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Console Killer: Building a Liquid-Cooled Living Room PC

Instead of going with one single cooling brand, I opted for three separate ones, using Phanteks for water blocks on the GPU and CPU, Alphacool for the tubing, fittings, reservoir, pump and radiators and Mayhems for the glorious pink coolant.

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

Things were a little more restrictive in this build, mostly due to the tight confined spaces and clearances we had to work with, unlike in our Evolv X Anti-RGB system. I had no choice but to run with two slim radiators, a 120mm rad in the bottom, and a 240mm rad in the front of the case. I then paired that with a separate small-form-factor pump and standalone slim res from Alphacool, alongside a myriad of fittings.

Tubing was another area where I wanted to shake things up. I’ve gone for a frosted acrylic tubing, as opposed to clear acrylic or PETG, as it gives the build a bit more of a premium feel. And although acrylic is slightly more difficult to work with than PETG is, it is far more resistant to color leeching.

The Achilles heel however lies in the fans. In the planning stages, because I assumed cooling wouldn’t be too crazy of an issue, I went with some aftermarket Phanteks variants. One 140mm acts as an exhaust near the motherboard. A 120mm in the bottom pushes air into that bottom rad as intake, and two 120mm fans pull air through the 240mm rad into the system as well. These are fairly solid fans when it comes to static pressure pushing up to 1.72mm H2O at full tilt, but in hindsight, and due to a lack of access to unhindered airflow (something Phanteks is addressing with its latest airflow mesh variants of this case), something with a bit more grunt such as Noctua’s NF-F12 PWM Chromax’s, the NF-F12 IndustrialPPCs, or Corsair’s ML120 Pro mag lev variants may have made more sense.

Cooling Components

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  • pelegbn
    A $1,800 console killer?? can it run God Of War, Horizon Zero, Uncharted 4 or any of Sony's many great exclusives? I rest my case.
    Reply
  • g-unit1111
    Sick build. I love the Evolv Shift and would love to use it in a build.
    Reply
  • JackFlakk
    Enjoyed the article. You put together a fantastic looking rig. Nevertheless, I wonder if perhaps you lost your way when attempting to call an $1,800 build a "console killer".

    To borrow from (and somewhat misuse) Shakespeare, "the play's the thing." With your budget, after spending $300 on the console I can then go on to purchase 25 games at the full $60 price tag. Sure, they may all run at a miserly 30 FPS, but at what cost does one place a buttery-smooth frame rate? Me, I'd rather have a lot of games to play.
    Reply
  • AnimeMania
    I think building a computer for roughly the same price as a console or finding out how much it costs to build a PC that has the roughly the same graphic quality as a console would have been a better article. For the price of the video card, you could have purchased all of the popular gaming consoles. There needs to be some apples to apples in the article. Custom water cooling is never cheap or plug and play.
    Reply
  • blacknemesist
    pelegbn said:
    Console killer? can it run God Of War, Horizon Zero, Uncharted 4 or any of Sony's many great exclusives?? I rest my case.
    A better title would have been "Xbox Killer" but Sony already did that as well...

    Can a PS4 run PC exclusive titles? Point is moot.
    Reply
  • blacknemesist
    JackFlakk said:
    Enjoyed the article. You put together a fantastic looking rig. Nevertheless, I wonder if perhaps you lost your way when attempting to call an $1,800 build a "console killer".

    Its almost a console killer since it is compact, perform away above anything the PS4 can offer and only lacks the ease of mobility and maintenance. Given any title that exists on both PC and PS4 versions( not just a PS4->PC port) this machine completely wipes the PS4 out. It is overkill but it replaces the PS4 place in the living room.
    Reply
  • JackFlakk
    blacknemesist said:
    It is overkill but it replaces the PS4 place in the living room.

    As you wish. For the money, I'd still rather have the PS4 and the 25 games. I suppose one could have an entertaining evening playing with the Ambient Occlusion slider, instead. To each their own.
    Reply
  • rakadedo
    The problem with the PS4 Pro (the more powerful of the two 4K consoles right now)

    Mistake there. You either meant to say Xbox One X, or weaker instead of more powerful.
    Reply
  • fry178
    lol, "console killer".
    stay within power and cooling envelope of a console and then see how much of a killer it is.
    Reply
  • USAFRet
    Water cooling is absolutely not a slam dunk as far as 'quieter'.
    Reply