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First time PC Builder Going With Water Cooling

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  • Overclocking
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a b K Overclocking
November 4, 2011 1:19:46 AM

Been stalking PC forums in the last two months with plans to build my first gaming PC ever. But, I think I've learned enough and I'm quite confident I can manage the ambitious move to go with real water cooling vs. Corsair self-contained units.

Would love for you guys to takea look and review what I'm planning. Since its closing in on Black Friday, I'm waiting to see if FrozenCPU offers applicable discounts so that I'd be ready to buy (also accumulating parts as Newegg deals keep coming this month).

Goal:
- Single Loop
- Cooling CPU + graphics card
- Blue color theme

Parts already ordered:
- Cooler Master HAF X Blue Edition + extra CM 200mm LED fan for the top
- Corsair HX650
- 4x 4GB Corsair Vengeance LP

Projected purchases:
- ASRock Z68 Extreme3 Gen3 or ASRock Z68 or ASRock Z68 Extreme4 Gen3 or ASUS P8Z68-V PRO/GEN3
- Intel i5-2500k
- Single nVidia GeForce GTX 570

What I'm going to order just for the watercooling (down to everything needed):
- XSPC Rasa 750 RX360 Universal CPU / Triple Radiator Water Cooling Kit w/ RX360 Radiator and Free Kill Coil!
http://www.frozencpu.com/products/14183/ex-wat-182/XSPC...

- EK GeForce 570 GTX SE VGA Liquid Cooling Block - Electroless Nickel Plated (EK-FC570 GTX SE - EN (Nickel))
http://www.frozencpu.com/products/13954/ex-blc-958/EK_G...

- PrimoChill PrimoFlex PRO LRT Tubing 7/16"ID 5/8" OD with 3/32" Wall - UV Blue or spring for the 10' pack
http://www.frozencpu.com/products/8276/ex-tub-433/Primo...

- 2x Bitspower Chrome G1/4" Barb Fitting - 1/2" ID (BP-WTP-C01)
http://www.frozencpu.com/products/11501/ex-tub-172/Bits...

- Distilled Poland Spring Water from some drug store

Questions

1. SIZE. Major concern is the size of the rad. I've seen two builds where the RX360 was attached to the ceiling of the case with the two 200mm CM fans. One build used Enermax 120mm fans but one was hugging a heatsink on the mobo and another made it difficult to insert RAM after installing the fan. The other just used two fans.

If worse comes to worse, I'll just install RAM first and use two fans (front + mid) and leave out the back fan, right? It'll just be 100% pull and 67% push... Or maybe I'll get lucky and the mobo heatsink doesn't interfere... Or can I get a thinner fan?

2. POWER. I've used several PSU calcs to find how much power I need. Even with CPU overclocked, 650W should be able to push the 570 + pump. Right?

3. PIECES. Is there anything missing/wrong from the watercooling purchase set? Newb question, does the Bitspower Barb come with a clamp? Should I get PT Nuke to be safe?

I'm most worried about having the big pieces and missing the small pieces when it comes time to start building.

4. TUBING. XSPC kit comes with 2m (~6.5ft) of clear tubing. So, should I go with 8ft of UV Blue rather than the 10ft? Newb question, do I need a UV cathode to bring the tubing "to life"?

5. LOOP ORDER. Read enough to know loop order has little significance. But, going PUMP/RES -> CPU -> GPU -> RAD ->PUMP/RES.

That's all the questions I have for now...

Thanks in advance!

More about : time builder water cooling

November 4, 2011 1:45:46 AM

The PSU is fine for what you are doing. You might look at Jab-tech.com and sidewinders for sometimes cheaper prices.
November 4, 2011 1:48:20 AM

Dang, WC hobby has gotten really popular.

Anyway, to answer your questions...

1) Install RAM first then use all the fans. You could use 3/3 Pull and 2/3 Push, if you want.
2) The HX and AX series output MUCH higher than what the model says. They just sticked on the "650W", "750W" and ect. To get Gold/Silver star ratings. Your PSU outputs around 700-800W. So Yes.
3) Get Kill Coils and if you want, get PT nukes, not sure about the clamps.
4) I'd rather have more then I need then to just have one inch needed. Yes you need a UV Cathode, it makes UV reactive things "glow"
5) Yes.

Related resources
November 4, 2011 2:01:36 AM

Test the loop without the electronics, test, test, then retest.

Then put it in the case.
a c 337 K Overclocking
November 4, 2011 12:24:29 PM

Loop order does not matter at all. Since the pump and reservoir are integrated, you don't need to worry about res > pump order to prime (which is still only a suggestion, not a rule). Your loop order above is fine.

The RX360 rad is pretty big, so plan accordingly.

If you buy Bitspower barbs, they do not come with clamps. The Rasa kit should have clamps of some sort in the kit, though.

Rasa kit should come with everything you need, but if you want different tubing, you'll need to buy it. Yes, for UV tubing to light up, you need UV lighting.

As Inanition02 mentioned, you'll want to test- do this by unplugging your ATX motherboard plug and jumpering any green and black wire inside the plug using a paperclip or piece of wire. This will turn on your PSU; you will also want to prime and fill your loop this way. Let it run for at least a couple hours minimum...you can do so inside your outside your case if you wish. Once you've tested, if you have to move it all inside your case, you'll need to leak test again...moving those components can loosen up fittings/barbs or tubing, so test again for any leaks.
a b K Overclocking
November 4, 2011 2:42:26 PM

Thanks for the responses!

Yes, I definitely plan to test thoroughly before letting any of the blocks touch my components. I'm guessing I should do a mockup of the tube lengths and test externally. I want to just move the entire test setup into the build w/ as little fiddling with tubes/connections as possible.

After watching some Youtube vids of the XSPC kit, I see that it comes with a handy tool to jump the PSU for testing so I can test the entire loop with just the PSU and no other parts.

Sucks that the barbs don't come with clamps. On the product page, the Rasa kit comes with 6 barbs and 6 clamps, which means I'm going to have to shell out a few bucks for clamps for the GPU barbs...

Other thoughts:

- TIM. Read around and saw that Arctic Silver 5 led to ~3 degree (C) drops. I don't mind eating two cheap lunches to come up with $7-8 for 3.5G of it. Boy, few bucks here and there can add up.

- BUYING. Can any past customers of FrozenCPU, Jab Tech, and Sidewinders tell me what these stores were listed as on bank statements when they made their purchases?

I'm asking because my credit card is giving 5% cash back on purchases at "electronics" stores from Oct - Dec (which is why I've timed my purchases for now). Also, I believe there are 5% discount codes for these stores somewhere.
a c 337 K Overclocking
November 4, 2011 3:00:52 PM

Yes, you'll need clamps for any extra components that don't come standard in the Rasa kits; i.e. your extra GPU block barbs.
November 4, 2011 3:18:25 PM

If you can, buy some Prolimatech PK-1. Its the best performing TIM at the moment.
a b K Overclocking
November 5, 2011 12:33:25 AM

@SushiDragon Wow never heard of it til you pointed it out. Great reviews on that TIM. Too bad FrozenCPU is the only one that has it.

Jab-tech.com looking better as it has better prices on fittings and tubing and it doesn't charge NY tax.
November 5, 2011 1:04:53 AM

The best performing thermal conducter is the Indigo Xtreme. However the application process is not for the faint of heart.
(Note, the Indigo Xtreme is not a thermal paste)

Another good thermal paste is the MK-2. It has a relatively good price for 24 USA Dollars for 30 Grams.

Just my two cents.
a b K Overclocking
November 5, 2011 3:38:04 PM

Ah, yes. I saw that test I think you are referring to. I found it the Indigo Xtreme on Jab-tech - I really don't think I'll need it.

As I keep researching, I find myself wanted better components :) . Thinking of some Bitspower Matte Black compression fittings on CPU/GPU blocks for pretty looks.

Questions: I see this build here that is close to something I want.
http://www.overclock.net/intel-build-logs/910545-i7-950...

He is using barbs WITHOUT clamps? Isn't that a little dangerous?

Also, his rad inlet/outlet faces the rear of the case while I was planning it for the front. Does it make a big diff?
November 5, 2011 3:56:33 PM

No, that isn't dangerous. Clamps are generally for the paranoid. I'm pretty sure he's using 7/16 ID with 1/2 barbs. VERY snug fit.

Radiator placement does not matter just as long as there is plenty of airflow around the radiator and good static pressure from the fans.
a c 337 K Overclocking
November 5, 2011 8:00:30 PM

If you run 7/16"ID tubing over 1/2"ID barbs, you will likely need to dip them in boiling water right before pushing them over the barbs. This will allow the tubing to stretch over the barbs, and then shrink as the tubing cools for a very snug fit. Barbs are just fine, most people don't like the look of clamps, but there a lot of different clamps you can choose from.
November 5, 2011 8:04:20 PM

Yup yup. Nearly impossible to get a leak.
a b K Overclocking
November 5, 2011 10:05:11 PM

just make sure you have the hoses right, the only way off is to cut it if its done right.
November 6, 2011 2:07:32 AM

SushiDragon said:
No, that isn't dangerous. Clamps are generally for the paranoid. I'm pretty sure he's using 7/16 ID with 1/2 barbs. VERY snug fit.

Radiator placement does not matter just as long as there is plenty of airflow around the radiator and good static pressure from the fans.

I'm running 7/16 tubing over 1/2 barbs, WITH clamps.

Just cause you're paranoid doesn't mean they're not out to get you! :ouch: 
a c 337 K Overclocking
November 6, 2011 2:09:56 AM

I think you should dip the entire PC in liquid resin and allow it to harden.

That should cure those pesky watercooling gremlins from causing leaks. :) 
November 6, 2011 2:12:00 AM

Dip the ENTIRE computer?
November 6, 2011 2:52:13 AM

rubix_1011 said:
I think you should dip the entire PC in liquid resin and allow it to harden.

That should cure those pesky watercooling gremlins from causing leaks. :) 


Nah, thats crazy! :pt1cable:  When I get the 1080 I'm gonna put 5/8 O.D. tubing inside 3/4 O.D. tubing and use an impact wrench to tighten the two worm drive clamps on each barb. Hopefully, it won't leak then.
November 6, 2011 3:17:37 AM

I'll be surprised if it did leak.
November 6, 2011 4:11:58 AM

SushiDragon said:
I'll be surprised if it did leak.

You're too easy, Sushi :na: 
a c 171 K Overclocking
November 6, 2011 5:04:56 AM

I really I gotta say that can't see the investment in water cooling in that rig....seems money would be better spent on more GFX power. I could see water cooling w/ 2 or 3 580's but two air cooled 560's will toast (65 % faster) the water cooled 570 ..... Sandy Bridge CPU's have no need of water cooling even at 5 Ghz.

As for the rest of the build, the investment in the 16GB of RAM seems to counter the low cost MoBo. I'd want a 3 year warranty if I was investing the T & E in a water cooled box.
November 6, 2011 5:40:32 AM

JackNaylorPE said:
I really I gotta say that can't see the investment in water cooling in that rig....seems money would be better spent on more GFX power. I could see water cooling w/ 2 or 3 580's but two air cooled 560's will toast (65 % faster) the water cooled 570 ..... Sandy Bridge CPU's have no need of water cooling even at 5 Ghz.

As for the rest of the build, the investment in the 16GB of RAM seems to counter the low cost MoBo. I'd want a 3 year warranty if I was investing the T & E in a water cooled box.

Then he can wc the dual 560's
a c 337 K Overclocking
November 7, 2011 2:15:31 AM

I had a waterblock on my Radeon 8500 with my 1.6ghz P4. I decided to stay air on the PCI Voodoo 4500. :) 

Watercooling isn't going necessarily going to get you a lot higher clock speeds, but it will help in keeping higher clock speeds, cooler for a sustained amount of time. Besides, it looks damn cool.
November 7, 2011 3:42:26 AM

rubix_1011 said:
I had a waterblock on my Radeon 8500 with my 1.6ghz P4. I decided to stay air on the PCI Voodoo 4500. :) 

Watercooling isn't going necessarily going to get you a lot higher clock speeds, but it will help in keeping higher clock speeds, cooler for a sustained amount of time. Besides, it looks damn cool.

I agree, makes me want to get dual vid cards just so I can wc them! :lol: 
a b K Overclocking
November 15, 2011 4:19:41 PM

Performance-PCs.com is pushing a discount code (7.5% off on $250+) right now and I might buy the water-cooling setup within the next couple of days. Saw the new XSPC EX rads + Raystorm CPU blocks but couldn't find new kits so I'm going to piece my own and ditch the Rasa RX360 kit.

Checkout list:

XSPC Raystorm CPU Block (Intel)
EK FC570 GTX SE AC-EN GPU Block
XSPC X2O 750 Pump/Dual 5.25 Bay Res Combo
XSPC EX360
PrimoChill 7/16"ID 5/8" OD UV Blue Tubing
2x Bitspower 45-degree rotary compression fittings (CPU-out, GPU-in)
2x Bitspower 90-degree rotary compression fittings (CPU-in, GPU-out)
3x Bitspower 1/2"ID barb (rad-out, rad-in, res-out)
1x Bitspower 90-degree 1/2"ID barb (res-in)
Prolimatech PK-1
IandH Silver Killcoil

- FANS. Any suggestions on fan? I have a 25% off code for Newegg but the highly-acclaimed Scythe GentleTyphoons are not available. Was thinking of CM 120mm Blue LED fans.

Total is likely to be about $400.
----

I totally acknowledge that I could easily get a much better spec-ed rig for way less. It's for Diablo 3 and CS:GO.

This is my first time building a PC and I'm making it to be a combination of: gaming machine, learning experience, and art project.

Picked up the Corsair PSU + 16GB RAM for $152 after MIR. Picked up i5-2500K + ASUS P8Z68-V PRO/GEN3 for $375.

Needless to say, I'm a deal hunter. Build is likely to end up around $1,650 after rebates, credit card cash back, and FatWallet cash back.
a c 337 K Overclocking
November 15, 2011 4:39:16 PM

If you are building your own loop, drop the XSPC X20 pump/res and get a better pump. If you want bay res/pump combos, there are plenty of res's out there that support DDC and D5 pumps.
a b K Overclocking
November 16, 2011 1:48:17 AM

Aw man it just gets more expensive doesn't it?

So $50 pump/res combo just jumped to $60 res + $67 Swiftech MCP655 = $127?
a b K Overclocking
November 16, 2011 9:09:52 AM

for what your pushing it through, youd probably go from 1.5gpm to 2.5. for the price, you have to decide if its worth it or not. for me, the answer was no as my oc wasn't extremely aggressive, more for silence.
a c 337 K Overclocking
November 16, 2011 11:55:52 AM

You don't HAVE to go more expensive, it's your choice. You could run that pump for a while, but as you add more restriction to a loop, a lower-powered pump isn't going to provide the flow you'd really need to keep your delta under control. I'm not trying to discourage you; simply trying to help you from purchasing a complete loop with a pump that might not perform to the level the other components are capable of. The Rasa X20 750 IS a good starter pump in a smaller loop, but it seems you are wanting to go more elaborate out of the gates which is why I suggested a pump upgrade. (It's not like I suggested an Iwaki or Eheim or something...) :) 
a b K Overclocking
November 17, 2011 4:35:26 AM

So the order is put in at Performance PCs. I went with the better pump and sacrificed the angled compression fittings and just went with the plains ones to save a little $. :( 

Thanks for all the advice - can't wait to get this set up. Will post pics when it's done!
a c 337 K Overclocking
November 17, 2011 12:48:53 PM

You can always go back and put in new fittings when you have the extra cash laying around. You could just do it around the same time you add GPU or refill your loop...or just because it's a Saturday.
a b K Overclocking
November 17, 2011 1:11:16 PM

Yeah, that's what I'm thinking.

Using four plain barbs for res/pump and rad because you can't really see them anyway. Later on, would replace them with the plain compression fittings and use nice ones for CPU and GPU.

Question:

Since this is a new build, how should I handle an external POST test?

I'd prefer not to put the stock CPU cooler for a test that takes like just a few seconds but I'm worried about problems if I didn't have a cooling mechanism. Have a fan blowing at it during the test?
a c 337 K Overclocking
November 17, 2011 1:25:02 PM

Jumper your PSU using the ATX plug. This will allow you to run the loop outside your case.
a b K Overclocking
November 17, 2011 2:34:31 PM

Actually, I was referring to external build without the loop - CPU, mobo, RAM, PSU, and GPU.
a c 337 K Overclocking
November 17, 2011 2:38:50 PM

Breadboarding? Setting up your build outside the case to ensure it's all running? I wouldn't fire up a CPU without a cooler on it, and a waterblock that isn't running in a loop doesn't count. I'd suggest either using the stock cooler for this, or just assembling in the case and going for gold.
a b K Overclocking
December 1, 2011 9:53:01 PM

I'm just missing my SSD and UV cathode now. Going to get to building.

Question: I have the Scythe Kaze Master Pro Fan Controller (picked it up for cheap along with other parts from the Newegg Google Offers).

I plan on just connecting the 3 CM Blue SickleFlow 120mm Fans for the rad - I don't think the 140mm and 200mm fans will need to be controlled.

Any idea where I should stick the temp sensors?
a b K Overclocking
December 3, 2011 10:26:47 PM

URGENT! Testing loop now

For the EK GPU waterblock, the instruction says to put thermal paste on thermals pads. do I dab between the card and the pad or the pad and the block?

Thanks
December 5, 2011 11:45:52 PM

Do both, it helps seal the thermal contacts between the two and it helps keep contact between the block <-> PCB Stuff
a b K Overclocking
December 10, 2011 1:28:54 AM

It's done!





It was quite daunting when I had all the parts laid out in front of me. But I gotta say, I'm glad I went with water cooling.

The EK GTX 570 water block I purchased from Performance PCs was the 1.0 version. I did my due diligence in checking compatibility. The EVGA SuperClocked 012-P3-1573-AR GeForce GTX 570 HD was noted as being compatible so I went ahead to put the block on - only to find out it doesn't fit. Turns out that the card is simply the 1571-AR version (which requires the news EK block 1.1 revision) with a higher clock speed.

Anyway, picked up the new revision from FrozenCPU. Gonna put the other GPU water block up for sale.

a c 337 K Overclocking
December 10, 2011 2:48:32 AM

So...first/second/lasting impressions? Load temps?

What would you have done differently? You seem pretty satisfied...do you feel the work, effort and cost were worth it? :) 
a b K Overclocking
December 10, 2011 6:20:57 AM



CPU was overclocked to 4.5Ghz @ 1.32V. Prime95 blend ran for 1 hour. The 3x CM 120mm fans were at 1800+ RPM while the 2x CM 200mm fans were at <800 RPM.

The image shows that the #2 core reached a max of 59C with core temps ranging from maximums of 52C to 59C. Idle 29-33C. From looking around the web, I guess those are okay temps since I have water cooling. Or do I need to run Prime95 for longer?

On a side note, is it possible to get the CPU voltage to go down when I'm not at load?

----

I don't know what to make of it yet. My last Windows computer was a Dell Inspiron laptop from 2005-2009. Before that I had a crappy tower from 2000.

So far, I've just been admiring its beauty. :) 

Being my first attempt to build a PC and taking on the challenge of water-cooling from the get-go, it now feels that the money and effort to get this thing together was definitely worth it. Can't imagine me taking the air-cooling route for future builds - lol.

Hmm.. what would I have done differently...

Nothing really.
a b K Overclocking
December 11, 2011 6:43:38 PM

I was able to run Prime95 for 2+ hours @ 4.5GHz on 1.31V. Max temps ranged from 51 to 58C.

I've been looking around more and I have this feeling that these temps are rather high for water cooling. Is it? Or am I just overthinking it? I'm thinking my TIM application may be at fault.
a c 337 K Overclocking
December 11, 2011 6:47:29 PM

Drop your voltages and retest. Each chip, motherboard and PSU will respond a little differently to voltages and clocks, even when comparing to someone with similar hardware. If you are stable, try lowering volts to see if you remain stable at the same clock speeds with lower volts. This is some of the fine tuning of overclocking and where patience pays off.
a b K Overclocking
December 11, 2011 6:49:57 PM

I got a BSOD + restart @ 1.30V within 15 minutes. :( 
a c 337 K Overclocking
December 11, 2011 7:18:40 PM

What about air in your rad? Wondering if you might have a decent air pocket still in there that is limiting your cooling capability. However, at load for 4.5ghz running a GPU block on a single EX360, your delta-T isn't going to be fantastic, but I'd imagine it would be better than 58C.

Check first for air in your rad by tilting the case while the loop is running, but be aware of your res...you don't want to suck more air that might be present in the res, back into the loop. If you tilt it slightly, if you hear gurgling, you still have air. In your build, tilt it slowly from front to back repeatedly since your rad is mounted with ports in the front/top of your case.
a b K Overclocking
December 11, 2011 8:38:46 PM

Other than the 3x 120mm fans on the rad, this whole thing is dead quiet. I don't think there is any air in the rad...
a c 337 K Overclocking
December 11, 2011 11:15:37 PM

Even with air in the rad, you wouldn't know it until you began to dislodge it. It would otherwise be very silent in most instances. It would be a simple test to tilt forward and back a few times to see if this were the case at all.
December 12, 2011 2:21:50 AM

First check for air like rubix stated.

steadywaters said:
If worse comes to worse, I'll just install RAM first and use two fans (front + mid) and leave out the back fan, right? It'll just be 100% pull and 67% push... Or maybe I'll get lucky and the mobo heatsink doesn't interfere... Or can I get a thinner fan?


Does this mean you are pushing air through the radiator and out the top of the case? If so, try reversing the fans to push cooler air from outside the case through the radiator. I've seen around 10 C temp drop after doing this on a previous build. Results will vary based on case and components. You might also want to reverse one of those 200mm fans to help move some of that warm air out of the case if you do that.

How are the temps on that 570?
a b K Overclocking
December 12, 2011 4:04:49 AM

I gave the case a few tilts. It appears the water level in the res has dropped just slightly (or maybe my eyes are playing tricks on me). I turned off the UV light to see if I could catch any air coming through - nothing.

Ran Prime95 for a little bit - temps have not improved.



---

Yes, 3x 120mm CM SickeFlow fans are pushing through the rad while the two 200mm fans are pulling out the top. I'm not inclined to reverse the fans as it opposes the natural flow of heat?

I haven't gone too much into stress testing the 570 - I actually don't know which software to use for this...

I ran 3Dmark11 at 1280x1024 resolution and saw GPU hit 40C max.
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