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Tom’s Hardware’s Liquid-Cooled Case

Three High-End Liquid-Cooling Cases Compared

Our System Builder Marathons have always focused on getting the best configurations within three pre-set price limits while using components that can be assembled by nearly anyone with a screwdriver and minimal experience. In other words, we assume the role of “average builders” with different budgets. We were especially proud of the case and cooling combo of our March and June high-performance builds :

Tom’s Hardware SBM Case/Cooling Cost
Component Part Number Price
Case Silverstone TJ09B $240
CPU Cooling Kit Swiftech H20-120 120
Additional Radiator Swiftech MCR220 36
Radiator Brackets SST-RADSUPPORT09 15
Nozzles 2x BSPP-250-375-CP 5
Neoprene Tubing 2x Swiftech 3/8 26
Hose Clamps 2x ex-tub-135 2
Radiator Fans 2x S-FLEX SFF21E 30
Component Fans Antec Spotcool 15
Total Price $489

Cooling components were carefully chosen to resemble a custom-manufactured assembly, but without the need to cut, drill, or otherwise custom-manufacture anything. A lower price compared to pre-assembled kits reflects how we didn’t have to pay anyone to modify a case for us, but assembling the components required much more effort than any pre-assembled kit.

We started with the Silverstone TJ09B case, which has a centrally located 120 mm intake fan and supports two 120 mm lid-mounted exhaust fans perfectly suited for holding radiators out of the way from other components.

The liquid cooling kit also began simply as the single-radiator Swiftech H20-120. Swiftech provided a second radiator, the dual-fan MCR220, and a few accessories.

Silverstone supplied its SST-RADSUPPORT09 brackets, which allow mounting a 2x 120 mm radiator in the top of its TJ09 and TJ10 cases without drilling holes. We attached them to the radiator, added two Scythe S-Flex low-noise fans, and raised the assembly into place.

The TJ09 case has a unique intake fan location, which was perfect for adding the smaller radiator. Radiator installation required removal and dis-assembly of the intake fan baffle, which is detailed on pages eight and nine of this configuration’s March debut.

We installed the motherboard for a test fit, trimmed the hoses to length, and removed the motherboard again. Purging air from the system required dropping the upper radiator below the reservoir of the lower radiator.

Estimated noise for our custom-picked assembly, based on the number and type of fans, is 28 db. The Temjin TJ09 provided mediocre noise isolation for internal components such as air-cooled graphics card fans.

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