My last build was 7 years ago, I had been using the same CM Obsidian case all this time, which didn't even fit my 360mm rad so I had to sit that on top of the outside of the case, with tubes going back inside.
During these 7 years I had bought my first MacBook Pro and then another one just last year. While you all know how bad the thermals are on those things, I actually learned some stuff which I'm incorporating into my latest, what I would call a "feature upgrade", since I decided against Ryzen 3000, and got some second hand x99 stuff to bridge the gap, until I can buy something that is truly significantly better in terms of CPU performance and platform capability. But for the case and PSU, I'm doing a major upgrade, which I won't be changing for the foreseeable future.
I had been drooling over the Phanteks evolv X for quite some time but I didn't end up getting it because 1, it got super popular, and I just don't like popular stuff. and 2, it's got that PSU shroud that would prevent me from using a fanless PSU.
Instead I saw the CM SL600M, it's much more niche, it doesn't have a mini version so that makes it even more niche, and it's terrible at some things, which again, makes it even more niche, just perfect for me. Also it almost looks like a Mac, which I kind of like now days.
Of course I've seen the reviews but they don't apply at all since I don't have any GPU or CPU to cool, I just cool my one 360mm rad, which I'm mounting on the top. And since the PSU is vertically mounted in the same chamber (there is a shroud but you don't have to install it), it also gets cooled from the same bottom-top airflow.
At first I mounted the same 3x EK fans on the rad like before, but then it hit me, I don't actually need these EK fans because with the positive pressure built up by the dual 200mm fans on the bottom, the air should have no choice but to go through the rad. Since the triple fans on the top are not shielded by the case in anyway, they are loud, not loud for a normal air cooled PC but louder than I'd like, so if I can eliminate these fans I also get a significantly quieter PC since the 200m fans are so slow they are essentially silent.
It turns out the default layout of the case is not conducive to this idea because there's this huge hole beside the IO board where most of the airflow escapes from.
This is strange since the cables can clearly go straight down into the hole, and they can close up those holes to force air through any top mounted radiator, so I did just that:
Now I effectively have dual 200mm fans behind my 360mm rad, which is plenty enough cooling. In fact I think it's slightly better than before when I had the EK fans on the rad. The thing with radiator mounted fans is, not only do you have static pressure working against your fan, the blades are also very close to the fins, which will disturb the airflow and the fans work worse than if they were away from the fins, given equal static pressure. Doing this eliminates the the proximity issue, and now the fans only have to overcome the pressure, which is also helped by the chimney effect.
Speaking of the chimney effect, it's definitely weak compared to fans sure, but I think with only two slow 200mm fans cooling the entire thing, it's not that insignificant any more.
This is running AC Odyssey for 15 minutes at 4k, only ~22 degrees above ambient, and it's almost completely silent.
Another mistake I often see people make, and not just gamers, even laptop manufacturers, is they link fan speed to CPU temperature. This is just bad because 1, it ramps your fan up and down and it's annoying, and 2, it's inefficient because it takes some time for your cooling fins to get heated up by the CPU, and since airflow cools better when you have more temperature delta, spinning the fans before the fins are warmed up is just a waste and it doesn't help at all. The correct way to do this is to link the fan speed to the temperature of the cooling fins. This is what Mac laptops do, and this is what I'm doing with this case. This fancy pants motherboard comes with thermal probe wires, so I just stick one of these in the radiator exhaust, which lets me probe the temperature of my radiator, which I use to control the only two fans at the bottom.
I'm sure this will all seem pretty ghetto here, no hard tubes, no Lian Li, no distro blocks etc.. But even with the fancy builds people have here, fans right up against radiators is standard, but I'm sure everyone have noticed, this gives you less airflow and more noise because of the proximity. So really people should be doing more of this separate fan and rad with sealed case route.