Designing new watercooling setup.

Time has forced its hand and I have to get a new system a little sooner than expected (MB died on my old showpiece and I don't feel like finding another one and doing a XP repair).

So I'm doing another water cooling rig and would like a bit of advice. Here is what I have decided on so far.

Koolance PC2-600 (Refurbishing an old case since the only other case I like (CM Stacker 830 series) is 3.5 inches too long (deep?) to fit in the designated space. I will be stripping out the old Reservoir, tubing, radiator+shroud and modding the case a tad. I cannot expand on the dimensions of the case too much without it not being able to fit in its designated space. So for example popping a Exos on the sides, top, bottom, front, back, etc) would take up too much space.

Shroud (I will be using the shroud but not the radiator that comes with it.)

Radiator Black Ice Xtreme 3 XFlow

CPUn D-TEK FuZion CPU Block

Video Card x 2: EK Full Coverage GeForce 8800 GTS Series Water Block

Pump Swiftech MCP655 12 VDC Pump

Reservoir XSPC Bay Reservoir 5.25" - Black

Coolant Moulson Golden Canadian Beer (j/k)
Silverstone Liquid Cooling Thermal Fluid

Tubing: 1/2" Tygon

TIM: Arctic Ceramique

CPU: Intel Core 2 Extreme 6850
MB: Either EVGA 680i or Asus Striker
Video Card: Nvidia 8800 GTS 640 x2 in SLI
RAM: OCZ DDR2 PC2-9600 FlexXLC Edition 2x1 GB kit
HD: WD Raptor 150GB
Sound Card: Creative X-Fi Gamer
Power supply: Still up in the air, looking for 850-1k watt range.

Previously I had one loop going through the system, now that I'm adding the RAM and an extra video card I'm looking into doing a second independent loop that will use a single RAD/FAN combo placed in an unused 3-in-1 drive cage bay

Possible Configurations:
Primary loop: CPU, and Video cards
Optional second loop: RAM+HD.

Primary loop: CPU+HD
Secondary loop: Video Cards+[(split-1) RAM (split 2) HD]

The emphasis will be on quiet and cool, so if you have any suggestions on changes I'd love to hear them.
18 answers Last reply
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  1. Well....a few things here

    Do you plan on doing any o'clocking? If so, what components? (This will have a direct affect on the advice)

    Be mindful that having one rad in a system as large as the one you are planning means that either the GPU or CPU will have to not just deal with its own heat but the heat transferred from the other major components.

    I wouldn't bother watercooling the HDDs and ram - that is just a novelty really as good airflow within the case will be sufficient to handle both.

    Reconsider, if you will, those full body waterblocks for the GPU. Full body waterblocks are havoc on maintaining a good flowrate due to the bends and tight turns in the blocks. Consider waterblocks like the Maze4, D-Tek, MCW60 or my favorite, the Swiftech Stealth. They are condusive to maintaining good flow and you can get ramsinks for the video memory and mosfets.

    An ideal loop might be something like this:

    Reservoir - pump - CPU - Rad - GPU (SLI) - Rad - Back to Reservoir

    In this configuration, the heat generated by the CPU and GPU is dealt with BEFORE it reaches the other major component so the respective waterblock only has to deal with the heat from its computer part.
  2. Phreejak,

    Wouldn't a better design for the loop be something like this:
    Res->Pump->Rad->CPU->RAD->GPU's->Back to Res.

    Since it will give your cpu the coolest possible temp's by removing any heat imparted to the water by the pump?

    I have done similar loops before and saw a 2-3C temp difference by having the rad between the pump and the cpu.

    Also youi might want to checkout the Dd forums about the fullbody blocks. It seems that there is only about a 2C temp difference between full body and GPU only blocks. Plus the newer Dd ones are designed for high flow unlike the old ones which were very restrictive.

  3. On the fullbody blocks versus GPU only - On my 8800 GTX I use to use the DD 8800 GTX fullbody block and was getting around 53 idle and 56 on load. Using the Swiftech Stealth my idle temps dropped to 42 on idle and 45 on load - that's a big 10 degree difference.

    The problem I ran into using the setup you suggested is that, especially in SLI setups where the bulk of the heat goes to the reservoir BEFORE it gets to a rad - I had condensation build up on the underside of the reservoir plus, the reservoir, over time, will get warm to hot - having to carry the heat from the SLI blocks.
  4. I will be overclocking the CPU, FSB, Memory and if possible the GPU's. I'm more comfortable with overclocking a single GPU and this will be my first SLI setup. I, of course, will be getting the same model/brand of video card but even that does offer 100% compatibility. The reason I chose a full body block is to get the extra heat from the memchips into the water cooled setup since I'm not sure if the airflow in that area of the case will be sufficient to cool the chips with just heat spreaders, since the pump and reservoir will be located near them to the front of the case.

    While the case currently has a 3-fan drive cooler I was hoping to ditch that since the Raptors get very hot (and have one less filter to clean). The computer will be situation in a room that seems to absorb heat to the point where it is quite literally 10-15 degree (F) hotter than any other room in the house even with the AC on. Having the radiators dump heat of course won't help that. I have had the raptors in this room get hot enough to be uncomfortable to a brief touch (and yet the first time I had one start to go on me was when this MB started acting up and taking components down with it).

    Another question wold be about fan setup. The old setup had 3 fans. 2 fans blowing cooler air over the radiator into the case and one blowing out sucking the air from the case through the radiator and exhausting out over the case. There is another fan in back blowing out the back of the case for air flow. These were 80mm fans, but with the new setup there will be 120mm fans which I hope to be quieter.

    At the back of the case there is only room for 2 80mm fans for exhaust (in addition to the power supply fan). Would it be better to have all three fans at the top of the case blow cooler air into the radiator/case, in addition to the fan blowing into the case in the converted drive bay? Or would it be better to have the fans at the top of the case pull air from inside the case over the radiator and exhaust it above the case?

    I will be looking to cool this as much as possible but I don't expect to win any cooling records due to the high ambient temps.

    If I go with a dual radiator configuration the 2nd radiator would be:

    Black Ice X-flow Pro

    It might be possible to mount the pump in the missing drive bay and have the 2nd radiator below it in the area where a reservoir now resides so going from bottom of the case to top it would be:

    single 120mm Radiator - reservoir - pump - x3 120mm radiator - CPU - Rad - GPU (SLI) - back to single 120mm Radiator

    Or would this create pressure issues?

    Also I am aware that most of these blocks are copper while it looks like the memory and HD would be aluminum so I wouldn't want them to be on the same loop for corruption issues. Though in my previous 2 kits which were all aluminum I had zero corruption issues apparently that becomes a concern once I switch to the copper blocks.

    Yet another (admittedly distant) concern is that while this was just a showcase machine with one hard drive it eventually ended up with 3 other just for space as it became a temporary server. Planning for the future I expect it will probably happen yet again in an year or two. The would most likely not have the benefit of a fan dedicated to the drives (which is yet another reason to cool the drives).
  5. In my computer, I run one extensive loop -

    Reservoir - pump - CPU - Rad - GPU - Rad - Back to reservoir

    I have it set this way because I am using a 226watt TEC waterblock to cool my CPU and it releases much more heat than an o'clocked CPU. Because of this I have to dedicate a minimum of a dual 120mm rad to follow the CPU to release the heat BEFORE it gets to the GPU. I do this because I don't o'clock my GPU at all really so my greatest source of heat is from the TEC waterblock.

    With you, however, your greatest source of heat may be from the o'clocked SLI setup than from your CPU. Of course, that will depend on what your o'clocking characteristics are finally set at for both components. This may, or may not, have some influence on what gets the triple 120mm rad (whether it comes after the CPU or GPU). Also, something else to consider with your airflow in question is that when you o'clock the CPU that will also influence the heat generated by the mosfets around the CPU socket. You would need to have some kind of decent airflow to help them.

    Of all the different components that affect flowrate, the worst of them are always going to be the rads - this is due to the bends and tight turns that are used in their construction. You will have the strongest flowrate in your loop right after the pump so you shouldn't hinder that initial flowrate by putting a rad first. I would have the CPU receive the benefit of the best flowrate so it should come right after the pump.

    From your description of the possible loop, you seem to indicate that there might be 1 triple 120mm rad and two single 120mm rads. Is there any way to just work two dual 120mm rads OR a triple 120mm rad and a dual 120mm rad?

    I'm just firing questions off as they enter my head so they might not come in any sensible order here.....

    I'll talk later about the memory, HDD and possibly a northbridge waterblock
  6. Sorry its supposed to be 1 triple 120mm rad and a (currently optional) single 120mm rad.
  7. We're sort of in a pickle here because what you plan on o'clocking will generate alot of heat and you hace limited ways of getting rid of that and not have components suffer the heat of other compoents as well as its own. The triple rad will take care of anything pretty much but the single rad won't be able to handle an o'clocked SLI setup and it won't be as efficient with an o'clocked CPU.
  8. So with the triple radiator in there, the single radiator would not cool down the liquid enough to matter if I make it all one big loop?

    Should the triple radiator be enough to handle both the over clocked CPU and the GPU's in SLI?

    Would this loop make a significant difference:
    reservoir - pump - GPU (SLI) -triple 120mm radiator- CPU - single 120mm Radiator - reservoir

    So instead of the extra heat from the GPU's going to the singe rad they go to the triple and the CPU's heat can be partially dumped by the single. Or would it just be best to drop the idea of the single radiator in the main loop altogether saving that for a less serious 2nd loop involving ram and HD.

    On the motherboard there are heat pipes that will bring the heat from the northbridge/southbridge and I think some of the components near the CPU to the radiator for that will be positioned next to a pair of 80mm fans doing exhaust so that I think should be covered.

    At first I didn't think there would be lots of fans but even with just the triple radiator and exhaust fans I've already got 5. Six if I do anything with the single radiator.

    If a double 120mm radiator + the triple 120mm radiator is the only way to get rid of significant heat I will have to see just what kind of modifications it will take to shove that in there. We are basically talking about a Chenming 601 case.
  9. I think alot depends on just how much you plan to o'clock the components. The CPU, in of itself, is just a single unit of a particular brand that runs much cooler than its netburst predecessors. Indeed, many beginners kits offer CPU waterblocks with single 120mm rads so that indicates you have a much better chance applying the single rad to the CPU. Would this rad be internal or external? Something you could do to help it is by employing a "push-pull" configuration where you have fans on both sides of the rad - one pushing air and one pulling air. Is that something that could be possible in your setup?
  10. The radiator will be located at the top of the case using the Koolance shroud. Three 120mm fans located on top of the radiator to push cooler air through it into the case. There won't be a chance to put three fans on the other side of the radiator. I expect at that there to be at best a 1/2 to 1-inch gap between the radiator and the power supply. So at least two of those fans would be sitting on top of the power supply cutting off the space I was going to use for air circulation.
  11. My question concerns the placement of the single 120mm rad and whether or not it can employ the "push-pull" configuration where it will be mounted at.....
  12. The front of the case has space at the very bottom for a fan/radiator combo. I was going to expand the hole that is there (set for 80mm) to accommodate 120mm fan that would be pulling in fresh air.
  13. Can that section accomodate a rad with fans on both sides?
  14. As long as I mount the pump/reservoir on the drive bay mount above that area, there should be plenty of space for a rad with fans on both sides.
  15. phreejak said:
    The problem I ran into using the setup you suggested is that, especially in SLI setups where the bulk of the heat goes to the reservoir BEFORE it gets to a rad - I had condensation build up on the underside of the reservoir plus, the reservoir, over time, will get warm to hot - having to carry the heat from the SLI blocks.

    Hmmm I wonder if the condensation is caused by your tec's.. Since condensation should only form when something is somewhat cooler than ambient air temps. I understandabout the res getting hot though. But I do have an idea that might remedy the issue. Use the res more like you wouls a t line.. What I mean by this is that the res can be connected to the loop via a "T" connector and then a length of tubing and a fillport conencted to the other port on the res. This would also help with burping a t line loop since there would be more fluid available. Plus this would help with evaporation since there would a larger reserve of coolant already in the loop when compared to the amount a t line can provide (without beeing extremely long).

  16. Well, I have a better idea now of what you might could try. Using what you've told me you could construct, I'd align the single 120mm rad (with fans on both sides in a "push-pull" configuration) and the triple 120mm rad with the SLI
  17. So you are saying a setup like this:
    reservoir - pump - GPU (SLI) - single 120mm Radiator (push-pull)- triple 120mm radiator - CPU - reservoir


    reservoir - pump - CPU - GPU (SLI) - single 120mm Radiator (push-pull)- triple 120mm radiator - reservoir

    would work best for what I'm trying?
  18. Reservoir - pump - CPU - single 120mm rad - GPU (SLI) - triple 120mm rad - back to reservoir

    This way, the CPU gets the benefit of the best flowrate. Also, neither the CPU nor GPU will have to suffer from the heat of the other component before, at least, a rad intervenes and relieves the cooling loop of some heat. In this configuration you are going to use the triple rad to work on the heat of the SLI (we are *** that your o'clocking of the SLI will produce greater heat than the o'clocked CPU)
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