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watercooling the s5520sc motherboard

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New Member
Nov 16, 2009
Hey folks,
Thanks to a rekindled gaming addiction and an interest in virtualization technology, I built a system about two months ago which has been affectionately named "ludicrous":

2x Xeon X5550
Intel S5520SC motherboard
6x4GB Crucial 1333
PC-A77B Lian Li chassis
Sound Blaster X-Fi Titanium 7.1 sound
EVGA GTX 295 FTW graphics
2x 80GB Intel X25-M G2 SSD (raid0)
3x 1TB WD Caviar Black HDD (raid5)
Enermax Galaxy EVO 1250W
2x Intel BXSTS100C Passive/Active CPU cooler

Here is a look at the components and their layout:

The S5520SC motherboard can be very obstinate from time to time, particularly when you add/remove components, move fans around, etc. Depending on what you've done (like plug a fan into a different spot), the BMC (baseboard management controller) might think that there has been a chassis fan failure and boost all other fans to compensate. Top that off with the fact that I'm not using an intel approved chassis, it is inevitable there are going to be issues from time to time.

When you've managed to confuse the BMC, you have to boot to an EFI shell and reconfigure the FRU/SDR so that it knows what to monitor.

Well, after recently adding the two SSDs and creating the raid0 and raid5 volumes, it seems that the IOH has begun to overheat. I think that the BMC has compensated for this by running all my fans (2 CPU and 4 Chassis) at an intolerable speed.

The IOH runs pretty hot as it is, but the problem has been compounded by the fact that there is a GTX295 right above it:

You can see from the above photo that the GPU leaves only about 70% of the IOH exposed.

Long story short, I'm tired of the BMC/FRU/SDR and all this fan noise. To start with, I want to watercool the CPUs, GPU, and IOH at a minimum. I'd also really like to watercool the voltage regulators and RAM. The IOH might be a challenge though. Perhaps more of it will be exposed after the GTX295 has been stripped of its case and combined with a water block. I may have to resort to cooling the IOH in a more conventional manner.

Any comments, questions, and advice would be very appreciated.
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Water Cooled Moderator
Oct 14, 2007
Welcome to OCF! :welcome: That is quite the system you have there. Wish I could see the photos from work. The CPUs & GPU aren't going to be a problem but the IOH may (or may not) present a problem. Most likely you's need to find a universal block to fit, if indeed one will. Since you're new to water cooling, please have a look thorough the Water Cooling Guide for Beginners. From your build I'd say it's not much of a problem, but what is your budget for the water loop? What are you goals (silence, absolute performance, combination of the two)?


New Member
Nov 16, 2009
Thank you, hokiealumnus. That is an excellent guide and will be a big help in the coming weeks. I unfortunately cannot post to this forum from behind the web proxy at work, so I'll be posting in the evenings and looking forward to your comments and those of others.

I definitely have a preference for the quietest possible system, since this computer is in the living room and connected to the entertainment system.

I'll no doubt need to read through the beginners guide several more times, and do much more thinking and research on the subject, however it seems that it would be reasonable to do a two loop cooling system. Perhaps something along these lines?:

1) Radiator->T adapter->CPU->Memory->Memory->Memory->T adaptor->Reservior->Pump

2) Radiator->T adapter->GPU->T adapter->Reservior->Pump

I really like the idea of isolating the components from one another rather than stacking them in a series. I know that two of those T adaptors in a loop are going to restrict water flow, so perhaps that is a silly thing to do :shrug: I wouldn't be at all surprised if someone laughed at the idea. The T adapter in front of line #1's reservoir could be eliminated if the reservoir had two water inputs.

Since the goal is quiet, maybe use two 140.4 radiators with ultra-quiet fans? Here's a noob question - if I were to use two top-of-the-line 140.4 radiators, could i get away with passive cooling on them (or at least fewer fans)? It would be so nice to have just one really quiet fan blowing into the chassis and another blowing out, and passively cooled radiators. If that is a ridiculous idea, then I suppose connecting the fans to a fan speed controller, with a low speed option would be fine too.

I removed the plastic case of the video card to get an idea for how much smaller it's footprint would be with a full-size waterblock (EVGA Hydro Copper Waterblock for GTX 295 CO-OP, for example). The good news is that it looks like less of the IOH will be obscured:


This gives me additional hope that the IOH could be watercooled. I'm not sure how much of a footprint a full GPU waterblock would add, but it is definitely an improvement. As far as IOH waterblocks are concerned, the IOH heatsink is approx 2.75 inches square. I'll look around and see what candidate waterblocks can be found.

As far as the budget goes, I can tell already that this is going to be more expensive than originally anticipated. It looks like the setup I sketched out could easily cost more than $1200 for quality gear.


Nov 2, 2009
Czech Republic
You probably wont need watercool IOH, once you get watercooling on GK it will stop heating down on it and you could just attach small low rpm/noise fan to it. That should bring temperatures down more then enough.


Water Cooled Moderator
Oct 14, 2007
Ok, a couple of comments on your proposals: First off, forget water cooling the RAM. Huge waste of money and time. RAM can be kept plenty cool with decent airflow. Put it this way - if you run RAM at a voltage that would require water cooling, you’re going to kill it pretty soon anyway, so you might as well not bother. RAM blocks also tend to be very highly restrive. Any gain you get would not be worth the flow loss to your loop.

Definitely no T- (or Y- for that matter) adapters. Water temperatures in a loop will “normalize” such that every component, for better or worse, will be within a couple degrees of each other, assuming it is all under load. That is the case whether you run the loop in series or attempt running it in parallel. The major drawback to running parallel is that all blocks have different restriction. The blocks with higher restriction will be choked while the ones with lower restriction will get all the flow. Series is the way to go.

You’re spot on with dual loops. Two i7’s will get very toasty, as will two 295’s. A 140.3 should be sufficient for each loop. You will not be able to run them passively, but you can run them very, very quietly. Two of these will be plenty for you. If you go with them, don’t forget that Thermochill rads use G3/8 barbs (unlike standard G1/4); it’s no problem, just make sure you get two of them for the rad. Pretty much everything else uses G1/4. On the plus side, partially because of the G3/8 fittings, Thermochill has one of the lowest restriction curves of any rad out there. Get some Yate Loon medium speed fans with a fan controller to go with it and your system will run nice and quietly.

I’d see how the IOH works with more air flow. Once you get the water blocks on the GPUs, see if you can get a fan aimed in the vicinity of the IOH heat sink. If you need it, Antec makes the Spot Cool that you can manipulate to your liking.