Ok so Lianli has this crazy corn ball fishtank case. I've never done a water cooling system, but do you guys think I could make that tank the reservoir for one? Then I'd just need the water blocks and pump and heater core/fans right? I wouldn't put the fish or gravel or air pump in, obviously.
The requirement that the reservoir be at the highest point is what's confusing me a little. Say I drilled the intake for the pump at the bottom, and the return from the radiator at the top; could I mount the radiator on the top of the case?
That would be: aquarium tank -> pump (on the floor of the case) -> blocks (2) -> radiator up top of the case -> back to topmost part of the "aquarium". Would that work, or do I have to mount the radiator on the back of the case below the return intake to the tank?
Reservoirs can be a little tricky to explain. If you put the rad at the top, and have the return from the rad pouring water into the top of the res (above the water mark), when the pump pressure is off, the water in the rad will drain into the res and be replaced with air. When you start the pump again, the air will hopefully be flushed out with water, but some air bubbles may persist. That's not so good for performance. In fact, if your water level is below other components the water will drain out of them too, but backwards via the pump. You don't want air in your blocks!
Where are the holes for the res?
I had a water chill system with a small res at the base of the case. It worked fine because the exit and return holes were at the bottom of the res, and were therefore always below the water line. That mean that no air could get into the system, therefore no water could drain.
Basically if you figure out how air can get into the system, you should be able to figure out how water drains away once the pump is off.
BTW, you can always run pipes into the res directly, and have their openings resting at the bottom of the res. Also, having a large mass of water helps to buffer the heat load of the cpu. This gives you more time to realise that your fan is off for example...
Ok I think I get you. Since the aquarium thingy has a "Door" in the top I should put my rad below that or I will have a hard time keeping enough water in the whole system to prevent air getting in or leaks developing in that "door" if I try to seal it. Plus I'll need to top it up sometimes.
One thing I really like about this idea is I can see the water level so easily with this setup. I wonder if I'll have enough power to run the pump and rad fans. I'm planning on getting an Enermax whisper 2 535 watt.
No idea about the psu, my pump is ac and takes its power before the psu.
I think you can have the rad where you want and leave the "door" open, and have the return pipe to the res open end lying under the water level. Since you can see the level easily, you should able to keep on top of refils easily.
One thing to bear in mind is that the water in the res will be warm, and will therefore evaporate a fair bit. If the "door" isn't shut, then you may lose a lot of water through evaporation. That's also bad news if the "door" inside the case. You don't want too mcuh condesation in there. However, if you have airflow you may be fine.
If your pump is decent, air bubbles tend to get flushed out relatively quickly anyway (~ 1 minute).
You could always fit a one way valve on the return pipe to the res.
Or, you could fit a second hidden res. However, your input and exit to the fish tank would have to be sealed good.