• Welcome to Overclockers Forums! Join us to reply in threads, receive reduced ads, and to customize your site experience!

500w load in a med ATX case, help with some component selection

Overclockers is supported by our readers. When you click a link to make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn More.


Sep 10, 2013
Hi guys. Well, this may be the wrong place for post number one, but here it is. I have lots of posts on other hardware sites, but after a lot of lurking, it seems like the most active and helpful WC community is right here.
A little bit of background on myself:
I built my first computer 13 years ago and have built hundreds of systems since, for myself, family, friends, random people, etc. I'm based in the U.S., North Carolina for now. I find at least the hardware side of computers a lot of fun. I haven't personally used anything super high end since I was 19. I've only built, configured and OCed high end PCs for others. I just have better things to spend my money on. Well, with the new consoles coming out, I feel like gaming is going to change a lot for the better. I've decided to update my system and spend the most I have in quite a while. This means getting rid of those lousy, giant, overweight air cooled heatsinks!

I have put together a custom loop together for my best friend Amanda in the past. I did do months of research for her loop, but to be honest, I think her situation was a little easier than mine. Her approach is spend as much money as possible. Mine isn't.
Here's what I used:

  1. Alphacool Plexiac mounting screws M6
  2. Alphacool 120.3 ST30 radiator
  3. Koolance 370 (cpu)
  4. Koolance 320 (gpu)
  5. Swiftech MP350
  6. Scythe GT x 3 120mm (I can't remember which RPM we picked)
  7. PT nuke
  8. Silver coil
  9. Distilled water

The fan controller, tubing, reservoir and fittings are all dead links now, but I used metal barbs with worm drive clamps and a cylindrical reservoir with a swirly inside. The tubing was made by Tygon and was plasticizer free. This was to cool a 5ghz i5 2500 and a GPU. The original plan was to use an hd7950. We found out about the necessary shim for AMD cards too late and toasted a GPU before switching to a gtx 670. It was a moment of shame for me, probably the only mistake I've ever made building a PC.
Well anyway, this all went into a Phantom full tower case, which I modded to fit the 360mm radiator and cut out a custom window with all rounded edges.

I know how to put together a loop, and I've done research in the past on parts and how watercooling all works.

That being said, my goals are completely different for my personal system I have mostly assembled. Relevant components are:
  1. Xigmatek Midgard II case (pic link)
    *only included fans, 120mm front and back
    *here is a pic of the top of my case, note the low clearance under the lip for fan mounting near the CPU PWM socket and the RAM clips
    *Clearance is specified as 50mm for the radiator, it's very close to 1.25" estimating with my tape measure
  2. AMD FX 8350, goal is 5ghz OC, around 220w heat
  3. Gigabyte 990FX-UD3
  4. PWM fan controller hiding somewhere, forget brand.. it had good reviews, uses 3.5" bay
  5. Future AMD GPU that will be announced this month, estimated heat = 275w
  6. No optical drives, only one hard drive mounted
  7. Lower HD rack removed for better airflow
  8. Already decided on a Swiftech MCP35x pump

  1. Silence: I want this loop quiet as possible and able to reach the CPU's OC goal and keep the GPU from throttling or artifacting, most likely stock speed on the GPU.
  2. Performance: Ramping up a tiny bit is OK for gaming as I have headphones I use most often.
  3. Price: I know that watercooling is pay to play. I would like to not spend more than I have to. However, meeting both my performance and silence goals is a must. I want to keep this watercooling system for decades. Yep, decades. I want larger brand name manufacturers so that I can order a new mounting brackets and keep using my blocks.
  4. Flow: I'd like to keep all components relatively low restriction so that I can expand the loop if I want to at a later date. I know that cooling things like capacitors and motherboard chips is frowned upon as useless, but the temps on these things can really influence an overclock, and their form factor has remained very standard over the years.
  5. Aesthetics: Do not matter to me. I am after performance/dollar. That being said, I always build clean, do things right the first time, cable manage, etc. My case and components are all black, I'll make sure the GPU is a black PCB as well. If the blocks can fit nicely in with the existing colors, that will be a plus, but again, not required. If something looks overly cheap and chintzy or has low build quality, I will pass.

Now looking at my goals, I've begun to wonder if it may be more cost efficient for my system to run 2 loops, a custom loop for the CPU only and THE MOD for the GPU, or a single loop.
For a dual loop system, obviously since the GPU loop would matter a lot less, I would use much cheaper parts. I have no idea how good budget stuff is. Logically, I would think that the CPU loop would also need less money invested, as it would no longer have to cope with the GPU's added load. The question is if the extra parts required for two loops offsets the cost savings of cheaper components. Using THE MOD would also be a dual loop setup, in a way. The Antec Kuhler 620 is enough for a 7970 according to overclock.net: 57.99 USD on newegg.
That's one of my first questions:
Single loop, dual loop, or half custom, half closed-loop cooling?

Next, I've begun browsing stickies and guides again, and just like I remember, most all of them are sorely out of date. Links are down, (www.skinneelabs.com), or irrelevant to my system goals, (www.martinsliquidlab.org), like only testing 360mm radiators.
So, question two:
What is a price effective lower FPI but efficient radiator? Will a high quality 120.2+120.1 compare to 120.2+120.1+120.1?

Now since I have a medium ATX case which I have no plans of selling, I'm going to have to be more creative with my setup. I do have a picture of clearance issues in my case up above, if you missed it. I have to be open minded to things I'd normally never do, like pump/reservoir combos or radiator/pump or whatever other awful combinations are out there. I would definitely prefer all separate components, but hey, I dug this hole myself.
Question 3:
What compromises should I make first to meet my high heat dissipation goal and fit everything inside the case?
This question also applies to fan mounting as well as block selection. I know that most universal GPU blocks perform about the same, well, as of a year and a half ago. Does that knowledge still apply today? I know the updated Koolance 380 is a beast, but is there anything that has similar flow and temperature characteristics that looks different? I'd like my system to have different blocks than my best friend's. :shrug:
I'm thinking Yate Loons for fans, but this is going off of knowledge I already have. Is there another higher quality or better performing budget fan out there now with high static pressure? Maybe I should just get GTs since I'm going for longevity.

For tubing, I saw the new Primochill Acrylic and had a small seizure from excitement. I can definitely bend, cut and measure this myself and deal with any complications that may come up. My only two concerns are extra vibration due to rigidity and how well the special fittings will work with basically just an O ring between two pieces of metal preventing a leak.. I know that's how plumbing works in general, but this is my PC we're talking about. :p
Question 4:
Does anyone think sticking with Tygon tubing would be better than the new Primochill Acrylic?

And finally, question 5:
Can you think of any better places to put radiators than a 120.2 up top and a 120.1 by the front and rear fans?

I'd like to thank anyone in advance who takes the time to read this long *** post and also
I know I'm new here, please go easy on me!
I really tried to cover just about every aspect of my build, if I forgot something I'm sorry, I'll reply as soon as I can and add the requested info in.
Last edited:
Huge post, you did good. No time tonight, I will hopefully revisit early tomorrow.

500 watts of heat? 120x5 of raddage if you enjoy a quiet rig. I'll dig more tomorrow.
I did a little more digging and found that if I wanted to run 360mm of radiator I'd have to have fans on medium speed. (1800 rpm or so) That's not acceptable, so I guess at a minimum I'll need 480.
I'm somewhat leaning towards putting the GPU on its own loop as the max temp for them is 86c. Even some of the cheapest closed loop systems shouldn't have a problem doing that.
It just seems like such a waste to me having a real water loop inches away from the GPU and not using it because of wanting to keep down delta Ts for the CPU overclock.
I've started looking at radiators some and ruled out the xspc rx240 and phobya g changer 240 v1.2. They're both too deep for the radiator spot at the top of my case. The XSPC AX240 should fit fine, but it comes in at $80 on frozen CPU. Any cheaper ideas?
Also, I will take off the front fascia of my case when I get home and measure to see if I can fit a radiator in that space.
Last edited:
about the 50mm clearance... this limits you to 30 mm thin rads and slim fans like these
which are not the best fans for a rad.. so, a rad needs to be not only 30mm thick, but also be low fpi

http://www.aquatuning.de/product_info.php/info/p12343_Alphacool-NexXxoS-ST30-Full-Copper-240mm.html , i think it has an fpi of about 12 , there might be an XSPC as an alternative, but XSPC has to swim the pond which makes them a bit more pricier compared to europe. :)
Maybe a coolgate or a magicool?
Of course, you could consider hanging a MO-RA off the side :D

PS: If you trade in the Xigmatec for Fractal Design Arc R2, you get a lot of case for not too much money :)
Last edited:
The Fractal Design Arc R2 is a clone of my case. Here's a pic with the front bezel removed.
I guess I can you fit a 240 in the front. =D
Actually, if I move around bays, it looks like there is MORE room there than at the top of the case.
I also have room for a 120 on the bottom and rear. I can relocate my hard drive to a 5.5" bay and have the whole front of the case for a 45mm thick radiator and two beefy fans. I'm not sure what to do about the top with the limited space I have up top.

I looked more at radiators and I think the Alphacool XT45s will be the best for my situation. They're actually really cheap and consistently displace heat with the best radiators no matter the fan speed. The top.. well, I'm not sure what to do there. Even if I file down my RAM stick holders and cut off the CPU output there, there's a small capacitor in the way of putting in a fan below the radiator. Sigh. I guess I will have to use low pro fans like you linked, RnRollie. The radiator I'm leaning towards right now is only 10fpi though, so I guess that works out. The majority of my heat dissipation will be done in the front of the case.
Last edited:
Here's what I'm thinking.
240mm Alphacool SP30 240mm for the top of the case(or 280?)
2x Slim fans (need suggestions on which)
240mm Alphacool XT45 240mm for the front of the case (or 280?)
2x Scythe GT or 2x 140mm fan
Swiftech MCP35x pump
Primochill rigid acrylic and corresponding fittings

Does this sound ok? Or should I go with a thicker 120mm radiator at the rear and bottom of the case instead of a slim 240 up top?
Is the Swiftech reservoir that goes with the 35x worth it? (the cylindrical one)
Looking at the case, I can't fit the cylindrical reservoir if I use a radiator on the bottom of the case. I won't have room for it. I would need to go with a reservoir mounted on the top or in a bay.

Yate Loon D12SL-12 120mm - ~.9mm h20, $5.95
GELID Solutions Slim 12 PL 120mm- 1.26mm h20, $16.99
Corsair Air Series SP120 HPE 120mm- 3.1mm h20, $27.99

It looks like there are good static pressure slim fans available for every price range! A little hard to find the info, but there it is.
For reference: Scythe GT AP15: 2.9mm h20

What amount of static pressure am I going to need to get my money's worth from the Alphacool SP30? I know this question is subjective, but I value all your opinions.
I also need opinions on what to do with the rest of my setup as far as which tubing, reservoir, etc.

::update 2::
I measured, and I do have room for 280 at the top and 240mm in the front.
Last edited:
Get the best rads you can. Increase fannage to MORE. The YL lows, no way. Not for your situation.

The low profile fans (20mm or less) won't do much at all, you will have to compensate with better fannage everywhere else.

Honestly, you're fighting a losing battle with that case. Having to use less efficient rads and fannage.

Up your fannage and live with the noise if you must use that case. The bottom rad will recycle case airflow no matter what you do and will not help matters. That front 200mm can't even begin to supply the positive airflow you need.

The 35x V2 res is great. Maybe you should read a bit in the stickies, my build log, Martins review etc can spell it out. It's a great efficient res. Don't forget the down tube.

AP15 aren't slim fans, they are 25 mm thick, the standard for rads. They are great very good rad fans.

There is no cookie cutter science on Static pressure, every case is different. You're just going to have to trust your knowledge and ability and buy what you feel is best. We can only do so much, it's YOUR stuff.
The fractals can fit 120.2 front AND top 120.2 (upto 80mmMONSTA) easy because of the offset from center in the top.

With some fiddling 140.2 front and top can be done
and if you go for thin (30mm) top 120.3 is possible

The FD is not a clone of the xigma , there are a few differences :)
The xigma is just not designed with watercooling in mind.

As for air recycling... it can be mitigated a bit with creative use of rubber/foam antidraft strips but there are no miracles :)
Could you use a thick radiator (50mm) inside the case, with the fans sitting on top of the case but under the upper plastic fascia?

Edit: Did some quick measurement off of pictures of the case. You should have ~30mm in that upper fascia, which is plenty to stick a fan in.
Last edited:
Could you use a thick radiator (50mm) inside the case, with the fans sitting on top of the case but under the upper plastic fascia?

Edit: Did some quick measurement off of pictures of the case. You should have ~30mm in that upper fascia, which is plenty to stick a fan in.

good idea, but nope... the space between MB edge and recessed part seems to be less as 10 mm
good idea, but nope... the space between MB edge and recessed part seems to be less as 10 mm

This seems to have more space than 10mm.


Edit: That's a Midgard, not a Midgard II. The II has some sort of drop down in the top, where you put fans/rad in.
OP, I would measure from the bottom of that drop down, to the fascia and see how much room you really have. Looks like way more than 50mm.
49.2mm on top and 39mm in front.. I only have an tape measure in inches. ._.
I'm guessing those are supposed to be 50mm and 40mm.

I know the reservoir is good, I found out about it reading a review, I just meant is it worth it trying to fit it in my case. (I don't think it is)

I've spent a good amount of time looking around the case and there's no easy way to mod it to accept a thicker radiator up top.
I could cut off the circular radiator support up top and weld my own thin tabs flush with the top of the motherboard or even lower, but that's a lot of work for not too much gain.

I'm thinking the best way to go about my goals is to run an Alphacool SP30 (30mm) up top with slim fans like the Gelid I posted. Down lower on the front, where I have more depth, I can run a UX60 or Monster radiator (80mm thick) with two AP15s cooling it to make up for the other thinner radiator.
With the price of decent watercooling pumps, if I go with a dual loop it will be a cheap closed loop solution for the GPU since delta Ts almost don't matter at all for it. I'm heavily considering that option right now.

Here's a better picture of the area in question.
From the top of that cap to the top of the metal support is a little over 7mm.
Technically I could cut out the brackets and weld them to the top of metal of the case so the radiator is supported from the top rather than the bottom. 7mm would be enough to run 25mm fans with a 30mm radiator. It's still some work, though, and I would still be running a 30mm radiator.

::EDIT 2::
I can also very easily cut out the top of the case to make it longer and fit in a 360mm radiator, I can make up to 380mm of room.

::EDIT 3::
I've been considering an XSPC X20 pump for the GPU. If I get the single bay reservoir/pump combo, all I need to add is the block and radiator to complete a dual loop system. The X20 is about $38 USD. It's very difficult to find reviews on the X20. I've found a lot of glowing positives for kits with the pump included, not so many positive for the single bay reservoir, but not too many negatives either. Mostly people complaining about pump noise. For every complaint there are more people loving how quiet it is.
I also have an eye on used parts. I found an MCP350 10w for $45 shipped. Still, adding that to the cost of a GPU block and radiator, it's substantially more than even an expensive closed loop prepackaged deal for a GPU that isn't picky about delta Ts.
New questions instead:
Is a 30mm thick radiator (even 360mm) cooled by slim fans enough for the CPU? (I think I may be able to fit 2x 25mm fans and 1 slim)
Is that area of my case better suited for the GPU?
Are a thick 240 and a 30mm 360 enough for my estimated 500w heat load if I run it all in one loop? What area would my delta Ts be?
I guess these are questions that are kind of impossible to answer without just taking the plunge and trying it.
Last edited:
Single bay resses are so hard to bleed. You are 2mm not full it will suck air. All I find on the X20 is a double bay res, not single.

Slim mean 20mm or less? The don't do much. Not good for rads, ineffective. NO pressure at all.

Who knows what your Dt will be. Your case and airflow is a very individual thing. All we can do is toss out ideas and theories. Lots is up to you.

You need to sell that case if you want to watercool your setup. Physics don't care what the case looks like, it needs airflow and proper raddage. We have seen it before here, many try to shoehorn WCing in a case not made to deliver.

It's not a new issue at all for us, I'm just the one to step up and say your case cannot handle the wattage of radiators your case needs. I been at this many years. Your case isn't good enuff.

Get a new case. Lastly, your first post was on the 10th. It's the 12th. I spent THREE months hanging out before I bought one WC part. Understand? SLOW down. And get a new case.
I figured ..
I'll start looking into other cases. Thank you for the scoop on the X20.
I'm always for customizing things and don't have a problem making things fit. I'll admit that other cases are probably better engineered for water cooling though.
I'll start looking into that although I'm absolutely unwilling to use a full ATX case or larger.
Slowing down won't hurt me either. :p
I'll take more time from here.
Thanks for the great link kyfire. It fit what I said I want in a case.
What kills it for me is the cheap construction. I prefer cases like the old antecs that you could stand on to change a light bulb without worry.
The wide open design also doesn't lend itself well to a system built primarily to be quiet, like I'm going for.
Honestly I don't have much hope of finding a case I'm excited about. I spent quite a bit of time picking the one I did.
Thanks for the great link kyfire. It fit what I said I want in a case.
What kills it for me is the cheap construction. I prefer cases like the old antecs that you could stand on to change a light bulb without worry.
The wide open design also doesn't lend itself well to a system built primarily to be quiet, like I'm going for.
Honestly I don't have much hope of finding a case I'm excited about. I spent quite a bit of time picking the one I did.

in that case.... i'll push the Fractal Design Arc Midi R2 again: TOP: 240x30 or 240x45 or 240x60 or even 240x80 Monsta, but you need ridiculous fans and you wont see your MB anymore :)
FRONT 240x30 or 240x45 or 240x60.
OR 280x30 TOP & FRONT with some fiddling
Yeah I thought about it after you posted it, but I don't see the point. I can already fit the 240x80 monster and a 360x30 up top. It's not like the radiators are in some crazy position where they won't be effective or get air, it's front and top like every other case.
The 360 up top would have full access to air, I would make sure of it. With more time invested I'm sure I could manage with 3x25mm fans.
It's not like I'm against getting my hands dirty modding. I was playing with dremel tools with my very first build.
I've looked at all mountainmods stuff even and am not impressed. Tbh they look lame.
Welcome to OCF!

Well I am a bit confused now. You said you wanted watercooled 5Ghz rig with a GPU at silent operations. The thinner the radiator is usually the higher the FPI is. Higher FPI means you will need pretty darn high screaming RPM fans. Thicker radiators tend to be the lower FPI count for low-mid (800-1500) RPM fans for pretty low noise operations at full load. So lets us know if you're willing to go with thinner rads just to make them fit with low profile screaming rads. Make sure those fans have good pressure or they are good as dead.

Your case is a big hurtle but if you don't want to spend the money than I understand or you love maybe modding things. I would personally grab another case even though they aren't made the same way anymore. You're right, my old antec I could stand on. My Corsair 800D/900D I would be afraid to break something. I believe one of the reasons is it has brought the cost down because of the materials used and second reason would be because a lot of folks take their cases to LAN parties etc. That's a whole other story/debate but this is what are being produced these days and at a much bigger selection. I only wished I had this selection in parts for PC's growing up.

Let us know definitely if you're sticking with the case and if noise doesn't matter anymore.

Btw, x20 pump imo is garbage. I wouldn't trust that thing when I am with the PC or away.