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 Post subject: First w/c setup - Please help!
PostPosted: Fri Sep 18, 2009 8:31 am 
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Joined: Fri Sep 18, 2009 7:19 am
Posts: 4
Location: UK
Hi All,

Just stumbled across your excellent site. I've read Chylld's w/c guide back to front, and have done some research of my own - but I'm still a little overwhelmed by the sheer number of component permutations available!

I'll keep it short and sweet:

- My goal
- Build a silent PC
- Be able to overclock my CPU (and possibly GPU(s) ) whilst keeping the noise to a low (SPCR) level.
- Use robust components and build techniques to ensure a safe (leak and corrosion-free) system.
- Ensure the system looks sleek and stylish (not necessarily bling it out with UV lights galore... just smart)
- Not to do any case modding (unless simple and absolutely necessary)

- My starting hardware
- Coolermaster RC-1100 Cosmos S case
- ASUS X58 mobo
- Intel Core i7 920 CPU
- 2 x NVIDIA gfx cards in SLI (or perhaps just a single GTX295...)

- My questions (apologies for the number of them - but I'm stuck)!
- Is the Coolermaster case above the best one for watercooling?
- Can the case accept a three (triple) 120mm fan radiator at the top WITHOUT case mods?
- Is there enough room to fit all the watercooling components in the case (might use a t-line rather than reservoir).
- Is watercooling two gfx cards in SLI a pain in the A*$E? Should I just stick to one? I've heard people say that you should go for a second separate loop for the GPUs - is this strictly necessary if your w/c setup is good enough (and your fan/rad combo sufficient)?
- I've heard people say that car heater cores are the best (in terms of heat dissipation etc.): If I wanted to fit a enthusiasts (COTS) rad in the Cosmos RC-1100 S case instead, what is the best in terms of overall performance? (I know they cost a bit more...)
- The ASUS X58 mobos seem to have a northbridge HS already attached (some with heat pipes joining other components etc.) How on earth do I (or even should I?) go about w/c that? (Without breaking the mobo!) Should I just rely on v quiet case fans to take that heat away? (Bear in mind I want to o/c the i7 920 CPU to about 3.2 - 3.6GHz...)
- Is it easy (and relatively safe!) to remove stock-attached HSF assemblies from gfx cards? Should I just get a gfx card with water block already attached? (Can you suggest any good ones?)
- Thinking of spot-cooling the memory - is there anything else I should spot cool (I guess the NB and attached heatpipe fins might be worth spot cooling)?
- Could you tell me what the best CPU block, GPU block, and pump combination would be for my system? I want to use nice 1/2" (ID?) tubing, but am worried that the components won't have the right barb sizes.
- Is there any way that you could spec the components (above) ensuring they are all made of the same metal to avoid galvanic corrosion? (This includes the inside of the rad etc.) I've seen some blocks that are made of nickle, some al, some copper - argh!
- What is the best (circa 1000W) "silent" (just low noise will do!) PSU?
- What is the best site in the UK to get all this stuff from? (Many sites I've visited seem to have closed down... Are there any stalwarts that will be around in a few years to come?)
- How on earth do I mount (quietly) the pump in the Cosmos case? Are there any decent off-the-shelf pump mounts that I could get to do the job (again without case modding if poss.)?
- If there isn't a good rad to fit the case above - is there a better one that I could mount externally (via the two holes in the back of the Cosmos case)? Are there rad mounts for that scenario?
- Should I go with a t-line or a reservoir? If a res, then what would be the best one for the setup - and where and how on earth would I install/mount it?!
- I'd quite like to include an in-line flow rate and temperature monitoring device - can anyone suggest the best one for my setup - and also whether it might restrict the flow too much?
- Is it OK to mix a few drops of biocide with WaterWetter (or other coolant/antifreeze)?
- I plan to use metal jubilee clips for maximum security around hose-barb connections. Do I need PTFE (plumber's) tape wrapped around the barbs before I put the hose on and tighten the clamp? Or is this only necessary for certain tube materials?
- When the system is plumbed together and you are leak-testing it for 24hrs - they say you should not have the mobo in place (of course!) to avoid water damage. However, when you have finished the testing and need to connect all the water blocks (CPU and GPU(s) ) back onto their respective components - how on Earth do you do that in-place?! I find putting a newly thermal-pasted HSF assembly onto a CPU seated in a mobo sitting on my desk problematic enough without having to do this inside a case (and sideways)! Is there a trick to it, or am I missing something?
- Lastly (sorry!) - I'd like to use some nice Tygon 1/2" ID tubing for the system. Can any1 tell me where I can get this in the UK? Also, I presume some softer silicon tubing would be useful either side of the in-line pump (for silence)?

Again, apologies for the number of questions - I'm a total newbie (but one that is up for a challenge!) and my head is primed to explode... I really don't want to go for a Zalman LQ1000 - but the all-in-one solution is looking tempting! (Although I'm worried about the reported flow-rate gauge sticking issues, seemingly lower-than-expected/spec'd pump flow rates, and that I'd need to re-plumb everything anyway to add GPU cooling...)

Many thanks in advance for your expert advice,

4rkon


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 Post subject: Re: First w/c setup - Please help!
PostPosted: Fri Sep 18, 2009 6:14 pm 
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Joined: Sat Nov 11, 2006 6:02 pm
Posts: 749
I'll try to answer some of your questions...

arkon wrote:
- Is the Coolermaster case above the best one for watercooling?
In my opinion, there is no "best case" for watercooling. A good starting point would be any case which offers good quitening aspects (for example the tried and tested Anted P182): the idea is to keep things quiet which are inside the case, and because watercooling transports the heat outside the case, it should be fairly easy to do so.

arkon wrote:
- Can the case accept a three (triple) 120mm fan radiator at the top WITHOUT case mods?
Assuming you mount the radiator outside the case, you still need to mount it... A few drill holes will be needed - some moddinjg will always be necessary.
The top of this case is curved, usually a flat top is easier to mount the radiator.

arkon wrote:
- Is there enough room to fit all the watercooling components in the case (might use a t-line rather than reservoir).
Any large case should be able to accomodate for all the components, and this is a large case indeed.
Check some picture threads of other popular forums to see what things look like in practice.

arkon wrote:
- Is watercooling two gfx cards in SLI a pain in the A*$E? Should I just stick to one? I've heard people say that you should go for a second separate loop for the GPUs - is this strictly necessary if your w/c setup is good enough (and your fan/rad combo sufficient)?
Adding another GPU will add about... 150W ? to the heat to be dissipated (depending on the card), which will obviously add to the noise generated by the fans to keep things cool enough.
My take on 2 loops, but I don't know if it holds: CPU's like low temperatures, and their TDP is not as high as a GPU's TDP. Adding a GPU to a CPU in the same loop will add a significant amount of heat, therefor the average water temp will go up quite a bit, which is "bad" for the CPU. Splitting them into 2 seperate loops: the CPU with lower TDP has the benefit of being fed cooler water, while the GPU with higher TDP has higher water temperature, but the GPU can handle higher temps better.

arkon wrote:
- The ASUS X58 mobos seem to have a northbridge HS already attached (some with heat pipes joining other components etc.) How on earth do I (or even should I?) go about w/c that? (Without breaking the mobo!) Should I just rely on v quiet case fans to take that heat away? (Bear in mind I want to o/c the i7 920 CPU to about 3.2 - 3.6GHz...)
Don't. All WC cases still need airflow going through them to ensure these kind of parts still get cooled (NB, RAM, VRM). These parts can be sufficiently cooled (to say the least) by a moderate amount of airflow. The niftier motherboard come with good heatsinks to cool these parts, and most even with heatpipes to transport heat to other parts, balancing to overall heat.

arkon wrote:
- Is it easy (and relatively safe!) to remove stock-attached HSF assemblies from gfx cards? Should I just get a gfx card with water block already attached? (Can you suggest any good ones?
Very safe. There are a lot of reviews on aftermarket coolers (aircooled or watercooled doesn't matter in this case). In almost all cases, the warranty expires once you remove the stock cooling (but then again, you can always put it back, who will notice). GPU's with already attached waterblocks are expensive, with comparable (or sometimes less) performance. I like the full water blocks, but some people like the GPU blocks in combination with memory heatsinks (again, enough case ventilation is needed).
The only thing that might be scary is, removing something from a 400 bucks piece of hardware. Remove all screws (check the back slot too), the "hardest" part is to remove the heatsink from the PCB once all the screws are gone - just keep twisting the heatsink from the PCB, mostly they will move only by a few millimeters (don't pull!) and after a few twists, both will pop off from eachother.

arkon wrote:
- Thinking of spot-cooling the memory - is there anything else I should spot cool (I guess the NB and attached heatpipe fins might be worth spot cooling)?
Usually, no need for spot cooling. Only need a rear case fan at 600-800 RPM.

arkon wrote:
- Could you tell me what the best CPU block, GPU block, and pump combination would be for my system? I want to use nice 1/2" (ID?) tubing, but am worried that the components won't have the right barb sizes.
There are so many components to choose from... Make sure the tubing is correct for the waterblocks, or be prepared to use adaptors (not necessarily a bad thing). Depending on what type of blocks you're going to use (high or low resistance), the pump needs to be adjusted. High flow/head pumps are more powerful but also more noisy.

arkon wrote:
- Is there any way that you could spec the components (above) ensuring they are all made of the same metal to avoid galvanic corrosion? (This includes the inside of the rad etc.) I've seen some blocks that are made of nickle, some al, some copper - argh!
Copper is the most popular metal. All manufacturers should tell which material they use, if they don't, don't take the chance.

arkon wrote:
- What is the best (circa 1000W) "silent" (just low noise will do!) PSU?
That is quite massive...
http://www.xbitlabs.com/articles/coolers/display/system-wattage.html
Lots of good PSU's from the http://www.silentpcreview.com/Recommended_PSUs.

arkon wrote:
- When the system is plumbed together and you are leak-testing it for 24hrs - they say you should not have the mobo in place (of course!) to avoid water damage. However, when you have finished the testing and need to connect all the water blocks (CPU and GPU(s) ) back onto their respective components - how on Earth do you do that in-place?! I find putting a newly thermal-pasted HSF assembly onto a CPU seated in a mobo sitting on my desk problematic enough without having to do this inside a case (and sideways)! Is there a trick to it, or am I missing something?
I always found this funny as well. I only WC my GPU, so that's fairly easy: test it, then just push the GPU in the slot. I don't know how others do this without disconnecting some parts of the loop.

arkon wrote:
- Lastly (sorry!) - I'd like to use some nice Tygon 1/2" ID tubing for the system. Can any1 tell me where I can get this in the UK? Also, I presume some softer silicon tubing would be useful either side of the in-line pump (for silence)?
Noise from the pump isn't transmitted through the tubing, you need to decouple the pump from the case, using soft foam to rest it on, or perhaps suspend it using elastic cord.


Good luck (from no expert).


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Sep 19, 2009 10:17 am 
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Joined: Fri Sep 18, 2009 7:19 am
Posts: 4
Location: UK
Wow - thanks for the quick and thorough response, spookmineer! I feel safer now and closer to starting my build project.

A few questions from your reply:

- You mention the different type of blocks - high and low resistance ones. Am I meant to match a high flow rate pump with high resistance blocks and vice versa? Hopefully the block manufacturers tell you whether the blocks are high/low resistance - otherwise, how do you know?!

- Can you recommend good (and reasonably quiet) pumps, radiators and fans that I could use? (I'm really after brand names and model numbers of pumps, rads, and fans that are known to be high performing but also reasonably quiet - I accept that undervolting some fan/rad combinations can work when you don't need much cooling.)

- If I do go for a second loop for the gfx cards - should I mount the pump/rad/res/tube/fan setup for the gfx card(s) outside the case (with another pump/rad/res/tube/fan setup for the CPU inside the case)? Yikes! I'm hoping I can add a GTX295 (or similar) water block in the same loop as my i7 920 (modestly overclocked), with not too much problem...

- Do you have any views on the Zalman LQ1000 or other pre-built systems out there?

Many thanks again,

4rkon


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Sep 19, 2009 11:54 pm 
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Joined: Tue May 05, 2009 1:15 am
Posts: 278
Location: Sydney, Australia
A couple of things:
-The Cosmos 1100 will take a 120x3 rad internally without mods... its a good WC case, but not such a good 'quiet' case (the Cosmos 1000 should be quieter, but you need to mod to fit a 120x3). Most cases will require some modding. The ones that spring to mind that can mount a 120x3 mod free are:
1. Cosmos 1100
2. TJ07 (actually requires some modding, ie adding a mounting bracket, but I have heard of double sided tape being used
3. HAF 932, ATCS840

-Easily enough room. I have a 140x3 + a 120x2 + pump, res etc internally in a Cosmos 1000... but I modded it.

-WCing in general is a bit of a pain in the a$$... its a LOT more involved than air cooling (and more expensive). WCing 2 cards in SLI is not really going to be much more hassle than cooling 1.

-Agree with arkon, don't bother water cooling the chipset, ram, hdd's or anything else. GPUs + CPUs only IMO.

-Personally I do not use a full cover block, but a chip block + RAM sinks. This is a little cheaper, and allows re-using the block on other cards. Given your rig, budget may not be an issue here. Check the warranty of the card carefully. Some brands (EVGA) may allow removing of the stock HSF. Most wont tho. Check online for disassembly guides. Its not hard.

-The vast majority of components come with G1/4 thread, which allows you to fit any size barb you like. The exceptions to this are pumps, which come with fixed barbs. This can be worked around by buying an after market top for the pump.

-IMO leak testing without most things in place is not really worthwhile. The reason is that while you are installing things, you can knock connections etc. I leak test with motherboard + GPU installed, but not powered.

- Definitely suspend the pump. It cuts the noise down massively.

You *really* need to do a lot of research before you buy. There are many options, each with different trade-offs. Below is a list of parts, with reasons why I would pick them, HOWEVER, do not just go and buy this list. Research, do some comparisons, and use this list as a base line. Not everyone will agree with this list.

Pump: MCP655 vario. This is a variable speed pump, and is very quiet at lower speed settings.
Radiator: I think Thermochill are pretty cheap in the UK? If so, they make some great rads, so grab a 120.3
CPU Block: Swiftech GTZ -- its not the best performing block, but it has a fool-proof mounting system which is worth the cost of a few degrees. Will not work with lapped CPUs however
GPU Blocks: MCW60 -- this is a GPU only block, so you will need ram sinks etc. I don't know much about full cover blocks, its not something I would ever do.
Res: I went with the swiftech microres. Its small and easy to place. I am very interested in the Typhoon III, which is a (2) bay res and pump mount. My concern is how well it separates the pump from the case... I suspect it would be noisy.
Tubing: Tygon 1/2 ID and 3/4 OD. Some people suggest 7/16 ID tubing over 1/2 fittings, which should work well too. Just try and get tubing with thick walls. Thin walled stuff kinks much easier.


One thing we haven't covered, is whether this is enough rad for your (hot) gear. I think it will be enough assuming no overclock... and probably not with silent fans. A GTX295 has a TDP of nearly 300w. Looking at Skinee's review if the PA120.3:
http://www.skinneelabs.com/
We can see that the rad can dissipate 300w with 1000rpm fans and result in about an 8c air/water delta. Add in a hot i7 (180w TDP) and we are talking a 15c air/water delta. This is about the highest air/water delta I personally would want.

Now, lets OC the i7 to 4GHz, and we are all of a sudden running at about 300w TDP.... and its time for another rad, or a bigger rad... and you run into problems of where you can mount it. In a Cosmos 1100 it is possible to mount a 2nd rad in the front drive bays. You can definitely fit a 120.2, maybe a 120.3 (which might not leave room for any bay devices).

I do not think running a 2nd loop is necessary (it is, of course, ideal), but running a 2nd rad most likely is given the gear you are talking about. If you run a 2nd loop you need to find room for another pump, more tubing and another res.

Hope this helps. Skinee's website (and Vapor's and Martin's which are both hosted by Skinee) is the best review website I know of for WCing gear.... and wow, that turned out long. Sorry for the wall of text!


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Sep 20, 2009 1:16 am 
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Joined: Fri Sep 18, 2009 7:19 am
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Location: UK
Thanks ascl for filling in many more blanks! Those hard TDP numbers, the component model numbers, and other details were just what I was after m8.

I definitely need to do more research! But you guys have set me off in the right direction.

What I need to do then is to add up the TDP of all my components, somehow assess the performance/efficiency of the blocks and fan-rad combinations (is the efficiency of these components listed? I'll check that great Skinee site), and then work out how many rads are required.

I was thinking that, if I were to go for a two fan-rad system, I'd mount the CPU fan-rad in the top of the case (either 120.2 or 120.3, depending on calculations), and then maybe a 120.3 attached to the back of the case (using the existing two tube holes that are already grommetted in the back of many "water cooling ready" cases for the flow-in flow-out) to dissipate the extra heat from the GPU in the loop. I'm sure I've seen radiators hanging off the back of cases?

If I were to go with w/c'ing a dual SLI setup - I could then opt for a quad-rad (120.4?) at the back (or generally "external"). Are there any monster rads out there for 240.2 or even 240.3? :lol: That would be excellent, and should be much quieter (as I could set the fans to a low RPM due to the extra surface area for heat dissipation)?

So, presumably you are saying that adding a second loop is totally unnecessary so long as you have enough heat dissipation in the loop to cope with the added heat (via beefier/multiple fan-rads)? As spookmineer said, GPU loops will have hotter water which may not be good for CPUs - but shouldn't adding extra fan-rad combos reduce the water temperature to an acceptable level? (I'm sure I'm missing something in the temperature delta department - I need to dust off my Physics undergraduate thermodynamics text books... :oops:)

I shall pore over Skinnee's website to check on his setups and the reviews - thanks again for the link :D

4rkon


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Sep 20, 2009 1:38 am 
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Location: Sydney, Australia
Check out this link:
http://www.over-clock.com/ivb/index.php?showtopic=20277

I found it useful, and it links things like PSU calculators, which help figure out a heat load.

At a guess, I'd suggest you will want a 120x3 for your CPU, and probably about the same for your GPUs (if you have 2). A dual loop is ideal, but adds a lot of hassle. I don't think its necessary, but it will make your CPU a little hotter.... I am not sure I'd go so far as to say totally unnecessary! Just depends on your goals. If money is no object and you want the best performing WCing set up, then 2 loops is the good (keeping in mind that 2 loops means 2 pumps, and they are the loudest part assuming sane fan speeds).


Running a 120x3 in the top for your CPU is good, and you can hang a 120x3 off the back easily enough, which will give you heaps of rad and allow decent fan speeds.


EDIT: Given you are in the UK, water cooling uk forums might give you some local knowledge (where to buy etc). I jump around a bunch of different forums for info. One thing to be aware off however... the average overclockers idea of 'quiet' is very very different from people on this site! Its pretty common to see people saying a MCP655 on max setting or a MCP355 are 'inaudible'... which is far from the truth, at least by SPCR standards!


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PostPosted: Sun Sep 20, 2009 3:50 am 
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Thanks for that last link, ascl - most of my questions answered there, and then plenty of links to the components and performance graphs etc. Perfect! 8)

I think you are right (from looking at the specs quickly) - to keep the water temp down for the CPU, + a modest o/c of the i7 920 to ~3.7GHz (@1.3V) - could go higher but that'll do me - I don't want to kill the CPU, a three-fan setup might be sensible.

As spookmineer said - as the GPUs "run hotter" as it were, a three-fan setup on a separate loop might be prudent. I just need to figure out where the fork I'm going to put two MCP655s... Think I might need a bigger case... Will have to investigate sound-dampening material around the pumps (plus suspension of course). Money is an object, but I've been saving up for such a long time, I think I can do it. Also, if you can get great O/C performance out of your rig (or just silence to start with, then up the power later on), you're future-proofing yourself so you won't need another upgrade for a long while... (thus saving a bit of cash).

I haven't seen any 240.2/240.3 fan-rad combos - but I'll keep looking. I'd love to get the temp of the GPUs down - they run SO hot! (This is why I've given up on air-cooling SLI rigs - in the summer here with an ambient of 27 - 30 degrees C, I can't play any 3D-heavy games... even with stock speeds :x )

Many many thanks for your help and pointers! I'll definitely be back to tell you how I got on...

ATB,

4rkon


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Sep 20, 2009 5:41 am 
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Location: Sydney, Australia
I still don't really think 2 loops is necessary, but of course its your call. You could also try one big single loop, and if that doesn't perform, get the extra bits you need to separate out the loops.

An option is the typhoon III bay res/pump top. It allows parallel loops (which can work well from a flow point of view, but the water is still effectively mixed and hence technically still a single loop) and may save some space.

I think XPSC have a twin res top for MCP355 pumps coming out soon as well, which would save some space, although I'd have concerns about the noise (you could get the MCP350 which is a lower wattage and quieter version of the MCP355).

Definitely post pics when you are done, or ask away if you have more questions!


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