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[Build Log] Will never forget your first time

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exadeuce

Registered
Joined
Jul 17, 2016
Hello all!

I've been assembling my own gaming PCs for over a decade, usually in the "bang for buck" range of things. But now I'm older, actually have a solid income, and have managed to avoid picking up expensive things like a "wife" or "children," so I've rapidly moved up the performance scale. Because screw it, why not, right? (famous last words)

I've got a machine that runs all the pixels real good already:

Core i5-6600k, presently at 4.5GHz. Cooled with Corsair H100i.
Gigabyte G1 Gaming GTX 1080
32GB RAM, DDR 3200 EVGA
The hodgepodge collection of drives accumulated over the years. Hey, they all still work fine!
Crucial m4 120GB SSD (OS), 500GB Samsung 840 EVO, 500GB Samsung 850 EVO, WD Black 1.5TB HDD
Right now it's all sitting in a Corsair Carbide 500R. A lovely case that has served me well.

But I want to take this hobby up to the next level, and I'm pretty sure I'm going 0-60 in 2.8 here but the journey will be a fun one. It's time for my first watercooling rig. Also, I've always had a "function over form" sort of building experience, so have usually had ugly, ugly machines. This time, I want to go full sexy. Right now I'm in the preliminary planning stage. The tentative plan so far:

Case: Phanteks Enthoo Luxe. Good watercooling support, good cable management, highly modular, fancy controllable RGB LED lighting, looks good... all for $150? Yes please!

Motherboard: ASUS ROG Maximus Formula VIII. Hoo boy that's a pricey motherboard. Largely an aesthetic choice, but it's also a solid motherboard packed with features. Solid black with controllable RGB lighting that are compatible with the Luxe case lights so it'll all coordinate via software. Built-in water cooling block for the VRM because why the heck not. I could go with the Hero Alpha and still get the Aura lighting control, but I don't like the look as much and at this point I'm spending a crapton on the build so what's an extra $80 on a motherboard that should hopefully last for quite some time?

Top Radiator: Alphacool UT60 420mm. Big as will fit up there.
Front Radiator: Alphacool XT45 240mm. Bottom mounting this one seems to be another possibility.
A ton of radiator space for 1GPU and 1 CPU, but I figured that more radiator allows for slower fans and less noise, and also gives me a good basis for future upgrades in case I want to add another 1080 at some point, or SLI in the 11XX/12XX/ti range a few years down the line. I could downgrade to a 360 and be fine, but the 360 is literally eight dollars cheaper. 280 or 240 on top would save a bit more, so maybe comments on 280x60 + 240x45 being sufficient, or not, for CPU + SLI GPU + overclocks will help me out.

Fans: Phanteks SP series (140/120SP)
CPU Block: EK Supremcy EVO - Green?
GPU Block - EK G1 GTX 1080 - I hadn't planned on water cooling when I bought the 1080, got lucky that EK makes a waterblock for this non-reference design.
Tubing - Primochill 1/2" PETG. Rigid tubing on my first build! I know lots of people say go soft tubing at first, but I'm really not a fan of the look and PETG looks relatively easy to work with. It will be time consuming and a learning process, I'm sure, but this is a hobby where the journey is just as important as the destination, right?
Fittings - Primochill Revolver compression fittings

Pump/Res: Here's the big part I'm still working on. I'm interested in the Photon 170/270 reservoirs with their pretty light setup, and I like cylindrical reservoirs better than the drive bay ones. It also comes in Pump/Reservoir combos with the D5. I'm not 100% sure I can make that fit, though. The Luxe lists the GPU clearance with the reservoir bracket installed as 338mm minus reservoir diameter. My GPU is 286mm and Amazon says 70mm diameter for the Photon. So it probably can't fit in the intended spot if that's in line with the GPU. If I decide I need to do a drive bay reservoir, I can save a few bucks and get one of the Alphacool 240 D5 kits.

I've ordered the case already, so will set up my current system inside and take a closer look before I order anything. Maybe someone familiar with the Luxe can shine some light (rimshot) on good reservoir locations.

Cosmetics: Leaning towards a bright green/black color theme: use UV green tubing and some UV LEDs for the case. Will start off with just distilled water and colored tubing, I think, but I've pondered UV dye for the fluid. However, I will wait and see how the setup looks before I do something like that. Between UV tubing and UV + RGB LEDs I think I'll be covered on coloring. Alternatively, I could go for "modular color" using clear tubing and various dyes to swap out colors as I see fit. The black case/MB makes a nice neutral starting point and I can just click a button in the Aura software to swap case light coloring to match new dyes.

Buuuut I'm a bit wary of using dyes on my first watercooling build. There are so many mixed opinions out there on whether it's fine or it's a gunk nightmare doomed to cause a catastrophic pump failure.

I also plan to decorate the case a bit. The empty left-side panel needs some love, and I'm going to put this logo on the side, which XCOM fans will recognize:

tSMrs9V.jpg


Roughly: "Warrior in the machine." Will tint it to match the (probably green) color scheme. Likely will just get a vinyl decal printed for it, can always remove that later if I decide I hate it, while spray paint is more involved. Maybe a little "Exadeuce" signature decal somewhere also, so people will think this is some kind of professional art piece, right? If anyone has some novel alien-themed decorating ideas, I'm all ears. I would love to make the logo glow, like with a cutout backlit with LEDs on the side/front panel... but one step at a time. I don't think I'm up to the task of carving up a case and having it look good.

So, it's obvious I'm willing to go all-out for this build. I'm sure it will be a long process. Any advice/pointers/suggestions are very welcome.
 
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Jeff G

Member
Joined
May 22, 2016
Did you check out the FrozenQ reservoirs? Alex has various sizes, and they have twisted acrylic rods inside that you can get in various UV colors (mix and match if you want). One of those, paired with the D5/655 would look nice and perform very well.
 
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exadeuce

Registered
Joined
Jul 17, 2016
Did you check out the FrozenQ reservoirs? Alex has various sizes, and they have twisted acrylic rods inside that you can get in various UV colors (mix and match if you want). One of those, paired with the D5/655 would look nice and perform very well.

Those look awesome! The quad-spiral one may have the same spacing issue, says 2.25" diameter which is 57.15mm, combined with the GPU is about 5mm too big according to the specs. The Reaction series double-helix version they have lists a tube diameter of 50.8, for a whopping 1.2mm of extra space available. Alternatively, the shorter versions could sit above or below the GPU.

Definitely worth looking into. If nothing else, it makes the space issue very slightly easier to deal with. And they look sweet.

It also seems like some people put the reservoir on the back of the case, which may solve all the space issues.
 

Jeff G

Member
Joined
May 22, 2016
Those look awesome! The quad-spiral one may have the same spacing issue, says 2.25" diameter which is 57.15mm, combined with the GPU is about 5mm too big according to the specs. The Reaction series double-helix version they have lists a tube diameter of 50.8, for a whopping 1.2mm of extra space available. Alternatively, the shorter versions could sit above or below the GPU.

Definitely worth looking into. If nothing else, it makes the space issue very slightly easier to deal with. And they look sweet.

It also seems like some people put the reservoir on the back of the case, which may solve all the space issues.

Alex is super easy to deal with too, you can send him an email with pretty much any question on his products and he responds really quick if you need any additional measurements.
 
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exadeuce

Registered
Joined
Jul 17, 2016
Early arrivals!

RDLTMQj.jpg


Case and motherboard, with, uhh, reservoir stand-in. Wanted to do some poking around and measuring before I started just ordering stuff.
Case LEDs also here.

En route now:

CPU Block: EKWB Supremacy Evo
GPU Block: EKWB
Radiators: Alphacool XT45 420mm and 240mm for Top and either bottom or front, still haven't decided
Fans: Phanteks PH-F140SP and 120SP
Tubing: Primochill UV Green PETG
Various fittings
Pump: Alphacool VPP655 including Esidecke D5 plexi top
Reservoir: FrozenQ LF Reaction 250mm (UV green helix w/UV LED)

Attempting to order from Aquatuning.us triggered some fraud protection, so I went with Newegg. My bank has been trigger happy lately, I spent a bunch of money in Canada and now I'm ordering things from a German company and those "shady" folks over at EKWB. :) Huge headache, but at least they're being too cautious instead of not cautious enough! I'm a bit confused about the EKWB order, actually. They say it has shipped, tracking number and all, but the bank says that transaction was declined and nothing shows up as a pending transaction. Free water blocks, I guess? :p I'm sure they'll figure it out.

Not a whole lot else to do just yet. Except drain the reservoir.
 

Blaylock

"That Backfired" Senior Member
Joined
Jun 5, 2013
Location
Go Blue!
Looking good so far Exadeuce.

Just a heads up, If you mount your pump on the bottom as shown you wont have the option of mounting the Rad down there. Also you may have some difficulty fitting a 250mm res in there too. My GPU's got in the way when building in this case.
 

Silver Surfer

Member
Joined
May 8, 2011
Location
Darlington, South Carolina
Case: Phanteks Enthoo Luxe.

Top Radiator: Alphacool UT60 420mm. Big as will fit up there.

Whoa!

Back that train back into the planning station!

A 420 UT60 will not fit in the top of that case, thickness wise, if you plan on mounting any fans on the radiator that is.

I built my wife a machine and installed the EK Predator 240 all in one it barely fit in the case clearing the motherboard by 1/8th of an inch.

The EK Predator thickness is 68mm that means the radiator is 43mm and the fans 25mm, the Alphacool UT60 radiator is 60mm all by itself adding 25mm fans equals a total thickness 85mm, it won't fit.

You can only count on 68mm of clearance up there.

So you need to keep the radiator thickness to 40mm so you don't have a problem you cannot resolve without case modding.


Radiators: Alphacool XT45 420mm and 240mm for Top and either bottom or front, still haven't decided

The XT45 is 46mm thick with 25mm fans = 71mm, it won't work up top either.
 
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Silver Surfer

Member
Joined
May 8, 2011
Location
Darlington, South Carolina
Belay that order!

Disregard what I posted, my wife has the Phantek Enthoo Pro case, you have the Enthoo Luxe version, the difference between the Pro and Luxe as far as space over the motherboard is the same between the 2 cases.

The difference is the top extends higher allowing the fans to be mounted above the case frame into the top housing so you can mount the UT60 radiator in the top of the case and mount the fans in the cavity above.

Sorry but better to be safe than sorry at least now I am fully aware of the differences between the cases besides a few bells and whistles.
 
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exadeuce

Registered
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Jul 17, 2016
Looking good so far Exadeuce.

Just a heads up, If you mount your pump on the bottom as shown you wont have the option of mounting the Rad down there. Also you may have some difficulty fitting a 250mm res in there too. My GPU's got in the way when building in this case.
Yeah, I'm pretty skeptical that the reservoir is going to fit next to that GPU. The rear of the case has another spot designed for it, and the beer can test seems to work there. Otherwise, the case is easily disassembled so I can remove the crossbar and mount the reservoir slightly towards the front of the case so it fits past the end of the GPU. Not sure how I'll attach it at that point, but there's plenty of room somewhere.

Belay that order!

Disregard what I posted, my wife has the Phantek Enthoo Pro case, you have the Enthoo Luxe version, the difference between the Pro and Luxe as far as space over the motherboard is the same between the 2 cases.

The difference is the top extends higher allowing the fans to be mounted above the case frame into the top housing so you can mount the UT60 radiator in the top of the case and mount the fans in the cavity above.

Sorry but better to be safe than sorry at least now I am fully aware of the differences between the cases besides a few bells and whistles.

Yep, the fans go in the compartment and you have ~63mm from the top to the start of the motherboard. I did go with he XT45 in the end, as looking into research on the subject radiator thickness didn't seem to make an enormous difference and I wanted a little more room for cable management at the top of the motherboard. I appreciate it though. That extra room at the top is one of the reasons I went with the Luxe. (also shiny lights and the extra SSD bracket)
 

GTXJackBauer

Water Cooling Senior Member, #TEAMH20HNO
Joined
May 22, 2011
Location
USA
If you want a dual bay reservoir with "bling" and a D5 pump to it, check out the Monsoon Series Two reservoirs. They have builtin LEDs. You could possibly match the themed colors of your rig.

And don't forget to add a drainage to the loop to make life easier.
 

Blaylock

"That Backfired" Senior Member
Joined
Jun 5, 2013
Location
Go Blue!
This was my solution.
20160629_210456.jpg 20160629_212539.jpg


I'm looking forward to see how this comes out. Every build has it's challenges. :)
 
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exadeuce

Registered
Joined
Jul 17, 2016
If you want a dual bay reservoir with "bling" and a D5 pump to it, check out the Monsoon Series Two reservoirs. They have builtin LEDs. You could possibly match the themed colors of your rig.

And don't forget to add a drainage to the loop to make life easier.

Planning on using a y-splitter and ball valve for drainage, plus a cheap 1-foot flexible tube to shove in as needed for filling and draining. Not quite sure where yet, but anywhere low in the system seems like it will work fine.
 
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exadeuce

Registered
Joined
Jul 17, 2016
This was my solution.
View attachment 181589View attachment 181590


I'm looking forward to see how this comes out. Every build has it's challenges. :)

Indeed!

Another fun one is going to be the VRM coolers. Each opening is about 3.5 inches from the center of the CPU mount. Tight space for rigid tubes, will use some 90 degree fittings there.

I'm glad I ordered eight 90 degree compression fittings, now that I am sketching out more combinations.
 
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exadeuce

Registered
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Jul 17, 2016
Not a whole lot to do until all the parts arrive, but I transferred the system into the new case with the new motherboard just to get things up and running. Glad I did too, had a RAM-related problem that sent me on a bit of a wild goose chase. The Q-code LED turned out to be very handy because I at least had a direction to start... but I did get misled a little. The code was "RAM not installed," so I spent a solid hour screwing around with combinations to figure it out.

Reseat sticks: No such luck.
1-stick solo: boots fine.
Same stick in each slot: boots fine. Ok, so it's not a dead slot. That's good!
Individual sticks one at a time: boots fine. Uhh, so the sticks themselves are ok.
Each dual-channel kit individually: boots fine. Arright...
All four together: fail again.

The heck?

Ok, so it's gotta be some BIOS thing. Enabled XMP, and everything works right away. Default BIOS settings were undervolting, I think. Just not enough juice to fire up all four.

Reinstall the OS onto one of the Samsung drives, decided to ditch the old Crucial drive for now. The case has two slots for SSDs in the cable routing area and the HDD can go into a 5.25" bay with an adapter I had lying around, so I can remove both drive cages and leave as much room as possible in the bottom parts of the case. Sure, I could mount a third SSD somewhere... but it's only a 120GB drive and I can't be arsed. Surely ~1TB of SSD space is enough!

Mostly played around to see how the lighting works. The Luxe built-in lighting is pretty nice, and it can sync up with the Aura software on the motherboard. I also bot a Cablemods RGB LED strip for extra interior lighting, which also syncs with the Aura software. Unfortunately... I don't seem to be able to do both with the Cablemod cable. I'd need a Phanteks-compatible one to branch off the Phanteks -> Aura connector. (I tried to chain the Phanteks case connector off the end of the Cablemod RGB strip with one of the little male-male connectors, but it doesn't seem to work. The case lights just stay off.) Ah well.

Testing the UV glow of the tubing and the fittings, looks pretty good. (edit: played with phone settings for image that is closer to actual look)
bmjuvli.jpg


The fittings and tubes are here, as well as the EK blocks and the tube bending gear. However, the bulk of the watercooling loop arrives Monday (radiators, pump, angled fittings), the radiator fans get here Wednesday... but I'm probably gonna have to wait a bit longer on the FrozenQ reservoir I ordered, as those are made-to-order.

Could do a couple practice bends as I have plenty of tubing, but meh.
 
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exadeuce

Registered
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Jul 17, 2016
Well, it took four weeks to arrive, but the reservoir is finally here! Now I can start fiddling around with possible positions of everything.

At first, it didn't appear as though the reservoir would fit at the end of the GPU, but once I took off the GPU air cooler and installed the water block, it fits!

pqpZPJNm.jpg


A potential routing. Since my drawing turned out crap, the front radiator would have the ports up top. Would come up from the pump at the base, into the front rad, then straight back out which just barely clears the RAM, into the CPU. From the CPU straight up into one of the VRM ports, which lets out to the left of the CU. Up to the top rad with ports on the left, back down to the GPU. The GPU lines up well with the reservoir in this position, so no "depth" change is necessary.

The bottom right is going to be tricky. The res/pump are close enough to where I think I can just use fittings to connect them.

8nG6FGkh.jpg


Getting 12 fan screws to line up with the top radiator is harder than I thought it would be. :p
 
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exadeuce

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Jul 17, 2016
Idea for the pump/res in the lower right: any particular reason I couldn't just put one of those extendable SLI male-male connectors in if I place the pump directly under the reservoir? (figure I'd just ziptie the pump to the bottom of the case)