First foray into water cooling

So after many years of putting it off, and with hardware performance finally at a level that is fairly future proof (at least good enough for me, I'm still rocking a Phenom X4 and two C2D's in my 3 systems at home), I've decided to take the plunge into water cooling.

What I plan on doing is the following:

LGA2011 ATX Motherboard
i7-3820, eventually moving up to an 8-core as soon as they become available for moderately decent prices
32GB Memory
2x nVIDIA 680 GTX in SLI (I'll probably just buy 1 for now, and add a 2nd one later)
1000w Gold or Platinum PSU

That's the core of what I'll be building my system around. It's intended use will be ripping and encoding BluRay movies (for personal consumption), dabbling into 3D rendering (as a beginner, so there will likely be many mistakes. Fast machine = less time wasted) and CAD based work, converting my considerable vinyl record library into digital format so I can archive the originals, and occasional to moderate gaming.

I have narrowed down my choice of computer case for the new rig to the Fractal Design Arc Midi, mostly for it's outward aesthetics (minimalism FTW!), compactness of the chassis, ability to take a full sized ATX motherboard, water cooling friendliness of the internal layout and the minimal amount of physical modding I'll need/want to do to the case to get it to suit my tastes.

Here is an extremely rough mock up on paper of what I've been considering for water cooling options:

The diagram also shows the general locations of where each component would sit within the chassis to get a better feel for how it might look when it comes to designing the actual loop and what goes where for tubing.

It shows the directionality of the loop flows as well as traditional airflow in the case. I decided to isolate each loop from each other as GPU's in this instance will be likely changed out far more frequently than the CPU would be. I understand it will double the amount of maintenance required which I'm OK with, as well I plan to push the CPU way more than I do both the GPU and the CPU at the same time, having a tighter loop for the CPU and Chipset should ensure better thermal performance from the cooling system, the same goes for when I push the GPUs during gaming and encoding.

I'm bandying about the idea of a negative pressure air flow scenario inside the case, but wonder if I might be better served to reverse the push-pull configuration into an intake scenario for the single 140mm rad and have that warm air circulated out by way of the bottom mounted intake and top-back mounted exhaust/top exhaust push-pull config on the 240mm rad, this would in effect still be a negative pressure system, but with slightly more positive air pressure being introduced.

As for the water cooling gear itself, I'm looking at various build projects and playing with ideas in my head. As a result I have yet to actually pick out the specific water cooling gear, so suggestions are welcome. I have decided that I plan to isolate my internal Blu-Ray burner from the system and install it into an external 5 1/4" enclosure and connect it via USB3, what this allows me to do is use both 5 1/4" bays in the chassis to install a FrozenQ Fusion Dual Bay reservoir (going for a Resident Evil theme)

That's all I can think of for right now, I look forward to hearing from the community on this one.
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More about first foray water cooling
  1. You want a resident evil theme? Grab two of the Liquid fusion resses, one blue one green :-)
    Check the w/c sticky at the top of the section for some startpoints but I'll expand on my reply when I get home in the morning
  2. I was actually gonna go with this:


    I'm just going to hide the CPU/Chipset reservoir
  3. Oh I know alex's range fairly well, but for the R.E. look its got to be the 250Ml :-) you could use one for one loop and the other for the second loop,
    But I'd advise one loop anyway instead of two, you'll get a better Delta, chipset/ram doesn't need cooling tbh
    But thats covered in the sticky :-)
  4. If you are going to watercool the entire computer you´re gonna need a much bigger case! Look up for example Coolermaster HAF X that have built-in support and holes for advanced watercooling. I have a HAF 932 Advanced and even when it looked gigantic inside when empty I almost wish I had bought an even bigger case when every part was in place, and I only have Corsairs H60 watercooler for my CPU... If you are going to buy a 1000W PSU for so much advanced programs and watercooling I highly recommend you to get some of Corsairs 80+ HX series or later series with 90+. I use Corsairs HX850W and how much I try to overload it this PSU at the highest blows out mild lukewarm air, and even thus its fan always are spinning over 4000 RPM I cant hear a thing! And my electric bill has as a bonus whent down :-) OK it was hysterious expensive but well invested money indeed. Coolermaster also make good PSUs but they are always cheeting with hiding non japan-made conductors on the backside somehow, its only Corsair that use 100% of those conductures. Keep in mind that those huge PSUs is so big that you cant use the lowest slot of a 4 slot PCIe motherboard, I have a ASUS X58 Sabertooth with SLI and the top side of my PSU was so high up when mounted that I almost couldent plug in all those small cables thats always at the bottom of a motherboard. Can imagen that a 1000W PSU can be even bigger, so as I said, pick a realy big case! It exist a brand Im not compleatly sure of its name but every ultra high end gamer that is using 4 GPUs use something called eVGA, eATX, eCase etc. This brand makes extra big fulltowers that has 10 slots at the rear instead of the normal 7 slots ATX cases, they also makes motherboards thats extended. Their cases is to be ment to support 4 huge GPUs and a huge 1200W PSU with elbow room for entire case watercooling. This is only for extreme gamers but just perfect for a huge watercooling system. Hope this gives you something more to think to.
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