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Copper case for gaming

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  • Cases
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April 26, 2012 6:23:58 PM

I'm going to build a copper case for my gaming rig. My plan is to use the case as a giant heat sink. Crazy idea, but than good ideas start out with the absurd. If you know some good case mod sites I would be in your debt? Thanks!

More about : copper case gaming

April 26, 2012 6:37:28 PM

Don't build your whole case out of cooper, thats just absurdly expensive. Your look at $500+ easily for a small case to get that much cooper.

Its also not a good idea because a big cooper panel will dispel less heat than a regular heatsink because a regular heatsink has numerous fins which is effective at getting rid of heat. If you want to undertake a project like this I'd buy a good cooler and just replace the fins with cooper if you have the money and time
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April 26, 2012 6:38:46 PM

Waste of copper. None of the components which need cooling actually touch the case, with the exception of maybe the hard drives if you don't mount them on rails, and even then they're totally fine without being cooled at all.
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April 26, 2012 7:03:53 PM

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Waste of copper. None of the components which need cooling actually touch the case, with the exception of maybe the hard drives if you don't mount them on rails, and even then they're totally fine without being cooled at all.


+1

No point to a copper case. Other than it might look cool as it ages.
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April 26, 2012 7:27:16 PM

Quote:
+1

No point to a copper case. Other than it might look cool as it ages.

Unless it corrodes and turns puke green. Personally, I'd rather chrome plate a case. It's at least self healing so it won't look like garbage from all the tiny dings it collects and won't ever corrode. Just needs some polishing now and then.
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April 26, 2012 8:46:48 PM

Quote:
Don't build your whole case out of cooper, thats just absurdly expensive. Your look at $500+ easily for a small case to get that much cooper.

Its also not a good idea because a big cooper panel will dispel less heat than a regular heatsink because a regular heatsink has numerous fins which is effective at getting rid of heat. If you want to undertake a project like this I'd buy a good cooler and just replace the fins with cooper if you have the money and time


Hey Bavman.. I'm a jewelry designer and have a supplier of all sorts of metals. I'm not doing this to save money. Although once I price all the materials, I'm sure it wont be cheap. Once I build it, I'll share the pictures and the final cost of it all. :) 
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April 26, 2012 8:57:17 PM

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Waste of copper. None of the components which need cooling actually touch the case, with the exception of maybe the hard drives if you don't mount them on rails, and even then they're totally fine without being cooled at all.


Hey Willard, your right in that if I build a typical case it would not do the job... I'm planning on building the case around the hardware so that it draws the heat away from the components. Copper is great at conducting heat away. The more copper, the better the heat is conducted away. The trick will be to design the case that draws the heat out and doesn't insulate it.

Perhaps I will design the case as one big radiator with fans and fluid... ;) 
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April 26, 2012 9:30:12 PM

Quote:
+1

No point to a copper case. Other than it might look cool as it ages.


I can actually oxidize the outside with different patinas. I could make it red or blue or other combinations of colors. Once I have the look I want I can seal it all and prevent it from oxidizing further. Or I can just keep the copper look and seal that from oxidation as well. Or I can enamel the entire case in my kiln and have any color I want. I can also fabricate the case into any shape I want as well, so it won't look like your typical case. Modding is all about doing something different. :) 
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April 26, 2012 9:35:04 PM

Quote:
Hey Willard, your right in that if I build a typical case it would not do the job... I'm planning on building the case around the hardware so that it draws the heat away from the components. Copper is great at conducting heat away. The more copper, the better the heat is conducted away. The trick will be to design the case that draws the heat out and doesn't insulate it.

Perhaps I will design the case as one big radiator with fans and fluid... ;) 

I really don't think it's possible to cool through the case. It might look awesome, but I don't think you can expect any real functionality.

The big problems are as follows:

Heat conduction is about more than just using a good material. The rate of conduction is also proportional to the mass of what you're conducting the heat into and its cross sectional surface area. Additionally, the temperatures are going to build up incredibly quickly in the vicinity of parts you're cooling because the amount of heat conducted is inversely proportional to the distance from the hot spot. Unless you use low end parts and underclock them, you're still going to need fans to actually dissipate the heat because it's not going to get very far from the components in the first place. They'll just keep getting hotter and hotter until they fail.

CPU coolers have solved this problem by putting the radiator right on top of the CPU (obviously not what you want, since you want the whole case to be the radiator), or by using heat pipes to move the heat quickly. A heat pipe is not just a copper tube, it's also depressurized, filled with liquid (usually water) and coated with a wicking agent (commonly copper powder). As a result, the water boils quickly, moving heat down the pipe where it condenses on cooler surfaces, dumping its heat and is finally wicked back to the hot spot to repeat the cycle. This is clearly not something you can build yourself (loss of depressurization will cause the heatpipe to drop to nearly 0% efficiency immediately).

What's more, you've got to balance the ability to absorb lots of heat with the ability to dissipate it. The rate of dissipation varies inversely with the ratio of volume to surface area (meaning big chunks of copper don't dissipate heat very well). So if you get enough copper in contact with the CPU to effectively absorb the heat, you'll have simultaneously created the problem of not being able to get rid of that heat.

It's just not feasible to spread the heat out through the case in any way even approaching evenly. It's also not feasible to simply use a large hunk of copper to absorb the heat without some other method of dissipation, like a large radiator and/or fan directly on top of the hot spots (also known as a traditional CPU cooler). On top of all that, the thin walls of a case are going to be really, really bad at conducting heat because of their extremely low mass and cross sectional surface area compared to an actual CPU cooler.

This may seem counterintuitive, but it all has to do with the difference between temperature and heat. You could build this case and see the temperature quickly spreading the case and think "hey, this works great!" but you'd be missing what was really going on. A large mass requires much more heat than a small one to increase its temperature by the same amount. So even though the large mass will be at a much lower temperature, it has absorbed much more heat, and results in much lower temperatures where it matters, in the component.

The laws of thermodynamics just aren't on your side here. There are serious engineering problems here, and I don't mean to sound condescending, but I doubt you've got the physics or engineering background to tackle them. You can't just slap a chunk of copper onto a hot component and expect it to work well.
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April 26, 2012 10:07:51 PM

Quote:
I really don't think it's possible to cool through the case. It might look awesome, but I don't think you can expect any real functionality.

The big problems are as follows:

Heat conduction is about more than just using a good material. The rate of conduction is also proportional to the mass of what you're conducting the heat into and its cross sectional surface area. Additionally, the temperatures are going to build up incredibly quickly in the vicinity of parts you're cooling because the amount of heat conducted is inversely proportional to the distance from the hot spot. Unless you use low end parts and underclock them, you're still going to need fans to actually dissipate the heat because it's not going to get very far from the components in the first place. They'll just keep getting hotter and hotter until they fail.

CPU coolers have solved this problem by putting the radiator right on top of the CPU (obviously not what you want, since you want the whole case to be the radiator), or by using heat pipes to move the heat quickly. A heat pipe is not just a copper tube, it's also depressurized, filled with liquid (usually water) and coated with a wicking agent (commonly copper powder). As a result, the water boils quickly, moving heat down the pipe where it condenses on cooler surfaces, dumping its heat and is finally wicked back to the hot spot to repeat the cycle. This is clearly not something you can build yourself (loss of depressurization will cause the heatpipe to drop to nearly 0% efficiency immediately).

What's more, you've got to balance the ability to absorb lots of heat with the ability to dissipate it. The rate of dissipation varies inversely with the ratio of volume to surface area (meaning big chunks of copper don't dissipate heat very well). So if you get enough copper in contact with the CPU to effectively absorb the heat, you'll have simultaneously created the problem of not being able to get rid of that heat.

It's just not feasible to spread the heat out through the case in any way even approaching evenly. It's also not feasible to simply use a large hunk of copper to absorb the heat without some other method of dissipation, like a large radiator and/or fan directly on top of the hot spots (also known as a traditional CPU cooler). On top of all that, the thin walls of a case are going to be really, really bad at conducting heat because of their extremely low mass and cross sectional surface area compared to an actual CPU cooler.

This may seem counterintuitive, but it all has to do with the difference between temperature and heat. You could build this case and see the temperature quickly spreading the case and think "hey, this works great!" but you'd be missing what was really going on. A large mass requires much more heat than a small one to increase its temperature by the same amount. So even though the large mass will be at a much lower temperature, it has absorbed much more heat, and results in much lower temperatures where it matters, in the component.

The laws of thermodynamics just aren't on your side here. There are serious engineering problems here, and I don't mean to sound condescending, but I doubt you've got the physics or engineering background to tackle them. You can't just slap a chunk of copper onto a hot component and expect it to work well.


You have given me much to think about. :)  I'm interested in getting more feedback from other folks about this. In my experience with working with copper is that it transfers heat very well. You are right that putting a lump of copper on the component will cause the heat to accumulate around the piece you are trying to cool. Again, the trick is to pull the heat out of the hardware and than transfer that heat to the outside of the case. I do not intend to make the case is a square box fashion. The shape of the case will facilitate the transfer of heat and cooling the copper at the same time. Also, as you know silver is even a better material to conduct heat and if I place a thin layer of silver next to the cpu and than copper, this might act as an even better way of transferring the heat.

I do intend on pursuing my project to the very end. If it fails, I will learn a great deal and acknowledge to you, it was an impossible task. :) 
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April 26, 2012 10:36:44 PM

I'm not trying to say it's impossible, I'm just saying it's a hell of a lot harder than you give it credit for. Copper is not an end-all, be-all solution to cooling. You still need to intelligently design the cooling solution to be able to both transfer the heat away from the chip quickly, and be able to dissipate that heat quickly so it doesn't build up in your cooler and render it ineffective.

This just isn't possible without using significant cooling apparatus in the immediate vicinity of the chip, or a very low powered chip. You simply cannot make heat flow long distances effectively, the laws of thermodynamics prevent it. Trust me, I had two years of physics as well as a semester of materials science while I was getting my engineering degree.

If you're going to go for it anyway, I'd very strongly recommend looking at how both low end coolers and high end coolers solve these problems. Might want to look at copper pots for LN/DICE cooling as well, which are probably a lot closer to what you'd need to do to pull this off. They use massive copper bases to quickly absorb the heat combined with machining inside the pot to increase its surface area for dissipation.
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April 26, 2012 10:48:08 PM

Quote:
I'm not trying to say it's impossible, I'm just saying it's a hell of a lot harder than you give it credit for. Copper is not an end-all, be-all solution to cooling. You still need to intelligently design the cooling solution to be able to both transfer the heat away from the chip quickly, and be able to dissipate that heat quickly so it doesn't build up in your cooler and render it ineffective.

This just isn't possible without using significant cooling apparatus in the immediate vicinity of the chip, or a very low powered chip. You simply cannot make heat flow long distances effectively, the laws of thermodynamics prevent it. Trust me, I had two years of physics as well as a semester of materials science while I was getting my engineering degree.

If you're going to go for it anyway, I'd very strongly recommend looking at how both low end coolers and high end coolers solve these problems. Might want to look at copper pots for LN/DICE cooling as well, which are probably a lot closer to what you'd need to do to pull this off. They use massive copper bases to quickly absorb the heat combined with machining inside the pot to increase its surface area for dissipation.


Hmm... You really have me thinking now. Perhaps an elegant solution will present itself in the process of doing this? I'll look into your suggestions. Thank you very much for your input. The designer in me wants to solve this problem now. If you would be willing, I would like to share my journey with you and any advice you give would be most appreciated?
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April 26, 2012 10:56:53 PM

I'll keep checking back here. I'd really love to see the case, as I'm sure it would be gorgeous. You also might be able to solve some of the problems with heat pipes if you can find somebody to supply them. Good ones respond well to bending, so you could make patterns with them while simultaneously moving heat to larger radiators hidden from sight. Vapor chambers are a similar concept, but instead of tubes, it looks like a plate.

That's really the only way I know to effectively move heat more than a couple inches away from its source.

I'd also strongly recommend going for components that don't produce a lot of heat to begin with so you won't have to jump through so many hoops to keep it cool. Notebook model Intel chips run cooler than just about anything (for desktop use), and if you pick up a Sandy Bridge (or Ivy Bridge later this year) you won't even have to worry about the GPU since it's inside the CPU.

Memory is going to be easy, average models don't require cooling of any kind. You could wrap them in intricate copper designs that have no cooling value at all and you'd be fine.
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a b ) Power supply
April 26, 2012 11:04:52 PM

I have seen a water cooling setup where a side pannel was converted into a heatsinc/radiator

basically 2 sections joined, 1 side with lots of fins (heatsinc) and had water running between the 2 sections (like a waterblock) and had a side blowing fan blow air up past the fins (like a radiator)
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April 26, 2012 11:17:24 PM

Sounds like an interesting idea to me. Not quite sure about the practicality of it though. Would be quite cool to see done though, however, this is kind of the wrong section of the forums. You could start a new thread in the Cases+Mods section under the CPU+Components category I believe. Or ask a mod to move it. Any ways, I'd like to see how this turns out.
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April 26, 2012 11:21:26 PM

I feel like you may run into some crucial issues though such as the fact that the motehr board is grounded to the case usually, and if you really want to use the case as a massive heat sink, you could run into some issues because in order to use it as a heat sink, you would have to connect the components in some way, and there could be electrical issues with that.
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April 29, 2012 1:42:29 PM

I've done some more research on different materials and I've decided to go with silver to make a heat sink for the cpu, graphics cards, and memory sticks. I will make a copper case, but it will be purely decorative. I'm going to play around with enameling and patinas until I come up with something I like for the copper. I might even etch the copper with patterns.
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a c 104 ) Power supply
April 29, 2012 1:52:40 PM

Metalart, do yourself a massive favour, and google 'Steampunk' and 'Steampunk Pc'
and please post your build on here, I can't wait to see what you build
Moto
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April 29, 2012 2:09:04 PM

Perhaps using silver for the memory might be a bit of an overkill.. ;) 
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April 30, 2012 4:34:43 AM

Quote:
Metalart, do yourself a massive favour, and google 'Steampunk' and 'Steampunk Pc'
and please post your build on here, I can't wait to see what you build
Moto



Very cool Motopsychojdn. I actually was thinking about doing steam punk mod. I just picked up my cpu today. I went for a Phenom II Black Ed.

I plan on doing a number of experiments on different looks and will post them here.

I'm very excited about entering the modding world of computers. :) 
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a c 104 ) Power supply
April 30, 2012 5:51:35 AM

Which PII did you get?
if you are a skilled jeweller/designer, then you can really go wild on the embellishments for a case, and that is a definite plus,
Modding should be a cakewalk for you hehe
Moto
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a b ) Power supply
a b 4 Gaming
April 30, 2012 5:57:45 AM

Zalman make [ or made] a passive cooled case like this . It was absurdly expensive , had heat pipes connecting from the processor and graphics to the side panels

and it didnt handle anything beyond the coolest running hardware

buy some quiet fans
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April 30, 2012 9:42:14 AM

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Zalman make [ or made] a passive cooled case like this . It was absurdly expensive , had heat pipes connecting from the processor and graphics to the side panels

and it didnt handle anything beyond the coolest running hardware

buy some quiet fans


Thanks for the info on the Zelman. :)  I'm not going to go passive. Liquid and air with this rig!

Depending on what fans I get, I might sound proof everything.

I'm definitely going to OC this to the extreme.
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April 30, 2012 10:03:00 AM

Quote:
Which PII did you get?
if you are a skilled jeweller/designer, then you can really go wild on the embellishments for a case, and that is a definite plus,
Modding should be a cakewalk for you hehe
Moto


I went with the quad-core. They were out of the 3.6 Ghz, so I went with the next best thing. I have a computer sttore in my area that I support. They carry lots of components and have a great staff. Plus their prices are comparable to the e-stores like Newegg. So I get the best of both worlds. For 9 bucks I got an extended warranty that covers me accidentally damaging it. ;) 

I work a lot with metal and I can engrave it as well. I do one of a kind pieces which are all fabricated. No casting multiple pieces here. ;) 
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April 30, 2012 10:11:21 AM

Quote:
Which PII did you get?
if you are a skilled jeweller/designer, then you can really go wild on the embellishments for a case, and that is a definite plus,
Modding should be a cakewalk for you hehe
Moto


I'm also debating which motherboard to get... The GIGABYTE GA-990FXA-UD3 AM3+ or the ASUS Crosshair V Formula AM3+. I'm leaning towards the ASUS right now. I hope I don't get distracted by another choice, but I'm sure someone will have a good suggestion on another MB to take a look at? ;) 
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a c 104 ) Power supply
April 30, 2012 5:02:03 PM

I have a 975Be in an AsRock 890Fx,
have a look though, does the 990 chipset offer you anything you want/need over the 890?
you should pick 890 boards up pretty reasonably priced now but between the two you list I'd take the Asus as well
for watercooling check out our Overclocking section, theres a W/c subsection and we'll cheerfully help out with this project, read the sticky to get some basic knowledge though
Moto
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May 1, 2012 12:00:48 AM

Quote:
I have a 975Be in an AsRock 890Fx,
have a look though, does the 990 chipset offer you anything you want/need over the 890?
you should pick 890 boards up pretty reasonably priced now but between the two you list I'd take the Asus as well
for watercooling check out our Overclocking section, theres a W/c subsection and we'll cheerfully help out with this project, read the sticky to get some basic knowledge though
Moto


I see your point with going with the 890 boards. Money saved here can be put elsewhere. Thanks Moto. :) 

I
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May 1, 2012 12:02:51 AM

Yeah it makes pretty good sense. Use it where it could be more useful.
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May 1, 2012 12:25:32 AM

Quote:
I have a 975Be in an AsRock 890Fx,
have a look though, does the 990 chipset offer you anything you want/need over the 890?
you should pick 890 boards up pretty reasonably priced now but between the two you list I'd take the Asus as well
for watercooling check out our Overclocking section, theres a W/c subsection and we'll cheerfully help out with this project, read the sticky to get some basic knowledge though
Moto


I am now going through the forum reading up on all the different modding and cooling solutions. There is a wealth of knowledge here! I had no idea just how extensive the art of modding and cooling has grown. Now I don't feel like I have an eccentric hobby I'm getting into, but a lifestyle much like train hobbyist. :) 

Thanks to all for the wonderful feedback here. I'm going to get a hold of a moderator and see if I can move this thread to the appropriate category.
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May 1, 2012 12:30:20 AM

Yeah there is a lot of knowledge on the forums. Very friendly user base too ;)  Modding is such a fun hobby, along with just building computers in general. Glad to hear that you are enjoying your time here so far! :) 
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a b ) Power supply
a b 4 Gaming
May 2, 2012 2:03:10 PM

This topic has been moved from the section Systems to section CPU & Components by Maziar
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May 2, 2012 2:18:51 PM

Maziar said:
This topic has been moved from the section Systems to section CPU & Components by Maziar


Thanks again Maziar. :) 
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a b ) Power supply
May 2, 2012 2:38:17 PM

You have intrigued me Metalart... Can't wait to see what you come up with.

I am also about to start a steampunk build. You know if you make some cool one-off parts people might buy them.

Post some sketches and whatnot if you want.
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May 2, 2012 3:27:06 PM

AlderonnX said:
You have intrigued me Metalart... Can't wait to see what you come up with.

I am also about to start a steampunk build. You know if you make some cool one-off parts people might buy them.

Post some sketches and whatnot if you want.


I plan on sharing my project from beginning to end. I'll even show the prcess int terms of how I fabricate the case and what you will need in order to do it. I'd like to see more people try their own modding as well as just building their own system. In terms of selling, I'd rather see folks do this themselves. I hope the ideas we share here eventually end up inspiring companies to develop and offer components that are affordable to us all. For example, enameling a case is a long process and involves many hours for just one person to complete. If a company decided to do this, they would have the resources to invest in the manufacturing of this process.

This is a great site to share ideas and do things we normally might not be able to do on our own. I'm definitely going to benefit on the knowledge here on OC. Something I have never done before. :) 
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a b ) Power supply
May 2, 2012 5:18:17 PM

Metalart said:
I plan on sharing my project from beginning to end. I'll even show the prcess int terms of how I fabricate the case and what you will need in order to do it. I'd like to see more people try their own modding as well as just building their own system. In terms of selling, I'd rather see folks do this themselves. I hope the ideas we share here eventually end up inspiring companies to develop and offer components that are affordable to us all. For example, enameling a case is a long process and involves many hours for just one person to complete. If a company decided to do this, they would have the resources to invest in the manufacturing of this process.

This is a great site to share ideas and do things we normally might not be able to do on our own. I'm definitely going to benefit on the knowledge here on OC. Something I have never done before. :) 


One solution for cooling you could take a look at has been mentioned, and that is the use of heat pipes. What you could do is attach the pipes to a base plate on the CPU (required), and run the heatpipes either to the top, or to the rear of the case, and use the surface area of the copper top/back to dissipate generated heat. I have no idea how well that would work, since the heat would need to radiate, necessitating some kind of fins for either panel to dissipate the heat (or fans). Shuttle PC's operate (or used to) off of a similar concept where the heatpipes would channel the heat to a heatsink located in the rear cooled by a fan due to the space constraints.
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May 4, 2012 3:03:54 AM

Best answer selected by Metalart.
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May 4, 2012 3:20:01 AM

I wish I could choose you all as best answer. I was asked to choose the best answer, so I did. Thank you all again and I will continue to ask question and share what I have done.
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May 12, 2012 12:28:56 PM

After considering what is out there for cooling, I have decided to go with what is available on the market. It is amazing what is available now! Video cards with heat pipes and fans... CPU heatsinks the size of softballs.. I will be focusing on aesthetics only with my mod.

I will have a blog soon and you can follow my progress as I attempt to build my dream gaming rig. :) 
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a c 104 ) Power supply
May 12, 2012 4:27:42 PM

look forward to it man, when you start that thread, do it as a discussion, rather than as question with answer, that way you don't have to cloce it :) 
Moto
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May 27, 2012 11:13:18 AM

This is turning out to be really interesting. Any updates?
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a b ) Power supply
a b 4 Gaming
May 27, 2012 8:39:02 PM

This topic has been closed by Mousemonkey
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