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Water Cooling - A First Experience

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Nov 16, 2001
Three days ago I completed my first adventure with water cooling. I hope others might might benefit from my experience.

The following describes my hardware:

Lian-Li PC60 case (three case fans)
Enermax 350 watt power supply (two internal fans)
Abit TH7-II/Northwood 1.8Gig at 2.1Gig(117MhzFSB)
Swifttech MCX478 HSF (Delta SHE fan)

My CPU is under 100% load 24/7 due to the SETI command line client. The Swiftech cooler was keeping my CPU around 114 degrees F with the side of the case removed. With the side of the case in place, the CPU temperature rapidly climbed to almost 130 degrees F. Cooling was acceptable with the side of the case off but the fan noise was overwhelming. I also simply did not like leaving the case open. I changed out the SHE Delta with a somewhat lower capacity HHE Delta at the cost of about 3 degrees. However, the fan noise was still much too distracting. Adding a blowhole would have just added another fan and its associated noise. Ergo the decision to switch to water cooling.

I puchased a Black Ice Prime, Maze2, and Ehiem 1048 and 3/8" tubing from Danger Den. I have to comment that their performance was excellent just like everybody says it is. I intended to mount the radiator and fan inside the lower front of the case.

The first job was to prepare the Lian-Li case. I relocated the HDD to an unused 5 1/4" bay, and removed the cage it was in along with the supporting bracket. The supporting bracket was secured to the bottom of the case with pop rivets. They were easily removed by drilling them out. I also removed the two case fans, the USB bracket, and the fan speed control switch/circuit board.

I sandwiched a 120mm fan between the Black Ice Prime and the front of the case. The Black Ice Prime, on its side, is an extrenely tight fit between the bottom of the case and the bottom of the 3 1/2" floppy drive cage. Using the fan itself as a template I drilled two holes through the front of the case for the upper two mounting screws. The two lower mounting screws matched up almost exactly with the two tapped holes for the USB bracket. These holes just need to be drilled out slightly larger. As it turned out I was unable to utiilize the upper left mounting hole because of interference with the lower floppy drive cage bracket. I used three 6 X 1 1/4 stainless steel sheet metal screws to secure the radiator and fan to the front of the case. The screws enter the front of the case, go through the fan, and screw into the radiator. The front of the 120mm fan stradles the two 80mm fans holes.

I mounted the pump using velcro to the bottom of the case. Mounting the Maze2 to the CPU was very straight forward as was cutting and fitting the hoses. I mounted a Tee at the discharge of the CPU (high point) and used a hose as a small standpipe for venting and as a surge volume. Filling and venting the system turned into a real SOB. It was easy to get the bulk of the air out but the little stream of bubbles took about a day to finally off gas into the standpipe.

The good news is that the cooling performance of the system is now outstanding. With the sides of the case in place the CPU now runs between 103 and 107 degrees F with a brief peak at 117 degress every now and then. This is clearly an improvement.

The bad new is that the damn 120mm fan makes a lot more noise than I anticipated and the total noise is not noticeably less than what it was previously. I am still running the 80mm rear exhaust fan because I felt the case internal temperature was running too hot without it. Also, because of interference with the 120mm radiator fan, I cannot replace the front of the case (the lower mounting guide holes are blocked by the fan). The air intake filter mounting bracket cannot be used for the same reason. I have not yet come up with a good solution to route the 120V power cord for the pump out of the case. It now goes through a hole next to the 120mm fan and this further impedes putting the front of the case on. This is all unacceptable so back to the drawing board.

My next step is to find a new radiator that will fit better below the floppy drive cage and mount it farther back in the case. There is a small cubicle heat exchanger that Danger Den has and I will probably consider it. Ducting it to the two 80mm holes is going to be a challange that I am dreading. I am also going to use a smaller capacity and quieter 120mm fan. Cooling is so good now I am certain I can reduce the size of the radiator and fan without ill effect.

This is a long post but I hope it proves useful to the next guy trying to water cool a machine in a Lian Li case. I certainly would have appreciated hearing about someone elses experience first.



New Member
Mar 26, 2002
You will probably reduce the 120mm fan noise by moving it away from the front panel. I bet that the restricted flow through the 2 original fan openings is causing turbulence which causes more noise.


Feb 21, 2001
Use two 120mm with lower speed. Put one like you have now and put the other one behide the rad. Look at Hoot's system.


Nov 16, 2001
f155mph, thanks, for the suggestion. There seems to be so much exess cooling capacity with the Black Ice Prime that a much slower quieter fan will probably work very well. The Lian Li case is too nice to have to leave the front cover off so I also have to relocate the entire assembly. I am just so overwhelmed now by demands on my time from wife, parents, and work that It is just going to have to wait a week or two before I can address it.

While I have the floor I want to address the numerous posts lately on which radiator to use. It appears to me that even the Black ice Prime, which has less capacity than its bigger brother, has an incredibly large amount of heat transfer capability. There is no discernable temperature rise either on the block or radiator. My initial impression is that the specific radiator is not going to really matter. The next one I buy will be based soley on its geometric form for easy placement within the case.

What happened to my pictures? They are gone!