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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

chrisnyc75
Level 12
The bottom has an incredible amount of space, so there's no need to drop fans there, I can do push/pull plus the Black Ice Xtreme with lots of room to spare. On the top, I could go with a thicker rad (maybe a second Black Ice GTX) with just one set of fans, but the fans would have to be pull (above the radiator) due to space restriction inside the case frame. I struggled with which design made more sense, but I feel like push/pull on the top is important if only to ensure sufficient warm air exhaust since every other fan in the build is pulling air INTO the case. I feel like the 60mm thick GTX on the bottom plus the 36mm thick XSPC on the top should be more than sufficient surface area for cooling just my cpu + 2 gpu's, no?

The fan controller I have listed above has sufficient watts per channel to drive 6 fans each; but it does not have pwm built in, and thus can't be used to control the pump (which I'll probably just connect to a mobo pwm header), and doesn't have a temp monitor input. But like I said, I'm not married to that fan controller, if I find one with better features rated for 30W per channel (at least 2 channels) I could be swayed to go with a different choice.

*edit: the fan controller I listed above DOES accept temperature monitoring inputs (I zoomed in on the far right, it has 4 inputs for temp monitoring), so the only thing it's missing is pwm, which is actually fine with me. I'll add one of those phobya sensors to my list and monitor it through the controller display...thanks kkn. 🙂
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
Another question: would spray-painting the blades of a fan diminish its cfm or static pressure? I would rather like to get 6 matching fans for the bottom rad, but I'd like the 3 on top to be a little "blingy" since you'll see them clearly through the window. If I could get some Corsairs or Scythes and just paint the blades red that would be optimal.
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
Painting the blades won't do anything to the airflow (well nothing out of microscopic changes) but be careful you get a very even coat or you will throw the balance of the fan off with unequal weight on the blades...but you'd have to do a pretty messy job for this to matter enough for vibration etc.

Bill_W
Level 7
chrisnyc75 wrote:
[...]


  • Chassis: Phanteks Enthoo Primo --> http://www.phanteks.com/Enthoo-Primo.html

    [...]
    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.
    [...]

    Just wanted to point out, that yes, while the Phanteks Enthoo Primo has 70mm of vertical clearance from the top of the mobo to the top of the case, the 120mm radiator (240, 260, 480) mounts are also offset horizontally by ~54mm from the mobo so installing a 45mm or 60mm 120 series radiator in push pull would not be an issue as long as you do not have anything taller than 53mm on the motherboard (including ram).

    SOURCE: Pg 8 FAQs on the "Phanteks Enthoo Primo Full Tower Review" at 'TheModZoo', and the Phanteks 'Watercooling Possibilities' video.

    You might even can get away with putting an 80mmm thick monsta 120mm series rad up there in push pull as long as you don't have anything taller than 53mm on the top ~60mm of your board, and as long as you don't mind hiding that much of the top of your board behind the rad & fans.

    However, if you are dead-set on putting a 140mm series rad up top, you would have 10mm less offset from the mobo (the 140 mounts are 10mm wider on each side of the 120 mounts). which still might be feasible except with tall memory or some boards with really tall heatsinks.

    In any case, I only mentioned it because if you really are concerned about fan noise you will want to stay away from thin rads like that 36mm which don't perform well until higher fan RPMs.

    - - - -
    I've pre-ordered my Phanteks Enthoo Primo (sux they just announced a delay on initial shipping until Oct 18), and plan on putting a 60mm thick 480mm rad up top and an 80mm thick monsta 360mm rad on the bottom, both in a push pull. I'll be waiting until I get my case before I order my rads, just so I can see for certain they will fit, but everything I've read so far says that combo will fit easy without needing any mods & I'll be able to keep both HDD cages.

    I'm probably going to be going with the Rampage IV Black edition board when it arrives, but am still waiting to find out what the height of the I/O bracket is on that board. It looks to be pretty tall from the images released so far. If it's 50mm or more tall I probably won't have room for a 60mm thick rad up top in push pull, in which case I'll be opting for a different mobo afterall.

chrisnyc75
Level 12
Thanks Bill, I did know about the radiator mount offset, but since I'm using Corsair Dominator GT memory, the ram-sinks would conflict with any xtreme radiator + push fans. I did not, however, know about the clearance difference with 140mm rads vs 120mm, so thanks for pointing that out, I'll make sure to be careful before I pull the trigger on a top radiator. Either way, I'm going to order the case FIRST and won't order anything else until I get in there and take my own measurements. If it turns out I can mount my Black Ice GTX Xtreme in the top without running into my ram heatsinks, I'll probably do that and get a Monsta for the bottom.

Thanks for the tips! 🙂
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
A couple more questions:

1 - Should I get a PWM/variable pump? What's the difference? Does a non-PWM/variable pump just run at full speed all the time? Is this bad for the pump, does it wear out faster?

2 - How do you guys feel about chipset/full-coverage waterblocks for the RIVE? Mostly, I've read that the chipset/nb/sb don't really generate enough heat to need watercooling and that the blocks just constrict flow in the system unnecessarily, but I'm curious if you guys agree with that?
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
EK do a nice kit ... block for the VRM and a passive heat sink for PCH. Cooling the VRM I think is a good thing though you can do this with fans alright....I wouldn't bother cooling the PCH with a block no performance advantage...in fact a performance hit..restriction...but might look nice:)

If the pump is variable has manual RPM settings over a range...doesn't have to run at full whack...you set it and it will run at constant RPM PWM I guess you can set up to react to temps...prefer constant flow rate myself....

chrisnyc75
Level 12
Just thought of something I've never seen addressed before: if you need to reset your bios (ram oc failure or whatever), how do you do so without having to drain the whole cooling system to get to the battery, which Asus so ingeniously positioned right behind where the 2nd graphics card goes? (in other words, the battery can't be removed without removing the graphics card, which I assume can't safely be removed without removing the wc aparatus)

I know this may seem like an "out of left field" question, but trust me it would be JUST LIKE my life to get a full custom watercooling build finished only to have my oc fail and require a hard reset that required breaking down the entire cooling system. 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

kkn
Level 14
I/O shield, CMOS button there.

kkn wrote:
I/O shield, CMOS button there.


Ahh, yes. I knew it had to be something really obvious that I was forgetting. lol Just trying to rule out every possible problem before I actually commit. Thanks kkn 🙂
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