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Creating a video guide to setting up a LC system: need advice

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December 3, 2009 1:22:11 PM

With the bulk of my new build arriving on Monday of next week, it's time for me to start planning for construction.

One thing this forum (and the internet in general) is really missing is a video step-by-step guide to setting up a new system with LC from step A to Z. That means everything from pulling the components out of their boxes; to bread boarding with the stock cooler; to prepping the LC system; to attaching water blocks; to filling the system; to the first startup; to setting up a cooling system in the BIOS; to overclocking with the BIOS; to running system stress tests and benchmarks to make sure everything is ideal.

There is no comprehensive guide for all of this. While it is true that all of it varies greatly with each system, I still feel a great vacuum for a general guide which encompasses everything. But here's the thing: I'm a noob!

To avoid the blind leading the blind, I have done my homework and read guides spread all over the internet, but I'm going to itemize my steps here too. This way I know exactly what I'm going to do (which helps me), and I can give others the proper advice too.
Thanks to tecmo34 for http://www.tomshardware.com/forum/274745-31-step-step-guide-building, and to Conundrum for http://forums.extremeoverclocking.com/showthread.php?t=312743


So please, be as critical as you can, I want this to be 100% right:

Section I: General Considerations
  • Make sure setup area is clean and free of moisture, dust, and debris.
  • Take all measures to prevent static discharge. Never construct system components over carpet of any kind. Concrete floors are the best, but as I live in an apartment, I will have to settle for my tiled kitchen.
  • Will ground myself by wearing an anti-static wristband clipped to a grounded object. Another way would be to touch the case with bare skin while it is grounded. Since I will be bread boarding, I think I can ground myself to a metal kitchen appliance or clip my wristband to the metal folding-table I will be constructing on. Could also ground to a plugged-in PSU case. Need advice on this
  • Set sensitive components on clean, dust free, non-conductive surfaces. If working on the motherboard, etc, ideal surfaces are the original plastic packaging, cardboard, a piece of wood, or wax paper (I've seen it done on aluminum foil too). Need advice on this
  • Using POWDER-FREE Latex gloves while handling components seems like a good idea. If wearing an anti-static wristband, then grounding won't be a problem. Otherwise, ground yourself by touching your wrist to a grounded surface. An alternative would be to wash with alcohol and then let evaporate to remove skin oils. Need advice on this

    Section II: Bread Boarding
    Thanks for this guide from jsc: http://www.tomshardware.com/forum/262730-31-breadboarding

  • READ MOTHERBOARD MANUAL. Each board is different, so read EVERYTHING once, and then re-read the specific section before you proceed. The vast majority of mobo related problems are caused by idiots who doesn't know how to read a manual carefully, and these mistakes are completely preventable.
  • Wash hands with alcohol & let dry or wear powder-free latex gloves.
  • Ground yourself!
  • Only handle components by the edges! NEVER touch CPU pins.
  • Place motherboard on safe working surface mentioned above.
  • Seat processor (will be showing an Intel setup)
  • Apply a dab of thermal gel in the center, spreading around with back end of credit card to get an even spread.
  • Seat stock heatsink, and attach fan connector.
  • Plug in mobo power pins and CPU power pins from the PSU. Plug PSU into wall and turn on.
  • Press power button on the motherboard. Wait for "No Memory" beeps (see motherboard manual for specific beep pattern).
  • Shutdown
  • Seat RAM in correct slots (refer to manual)
  • Startup again, listen for "No VGA" beep pattern
  • Shutdown
  • Seat GPU (if your board does not have an integrated card), and connect to monitor
  • Plug in keyboard
  • Startup, ensure BIOS posts correctly
  • Shutdown
  • Attach OS hard drive, all optical drives, and (optionally) a mouse. Install OS to ensure that everything is working correctly.
  • Shutdown, breadboarding is now complete!
  • Disconnect power supply from mobo.
  • Remove everything from motherboard: drives, keyboard, mouse, RAM, and GPU. Place removed components on safe surfaces.

    Section III: Attaching CPU Waterblock, Preparing Case, & Mounting Motherboard
  • Wash hands with alcohol & let dry or wear powder-free latex gloves.
  • Ground yourself!
  • Inspect CPU waterblock first. make sure everything goes together well and that no packing material or debris is stuck somewhere in it. READ THE MANUAL that comes with the waterblock. Run some sink water through it. You might have to change the mounting bracket. make sure the screws and screw holes thread nicely for the bracket. The block usually only mounts one way on top of the chip, check that. The block usually has one inlet for just inlet.
  • Attach barbs to CPU waterblock. You want the orings to compress properly. You also need to tighten the barbs so they won't untighten due to hose torque. So hand tighten till the o-ring starts to compress, then 1/2 turn more. Use a wrench CAREFULLY.
  • Remove stock heatsink. Using qtips dipped in alcohol, scrape all the old thick paste. The normal stuff from the store works fine. Use a paper towel to wipe and wipe till clean. Drys in seconds.
  • Re-apply a new dab of thermal gel, spread around to insure even coverage.
  • Mount CPU waterblock.
  • Prepare the case by removing side panels and laying down flat.
  • Attach mobo standoffs in correct holes (read your case's manual).
  • Insert your motherboard's rear I/O panel into the case (the standard panel should pop out).
  • Line up motherboard with rear I/O panel and gently place on standoffs.
  • Attach screws at opposite ends of the motherboard. Snug tighten, DO NOT OVERTIGHTEN MOUNTING SCREWS.
  • Attach additional mobo screws and snug tighten.

    Section IV: LC System Preparation & Installation
    Special thanks to Conundrum for his excellent guide. I have quoted his guide verbatim for much of this section:

  • Wash hands with alcohol & let dry or wear powder-free latex gloves.
  • Radiator Prep: "One of the most missed things. Boil sink water, let cool 5 min. Pour into rad filling it up, let sit 10 min. Drain 1/2 water or so, shake till your arms hurt, 3-4 min like a crazy man. Drain into a clear container. Do the rad dance again and again till the water from the rad is clear and no gunk once the water settles. Then do it two more times. NOW and only now is your rad 90% clean. No worries, the last 10% will come out in the next year or two when you redo your loop for maintenance. Oh and post a vid of ya dancin, be a fun thing to see."
  • Pump Inspection: Open pump, look for gunk, packing material. Run sink water Through the blocks, pump, hose. Drain as well as you can, but don't freakaziod on draining. Inspect bottom of block, don't forget to remove the plastic cover!! Seen it done by pros, funny...... "
  • Attach barbs to components (as detailed above).
  • Mount Pump, Radiator, & Reservoir in the case.
  • Measure and cut tubing. Soak ends in hot water until nice & supple and attach to barbs with hose clamps.
  • Mix coolant. Distilled water with PT Nuke (use recommended mixing concentrations). Give a good shake.
  • Label coolant as "COOLANT! POISONOUS, DO NOT INGEST" to prevent drunken friends from confusing with water.

    Section V: LC System Filling & Testing
  • Fill radiator.
  • With PSU outside the case, connect the pump power, and jumper the mobo connector (green wire to any black wire).
  • Turn on PSU until pump empties radiator (should take a few seconds).
  • Refill radiator and repeat until loop is full. Watch CAREFULLY so that pump does not run dry!
  • Pinch tubing, turn case, and do whatever it takes to remove air bubble pockets.
  • Turn on pump and let run for about 15 minutes or so, watching everything carefully.
  • Turn pump off. Attach paper towels around EVERY fitting. Secure with (Need Advice on This) zip strips? Also lay paper towels below the CPU block, pump, and perhaps the reservoir too.
  • Turn pump back on, let system run for an hour. Come back, check paper towels.
  • Overnight Test: "By now it's late in the day, very late. Go to sleep with it running, check in the morning. Time to bump the pump, twist and turn, pinch a tube, tap rad SIDE with a screwdriver handle to break bubbles loose. Inspect the paper towels, turn it back on, run for an hour, inspect with a bright flashlight and bits of paper towels on every connection (barb and o-ring). No leaks? Turn er' off."

    Section VI: Attaching Case Components & Drives
  • Wash hands with alcohol & let dry or wear powder-free latex gloves.
  • Ground yourself!
  • Mount PSU. I prefer to do this now as it grounds the case, and lets you visualize your cable management. PSU can be mounted on top or bottom in many cases (including mine). I will mount on bottom as this lets me put my radiator on top, which is a better position for that; however, this also means that the PSU is more likely to suck up dust.
  • Seat RAM in correct slots (as shown before).
  • Attach case & system wires, routing the cables with internal airflow in mind.
  • Seat optical and hard drives, attach SATA cables.
  • Seat GPU and lock it into place.
  • Carefully attach fans to radiator (Don't put a screw through the radiator!) Or should I have done this before I mounted the radiator?
  • Route remaining PSU connectors to their proper components, keeping airflow in mind.

    Section VII: The First Startup & Initial Stress Testing.
  • Keep case open so you can keep an eye on your components. Particularly the watercooling loop and fans.
  • Push the power button.
  • Immediately go into the BIOS and check your CPU temps. Sit and just watch for a minute or two.
  • If good, boot her up!
  • Install & Run HWMonitor, CoreTemp, and/or Realtemp
  • Install & Run Prime95 Blend Test. Keep an eye on temps. Let the test run for at least 30 minutes and check temps every so often to ensure they stay at reasonable levels.
  • Success? Ok shut her down, time to start overclockin.



    That's all I've got time to write for now folks... I'll continue later on...
    a c 86 K Overclocking
    December 3, 2009 2:43:24 PM

    •Inspect CPU waterblock first. make sure everything goes together well and that no packing material or debris is stuck somewhere in it. READ THE MANUAL that comes with the waterblock. Run some sink water through it. You might have to change the mounting bracket. make sure the screws and screw holes thread nicely for the bracket. The block usually only mounts one way on top of the chip, check that. The block usually has one inlet for just inlet.

    Kitchen floor with no socks is just fine. Unless your known to static all the time, no need for anti static strap. I haven't used one in absolutely years. But I do ground myself to the case with the Mobo bag or the CPU package with my wrist like you said.

    Sink water is just fine. Rinse with distilled.

    •Remove stock heatsink. Scrape thermal gel off with a razor blade CAREFULLY. Dab a tissue or fiber-less cloth in alcohol (just a little, you don't want it to drip), and GENTLY clean off any excess thermal gel. Allow alcohol to dry thoroughly before proceeding (wait at least 30 minutes). Use qtips. scrape with qtips all the old thick paste. qtips dipped in alcohol, the normal stuff from the store, wipe off the old paste. use a paper towel to wipe and wipe till clean. Drys in seconds.

    •Attach barbs to CPU waterblock. Hand tighten, and then give it another 1/4 to 1/2 turn. Look at o-ring. You want the orings to compress properly. You also need to tighten the barbs so they won't untighten due to hose tourqe. so hand tightem till the oring starts to compress, then 1/2 turn more. Yes, I do use a wrench. On the GTZ for example, the barbs supplied on my Fatboy barbs were too thin. I took the ones off the supplied barbs and used them instead. But the orings on the fatboys were fine everywhere else

    Don't even connect anything to the mobo except the watercooling. Install the mobo after the CPU block is on the mobo. You gotta leak test first, even leave the PSU out. No SATA, power, nuthin, memory sure, easiest when mobo is on table.

    If there is a leak, better when nothing is hooked up.
    December 3, 2009 3:01:51 PM

    Conumdrum said:
    Don't even connect anything to the mobo except the watercooling. Install the mobo after the CPU block is on the mobo. You gotta leak test first, even leave the PSU out. No SATA, power, nuthin, memory sure, easiest when mobo is on table.

    If there is a leak, better when nothing is hooked up.


    Thanks for the clarification there. Now, stupid question, how will I know with what lengths to route my tubing unless I mount the mobo and all WC pieces in the case first? Or should I just estimate as best I can?

    Define "bump the pump" for me. I think I understand how to fill the setup, just add coolant little by little, shut off pump when water runs out. But what do you mean by "bumping the pump?" Are you talking about using water-hammer to break up air bubble collections?

    I noticed that you seem to prefer hose clamps (correct?), and I've also seen many guides recommend zip-strips. Any real advantage to the hose clamps (other than that they are more easily removable)? This is just the variety from the hardware store right?

    Oh, and one more thing, I purchased some of this additive: http://www.petrastechshop.com/loliredcoad.html. I've read that you generally want to add 10-25% additive to prevent corrosion, and the higher you go, the better it protects (though it reduces the cooling capabilities somewhat). What's an ideal concentration to use?

    Oh! and do I also need to get an anti-microbial solution, or will the additive I linked do the trick?
    Related resources
    a c 86 K Overclocking
    December 3, 2009 4:09:08 PM

    Yea, you mount the mobo and WC parts first. But don't connect any power plugs, SATA, fans etc. The mobo should be completely disconnected, you'll only be using ONE molex until your done with leak testing. If fact I got an old PSU I got, I just use it and lay it on the table.

    Bump the pump is just that. You never ever want the pump to run dry. So as you fill, you'll be bumping the pump with the PSU power switch. Then pinching hoses, tapping the side of the rad, bumping will help get rid of the big bubbles. Fill and big bubbles takes an hour or so if your new. Getting rid of all the bubbles takes a day or two with the loop running and an occasional bump etc. You'll be running the loop overnight and checking it in the AM for leaks right?

    Hose clamps are the best most secure way. If your an expert with zip ties and have some strong industiral ones, they work, but they aren't as secure as hose clamps.

    Dump the additive. The red stuff is NOT a biocide. Distilled and Petras PT PHN Nuke is all you need. Pure water is able to pull more heat than anything avaible to the common non-NASA man. Your loop will not corrode etc, you don't need anything like this. The antifreeze you bought, if going sub zero in a Dry Ice chiller setup would be great, thats Quality Toyota Antifreeze.

    You did see the link about what happens to a loop when it's not pure? In the guide.

    Get colored tubing.
    December 4, 2009 11:39:02 AM

    Conumdrum said:
    Dump the additive. The red stuff is NOT a biocide. Distilled and Petras PT PHN Nuke is all you need. Pure water is able to pull more heat than anything avaible to the common non-NASA man. Your loop will not corrode etc, you don't need anything like this. The antifreeze you bought, if going sub zero in a Dry Ice chiller setup would be great, thats Quality Toyota Antifreeze.

    You did see the link about what happens to a loop when it's not pure? In the guide.





    "Oh my Gawd!"


    You've made your point!

    I was just going off of what it said in this guide: http://forums.extremeoverclocking.com/showthread.php?t=282232:
    Quote:
    Making Own Coolant

    1) Buy 1 gallon Distilled Water ($1-2).
    2) Buy 50/50% AF($8) or Additive (high concentration AF) ($3-$5). Buy 2-3 additive bottles for the future so you don’t have to buy it again.
    3) Use 1 liter bottle to mix distilled water with additive per instruction to make coolant. Use 1 gallon bottle to mix water with 50:50AF using 25 oz., 38 oz., 50 oz., and 64 oz. or half AF and half water for 10%, 15%, 20%, 25% concentrations. Mark the bottles as coolant so no one confuses it with juice or Gatorade. Little more than ½ liter or 16 ounces on average are used to fill setups.
    4) DON’T USE DRINKING WATER or TAP water , it contains minerals that will speed up corrosion.

    Additives To Look At
    Pentosin <> Zerex <> HydraX <> Feser <> PetraTech Long Life Red Additive

    December 4, 2009 3:00:16 PM

    A few things I forgot to include in my original build:

  • Fillport
  • Drain
  • Flowmeter (if recommended)
  • Water Temp Sensor (if recommended)

    My reservoir (MCRES Rev. 2) has two optional holes for fillport and drain, and my HAF 932 has a 1" pre-cut hole on top for a fillport fitting (I can add a drain hole myself). I was considering using this DD Delrin Fillport and a ball valve (alphacool makes one) for the drain.

    Any suggestions or tips? Is a flowmeter or thermal water sensor a necessary or recommended thing to get?
    a c 86 K Overclocking
    December 4, 2009 4:01:00 PM

    Yep, that would work great for fill/drain. You want the drian to be at the very bottom of the lowest hose though. And it still won't drain it all, but it helps. This is one place I recommend Koolance too for drain ports. they got some nice small ball valves etc. I think performance PC's has a lot of it.

    No flowmeter, no temp sensors. Your flow rate will be fine by the selection of your parts and why monitor water temps when monitoring core temps and GPU core temps is where it matters.

    You can get the stuff, it's rarely used and the funny part, unless you go industrial flow meters in the $100+ (not counting interfaces) the flow meters we have restrict flow with a paddle wheel hooked to a tach.
    !