Help with radiator choice for wc

I am planning on using this case:

When speccing out the system, it allows you to choose the mounting for radiators. It mentions the Thermochill PA 120.3 in the write up, but allows you to choose swiftech/hw labs/feser as an alternate config. Which is the best? I am new to this so I don't know what to go with.

Thanks for any help.
13 answers Last reply
More about help radiator choice
  1. 1. List full specs.

    2. Why are you spending $470 on a case?!?!?!????
  2. i7 920, evga water cooled mother board. If I were buying cards right now it would be 2 285's, but I'm waiting for the next card set.

    Case holds two mother boards. One will be the new system for gaming and development, the other will be my old computer for web/database server. Thus the need for the expensive case.

    Quiet is my goal here, with performance the second most important.
  3. Imo, $470 for a case is too much. Unless space is limited why not just use 2 cases? The HAF 932 or Antec 900/1200,etc are good cases and 2 HAF 932s will be only $280.

    Out of the options I'd stay with the PA120.3 IF you plan to use high CFM fans (ie Scythe 110CFM or Delta fans).

    Else look in to a HW Labs Black Ice
    if planing to use low CFM (aka quiet) fans.
  4. It's a beautiful case! Glad your getting it.

    Before you even decide on what radiator to buy you need to spec out your heatload, flow paths, and where to place the rads. YES you will more than one radiator for sure, maybe, and more probably TWO loops, meaning a second pump.
    Here is some stuff for thought, please take your time to educate yourself FIRST.
    Us guys have done the WC thing, there are basics you gotta know. Take a look, don't take it as a diss on you or a rebuttal, look at as a friend saying "Dude, you gotta know what to say and how to communicate".
    CPU HS $65
    GPU HS and air HS for vram and mosfets $95, full cover block, $100-$200
    Radiator $60 min, up to $130
    Pump $50 +
    Resiviour $25
    Hose, some barbs and clamps etc (min $25, more like $35)
    Fans $15-30

    I went top notch and spent close to $600 to cool my CPU and GPU. You can do it for less, but a CPU only loop is $250 or so, add a GPU, add $100. If your looking at an i7 and a BIG GPU, start thinking about a big rad, possibly two rads, or even TWO loops.
    First you gotta learn about WC. It's not like walking into Best Buy.
    Spend a while (weeks is best for your sanity) at these links.
    Look at the hundreds of loops close to your case and components in the stickies, read a couple 50 or so threads over the next week or so, you'll be on the ball to make the right choices and by then know how to put it together.
    Not 'Roket Sience', but basic knowledge is required.
    And you should spend a few hours on the listed sites reading threads. It's how we learn. Once the goodies show up on your doorstep your on your own.
    For your benefit please spend a few days reading a LOT. At the busiest places for WC masters. Guys who have done it for YEARS at OC Forums and xtreme forums. It took me a while (I was OCing on air, aftermarket stuff, bios settings, best chipsets etc etc) to learn the language and the tricks to a easy install.

    Don't expect miracles or SUPER DOOPER over clocks. What you will get is a quiet system that can handle OC to the max of your hardware IF you buy quality and buy smart. And minor maintenance too, a bonus for the water cooler.

    Also while there please read on case mods etc. The radiators are not for small cases, pumps and hose routing, wire management and other things are important. Google your planned case and the word water-cooled in one line. You might get lucky. Look here too….
    Edit: The next paragraph was from 2008. With the advent of the HOT i7 and bigger GPU's, it has changed. A 220 size MIN rad for an i7, you want big overclocks, better go 320 sized rad.

    IF you just cool your CPU and your NB if you want, you can get by with a 120.2 sized radiator (RAD). And MAYBE fit in inside depending on your mod skillz. You want to cool your GPU too, you'll need a 120.3 sized rad, and it probably won't fit inside. The rear external rad really works great. No matter what your adding 10lbs to your PC.

    Once you got an idea of what is good/bad then start getting your system for WC put together and we'll be glad to help.
    Cleaning a loop, not a new loop: I do this once a year, I drain and refill at 6 months, the next time I do this……
    Wash hands very well, getting rid of hand oils.
    For pumps and blocks, fittings, clamps, acrylic res/block parts.... not hose, tear it to smallest pieces, put in a bowl, heat water up not to boiling add 10% vinegar, when hot, pour over parts. Rinse in 10 min or so. Put aside.
    The bocks will probably have some black oxidation. Take the copper parts out of the pile of parts you took out of the water. Dry well and pour ketchup on them, and set aside. Only the copper parts need this.
    Rad cleaning: fill with very almost boiling hot water. Let sit 10 minutes, drain half out and shake for 5 min. Repeat till liquid is clean.
    All the pump, block, fittings, and clamps, inspect, get in the tiniest corners with a tooth brush. Kind of meditative, time consuming, you learn a lot about o-ring size, how it all feels. Run a rag using a coat hanger and dish soap through the tubing, rinse well.
    Rinse all the parts and hose with distilled, dry then really dry with an air compressor (nice extra step to get rid of water spots). Don’t need to dry the inside of the hose.
    Now on to the copper parts, they should have been soaking an hour or two. A toothbrush and ketchup should clean much of the oxidation. It probably won’t be like new, but pretty darn good. Rinse, dry, and blow the parts.
    That’s it.
    Benching software and such is very varied. I use these for each purpose:
    These are pretty standard and used by many.
    Monitoring the PC temps overall: HWmonitor aka hardware monitor
    CPUZ for CPU info
    GPUZ for GPU info
    CPU only: RealTemp
    GPU only: ATI Tool, I have a Nivida GTX280, so it works on Nvidia

    Loading/benching tools:
    CPU loaders: Prime95 and OCCT
    GPU Loaders: ATI Tool and the best one is Furmark, nothing pushes the GPU harder right now.
    Benching for overall graphics/gaming performance is 3DMark06
    http://forums.extremeoverclocking. [...] p?t=282232 Pretty up to date info and buying guide [...] s&catid=40 verclocking-and-cooling&Itemid=86 Another good guide
    http://forums.extremeoverclocking. [...] p?t=312743 What to do once all the stuff is in the door [...] p?t=223835 Many build logs on MANY cases, great learning tool.

    My latest rig:

    Forums Not a noob site, but great stickies My fav, good peeps, know their stuff, less hardcore [...] opic=20277 A GREAT Europe site Decent site

    Tests on equipment, not reviews, truly scientific tests [...] n&ie=UTF-8 Info on rad testing [...] p?t=220593 More rad testing Host for Martins lab and some newer tests Test results, very technical

  5. Conumdrum said:
    It's a beautiful case! Glad your getting it.

    Before you even decide on what radiator to buy you need to spec out your heatload, flow paths, and where to place the rads. YES you will more than one radiator for sure, maybe, and more probably TWO loops, meaning a second pump.

    LOL, thanks for the response. I've gotten the same message to my other questions, and I have read through all the guides and stuff. That's actually how I found the case.

    I have a ton more research to do, and the whole thing is more complicated than is easily answered in one post/question, so I've been breaking it down piece by piece and asking about that.

    Looking to do two loops, one for the video card and one for the cpu and chipset. Case will hold two systems, so two loops for the i7 gaming rig and one for the server as all I will need to cool is the cpu.

    This gets really expensive really fast, so I'm looking for options.

    At this point i'm just trying to decide on the radiator. I like the PA120.3, but it is really expensive. Also, I'm going for quiet over performance, so it looks like the HW Labs Black Ice is my best bet. I was a little confused by the write up on the PA120.3 as it says it is good for low air/quiet, but the recommendation here was that it is better for high cfm applications. For quiet but good performance, what should I use? The black ice is much cheaper as well.
  6. Quote:
    It's a beautiful case!

    True, but I still think it's over kill/too expensive.At any rate, if OP's willing to get it and can pay for it I don't see why not.

    Looking to do two loops, one for the video card and one for the cpu and chipset.

    Yup. That would be best. You could probably add the server to the i7 CPU loop.

    As for the rad, it will work fine with lower fans. I was thinking of MAX performance and not quietness lol. Here's a VERY good review of the PA120.3:
    As expected the higher speed fans do have a significant up to 3X the performance difference between fans used in this test. Generally the higher the RPM and higher the pressure (38mm vs 25mm), the better the performance. The decision comes down to noise preferences more than anything. While the Scythe Ultra Kaze at 3000RPMs performs the best, that's more noise than I would want to put up with daily, and tolerance to noise is different for every person.

    Take the PA120.3 if possible. It's THE BEST. Else the HW Labs I linked earlier does decently with low speed fans.

    @OP: What are the specs on the server? If it's not too much power, you could get a TRUE or CCF and do a no fan set up.
  7. Shadow703793 said:

    @OP: What are the specs on the server? If it's not too much power, you could get a TRUE or CCF and do a no fan set up.

    I was hoping to. It's a socket 478 P4 2.4 Ghz. That's the only thing that needs a cooler. The only review I could find showed that they couldn't run it without a fan. If you know of one that would work, please let me know.

    I was looking at a Noctua NH-U12P. On this page, it is the highest rated available for my socket. 120mm fan, so it should be quite, though if I could go fanless that would be even better. Of course, the case has tons of 120mm fans, so what's one more?
  8. No matter what it won't be silent. If you buy the proper rads and enough rad area, you can use lower CFM fans. Agreed, what is one more fan eh? Just put a nice air cooler on it.

    The PA 120.3 is still the king of low fins per inch, thick rads. Meaning you don't need high CFM fans to make them work.

    Your choices for rads are the:
    PA120.3 be careful, is your case drilled for 17mm or 15mm fan spacing? Older PA 120.x series are drilled at 17m.
    XSPC RX series
    HW Labs SR-1 series
    All 3 recommended rads are low FPI, made for lower CFM. High FPI means louder fans, and possibly fans on each side of the rad.

    I don't like Feser as a company, some odd things have happened with them. But thier X-Changer series is equal to the above 3. A quote from Skinnee.
    "This was my first test of a TFC product, and thankfully there are members of the community who were gracious enough to loan me their radiators for testing and photos. I have tried and tried to work with Martin and Mario of TFC, and they do not see the importance of working with the Liquid Cooling community and tests/reviews. They have a different approach to marketing and advertising their products, and that is their choice. I personally will only be able to review their products and show whether all their marketing hype is true/false by the generousity of the Liquid Cooling community. Now if I take a step out of the test and review position, this mentality still does not sit well with me, you have a company making products for us users who does not want to have participation in the community, only their hard earned money. Hopefully this will change, but I can only see change coming from the community making it known to Martin and Mario that community involvement is just as critical to a successful product as marketing hype."

    Another option is the Swiftech MCR series. For the price they are the best. They are a bit less efficient and need a bit more fannage, but they really are nice rads.

    I run one PA 120.3 and one XSPC RX 120x3. Both run medium speed Yate Loon fans and are just fine, in fact I run the fans at maybe 9 volts on a controller. But I have more rad than I need, my Delta T is nice and low, so my CPU and GPU's are very happy.

    I gave you plenty of links to learn about rad heatloads, tests of what rad is good/bad with certain fans, awesome forums where some world class watercooling pros hang out and some required guide reading.
  9. ^ LOL @ Feser. After seeing what happened with Feser One I too am starting to doubt their marketing/quality. @OP see:

    I haven't used a XSPC so can't comment on that.

    And +1 for Conumdrum. Also post this over at OC Forum. People their are quite friendly as long as you don't ask really stupid questions (such as: Will 1/2ID fit....). xtremesystems is for the pro's who have done MANY WCing,etc builds.
  10. OC Forums is my home. If you do go there, please do some homework first. I have been chastised terribly by send some real 'winners on the short bus' over there. Use your same user name to keep continuity, I do on all my PC forums, you make some long term freinds that way. But we really do help there, it's MY motto.

    At XS, you better have your ducks in a row, hardcore, many noob posts stay ignored, seen noobs put on the ignore list at their first noob post, to never ever get any help, ignored forever, unless it's a really good first, smart post.
  11. ^Agreed. Get educated first before posting at OCF and xs.
  12. @OP...those are awesome cases...I have been looking into them as well. I just don't want to drop the cash on them, but they look great. I have seen some very professional WC builds with them.

    As for rads, I can personally attest to the Swiftech MCR320's...I run 2 of those and they work great, esp. for the cost. (~$53) There are better ones out there like was stated by Shadow and Conumdrum, and also like it was stated...its your money...use it how you wish. Please post pics...I'd like to see how you get it all setup, as I think most would. Good luck.
  13. Thanks for all the responses guys. I will post pics when I am done.
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