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New build advice (for a rookie water cooling builder)

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New Member
Dec 19, 2022
Hi all. I'm looking to get into water cooling. I have another thread open asking about a distro block in a Lian Li EVO. But I thought it might be better to start a new thread with my potential build, and get some feedback before I start buying kit!

Full disclosure - I'm getting into this (water cooling) for the experience and challenge. I don't plan on running an overclockable CPU, or pushing the GPU to the max. I know that one reason for water cooling is to push max performance; but I'm just looking for an exciting challenge with this project. And to build something clean, precise, and beautiful.

The biggest goal I have for this build is *quiet*! :)

Computer Hardware:
  • Intel i7-13700 (when they come out next year)
  • Asus 700-series board (again, when they come out)
  • DDR5 RAM
  • PCIe NVMe 4.0 SSD
  • Asus TUF 3080 OC 12GB (currently have with stock air cooling - will be water cooling as part of build)
Potential Water Cooling Kit (based on my research to date)
  • Lian Li EVO case
  • CPU Block: EK-Quantum Velocity² D-RGB - 1700 Nickel + Plexi
  • GPU Block: EK-Quantum Vector TUF RTX 3080/3090 D-RGB - Nickel + Plexi
  • Top Rad: EK-Quantum Surface S360 - White (I would consider the P360M as well - if it would help with the cooling / noise)
  • Bottom Rad: EK-Quantum Surface S240 - White
  1. GPU Backing plate? Necessary, or just aesthetics?
  2. Hard tube size: 10/12 or 10/14? I can't seem to find anything that discusses pros/cons for using either? My first guess is that the 10/12 would be more fragile to work with?
  3. Hard tube type: PTEG or Acrylic?
  4. Distro block mount location -> initially, I *really* wanted to side-mount it - to have full view through the front glass. However, lots of reading (and great feedback from Zerileous in my other thread) tells me that putting fans there (side) instead of the distro block makes a ton of difference!
  5. If I go with front-mount, what are good, quiet fans to put in the side location?
  6. Coolant -> The allure of colour is tempting, but again, so much real-world experience posted around says NO to colour. Or is it more like 'no to certain brands'?
I've been doing lots of reading so far, and feel comfortable with what lies ahead. I also know from plumbing car coolant systems the importance of no debris, and good prep (radiator dance!) and good maintenance. And I'm open to hear ideas and thoughts on my questions and choices.

According to EK
https://www.ekwb.com/shop/ek-quantum-vector-tuf-rtx-3080-3090-d-rgb-nickel-plexi said:
EK recommends the purchase of a retention backplate, especially for the 3090 models of graphics cards. The backplate improves the overall aesthetics of your graphics cards, and also provides additional passive cooling for the GPU core, VRAM on the 3090 cards, and backside of the printed circuit board VRM section.

Because this card does not have memory on the back like the 3090, you don't need to worry about an active back plate (One that water flows through). Is a passive backplate strictly necessary, probably not. Some blocks require a back plate for retention but I don't believe EK does. It will add some structural stability and also look better, though. You might also be able to just re-use the stock backplate, but some of the screw down locations might not be the same so it may or may not work. IMHO: your stated goal is "something clean, precise and beautiful", if you're spending 4 figures on a water-cooling setup, might as well not cheap out and spend $50-$100 for a matching back plate. These show dust but look super cool if you can keep them clean. Of course if you're going to vertical mount and nobody can see the backplate, could probably skip it.

I'm not a good resource for hardline, but this article may help https://bit-tech.net/guides/modding...ith-hardline-tubing-guide-petg-and-acrylic/1/ Do consider carefully if you want to bend tubes or just use 90 degree adapters, or a combination. While 90s do function as a source of restriction, it really take a lot of them to compromise performance imho. Buy extra fittings, especially angle adapters, as its worth not having to wait and pay for shipping for a single fitting when you're trying to build.

4. Already gave input here. Just remember my original O11D will be slightly different from the EVO. I also can't guarantee a big difference because I haven't A-B tested the two configurations. I can tell you that in my experience if temperatures or performance (in this case fan curve RPM) change significantly when the side panel is off, then airflow is a problem. This is what I experienced with the side blocked off.

5. Arctic makes good quiet case fans. They also make pressure fans that are good for radiators. Vardars are also good for radiators but expensive, very loud at high RPM but perform well at low RPMs.

6. Already commented

Do you want hardware feedback here as well? I think it all looks good as a general outline, of course pending the specific selection. Also you'll want a decent PSU. The 13700K peaks at 250w power draw, I'm not sure where that will leave the 13700, although if you're building a high end system, you might as well get the K for the extra boost clock, even if you don't touch the overclock. Either way I think you might as well put a 360mm radiator in the bottom, as long as you have clearance for everything.

What strategy do you plan to use for fan / loop control? Depending on the fans, some do or do not come with a controller. The advantage of a built in controller is just that, but the disadvantage is the fans are usually proprietary (looking at you Corsair). Most motherboard headers have a limit to how much you can put on them, so you'd need to look at the specific motherboard, how many headers it has and where, and how realistic it would be to run potentially 10 fans on it. Do you want to monitor water temperature or just set the fans to an acceptable / quite level and run the system? The latter is a completely valid approach and works great for a lot of people, but I prefer to have more granular control. However using the motherboard to run fan curves off the CPU/GPU will likely result in fans ramping up and down a lot and be less effective. This is because water takes time to become saturated with heat and also takes time to discard heat, whereas the chip temperatures will be much more rapid in their changes. I use the Quadro from Aquacomputer and a simple G1/4 thread temperature sensor. The Aquaero from Aquacomputer is a long time standard and has more features. Aquacomputer also sells a pump called the D5 NEXT which incorporates flow rate, temperature measurement and fan control into one device. This would attach to the pump top of your distro plate, although clearance have to be checked as it is larger than the standard D5. In the side mount, it would not fit in the O11D, but the EVO may have more room. In the front mount, it may interfere with mounting a 360mm rad.

If you get a regular pump, I prefer the D5 Vario over the D5 PWM. The reason for this is when filling the loop, it's easy adjust the pump speed without connecting power to the actual hardware. On the other hand, once filled, I just set pump speed and forget.
First up, I just realised there is a *separate* OC forum and OCUK forum! 🤣 I’ve started reading the UK one as well.

Thanks again for such detail. Really helpful, and I’m happy I found a forum with such depth of knowledge.

Fan controllers are something I have not yet looked at. I thought the Evo came with one! 😆 (but I have looked at so many options, I might be thinking of another case…) I do intend to run a coolant temp sensor, and control the rad fans with that input. The air intake and exhaust fans though, not sure. I’m sure all the fans could be dependent on coolant temp, but I had this idea of running the intake/exhaust fan curves off of GPU temp?

With all my searching for ‘acrylic vs PTEG’ I’m surprised I didn’t find that article you linked! Will digest that for sure.

You make a good point re: CPU. maybe I should just get the -K version? 😆 I guess I was just trying to save a few ££ on the overall build! CES is Jan 4th. Hopefully shortly after Intel will have prices for the non-K. Will check the deltas in price and make a call then. A -K CPU means a Z-series mobo (more cost! 🤣) or else the -K is choked.

And thanks for the pump recommendations, will check out those options as well. I think the v2 version of the front distro plate has a different pump location, so the larger D5 NEXT might be ok. Will measure for sure.

And interesting; so you don’t vary pump speed dependant on any inputs? (Like temps). Basically constant speed on the pump, and Bart fan speeds? Good to know!

My current AIO, I have the pump speed and rad fans on a curve. But clearly a big difference between AIO and customs loop!
A -K CPU means a Z-series mobo (more cost! 🤣) or else the -K is choked.
To be fair, there's barely any overclocking headroom anyway. For all core overclocking, literally, a couple hundred MHz is all that's left. So, there's a glass ceiling and a Z790 board and K series chip doesn't get you much further. That said, it's a choice... we're here to help either way.

And interesting; so you don’t vary pump speed dependant on any inputs? (Like temps). Basically constant speed on the pump, and Bart fan speeds? Good to know!
For my water cooling (and air), I have enough cooling to set my fans at a low and static speed. This way I don't have to spend time playing games with curves... the difference between low and fans cranked is only a couple/few C in most cases. For pumps, I leave them on ~50% depending on the pump and what's in my loop. Fans on low/static......quiet operation, temps well in order... less fuss/time spent while still achieving a similar outcome = winning. :)
The thing with flow rate is you really don't see a lot of performance increase beyond a certain flow rate. 0.5 or 1GPM. The custom cooling pumps are often much stronger than the AIOs, and in many cases the ideal cooling speed is not loud enough to warrant turning the pump down from that level, meanwhile the benefit from going over that speed is negligible. That said, the D5 Next pump will allow you to adjust the flow rate with temperature if you desire to do so. On the other hand, most independent flow meters will actually increase restriction in the loop, so it's not necessarily the best idea to try and measure flow to adjust pump RPM when the majority of cases will be fine with a set level.

I suppose the same could be said for fans, I went a different route, but over time I've realized fan speed is not as important. My system idles a lot and I do like the fans to spin all the way down and run silent or stop when I'm idling so I don't have to hear them during other activities, since my PC is in my living room. Even though I've greatly decreased the amount of fan noise/speed under most loads, I prefer to have silence at idle. My current curve brings the fans into a mid range of audible but not loud quickly, then very gradually increased them through a working range, staying within a moderate level, and should temps exceed what I feel comfortable with as a working range, the fans will then quickly ramp to 100%. After years of running this (my first) loop, I have come to agree with ED that for many applications, just setting the fans at that moderate range and forgetting it is much simpler and adequate. Some people enjoy the tweaking and control, so more power to you.

Regarding the K SKU, I was under the (mistaken) impression that the K CPU would boost significantly higher than the non-K, but looking at the 12 series, that does not appear to be the case.