So I've had this case for a few weeks now, and I've been going through some frustratingly major flips-flops in terms of how I want my particular build to proceed. I'm hoping that someone here wouldn't mind taking a look at everything I'm planning to do with this case and let me know whether or not I've got it all down in a manageable fashion. If you're prone to migraines, eyestrain, or irritation with total newbie builders, you're definitely in the right place!
These are the parts that I'm currently intending to install in the 540:
Motherboard - ASUS Maximus VI Hero
CPU - I7 4770k (currently have a Noctua NH-D14 to cool it)
GPU(s) - 2x R9 290
RAM - 32gb (4x 8gb) G.Skill Trident X 2400
HDD(s) - 2x 3tb WD Red
SSD - Samsung EVO 250gb
PSU - EVGA Supernova 1300w G2
Cooling - 6x Scythe GT AP-15's (3-pin 1850 rpm)
As I gather from reading people's impressions of the reference R9 series cards, air cooling really isn't viable for even one of these if the user intends to gain more than a token overclock. In fact, I'm seeing people expressing frustration with the cooling on purely stock clocks. Thus, I've decided to just bite the bullet and go for a full custom loop. I'm not exactly what I would refer to as an avid overclocker -- more of a passionate gamer who enjoys being able to prolong the life of his expensive components as much as he possibly can before he feels the need to upgrade. I don't plan to do any benchmarking beyond stress testing, nor am I interested in breaking any records or maintaining bleeding edge clock speeds 24/7. I'm planning to run a single 2560x1440 monitor for the time being, so I don't see the need for any more raw horsepower just yet. The main reason I want a loop is for the combination of excellent cooling potential and far quieter operation.
Rambling aside, I've got a fair number of questions as to the specifics of a possible custom loop. I've spent most of today browsing FrozenCPU and various other sites looking for the "perfect" combination of parts that will give me the best results in terms of cooling, longevity, and aesthetics. Here's what I've got in mind for the full gamut:
2x EK R9 290x Acetal + Nickel VGA blocks w/ backplates
EK FC Terminal - Dual Parallel
EK Supremacy Clean Acetal + Nickel (Clean CSQ) CPU block
2x Alphacool UT 60 Full Copper Radiators (1x 360, 1x 240)
Bitspower 3/8" ID x 1/2" OD Matte Black Compression Fittings
10ft Primochill Primoflex Advanced LRT Tubing - Bloodshed Red
Swiftech MCP655 PWM D5 Pump
Some kind of reservoir...
My biggest issue is with deciding on the pump/reservoir/fittings. I know that I want to use Bitspower Compression 3/8 x 1/2 alongside red tubing (theme is red and black, with room for some white/gray on account of the fans). I also know that I want a PWM pump, as I have a Sunbeam Rheosmart 6 installed and it requires a PWM signal to enable automatic control of the fans run off of it (plus Martin from LL demoed a fully functional combination of auto fan + pump control using a Rheosmart 3). From what I gather, a D5 pump is ideal for those wanting a quiet system, and does not heat up like a DDC style pump does; this costs you some head pressure, but is more to my liking for the former points. The trick is the res. There's a massive variety of combos on FrozenCPU alone, and they vary from bay mounts to case mounts to everything in between. Choosing one is proving to be daunting. Of course, choosing all
of these components has been a real headache.
Now, given the specific constraints of this case, here's my questions.
1. Is 120.5mm of rad area enough to adequately cool a 4770k along with CF 290's, assuming moderate overclocks (the highest I can get without meddling with voltages overmuch)? From info I've come across, I'm thinking the answer is "no". However, would this setup at least come somewhere close
to acceptable, temp wise? Again, I don't feel comfortable pulling out a dremel and doing what Glen did to his 540, despite how cool it turned out. Worst case, I'll spring for a 900d or an ST-10 and scrape by on air until I can afford the full loop. Rough calculations put me at anywhere from 700-850w of heat to dissipate, and I've heard that 120mm per 100w is ideal for proper cooling. That leaves me at roughly 60% efficiency if those numbers are close to correct, which scares me.
2. Is 3/8 x 1/2 tubing with same sized compression fittings the best option for a newcomer? These dimensions are supposedly the most used, and offer a good balance of price and performance with decent availability. Furthermore, would vets suggest that I buy more fittings, at a greater variety of angles, than needed? Should I go all 45 degree fittings? All 90's? Mix and match? Rotary? Fixed angled adapters?
3. Would most of you suggest running dual pumps? Not necessarily for pressure related reasons, but also for the benefit of redundancy. Being a first timer, my paranoia is high and my experience is nil, so the notion of not having to bite my fingernails if I leave my system on for an overnight download (or ten) is appealing. Would a dual pump solution even work out in this small of a case?
4. Would an EK Dual CSQ Pump Top, mounting two D5 pumps to the back mesh of the case above the PSU, be feasible? It looks like the whole thing would mount to the mesh horizontally by means of screwing the bracket into the holes. I'm thinking this would come out somewhat like those who mounted their HDDs to the same mesh, though I have no idea if two pumps are too heavy to properly seat there without falling off. This solution would also kinda make me nervous about leaks. Since I'd be running tubing directly over my PSU, is there a good chance of me frying everything were I to go this route?
5. Following on with the above, could I combine a dual bay res, such as the FrozenQ Liquid Fusion variety, with that particular dual pump setup? Seems to me it would be as simple as running some tubing from the res down to the pump mount, and then from the pumps to the rest of the loop. The biggest issue would be the angle, right? I want my res to run downhill to the pumps, and that might be a little tough if I were looking to mount them to the back mesh. Would placing the pumps in the recess across from the PSU, and managing the PSU cables up toward where the SSD cage used to be be a better option?
6. Speaking of the SSD, is sticking that to the top of the 5.25" bay with some double-sided tape a secure enough mount for it? I've heard they don't run especially hot, nor do they have any moving parts, so this seems a-ok from my perspective. Still, it'd be nice to hear some thoughts on it. Hell, the thing is so small I feel I could squeeze it in wherever it could possibly fit.
7. Would I want to run both the front and top fans as intakes, and leave only the rear fan as exhaust? I'm shooting for strong positive pressure on account of dust, and feel that the combination of the Demciflex filters I have installed, plus the restriction of the rads, will collapse airflow significantly if I only run the front as intake. For that matter, would grabbing another couple GT's and going push/pull on the top 240 be worth the cost in terms of airflow and temps?
8. Now that I think about it, will my PSU be meaty enough to handle all of this? I'm solid on the CPU, GPUs, and fans, but adding in a pair of pumps and the other watercooling kit can only increase the load.
I have even more questions, but I need a break from typing for a while. I'd also rather not start off on OCN by writing a totally full-length essay (too late, eh?). I realize that a lot of this post reads like me arguing with myself, which I pretty much am -- however, I'm just looking for some of you more experienced, calm types to weigh in on what I'm planning to do here. Honestly, at this point, I'm on the fence about whether the 540 is going to be enough space to work with. It's a shame, really, as I love the cube design and find the cable management to be ideal for someone with as poor organization as myself. Still, if my system's cooling efficiency would suffer too much from the constraints of a 120.5mm setup, then that's that.
So, with all my yakking mercifully coming to an end, anyone willing to offer up some advice to a tentative watercooler?
Feel free to pick my post apart in whichever manner you see fit. Criticism doesn't bother me, and I'm eager to learn. The itch to start building this beauty is getting overwhelming. It's only taken me a wild few weeks to remember why I'm PC obsessed. Or simply obsessive.
Maybe slightly insane?
Eh, who knows?