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360 rad enough to cool OCed i7 920, 2 GTX 480s and MB?

Posted: Mon May 10, 2010 9:16 am
by MiSP
I am currently building my first "real" watercooled rig, so I'm terribly sorry if these questions seem stupid to more experienced users. I have almost everything at hand now - just waiting for my three radiator fans to arrive.

This is my system (case and watercooled parts):
  • Corsair 800D
  • Core i7 920 @ 4GHz
  • 2 GTX 480 SLI
  • Asus P6T Deluxe v2
This is my watercooling setup:
  • Feser (TFC) Xchanger 360
  • 3 Noctua NF-P12 fans
  • Laing DDC 18w (Swiftech MCP355) with XSPC res top
  • EK waterblocks for all components mentioned above (for the MB: full cover + 2 mosfet blocks)
Now, I realize some of you may be hardcore watercooling users. I am not, and I don't expect my system to run with temps just above room temperature. However, I wonder if the watercooling system mentioned above is enough to allow an 4GHz overclock on the 920, as well as running everything within safe temperatures. I initially thought it would, but have since begun doubting this. What do you experts say?

If I have to upgrade, I was thinking of adding two single 120 radiators in a separate loop for the CPU (at the exterior/interior back and interior bottom of case), and everything else (GPU and MB) on the Feser 360. (I could have the MB in the CPU loop, but I will not OC the GPUs, and they normally operate under higher temps than the other components anyway, so I figured having them together with the MB blocks will be fine.) This means purchasing two new 120mm radiators (or preferably 140mm actually, but I haven't seen many of those), another identical pump, probably a dual XSPC res (, and two more NF-PF12s. I do not want to casemod, as I'm not quite the handyman and do not have any tools for drilling or cutting.

To summarize, I would be very grateful for your opinion on these three setups (for the use described above):
  • Everything (CPU, GPUs, MB) in a single loop using a single 360 rad at the top
  • Everything in a single loop as above, but with two single 120mm rads between the CPU and the rest - probably a bit too much for the pump?
  • Two separate loops - one for the CPU using two 120mm rads, and one for the rest (MB and GPU) using the 360 rad
Of course the latter would be recommended given unlimited funds, but could I make do with the former?

And of course, any other suggestions and input is highly welcome!

Posted: Mon May 10, 2010 9:42 am
by Wibla
2x120 for CPU + MB, 360 for 2x 480, separate loops... would be my recommendation :)

Posted: Mon May 10, 2010 10:45 am
by MiSP
Thanks! Why not the MB in the GPU loop? Seeing as the GPUs are not being overclocked... Also, could I make do with everything on a single 360 rad if I tried that?

Posted: Mon May 10, 2010 2:22 pm
by ascl
We need to look at the heat generated by your components, the speed of the fans you want to run, and the size of the radiator you want to run, and from that we can figure out some estimate of what the air/water delta temp will be.

[email protected] = 230 watts (estimate from a PSU calc)
DDC Pump = 18 watts
GTX 480 SLI = 500 watts (based on TDP)

So we have 750 watts (ish) of heat to dissipate. Using skinnee's review:
We can get some idea of how this radiator performs:

At a fan speed of 1000 rpm, you'd be looking at an air/water delta of 22c. This is a very high delta.... and I am not sure that the noctuas are as good against a radiator as yate loons, so it might even be a little higher. This is not going to result in good temperatures at all, and, well, 1000 rpm isn't quiet either. Adding the NB into the loop will only make it worse.

It would probably work, and probably have better temps on the GPUs than air cooling, but your CPU temps will be high.

Next option: giant single loop. Radiators add very little restriction/pressure drop to a loop. Adding more isn't really a problem, but you are already talking about a low flow loop with so much stuff in it. The advantage you have here however, is only one pump, and a pump is the noisiest part of a loop usually (esp a MCP355). The extra 2 radiators will help reduce temps quite a bit.

Last option: This is the best option from a performance point of view. Shove all your hot stuff into the GPU loop (and let them run a little hotter), and have a short, clean CPU loop. The major downside here is the noise from an extra pump.

Personally, I'd try the first option and see if it was acceptable to you. You can always add more stuff later as funds are available. I believe the first option will work, but don't expect great temps at all, and it may possibly limit your OC (depending on your chip of course).

Hope this helps.

Posted: Mon May 10, 2010 2:32 pm
by MiSP
Thanks! I'm dragged towards the double loop solution. I found a bracket for mounting rads at the back of the case, so perhaps I'll go with another 360 rad there.

Posted: Mon May 10, 2010 2:41 pm
by ascl
2x 360 rads sounds like a better solution. The GTX 480s in SLI create a massive amount of heat!

EDIT: Can't you fit a slim rad in the top and a normal size rad in the bottom section of an 800D?

Posted: Mon May 10, 2010 2:47 pm
by MiSP
ascl wrote:2x 360 rads sounds like a better solution. The GTX 480s in SLI create a massive amount of heat!

EDIT: Can't you fit a slim rad in the top and a normal size rad in the bottom section of an 800D?
Not sure what you mean by "bottom", but not the way I see it.

Posted: Mon May 10, 2010 2:57 pm
by ascl
I was thinking something like this: ... 950&page=3

But you did say no modding, so never mind :)

Posted: Tue May 11, 2010 7:38 am
by MiSP
I'm thinking Black Ice SR-1 360 might be good as a second rad. Comments?

Posted: Tue May 11, 2010 1:16 pm
by ascl
The difference between the high end (low FPI) rads is very small. Get whatever is cheapest for you imo:


(Graph from:

Posted: Wed May 12, 2010 8:02 am
by MiSP
Okay, I've received some feedback on other forums now, and with everything taken into consideration, this is what I think I'll go for:

Dual loops with XSPC Dual DDC Dual Bay Reservoir and two Laing DDC 18w Pump / Swiftech MCP355 (already have one)

CPU+MB loop: Feser Xchanger 360 (already have) with three Gentle Typhoons 1450RPM
GPU loop: ThermoChill PA120.4 with four GT 1450RPM, mounted outside rear with this

All EK waterblocks, already installed.

Sounds good?

New question: Do I (with this setup) need to worry about water temps? Will I have to install temp probes? I really don't want to spend money on it if it's not necessary, as I already bought a fan controller (without temps).

Posted: Wed May 12, 2010 1:13 pm
by ascl
No, you don't need sensors. I find its nice to know, but ultimately, as long as your CPU/GPU is kept cool, it doesn't matter.

EDIT: I think you are going to struggle to make that set up very quiet. MCP355s are not very quiet (imo) and mounting them in a bay res will make it harder to de-couple the vibrations from the case. Of course, YMMV, everyone's sensitivity to noise is different.

Posted: Wed May 12, 2010 1:33 pm
by MiSP
I've heard they're not very noisy. Will I hear them over the silent whooshing of my 7 rad fans?

Hmm... My case is 800D, and I'm thinking I could remove the lower HDD cage and place the res there instead, placing it on some sort of anti vibration thing. That would also make it possible to drain the loop just by turning the res, and not having a T line...

Posted: Wed May 12, 2010 1:49 pm
by ascl
Depends who you ask. By SPCR terms I think they are noisy. If you are asking overclocking forums... then no, they aren't (but its hard to hear anything over those 2500rpm SanAce fans... WHAT?! hehe). So yeah, depends on your rad fans I guess.

If you aren't mounting the bay res inside a bay, why use it at all? You could use a dual ddc top of some kind (XSPC has one). Having an easy way to drain your loop is *definitely* a good idea tho. Good that you are planning that one.

Posted: Wed May 12, 2010 2:37 pm
by MiSP
Thanks! Well, it's a double res with pump mounts, and it fits at the bottom of the 800D. Not many other pump/res combos does that. I originally bought this top/res, and I have trouble fitting even that in my case (I would have to place it on the bottom fan).

Of course, I could do a res separately from the pumps, and mount the pumps at the bottom. But that's more expensive, seeing I need more connectors and more parts (custom tops for the pumps are wise anyway). And my watercooling setup is already DOUBLE the cost I originally intended (about $800 - now doubled when I order the rest).

Posted: Wed May 12, 2010 2:47 pm
by ascl
hahah, yes watercooling has a habit of going over budget! I shudder to think what I've spent on it....

I would strongly recommend you do not hard mount the pumps on the bottom. The will vibrate the case and be very noisy, they really really need a soft mounting of some kind. If you think you can fit the bay res in the bottom then sure, go for it, but try and soft mount it somehow. My preferred "mounting" (I use the term loosely) method is to hang the pump by the tubes. Elastic works too, just like with HDD's.

If cost is an issue... are Swiftech rads cheaper than PA's? Cause here at least the price difference is huge, and the performance difference is extremely small. Or maybe a 120.3 rather than 120.4 (not sure what the cost diff is)?

Posted: Wed May 12, 2010 10:33 pm
by MiSP
ascl wrote:If you think you can fit the bay res in the bottom then sure, go for it, but try and soft mount it somehow. My preferred "mounting" (I use the term loosely) method is to hang the pump by the tubes. Elastic works too, just like with HDD's.
I'll find something soft, sure. :)

ascl wrote:If cost is an issue... are Swiftech rads cheaper than PA's? Cause here at least the price difference is huge, and the performance difference is extremely small. Or maybe a 120.3 rather than 120.4 (not sure what the cost diff is)?
A mere £10 - nothing, really. And between the Swiftech and the PA, even less.

Posted: Wed May 12, 2010 10:36 pm
by ascl
Ah I always forget PA's are cheap in the UK (and hence Europe in general).

Make sure you post pics and temps and general feedback once you are done :) Have fun.

Posted: Wed May 12, 2010 10:57 pm
by MiSP
Sure. :) What temps are interesting? CPU/GPU temps, air in, air out, ambient temp in room?

Posted: Wed May 12, 2010 11:01 pm
by ascl
All of the above for idle and load is ideal :) At the very least GPU/CPU and ambient. Also, curious about how you will find the noise (or hopefully lack of it).

Posted: Wed May 12, 2010 11:03 pm
by MiSP
I'll be sure to make notes of how I experience it. :) Thanks so much for the help!

Posted: Wed May 12, 2010 11:09 pm
by ascl
No problems, any questions just ask.

Posted: Sat May 15, 2010 8:08 pm
by echn111
Definately get the Thermochill PA's if you're in the UK.

I would also get a T-balancer with temp sensors as it allows you to automatically control the noise of the fans. It makes a big difference to have 7 fans running at 475rpm (very quiet) under normal usage, but ramping up to 1850rpm (loud) when you need it, and the T-Balancer does it automatically for you. Normal usage is when you'll be most irritated by even mild sounds.

I'd agree with the previous recommendations. The Laing 355 (aka mcp 355) in a bay res is noisy. You can minimize the noise (which is often mainly vibration noise) by isolating the pump. I normally put it on a thick silicon pad resting on foam and further resting on acoustic dampening material. Personally I'd go for a Laing D5 pump with variable control or a Laing 350 (aka mcp 350), but I suppose your mcp355 might be bearable if isolate it well.

Posted: Sun May 16, 2010 1:35 am
by MiSP

I'm not in the UK (I'm i Norway), though I did get the P120.4.

I really don't want automatic fan control. After the noise itself of today's GPUs, the most annoying aspect is that it's never stable, it constantly spins up and down and changes pitch. I'd rather turn the fans up and down myself, and keep the speed stable. *EDIT* Seems like the T-balancer allows you to set response curves as you want, so that wouldn't be a problem. Perhaps I'll look into it later on. But where would the temp sensors be placed to get an accurate representation of component temps?

As for the bay res, I have now removed the lower HDD cage (in the 800D), and will place the bay res there, with plenty of foam underneath. Shouldn't be lack of damping, at least.

Posted: Sun May 16, 2010 3:08 am
by ascl
You actually don't want to use component temps to control the speed, you want to use the liquid temp. This is pretty easy to get using a Bitspower temp plug, either in a t-piece or if your res has a spare hole, in your res (mines in my res).

I've gone backwards and forwards on this issue, and currently have a fan controller with full manual control. Software control usually allows some pretty complex rules, which should cover all bases -- but sometimes I want silence, or don't care about the noise, and its easier to just twist some knobs. YMMV of course :)

Posted: Sun May 16, 2010 3:24 am
by MiSP
Thanks. :) I'll start with manual fan controller anyway, and if I should feel the need for something more complex, I'll keep it in mind. :)

Why would I want to use water temps instead of component temps? After all, it's the components I want to cool in the end...

Posted: Sun May 16, 2010 3:31 am
by ascl
Yeah but the fans affect the temp of the water, not the components (at least not directly). So if the water gets hot, you want the fans to stay a bit faster until its cooled. This also has a nice side effect that the fan speed is much more consistent, and doesn't change rapidly.

Posted: Tue Sep 07, 2010 5:42 am
by MiSP
Finally finished, worklog and temps here. :)

Posted: Tue Sep 07, 2010 7:23 pm
by HammerSandwich
Thank you for posting the update.

What's the Vcore? (Sorry, if I missed it.)

Comments on noise level? This is SPCR... :)

Posted: Tue Sep 07, 2010 11:39 pm
by MiSP
Core voltage is 1.336 V. The OC is a rather hasty job, I haven't put much time into it. Stable enough for me - one or two BSODs per week, I can live with that until I have the time to do a more thorough job.

Noise level is of course highly subjective. I don't have much to compare against here, but I don't hear it if there's music or game sounds coming from the speakers (at reasonable volume levels - I don't need to turn it far up). When not gaming or listening to music, the PC is of course audible, but it's the kind of non-irritating silent sound your brain gets used to quickly. I don't take notice of it unless I actively think about it, like now.

The noise drops noticeably when running the fans at 7V instead of 12V, but the rise in temp (5-7°C) is not worth it.

So no matter how you look at it, noise is not a problem with this rig. I tried to run one of the GPU's with stock cooler before I mounted the waterblock on it, and with fans at full speed, it sounded like a jet plane taking off - closed headphones would be mandatory while playing! I'm REALLY glad I chose WC. ;)