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My first WC experience or: Why I had to buy a new motherboard.

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Sep 29, 2011
North Central Idaho
I've been shoveling the coal to an early run PhII 555 x2 3.1GHz for 2 years now. Cooler was an ARCTIC COOLING Freezer 64 Pro 92mm. I was one of the lucky ones: It popped open to 4 cores and ran fine at 3.8GHz (4.1 for about 20min on P95). I was overjoyed and set to work transcoding my DVD library for the media center. But, late last year I had to drop the mult to X18.5 (3.7GHz) and again in May this year to X18, then last month to X17.5 (or 3.5GHz). I worked the water out of it. It ran pretty much @ 50..53C when I was at the console.

I decided to have a go at mitigating the re-diffusion process that was going on on the die and purchased an Antec Kuhler h2o 920. I selected this unit (as I understand all Antec and Corsair cooling kits are made by the same OEM) cuz it looked identical to the favorably considered >> Corsair H100 except it had a three row radiator as opposed to the H100s two row radiator. << :eek: ed: Totally wrong. Comparison was w/ an H70 which indeed looks to have a three row radiator. What cinched the decision was that J&R had it on sale at $89+ w/ free shipping. BTW J&R must have deep stock on Antec coolers as I noticed the two row single fan unit on sale today.

Moving forward: I ran into problems right away with installation of the integrated WB/pump/controller module connection to the 'wire side' motherboard fastening assembly/bracket. The fastening bracket was virtually impossible to keep registered with the 'spigots' of the captive nuts fully seated in the motherboard through holes. Flashback: I should have removed the motherboard! I solved the problem, or so I thought, by placing a piece of foam rubber on my desk that would keep the fastening assembly in place by pushing up through the access opening to the cpu under side area in my case.

Engaging the WB assembly clip/bracket screws was difficult at best. Very easy to start fasteners cross threaded. Luckily the anti rotation facility provided by the injection molded retainer bracket was puny enough to not allow any damage to the clip screws or captive nuts below. Observation: Retaining screw pitch is way to high. Question: Why didn't they just throw in a hand full of screws that fit all the stiffener brackets for target installations? This should have been far less costly than molding a custom retainer part and making 4 stainless captive nuts.

Anyway, it all went together and temps went down to the mid 40s and I was able to bump the speed back up to 3.6GHz. Very happy, I was able to stave off an expensive cpu upgrade with a lesser upgrade that would migrate forward in future upgrades. Then the boot dropped.

Two weeks ago, I came in at my usual 0500hrs to turn up the network and my workstation. Workstation was dead, nada, zip, null. I was dumbfounded, the machine had been running perfectly and in it's new configuration for some +/- two weeks. With no feedback from the machine at all: I manually reset the bios (M4A78T-E), forced an old Sony monitor to stay alive w/ no input in VGA mode and still nothing. All I had left was isolation, inspection, then substitution. I first started disconnecting everything from the board but for one ram stick, no joy.

Inspection revealed that one of the captive nut spigots was not registered in the motherboard through hole. It was immediately clear that this has produced pressure on the motherboard that would try to bend it into a cup shape inside the area defined by the through holes. To test, I loosened the WB assembly mounting screws two turns at a time and tried to start the system. At the point where the mounting screws released 'all spring' in the WB assembly mounting clip, the system started.A last ditch attempt at saving things was tried by putting a drop of RTV Silicone at each of the corners of the bottom bracket to hold it in place and let it cure. No joy. As soon as "any" tension was developed in clamping the WB assembly down, the system would quit. I ordered a new board, M5A97-EVO. I realize fully that I have no one to blame for this incident but myself and accept full responsibility. The board was toast. One of the traces from some layer or through hole socket mounting plating had barfed.

While waiting for the new board, I studied the WB assembly mounting system and thought about how to make it better, for me, keep in mind. Thinking about the injection molded backing bracket with captive nut retainers, led me to understand that even when properly installed, the strength/stiffness of the connecting members between nut locations was not sufficient to support the motherboard against 'cupping' under load of the top WB assembly clip tension. Not looking for a scapegoat here just returning to my engineering roots. I tried fitting the original heat sink mounting bracket screws through the plastic insert towers/retainers that were fitted to the WB assembly clip and discovered that that would require a one way modification. I was prepared to purchase the correct length metric screws at the local hardware but not risk modifying those small plastic retainers. Then I realized that I had a spare steel bracket from the dead M4A78T-E and drill reamed out the captive nuts in it to slip fit the spigots of the captive nuts on the Astec supplied bracket. I glued the plastic bracket to the steel bracket with 4 drops of RTV Silicone and when the new board arrived, poof! I now have an adequately stiff backing plate for the cpu area and have not ruined anything but an old motherboard. yeowie!

A couple of 64GB Corsair M4s arrived w/ the new M5A97-EVO and waiting for the 8120 to arrive with a BD-r to transcode my Blue-Rays. I'll post those results on AMD-cpu area.
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oops! I didn't want to do that, sorry NotNero. On top of that, I'm embarrassed about citing the H100 as my point of comparison. In fact, I was comparing w/ the H70, edit has been made. Hmmm, couldn't find strike through tool. I don't expect that anyone had the problems I did that installed the WB with the motherboard removed.

Though, I'm still not convinced that it is a good idea to make the motherboard itself the main support member for all the compression force of the WB spring clamp. Asus put that formidable steel bracket on the back of the motherboard for some compelling reason.

I'm not sure if the H100 install kit uses the same bracket.

How is the H100 performing for you NotNero?
the h100 is fantastic. I'm a member of the 4gz club for the first time in my life, tops out at 62c in prime, rarely gets above 52c during use, idles in the high 20's/low 30's depending on ambient. I'm not sure if its the same bracket or not, but it was definitely flexible, injections molded plasitc. I feel like its got good, even compression and I will say installation was a breeze. breakdown to first boot was about an hour and a half but I took a long time prepping the surfaces..

Anywho, it wasn't just you, it's my first time with water in the computer and sealed or no, I'm watching it very closely. I just check the bracket now too! haha
Glad to hear you're having success and above all: gratz on 4+GHz.

Other thing I think about with these sealed systems: How do you tell if something is going wrong? Like long term problems with gick growing in the loop. Might be difficult to notice that, since changes are so slow and by the time it is noticed, damage to the cpu may be done.

I think that I'll open it up for inspection at some point. Do you know what kind of interval would be good for the action?
well...they say once a year for custom loops, but these use distilled water mixed with propylene glycol, and supposedly don't have the same organic issues. Truthfully, I'll assume they were assembled and sealed in a clean room, so I'd bet 3 years wouldn't be out of the question for those golden units. For me though, it's more of a transitory step and in a year, I'm sure i'll be ready for next gen LCLC or a custom loop so I'll retire my h100 to a folding rig or other less critical hardware..

Ya know actually, I'm betting by the time Haswell comes out after IB, the TDP of the top of the line chips will be low enough, my trusty 212+ will be all the cooling I'll need.. :cool:
Water change is recommended every 6mos with a cleaning every year...just so that facts are straight
thanks for clearing that up! I'm not sure how to go about, or IF I'll go about changing the water in the h100 though... probly won't.. :D
You can't open the h100 without ruining one of its major advantages, the sealed nature.
The only advantage is convenience. It's sealed so you don't have to assemble, fill, or bleed the system. You sacrifice upgradability, customization, and some performance..

And breaking that seal is precisely why I probly wouldn't attempt to open the thing.
Hmmm, not the reason I went w/ a sealed unit. I wanted to go WC in prep for the BD but the learning curve is very steep. Installing a "turn key" system that was ranked among other systems, WC & AC, that would be up to the job seemed the right way to go. Checking the level/filling coolant? Heck, I do that every time I climb on my quad to feed the horses or go hunting.

My plan was: If the WC system brings home the bacon then, when it's time for PM: buy some tubing; clamps; coolant reservoir (or Tee), service the thing and enjoy for another service interval. If not find the offending component/s, excise them, replace and have another go till the next service interval (which has been supplied by m0r7if3r to be 6mo)..

Then again, I might even get hooked on this WC 'art'. WRT coolant, I've run across a few posts that advocate iodine! I was stunned, with all this high tech shat we are pummeled with, out comes a larges dose of brilliance. Prolly give it a go.
An LCLC unit isn't worth upgrading, you're much better off upgrading a kit or something...LCLC's really aren't worht much as far as I'm concerned tbh