only and just change it regularly....I have just taken apart block andit was almost clean as a whistle....just a bit of crud from RADS....you could do worse than to thoroughly flush new RADs before you set up loop I reckon....

Also I know angled fittings are nice and at the end of the day aesthetics play their part..but try to keep these to a minimum for best flow...especially 90 degree fittings...

That pump is great on high flow low restriction loops so you want to keep it that way...maybe even consider parallel flow through GPU's; keeps pressure drop down in the loop as a whole and therefore flow up...(though flow through each GPU block is half loop flow)

Arne Saknussemm wrote:

Just a question first...order...I guess you didn't mean this but your order sounds backwards...like the res before pump is the only real order rule...res>pump>rad>gpus>rad>cpu>res>pump> right?

I did not know that, but that's easy enough to correct, especially if I can mount the pump directly below the reservoir and just re-route the tubing (vs my poorly rendered diagram lol)

Arne Saknussemm wrote:

Yes you can dial down the noise a bit...of course you might drop a bit of performance compared to screaming fans through high fpi rads but nothing mind blowing....it will cool well ..

I actually think I've managed to make good choices in fan performance while being very conscious of noise. Of course I could have gone with 12 3k rpm Scythes, but my system would sound like a leaf blower. lol I'd like to be able to HEAR the games as I'm playing them. 😉

Arne Saknussemm wrote:

The coolant I would say great....I run deionized only and just change it regularly....I have just taken apart block andit was almost clean as a whistle....just a bit of crud from RADS....you could do worse than to thoroughly flush new RADs before you set up loop I reckon....

This was a point of some confusion for me. From what I've gathered, there's 2 schools of thought -- the purists, who say pure H2O is the only way to go, and the progressives, who say companies spend millions on r&d to come up with high tech coolants that outperform pure H2O. I'm not sure who to believe, but at the end of the day going with the purists just feels more logical to me. Plus, I'd rather not have to disassemble the system for maintenance all that often, and I believe pure water requires the least maintenance, correct?

And yes, I plan to thoroughly flush/clean the entire system before I fire it up.

Arne Saknussemm wrote:

That pump is great on high flow low restriction loops so you want to keep it that way...maybe even consider parallel flow through GPU's; keeps pressure drop down in the loop as a whole and therefore flow up...(though flow through each GPU block is half loop flow)


Great point, I still need to figure out my SLI cooling design. I probably will go with parallel flow.

fbm211 wrote:
You might be able to save some coin by checking out performance PC. I saved close to 50 bucks on my project.
And just a heads up.... Cooler master is coming out with a really cool new case.....modular. with stackable Rad boxes. Very cool.


Thanks for the tip. As you can probably tell, cost has gone right out the window as a consideration in this design, but still, if I can get the same component for a penny less, that's a penny left in my pocket at the end of this project (which is probably about all I'll have left at this rate LOL)

I've seen the new Stacker, but it's not for me. It was love at first sight since I first laid eyes on Phanteks's Enthoo Primo, it's like the case I've been waiting for all my life. lol
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

fbm211
Level 7
You might be able to save some coin by checking out performance PC. I saved close to 50 bucks on my project.
And just a heads up.... Cooler master is coming out with a really cool new case.....modular. with stackable Rad boxes. Very cool.
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fbm211 wrote:
Cooler master is coming out with a really cool new case.....modular. with stackable Rad boxes. Very cool.


Like fbm211 said earlier and if you are not 100% set on the case, these might be worth looking at and are set to release within the next 1-2 months... HAF Stacker Series Cases Link

Here is what it looks like built with custom water loop...

26279
Photo taken at PAX Prime 2013

Pretty amazing looking if you ask me and allows for heaps of expansion in future...!
Chassis Corsair 900D|MB Rampage IV Formula|CPU i7 3930K @ 4.8GHz
RAM Corsair DominatorGT 16GB 2133MHz C9|GPU 2x ROG Matrix 7970-P in X-Fire @ 1180MHz
PSU Corsair AX1200i|SSD 2x Samsung 840 Pro 256GB|HDD 2x 4TB WD Caviar BLACK
Monitoring Corsair Link|Cooling Custom Loop EKWB/AlphaCool/XSPC/Bitspower
Monitors 3x ASUS 24" VE248H (6036x1080)

Arne_Saknussemm
Level 40
Must say...that case is a nice case...and they've obviously done some WCing thinking...FAQ page....good choice!

The coolant... purists are right...can't argue with the physics. The mixed liquids actually can be left longer without draining etc so maybe less maintenance....I change my coolant every 8 to 10 weeks...just to make sure it is not growing anything and to make sure it is still deionized. As soon as you add anything to loop and as soon as water runs in loop it is picking up ions and slowly degrading in that respect...but deionized water is cheap as chips so changing it is a breeze if you plan your loop so you can drain and fill it easy....

Arne Saknussemm wrote:
Must say...that case is a nice case...and they've obviously done some WCing thinking...FAQ page....good choice!


Thanks, I'm excited about it. I had been considering a full tower watercooling build for some time, but as funny as it may sound to say, I was held back because I simply couldn't find a case that felt right. They were all either too flashy/gaudy, too big, too expensive, or too something. Then I laid eyes on the Enthoo Primo, and like Goldilocks said it felt "juuuuuust right" 😉 Only thing wrong with it is the color of the LED strip on the outside, but that's easily enough changed with a quick mod.

Check out this review, it's REALLY thorough with lots of great info about watercooling in the case: http://themodzoo.com/forum/index.php?/page/articles.html/_/reviews/cases/phanteks-enthoo-primo-full-...
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

kkn
Level 14
if you want to monitor water temp heres a good one -> http://www.frozencpu.com/products/13163/ex-tub-891/Phobya_G14_Inline_Temp_Sensor_Coupler_-_2-Pin_711...
one or 2 of those, just be shure the whire is long enough to reach the fan controller.
i have one in the loop and i have a temp sensor on my pump.
cable is 50cm long.

kkn wrote:
if you want to monitor water temp heres a good one -> http://www.frozencpu.com/products/13163/ex-tub-891/Phobya_G14_Inline_Temp_Sensor_Coupler_-_2-Pin_711...
one or 2 of those, just be shure the whire is long enough to reach the fan controller.
i have one in the loop and i have a temp sensor on my pump.
cable is 50cm long.


Thanks, I'll keep that in mind. I'm not 100% sold on the fan controller in my original post, I may ultimately go with one that has temperature monitoring and pwm built in, but I haven't quite found the right one yet (has to have at least 2 channels each with a high enough rating to power 6 fans)
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 wrote:
has to have at least 2 channels each with a high enough rating to power 6 fans

just look at the specs of the fans, look at Amp and Watts and see if it goes abow the max limit of the controller.
i have Y-splitters on my fans and have one and one rad on each chann.
if you drop 3 fans on each rad you can make it thicker and have more cooling surface, if thats an option.
i had push/pull on last built, but now i have ( 1 ( 360 ) TOP -> push , 2 ( 240 + 480 ) on bottom -> pull ) ( build log = overkill )