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Building a 10k monster for school/work: Watercool advice

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  • Water Cooling
  • Overclocking
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April 27, 2012 10:26:27 AM

Been coming here for several years but never really needed to post here for advice.. until now. I'm going to school for game design and quite frankly the machine I'm using right now will not handle some of the projects I have coming up (not school projects - actual games I'm making on the side) The machine needs to play as hard as it works because when I'm not working I'm still nerding hard.

I call it project "Serious Business" and I plan on finishing it this fall. (I know, I should wait for Haswell but fk it.) List below is a rough draft and will be a continual WIP. Nitpicking on hardware is not the purpose here, I've got a lot of cash to blow from a recently finished project and I want a serious nerdgasm.
http://secure.newegg.com/WishList/PublicWishDetail.aspx...

I came here to ask you guys about watercooling, I've never done it before but now's the time to "dive in" >.>

I want to make two seperate loops:
1) 4x 680s hooked up to an Alphacool UT60 120mm triple - mounted in the top of the case. Frame jitter is a concern in quad SLI but that's another topic.
2) i7 Sandy Bridge-E and northbridge hooked up to another Alphacool UT60, this time the 120mm double, mounted along the side panel just below the drive cages.

Here's my list of questions:
1) How big of a reservoir do I need
2) Internal tank (between drive cages and mobo) or 5.25 bay?
3) Can I loop everything together by simply using a larger pump/res? (ex: Swiftech's industrial extreme pump vs a couple of danger dens for each loop)
4) I'm picky. I want compression fittings. What do you guys use/recommend as far as tube sizes and block brands?
5) Would a Pelt be worth the hassle for this processor? SB-E's run hot as all hell. Again, price is no issue and I won't flinch at adding an auxillary supply to feed it.
6) I have no experience on how much air rads need. Would pushing air out of the case through these rads with the back and front case fans pulling in ambient air be sufficient to feed them? It would cause negative pressure in the case but its well-filtered.

More about : building 10k monster school work watercool advice

April 27, 2012 10:46:08 AM

Ok im assuming the case is a 700 d as i just built one with a 360 in the top and a 240 in the bottom it will do the job really well if you arnt overclocking to 5 ghz as my friend found out when we finished his.. @ 5 ghz with 2 x 680 on a 3930k during gaming he s seeing over 75 c he has a raystorm block and xps rads the pump res combo he used is a mpc 655 on a double helix front bay rez.. it was enough..
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a b K Overclocking
April 27, 2012 10:50:30 AM

When doing development you need to consider a few things:
1) The people using your software will not have $10K rigs
2) Design/production hardware is different from gaming hardware

Consider building 2 machines. One simple 'sub par' i3 2100 machine with a GTX 560 and 4GB of ram as your game 'test bed' as a standard to see what the experience will be for the 'average user'. Then for your production machine go sink some serious money in a duel Xeon or quad Opteron CPU rig with high end production cards (Fire Pro or Quadro/Tesla). This will seriously increase your workflow and export times, while still giving a realistic view of what the average joe is going to see on their own experience.

In the production rig be sure to RAID everything! RAID1 for your system drive, and RAID5 or 10 for your content drive. Also be sure to have power conditioning and battery backups in place. Set up a simple NAS with RAID5 or 6 to do nightly backups. Never buy a part that does not have a 5 year warranty on it, unless there is no option. You are doing serious design work, so you need to seriously protect it. If something goes wrong with a game rig then it is annoying. If something goes wrong with a production rig then it means missed deadlines, lost business, and that your reputation is hurt in the process which can hurt you on future projects. Besides, you have the budget to do it, so you should.

Water cooling is fun, but only do it AFTER you have the hardware you need.

Also, your wishlist link is broken.
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April 27, 2012 10:52:31 AM

Case is a CM CosmosII, I've seen them at LANs and am absolutely in love with their CM.

I consider 60C+ in a watercool setup to be a fail. I'm trying to figure out this excel sheet listed in the sticky I want to compare single vs dual-loop because I have a hard time believing the talk about serial loops competing with multi-loop temps
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April 27, 2012 11:04:32 AM

That is some seriously sound advice, Caeden, and I thank you. I hadn't considered the value of having a "mainstream" quality platform to test on.

That being said, what I'm doing at the moment is hardly worthy of a workstation so I'm more focused on gaming performance first, production as a secondary goal. Down the road when I need that kind of power haswell will be out, kepler will make its way to quadro, and I'll again have money to build another machine.

If it takes me an extra night or two to build something that only I will probably ever see, I can live with that :x I should note, the only production I'm doing now isn't professional. I'm just trying to learn the things that school can't teach you - on my own time.
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a b K Overclocking
April 27, 2012 11:14:46 AM

trexil said:
That is some seriously sound advice, Caeden, and I thank you. I hadn't considered the value of having a "mainstream" quality platform to test on.

That being said, what I'm doing at the moment is hardly worthy of a workstation so I'm more focused on gaming performance first, production as a secondary goal. Down the road when I need that kind of power haswell will be out, kepler will make its way to quadro, and I'll again have money to build another machine.

If it takes me an extra night or two to build something that only I will probably ever see, I can live with that :x I should note, the only production I'm doing now isn't professional. I'm just trying to learn the things that school can't teach you - on my own time.

lol, now that I understand. My largest frustration in college was that while the professors knew their own workflows and ways of doing things, they did not have the time to play with new equipment, new workflows, or keep up with current tech, or what was coming around the corner. Sadly, what it comes down to is getting a piece of paper, and the school providing a good work placement program, and then unlearning most of what you learned in school because it no longer applies, and you tech yourself, or have your workplace teach you what is current.

Frustrating facts of life. Best of luck to you!
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April 27, 2012 11:19:55 AM

CaedenV said:
lol, now that I understand. My largest frustration in college was that while the professors knew their own workflows and ways of doing things, they did not have the time to play with new equipment, new workflows, or keep up with current tech, or what was coming around the corner. Sadly, what it comes down to is getting a piece of paper, and the school providing a good work placement program, and then unlearning most of what you learned in school because it no longer applies, and you tech yourself, or have your workplace teach you what is current.

Frustrating facts of life. Best of luck to you!


And to you.

BTW, for those of you reading this thread the WishList link should be fixed.

This is what I'm looking at if Swiftech Gabe's numbers on single vs. dual loops is solid data:

Res->Split 4 680s parallel->triple rad->CPU->Chip->double rad->badass pump==>res

I'm kind of worried about 4 cards in parallel. Going to have to work on the tube routing..
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a c 337 K Overclocking
April 27, 2012 1:22:58 PM

I am in agreement with some others on RAID for your drives, especially if you are doing as much dev work as you say. Redundancy is far more important than speed, but even a good RAID controller and drives will perform very fast- look into SAS controllers/drives and possibly re-evaluate your need for the SSDs...maybe only 1 for primary OS.

32GB ram and quad SLI 680s? While I could agree with the 32GB ram for very high end rendering or simulation crunching, you'd perhaps be better off with a Quadro card or 2 instead of the 680's. More than 2x 680's really isn't going to be beneficial unless you are running very high end multi-monitor setups.

I get that you want to provide the shock factor with your hardware choice here, but can you provide the development software you are planning on using? Being a long-time IT guy, you appear to want to build a high-end workstation, but substitute much of the hardware for gaming gear. For what you are wanting to do, perhaps it's better to build 2 machines as suggested above.

If you TRULY are doing this much dev work- you will want a Xeon 1-2 CPU/MB setup, ECC ram and RAID...there are no exceptions.

There are better options for watercooling 680's than hydrocopper cards, and for less of a premium.

Have you calculated your delta yet? I think you're underestimating what you will need. Given that, you might also wish to consider a MountainMods case.

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April 27, 2012 2:08:43 PM

rubix_1011 said:
If you TRULY are doing this much dev work- you will want a Xeon 1-2 CPU/MB setup, ECC ram and RAID...there are no exceptions.

There are better options for watercooling 680's than hydrocopper cards, and for less of a premium.

Have you calculated your delta yet? I think you're underestimating what you will need. Given that, you might also wish to consider a MountainMods case.


I'm really not doing anything at present that screams workstation. I've built around 30 machines from HTPCs to servers. I know what hardware is good for what, and this setup is what I believe optimal for my present situation.

I already have a workstation build list on newegg but the classes where I'd need that power I won't be in until next year (and by that time quadro will likely receive a huge upgrade). I don't want two machines in my office until I absolutely need to have them, and I want to game. Quadros + gaming = bad. 680s + production = bad, but I can fix that later before it becomes a pressing need.

What options would be better than the hydrocopper sinks? I picked the hydrocoppers for simplicity's sake - I've never watercooled before. I'd use a self-contained cpu loop but if I'm already installing a full loop why not just go custom.

I haven't calculated my delta yet, and I'm a bit lost on how exactly to do it. I have the spreadsheet, just need to do a bit more reading. Do you really think the two proposed radiators aren't enough? The only thing I plan on OC'ing is the processor (mildly) and RAM. OC'ing a quad-sli configuration is likely to only exacerbate frame jitter, so I'm actually probably going to underclock them.
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April 27, 2012 2:28:00 PM

Agree with Caeden on having 2 systems and making sure you RAID everything properly. Disagree about the Quadro/FirePro, but I could be wrong. AFAIK, unless you need the mega-VRAM quadro option or if Geforce approximation-style rendering is unsatisfactory, GTX 680s or up-coming 690s will be your best option. Quadros are recommended for CAD work in which parts that are rendered need to fit together in real life (games only need to look like real life). And even for that work a lot of designers question the benefits (depending on the software). Also, they suck for gaming. Look into it anyway, but I'm skeptical.

And Rubix brings up a good point about 4x vs 2x 680s. For only 3x1080p it might be overkill.

You seem to like the Cosmos II, but I second Rubix's suggestion to consider a MountainMods case. They're amazing.

http://www.mountainmods.com/pinnacle-24-cyo-custom-comp...
http://www.mountainmods.com/computer-cases-u2ufo-c-21_3...

or http://www.xs-pc.com/products/cases/h2-tower-case-10pci...
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April 27, 2012 2:36:20 PM

naf said:
Agree with Caeden on having 2 systems and making sure you RAID everything properly. Disagree about the Quadro/FirePro, but I could be wrong. AFAIK, unless you need the mega-VRAM quadro option or if Geforce approximation-style rendering is unsatisfactory, GTX 680s or up-coming 690s will be your best option. Quadros are recommended for CAD work in which parts that are rendered need to fit together in real life (games only need to look like real life). And even for that work a lot of designers question the benefits (depending on the software). Also, they suck for gaming. Look into it anyway, but I'm skeptical.

And Rubix brings up a good point about 4x vs 2x 680s. For only 3x1080p it might be overkill.

You seem to like the Cosmos II, but I second Rubix's suggestion to consider a MountainMods case. They're amazing.

http://www.mountainmods.com/pinnacle-24-cyo-custom-comp...
http://www.mountainmods.com/computer-cases-u2ufo-c-21_3...

or http://www.xs-pc.com/products/cases/h2-tower-case-10pci...



I'm actually very seriously considering dropping the 4th card for that reason and others besides.

I'll look more into mountainmods once I'm done digesting this mountain of data on how to measure flow rates and rubix's post on full-card blocks. Its a lot to take in lol

[edit]

Estimated TDP for my build is ~1250Watts.

Here's my FrozenCPU shopping list so far (missing splitters, fittings, etc atm)
Swiftech MCP655 with 3/8 conversion
2 Nexxos UT60 rads - one triple, one double
6 of these http://www.frozencpu.com/products/12204/fan-795/Aerocoo...

Reinstalling excel for this spreadsheet from martinsliquidlab to see if the setup can handle 1300 watts

Thoughts?
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a c 337 K Overclocking
April 27, 2012 2:48:23 PM

There is a section in the watercooling sticky that helps define how you would calculate total TDP in terms needed to correctly account for the delta you wish to achieve.

GTX 680's have a listed TDP of 195-200 watts per card @100% load. It's unlikely you will see this, but planning for this rather than cutting it short is usually the preferred option. You're looking at 800watts of cooling potential just for the GPUs alone, TDP for your CPU is 130w at stock speeds. Don't forget that overclocking will raise your TDP.

Check out links to Skinnee and Martin in the WC sticky. There are also some links around for various comparisons for full cover blocks. Your watercooling loop alone could easily get close to $800+ simply because of the GPU blocks (~$125 or so, each).

Most good 360 rads will dissipate 500-550 watts of heat with 1800rpm fans for a 10C delta. You can usually take your total TDP and reduce it by 10-15% for a more realistic TDP if you want.
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April 27, 2012 2:56:43 PM

rubix_1011 said:
There is a section in the watercooling sticky that helps define how you would calculate total TDP in terms needed to correctly account for the delta you wish to achieve.

GTX 680's have a listed TDP of 195-200 watts per card @100% load. It's unlikely you will see this, but planning for this rather than cutting it short is usually the preferred option. You're looking at 800watts of cooling potential just for the GPUs alone, TDP for your CPU is 130w at stock speeds. Don't forget that overclocking will raise your TDP.

Check out links to Skinnee and Martin in the WC sticky. There are also some links around for various comparisons for full cover blocks. Your watercooling loop alone could easily get close to $800+ simply because of the GPU blocks (~$125 or so, each).

Most good 360 rads will dissipate 500-550 watts of heat with 1800rpm fans for a 10C delta. You can usually take your total TDP and reduce it by 10-15% for a more realistic TDP if you want.


Yeah I just finished my TDP and threw together a shopping cart at Frozen (see edit above your post). The full-card block prices is why I initially went with the pre-installed evga block cards. Simpler and prettier, imo.

Sounds to me from that last sentence that a triple/double rad won't cut it.

BTW thanks for the help so far guys you've been really informative =]
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a c 337 K Overclocking
May 4, 2012 1:54:05 PM

Quote:
1. Put your res just before your pump. The pump will more than likely die or not be fed if you don't!


Res before pump is a good idea just from a filling/priming perspective. You can run your loop in any order you wish- your pump running without water is what kills it. So, I think by what you are meaning in terms of loop order, if your pump is not able to get water, can kill your pump...this would be correct.

@Op- you might actually consider a DDC pump (or 2) for your loop. While I completely disagree with the purchase of 4x 680s, if you have the money to do so, that is your prerogative. Consider a pump (or pumps) with more head pressure for the restriction you'll have. This will be more important than overall flow rate.
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a b K Overclocking
May 5, 2012 1:02:33 AM

I'm more concerned about the cooling of the components. You're not going to be able to cool all of the GPUs with one rad - simply too much heat or too much noise.

Another case you could look into besides MountainMods are the CaseLabs cases - they can hold dual quads on the top, along with some other stuff here and there. All the ones I've seen have been spectacularly nice-looking.

I agree with Rubix on the pumps - I'd go for a pair of MCP35Xs since they have a higher head than the MCP655 at nearly the same flowrate.

Also if you're really looking for SSDs, the 256GB Crucial M4s were on sale today for $200, which is the single best deal in SSDs ever known to man. They're not quite as fast as the Vertex series, but the M4s are the most reliable SSD to date and are still quite fast.
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a b K Overclocking
May 5, 2012 1:03:13 AM

Also I'd go for a Silverstone 1500W over a ThermalTake - TT has a tendency to die, and die hard.
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