System Builder Marathon, Sept. '09: $2,500 Performance PC

Final Assembly

One of the case features more frequently demanded by enthusiasts is a removable motherboard tray, which NZXT incorporates into its Panzerbox (even though doing so weakens the structure while adding significant cost).

Removable trays usually don’t even make hardware installation easier, since most of the parts must be removed to install cables, but they do make it possible to snap photographs like this one:

Notice that while there is room to place a fourth double-slot card that extends below the bottom of the motherboard (photo below), this must be done after installing the motherboard tray (photo above). Anyone interested in upgrading this system to “QuadFire” should keep that in mind.

There’s enough room between the power supply and expansion slots for nearly any graphics cards, but not much else. Over-length flexible bridges must therefore be stuffed out of the way, rather than looping outward.

The Panzerbox's 190mm top fan must be removed to allow a radiator and adapter brackets to be installed in its place.

Two adapter plates, which were included with the Panzerbox, were screwed to the side of Swiftech's H20-220 radiator, opposite of its hose barbs.

One potential problem we noticed was that the internally-threaded mounting studs stuck through the radiator adapter plates too far. We used 5mm nuts as spacers, but these weren’t included with the kit. Simply installing the intended screws until they bottom out and leaving “wiggle room” between screw heads and the top plate is a viable alternative.

Two rows of VRM cooling fins had to be bent over slightly to make room for hose clamps, which were slipped into place after this photo was taken.

After attaching cooling lines, it’s important to stand the radiator up when filling it. We used an external 12V source to power the pump, but another alternative is to wire the entire system and start it after filling the radiator most of the way, then top it as air bubbles reduce the coolant level.

With the radiator reinstalled, we added its fans and finished wiring the system. Note that the placement of Antec’s SpotCool fan assists in both chipset and DRAM cooling, and that the short 2.5” externally-accessible backplane and bay adapter fit into the otherwise-crowded top external bay. The second radiator fan prevents any optical drive from being installed in the same top bay.

A final note on SSD backplane installation: the 3.5” to 5.25” bay adapter we chose was too narrow to fit a standard bay. We taped a 22 gauge (0.8mm) washer over each of the mounting holes on the sides of the bay adapter prior to installation, using black electrical tape to match its color. Even then the adapter was slightly loose, but the area around the top holes is flexible enough to allow it to be tightened properly. A better choice probably would have been 20 gauge (1.0mm) washers.

Thomas Soderstrom
Thomas Soderstrom is a Senior Staff Editor at Tom's Hardware US. He tests and reviews cases, cooling, memory and motherboards.
  • burnley14
    Just thinking about winning this system in the giveaway gets me excited.
  • jj463rd
    Me too this is an awesome build.
  • DjEaZy
    ... do the video compression using ATi Streem...
  • The Quality of video on ATI streem is shit on sticks and doesn't even support high profile.

    The last build was a bit too odd for me but this one seems like a very nice chose of parts and on a larger screen set up makes a lot of sense the loss of i7 for AMD only build was a bit sad but the addition of those great SSD kind of makes up for me along with the nice chose of case and cooling. That case looks like it is very nice to work on.
  • dirtmountain
    The Corsair CMPSU-850HX is rated Silver, not Gold. Nice build, good results, great work.
  • @Dirtman

    Check your sources because you have it wrong

    CMPSU-850HX ATX12V 850 90.38% Gold
  • one-shot
    Please don't call RAID 1 a backup solution.
  • dirtmountain

    Newegg says differently. I did check sources.
  • dirtmountain
    So does Jonnyguru
    I guess you just can't believe everything you find on a brands site.
    now that is one slick gaming machine! could'nt imagine them frames rates on a big monitor. love the insides water cooling 3 radeon 4890's with room for a 4th. great pictures by the way lots of eye candy. you can tell alot of work went into tis kmonster. great article.