Quiet Liquid Cooled Gaming PC Build Guide

Do-It-Yourself Systems | Silent PC Build Guides
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Installation began outside the case, with mounting of the VisionTek/EK Supremacy heatblock atop the CPU in the Asus Z97-Pro motherboard. This was a cinch, as the parts are very well made and easy to use.

VisionTek/EK Supremacy heatblock mounted on Asus Z97-Pro board.

VisionTek/EK Supremacy CPU backplate is hefty steel and a heavy piece of dense rubber for insulation.

Radiator positioning was dictated by the mounting holes available on the radiator frame, the space in the case, and the screw holes in the mounting flange of the top panel. It seemed best to keep the tubing away from the back where it could interfere with access to fan headers and the AUX12V power connector on the motherboard. So the radiator was mounted on the bottom side of the mounting flange, with screws going down into it from the top, the tubing valves in front.

The brownish tinge in the radiator is likely flash reflection of copper.

Mounting holes on the top flange get blocked by the radiator mounted on the underside of the flange. You have to use screws long enough to go through the fans, the hole in the flange, and engage the thread in the holes in the radiator. Sounds complicated, but it's not really. Just a bit tedious. Basically, the screws in the fans you see above also hold up the radiator. The VisionTek/EK/Gelid 120x25mm fans that came with the radiator were installed.

The Corsair HX850i power supply was easily installed without any output cables mounted.

Installing the graphics card was just a matter of plugging it into the slot and tightening a couple of screws, but the reservoir/pump posed more of a challenge. It could be mounted as intended, in two optical bays, as shown below.

XSPC Dual 5.25" Bay Reservoir V2 with Swiftech MCP655-PWM pump installed in optical drive bay.

In previous discussion, I mentioned that this reservoir/pump has fairly high vibration, and would be best mechanically decoupled for lowest noise. A check was done with just the pump powered up by the power supply (whose fan does not spin at such lower load) and controlled via PWM in SpeedFan from an external test bench system.

The SPL with the pump at 35% PWM speed was 33~34 [email protected] (!!!), characterized by a nasty droning tonal hum as well as higher frequency overtones. That's an increase of 15 dBA over the 18~19 dBA pump-on-foam measurement I obtained earlier. Subjectively, this is about three times louder compared to the mechanically decoupled sound, and completely unacceptable for a quiet PC build.

Thus ensued a study of placements of where the big XSPC dual-bay reservoir/pump could be suspended with elastic string. It was important to get this right, as the tubing needed to be cut to length for the particular positions of the water cooled components. It would be a major pain to adjust this after the tubing is cut, fitted and liquid filled. In the end, the chosen location is in the upper half of the airflow path of the front intake fan, where the upper HDD cage normally goes. Both HDD cages were removed for ease of installation and would remain out, as no HDD was planned.

Initial elastic cord rigging.

First look at XSPC Dual 5.25" Bay Reservoir V2 + Swiftech MCP655-PWM pump suspended with three loops of elastic clothing cord in the space for the upper HDD cage of the Enthoo Luxe case.

Tubing runs were simulated multiple times before any cutting was done, then cut and installed one by one, to ensure that the tubing did not kink anywhere. The VisionTek/EK seal compression fittings proved to be very secure and easy to use. All the watercooling parts have ports marked for in and out flow, and this flow directionality was followed to the letter. The flow goes: Pump to radiator to CPU to GPU and back to pump.

Fitting the tubing.

With all the tubing and connections triple-checked, the 100ml of blood-red liquid from VisionTek/EK was mixed with 900ml of distilled water as instructed. When mixed, the liquid color turned bright red. The XSPC reservoir was filled, then the cap closed, and the pump turned on by itself without the PC powered up. The liquid began showing up in the tubing. The liquid level in the reservoir naturally dropped quite a bit, but then the pump seemd unable to push the liquid any further. The reservoir was topped up with more liquid, and the process repeated. The system kept sucking up more liquid over several repetitions of this process, until a total of about 700ml was used. At that point, the liquid was moving through the system quite smoothly with some occasional bubbling. It was left running in this state for about an hour, at the end of which time the reservoir was topped up a bit again.

It seems that any air bubbles trapped in the system eventually get released in the reservoir. Within a couple of hours of system power on, there was hardly any bubbling noise. Keeping the pump running continuously seems the best way to prevent bubbling noises if they bother you. If you prefer your system powered down or to sleep when it's not being used, you'll need to add something like a 30W 12V DC power supply to keep that pump running.

The red contrasts nicely against the black and metallic colors of the Asus Z97-Pro and the white of the Phanteks Enthoo Luxe case.

This side hides the cable mess.

Only existing panel holes were used for the elastic cord suspension. The plastic HDD cage guides under the optical drive cage were removed. A cross brace proved essential for the suspension. In the end, four clothing elastic cords were used to support the reservoir/pump, which weighs well over a kilogram with the liquid inside. Care was taken to ensure that the pump does not touch anything except the elastic cord, even when bumped a bit as floor-mounted cases can be.

Here's the system completely assembled, awaiting fine-tuning and testing atop the table in our anechoic chamber. You can finally see the strip lights on the Enthoo Luxe that makes power on state unmistakable.

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