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Buy pre-built water cooled system or build my own?

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September 12, 2006 10:13:48 PM

I am not sure which one would benefit me more? I know that the pre-built would be easier but would the parts be good quality? Building my own would let me put good parts in the sytem...

Any thoughts or advice would be appreciated! Thanks! :lol: 
September 12, 2006 10:31:54 PM

The first consideration is determining what your budget is going to be for any watercooling project. After that, you need to decide what you intend on cooling. Knowing those two things will help decide what is available to you. Prebuilt kits are ok if you really don't plan on doing any overclocking. I mean, they'll get the job done. But, going the DIY (Do-It-Yourself) route is soemthing I'd always advocate because of the better quality parts and results.

If you just plan on cooling one component - the CPU - you can get a decent DIY type arrangement for arounf $170 - $180 (not including shipping). Of course, prebuilt kits like Bigwater or Evercool can often cost less than $100. But, they aren't going to be near as effective as the DIY kits you put together yourself.

So..budget, budget, budget

decide on one first.....
September 12, 2006 10:39:13 PM

I would budget this project at $300

I am only planning on overclocking the CPU.

So the generic pre-built systems are not a good choice when overclocking…well in that case what in your opinion is a good case to use for doing this and parts for the watering cooling process (Brands)?
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September 12, 2006 10:41:55 PM

If you have $300 to spend you should for sure go with a DIY kit. I would recommend brands, but Phreejak can do a much better job. I am a WC noob.
September 12, 2006 10:48:29 PM

$300 can get you a pretty nice watercooling system that can be future proof for additions and upgrades.

Cases are tough because I've only used a few cases continually. Once I found somehting that worked for me, I just sutck with it. In that vien, I've always used a Cooler Master Stacker. It's extremely HUGE and SPACIOUS (and way heavy). I'd rather leave the case suggestions to those who are more adept at those things. But, the watercooling I can help you with for certain. Do you have an aversion to mounting radiators externally or are you going to try and keep them internal? If external is ok then you'd need a radbox assembly as a standoff for the rad.

Here are some examples/suggestions (If you look at my sig you'll see that I use alot of the listed equipment in my two watercooling loops):

Pump:
Swiftech MCP655 12v DC Pump ($77)
http://www.sidewindercomputers.com/swmc12vdcpu.html
Sooo quiet and yet, so powerful. 317gph, 12v standard 4-pin molex connector to your PSU

CPU waterblock:
Swiftech STORM Rev 2 ($80)
http://www.sidewindercomputers.com/swstunhipebl.html
The top of the line CPU waterblock

Reservoirs:
Danger Den Single 5 1/4" Bay Reservoir ($30)
http://www.dangerdenstore.com/product.php?productid=52&...

PrimoChill - Single Floppy Bay Reservoir ($10)
http://www.voyeurmods.com/index.php?action=item&id=1697...

Cyclone 120 External mounted ($33)
http://www.performance-pcs.com/catalog/index.php?main_p...

Radiators:
Single 120mm
Black Ice Xtreme Radiator ($34)
http://www.dangerdenstore.com/product.php?productid=1&c...

Dual 120mm
Black Ice Xtreme II Radiator ($43)
http://www.dangerdenstore.com/product.php?productid=2&c...


Tubing:
Tygon 1/2in. ID 11/16in. OD Laboratory Tubing #R3603 ($2.25/ft)
http://www.sidewindercomputers.com/ty1idx11odx3.html
Get, at least, ten feet. Best tubing around and you won't find it cheaper anywhere else


Clamps:
Breeze Miniature Hose Clamp 7/16 in. to 25/32 in. (10/#3.60)
to secure the tubing to the fittings
get 20


Kinks:
Swiftech Coolsleeves 625 ($2.60)
http://www.sidewindercomputers.com/swco625.html
helps protect tubing from kinking in tight bends
get 2


Coolant:
Regular
HydrX Extreme-Duty UV Coolant ($3.29)
http://www.sidewindercomputers.com/hyexduco.html
UV Reactive, biological preventative - must mix with distilled water
get 2

OR

Non-conductive
PrimoChill ICE 32oz ($20)
http://www.performance-pcs.com/catalog/index.php?main_p...
lubricant, non-conductive, corrosive inhibitant, non-toxic, biodegradeable, biological preventative
get 2


EDIT: This list does not include the required 120mm fans for whatever size rad you might choose nor does it include the radbox assembly for externally mounted radiators.
September 12, 2006 11:02:31 PM

This is good. Thank you.

Procuts that I will need:
Pump
CPU waterblock
Reservoir
Radiator
Tubing - 1/2' the best size?
Clamps
Kinks

With the web sites you gave me those products should be efficient enough to overclock a CPU and keep it quite cold. All I need to do now is figure out which case will be a good product. I would love to have a clear one :D 
September 12, 2006 11:21:36 PM

Are you talking "clear" as in an all clear acrylic case? Such as: this

or are you looking for a case with a clear side window?
September 12, 2006 11:36:59 PM

The first one! That is a really nice case, you think it would be good for water cooling?
September 12, 2006 11:37:00 PM

1/2 ID tubing allows for greater waterflow.

Also, you will need to decide (once you've determined what case you will be using) whether or nto you are going to mount your radiator internally or externally. If you mount it externally then you'll need a radbox assembly.

Swiftech MCB-120™ Rev. 2 Radbox ($20)
http://www.performance-pcs.com/catalog/index.php?main_p...

It comes with a pci pass-thru but you won't be using that as that part was made for 3/8 ID tubing.

Another thing that will help your rad is a shroud. It is placed between the fan and the rad and helps focus the air from the fan into the rad. It is highly recommended that you use this.

Dual 120mm Shroud ($16)
http://www.performance-pcs.com/catalog/index.php?main_p...

Single 120mm shroud ($10)
http://www.voyeurmods.com/index.php?action=item&id=1068...
September 12, 2006 11:40:06 PM

Would it be easier to mount externally? The pre-built cases I see have the rad on top which looks very clean looking…
Although if you have the room internally would be good as well.
September 12, 2006 11:40:18 PM

That's a nice case but, it looks like it uses 80mm fan mounts and blowholes. You need to use a case that uses 120mm fanmounts and blowholes as you will be using 120mm fans and the radbox assembly for externally mounted rads is made for 120mm blowholes.
September 12, 2006 11:42:56 PM

I like externally mounted rads because the ambient atmosphere gives you some aid in cooling the rads (in addition to the fans). Also, there is absolutely no contribution to the systems overall internal heat by the rad when mounted externally.
September 12, 2006 11:56:42 PM

Good points...

Now I just need to find a case with the 120's that appeals to me.
September 13, 2006 12:05:07 AM

Well, the way I see it, you need to decide on single or dual 120mm rads and then external or internal mounts. All you HAVE to have for the externally mounted rad is a single 120mm blowhole in the back. The radbox mounts to it and only occupys that single portion. The top part of a dual 120mm rad attaches to the radbox and the remaining 120mm portion just hangs down below it. If you choose a dual 120mm rad then be mindful that it hangs down and watch out for clearance issues with your MB PCI slot material. If you go with a single 120mm rad then you have less cooling capacity but way more mounting options.
September 13, 2006 4:43:28 PM

I think I would like to go with an external system. My case would only need 120mm in the back then...but roomy enough for the other parts?
September 13, 2006 4:44:30 PM

That thing reminds me of R2-D2 LOL!
September 13, 2006 4:48:06 PM

Alright then...

What remains is that you decide between a single 120mm or dual 120mm rad. Remember the clearance issues of the dual hanging down. I use a Coolermaster Stacker case (which is quite huge) so the end part of the rad does not hang over the pci slot section. If it wouldn't cause any issues with whatever is plugged into them then you can decide between the two (single or dual)
September 13, 2006 5:06:29 PM

I want to overclock...dual would provide a better option right?
September 13, 2006 5:32:22 PM

Hate to thread jack anything here, but... I am tired of waiting to see what he will choose. I would like to see a case that uses dual 120mm with 1/2" size tubing.
September 13, 2006 5:40:33 PM

It's all good...

Well, dual 120mm rads would cool better than a single 120mm rad. It would also be able to handle an additional waterblock down the road should you decide you wanted one for your, say, GPU.
September 13, 2006 6:06:11 PM

Yeah, dual would be a better option. That would give me room to expand if I choose to. What Rad would you suggest if I was going dual? It would go on top of the case right? If I can find a good case to use lol!
September 13, 2006 6:12:47 PM

I listed a Black Ice Xtreme above (with link). That's what I use.

You can mount it at the top (internally or externally) OR mount it in the back (externally) in which case you'd use the radbox assembly.
September 13, 2006 6:32:32 PM

Awesome! Thank you so much for your help! I will have to let you know how everything goes once I find a case that I like... :D 
September 13, 2006 6:39:06 PM

good luck
September 13, 2006 7:17:04 PM

Thanks for the links! Very useful information.

That case is awesome! That should work for water cooling! That kit looks good but with the info I recieved from phreejak I feel that it will benefit me more if I buy the parts individualy. Does not look to challanging and the project seems fun LOL...I say that now though... :lol: 
September 13, 2006 7:42:37 PM

What kinda temperatures should these high end water cooling units give?

And also would like to know if you would beable to post some pictures of your comp with water cooling.


Thanks very much appreciated.
September 13, 2006 8:08:46 PM

I bought all swiftech individully, and love my results. I basically went as simple as possible.

My x1900xtx, runs at 50 degrees, with fear maxed out. and the temps on my chipset and cpu went down 10 degrees. an externtal rad, and all that tubing really helps the internal temp go down.

and its so quiet.
September 13, 2006 8:14:38 PM

I have a new GPU waterblock now and I haven't used it enough under various conditions to give an accurate reading yet but - previously, I used a Danger Den Koolsah on my 7900 GTX. Like the NV78 and NV68 waterblocks, it really restircts waterflow but, in basically the same setup as I have listed in my sig, I was getting 38 degrees celsius on idle for my GPU and no greater than 42 degrees celsius on load playing Doom 3 at max settings.
September 13, 2006 10:41:19 PM

Quote:
One could just buy a high-quality complete kit, like Swiftech's H20-220-APEX ...
Available from New Egg

That kit and other like it are available from many other places, as well, like Xoxide, Frozen CPU, and Frys.

As for clear cases...
http://www.sunbeamtech.com/PRODUCTS/ac9b/AC9B.html

Have Fun!
Fireheart


I could not find that clear case with the 9 bays on the web but I did find this case made from the same people. Would this work with an external rad?

http://www.performance-pcs.com/catalog/index.php?main_p...
September 13, 2006 10:49:07 PM

Except for his choices for Reservoir (I agree, a Bay-mounted reservoir seems neater) and Radiator (I couldn’t say which is better, the Switech or the Black Ice) Phreejak’s list includes everything in this kit. You should definitely shop around, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the kit costs less than the components. The kit simply means that you make a single purchase and get (supposedly) everything you’ll need for your water-cooling set-up.

One thing that I did not see mentioned on the list, is a quality thermal paste, like Arctic Silver. The cooling power of your water-loop is irrelevant, if you can’t efficiently transfer heat between the waterblock and CPU. I started a thread about this, earlier and learned that Some sort of thermal interface compound is critical, whether it’s ‘grease’, ‘paste’, or guacamole. Arctic Silver is one of the best.

Have Fun!
Fireheart
September 13, 2006 11:17:06 PM

The fan blowholes look like 80mm and you need 120mm.
September 13, 2006 11:21:04 PM

Quote:
I have a new GPU waterblock now...
it really restircts waterflow...


I'd noticed that before - most GPU waterblocks don't use 1/2 inch tubing, but 3/8 inch instead, and restrict full water-flow. I'd concluded that, when I set up my own water-cooling system, the GPU should go on a seperate, dedicated loop - with its own small pump and radiator.

Have Fun!
Fireheart
September 13, 2006 11:24:34 PM

Do you have a link to what cases you use?
September 13, 2006 11:45:37 PM

Quote:

I could not find that clear case with the 9 bays on the web but I did find this case made from the same people. Would this work with an external rad?

http://www.performance-pcs.com/catalog/index.php?main_p...


Well, that one is the 'other' sunbeam case, which I did not deem worthy of you - since it only has 80 mm fan-holes.

Let me see... Hmm, it doesn't really have a name...
Alright, I can find No other mention of this product!
Might be called Sunbeam AC9B...
Possibly a message to Sunbeam USA...
http://www.sunbeamtech.us/contact.html
Or wherever...
http://www.sunbeamtech.com/CONTACT-LEFT.htm

Item does not appear on the US site.

Have Fun!
Fireheart
September 14, 2006 12:01:54 AM

oh, I think I need to clarify that as I wasn't aware I worded my response that way.

There are GPU waterblocks like the Danger Den Koolsah, NV68, NV78, Tyee - the Alphcool GFX NexXxos - the EK F79 that have wide channels for waterflow. They come with G1/4 screw threads which allows for the use of any G1/4 fitting. Now, they are nice looking blocks and they do cool videoram but, because of the twists and turns and angles flow paths, they are highly restrictive to water flow (I have used the Koolsah, NV78and NV68). It was for this reason that I use a custom made GPU waterblock. Now, I use special heatsinks for the videoram and the voltage regulator and just worry about watercooling the GPU specifically with a high flow, low resistant waterblock. Mine was specifically designed for a 1/2 ID cooling loop.

In stead of having two cooling loops - one for the CPU and one for the GPU - I have mine set up like this:

Reservoir - pump - CPU waterblock - external rad - GPU waterblock - external rad - back to reservoir.

I am using an MCP655 pump which is plenty powerful enough to handle that configuration and not lose much flow going through the motions.
September 14, 2006 12:04:53 AM

I called down there and a guy told me that case will be avliable on oct. 10 and it is designed for watercooling!!!
September 14, 2006 12:07:00 AM

Quote:
Do you have a link to what cases you use?


Well, I prefer 'stealth' computers...
Operate effectively, powerfully, reliably - without being noticed.

My favorite case is Cooler Master Stacker 830 - Black (KKN1)

Alternately, the black Stacker STC1 is nice.

Have fun!
Fireheart
September 14, 2006 12:10:25 AM

I saw on their site where they have a 9-bay acrylic case that uses 120mm blow holes on the side and back and even has an 80mm fan at the top to expel warm air
September 14, 2006 12:12:48 AM

I use the Cooler Master Stacker 810 model (but, I've modded the heck out of it)
September 14, 2006 12:14:26 AM

Quote:
I saw on their site where they have a 9-bay acrylic case that uses 120mm blow holes on the side and back and even has an 80mm fan at the top to expel warm air


Yeah, that is the one I called about. Coming out on Oct. 10th...that would do right?
September 14, 2006 12:17:25 AM

Yes it would. I especially like the 80mm fan at the top. You could use that to expel warm air from the case.
September 14, 2006 12:18:56 AM

Then I know what I must do now! I will use what you suggested for watercooling and get this case to put it all together!
September 14, 2006 12:26:10 AM

Let us all know how it turns out
September 14, 2006 12:27:39 AM

One other thing I forgot to mention - depending on how the rad mounts in the back - it might require you to drill two holes to allow the tubing to connect to the external radiator...
September 14, 2006 12:29:41 AM

@ Phreejak

Any possibility of pics of ur rig?

Thanks
September 14, 2006 12:35:40 AM

heh - funny you should ask that.

I am just now deciding on a digital camera (which I would use for that).

Soon enough.....
September 14, 2006 12:42:30 AM

Hmmmm Maybe the case I am planing on buying planed on that...I don't know?
September 14, 2006 12:51:27 AM

well, well.....

I didn't catch that when I first glanced at it but it actually does have precut holes for tubing. I don't know what size they are but even if they are too small, it wouldn't take much work to enlarge them. Where they are placed, though, you are going to need to turn the rad to where the fittings are pointing out (you'll see what I mean when you get the case and the rad).

That's a pretty nice case actually....
!