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[Build Log] Project Nighthawk

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 
Project Nighthawk

Hey there. After many weeks of research on water cooling, and reading up on a lot of awesome builds out there, I thought I'd try my hand at water cooling my current build. This will be my first attempt at water cooling, but I plan on doing a bang up job so I'm going all out with custom fabrication, painted parts, led lights, copper pipe, and maybe even a dual loop. I'll talk more about my plans as I go. Right now I'm waiting on my next round of WC parts to come in (hopefully Monday).

Current Hardware:

Motherboard: EVGA Z170 Classified
CPU: Intel Skylake i7 6700k, 4.6GHz
Memory: Corsair Dominator Platinum, 16GB, 3000MHz
GPU: EVGA GTX 980 Ti SC+ AXC 2.0+, w/OC
PSU: EVGA SuperNOVA 850 G2
SSD: Samsung 840 Pro, 256 GB
SSD: Samsung 850 Pro, 512 GB, (x2)
Case: Corsair Obsidian 750D

Planned Watercooling Hardware:

CPU Block: EK-Supremecy Evo, Nickel/Acetal
GPU Block: EK-FC GTX980Ti Waterblock w/black backplate, Nickel/Acetal
Radiator: Alphacool NexXxos XT45, 360 and 280 variants
Pump: Alphacool VPP655 Single Edition (x2)
Pump Top: EK-XRES 100 Revo D5 Pump Top (x2)
Reservoir: Reservoir: EK-XRES X3 w/Multitop, 250mm (x2)
Tubing: 1/2" OD Copper Pipe
Fitting: Primochill RevolverSX 1/2" Rigid Compression, matte black
Fitting: Bitspower Stop Fittings, matte black
Valve: Bitspower Dual Rotary Mini Valve, matte black (x2)
Fans: Corsair SP 120 QE. Corsair AF 140 QE, NF-A14 FLX (x2)
Case Lighting: NZXT Hue+
Fan Controller: NZXT Grid+ V2
Edited by lvl1k0n - 6/29/16 at 12:42am
post #2 of 9
Thread Starter 
The backwall and covers are being done out of quarter inch thick MDF board. My motherboard runs hotter than I would like (40C at idle), and I'm a little concerned that the temperature will increase significantly when I block things off with the MDF board and I have hot air coming in via the front radiator. Its something I'll have to keep an eye on.

MDF Board/Inner support:

First Cuts with a jigsaw and bandsaw (Feel free to laugh at the crooked lines and terrible paint job):

Some Improvements:

Finished Product:

Needless to say, thats ^^^ definitively not going in my PC, lol. I bought a few of MDF boards knowing that the first board would be used for testing things out. It took me a while to get used to the jigsaw and the old bandsaw that my dad and I fired up, but with a little patience and sanding, the final pieces should turn out fine. Painting is sure gonna suck though. guiltysmiley.gif

Final Dimensions for all the MDF board and my helper for the day:

Edited by lvl1k0n - 6/29/16 at 12:38am
post #3 of 9
Thread Starter 
Hey all, this will be a quick & short update before I catchup on Game of Thrones and hit up some Arma 3, 1944 Koth. I would of liked to give a bigger update, but my parts aren't here yet and everything involving the fabrication revolves around the PSU box which is curing atm. Tomorrow I should have updates with pictures of the majority of my WC parts as well as all the fabricated parts test fit inside my case. I'm excited.

Edited by lvl1k0n - 6/29/16 at 12:39am
post #4 of 9
Thread Starter 
I've been busy with work and battling a bad eye infection so I haven't had the time to do much of anything for my build aside more planning. I did however receive that order I mentioned in my first post, as well as finished ordering all of my water cooling components. All of which should be here by Wednesday which is when I'll have a three day weekend, and I hope to have everything completed come Friday. I HOPE.

Here's a picture of the fabricated parts that I promised previously:

The PSU box turned out great. There are some small gaps, but that's nothing a little putty and sanding won't fix. The box also needs to be shortened lengthwise every so slightly. I'm not really pleased with the two back pieces though. The motherboard tray has a vertical piece of sheet metal which required me to split the backboard into two pieces. I don't like how it turned out, so I plan on using my Dremel to remove that piece of sheet metal, and then cutting up a new board to have one solid piece. The HDD cage will need some Dremel work as well, so that I have the means to mount its cover as well as allow for pipes to pass through.

Completed Components List:

CPU Block: EK-Supremecy Evo, Nickel/Acetal
GPU Block: EK-FC GTX980Ti Waterblock w/black backplate, Nickel/Acetal
Radiator: Alphacool NexXxos XT45, 360 and 280 variants
Pump: Alphacool VPP655 Single Edition, (x2)
Pump Top: EK-XRES 100 Revo D5 Pump Top, (x2)
Reservoir: Reservoir: EK-XRES X3 w/Multitop, 250mm, (x2)
Tubing: 1/2" OD Copper Pipe
Fitting: Primochill RevolverSX 1/2" Rigid Compression, matte black
Fitting: Bitspower Stop Fittings, matte black
Valve: Bitspower Dual Rotary Mini Valve, matte black, (x2)
Fans: Corsair Air Series
Case Lighting: Modded Sylvania RGB Light Kit

Yes. I'm doing a dual loop for a damned single GPU/CPU loop. For the aesthetics, and not because money is cheap. mellowsmiley.gif
Edited by lvl1k0n - 6/29/16 at 12:39am
post #5 of 9
Thread Starter 
Damn. I can't believe it's been a month since I've started this endeavor, and I apologize for the late update. The past few weeks I've been battling a bad eye infection, on top of working my PC, and helping out family with other stuff, all while working full-time. I was hoping to have everything done about a week ago. So much for that...

I have work in about four hours and want to get some rest, but I'll share some potato quality pictures before I log off. I've made some pretty significant changes to my plans for this build as new challenges arose. It's been pretty daunting and stressful. I have, however, learned a lot from doing all this work/fabrication which means a lot to me. As stressful as things have been, I'm remaining optimistic and I think I'm going to be quite pleased with the results. I'll try to get my hands on a higher quality camera as I finish things up here in the next few days/week.

This is the last photo I took of my beautiful, untarnished, 750D case. RIP.

This is where I began my dremel work. I used painters tape to give me a guide for my cuts. This was my first time using a dremel, so my initial cuts are not that pretty but as time wore on, I became more confident with the dremel and my skill improved. One thing to mention is that I knocked out 90% of a vertical support, which you can see in the second picture. I had to do this because the MDF backboard I planned to use looked like crap when split into two pieces. Removing that vertical support made the MB tray very flimsy, but I was able to resolve this by creating one whole MDF backboard that attached to the MB tray as well as a sidewall on the front of the chasis. If anyone is curious I'll share more detailed pictures. In its current state, the MB tray/backboard is sturdy as can be. I don't have it pictured here but I removed the bottom of the HDD cage as well. At the end of the day, the not-so-pretty cuts will be getting painted over, and covered, so it will all work out.

I believe this is all of the parts I ordered, minus my NZXT controllers and Corsair fans. I've decided that I'm using copper pipes, and I'm waiting to get all my parts fitted and painted, before I decide whether or not I should order some 90 degree rotary fittings. I've heard they have potential leak issues. I also don't think they would look as nice as if I were to use ONLY copper tubing between parts, but the downside is that I can only bend my copper so tight before it kinks, and a 90 degree fitting would look much nicer when making a tight angle coming out of my reservoir. Ahhh, decisions...

The picture on the left is where I began the majority of my painting, while the picture on the middle is the theme I was hoping to maintain. My rings turned out fine, however I have to say attempting to paint the rubber dampeners was a major mistake and I regret ever removing them. The first coat of paint turned out crappy because I had the parts too close together and sprayed from too far. After applying a second coat, the dampeners looked alright, however somewhere between having too thick of a paint coat and having to squeeze them back inside the fan housing, the rubber rips apart and/or the paint is full of spiderwebbed cracks. I have Plastidip down as the base coat, but removing the paint from just one dampener takes forever, and its not worth the mess/hazard of removing so much paint. I've ruined about two fans worth of dampeners trying to fit them back in nicely, and I'm afraid I'm going to have to buy new fans all together. Thankfully, I was able to reuse some of the fans from the initial build, and I won't be losing too much money. Stressful nonetheless.

On the left I have the NZXT Hue+ and NZXT Grid+ V2 that I will be using to control my fans and lighting. I want to minimize the connections I have to my MB, and after weighing my options I decided to go with NZXT for my controllers. I've read some not so great reviews on the CAM software, but in my experience with PC parts negative reviews on highly rated parts are generally exaggerated. If a part has hundreds of reviews with an average of 4 out of 5 stars, it's probably a good part to use. In the right picture, I have several metric sized bolts, nuts, and spacers that I'm using for the backboard, reservoir collars, and radiators. I've lost count of the number of changes I had to make to my backboard as I started test fitting parts. Oh yeah, on the left I also have an air pressure test gauge I created to check for leaks before filling my loop (credit goes to B Negative for the idea).

Here is a quick shot of the initial fabrication of my SSD housing. On the right are all of my fabricated parts, of which I hope I don't have to make any more changes. I started by sealing off the backside with Kilz Complete primer so that I can hopefully avoid future problems. Tomorrow I will turn the parts around, apply a nice coat of primer, and paint them a matte black with a matte finish to make them more dull. Note that below my PSU cover, I have two options for the HDD cover. One of boards just covers the HDD cage, while the other extends out another three inches and is inline with the backboard/motherboard and will do a better job of hiding my tubing. I plan on using the extended HDD cover, which may also get some sort of decoration down the line.

Lastly, I have some updated shots with my radiators and reservoirs in place. Bear in mind, the order of the pictures are not sequential (the backboard here is quite different than the one shown above). I've looked through other 750D builds and I haven't seen many dual loops. For one they're kind of overkill and two the 750D isn't that spacious. I have a feeling that when I get things painted and the tubing inside that my build will look flippin' amazing though. One other thing that has been stressing me is the proximity of the right reservoir to the front radiator. I plan on using the front radiator in a pull configuration, and I'm concerned as to how much it will heat up that reservoir, if anything. I'm also concerned about how much airflow be chocked off with the radiator and res so close together. There is literally ONE mm of space between the pumptop and the fins of the radiator. The reservoir tube has about an inch of space which is a little better. If worst comes to worst, I can use the fans in a pull configuration, or use a 30mm thick radiator instead since I'm hoping to stick with this dual loop.

Welp, three more hours until work. Night all.
Edited by lvl1k0n - 6/29/16 at 12:57am
post #6 of 9
Thread Starter 
Just another quick update since I'm finding more computer time. It's been tough find the time or access to a computer these past two weeks. I fell asleep shortly after work today thanks to two hours of sleep, but awesome-ly my dad primed and sanded the remainder of my parts at some point yesterday. The guy is a whiz when it comes to anything mechanical or hands-on orientated. He's been great to have helping out and using his many tools. If I find the appropriate forum, maybe I'll share some of the amazing work he's done since he is very knowledgeable. I digress though. We need a little bit more of priming, but I should be able to finish all of my painting after work tomorrow. The day after, I want to put all of my parts inside. I've been holding off on seating my GPU and CPU block(s), because they would be just sitting there not running. I also need to flush my radiator(s) with some Mayhem Blitz. My new fans, sigh, should arrive the day after tomorrow as well. I decided to pick up some Noctua high pressure static fans for the front of my case, which I hope will help with the reservoir/radiator blockage. I also have a pair of these industrial Noctua fans that I could use but they would be a lot more noisy. One of my main goals is to make this build as silent as can be, but I don't know how low of an RPM I can run those butt-ugly fan without sacrificing performance.

Here are two quick shots of the priming. It's important to seal the MDF board to keep moisture out and protect it from its environment as well as my PC parts from any loose particles. On the right, you can see the SSD cage that I put together. I wish I had a picture to share of it seated behind the backboard. Getting the NZXT Hue controller mounted will be a little tricky. I only have enough room to slide in my three SSD's, and I may have to let the light controller hang loose off to the side somewhere.
Edited by lvl1k0n - 6/29/16 at 12:39am
post #7 of 9
Thread Starter 
Painting is complete!

And what a pain in the butt is it to paint. I think I have a new found respect for people who paint for a living. Painting takes a lot of skill to have things come out looking good. I have a few pictures to share but I'm going to start off by sharing a couple pictures of the tube bender I bought and some test bends I made.


The bends look pretty solid imo. I still don't know yet if I will go the route of 90 degree fittings for my reservoir and radiator ports.




There are some imperfections that I'm not too fond of, and I hope they don't stand out when I light up the case, but honestly the paint turned out better than expected. Oh, I did have a bit of a mishap with my case. My dad primed/sanded the remainder of my boards, and chasis, while I was work but he thought I needed him to paint the primed chasis portions. He used an old, leaky, metallic black paint that didn't look so hot, so we had to go over the paint with the matte black of the boards. I have a feeling that the outside of my chasis will have different black tones now, lol.

I'm pretty stressed out for tomorrow. I have no idea how everything will look once its pieced together and I can only hope it will be as good looking as I envisioned.
Edited by lvl1k0n - 6/29/16 at 12:53am
post #8 of 9
Thread Starter 
I'm still rocking a potato camera, but I do have this to share:

I'm happy with how she's turning out. I need to do some minor tweaking here and there. Like a cover for the motherboard cables. I'm also going to need to get my hands on some custom sleeving, or at least some individually sleeved black power supply cables. I think I'm going to make an additional cover for the lower portion of the motherboard as well. First and foremost though, COPPER PIPING. I'm hoping to get all of my bends completed after work tomorrow. Followed with an air-leak test, and a ~24 hour leak test.

I had some trouble getting my GPU waterblock to set correctly. I used WAYYYY too much thermal paste my first go around, but it should be seated better now. I'm anxious to see how the loops perform.
post #9 of 9
Thread Starter 
Hey everyone,

I've been very busy these past weeks/month, and I'm probably operating on ~five hours of sleep a night. I promise to provide a more thorough breakdown of the work I've done once time allows, but in the meantime I'll share the most recent pictures I have. Feel free to ask me any questions.



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