Console Killer: Building a Liquid-Cooled Living Room PC

A Mixing Pot of Cooling Solutions

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.

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


QuantityProduct
CPU Blockx1Phanteks C350A CPU Water Block Acrylic Cover RGB LED - Black
GPU Blockx1Phanteks Glacier RTX 2080/2080Ti Asus Strix GPU Full Water Block D-RGB - Black
Radiator 1x1Alphacool NexXxos ST30 Full Copper 240mm Radiator V.2
Radiator 2x1Alphacool NexXxos ST30 Full Copper 120mm Radiator V.2
Reservoirx1Alphacool Eisbecher 150mm Acetal Reservoir
Pumpx1Alphacool Laing DDC310 - Complete Edition Eisdecke - Plata/Plexi
Tubingx3Alphacool Eisrohr 13/10mm Plexi (PMMA) HardTube Satin 80cm - 4pcs
Compression Fittingsx3Alphacool Eiszapfen 13mm HardTube Compression Fitting G1/4 - Knurled - Deep Black 6 Pack
Double 45 Rotating Fittingx4Alphacool Eiszapfen Angled Adaptor Double-45 Rotatable
90 Degree Fittingsx9Alphacool Eiszapfen L-connector Rotatable G1/4 Fitting
Pass Throughx1Alhpacool Bulkhead Connector G1/4 - Black
Extension Fittingx3Alphacool Eiszapfen Extension 10mm G1/4 Fitting
Extension Fittingx1Alphacool Eiszapfen Extension 20mm G1/4 Fitting
Bending Kitx1Alphacool Eiskoffer Professional - Bending & Measuring Kit
Reservoir Lightingx1Alphacool Aura LED Ring 60mm - RGB
Reservoir Mounting Bracketx1Alphacool 120/140mm Mounting Bracket for Alphacool Eisbecher - 2 pcs
Coolantx1Mayhems Pastel Pink 1 Ltr Premixed
120mm Fansx3Phanteks PH-F120MP 120mm PWM Fan - Black
140mm Fansx1Phanteks PH-F140MP 140mm Fan - Black
RECOMMENDED FANS
120mm Fan Option 1x3Corsair ML120 Pro Magnetic Levitation Cooling Fan
120mm Fan Option 2x3Noctua NF-F12 iPPC 2000 PWM

MORE: Best Gaming Desktops

MORE: How To Build A PC

MORE: All PC Builds Content

17 comments
    Your comment
  • pelegbn
    A $1,800 console killer?? can it run God Of War, Horizon Zero, Uncharted 4 or any of Sony's [$350] many great exclusives? I rest my case.
  • g-unit1111
    Sick build. I love the Evolv Shift and would love to use it in a build.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • blacknemesist
    Quote:
    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.
  • blacknemesist
    Quote:
    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.
  • JackFlakk
    Quote:
    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.
  • rakadedo
    Quote:
    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.
  • fry178
    lol, "console killer".
    stay within power and cooling envelope of a console and then see how much of a killer it is.
  • USAFRet
    Water cooling is absolutely not a slam dunk as far as 'quieter'.
  • escksu
    I wouldn't call this console killer. The main reason is this thing cost $1800 while a PS4 Pro is less than $350 (5x the price). Not everyone has that kind of budget.

    Perhaps its better you build a $500 PC and make it perform better than PS4 Pro, then it will be a real console killer ($150 more but way better performance).
  • airforceones0010
    I recently bought a computer on CL for $500. 4770k,16gb corsair vengeance, 980 ti hybrid, z87 expert, 250gb 840 Evo, 500gb 850 Evo, seasonic 860 Plat, corsair 750D, corsair h100i. Bought an open box air 540 for 78 and sold the 750D for 70. At this price point, makes much more sense to compare vs ps4 pro or xb1x. This article makes no sense, only in the physical size based on volume alone... OBVIOUSLY spending almost $2k on a brand new rig is going to "kill" something that is a slightly upgraded version of hardware from late 2013 LOL
  • bit_user
    Nice writeup.

    For me, the main takeaway was the anti-RGB build, which I had missed when it was first published.
  • pelegbn
    Quote:
    Can a PS4 run PC exclusive titles? Point is moot.


    I agree my "Exclusives" point could have been moot unless Sony's titles weren't that good...

    GOW is GOTY [and rightfully so]!! & if I'd have to rank my favorite titles of the last few years:
    My top 5 places would consist of Sony's exclusives, with the exception of RDR2 [which, btw, PC players still can't play].
  • throughfire
    Quote:
    I agree my "Exclusives" point could have been moot unless Sony's titles weren't that good... GOW is GOTY [and rightfully so]!! & if I'd have to rank my favorite titles of the last few years: My top 5 places would consist of Sony's exclusives, with the exception of RDR2 [which, btw, PC players still can't play].


    I do agree that they have had some good games on PS4 lately, however if we are going by quality of games, we should also include all of the amazing games you can play on PC via emulator which you cannot play on PS4. They may be older games, but the point remains.
  • Mr5oh
    So I actually have a PC hooked to every TV in my house. They aren't mini ITX machines and they aren't water cooled either. My actual living room PC has fans, but they are slow moving fans that are plenty quiet enough that you don't hear them. It also has an optical drive in it, as we watch movies from that PC all the time. It boots from SSD, but it has a spinning disk in it, as games are large so unless you want to constantly install and uninstall games or have a very small Steam collection keeping everything on SSD is not a realistic option. The case is a SilverStone HTPC case that fits nicely on the entertainment stand.

    I understand that building something realistic is boring and doesn't make for as good of an article, but lets not pretend this is the ultimate living room PC. This is a show piece.
  • Exia00
    Quote:
    A $1,800 console killer?? can it run God Of War, Horizon Zero, Uncharted 4 or any of Sony's [$350] many great exclusives? I rest my case.


    Can your PS4 play Gears of War, Forza and Killer Instinct maxed out at 4K? I rest my case.