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Water Cooling Advice

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January 11, 2012 8:07:34 PM

Greetings Tom's Hardware

First of all, my current core system specs to get you started:

Intel Core i7 2700K
16GB Corsair Dominator 1600MHz CL8
ASUS GTX580 Direct CU II
ASUS Maximus IV Extreme-Z
Corsair AX1200

240GB Corsair Force 3 SSD
2x 2TB WD RE4-GP running in RAID0

All of this is hooked up in my Corsair 700D being blown away by a good bunch of Noctua fans.

And now on to the actual story. During the next couple of weeks I will be receiving 3 ZOTAC GTX580's which I will be running in tri-SLI (I will sell my ASUS GTX580). One thing you have to understand about this build is that I do it because I can. I know that you can't possibly justify 3 580's, but I've been dreaming about building a top of the line rig for the last 6 or 7 years and now I have finally come by the money.

In addition to the new 580's I'm planning on water cooling the entire system but I have no experience with water cooling at all. I've of course read the obligatory reviews of gear and so on, but compared to real life experience that is nothing. I've decided to go with EK blocks for both the 580's and my 2700K, mostly because the perform very well (although not the best, but they're not down by much) and they're very pretty (yes, I'm one of those people).

My biggest concern is radiators, pumps and reservoirs. Would I need to do a separate loops for the CPU and GPU's, or am I fine with one big loop? Would a 3x120 and 2x140 rad be alright for cooling the entire thing or will I need another 1x140? How would you link it all up? Money is NOT a problem (I didn't rob a bank, I worked my a** off).

I will most likely not be overclocking the 580's, but will be running the 2700K @ 5.0 GHz (my NH-D14 is handling that fine at the moment, so I take it that it shouldn't be too much of a problem?). Also, I do not like big flashy reservoirs / in general stuff that will ruin the exterior of my case, big digital displays, huge chunks of Plexiglas and blinking LED's will drive me mad. I am looking to keep it all internally, and have almost decided on the XSPC Dual Bay reservoir.

Looking for people with real world experience to help me out with this somewhat huge project.

Thanks in advance for your answers
-Teri

More about : water cooling advice

January 11, 2012 8:15:57 PM

There is a Water Cooling Forum here. <LINK> You'll likely get better answers there. Good luck with it. I am one of those people, too. Those dilithium canister reservoirs are just too cool.
January 11, 2012 8:21:43 PM

Right, I am that blind... Requesting the help of a moderator to move the thread. :sweat: 
Related resources
a c 190 K Overclocking
January 11, 2012 8:56:44 PM

If you P.M. Rubix_1011 He'll move it and set you off :) 
Moto
a c 337 K Overclocking
January 12, 2012 3:55:39 AM

Yeah, we'll do our best to help you out. BTW, I don't have the ability to move from this forum over, but I'll send a PM to a Mod see if we can get it moved.

Give the watercooling sticky a lot of reading; linked in my signature below.
January 12, 2012 4:35:30 AM

Ok I have a slightly similiar setup as yours, just AMD instead of Intel.

AMD Phenom II x4 980BE OC'd 4.2Ghz

4x4 16GB DDR3 1600 Corsair

Asus Sabertooth AMD990FX board

2 x EVGA GTX580 Hydro Copper's

4 x 360GB 7200 RPM HDD's in RAID0 (in the process of Replacing them with a Samsung 830 256GB SSD)

BluRay / DVDRW drive.

All in a Corsair 800D case.

Cooling is using a 360mm (120mm x 3) radiator with a bay reservoir / pump unit.

Ok the first question you need to answer is, what case are you using? That case will determine where you mount the rad and what size you can go with. It'll also determine who much modification work you'll need to do to get this all to work.

For your setup you will need without a doubt at least a 360mm Rad (120mm x 3). My two 580s and CPU can exhaust some heat when they get going, your going to need more. Possible look into buying another 120mm radiator and back mounting it where the rear 120mm exause fan usually goes. Your case will determine whether your mount it inside or outside.

The rest is down to preference between pumps and a reservoir or just a fill port. Both have their advantages and disadvantages. The only reason I went with a combo reservoir / pump is due to space limitations and me not wanting to cut into my case to install a mount point. In the future I'll be looking to a fill port + reservoir setup.

Also have you already purchased those 580's? If so then you've got some work ahead of you, if not then don't buy them and instead get the EVGA Hydro's. EVGA has already installed the required custom waterblock and backplate on each card, this means you won't be pulling off the stock cooler and installing your own. The EVGA ones have really nice performance.

http://www.evga.com/products/moreinfo.asp?pn=03G-P3-1593-AR

It's $730 each, but realize that the waterblocks + backplates alone can cost over $150 USD along with the single slot adapter and another ~$25 for the two barb fittings. You end up paying ~25 USD each for the manufacturer to do the work instead of you.

Also plan on spending a retarded amount of money. Your first build, and you WILL screw something up, we all did. You'll be purchasing a 2nd or 3rd Rad as you see your first one wasn't quite what you wanted. You may end up with another pump, or another type of reservoir due to your first one not fitting where you thought it would and so forth. You'll be buying extra tubing, ALWAYS get extra tubing, get a tube cutter, makes the job much easier. You'll be buying different types of barb fittings, some will be 90 degree adjustable, others will be 30 degree or 45 degree, while most will be straight barbs. You'll need SLI connectors, those are pretty cheap.
January 12, 2012 5:53:08 AM

Quote:
Ok I have a slightly similiar setup as yours, just AMD instead of Intel.

AMD Phenom II x4 980BE OC'd 4.2Ghz

4x4 16GB DDR3 1600 Corsair

Asus Sabertooth AMD990FX board

2 x EVGA GTX580 Hydro Copper's

4 x 360GB 7200 RPM HDD's in RAID0 (in the process of Replacing them with a Samsung 830 256GB SSD)

BluRay / DVDRW drive.

All in a Corsair 800D case.

Cooling is using a 360mm (120mm x 3) radiator with a bay reservoir / pump unit.

Ok the first question you need to answer is, what case are you using? That case will determine where you mount the rad and what size you can go with. It'll also determine who much modification work you'll need to do to get this all to work.

For your setup you will need without a doubt at least a 360mm Rad (120mm x 3). My two 580s and CPU can exhaust some heat when they get going, your going to need more. Possible look into buying another 120mm radiator and back mounting it where the rear 120mm exause fan usually goes. Your case will determine whether your mount it inside or outside.

The rest is down to preference between pumps and a reservoir or just a fill port. Both have their advantages and disadvantages. The only reason I went with a combo reservoir / pump is due to space limitations and me not wanting to cut into my case to install a mount point. In the future I'll be looking to a fill port + reservoir setup.

Also have you already purchased those 580's? If so then you've got some work ahead of you, if not then don't buy them and instead get the EVGA Hydro's. EVGA has already installed the required custom waterblock and backplate on each card, this means you won't be pulling off the stock cooler and installing your own. The EVGA ones have really nice performance.

http://www.evga.com/products/moreinfo.asp?pn=03G-P3-1593-AR

It's $730 each, but realize that the waterblocks + backplates alone can cost over $150 USD along with the single slot adapter and another ~$25 for the two barb fittings. You end up paying ~25 USD each for the manufacturer to do the work instead of you.

Also plan on spending a retarded amount of money. Your first build, and you WILL screw something up, we all did. You'll be purchasing a 2nd or 3rd Rad as you see your first one wasn't quite what you wanted. You may end up with another pump, or another type of reservoir due to your first one not fitting where you thought it would and so forth. You'll be buying extra tubing, ALWAYS get extra tubing, get a tube cutter, makes the job much easier. You'll be buying different types of barb fittings, some will be 90 degree adjustable, others will be 30 degree or 45 degree, while most will be straight barbs. You'll need SLI connectors, those are pretty cheap.



My case is, as i stated in my original post, a Corsair 700D. I've almost already decided to get at least a 360 rad in the top and a 240 rad in the bottom of my case (will require a little modding, but that is by no means a problem for me). I have however heard someone say that this will just barely be enough to run the system, and obviously i would like to have some headroom.

I've already bought the cards. I chose not to get the EVGA cards because I've heard very mixed review of their waterblocks, as well as the fact that I'm buying this gear just as much for the build process as for the actual result. What can I say, I love building computers. :)  Also, changing the cooler on a graphicscard have never been a problem to me. I am not inexperienced, just inexperienced with watercooling. :) 

I do realize that it's gonna cost a good amount of money and I do realize that I am most likely gonna screw something up. As I said already, money is by far not the biggest of problems.

Regarding tubing, do anyone know where I can get some solid red tubing? I don't really like the translucent / UV reactive tubing, and would much rather just have a solid red look :) 



As for the water cooling sticky, I will definitely give it a read when i get home from work. Thanks for the input so far guys. :) 
-Teri
January 12, 2012 6:47:50 AM

Sorry it's been a long day at work, I missed the 700D reference.

As long as your perfectly fine modifying things then go for it, it's absolutely amazing fun.

My original 2 x GTX285's I purchased full sized blocks for them and did it all on my own so I can understand your desire to for this to be a learning process.

And yes your going to need a 360 as a minimum. With 3 x 580's you'd want something else, just to have some head room for OC'ing so a cased moded 240 down below is a good idea.

I used to use Dangerden, lately been using frozencpu more.

http://www.frozencpu.com/cat/l3/g30/c99/s171/list/p1/Li...

They have some red tubing but it's not solid. Honestly I've never seen solid non-uv red tubing, usually it's clear tubing with red dye which is a bad idea as I found out.

I'm actually in the process of replacing most of my tubing and coolant, I was stupid and went with blue colored coolant because I thought it looked cool. But after seeing pictures of what that stuff does in any high heat scenario I want it out of my loop asap before it trash's something.

As for the Hydro's, I apologize as I wasn't clear. I'm using the Hydro Copper 2 not the original Hydro Copper. The Copper 2 is a much higher quality full size block compared to the original.

http://hothardware.com/Reviews/EVGA-GTX-580-FTW-Hydro-C...

It's performance is on par if not better then many of the aftermarket blocks, basically EVGA just took an EK and modified it to look cool and stuck it on a GTX 580. If your doing it on your own I'd suggest getting the block and plate from EK, they make excellent quality blocks. Be careful if your using their nickel plated blocks, it'll cause problems if your want to use a silver coil in your loop.
January 12, 2012 8:29:02 AM

Quote:
Sorry it's been a long day at work, I missed the 700D reference.

As long as your perfectly fine modifying things then go for it, it's absolutely amazing fun.

My original 2 x GTX285's I purchased full sized blocks for them and did it all on my own so I can understand your desire to for this to be a learning process.

And yes your going to need a 360 as a minimum. With 3 x 580's you'd want something else, just to have some head room for OC'ing so a cased moded 240 down below is a good idea.

I used to use Dangerden, lately been using frozencpu more.

http://www.frozencpu.com/cat/l3/g30/c99/s171/list/p1/Li...

They have some red tubing but it's not solid. Honestly I've never seen solid non-uv red tubing, usually it's clear tubing with red dye which is a bad idea as I found out.

I'm actually in the process of replacing most of my tubing and coolant, I was stupid and went with blue colored coolant because I thought it looked cool. But after seeing pictures of what that stuff does in any high heat scenario I want it out of my loop asap before it trash's something.

As for the Hydro's, I apologize as I wasn't clear. I'm using the Hydro Copper 2 not the original Hydro Copper. The Copper 2 is a much higher quality full size block compared to the original.

http://hothardware.com/Reviews/EVGA-GTX-580-FTW-Hydro-C...

It's performance is on par if not better then many of the aftermarket blocks, basically EVGA just took an EK and modified it to look cool and stuck it on a GTX 580. If your doing it on your own I'd suggest getting the block and plate from EK, they make excellent quality blocks. Be careful if your using their nickel plated blocks, it'll cause problems if your want to use a silver coil in your loop.


Thanks for your response. :)  Will the 360 and 240 be enough to give me sole headroom, or do you suggest adding the last 140 in the back as well? I'm going with the EK full cover copper/acetal blocks and backplates as well as the either the EK Supreme HF full copper or acetal for the CPU.

Would you suggest doing a separate loop for the CPU, or can I keep it all in the same loop?

And yeah, I've had quite some problems finding the solid red tubing on your usual pc sites, I'm gonna go check with my local plumber and see if he can get me anything usefull.
a c 249 K Overclocking
January 12, 2012 1:39:30 PM

This topic has been moved from the section Systems to section Overclocking, Water Cooling, as requested by rubix_1011, by 4ryan6
a c 249 K Overclocking
January 12, 2012 2:14:34 PM

Your present power supply is not going to handle 3 580GTX, plus overclocking your 2700K to 5.0ghz.

You'll need a good quality 1500w power supply, I'm using a 1250w Enermax to stay on the safe side of 2 580GTX, was running a 1000w Silverstone with a single 580GTX.

Silverstone is an excellent power supply, I ran my 1000w for 4 years and it's still running, was going to replace it to run the second 580GTX with another Silverstone but at the time Enermax, another quality power supply builder was running a $60.00 rebate, that was too good of a deal to pass up.

You're not scrimping anywhere else, don't scrimp on the power supply to run 3 580GTX.

It will also take more Vcore than you were running for the single 580GTX for the 5.0ghz 2700K overclock stabilization to run multiple GPUs.

Note: One power supply suggestion no matter what you decide, Enermax suggested running an individual rail to each power supply connection of your 580s, meaning you'll be spreading 6 rails across the 3 cards, and that will handle whatever you throw at it.
a b K Overclocking
January 12, 2012 2:28:37 PM

+1 to 4ryan6's PSU comments.

I think you'd be able to run the i7 and 3x580s on 2x360 rads at minimum. Manzooka has a log about his 800D with an OCed i5/i7, 2x580s and RX360 and RX240 rads, and got good temps. You'll be tossing in enough heat with that 3rd GPU that you'll want to get bigger rads.

You'll have enough hot components that you may want to consider separate loops (CPU + GPU and 2xGPU).

As for blocks, EVGA's HydroCopper blocks are actually quite good. They're definitely within the top 5 in most waterblock comparisons. EK is one of my personal favorites - their blocks are very good and look great. I had a pair on my 6950 2GBs, and have a Supreme HF Full Copper on my i5.
a c 337 K Overclocking
January 12, 2012 2:37:26 PM

Quote:
I think you'd be able to run the i7 and 3x580s on 2x360 rads at minimum.


I'd say this is the very bare minimum, but consider more space than this depending on end-use.
a c 249 K Overclocking
January 12, 2012 2:38:35 PM

Corsairs website claims his power supply can handle 3 580GTX, but personally from my own experience running SLI configurations, I would want to be well on the safe power side of things and not be running a single 100a 12v rail with that much of an investment at risk.

You don't want your power supply straining under load, cruising would be much better, IMO.
January 12, 2012 3:05:39 PM

Right.... To be honest I never thought about the power consumption, I figured I'd be fine with 1200 watt but when I look at the numbers, of course you're right. If I roll back the CPU clock, will I be fine FOR NOW? I will most likely be switching it for a Strider ASAP, but would I be good until then?.

Now.... I wouldn't run out of power with the Strider right? :D 

I don't have space for 2 360's without some serious serious modding, would a loop with a 360 and another loop with a 240 and a 140 be alright? Regarding end-use, I will NOT be overclocking the 580's as of this time, but will want load temps below the boiling point.

Edit: Oh, and does anyone have a trick to magically turn the cables of the Strider black? I hate the multicoloring. ):
January 13, 2012 1:51:56 AM

For PSU reviews I use JonnyGuru, he's tad on the unstable size but he knows his stuff.

Corsair AX1200 Review

Silverstone 1500W review

Rates both PSU's very well.

Your power budget largely depends on what your using inside your case. Factor in 250~280W per GPU along with another 150W per CPU. Then add in the rest.

I did well with the Corsair HX1000 for both my GTX-285's and initially my 2xGTX580's, but I was periodically pulling too much and stressing the PSU. Excess stress overtime will eventually lead a PSU to provide less amps then it's rated for and you get my situation where I'm getting random shutdowns. I'm upgrading to a AX-1200 for my 2x580SLI setup, you really might want to do a 1500.

Jonny's saying that a single 12V rail isn't a bad thing, its more efficient overall then multiple 12V rails but the PSU needs to be of high quality. Shorts aren't an issue as the PSU's safety will trip and over-current protection kicks in. Still if you already know how your going to setup you box, then giving each video card it's own rail is a good idea.

My single 360 rad allows me to run the AMD 980BE @ 4.2Ghz (actually goes to 4.3 but fails prime95 stress test) and 2 x Hydro 2 Copper 580's (their already OCed at factory) without going over 60c. Idle is approx 40c, so that isn't much of a change.

His I7 shouldn't be hotter then an OC'd 980 so he's really only adding another GPU to the line. A 360 + 240 should fine for OCing. If you can fit 2 x 360's then go for it, but it won't really let you do anything that you can't already do.

Do not do a parallel loop, especially as your first project. It only provides performance in specific scenarios that you are not in and requires you to do some engineering work to figure out pressure and coolant restriction on both lines. Fluids always flow down the path of least resistance, so if one of your lines has a lower resistance then the other more fluid will flow down it and cause devices on the other line to potentially overheat due to less flow.

Order isn't important so much as always go Reservoir -> Pump -> Most restrictive component. Res before Pump is to filter out air bubbles before they get to your pump, and you want your most restrictive component after the pump to force the air out during initial fill. I once made the mistake of not having my top mount rad (usually the most restrictive component) go after my pump. Had the bottom mounted pump go to both 285's and the CPU before the top rad, turned out the pressure was too much for the pump to push out the air and fill the lines. Switched it to Pump -> highest rad and it filled fine.

January 15, 2012 1:40:07 PM

palladin9479 said:
For PSU reviews I use JonnyGuru, he's tad on the unstable size but he knows his stuff.

Corsair AX1200 Review

Silverstone 1500W review

Rates both PSU's very well.

Your power budget largely depends on what your using inside your case. Factor in 250~280W per GPU along with another 150W per CPU. Then add in the rest.

I did well with the Corsair HX1000 for both my GTX-285's and initially my 2xGTX580's, but I was periodically pulling too much and stressing the PSU. Excess stress overtime will eventually lead a PSU to provide less amps then it's rated for and you get my situation where I'm getting random shutdowns. I'm upgrading to a AX-1200 for my 2x580SLI setup, you really might want to do a 1500.

Jonny's saying that a single 12V rail isn't a bad thing, its more efficient overall then multiple 12V rails but the PSU needs to be of high quality. Shorts aren't an issue as the PSU's safety will trip and over-current protection kicks in. Still if you already know how your going to setup you box, then giving each video card it's own rail is a good idea.

My single 360 rad allows me to run the AMD 980BE @ 4.2Ghz (actually goes to 4.3 but fails prime95 stress test) and 2 x Hydro 2 Copper 580's (their already OCed at factory) without going over 60c. Idle is approx 40c, so that isn't much of a change.

His I7 shouldn't be hotter then an OC'd 980 so he's really only adding another GPU to the line. A 360 + 240 should fine for OCing. If you can fit 2 x 360's then go for it, but it won't really let you do anything that you can't already do.

Do not do a parallel loop, especially as your first project. It only provides performance in specific scenarios that you are not in and requires you to do some engineering work to figure out pressure and coolant restriction on both lines. Fluids always flow down the path of least resistance, so if one of your lines has a lower resistance then the other more fluid will flow down it and cause devices on the other line to potentially overheat due to less flow.

Order isn't important so much as always go Reservoir -> Pump -> Most restrictive component. Res before Pump is to filter out air bubbles before they get to your pump, and you want your most restrictive component after the pump to force the air out during initial fill. I once made the mistake of not having my top mount rad (usually the most restrictive component) go after my pump. Had the bottom mounted pump go to both 285's and the CPU before the top rad, turned out the pressure was too much for the pump to push out the air and fill the lines. Switched it to Pump -> highest rad and it filled fine.


What I was thinking when it comes to the dual loop was two entirely seperate loops. As in 2 pumps, 2 reservoirs and 2 loops. :)  I'd try to avoid splitting it up as CPU+GPU / GPU2+GPU3 though because honestly that's gonna be hell when it comes to setting it up (The 3 cards are gonna be right up against each other). Would I be fine with one loop?

What would you guys recommend for the pump? An MCP655?

Sorry for the short post, I'm kind of in a rush, will be soon. Thanks for the help guys.
-Teri
January 15, 2012 11:49:21 PM

Terinigan said:
What I was thinking when it comes to the dual loop was two entirely seperate loops. As in 2 pumps, 2 reservoirs and 2 loops. :)  I'd try to avoid splitting it up as CPU+GPU / GPU2+GPU3 though because honestly that's gonna be hell when it comes to setting it up (The 3 cards are gonna be right up against each other). Would I be fine with one loop?

What would you guys recommend for the pump? An MCP655?

Sorry for the short post, I'm kind of in a rush, will be soon. Thanks for the help guys.
-Teri


If you do two loops then it'll be CPU on one and all three GPU's on the other. Cards are simply too close to each other to do it any other way. You can use two multi card links, which are basically just small short pipes with compression fittings on both ends. They go from one 1/4 port on one card straight into the 1/4 port on the next card. This way you got one water input and one water output for all three cards.

Now about heat, people have a very mistaken idea of heat flow. Water has a very heat capacity compared to air, and the flow rate on your water system will be such that no device will overcome that heat capacity before the water moves on. Once a system is running it quickly reaches thermal equilibrium where the water is the same temperature throughout the system. The water in the pump will be the same temperature as the water in the reservoir and the same as the water sitting inside the GPU thermal block. And while GPU and CPU blocks do add heat, the water is moving fast enough that the heat is spread out across the entire loop within microseconds. This is why the predominate limit to a WC loop is it's total capacity to remove heat from the loop. The radiators ability to remove heat is additive across the entire loop. That is why you should run a single loop, all the heat will be spread out across the loop equally within minutes of your system powering on, and thereafter all heat added to the loop will be applied equally across the entire loop. All heat removed from the loop will be removed equally across the entire loop. Thus it means sense to lump it all together for best efficiency.

MCP655 is a good pump, I personally went with the XSPC X20 750 to conserve space. Originally was using the older version of that but it turned into a nightmare as it (at that time) only had 1/2 sized outlets and it's size makes it difficult to mount properly in most cases. I ended up getting a conversion bracket for a 120mm fan mount (four point bracket that fits over a 120mm fan and provides a mount spot for the pump).

Honestly pumps are the one area that the WC part providers need to make a mount standard on. The community is pretty much left drilling holes in cases to custom mount everything as velcro just will ~not~ do.
a b K Overclocking
January 16, 2012 12:24:24 AM

Yeah, the GPUs are going to have to be in one loop unless you're using universal GPU blocks.

I used to use the XSPC X2O 750 as well and it was pretty solid, but upgrading the MCP655 was worthwhile. I'd suggest going with a MCP35X simply because it's a better pump - it has a slightly higher head pressure than the 655. It's also the standard DDC footprint, so it fits in bay reservoirs that hold DDC pumps.
January 16, 2012 12:44:31 AM

Yeah I know I could get better flow rates with a dedicated pump. Space has become an issue as I really hate crowded PC cases but I'm not a professional installer (can't make it look nearly as good as they do). In my D800 there is only one spot I can see for putting a pump without requiring lots of modding and I really don't have the time for that. The XSPC performed good enough to be included when I last redid my setup.

Also make sure you get vinly tape, you should be able to find some on the WC sales site. You'll be needing it anytime you want to connect a fitting to something that's acrylic.
a c 337 K Overclocking
January 16, 2012 1:07:19 PM

You don't have to go with 2 loops- you can run a single loop if you wanted, or even a dual/single hybrid. Either way, 2 pumps are likely a good idea, but if you can share the water and radiators from the entire loop to all components, you will be better off than with 2 segregated loops. A reservoir with multiple in/outs will allow this and will benefit temps for all components. Otherwise, serial pumps in an all-serial loop would be great as well.
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