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Hardware Installation

System Builder Marathon, Q1 2014: The $2400 People’s Choice PC
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My 2012 story Building With The NZXT Phantom 410 provides a general guideline for assembling today’s system, and 2013’s Installing Thermaltake’s Water 2.0 Extreme covers the cooler’s details. But this is my first system to combine those parts.

I installed the ASRock Z87 Extreme4 motherboard right away to check cooler clearance, but don’t recommend you following suit, since the motherboard's heat sinks block access to some fan screws.

The NZXT’s fan openings have bell-shaped extensions specifically designed to clear the coolant fittings of top-mounted radiators. Though the chassis appears to support a slim 280 mm (2 x 140 mm) radiator at its limit, Thermaltake’s thicker 240 mm (2 x 120 mm) system performed better in our ten-way comparison.

The 240 mm Water 2.0 Extreme radiator appears to be a particularly good choice, since it clears our optical drive in the top bay. A radiator this size can also be turned to place its fittings on the opposite side, while a 280 mm radiator would only fit in the shown orientation.

Remember the terms “slim” and “thicker” two paragraphs above? The Phantom 410’s top panel is tall enough in the middle to fit this 1.5” radiator, but would have limited wider 280 mm (2 x 140 mm) radiators to around 1.2” thickness.

Rather than use a separate power cable for the optical drive, I decided to move it to the bottom 5.25” bay and share a cable with the SSD and hard drive. Other cables are stuffed neatly behind the motherboard tray.

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