Antec 900 w/Ultra 120 Extreme/680i Installation Tips

This is my system:

Antec 900
EVGA 680i
E6300
Corsair Twin2X2048-8500C5 (2GBs, 5-5-5-15, 2T)
EVGA 8800GTS 640
Promise SATA300 TX-4302
X-Fi Platinum
PC Power & Cooling Silencer 750 Quad
Plextor PX-755SA
Mitsumi FDD/Memory Card Reader Combo
3x WD2500YS HDDs (2x Internal; 1x External)

(See my hardware configuration link for current OC's)

Since the office where this machine is running stays petty warm (mid-70s at least, even worse in the summer which it is now), the stock Intel HSF wasn't cutting the mustard anymore (E6300 OC'd to 2.33 read anywhere from 41C-47C (depending on the performance of the AC) at idle, and between the mid-50s to lower 60's when running Orthos). When I first built this system late last December, I had a much higher OC and lower temps than this. Of course, it was a bit cooler then than it is now, but not that much. Since I also had to RMA the MB, I thought I might have not seated the HSF correctly or improperly applied the thermal paste.

I checked all of those and they were OK. I even wrote EVGA about this, thinking that maybe I damaged something on the MB and the readings were faulty or whatnot. Their claim is that the newer BIOS version corrected the temp readings and that what I was seeing was normal.

Well, I didn't buy this E6300 for a measely 500MHz OC, and since the stock HSF wasn't keeping up, I decided to install the Thermalright Ultra 120 Extreme and the Scythe SFF21F 120mm fan. This thread is just a quick rundown of several issues I ran into.

First, I think everyone who has looked at the Ultra 120 has seen that the base of it had some dishing issues. The one I got was as flat as a 10-year-old. I checked it out from several angles using some precision measuring equipment and found nothing. I did notice that the slight machining marks did give an illusion of not being flat, but as I've said, it was/is.

Next, the bracket that fits behind the MB, while also flat, did not fit flush against the rear of the MB. This gave me fits when trying to install this thing.

I have written a lot about the Antec 900 and how much of a pain it is to setup. The only real two options one has is to either purchase a modular power supply or get out your Dremel and start hacking. At the end of this post I will supply a link to someone who did just that. I want to say that I didn't cut as many openings as he did (I only cut 4 large openings), but I did make one that I haven't heard/seen anyone else do. In the area behind the CPU, I cut-out a piece about 4" square. Basically, it was more than large enough so that I could install a mounting bracket without having to remove the MB.

So, after removing the RAM, the stock HSF, and the CPU (and cleaning everything up), I did some dry runs installing the Ultra to check for clearances, etc. That done, I did a final cleaning on the base and HS, added thermal grease, and proceeded to go for it.

The problem I had with that rear bracket immediately made itself known as it made installing this thing harder than it need to be. I used a lot of tape to help keep it in place while I started screwing in the Ultra.

Speaking of which, it was real "fun" trying to line everything up while this huge thing was sliding all over the CPU/HS, smearing thermal grease everywhere (which required a timeout and some more cleaning). The screwdriver I use is magnitized but these screws couldn't care less! I need a set of long needlenose pliers to put the screw into place and then had to carefully move the pliers out of the way and then screw them in. Sometimes it didn't work, so I lightly wrapped a little scotch tape on the screwdriver/screw to help. Note, if someone also does this, you need to remove the tape AS SOON as the screw sets in! There is so little clearance in this case that the tape will stick to the HS if you're not careful and it is a royal bitch to get out!

OK, so like 30 minutes or so later, the deed was done, the Ultra 120X was installed.

Now, the fan.

Anyone who has seen this product knows that Thermalright includes two flimsy wire clips to attach a fan to the HS. Before I even got around to installing the thing, I first made sure I knew how all of that worked. Bottome line is that it works, but something better could be made.

OK, so now the HS and fan are installed. I re-installed the RAM and needed to re-connect the 8-pin CPU power cable before I could close everything up.

Whoa!

I really had to work to get that cable to reach and then plug-in! My advice: make an extension or buy one from PCP&C (like $12). I needed those needle-nosed pliers once again in order to get the plug past the Ultra 120X and into the socket on the MB.

Then the fan started being uncooperative. Those wire brackets now no longer seemed to want to hold the fan up! It took about 20 minutes of toying with it before I was satisfied.

I am almost done. I made sure everything was hooked-up and I booted-up the machine. Everything was good to go and a quick trip to the BIOS already revealed a drop in temp by several degrees (compared to being in the BIOS with the stock HSF).

Now, we all know the 120x is HUGE, and during those dry-runs, I noticed that the top of the Ultra reaches so far that it almost rests against the side panel, but not quite.

Time to close things up. On my Antec 900, I used one of the included 120mm fans and installed it on the side panel so that the GPU area would have fresh cool air. I was having a really hard time getting the panel on. Remember how far the 120 reaches out? Well, it turns out that a corner of that side panel fan actually gets caught in the fan on the Utlra 120!! WTH!?!

I got the door on before I noticed that, and only after booting up did I occasionally hear the fan bumping against the other as it spun.

So I had to remove the side panel fan, get out a hack saw, and cut away one corner. That done, I closed everything up and now it all works fine.

The bottom line with this thing is: DOES IT WORK?

YES!

My CPU is OC'd to 3.33GHz while the RAM is set to 1068MHz for its 5-5-5-15 timings. The idle temp, in a near-80F room, was a mere 37C! That's right- a 1+GHz OC and a drop of 9C-10C to boot! I ran Orthos for about 20 minutes to kick-up the temps and never saw anything above 51C!

I hope this long-arsed diatribe helps.


Edit 1: This is the link for that Antec 900 mod:
http://www.xtremesystems.org/forums/showthread.php?t=126395

Edit 2: I found the thermal paste that came with the Ultra 120 Extreme to be rather runny. After cleaning the CPU and drying it off, I carefully applied the paste and then watched as it slid off (the case was at a slight angle). None of the other thermal compounds I used exhibited this behavior.
19 answers Last reply
More about antec ultra extreme 680i installation tips
  1. Excellent post! I've had my eye on the Ultra 120X for a while and was wondering what kind of installation problems would come with such a large heatsink, seems the benefits you've attained outweigh the trouble of installation, so I guess I'll go ahead and jump in the pool.

    Thanks for the detail, it helps in making a decision!
  2. Well I have pretty much the exact same setup as you do. I used the same article even to do my wiring. Only down side was I didnt cut the holes quite right and long story short I didnt put my drives in backwards like he did in the article. All in all my temps are between 5-13 degrees celcius higher than ambient, I never go above 50. However I havent overclocked it yet. Nice oc. Wanna send my all your settings in the bios?
  3. Just posting this so you can see my sig.
  4. 4Ryan6 said:
    Excellent post! I've had my eye on the Ultra 120X for a while and was wondering what kind of installation problems would come with such a large heatsink, seems the benefits you've attained outweigh the trouble of installation, so I guess I'll go ahead and jump in the pool.

    Thanks for the detail, it helps in making a decision!


    You absolutely won't regret purchasing this sucker! I think my installation issues were because I was lazy and did it with the MB still in the case, and to be fair to Thermalright, I wouldn't have had some of these issues. The Ultra-120X does not block the screws at all, so an "open air" (MB out of the case) installation probably would have been a breeze!

    FYI: I am currently OC'd to 3.325GHz and my memory at a 1:1 at 475MHz (5-5-5-14, 2T). I had the FSB a little higher but decided to back it down a little bit.

    While running Orthos, I hear a lot of high-pitched radio waves coming from the CPU/RAM area. I don't hear that when stock, so I am assuming this is normal on a high OC.

    The only app problem I ran into was that FSX would not run at all, but I think that was the result of another program I installed and ran; I just don't know what it was. It is running fine now. Just weird.

    And that Scythe fan really is the cat's meow- I can't even hear it and it's like 18" from me.
  5. eric54 said:
    Well I have pretty much the exact same setup as you do. I used the same article even to do my wiring. Only down side was I didnt cut the holes quite right and long story short I didnt put my drives in backwards like he did in the article. All in all my temps are between 5-13 degrees celcius higher than ambient, I never go above 50. However I havent overclocked it yet. Nice oc. Wanna send my all your settings in the bios?


    Good deal! The holes I cut was a large one near the PS so that I could run all of the power cables to the backside of the MB tray, and then large rectangular cut-outs near the SATA ports, another large one above that near the floppy connector, and then a really large one near the 24-pin power connector. The top drive cage only contains a fan (set to low) so that it sends cool air directly to the RAM. The middle drive cage holds the two 2500YS HDDs (fan set to medium), and the bottom cage contains (from top to bottom) the PX-755SA, the X-Fi breakout box, and the Floppy/Card Reader.

    Almost all of the excess power cables fold neatly (mostly) in the drive cage area where they screw in. The small hole pre-cut by Antec where the PS rests? well, the power cables for that 120mm fan in the side panel reach it and fit through it perfectly.

    As far as BIOS settings go, it isn't anything elaborate. I have SLI memory enabled (and set to Expert). The FSB is at 1900, the FSB and memory are linked and synchronous, and un the memory settings page, I have it set to optimal. These are off the top of my head, but it's pretty accurate. All spread-spectrum is disabled, PCI/PCIe are set to 100MHz. CPU multi is 7x. Voltage settings are auto for all except RAM (set to 2.2). Currently, the CPU voltage is at 1.45 according to nVidia Monitor.

    Oh, and that northbridge fan? Set it manually to like 55% and it will quiet it down A LOT (won't even hear it, and it doesn't seem to adversely affect performance).

    Ain't no way I am upgrading that CPU now! Too much work! :)
  6. 4Ryan6 said:
    Excellent post! I've had my eye on the Ultra 120X for a while and was wondering what kind of installation problems would come with such a large heatsink, seems the benefits you've attained outweigh the trouble of installation, so I guess I'll go ahead and jump in the pool.

    Thanks for the detail, it helps in making a decision!


    eric54 said:
    Well I have pretty much the exact same setup as you do. I used the same article even to do my wiring. Only down side was I didnt cut the holes quite right and long story short I didnt put my drives in backwards like he did in the article. All in all my temps are between 5-13 degrees celcius higher than ambient, I never go above 50. However I havent overclocked it yet. Nice oc. Wanna send my all your settings in the bios?


    One more thing: If you have the Antec 900, it would make installing the 120x a lot easier if one were to remove the top of the case. That would make the screws easier to get into place.
  7. wait i dont get it why didnt you install the ultra-120 when the mobo was out of the case??
    I am thinking of buying a nine hundred for my cousin and his new build but gah.. if its this hard to apply that hsf...

    anyways great article and im glad you got it sorted out

    *is it possible to get a couple pictures of your system??
  8. wow, it's almost as if you wrote this post for me, i had all of those exact same problems and came to similar solutions, including cutting my side panel fan. i never had those problems with the screws on the 120X, they cooperated for me luckily enough!
  9. maverick7 said:
    wait i dont get it why didnt you install the ultra-120 when the mobo was out of the case??
    I am thinking of buying a nine hundred for my cousin and his new build but gah.. if its this hard to apply that hsf...

    anyways great article and im glad you got it sorted out

    *is it possible to get a couple pictures of your system??



    I didn't install the Ultra until just the other day (the 16th of July). I did all of the cut-outs the day I first put the system together (in December), and later on when I RMA'd the original MB, I used the lessons learned from my initial setup and cut the holes larger. It was at that time when I decided to make the large cut-out behind the CPU area to facillitate the installation of a bracket for the backside of the MB.

    I did take some pictures when I was making the cuts but I swear they came out crappy. However, I am thinking about doing some this weekend but I can't promise anything.

    The Antec 900 is a nice case if you don't have a lot to put into it and don't constantly go in and out of. I tell you that mine is pretty damned cramped and I would have to be a sadist to try to install more gunk in there! :)

    Thanks for the feedback!
  10. Fendrak said:
    wow, it's almost as if you wrote this post for me, i had all of those exact same problems and came to similar solutions, including cutting my side panel fan. i never had those problems with the screws on the 120X, they cooperated for me luckily enough!


    Well I am happy someone had it easier than I did! :) You know how when you're trying to do something and you initially try the "lazy" method thinking that it's going to save you time and effort, but then you realize that you're just creating more work for yourself and you end up doing it the "right" way? That's probably what happened to me, but if I did have to remove the CPU for whatever reason, I would do it again. I would just be better prepared. :)
  11. Hey NewbieTech GodII, which way do you have your Ultra mounted?
    Is it facing the rear fan or is it faced towards the 200mm fan.

    Do you have any clearance issues with the Northbridge?
  12. freeyayo50 said:
    Hey NewbieTech GodII, which way do you have your Ultra mounted?
    Is it facing the rear fan or is it faced towards the 200mm fan.

    Do you have any clearance issues with the Northbridge?



    omg...i really should check these more often.

    the 120 is installed so that the fan is on the bottom, blowing straight up to the exhaust fan in the case top. no issues with interference other than the cpu fan and the fan in the side panel, as noted. i have regular low profile RAM and have one of the sticks installed in the slot closest to the 120 with no issues.

    btw...the 900 will become a whs box, as i am building a new system in the haf 922. word.
  13. NewbieTechGodII said:

    ..., but I did make one that I haven't heard/seen anyone else do. In the area behind the CPU, I cut-out a piece about 4" square. Basically, it was more than large enough so that I could install a mounting bracket without having to remove the MB.

    I did the same thing with my Antec cases:
    Antec 900 case mods for cable management:
    http://www.tomshardware.com/forum/264112-28-antec

    The black window molding came from here:
    http://www.frozencpu.com/products/5096/mol-04/Slim_C-Strip_FanWindow_MoldingGrommet_Edging_-Black.html?tl=g44c355s338

    I used an 8 pin extension cable so I could run that behind the motherboard tray. And I drilled a few holes underneath the lower drive bay to tie down the unused cables out of the way.

    The base of my TRUE had an off center dome on it. And I used the same fan as you did. I figured the "F" was a good compromise between air flow and noise.

    Great cooling. My case fans are set on LOW. Running them faster does not help cooling. Good thing too. With the case fans set on HIGH, it sounds like a freakin' vacuum cleaner sitting on the worktable beside my desk.

    The lower drive bays have either two or three hard drives in them. I have never seen a drive temp higher than 29 C. My heatsink fans are oriented vertically. I figure warm air wants to rise; why fight physics. We had a thread earlier this year about that. Forced air will overcome convection. I think you can fight it or you can help it. I choose to help the air on its way out the case.
  14. maverick7 said:
    wait i dont get it why didnt you install the ultra-120 when the mobo was out of the case??

    I recommend installing the CPU, HSF, and memory outside the case.But if you ever decide to remove the HSF, the large hole behind the HSF mounting plate means that you can remove and replace it without removing the motherboard.

    More cases are including that hole.
  15. the true 120 is a kick-ass performer, but is a pain in the ass installing it no matter how many cut-outs we make. i have not found it any easier to mount it since making that cut-out because it is just so freakin' huge. this is why i am ditching it and have bought two of coolermaster's hyper 212 plus for my new builds...just slightly better cooling at a far less cost and much easier to install.
  16. At the time I bought my TRUE, the Xigs and Hypers were not on the market. I have one TRUE and two Xig Dark Knights. The TRUE is a little better than the Xigs. But it is not better enough to compensate for the almost twice as high price once you factor in the cost of a good fan.
  17. jsc said:
    At the time I bought my TRUE, the Xigs and Hypers were not on the market. I have one TRUE and two Xig Dark Knights. The TRUE is a little better than the Xigs. But it is not better enough to compensate for the almost twice as high price once you factor in the cost of a good fan.



    i think that the true was worth every penny considering the other options at the time, but the 212's received a Maximum Kick-Ass award and a 10 from Maximum PC about a month ago...and not is the 212 easier to install, but it cools just slightly better and only about 1/2 the cost.
  18. Just thought I would ask a quick question, is t good value to get a secondhand 120x for $45 aussie delivered? It will go on a i7 920 d0
  19. trenna187 said:
    Just thought I would ask a quick question, is t good value to get a secondhand 120x for $45 aussie delivered? It will go on a i7 920 d0


    well, the 120x doesn't come with a fan, so unless the $45 includes one or you already have one, then no. the 212+ comes with a fan and is a little cheaper than the 2nd hand 120x.

    on the otherhand, the zalman cnps 9900 max was released and it's numbers were better than the 212+, but at a higher price ($80 USD), and the install was a bitch compared to the 212+.

    Link:
    http://www.maximumpc.com/article/reviews/zalman_cnps9900_max_review
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