So I recently wondered if I should update my CPU and mainboard to something more timely than the old 4770k I was using.
But after looking at most gaming-benchmarks, even the most high-end combos will only gain me a very minor boost,
So instead of investing heavily in an new CPU/Mainboard/RAM-Setup, I decided to make the jump towards a custom watercooling loop. And just to make it a bit more interesting I choose a hardline-loop as my goal.
Getting information on watercooling, esp. hardline-loops:
So to get a healthy wealth of information on watercooling and especially hardline-tubing I started with my “research” at the YT-Channel of JayzTwoCents. From there on I looked to get a rough overview on what components I wanted/needed for my PC. I wanted to cool both my 1080TI as well as the CPU, so I quickly came to the conclusion that I needed more than one 240 radiator. In parts because of their excellent configurator site and in parts because of the glowing endorsement of Jay, I went for the EK-Waterblocks set. For anyone trying to replicate his one word of warning: EKWB is certainly not the cheapest brand and with some “complications” this cost went up significant.
Not that this cost is unwarranted, but you have to understand that this complete of a package comes at a certain price.
Besides that, I can however attest that the blogposts on their website are excellent as well and helped me with my decision on pump, reservoir and served as a good reaffirmation to the information Jay gives on his channel.
So after deciding on the parts I wanted to use, I went ahead and placed my orders with EKWB, Cablemods for a custom sleeved cable-set, also (obviously) RGB, and discovering an out-of-production waterblock for my ASUS Maximus VI Extreme, which increased my fitting-count by another two 😀
At around this time, Primochill Vue entered the public eye- which made me, like everyone else, go “Gimmie Gimmie Gimme”. But as it was around a month till it’s release date, that had to wait (more on that in part 2 of the build log).
Arrival and major speed bumps:
I’ve had ordered my part in a two stage process, because I first wanted to make sure I felt comfortable with bending PETG. So my initial order were for tubes and the fittings for my loop-drainage. When these arrived I did some test cutting and bending until I felt confident enough to go ahead. My reason behind this was that I could flip some fittings more easily than waterblocks.
When my second round of orders arrived, I assembled everything and started tearing my old build apart.
The teardown went without a hitch, but after I installed the cooler on the ASUS M-VI-E I messed up (the first time):
It had been a couple of years since I rebuild my PC and so I wanted to use the latest and greatest new tech in thermal paste material. So I had ordered some Conductonaut (liquid metal) to use between my CPU (and perhaps GPU) and the waterblocks for even lower temperatures.
While I ,extra careful, tried to apply a small drop of Conductonaut on my Heatspreader, the very first drop came out with an air bubble at unbelievable speeds, BOUNCED of the CPU and landed nicely in the Elkos under my just installed Motherboard-WB.
There were quite some expletives shouted…
And while I managed to salvage all of the material out of the ELKOs, the very last drop that extracted- you have to suck it up into the syringe, because it is impossible to pick it up with anything else- I must have not sucked it up fully and it landed straight in my CPU-mount. Scratch one M-VI-E.
So I salvaged the waterblock back from my board and ordered a replacement from ebay. FML.
Two or three days later, I thought it wise to install the block on my GPU, because I had already mounted all of the other components (like the radiators, reservoir/pump ) in the chassis.
So I sat down and started to carefully disassemble the cooler from my ASUS Strix 1080TI OC. Second fubar incoming…
When disassembling the whole construction I suddenly heard the sound of a loose component in the assembly. One of the components on the graphics card had come loose!
Till this day I have no idea how this came loose, but both soldering-points had cleanly sheared off and I for the moment I could only wonder if I a) had lost 25+ years of experience of PC-building overnight or b) this whole build was cursed by bad luck…
Since I don’t believe in the later and the former option was highly unlikely as well, I grit my teeth and used some glue to remount the plastic base of the component where it belonged (later I used my new soldering gun to make sure the two contacts were attached by more that a bit of pressure).
Some days later the replacement mainboard arrived and I could assemble the whole system to quickly check if everything worked before reinstalling the watercooled heatsink and the CPU-block.
I tried for a second time to apply the liquid metal on the CPU-heatspreader, but after 15 minutes of not achieving a nice even spread, I removed it and used my old Arctic Cooling.
Building the custom loop:
After I had made sure everything was assembled nicely (had to chop a small bit from the lower front fan to install my reservoir and move the top radiator over about an inch) in my Fractal Design Meshify C, I could finally start bending my custom loop.
This all went surprisingly well, I had to redo two rather simple bends, but my complicated “90°Fitting-to-90°-to-90°-to-CPU-hump” (see picture below) was done in the first try.
I ordered some Primochill Sys-Prep to run prior to filling up the loop with my EK-fluid, and to make sure it wasn’t leaking. As a makeshift powersupply I used the 4Pin-Molex-Connector from a USB-2-IDE/SATA-adapter that I had laying around (these are dirt-cheap and you are able to use it totally independent from your main PSU).
Using the tips Jay gave in his preparation videos, I installed plenty of kitchen-paper around all the fittings before staring to pump the SysPrep through. Only had one small drip because I hadn’t properly fastened the topmost fitting, but I fixed that without having to disassemble anything. After 24h of letting this run, I decided to test my system before draining it to replace the fluid with EKs stuff.
After connecting all my peripherals, the next shock arrived when trying to turn on the system. The PSU just made a rather nasty electrical chrip and then shut off afterwards immediately.
My worries, that I had killed my GPU were affirmed by the fact that, when disabling the PCI-E-port and disconnecting the 2x8Pin-PCIE-Power-Plugs my PC started.
Lucky for me, in the end it was an incompatibility between my Cablemod-Set and my PSU (being a bequiet DPP P8 and the CM-Set only being for P9/P10). So no new 800€ card but ‘only’ a 200€ PSU (and could sell the old 850W PSU on ebay).
Because of the importance of regular maintenance of your fluid (a change every 6 month), I’ve planned my loop with a dedicated drain-port from the start. I did however run into a slight hiccup after most of the fluid had been drained, that the complicated bends from mainboard-cooler to CPU-Block need me to repeatedly rotate the whole case around to extract the fluid.
More on that in the conclusions and part 2 will hopefully fix this.
Changing to EK Cryofuel:
After finally getting all of my loop drained the EK Cryofuel finally went in. At the same time I changed the placement of my RGB-strips a bit around, so that the case was evenly lit.
And then doing a bunch of glamor-shots.
There are things that I would have done different in hindsight. Yes, not breaking two components is among these 🙂
Even though I planned ahead when sketching out the layout of my loop, some things I would/will change: The CPU-Block-inlet will be changed soonish to utilize a 90°-bend. Hopefully this will improve the draining-process even more; shaking your case over your head to clear out some fluid-pockets isn’t the most fun, so I will try to minimize this.
Another thing I’ll change is the inlet on the reservoir- currently I use one of the top-entry-holes, but this leads to quite some turbulence, even with the installed guard. However, the normal PETG-Tube is too short to route his to on of the lower entry-points. Since I however plan to install a Flowmeter and a temperature-sensor, I can split this distance in 2 and will soon build this.
While bending was surprisingly easy, I would advise a first-timer like me to use some kind of tape to minimize the scratches on the bends from the fittings. This is not a huge deal, but they can’t be unseen once you notice them.
Things I still have planned:
Once Vue was available I bought grey and red liquid, that needs to be changed. I want to change the above mentioned issues to improve the overall build quality even more and making it more easy to maintain.
And a short and rough WIP of the accompanying video, but I’ll replace this link with the version once I’ve finished it.