Pre-PAX Prime PC Preperations

A little over a year ago I decided to undertake a somewhat unique approach to water cooling: using surface area and evaporation to silently remove heat from the computer. If you want details, the build thread is here on the Linus Tech Tips forums. The long and short of it is, while it did work, summer temperatures made the water evaporate at an annoying rate and the cheap pump I was using generated more noise than I was happy with. That, and I couldn’t move my computer downstairs if I wanted to setup an HTC Vive.

I pieced together a massively overkill water cooling loop with the idea that excessive cooling meant less noise. The end result was this:

water-cooling-1

I tried to make the diagonal lines work, but what I really wanted was something with a lot more 90-degree bends. The lines running into and out of the CPU cooler weren’t the same length, ran across the case at slightly different angles, and when combined with the mostly-horizontal line running from the radiator back to the reservoir, I was pretty unhappy with how it looked. The performance was fine, and I achieved a perfectly stable 4.4 GHz overclock with relative silence. The HZXT Hue+ also provided nice, ever-changing mood lighting which really set the build off.

This year I decided to bring my PC to PAX. There’s a LAN across the street every year, and I figured I could edit and post content without relying on my laptop, play some games, and just have a nice space to myself when I needed a break from the madness of PAX. This was the perfect opportunity to address some of the issues I had with the system.

water-cooling-2

First up was the tubing. One of the issues I had with the tubing was how it ran all over the case and was visually too messy for my taste. To resolve this I wanted to move the radiator to the front of the case. Despite there seeming to be enough room, I just couldn’t manage to cram the radiator, fans, and reservoir all in the hard drive bay. My backup plan was to keep the radiator in the front, but rotate it so the inlet and outlet were now in the front of the case. This allowed me to make shorter, more direct lines between components and get those parallel 90-degree bends I wanted so badly.

Swapping the radiator back and forth was a massive pain in the ass because every time I would have to remove the bolts holding the fans on, reconnect them, realize I put them on the wrong way and have to do it again. Eventually, I got it all sorted and everything was fine.

Except when I realized I ran the water loop backward through the water block. Luckily that was an easy fix; I just had to flip the block upside down.

Now that the radiator lines are in the front of the case there is no room for a hard drive. The 3 TB hard drive now lives in the ever-cramped basement with all the power cables. Seems happy enough, but in the future, I’d really like to mount it at the bottom of the hard drive case under the reservoir.

The last thing I changed, which isn’t pictured, is swapping the OCZ SSD and the Hue+ controller. I had originally put the SSD in first and didn’t think about the aesthetics when I put the Hue+ controller in. The position of the massive black box started to wear on me over time, so I figured now would be the best time to swap all that stuff around. Now it looks much, much better.

I ordered a set of clear acrylic cable combs for the GPU wiring. It’s not supposed to arrive until Saturday, so if it doesn’t show up early I’ll have to install them at PAX. The last thing I ordered, which should be here the day before PAX, is a plastic scratch remover kit. My plastic case window has been through a lot, and I’d like it to look new before putting it on display for all to see (They’re rather prominent in the video below). Hopefully it gets here, hopefully it works, hopefully my loop doesn’t have a meltdown like in the dream I had last night.

Because pictures are kind of boring these days, here’s a short build video I took and edited in a hurry. There are chunks missing because the battery in my camera died, but all you’re missing is me struggling with the radiator. When I do my next rebuild I’ll tear the system down to bare components and do a complete build video from the ground up.

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