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Old 21-04-20, 03:29 PM
AcuteJungle66 AcuteJungle66 is offline
Join Date: Mar 2020
Posts: 17
Project SparklePony - Thermaltake 2020 Case Mod Challenge

Hi All.

My name is Chris and I am from Scotland. I have been dabbling with tech ever since I got my Commodore 64 back in the '80s, but did not get my first 'proper' PC until I threw together a bunch of other peoples' leftover parts. Oh yes, my Pentium II @ 400Mhz with a Riva TNT2 PCI card was quite the beast; or maybe not .

I served in the military for a total of 8 years, then briefly worked in I.T. before starting a career within the Civil Service. Tech and Gaming have both been passions of mine now for several decades, but it was only recently that I returned to higher education to pursue a tech-related degree. In my spare time I play my fair share of video games, but also enjoy the outdoors as much as I can.

I am very humbled to have been selected as one of the five contestants for the Thermaltake UK 2020 Case Mod Challenge, and hopefully my build progress can at least put a smile on your face during these difficult times. Speaking of progress, it will be a few weeks until I get started building I am afraid; as I am in the final weeks at University. But as soon as my online assessments and dissertation are out of the way, I will post regular updates.

The first shipment of components consisted of:
  • ThermalTake View 51 Snow
  • ASUS ROG STRIX X570-F Gaming
  • ASUS Radeon RX 5700
  • 500GB Seagate FireCuda 520
  • 14TB Seagate IronWolf Pro
  • 850W Thermaltake Toughpower GF1
  • Thermaltake Pacific Hard Tube Water Cooling Kit
  • Thermaltake Pacific V-RX 5700 Series Plus GPU Waterblock
  • Thermaltake Water Cooling Pacific Hard Tube Bending Kit
  • 300mm Thermaltake TtMod Sleeved Cables
  • 300mm Thermaltake TT Premium PCIe Extender

The crew at #scancomputers worked tirelessly to get these parts out to us, so huge thanks to them. I am blown away by #Seagate not only for providing the blistering fast PCIe 4.0 FireCuda, but the huge 14TB Ironwolf Pro; I wonder if it will be possible to install my entire Steam Library?

The next package was the CPU and RAM: AMD Ryzen 3700X and 32GB Thermaltake TOUGHRAM RGB

So quickly put the core components together to make sure everything was working alright.

The ROG Strix X570-F Gaming is good looking motherboard, and there is plenty of space in the View 51:

Using PCIE Gen 4, the Firecuda 520 should be blistering fast. Was also nice to see that using the 1st M.2 slot does not cause the X16 slot to bump down to X8 like on previous generations (X470/370).

Whilst I have not installed it just yet (I want to keep it safe and sound), the 14TB Ironwolf Pro is an absolute monster:

The TOUGHRAM is some good looking memory, and the Ryzen 3700X is sitting underneath the Wraith Max cooler. For a stock cooler it is admittedly pretty decent, but this build is destined for a custom loop.

The stock cooler on the AMD Radeon RX 5700 from Asus also functions alright, but gets pretty loud when the fan get up to higher speeds. Another component that will greatly benefit from a water block.

The Toughpower GF1 is an 80 PLUS Gold certified fully modular PSU, 850W is more than enough for the job.

With everything installed fairly quickly (did not put any effort into cable-managment of course, as it will all be coming back out again), it was time to make sure the PC booted alright and everything worked as intended.

Sure enough, everything worked without any issues. After dialing in a few settings within the BIOS, it was then time to make sure that the PCIE extender also worked.

Another reason for getting the system together fairly quickly for a test-run was also for the introduction video that was made for ThermaltakeUK:

As you know-given current events-shipping of non-essential items can be fairly delayed these days, so many of my materials are still to get here. I am also still awaiting delivery of more components from Thermaltake, so I am currently in a hold pattern (nevermind the fact I still have exams on the horizon).

Once everything arrives I will be able to properly start the modding. You may not agree with my methodology, but let me break down my plan so you can hopefully see where I am coming from.
  • Assemble the full custom loop. I won't spoil what that is going to consist of, but I need to see how/where everything precisely fits in order to decide on how I want my tubing runs.
  • Once that is assembled, then I can make some templates for my acrylic. Nothing high-tech here, the only power-tools i have are drill/dremel/jigsaw/heatgun. Then of course I need to construct all of that using a combination of cutting/bending/bonding, to make sure it all fits and looks alright.
  • With that out of the way, everything will get dissassembled and the case itself gutted. A combination of cutting bits out and fabricating new bits will then be followed by a complete repaint.
  • With everything painted/sealed, as well as some other small details (artwork, glass, etc.), then reassembly can commence. The finishing touches and of course wiring will be the real pain here.

Whilst that all sounds simple enough, we all know that things very rarely go exactly to plan. These 4 bullet-points are also a vast oversimplification of the work that will be carried out, but we will get into the full details as they happen.

In the meantime, I hope everyone is staying safe and staying at home; take care folks!

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Old 22-04-20, 04:48 AM
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hmmblah hmmblah is offline
Join Date: Jul 2010
Posts: 4,681
Solid spec list. I'm looking forward to seeing what you end up doing with this.
CaseLabs Mercury S3 | AMD 3900X | ROG CH8 Impact | RTX 2080 Super | 32GB DDR4 | 1TB NVMe
Acer Predator Z35P

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Old 22-04-20, 06:04 AM
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Dawelio Dawelio is offline
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Posts: 5,148
Intetesting project, looking forward to your updates and wish you good luck in the competition!

Btw, isn’t ThermalTake a bit ”taboo” around here?
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Old 22-04-20, 08:38 AM
AcuteJungle66 AcuteJungle66 is offline
Join Date: Mar 2020
Posts: 17
Thanks folks, much appreciated.
I really want to get stuck into it, but currently have other things on my plate.

Ooh I really enjoyed Taboo, with any luck Season 2 will finally arrive next year!

I've done a little bit of tweaking here and there during my limited downtime (and whilst I wait for supplies/components), so will update the log when I get a chance.
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Old 22-04-20, 10:26 AM
Warchild Warchild is offline
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Join Date: Feb 2013
Location: Norway, Oslo
Posts: 7,273
Originally Posted by Dawelio View Post
Intetesting project, looking forward to your updates and wish you good luck in the competition!

Btw, isn’t ThermalTake a bit ”taboo” around here?
Only if you are immature
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Old 22-04-20, 02:54 PM
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Dawelio Dawelio is offline
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Join Date: Aug 2014
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Originally Posted by Warchild View Post
Only if you are immature
Ah touché
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Old 30-04-20, 02:55 PM
AcuteJungle66 AcuteJungle66 is offline
Join Date: Mar 2020
Posts: 17
Little overdue for a weekly update here, because reasons!

First and foremost, a huge thanks to everyone that is checking in on my progress (albeit very little so far) here on the forums; as well as those of you reaching out to me on other platforms. Hopefully when the work really begins, you will be rewarded with frequent posts full of pictures and commentary. hell, even if (when) things go wrong, I'll make sure to post my experiences.

Just last week I submitted my disseration, so fairly glad that is behind me. As fate would have it, Project SparklePony became a vital asset for it; as I ran all of my experiments on the system. I don't want to bore you all too much, the TLDR: a virtual network with a web-server/legitimate traffic generator/malicious traffic generator, comparing the performance of open source IDSs (Intrusion Detection Systems).

The extra oompth of the 3700X meant that each of my virtual machines could have more processing power than the 2600 in my current build, whilst the Firecuda 520 provided much higher performance than the drives that I have currently also. For multiple VMs this makes quite the difference, as each of their 'virtual' hard drives were all on it. So when multiple VMs need to read/write at once, that extra speed really impacts the performance of each VM.

For comparison, here are a few CrystalDiskMark results so you can see the difference.

First up is a 2TB Samsung 860 QVO that is my storage drive in my rig, by no means a fast drive:

Next is the Samsung 960 EVO that is my OS/APP drive in my rig, we all know that it is a solid performer:

The Firecuda 520 in SparklePony? Holy hell:

Whilst everyone will tell you that it makes no difference in gaming, aside from initial/subsequent load times; it really depends on the game. An environment like The Division 2 for example (which continually loads in data from your drive) does experience a benefit, or at least it feels like it does.

Regardless, whilst these faster speeds may not make a big difference for gaming; it certainly made a huge difference for my studies.

Ok, but what about the modding already?

Right, so the majority of my raw materials are here, I will have to clear my workspace up and lay them all out for photos in the near future. For components however, due to the current 'world situation' those are slightly delayed 😢

I have however slightly began on an area that does not require the other stuff to come in:

Originally I was just going to cut out at a square (before actually getting my hands on the View 51), but after seeing the clearance between the PSU and the back panel:

I just did not feel comfortable potentially restricting the airflow there. Whilst I know a lot of mods out there don't really care about actual functionality, this setup is going to be used all the time: gaming, art, potentially college (no pressure on her at all &#128521, etc. So I decided to leave that little section of grill down there and I'll trim the included magnetic dust filter to fit there.

One thing I did notice of course was the upside-down logo on the PSU (due to the orientation of the View 51):

That was a whole 2 second job, but is now rectified.

That's it, that is all I managed to get around to doing I'm afraid. I just had a final exam this week, I have one more the week after next; as well as an essay to complete as well. Once those last 2 tasks are out of the way, then I can really get my teeth into it. Hopefully the other goodies will be here by then as well!

In the meantime, thanks once again for stopping by.

Stay home, stay safe!
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Old 04-05-20, 11:09 AM
AcuteJungle66 AcuteJungle66 is offline
Join Date: Mar 2020
Posts: 17
It's Monday morning and once again the weather is absolutely glorious!

I know I sound like the boy that cried wolf, but the additional components from Thermaltake and Scan UK should be with me very soon. So in preparation for that, I decided over the weekend to get some other things in order first.

First on the agenda was the AMD Radeon™ RX 5700 graphics card from Asus, which comes with the reference blower cooler and no backplate.

Disassembly was a fairly straightforward affair, with only minimal residue left over by some of the thermal pads.

As you can see, the Pacific V-RX 5700 waterblock from Thermaltake will be getting installed onto the card, but before that we have some minor detail work to be done first.

Now each to their own and all that, but one thing that drives me crazy is when I see someone slap a beautiful block on a graphics card, but do nothing with the stock bracket:

The unpainted bare metal sticks out like a sort thumb, unless of course that is the look you are going for. For Project SparklePony however, something had to be done about this eyesore. Whilst you can of course purchase aftermarket single-slot brackets, which are usually painted or powder-coated, I am a cheapskate; so giving it a good paint was the 'thrifty' option 😉

A few coats of primer followed by some gloss black and clear lacquer...

Ahh, much better.

Now on to the next pet-peeve of mine. So many graphic cards have that irritating burnt orange/rust edge on them, in your average build it isn't the end of the world; but when you are trying to make a build as aesthetically pleasing as possible, something has to be done.

Nothing that a Sharpie can't fix of course 😀

The Sharpie trick is an ancient technique that has been passed down throughout the generations, works really well for any random silver screws you have as well as those silly little coloured wires on your front panel connectors/audio header.

Once that was all prepped, it was time to put the block on.

If weight is a sign of quality, then this thing is top-notch. Feels really solid and installation was very straightforward.

I look forward to finding out how all the temps are with it, especially since the card has been flashed and will of course be overclocked.

The backplate that comes with the block is also a really solid piece of kit, whilst it won't be on show much due to mounting the card vertically; it still serves the important function of giving the assembly some rigidity.

With that all sorted, next up was ditching the stock cooler that came with the AMD Ryzen 7 3700X and installing the waterblock.

I was really impressed with the backplate that comes with the Thermaltake Pacific W4 Plus RGB CPU block. Really sturdy but also a very nice premium finish.

And of course the underside of the block itself has that gentle reminder, folk forget to take that off much more often than you would expect!

I wasn't sure how I would feel about the look of a circular block, PCs are usually full of right angles. But actually I quite like the look of it.

With that installed it was then time to get the graphics card in as well, just to get an idea of how/where everything is going to align.

From this angle below, you can see that the minor tweaks of painting the bracket and busting out the Sharpie has accomplished exactly what I wanted it to. If there was a rusty edge around the graphics card, your eye would be naturally drawn to it; whereas now you'd really have to go looking for it. The devil is in the details after all.

Once the rest of the LCS components from Thermaltake arrive, I'll be installing it all so I can see exactly what I need to do in regards to bends as well as my acrylic work.

Then once I'm happy with what all needs to be done, everything will be removed so I can work on the case. A combination of more cutting, grinding, and painting are on the menu; as well as a few other things.

In the meantime, stay home and stay safe folks!
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Old 15-05-20, 10:23 AM
AcuteJungle66 AcuteJungle66 is offline
Join Date: Mar 2020
Posts: 17
Not much to report this week I'm afraid, still awaiting delivery of the remaining components from Thermaltake. It has worked out well however, as I was able to finish up all of my academic work without any distraction; just sitting my last exam yesterday.

So now I am done with everything and just waiting for my results!

As soon as the rest of the parts arrive, I will finally be able to really get stuck in; so this past weekend I decided to do a few preliminary things to get the ball rolling.

Since the weather was nice I decided to take a stab at cutting my first piece of acrylic:

This particular sheet is actually gloss white, but comes with a protective blue film on both sides. The film is quite handy for plotting your guidelines, as well as providing some surface tension to prevent cracks or splintering. I just used a cheap jigsaw (nothing fancy) but with a high-quality metal-cutting blade. As long as you keep the speed slow and with no articulation, cutting acrylic this way is fairly straightforward. Just remember not to go too fast, otherwise it will melt back together.

The radiator/fan brackets also needed a little bit of cutting with a dremel:

Just little slots to allow the acrylic sheet to be flush with the frame. An alternative option would have been to put notches in the acrylic, but doing it that way would require pinpoint precision; whereas this way I could basially 'eyeball' it.

Not bad for a first test-fit.

I will need to trim the top bracket a little bit more, as the acrylic isn't perfectly perpindicular at that top-left corner. Plenty of other little bits of cutting to do as well, for cable and tubing access; as well as more acrylic pieces to measure and cut for the rest of the inside. Unfortunately I can't do that until the rest of the cooling parts come, as I need the exact measurements.

It is nice and bare back here for now, but once all of the power/argb/fan cables are in, it is going to be a nightmare to tidy up.

Well that's it for now, weather permitting I will do a little more acrylic work over the weekend. Now that all my academic work is out of the way I plan on making steady progress relatively quickly. The sooner I get everything assembled and mocked up, it will be much easier for my step-daughter to plan out the 'artsy' stuff. She has plenty of ideas, but it can be difficult to visualise without having the blank canvas set up to see how everything will look/fit.

In the meantime, take care folks.
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Old 21-05-20, 01:34 PM
AcuteJungle66 AcuteJungle66 is offline
Join Date: Mar 2020
Posts: 17
The eagerly anticipated second delivery came in this week!

A few fittings unfortunately came in chrome rather than black, which I imagine is due to issues with stock; which is completely understandable given current events. The extra-thick radiator did however really catch me by surprise. My intent was to install a 2nd Pacific C360 radiator at the front, for a total of 2 radiators (top and front).

After a good couple of days trying different layouts, it became clear that I would have to have the slim rad up top and the thick rad at the front. Not only is the Pacific CL360 thicker, it is also a fair bit wider as I soon found out:

Whilst it has all the mounting holes in the 120mm position, the actual dimensions of the radiator are that of the 140mm position. The knock-on effect is that I have to trim the notches for the acrylic a bit more, which isn't too bad; but it also resulted in having to experiment with the positioning of the Pacific DP100-D5 distribution plate.

I also got my pipe-cleaners out to try and get an idea of possible tubing runs:

Wasn't too keen on this first iteration, so pondered over it for a little while and tried again:

As you can see, the 64mm thick radiator brings some issues. The View 51 only officially supports such a thick rad in the area that the distro plate currently sits. It kind of fits up top, but requires to be offset a fair bit; resulting in the fans being off center. So the front will have to do. It also unfortunately intrudes on quite a bit of space where artwork was orginally going to be, so will have to go back to the drawing board a little bit there as well. Once I trim and install the acrylic we will be able to get a better idea of how to proceed.

As you can see, the distro plate also has to end up sitting quite low in order for drain port clearance. This also means that only 2 fans will be able to fit down below.

Right, so before diving into more fabrication and prepping for paint etc., I wanted to make sure the components were working and that the radiators didn't have any leaks. I'd much rather take the time now to check, than find out AFTER all the work has been done.

The run from the top radiator to the CPU block will definitely have to be remade, I was off by fair bit and really had to force placement. Fairly happy with the GPU>radiator run though.

The CPU>front rad run is alright, but I will likely bend a fresh one later on. Originally it was going to enter the other port on the radiator, but the run from port back to the distro plate was just way too sharp; so had to change it up at the last minute.

Whilst I do love the look of perfectly perpindicular bends, I also really like curvy ones like this little rascal. This one will definitely be a keeper. I also like the angle at which the previous bend had to it.

The final run (first run in the loop order) sucks. Due to the position that I have to have the distro plate in, that port on the distro plate is too low. This bend will definitely be getting changed, I will most likely run from the higher port and come down at an angle like the CPU>fat rad run.

But it will do for now for the sake of making sure everything works.

Sure enough, that dodgy run had a slighly leak. The tubing was basically sliding out due to the tension on it, at least it will hold for this test.

Thankfully that was the only issue. The D5 pump runs like a champ, and the radiators are rock solid with no leaks. The loop ended up taking 1.5L of fluid to fill, and getting all the air out was quite the headache; but I got there in the end.

Mission accomplished, everything works and I have a better idea now of how the runs will likely look (they will be tweaked a fair bit by the end).

Now time to drain the loop and dismantle everything.

Having spent all of yesterday mucking around with the case, I am going to have to take a day or two of rest; my sciatica is unfortunately screaming at me.

Next on the agenda is to modify/trim the acrylic sheet that was hugging the motherboard, now that the distro plate and thick radiator are there. Then I can move on to the remaining acrylic pieces that will inhabit the interior as well as around the fans. Once all of those have been done I can then move on to a full tear down of the case, a little bit of cutting, and then prep for paint.

I also need to begin work on the back/side panel as well. Hopefully the weather this weekend cooperates with me!

Thanks for stopping by folks, take care and stay safe!
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