[UPDATE 1.0] Constructed the Outline of the Build Log I will Update again with more pictures. Thanks for reading guys.
[Update 1.1] Resized the images and added a few more. I will update again tonight after I take some more pictures. I got caught up in the progress and stopped documenting
[Update 1.2] Completed the build log up to today 5/28/2016.
[Update 1.3] Updated the build log up to 6/4/2016 to include new tubing bends. This is where the build is as of this date and there will be more future updates as I continue with this build.
[Update 1.4] Added new pictures of the build. All bends are completed now. As of 6/17/2016
[Update 1.5] Its Flowing now. Added more pictures.
[Update 1.6] Finished the build for now. Sleving and routing of cables is complete.
So I started thinking about this build as soon as I finished my first one years ago. I rushed through my first build to get it done and call it a custom water cooled PC. This new build I planned everything out and was looking for inspiration on how to do everything. At this point I knew I wanted these things:
- A mid tower case (large step down from my NZXT Switch 810)
- Acrylic Tubing
- GPU Water Blocks
- NO RAM BLOCKS (Hated them in my first build)
- CPU Block
- A Reservoir that could be showcased
- A clean looking exterior to the rig that does not shout 'Custom Gaming PC'. While I appreciate those builds I kind of grew out of them.
- I had no Idea what I wanted for hardware but I knew I was bringing my 2 GTX 980's from my old build along for the ride.
- A full side window
I spent months looking at parts and hardware and other builds and cases that fit what I wanted. Then real life happened and I moved into a new place and my PC money went to more important things. Then my build expanded to creating my own office and desk.
So I will post a few before images of my office space:
This one has my new chair in it.
While browsing a website one day I came across a sale on an NZXT H440 and It had the look I wanted but I didnt need the HDD rack and It doesnt have the size I want for a window. But being impatient I jumped on the sale and said to myself that I would make it work.
So essentially I decided that I would be modding this cases guts.
Eventually I decided on parts, no expenses were spared as this will be my PC for the next 5 years or so.
- ASUS Maximus VIII Formula
- Intel i7 6700K Skylake
- 2x ASUS GTX 980 Strix
- 2x Samsung 850 EVO 1TB SSD
- 32 Gb Corsair Vengeance DDR4 3200 RAM
- EVGA G2 850W powersupply
Then after some more investigation of water cooling parts I came back across the Monsoon Modular Reservoir System and new that that was what I was looking for. I had decided that I wanted the reservoir to go the full height of my case with a drain plug at the bottom and a fill port at the top. Doing this should make maintenance relatively easy. This would mean that I would have only 2 fan openings at the top if the case available out of the 3.
So I knew that I could easily fit a 240 Rad in the top and a 360 rad in the front of the case. I definately will not be able to fit push pull so I will use a push configurations on the rads.
I figured I would stick with as little variety as possible with the types of parts and companies so since my motherboard had a built in EK waterblock I decided to use only EK blocks and rads. I also decided to use Monsoon Hardlock fittings and hardline tubing. Going back to the lessons learned since my first build I am downsizing from 3/4 inch OD tubing to 1/2 OD tubing to get a cleaner look that does not fill up the case.
I was also thinking about the coolant and decided that I wanted a White, Orange and Green theme inside the case. Which works out since I have Orange in my office. I decided to go with Mayhems pastel orange to get me the color I am looking for.
I then decided that it would be cool if I could cause some kind of glowing effect from within the reservoir. I am not sure if it will work due to the pastel coolant but I decided to get some LED plugs for the res.
After many emails with Gene from Monsoon I decided that I would have to hold off on ordering the reservoir and wait for some new parts to hit the market and to achieve what I want. I also decided to add a second horizontal res to my case that would contain the pump and would be mostly hidden under the PSU cover.
The first thing I did was remove the HDD cage from the case by drilling out the rivets. This freed up a lot of space for everything to fit.
Next was measuring to ensure that all of my parts would fit the way I had planned because since my first build I knew many water cooling parts are much larger in person than they seem.
Everything seemed like it would fit perfectly, there was even a cable routing hole that would work perfectly for my pump outlet to feed my loop.
Eventually all of the parts were ordered and came in. Now I was just waiting on free time which doesnt come often since I am a full time college student and a part time employee.
I begin by mounting the radiators and checking the fit of the top to bottom reservoir. This is where I encountered my first problem. The top radiator cannot be oriented with the ports to the right because of the extra length added by the area that the ports are. So I had to redesign how my tubing will flow. Not that big of a deal though.
I then construct the two different tube reservoirs so that I can physically check the fit because up to this point it is all still theoretical.
I decided to use only one foot for this res do to constraints in the case and the stability doesn't appear to be an issue with only one.
The next thing to do was assemble the vertical reservoir.
This is the setup that I am looking for inside the case.
Before I begin mounting everything in the case I used Mayhems Blitz Part 1 on my 2 EK SE Coolstreams to clear out any manufacturing residue. I have seen pictures of how Mayhems colored coolant can degrade over time and people have said using the Blitz kit has improved the lifespan.
This is what came out of the 2 different radiators after soaking for roughly 10 hours. This is in no way an insult to EK. The radiators themselves look great and they were packaged very nicely. Products such as radiators can contain left over residue that usually dont cause harm to a loop and most chucks can be flushed out with DI water. I only used Blitz because I am using pastel coolant.
The cleaner went in clear and came out blue, I wasnt thinking when I took these pictures with the cup on a granite counter top but you can see some stuff in the cup that was in the radiator. Now I will never know if this stuff wouldnt have come out using DI water but I would like to think this worked better than just rinsing water through it.
Now I can finally get to the building stage:
First I mounted the pump res because this was a guaranteed install into the case. The top to bottom res is aesthetic and at this point I was skeptical of my measurements. Getting the horizontal res to mount was straight forward however the pump outlet did not line up with the cable routing hole as I had hoped and I had to cut another hole.
While trying to fit in and mount the vertical reservoir I had to slightly modify the case at the top to remove some metal that was in the way. I then used a piece of acrylic to block the fan mount that I am using for my top to bottom reservoir. But I realized that I do not have the space between the front Radiator and the vertical res so I had to get a little creative. I only had about 24mm of space between the 2 components so I needed a very low profile turn that would not interfere with the other radiator port. I ended up have to use some low profile Bit Fenix parts but they match the case so its ok. I used a non-rotary 90 and a rotary 90 to aim the ports where I needed them. I think this should be the last hump that I need to get over.
I marked out the mounting holes for the acrylic panel that will give me something to mount the vertical reservoir to.
The next step is to fix everything in place. After some intense measuring and cutting I get it all to work together and I think it looks great.
Dont mind the finger prints but this is the top of the case with the fill port.
The two bars are holding the pump in place and the round piece is actually the drain plug for the loop.
A view from the PSU bay of the back of the pump mount/res
This is the bottom of the vertical res. As you can see it is a clean setup and looks very natural.
A couple full views of the install. Hopefully some people are beginning to see the reactor idea. In my mind these are like large coolant tanks for irradiated water coolant. (Almost a definition of what these actually are. Im starting to wonder if 2 liters is enough coolant.)
I then test fit the motherboard and graphics card and run into my first real issue. My measurement was off on the length of my GPU's and I cant fit them into my motherboard because they are hitting my vertical reservoir. Luckily I saved myself and the STRIX cooler is about an inch longer than the actual PCB so by using a water block on my GPU's it will fit. Just barely but it will.
Now it is on to fitting all of the blocks on their respective components. This went fairly smoothly. I used Gelid Extreme for thermal paste.
These are the back plates and will be polished before final assembly to give a mirrored finish of the RGB lighting on the motherboard and other lighting elements
The front of the cards.
The next block is the CPU block:
Installing all of the components into the case revealed that there was actually a slight lean to the motherboard. Just by looking at the GPU's I could tell the right side was lower. This is the first time I have ever seen this. So I had to take everything out and adjust the angle of motherboard. I dont know if this was a case issue or if the actual PCI slots are not perpendicular to the edge of the motherboard but I got it to the best position I could to make the GPU's appear to be perfectly horizontal. I then mount the parallel water block terminal by EK for the GPU's and put in the rest of the fittings.
This brings to light another issue. A lot of my hard tubing bends are going to be tight and complicated. This is where I stand now. Trying to perfect these bends is proving to be a more complicated task than I had planned for and I kinda wish I used regular tubing but this just adds more to the challenge.
I currently have what I think will be the 2 hardest bends completed. The build looks like this currently.
I finally got some more free time and was able to do some more bending. Unfortunately I am waiting on a couple of 90's to come in the mail as well as the glue that I forgot to order for the hardlock fittings so I will not be able to do more until at least Monday.
Here's a couple of pictures from the bends that I have completed so far.
This was probably the hardest bend in the entire case so I wanted to do it first. It comes out of the pump and makes a turn parallel to the graphics card and then bends up once it clears the card in a position where it will be out of the way of the power cables and the SSD underneath. It then bends into the GPU block. I attempted this bend 3 times before I was satisfied with this bend. I still may retry it if I have enough left over tubing.
I wanted to accentuate the angles of the boards water block with this bend and I didnt want to cover the boards name. I think I was able to accomplish this. What do you guys think?
The bend from the GPU block had to shift to the right to properly line up with the CPU block. The different orientations of the fittings from the GPU block to the GPU block presented a slight challenge to aligning the bends.
This is the return tube for the loop. I intended to use the other port of the front radiator to feed back to the reservoir but after some internal debate I decided the front radiator port would be an easy destination for the to rad.
This was the progress as of 6/4/2016
[Update 1.4] After 2 weeks of adulting I was finally able to find some free time and get back to work on this project. I was able to finalize the last of the bends. I plan on getting the locking collars on the ends of the tubes by the end of this weekend and hopefully beginning leak testing. Im starting to get an anxious nervous feeling with this hard tubing.
I added some LED's to the GPU bridge and snaked them around behind where the exhaust fan will be.
On the note of the exhaust fan. I had originally bought a 140mm fan that was white with green LED's but due to my issue with the top radiator having to be rotated 180 degrees caused the ports to impede the mounting of it. I ended up buying a smaller fan that will fit on the exhaust.
I ended up rebending the tube coming from the pump to the GPU's and i think it came out much nicer and cleaner.
and then finally the tube from the main res to the pump res.
So as of right now I stand with this:
As I said earlier I need to glue on the hardlock collars for the tubing and then I can begin leak testing. However this will be process because I need to leak test with DI water and then drain that so that I can properly clean the entire loop using part 2 of the blitz cleaning kit. This way my coolant color will last longer and should stay the color that it is in the bottle. Theres a long way to go but I see the light at the end of the tunnel. Hopefully Ill be playing games in 1440p in no time.
I have been having issues with my image hosting lately and its delayed me a couple of weeks in getting this update out so I apologize for that guys. However I do have the 'reactor' coolant flowing now. So Ill go over that process.
Gluing the locking collars on the bent tubing proved to me messier than I anticipated. The bottle of UV reactive glue came with a couple tips to help aim the glue but they did not stay put very well. Yea I know that tip of a glue bottle kept falling off...the irony was not lost on me. Anyway I eventually got all of the collars glued on and installed each tube and tightened them down. This is where I began to notice some manufacturing problems with my fittings. Some of the fittings were actually anodized and others seemed like there was simply a colored film put on them and they started to peel. So heres some pictures during the initial leak test:
Heres a small test that I ran with the LED plugs that I had installed. I figured if they didnt work with water they definitely wouldnt work with coolant. as you can see there isnt much glow inside of the tubes so that plan was a bust. However, I do like the glowing ring.
The next thing I did after the 24 hour leak test was to use part 2 of the Mayhems Biltz Cleaning Kit. After running this in the system for 24 hours, which is the maximum it say to leave in the system it cleaned out this stuff:
Most of that was actually metallic flakes and some threading from the top and bottom of the res.
Now I should make note that my great planning and design ended up not being great after all. Due to the installation design changes and the 4 different sessions of filling and draining, the draining part sucked. So as a design choice im regretting the dual chamber, but after filling it up with the coolant I fell in love with how it looks. So without further ado heres my build as it stands now with the coolant and all.
Unfortunately I decided I want to sleeve the cables for my power supply to go along with the theme. So while I was a bit of cable management away from running this thing I now have another step before I can get it running. My schedule has not been very permissive to continue this project so I havent been able to work on it for almost 2 weeks. Hopefully this weekend I will be able to crank out a few cables and get this thing moving. My PSU cables have inline capacitors so I have to figure out how to deal with that. If anyone has any input let me know. And as always thanks for reading.
I am finally getting around to updating this log so I apologize for anyone that was subscribed to this and it fell silent. I have managed to finish sleeving my cables. [pics to be added]
I ended up getting some cable combs in order to keep the cable routing neat and clean and the final result worked pretty well.
I bought some no name RGB 50/50 led lights from eBay in order to test them with the ASUS headers and they work like a charm. I think I paid around 1 USD per foot as opposed to those name brand ones which can be 40 USD for less than a foot. I do need to find a way to beter anchor the RGB rope to the case as the adhesive wasnt too great but that was the trade off from the magnetic strips. I even had enough rope to reach outside of the case to provide some ambient lighting behind the monitors.
I still plan on making the side window larger but for now I am satisfied and happy that I now have my gaming computer back. So here is what I have now.
And finally the gaming station. Dont mind the messy desk. I was too excited to clean up after the PC booted on the first try and I had all of the monitors the way I wanted them. Im still playing with the locations but I am trying to maximize desk space.
Thanks for following this thread guys. I appreciate the motivation. I will update this when I change out the window and I will add more pictures when I copy them over from my camera.
Thanks for reading.