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post #1 of 30 (permalink) Old 11-06-2012, 03:43 AM - Thread Starter
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Welcome to my "One Quick Switch" build log.

By way of introduction:

I started this Switch 810 build back in April, when the 810 was the just released, new kid on the block.

It got good reviews, offered support for pretty serious water cooling, had a lot of nice features, and all for a very competitive price.

While I would have loved a red one, (my first phantom was a red one) it was first released in only white and black colors, and it wasn't long before matte black and gunmetal "special editions" followed.

I had 3 Phantom builds, and a Phantom410 build already, so obviously, I'm partial to the phantom look and styling, but moreover, I've found NZXT to always offer great bang for the buck with great features, and even greater customer support.

While a lot of guys have modded the phantom into a much more water cooling friendly case than it was originally designed to be, it's still pretty limited compared to larger sized offerings.

Having several very decent systems already, I was ready to build my "Go Big, or Go Home" dream system, and the Switch came along at just the right time.

I bought a white one, and with no timeline or budget, I let my imagination be my guide thru a water cooling galaxy.

Being that this more of a retro build log, whereby most of the build is done, and the only thing left to completion is the watercooling of my 3 Asus Matrix 7970 GPUs, this first post will serve as the introduction, basic description, and organizational guide with all the build progress pics in subsequent posts.

What's Inside:

Basic components:
Motherboard: Asus Rampage IV Extreme X79
CPU: Intel i-7 3930K
RAM: Corsair Dominator 32GB @ 2133MHz
System HDD: OCZ Revo Drive 3 X2 240GB
Data HDD: WD Caviar Black 1TB
GPU(s): Tri-Fire Asus Matrix HD7970's
Optical drive: USB External

Primary Water Cooling componenets:
Radiators: 2 rads; Black Ice Extreme 420 up top, & Black Ice Extreme 240 on the bottom
Pumps: 3 pumps; Dual 35X in series in a Koolance single bay res RP 401 X2 & One 35X with acrylic top and cylinder res
Mobo block: Koolance full coverage chipset / VRM MB ASR4E
CPU block: Koolance 370
RAM blocks: 2 blocks; EK, 4 DIMMs each, before the ugly crop circle CSQs
Reseviors: 2 Koolance RP-401 X2 as primary, & Bitspower 80mm red ice cylinder res on the boost pump

Unique & 1 of a kind, fabrications, features, and options:

Top Rad Fan Quick Change feature:

This allows quieter 140mm, 127cfm, 1800rpm, Prolimatech fans or 184cfm, 4000rpm Koolance 38mm fans to be easily interchanged in a few minutes depending on the required cooling perfomance level.

GPU Cooling Quick Change feature:

Using QDCs, the GPU group can be connected into the onboard loop, or connected to their external cooling moudule linked in my sig when maximum cooling is required.

Scrolling RGB LED for HDD activity feature:

I created a circuit and PCB that scrolls rgb leds thru their color spectrum when the HDD is active, which illuminates the large (normally "power on") cresent on the top panel. I built additional circuitry and an optical coupling to sense the HDD activity from the led on the Revo Drive, as the mobo hdd activity connection is not active.

Rad fan RPM display of the fans controlled by the Lamptron FC9 controller feature:

I created a circuit & board that translates the tach signal generated by fans connected to the +12V rail referenced FC9 output, to a GND rail referenced output so that my rad fans controlled from the FC9 can have the RPM monitored by common monitoring hardware.

PWM Controller for the triple 35X pump setup feature:

I created a circuit and PCB for a PWM controller that can be used to manually control the speed of all three 35X pumps simultaneously. It's also switchable, so that the pumps can be controlled from the mobo CPU fan header if desired. The pump rpm is also fed back to the mobo at all times so that any of the mobo's "low cpu fan speed" warnings / shutdown can be used if desired.

3.5" Fan Controller Display with the PWM controller shows Flowrate and pump RPM feature:

I set up a small fan controller's display to give real time display of the flowrate from the Koolance flow meter and pump rpm, within the single 5.25" bay adapter that the "auto / manual " speed control switch and speed control potentiometer mount in.

Consolidated power breakout for discrete tailed LEDs:

I created a circuit and PCB with onboard resistors to distribute power from the spare channel of my FC9 controller to about 20 discrete tailed LEDs within my system.

Custom shaped window on the right side:

I modified the shape of the stock window so it would allow better display of the lower 240 rad.

Matching window shape added to the left side panel:

I cut a matching window in the left side panel, and installed a piece of the same translucent red acrylic that I fabricated the PSU cover and other accent pieces from to give the case a more symetrical appearance.


Edit to note:

I'll be fleshing this build log out over the next few days while I'm on vacation this week (or at least supposed to be).

As many of you who followed this build through the 810 thread know, I have *lots & lots* of pics of all the build details, and I'll be breaking down the various stages of the build in the following posts that I reserved for that purpose

Unfortunately, work just called, so it looks like a case of "build loggus interruptus"
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post #3 of 30 (permalink) Old 11-06-2012, 03:44 AM - Thread Starter
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Let's build a new Custom Switch 810 . . . . .

It seems that most build log start off with a ceremonial unboxing, . . . . . So absent a better idea, I'll continue the tradition.

This thing is huge relative to most of what I'd been used to previously . . . .

I've added a couple pics of the Switch with the regular Phantom side by side for comparison.

My new S810 arrived from Outlet PC in just a few days with the box in unexpectedly good condition for having come via USPS Priority Mail:

I can still recall the excitement I felt removing the case from the box and seeing it up close for the first time:

It arrived in pristine condition, a most pleasant relief as I've had some "shipping issues" on previous occasions:

So here you can see by comparison to the phantom, how big it really is:

That pic group was the last time my new 810 was assembled and in stock form.

It was now time to disassemble the beast, take some reference pics, and contemplate what I wanted to do to infuse my own creative vision:

Since this build was planned with an Asus ROG motherboard, with its black / gray / red color scheme, I wanted to use red as an accent color where possible.

Here you can see the little metal mesh bits from the top, bottom, and lower front filter panels, getting a coat of red that matches the phantom red:

The next thing that sort of jumped out at me that just screamed "Mod Me, Mod Me" was the louvered top panel and the front filter panel.

I had several pieces of NZXT mesh that I'd saved from previous phantom window installs, so I looked for a good way to make use of it.

Pieced together nicely, it would do both panels.

I wanted to paint it red to match the other metal mesh, but the tiny hole size was prohibitive, as they would have easly plugged. Even if I'd pin cleared all the plugged holes, the reduced diameter would have added too much restriction overall, so I opted to leave them as original.

Doing some layout to see how to make them fit up top:

and fitted ready to epoxy in place:

and the finished top panel mod:

Fitting the front panel mesh pieces:

Epoxying them into place:

And the final result:

Here's how they look together with the case assembled:

And here's a hint of things to come:

I modded the side window shape to show off the lower rad and planned PSU cover.

Here it is with a new acrylic panel installed:

I was really liking my new window a lot, and the idea hit me . . . . . .

Why not add a matching window in the back side made from some dark red translucent acrylic . . . . .

Here it is cut to fit in the cut out side panel:

And here's how it looks: I'll do a more detailed "custom window how-to" in a subsequent post with some of the other more detailed breakdowns.

As the case cosmetics were taking shape, new parts had arrived and it was time to start integrating the internal components with the case.

Here's the first of the new parts that had come in:

Let's fit in some new parts:

The lower rad is a Hardware Labs, Black Ice GT-Extreme 240.

Since all rads for 120mm fans use the same 15mm fan to fan hole spacing, it will be a drop in fit, with no modding required.

If I had opted for a HWL 280 rad, then I would have had to mod the bottom panel to accomodate the 20mm fan spacings that are found on HWL rads made for 140mm fans.

Here are a few pics of the lower rad with the 38mm tall Koolance, 184cfm, 4000rpm fans, installed with the 20mm tall shrouds to maximise efficiency in a push only setup:

Notice too that I've used stainless steel M4 threaded rod to make studs to secure the shrouds and fans to the rad, since screws of this length are not available. Close examination of the shrouds will show that the holes have been relieved at the bottom to accomodate locking nuts to hold the studs securely in the rad, so that putting the nuts on does not turn the stud and force it into the rad causing damage.

The lower rad was easy, the top rad is going to turn into a lot more work, with a lot more modding, than "NZXT's claim of 420 rad support" would have you imagine.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

I'm taking a little break in the picture sequence here to break down the meaning of "420 rad support" for the S810.

I started this build when the S810 first came out, and while there were several build logs already in progress to see what had worked for others, there were none with a HWL 420 up top.

As it turns out, HWL seems to be the only rad that uses 20mm fan to fan spacing for rads using 140mm fans.

Everyone else uses 15mm spacings for their 140mm fan sized rads, the same as is standard for rads using 120mm fans.

NZXT opted to use 20mm fan to fan spacings in the top panel for 140mm fan sized rads.

Now think for a moment, . . . . if you line up three 140mm fans next to each other, such that the spacing between the mounting holes of each fan are 15mm from the mounting holes of the nex fan . . .

And now line up three more 140mm fans next to each other, such that the holes are 20mm apart instead of 15, and measure the total length of each group.

Uhhh, Ohhhh . . . . The group with the 20mm fan to fan spacing is 10mm longer than the group with the 15mm fan to fan spacing.

This not so little issue turns out to be a really big deal when it comes to putting a 420 rad in the top of a S810.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Here's what it all comes down to when installing 60 mm thick 420 rads in the 810:

If you use anything but a HWL rad, you will have to drill 8 new mounting holes.

Use the original front 4 holes, and drill new ones for the center and rear fans. (this applies even to thin rads other than HWL)

Your rad will fit in with enough clearance at the rear of the case to allow connections to the rad, with the rad's fittings at the rear of the case, the usual way to mount longer rads.

The HWL rads will bolt into place without drilling any new holes, which while it seems nice, really just tears you a new one if it's ~60mm thick one.

That extra 10mm of overall length, places the rad's fittings 10mm closer to the back end of the case, and they do not clear the I/O shield box.

Unless you attempt something really risky or stupid, you have to mount a full thickness HWL rad with the fittings to the front.

Trust me on this gang, it took a lot of trial and error to get it figured out exactly, but a whole lot of guys have since built new rigs with 420's following my advice, and they come out right every time.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Now we can get back to the picture sequence where it picks up with all the fun I had learning about how to get a HWL, GT-X 420 rad in the top of my S810 and set up for a quick switch interchangable fan setup.

To preface;
One thing I wanted to design into my system, was the ability to quickly change out the fans on the top of the upper rad, so that I could run either fairly quiet 25mm thick 140's which would fit properly under the newly modded top trim panel, or maximum performance 120mm, 38mm tall, 184cfm fans with shouds and 120 X 140 adapters, with a modified top trim panel.

To accomplish that, I needed to have the rad mount securely to the top frame panel, even with all the fans removed.

Back to the pic sequence:

This pic shows the 3 possible fan setup combinations, but the center option lacks any real practicality, so it's the left option for "normal operation" and the right option for maximum performance.

It is worth noting, that these were early pics, taken while I was working out my fan setup, but before I had really gotten to the nitty-gritty of setting up the rad plumbing.

I used 20mm tall standoffs with flat washer to mount the rad, which each fan option can then attach to easily.

The next pics show my early mods to the top panel, where I slotted the mounting holes, cut out the webbing, and if you look carefully, can see that I ground off all the rolled edging which gives another 2 to 3mm clearance above the mobo.

Also visible are the initial cutting mods to the top optical bay side panels and top of the main drive cage to allow for the width of the 420 rad and better airflow to the front fan.

Here's the interference at the I/O box . . . .

Note that the rad has been slid forward in the slots just enough to clear, and that you can see where the rolled edges have been ground away above the rad, giving a bit more clearance for the I/O box problem.

The problem here is that even with the rad slid forward just minimally enough to get to barb fittings at the rear, and using tight 90's as well, the front fan has clearance issues with the top plastic, and needs to be notched for the top trim panel:

Bottom line here is that for all practical purposes, trying to put a full thickness HWL 420 in the S810 with the fittings to the rear is a total fail.

Time to bite the bullet on some serious modding to the optical drive cage to make enough clearance for sweeping 90's and 1/2" X 3/4" compression fittings, and then turn the rad around, placing the fittings to the front.

Actually, one last thing I did before rotating the rad, was to make an access port from the interior of the case thru to the back side, cable management area, located right below the rectangular opening in the top panel, to make it easy to route fan cables from the top fans, as well as bottom rad fans, to the cable management area for connecting them cleanly without adding cables and clutter to the inside of the case.

Here's the rad setup with the fittings to the front, with sweeping, low restriction 90's and plenty of clearance to tighten the compression fittings.

Notice that the optical drive cage has had its final mods completed with the sides cut down at the top, the rear top corners cut back, the back edge with the thumbscrew storage cut off, the tooless locking bits removed, all for a cleaner look and the top panel relieved farther forward for airflow.

Also visible are the final mods to the shape of the top bay side panels to allow clearance, while still being able to have a fan controller in that bay area.

With all the physical infrastucture now pretty much in place, we can move on to some cosmetic enhancements and component setup in the next panel.

Hope you like it so far and find it helpful and informative,

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post #4 of 30 (permalink) Old 11-06-2012, 03:44 AM - Thread Starter
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With a basic infrastructure now in place, let's look at what I did and how i did it in the realm of aesthetic enhancements.

Apparent in the pics of the lower 240 rad assembly in the previous post, if you look closely, are recesses in the shrouds to mount 5mm LEDs in, 2 on each side, for an effective total of 12.

Since I do a fair bit of electronics work, I had plenty of very high brightness red LEDs on hand, so I tailed up a bunch.

Here they are, ready to be cut to length and sleeved:

Since LED's need external current limiting, (usually an inline resitor) I made up a couple of PCB's to break out supply voltage from selectable sources to pairs of LEDs.

Here's the breakout PCB's, source connections along the top, LED connections along the bottom, source selection via the jumper blocks:

Here they are being tested to be sure everything worked as planned:

And here they are installed to see how things will look when done:

With some of my lighting now ready to go, I planned out my PSU cover.

I wanted one that looked like 1 single piece, yet it had to be easy to take in and out. It also had to color compliment the rig as well, so I used some more of the red translucent acrylic that I had made the right side panel out of.

It took a while to come up with a design to meet the 1 piece look, but be easily removable criteria, and still be virtually the full length of the case.

I settled on using 2 pieces, with one of them as a short lock-in piece for the main piece, while having their mating edges cut on a 45 degree bevel so that they effectively overlap slightly, so there's no visible gap.

Here's the short lock piece in place, it has to go in first, or come out last:

This is the main piece. You can see the cutout for the rad and fittings area, and it has a fan to help pull fresh air up and around the PSU and also help cool the controller chip in the OCZ RevoDrive 3 X2 that goes in the lowest X16 PCIe slot, just above it.

Here it is installed, with the fan and the LED's in the lower rad shrouds on. Red LEDs behind red acrylic turn it virtually transparent, as can be seen by how visible the PSU and rad are:

In a non-flash pic, the effect is even bolder. Notice that the unlit accent panel on the side of the optical / HDD bays looks almost black:

A 3/4 view:

And finally with the front accent panel lit:

You can see that the " Max performance" 38mm 184cfm fans are installed on the top.

Airflow thru the case is intake at the top, exhausting out the bottom.

The case fans and the lower rad fans are all Prolimatech, Aluminum Vortex 140's with red leds.

They are rated at 127 cfm, 1800rpm, and really move a lot of air.

As I brought up in the first post, the S810 accomodates either a 240 or 280, (as long as it is not a HWL 280 rad) in the bottom.

Since i'm using a 240, that means there is a lot of extra mounting holes and gaps showing around the rad.

While having the PSU cover makes them all less visible, they're still f'ugly to me, so I made a 280 to 240 trim adapter from the red acrylic to dress that area up.

Here is the rad / fans assembly without the trim adapter:

Here it is with the trim adapter:

And in more detail:

From the underside:

And fully installed and lit up:

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post #8 of 30 (permalink) Old 11-06-2012, 06:11 AM
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post #10 of 30 (permalink) Old 11-08-2012, 01:08 PM
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Subbed ! Ah yes, it's beginning to come back, flowing to the dendrons biggrin.gif I had forgotten some of the details, like the cutting of the front top for the front fan clearance; I didn't know about the 20mm standoffs for top fan mounting; the radfans hole cuts; the amount of slight modding/cutting to get the 420 to fit with 90 sweeping fittings and leave space for the fc; I had to blink my eyes a few times on that first wall of text about all the pcbs you fashioned for fan rpm monitoring. Very complex build, yet comprehensively presented in an easy to grasp manner with loads of pix - very nicely done. Just what I was looking for, and its not even Xmas !!!

Talk about a roadmap with all the details. M - M - M - Mmmm !!! So much more to come, and it'll seem like NEW biggrin.gif

thanks for the log, Darlene, but get some vacaSHUN in !
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