Building My First Custom Water Cooling Loop

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Larry Litmanen

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Honestly i am shocked by how thin and small GPUs are when they are without that huge cooler.

We need a move away from fans on GPUs to single slot water cooled units.
 

dstarr3

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We need a move away from fans on GPUs to single slot water cooled units.
Personally, I don't want water in my computer. First of all, general maintenance on an air-cooled system is muuuuuuuuuuuch easier than general maintenance on a water-cooled system. I don't want to do it. And, y'know, air cooling, if a fan fails, things get hot and the computer shuts itself off before damaging itself, worst case scenario. Water cooling, there's a lot of failure points that could mean getting a crucial component wet and killing it.

Rather than water-cooled GPUs becoming the norm, I'd rather have cooler GPUs become the norm.
 

Blueberries

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Water cooling is great because it challenges companies like Nvidia, AMD, and Intel to produce chips with lots of performance and high TDPs.

The dream is that some day we'll have more performance than we know what to do with at such a low wattage that cooling is passive and a small fan is used to circulate air and nothing else.
 

Math Geek

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I do love the look of a system with hard tubing artfully flowing throughout the vase. if i ever messed with custom water cooling it would only be to design a neat river of water flowing through my case. i could imagine a few different flow patterns already but alas am too lazy to spend the time bending all that tubing to create the complex pattern i can imagine in my mind.

nice article though, always nice to see what challenges someone has that is new to a certain build type. very informative.
 

thundervore

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ammaross

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After all, that's why cases have those rubber grommets for guiding water cooling tubes through, right? (Wrong, actually, but we'll get back to that later.)
Or not... Does this mean there will be a follow up article, or was not "getting back later" to this an oversight?
 

coupe

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Cool. Congratulations and it looks like a great build!

I just built my first water cooling loop last year. It would be a good idea to install a no spill coupling so you can hook up a drain to service the water cooling later.
 

RedJaron

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I'm wondering at that too.
 

N.Broekhuijsen

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I'm wondering at that too.
That was referring to the way that it was a terrible idea to mount my reservoir and pump externally. Not only did it require long tubing runs, but it just doesn't look all that great. I got back to it (albeit a bit too discretely) in the hard tubing section.
 

JackNaylorPE

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Niels:

Nicely done...... most 1st time builders go down quite a bit more blind alleys on their first build. Some tips for the next time you tackle this

1. Put TIM on the GPU memory / VRM.
https://shop.ekwb.com/EK-IM/EK-IM-3831109868614.pdf

Step 3 - PLACING THERMAL PADS ON PCB.
Place thermal pads on chips so that numbers on chips match size of thermal pads. You may use small drops of electrically non-conductive (for example: EK-TIM Ectotherm, Arctic Cooling MX-2™ or GELID GC-Extreme™) thermal grease on each phase regulator (that is being covered with thermal pad) in order to even further improve the thermal performance of the EK-FC780 GTX Ti series water block.
GELID TIM is actually ideal for GPUs as it remains pliable and you can apply it w/ the lil spatula thing they give you. It remains "spreadable" longer than most other TIMs, but does tend to get thick by the time you spread on the 18 pads (top and bottom).

Try it next time with the Enthoo Pro / Luxe which comes with built in radiator friendly fan controller and built in pump / reservoir mounts. You can see the difference in room and cable routing here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GdWXLAmmSjc

A 420 easily fits on top.

3. You don't mention what fans you are using or if you did I missed it. But that really is not overkill and certainly "sensible"

60mm thick 360 is good for about 180 watts @ 1250 rpm and the 35 mm 240 is good for about 120 more for a total of 300 watts @ 10C delta T. You didn't fit the 140 but it would have added little.

An overclocked 4690k and hit 135 and the 780 Ti can hit 300 and finally add 20 watts for the pump..... you'll want at least 60% of that or 273 watts handled by the rads (455 x 0.6). I'd expect a Delta T of about 9C and you';; have no problem keeping fan rpms well below the 850rpm point where they become audible.

A good rule of them if looking for a quite build is 120mm of rad for each 100 watts of load. At 455 watts, 4.55 120mm lengths of Rad would net you the general design target of 10C. Of course, many do with less and use higher rpm fans which is certainly doable if you don't mind the noise. Otherwise, it's just a matter of how high a delta T you are willing to live with.

I'd have recommended fittings for your 1st acrylic tube. Takes about as long but if you err on the side of "conservative" when cutting, you can always go back and "take a lil more off"



Bending should not be attempted with a good "bending kit" . The mandrels and silicon insert tubes especially make things a lot easier
http://www.frozencpu.com/products/22334/too-129/Monsoon_Hardline_Pro_Full_Bending_Kit_-_38_x_12_13mm.html
(Yes, I know FCPU is "down for the count" but they still have the easiest, most searchable web site)

4. One thing I would suggest is vibration isolation for the pump. Most pump noise comes from the pump transmitting vibrations to the tubing, case and other components. Some cases Phanteks) provide mounts for vibration isolation for this purpose but are available separately. You can't see it in the acrylic build above but the twin pumps are on a vibration isolated mount with a vibration isolated heat sink stand with a thermal / vibration pad between the sink and pump. To isolate the pump from the rigid tubing, two 3" lengths of flexible tubing are used.

5. Bleed tip. Bleeding from the highest point in the loop makes things easier. Radiators which provide both top and bottom ports come in handy here.

6. A quick disconnect drain line can be handy. Most over estimate the need for "maintenance"... with an engineered coolant, you needen't do anythkng for 2 years or so.... (I do 18 months but more so just to get a fresh color in there)

7. Loved your comments about what you learned and how you'd change things. There are various steps you can take to help you along.

-Measure up the case before deciding whether to buy
-Make mockups of GFX cards and other devices if you don't have them yet. Check out my 780 Ti mockup. I could sent it to ya for you to test fit :) .... as it turned out it did in mine .... by 2mm.



-Measure twice, cut once advice should double the measuring part
-Look at product dimensions .... some rads will fit in places that other's don't. One 140mm rad might be 143mm wide another might be 146 .... matters when case allows for 145.
-Include a drain port w/ quick disconnect.
-Use fan PCB for radiator fan control.
-When doing SLI / CF, split the streams before the cards and recombine after. Cuts back pressure by factor of 4

Again, well done .... i think peeps learn more from articles like this which include the mis-steps as well as the final result.
 

JackNaylorPE

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I been itching to make a kid's build based upon this theme w. multiple loop, different coolers and the same wooden ring things (and lil plastic characters) to play with while system booting or doing updates :)



 

Frozen Fractal

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I am not sure why EK sent you their already EOL XTX rads whereas, they already have a much better replacement (the new XE series) rads. Well, anyway, that's a nice article, sharing your first WC build. I liked it very much. Nice one!
 

Frozen Fractal

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Honestly, not everyone can afford a WC loop. And besides, that would make the end product way too much pricey and jugged with things that will take up more space in both your case and table. Moreover, that would rob away the "custom" choice of the users for which custom WC is meant for. Here's an example of this (notice that the price of R9 295X2 is $1200 now).
http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/visiontek-cryovenom-r9-295x2,3951.html
 

Frozen Fractal

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To be honest, I've never seen anyone having any leakage trouble with a WC loop - except few who are newbies and didn't installed the fittings correctly. If you do it right, you don't need maintenance for months, and maybe even years if you have chosen everything right. If you don't do it right, you can blame the same to air-cooled build too.

If you are going to refer now that WC builds need maintenance after each two/three months... wrong! They don't, unless you have some crappy coolant that are actually hair dyes or listrine rebranded as PC coolants. With good coolants, you'll last for a year at least.

 

JackNaylorPE

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There's very little performance reason to do WC loops these days. The performance difference between the normal factory OC'd cards and the "special cards" like the lightning and Classy are lost on those not going to DICE / LN2. I do water cooling for the aesthetics, ability to customize and make the machine dead silent.



Odd thing is I see many using this assumed problem as the reason they bought a CLC.

http://www.frozencpu.com/products/17707/ex-liq-284/Mayhems_Pastel_Coolant_Concentrate_-_250mL_-_Ice_White.html?tl=g30c337s1809

Mayhems new pastel range incorporates many differing technologies into one product, from dyes to nano fluids and of course a little Mayhems magic. With a system working life of about two years, of which is due to a design that is intended for prolonged use.
 

Math Geek

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now that is a million dollar idea :D can't imagine how much time it would take but i can still lose myself on those fun things at the docs office and i'm old. to have the tubes flowing with coolant and have the stuff to move around while it loads up would be pretty close to heaven on earth in my humble opinion :)
 

turkey3_scratch

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I know there are water coolers for CPUs, but do they sell things like this (water coolers for the entire computer) already pre-assembled? I'm not sure if I'd want to go through that tedious process, and I'd be willing to spend a bit more and buy a pre-made system water cooler. But do they even exist?

Aldo, what's the difference in the radiator and pump?
 

JackNaylorPE

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As every PC is layed out different, this would be a bear. Here's the easiest I can come up with

1. Swiftcech H240-X for CPU Block w/ pre-assembled reservoir, radiator, pump and CPU Block. That will get ya started.
http://www.swiftech.com/H240-X.aspx

2. Use one (or two) of these air cooled (for the time being)
http://segmentnext.com/2015/06/01/asus-reveals-gtx-980-ti-directcu-iii-strix-and-rog-poseidon-gtx-980-ti-gpus/

3. When ready Switch to water cooling simply by removing cutting the tubing and connecting them to the GFX cards. Adding an additional radiator is also recommended .... for two cards at least.
 

RedJaron

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The pump is what actually forces the water through the tubing. The radiator is the what the fan blows air through to cool off the liquid. Most all-in-one liqid coolers have the pump mounted inside or close to the radiator housing ( or on the waterblock itself, ) so it looks like they're a single unit. The two perform very different functions. When you go the custom loop route, the pumps and radiators are usually separate.
 
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