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Water Cooling for my new system - Yay or nay?

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February 9, 2013 2:04:19 AM

Hey all, first post on the forums here, hope you guys can help me out a bit here -

I'm building my first PC in the coming months, and with it being high-end, I was considering water cooling but for the moment the plan is air cooling. I know I could definitely benefit from a water cooled system, as my rig is going to be for gaming/editing. I just had a few issues, so wanted to know if it was worth it or not.

The current price would be ~$5,000 USD with an air cooling setup. Here are the planned specs:

Motherboard: ASUS Rampage IV Formula
CPU: Intel Core i7 3930K
RAM: Corsair Dominator 16GB 2133 MHz RAM
SSDs: 2 Corsair Neutron GTX 120 GB SSDs in RAID 0
HDD 1: Seagate Barracuda 2TB SATA III 6GB/s HDD for Storage
HDD 2:WD Black SATA III 6GB/s 4TB HDD for Recordings (I do screen caps, 1 hour takes ~500 GB of space)
Optical Drive: ASUS B2-12B1ST/BLK/G/AS Blu-Ray Drive
CPU Cooler: Corsair Hydro Series Extreme H100i CPU Cooler
Monitors: BenQ XL2420TX Monitor and 2 ASUS VS248H-P Monitors
GPU: 2 EVGA GTX 680 Classifieds
Sound Card: ASUS Xonar Essence STX
PSU: Corsair HX1050 (80 Plus Gold)
Chassis: Level 10 GT Snow Edition Case
Mouse: Razer DeathAdder 2013
Keyboard: Razer BlackWidow Ultimate Stealth 2013
Headphones: Sennheiser HD598 Headphones

If I added water cooling, it would be using all EK waterblocks. Here are my main concerns about using water vs air cooling:
- I have to downgrade to 2 EVGA GTX 680+ 4GB's so I can use the EK-FC680 GTX+ Acetal and Nickel waterblock, since EVGA stopped making the Hydro Copper water blocks.
- I have to change the chassis to a Corsair Obsidian 800D, so I can fit a top-mounted 360 radiator (and possibly other radiators as well, since the case was designed for water cooling). This isn't too bad, as both cases are fairly equal.

Here's the configuration I'd be using:
Swifttech MCP665 Pump w/Bitspower D5/MCP665 Mod Kit + Top
EK-Res X3 250 Reservoir
XSPC RayStorm CPU Waterblock
2x Black Ice GTX 360 Rads w/ Noctua NF-F12 PWM Fans
Some sort of 6-channel fan controller
XSPC Razor GPU Waterblock/EVGA Hydro Copper Classified Waterblock (if I can find one)
Koolance Radiator Mounting Bracket (to mount a rear 360 Rad)

With this setup I'm looking at around $5,645 for hardware + water cooling. *winces*

As for tubing, I would prefer 1/2" ID Red Tubes. As for fittings, I would prefer Bitspower black fittings, but really, any fitting will do. I also need a T connector and a quick connect for the drain port.

Here is how I envision the loop being, if I decide to pursue water cooling.

Pump --> Inlet GTX 680 #1 --> SLI "Tube?" --> GTX 680#2 Inlet --> 1/2" ID Tubing --> CPU Waterblock --> Radiator --> Reservoir

Yes, I realize that the CPU is not the first thing in the loop but given that the waterblock on the CPU is not the highest flow block around, I thought it best to have it last in the loop.

Anyway, any suggestions on whether I should do water cooling or not, and if I went with watercooling, is the setup I envisioned good?
a c 176 K Overclocking
February 9, 2013 2:29:50 AM

Have you read the water-cooling sticky? It will teach you a lot of the concepts behind water-cooling and will probably answer many of your questions.
http://www.tomshardware.com/forum/277130-29-read-first-...

Gonna need more than 360mm of rad space for that setup. I would suspect a 360+240mm will be required, though do the TDP calculations to find out for sure.

Your questions
- Your downgrading from an overclocked 680 to a slightly less overclocked 680. Your paying an extra $50 for 30Mhz on the Core Clock, there's no difference between the two.
Also I advise you get 7970's if your playing at that resolution, can show benches explaining why if you want.
- Would have gone with the 800D anyway TBH.

Though chances are this isnt an issue anymore, avoid EK's Nickel products. A while ago they messed up the Nickel plating on their products, then blamed the enthusiasts use of Distilled water over their Coolants as the reason why it failed. So widespread discouragement of EK Nickel products is kind of the enthusiasts way of getting back at them.
Go for the Noctua fans.

Loop order doesn't matter unless you care about 1c differences. Just run the tubing in the neatest way possible. Only exception is always having the reservoir before the pump, as that way it cant run dry.
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February 9, 2013 2:49:05 AM

Thanks for the advice. I'm checking out the water cooling sticky as I write.

Since pretty much all of the EK waterblocks I chose are nickel, do you have any recommendations (like an XSPC block or such?)?
Also, I looked at a few forums and reviews myself and it seems the 7970 is better when using a single card, but for multi-card setups the 680 does better than the 7970. Besides, I'm probably not going to use all three monitors for gaming a lot, since it would be impractical to record at 5760x1080.

Here is my idea using XSPC waterblocks (I heard that Koolance isn't the best around, but they are still good. Not sure abour XSPC)

RayStorm Intel CPU Waterblock (Copper)
Razor GTX 680 New Style Waterblock (Copper)

And here is a Koolance setup:

CPU-380I CPU Waterblock (nickel-plated Copper cold plate, acetal top, steel mounting bracket)
VID-NX680 Waterblock (copper w/anti-corrosive nickel plating)

Any thoughts?

EDIT: Just calculated the TDP to be around 520W. The XT 360 can dissipate 540W w/2000RPM fans, so you are correct, I should get another 240mm rad.
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a c 190 K Overclocking
February 9, 2013 7:35:00 AM

** I should get another 240mm rad**
At least,
Given your choice of case I'd be throwing either two 360's on the backside or a 1080 (My preferred rad there)
the more rads/fans you have the slower and quieter you can run them, 9 or 18 fans at 600 Rpm is silent, 3/6 at 2k Rpm is airport level noise :) 
and I'm still waiting for a mail back from TT regarding a 'proper' L10 to mod :p 
Xspc gear is good, EK is also fine but as mentioned their Nickel is to be avoided, this includes their fittings, not just blocks btw
Raystorm is the block of choice atm so well done for finding that, and the Razor blocks are fine
Mcp 655 is a good choice also on your pump
Sticky is a must-read as mentioned but we are here to help your slide into insanity go as smoothly as possible so pipe up with questions ok?
:) 
Moto
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February 9, 2013 1:39:07 PM

I can put one 360 rad on top, as well as mount one in the outside back of the case. I can also mount on 240 rad on the bottom too (I might have to remove some HDD cages, but I won't be using those anyway.).

If I added another 240 on the bottom, here is the loop I would do:

Res --> CPU Block --> Top-mounted 360 Rad --> GPU #1 --> GPU #2 --> Bottom-mounted 240 Rad --> Res
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a c 190 K Overclocking
February 9, 2013 3:08:10 PM

You missed out the rearmounted 360 in that loop but yup, 360+240 is a decent amount of rad for your requirements, the extra 360 just enables you to run fans slower/quieter while still getting the good low temps
Loop order dones't really matter apart from the res being just before the pump, anything else is changeable according to desire/need
Moto
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February 9, 2013 3:22:04 PM

Don't know if this was solved, but manofchalk I think you are mistaken between the differences of the 4gb gtx 680 and the classified. The classified is a "binned" card which will have MUCH higher overclocks than the 680. I think most people get around 1400+mhz on the core when underwater with the classified, when I have never heard of such a thing on the 4gb reference. Also, there are some articles and benchmarks around the web that have come to conlusions that if you have 4gb,but lack the clock speeds, the 4gb of vram becomes underutilized and basically barely different that a 2gb non-reference card. So why pay the premium? I would pull the link, but I have done so much research that I wouldn't know where to start with that lol. Not trying to pull the post away from what was trying to be achieved, but just wanted to tell the OP that I have 2 brand new classified hydrocoppers that I want to get rid of. I would hate for you to sell those and downgrade your card to a terrible 4gb 680 reference, or a 7970 when I could potentially hold your solution. Check your PM and let me know about that. Also, if you want a awesome radiator for low noise get the sr1 I have not heard one bad thing about it. Performs very good from what I hear, and that is why I am buying it for this watercooled build
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February 9, 2013 3:41:31 PM

jgonzo said:
Don't know if this was solved, but manofchalk I think you are mistaken between the differences of the 4gb gtx 680 and the classified. The classified is a "binned" card which will have MUCH higher overclocks than the 680. I think most people get around 1400+mhz on the core when underwater with the classified, when I have never heard of such a thing on the 4gb reference. Also, there are some articles and benchmarks around the web that have come to conlusions that if you have 4gb,but lack the clock speeds, the 4gb of vram becomes underutilized and basically barely different that a 2gb non-reference card. So why pay the premium? I would pull the link, but I have done so much research that I wouldn't know where to start with that lol. Not trying to pull the post away from what was trying to be achieved, but just wanted to tell the OP that I have 2 brand new classified hydrocoppers that I want to get rid of. I would hate for you to sell those and downgrade your card to a terrible 4gb 680 reference, or a 7970 when I could potentially hold your solution. Check your PM and let me know about that. Also, if you want a awesome radiator for low noise get the sr1 I have not heard one bad thing about it. Performs very good from what I hear, and that is why I am buying it for this watercooled build


That's exactly why I'm hesitant about water cooling the GPU's. However, FrozenCPU has some of the EK 680 FTW Nickel/Acetal + Nickel blocks in stock, but I've been told to stay away from EK's nickel blocks.

I know there are blocks available for ASUS cards, so I could always get one. However, I don't want to go triple-slot as I have a sound card to squeeze in too. I could always get an MSI 680 as well, as they have a 4GB version too.
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February 9, 2013 6:44:22 PM

An important side note about the evga blocks are that the evga logo glows red. Which I saw your mobo as the formula which also glows red. It would suit your build from an aesthetic standpoint much better than the EK blocks IMHO. Don't know if you are aware, but for the EK blocks you have to cut thermal pads and place them on regulators and stuff on the block yourself. The EVGA blocks are literally take off fan shroud and place the new block on and you are ready to go. I have owned both the EK block and the EVGA block for a 680 and a 670, and I would say that the EVGA block looks better especially with the mobo you have. I don't know if you have seen what it looks like on, but there is red lining that glows around the supreme fx onboard sound, and the Republic of Gamers title glows. Throw that in with the RED from the EVGA it just looks phenomenal! Also, keep in mind that the classified is the best 4gb card you can purchase currently on the market. That is why almost all serious benchmarkers use quad sli classifieds
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a c 176 K Overclocking
February 9, 2013 9:23:54 PM

I know the Classified version is a higher binned component, but TBH I don't think it will make much of a difference. Remember that the 680 FTW+ 4GB will also be a binned component, not as high, but it still will be.
Wouldn't think there would be much difference between the two cards except for maybe 50Mhz difference in overclocks, if that.

Also I dont think 7970's would bottleneck the rig in anyway, if anything they will do better.
http://www.techpowerup.com/reviews/AMD/Catalyst_12.11_P...
Have a look through the resolutions, notice that as it gets higher the 7970Ghz overtakes and pulls further ahead of the 680. By the time your at 2560x1600 there's a 10% performance difference.
Thats roughly half the resolution of three 1080p monitors, so the difference will be even more than that.

Also if your after a glow effect on the graphics card, the XSPC Razor blocks have 3mm LED mounts in them.
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February 9, 2013 11:33:39 PM

manofchalk said:
I know the Classified version is a higher binned component, but TBH I don't think it will make much of a difference. Remember that the 680 FTW+ 4GB will also be a binned component, not as high, but it still will be.
Wouldn't think there would be much difference between the two cards except for maybe 50Mhz difference in overclocks, if that.

Also I dont think 7970's would bottleneck the rig in anyway, if anything they will do better.
http://www.techpowerup.com/reviews/AMD/Catalyst_12.11_P...
Have a look through the resolutions, notice that as it gets higher the 7970Ghz overtakes and pulls further ahead of the 680. By the time your at 2560x1600 there's a 10% performance difference.
Thats roughly half the resolution of three 1080p monitors, so the difference will be even more than that.

Also if your after a glow effect on the graphics card, the XSPC Razor blocks have 3mm LED mounts in them.


The Classified, in most cases, only produces a 1-4 FPS difference between the Sapphire 7970 GHz Edition. I've seen up to 9 FPS difference, but SLI scaling is still better the CFX scaling.
But we're not here to fight about GPUs, so I suggest we just keep the GPUs as they are.

jgonzo said:
An important side note about the evga blocks are that the evga logo glows red. Which I saw your mobo as the formula which also glows red. It would suit your build from an aesthetic standpoint much better than the EK blocks IMHO. Don't know if you are aware, but for the EK blocks you have to cut thermal pads and place them on regulators and stuff on the block yourself. The EVGA blocks are literally take off fan shroud and place the new block on and you are ready to go. I have owned both the EK block and the EVGA block for a 680 and a 670, and I would say that the EVGA block looks better especially with the mobo you have. I don't know if you have seen what it looks like on, but there is red lining that glows around the supreme fx onboard sound, and the Republic of Gamers title glows. Throw that in with the RED from the EVGA it just looks phenomenal! Also, keep in mind that the classified is the best 4gb card you can purchase currently on the market. That is why almost all serious benchmarkers use quad sli classifieds


I may not overclock the Classifieds, but since I'm going water cooling I probably will. I'm mainly going with water cooling because I like low temps and I absolutely LOVE the aesthetics, and I think I will really enjoy the headroom it'll give me with overclocking.
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a c 176 K Overclocking
February 9, 2013 11:37:44 PM

That's why I didn't push it earlier when I mentioned the 7970 in my first post.
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February 9, 2013 11:47:16 PM

Should I use the EK Rads or a Black Ice GT Xtreme GTX 360 Rads?

Also, a question about GPUs:

Since it looks like I won't be able to use the GTX 680 Classified, I need another high-powered GPU. Please note that I need at least 3GB of GDDR5 memory and that the card has a compatible waterblock.
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February 11, 2013 3:49:25 PM

Anyone?
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a c 324 K Overclocking
February 11, 2013 4:54:34 PM

Quote:
Should I use the EK Rads or a Black Ice GT Xtreme GTX 360 Rads?

Which EK rads? Can you link to examples of both?

Please don't bump threads.
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February 11, 2013 8:06:12 PM

rubix_1011 said:
Quote:
Should I use the EK Rads or a Black Ice GT Xtreme GTX 360 Rads?

Which EK rads? Can you link to examples of both?

Please don't bump threads.

By EK Rads I mean the CoolStreams - specifically the 360's, since I'm going to use 2 of those.
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a b K Overclocking
February 11, 2013 9:03:06 PM

Yeah it's worth it I just installed custom water cooling on really similar hardware (all in signature) the CPU's hottest core idles at 38 C max 56 C @ 4.6 GHz and GPU idles @ 25 C max 45 C @ 1300 MHz. I'm just reinstalled the OS, so I haven't had a chance to really get to overclocking, and temps continue to go down as the air gets bled out of the loop. One thing to note with the graphics cards is that the 7970's frame rates tend to spike up and down so you may be getting more average fps but it's less consistent than a GTX 680. Nvidia's have a lower TDP too and produce less heat, which is important when your running them in a loop. But all in all they're both really good GPU's so it really comes down to personal preference.

your water cooling system should be more than enough, I've really noticed that ambient temperatures and proper air flow are the main thing to take into consideration when deciding on radiator sizing, I use 2 xspc ax 240's and maybe see a 1-2 C increase in temps after a 24 hour period or so of being on, fans at a low speed.
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