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Case and Future Water Cooling for possible gaming rig/server

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April 1, 2012 11:30:18 PM

Hello everyone,

I'm fairly new to this forum but I've read a couple of posts since last month because I'm planning to build a gaming rig of my own for the first time. Initially, I will be using stock fans except for the CPU (which I plan to overclock). However, I want to move to a water cooled system after a few months (6-8) of having a complete build.

Here are my desired specs:

Motherboard: ASUS Maximus IV Gene-Z/GEN3
Video Card: EVGA GTX 680
Memory: Corsair Vengeance 16GB (2 x 8GB)
CPU: Intel Core i5 2500K
CPU Cooler: Corsair H100
SSD: Corsair Force Series GT 120GB
HDD: WD Cavial Black 1TB 7200 RPM
CD/DVD: Lite-ON 12x BD-ROM
Power Supply: Corsair HX850

I got to know that RAM does not really benefit well from water cooling but if there are water blocks for it, I'm willing to spare. Also, I'm thinking of using 2 GTX 680 in the far future (1yr from now) because it is a powerful GPU with less power consumption than GTX580/590, hence the 850W supply. I would gladly wait for a 680 with a water block before I even buy this system. My secondary goal would be having this system as quiet as I can possibly afford.

Considering that I plan to water cool my system, what is a good computer case for this? Something that will work for the above setup and still fit enough room for the tubes?

Btw, I have very little idea over the motherboard that I chose in this build. I am also thinking of using this rig as a server (virtualbox mainly) instead of buying a separate server. The virtual machine will run Oracle RAC (minimum 2 nodes), so that's about 8GB of RAM for the VM alone.
a b ) Power supply
April 2, 2012 3:31:00 AM

From your specs you look like you want to build an extreme gamer, but from your mention of a server you look like you are looking at somthing else.

If you want to run a server you will degrade your gaming performance significantly.

If you want a fully watercooled rig, I'd pass on the H100 for now, because you will have to rip it out when you go to full water cooling.

The best water cooling cases are the Corsair Obsidian 800D, Antec P193, Rosewill Thor, Cooler Master ATC 840 and HAF 932. I also think very highly of the Corsair 600T, but it depends on what water cooling radaitor you want to install.

I'd skip the tall heat spreaders on the Corsair vengeance and get the fastest Gskill Ares RAM that will run with that mobo. I use 2133 Gskill Sniper RAM in my gaming machine and it is fast. The large heat spreaders (in some people's opinion) look cool but they don't have any great advantage over normal heat spreaders. BTW the Gskill Sniper runs at 1.6 not 1.5 V. And while there may be a slight advantage to CAS latency of 9 over 11 it doesn't seem to have a significant effect in most applications.

The ASUS MAX IV is a nice mobo but I prefer ATX over MATX form factors for spacing if you contemplate SLI. The extra PCIe slots come in handy if there is any issue with added peripherals. I also like more SATA 3.0 ports for storage devices when running a server. I prefer this mobo http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... because it is more bang for the buck. As you have chosen to use a dedicated GPU there is no need for the Z68 unless you intend to do a lot of multimedia tranhscoding.

When you try to run a server you will be using up resources and slowing performance. I set up a second rig as a home server with an i3 2125 and it takes a load off the gaming rig. You can build a decent server for a home or small business for under $400.
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April 2, 2012 7:30:38 AM

Thanks Chesteracorgi for the response.

Yes, I might just build a separate server which focuses more on RAM and cooling (needs to be up 24x7) rather than graphics.

I went with the H100 since it's water cooled on its own, and I won't need a separate CPU block if I want to go water cooling the next time.

I have no knowledge of water cooling components yet, specifically radiators, so thank you for the cases you've provided. I will narrow down my choices to that.

Regarding the motherboards, I'm fairly new to new gen motherboards but I know that ASUS and Gigabyte are the ones on top of the class. If there is such equivalent of the motherboard, I would want that as well. Also, I've read that Z68 does have the Smart Response Technology (uses SSD as cache for the HDD) and I would want that as well. And wouldn't a separate integrated video card work well too, knowing that now the trend goes to switchable graphics (my laptop uses it)?

Also, what does it mean when the motherboard's RAM features have 2133 (OC) in it? Does it mean I have to overclock the CPU to take advantage of the 2133 RAM?
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a c 111 ) Power supply
April 2, 2012 7:42:15 AM

NZXT Switch 810, I would go with an xspc rasa rx kit instead of the h100.
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a b ) Power supply
April 2, 2012 9:45:12 AM

There are settings with the RAM which alow XMP control (automatically OC'd by the mobo). For example my RAM is 1700 and OC'd to 2133.

The main watercooled components are the CPU & GPU. If you use the H100 you are ovespending for watercooling system for a GPU. Some GPU OEMs make linked closed loops for both the CPU and GPU. And there are others who have a closed loop for the GPU.

Water cooling is not any quieter than the fans you use to circulate for the radiators. I use Cougar fans for their quiet and airflow.

Regarding the mobo OEMs: ASRock was an offshoot of ASUS and has come a long way with its quality. They have taken 3rd place in number of mobos for builders. Other quality mobos are MSI and Biostar.

With smart response you get an intermediate solution for storage speed that I find unsatisfactory. You will get raw speed from the HDD, but smart response is limited to a 64 GB caching disk that provides a 30% boost. A better solution is something like OCZ's Synapose drives which give almost SSD response times with caching HDDs.

The use of the IGU on the processor is OK for transcoding, but not used in gaming. If you intend to use it for media transcoding the Z68 is a better solution, but the P67 is its equal at gaming.
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April 2, 2012 10:58:08 PM

I looked up OCZ Synapse and it seems like a good solution / replacement for the Z68. I could pair it up with a WD Velociraptor 600GB to get almost the best of both worlds. That's great!

I may have to look more about ASRock, and will flex it when I find that my budget is not enough. I don't like MSI for some reason though. Bad history.

For the water cooling, I can replace the radiator fans with the Cougar ones so it results into a quieter system. One thing I'm not that open right now is to install a separate water block for the GTX 680, so I'm really hoping for EVGA to release one that is integrated.

About the cases, I love that NZXT Switch 810 comes in color black, although I haven't decided on the CPU cooling unit yet as I want the most practical piece moving forward.
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April 3, 2012 7:41:52 PM

So will an H70 work as a better replacement for the H100? Or are there any cheaper alternatives? I'm hesitant to liquid cool just my CPU, that would mean a large radiator just for one part.
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a b ) Power supply
April 3, 2012 11:55:19 PM

if your looking to build a quiet system with a cpu loop you need a rad with a low fpi ....fins per inch ..which requires lower static pressure which translates into lower fan rpm / db level ..... I agree with chester about the Cougars btw . I dont know what the fpi on the h70 h80 h100's are but a 120x2 rad like a rx 240 would work fine and be quiet .. happy hunting
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a c 111 ) Power supply
April 4, 2012 3:24:19 AM

Start small, then go big! Rx120, later on add moar radiators!!
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April 4, 2012 8:24:06 AM

amuffin said:
Start small, then go big! Rx120, later on add moar radiators!!


LOL! I'm planning to get the RX120 since I would be getting a big ass case anyway. I would just go with the 240 when I have GTX680 water cooled. That would do for expansion purposes, right?

Oh and I saw this thread from amuffin, looks like you settled for an H80 yourself :D  http://www.tomshardware.com/forum/271985-29-xspc-rasa-corsair
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April 4, 2012 8:38:26 AM

I would consider the NZXT Switch 810, Corsair 800d/650d/600t and HAF X/932 to all be excellent choices.

If you're going to water cool it's better to save and get a loop you can keep than get something you plan on removing later. Build a custom loop that cools your processor, then you can add on to it provided you have a decent radiator. The 680 runs cool generally and isn't a card that should desperately need to be watercooled. The 2500k, should be your first priority, mainly because overclocking generates more heat and the 2500k would be nothing without overclocking. So if you want to start with a custom loop, make sure you do research and all that because the last thing you want is to get a crappy cooling loop that leaks/bleeds.

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April 4, 2012 3:24:05 PM

cyansnow said:
I would consider the NZXT Switch 810, Corsair 800d/650d/600t and HAF X/932 to all be excellent choices.

If you're going to water cool it's better to save and get a loop you can keep than get something you plan on removing later. Build a custom loop that cools your processor, then you can add on to it provided you have a decent radiator. The 680 runs cool generally and isn't a card that should desperately need to be watercooled. The 2500k, should be your first priority, mainly because overclocking generates more heat and the 2500k would be nothing without overclocking. So if you want to start with a custom loop, make sure you do research and all that because the last thing you want is to get a crappy cooling loop that leaks/bleeds.


Corsair 800d if you want a case with a clear side panel (pictures and video just can't show how awsome that case is). If you don't want the clear side window I'd go with the Aerocool strike-x ST personaly. Realy great watercooling case at a good price and you can see the review toms made about it.

I'm not a fan of the cosmos2 case personaly. Realy overpriced (350$ )for the flaws it has (1 of the rad fan is partialy obstructed on top is one flaw and their is others), the side panels are just too big but that is a personal opinion.

Myself as a fan of nice looking case with clear panels I've considered the NZXT Switch 810. Nice look and pretty good for the price (around 160$). But you can't go wrong with the corsair 800d especialy with the combo available at newegg.com (case + corsair 1200w PSU goes for 525$ free shiping and 20$ mail in rebate).

But even if you don't use any combo the corsair 800d totaly worth the 300$ you might spend on it.
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a c 111 ) Power supply
April 5, 2012 7:28:05 PM

Snowblood said:
LOL! I'm planning to get the RX120 since I would be getting a big ass case anyway. I would just go with the 240 when I have GTX680 water cooled. That would do for expansion purposes, right?

Oh and I saw this thread from amuffin, looks like you settled for an H80 yourself :D  http://www.tomshardware.com/forum/271985-29-xspc-rasa-corsair

Planning to switch over to an rx-120 on that rig anytime now...just want to drop that money on watercooling my own system.
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April 5, 2012 9:28:31 PM

Here is my updated build:


EVGA GTX 680
ASRock P67 EXTREME4 GEN3
G.SKILL Ripjaws X Series 16GB (2 x 8GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 2133
Intel Core i5 2500K
Corsair HX850
OCZ Synapse Cache SYN-25SAT3-128G
WD Caviar Black 1TB 7200 RPM
Lite-ON 12x BD-ROM
XSPC Rasa 750 RX240 WaterCooling Kit
NZXT Switch 810


I've chosen the RX240 since I will be expanding on the cooling thing anyway.

With that, I have a couple of questions (again):

1. What difference does it make if my RAM runs at 1.6V instead of 1.5? What do I have to adjust?
2. Is it worth having a 10000 RPM as my main drive knowing that I have an SSD cache?
3. Will the HX850 able to power 2 GTX 680s?
4. Does the Rasa 750 RX240 support LGA1155?
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a c 111 ) Power supply
April 5, 2012 10:24:34 PM

Get the z68 extreme 4 gen 3.
If RAM runs higher than 1.5 it can damage the processor.
No, 5400rpm drives work the best.
Yes.
Yes.
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April 6, 2012 7:41:09 AM

Why would I use the Z68 if I have no use of the IGP? If it runs higher than 1.5, why are there products with 1.65V rating? 5400 RPM? That's slower. How will it work better?
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