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Building The Lian Li DK-04X Gaming Desk

Cool It Down With A Vertical 120mm Fan

Above the radiator, we installed a surge tank into which the warmed water could run. From there, liquid flows into the radiator below and to the first GPU cooler. This ensures a constant supply of water to both pumps. Running out of the GPU's coolers, the water then proceeds down through the smaller radiator where it's cooled a bit. It makes its way through the CPU and back into the surge tank.

What you see here is a vertically aligned 120mm fan that provides improved airflow over the graphics cards' backplates. This is actually necessary in spite of the water cooling, as our cooler does not include a full backplate cover, which would normally cool the voltage regulation circuitry.

You may be asking, "What about extra heat from the cards?” After all, each GTX 1080 dissipates 25-30W of waste heat not addressed by the water cooler. Fortunately, the fans we installed in the desk took care of that problem easily.


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Note: Electricity And Water Don't Mix

Electricity and water do not mix, so taking our newly assembled project and putting it through the pump stress test had us on edge. To prevent any possible user error-based electrical injuries, we used an external power source that would not have contact with water.

We also discovered that, even though we used a dual-pump setup, a single pump would have worked too, albeit with significantly more noise.


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So Far, So Good

Seven to eight volts proved to be optimal as long as both pumps were running at identical speeds. Additionally, our worries about negative interactions between the two all-in-one pumps proved to be unfounded. Once the pumps were running, the flow was steady and constant with no microbubbles or other problems.  At this point, we were finally able to reconnect our original power supply and start ratcheting up the performance step by step.


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Plenty Of Wiggle Room For Overclocking

At stock settings, the water temperature remained at a comfortable 35°C during our GPU/CPU stress test. This was a good sign because it left plenty of wiggle room to play with for overclocking.

After that, we cranked the GPUs to 2 GHz and the CPU to 4.3 GHz. Power consumption during this test registered just under 700W, of which we estimated that 620 to 630W of waste heat were absorbed by the water and funneled away by the radiators.


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What The Infrared Cameras Saw

Measuring with infrared cameras required us to remove the desk's glass surface. We used a special airtight wrap to simulate what the components would experience with the glass in place, resulting in temperatures of up to 50°C in some areas. Most of the enclosure was much cooler though, as you can see in this image.


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Staying Cool During Hot, Hot Summer Gaming Sessions

With GPU temperatures of 37°C and a CPU temp of 40°C representing the worst-case scenario, this setup should stay cool during the hottest of summer gaming sessions.

The Thermaltake fans we used for this project were louder than the Phobya fan setup we planned originally, but they were by no means problematic.

Sadly, we also couldn't use Phobya's Noiseblocker technology because the radiator’s thickness made it impossible to install. This resulted in an end water temperature of 44°C, which was just too high for our taste. At least the Thermaltake fans really hit the lighting sweet spot.


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Still Running Smooth, Five Months Later

The desk looks good regardless of how you set up its audio system. Both the soundbar option or separate speakers fit Lian-Li’s aesthetic, but be careful with how much weight you place on the glass surface; it's not rated for heavy speakers.

In the end, everything we wanted to install fit, and the custom water loop with twin Alphacool GPX Pro pumps has chugged along flawlessly for the past five months with almost daily use of several hours at a time.

Our choice of an SLI setup is not for everyone. The long-standing issues that come with multi-GPU builds, such as micro-stuttering and the lack of game profiles, remain prevalent. Had Nvidia's GeForce GTX 1080 Ti been available when we started this project, we would have foregone SLI altogether.


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Two Pumps Means Less Noise

The catlike grace of the dual-pump setup is icing on the cake. One pump could do the job, but the noise resulting from its higher RPM proved too disruptive for our delicate sensibilities. With two pumps working in tandem, we were able to reduce the necessary RPM significantly, thereby making the overall experience much more comfortable.


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Luxurious With A Price To Match

This desk is beautiful, but also expensive at a list price of $1450. Like a Titan Xp or Core i7-6950X, it's definitely a luxury item for affluent enthusiasts. Still, the DK-04X is both aesthetically pleasing and pleasantly useful if you're willing to spend the money.


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  • bambiboom
    Igor Wallossek,
    The general idea of desk that also acts as the system chassis is, on the surface, practical and presents good visual opportunities.

    However, coming from a workstation and industrial designer's perspective, I think there are some opportunities that were miscalculated:

    1. I would find a complex, fairly brightly lit volume under the keyboard extremely distracting.

    2. The noise-making components are about as close to the users' ears as possible, although the radiator fan are tucked under and are oriented away.

    3. Although the system is heavily liquid-cooler oriented, the cooling air stream has a good pattern although it appears diffused over a very large volume.

    4. It would have been interesting to see a configuration using 7.1 surround sound. The speakers in the photos are too far apart for proper stereo imaging.

    5. Aesthetically, I've long thought Lian Li strike a nearly ideal clean and neutral aesthetic- attractive and purposeful, but not distracting. However, for this use- and cost- it might have some more fizz in the appearance- it could be the computer desk in a dentists office. It should be the computer desk in Frankenstein's dentist's office, or in better- in Dr. McCoy's sick bay...

    6. Is it my imagination or is it delivered in the box with the stand / legs attached? It's the size of an apartment refrigerator. Who can move that size box in a home without two or three people? To get it up stairs, the stand would have to be removed anyway.

    Not bad at all, but some missed opportunities.

    BambiBoom
    Reply
  • scannall
    I like the idea. And it is very nice looking. But the two biggest drawbacks for me are price, and I'd rather not have a glass top. I know some people have to have their computer bling, and that's fine. Just isn't for me is all.
    Reply
  • cryoburner
    This case-desk does look rather cool, though I had some of the same thoughts about it potentially being a bit distracting and possibly a bit noisy.

    I suppose you could turn off the lighting to reduce distraction though, or simply build the system with less-extreme lighting. It might be a bit less distracting in a brightly lit room too.

    Noise-wise I get the impression that any vibrations could easily get passed to the desk surface, and in turn to anything on the desk. And speaking of things on the desk, if you want to get into the case for any reason, it looks like you'll need to remove everything from the desk's surface, which isn't exactly ideal.

    It also looks like you would need to clean the surface a lot, since dust and smudges would be quite noticeable on that glossy black surface.

    As for the price, if someone wanted a similar-looking desk, but didn't want to spend $1500 on it, I don't think it would be particularly hard to convert another, much cheaper desk into something like this.
    Reply
  • Fulgurant
    Interesting article. Would have liked to see some air cooling numbers, but I understand it's a niche product.

    As for the table itself, it seems like it suffers from the same malady that afflicts so many other computer-enthusiast products -- over-design, gimmickry for its own sake. As if a table that doubles as a computer case wasn't enough, they have to make the height adjustment mechanism electric (and thus more easily breakable), and apparently Lian Li's quest for component bling led to their trapping the motherboard's IO ports within the table.

    This is the kind of thing I might buy if I felt it would be a practical long-term investment. Real desks aren't exactly cheap, after all. But sadly as it stands, this Lian Li desk looks like just another in a long line of luxury computer products that you're expected to discard a few years down the line, when the next version comes along.
    Reply
  • Crashman
    19745527 said:
    I like the idea. And it is very nice looking. But the two biggest drawbacks for me are price, and I'd rather not have a glass top. I know some people have to have their computer bling, and that's fine. Just isn't for me is all.
    Glass does a great job of reflecting noise, far better than most metal panels. Practically speaking, you'd want either a 1/4" glass or 1/2" MDF top (with Formica surface). Of course the MDF top could capture some of those noises instead of bouncing them back...
    Reply
  • Graham42
    What are the ergonomics of the desk like?
    Height adjustment is good, but only means that the desk height can be changed to accommodate the correct chair height for the user.
    I have helped quite a number of people with sitting position at work computer workstations and most need to have the chair seat to desk top distance as small as possible. The relatively thick front edge of the gaming desk limits that, which could lead some users to need to raise their forearms to use the keyboard and mouse, which leads to shoulders strain especially during long gaming sessions.
    Reply
  • bit_user
    If you don't place the back against a wall, the fans strike me as somewhat unsightly. This thing would look better in an executive's office if they'd placed a long vent on the back and located fans only on the bottom. Possibly quieter, as well.
    Reply
  • drwho1
    Way overpriced.
    I rather spend that money on a REAL wood desk.
    Reply
  • elbert
    It would have to house 2 PC's and atleast one console. Have a fully integrated KVM system and mounting for upto 5 monitors. Also is it to much to ask for a cup holder and all the heat routed to an area of the desk to heat my pizza?
    Reply
  • FormatC
    At first: it is nearly unherable, it is silent! The fans are spinning not more than 800 rpm, the both pumps are running not on their max. speed, but much lower. Try this 700W rig with air coolers and you will be shocked. This heavy glass plate is a perfect noise insulation, much better than any metal. ;)

    7.1 might be good for gaming, but it is nothing for music. This speaker setup is one of the best active speaker systems that you can buy in Germany. But it makes totally sense from the acoustics side, to put the speakers not an the desk but on own stands with spikes at the bottom. I can rotate the speakers in my direktion, if I'm playing.

    The price, yeah.... It is a good point. But I can use the table for years and the craftmanship is really excellent. This makes the price more relative. People are changing VGA cards every year and nobody is discussing about it. Such a table is a longliving product, like excellent headphones or expensive speakers like mine. 10 years warranty from manufacturer. I also bought a setup with Klipsch (2.1), but these Chinese speakers are real crap in direct comparison with my Nubert.

    My office desk:
    Reply