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BLOODY OBSIDIAN - A Budget-less Mini-ITX Build & Mods

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post #1 of 19 (permalink) Old 02-22-2015, 01:39 PM - Thread Starter
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LAN ETS is over frown.gif

Hey everyone smile.gif

Here's the build log for my *almost* finished build. I'll be showcasing this build at LAN ETS in Montreal from March 6-8 2015. I've built MANY computers but this is the first time I've documented the build (about 400 pictures so far).

Latest photos:






TABLE OF CONTENTS
Part 1: Motherboard, case, and lighting
Part 2: GTX 980 STRIX and some watercooling parts
Part 3: Window mod
Part 4: Delidding!
Part 5: CPU lapping
Part 6: Acrylic Polishing
Part 7: Watercooling Overview & Mods to Make it Work
Part 8: Cable Sleeving
Part 9: Putting it all together


Parts list (so far):

-Corsair Obsidian 250d
-Asus Maximus VII Impact
-Intel Core i7 4790k
-ASUS GTX 980 Strix
-EKWB 980 Strix FC acrylic block
-EKWB 980 STRIX FC back plate (black)
-EK-FB ASUS M6I - Nickel
-EK-SBAY DDC 3.2 PWM (incl. pump)
-Hyper Beast RAM 2400MHz 16GB kit
-240mm radiator
-120mm radiator
-EKWB blood red coolant
-2 x Phobya 120mm (15mm) red fans
-Corsair AX860
-SSDs TBD (trying to get a hold of the HyperX predator M2 480GB when it becomes available). Temporarily running on a 60GB OCZ Vertex 3


Part 1: Motherboard, case, and lighting

At this point, I'm using a Pentium G3258, KVR ram, a stock PSU and some other garbage to test my new components.

For the LED strips, my goal was to create a glowing effect from the front of the case. As if the red is a metaphor for awesome and the awesome is overflowing in this tiny case wink.gif

Front LED attempt 1

On my first attempt, I just held the strips in place with some tape on the corner of the front panel (picture can describe better). This resulted in an uneven light that would blind you depending on the viewing angle... Also the power cables were VERY stressed from this (because of the angle). Pics (Click to show)


Front LED attempt 2

When I had the time I changed the install a bit. I drilled a few holes in the front panel (directly above the LED strips) and removed the fan header (these LEDs run on 3-pin fan connectors). Then I routed the cables through the front panel headers (USB, Audio, power leds, etc) and directed the leds outwards. Also, I had to trim the pcb of the LED strips to fit.
Pics (Click to show)




Motherboard & Video Card LEDs

I used 3 x 7.75" white LED strips for lighting. 2 for the motherboard and 1 for the GPU.

For wiring the LED strips, I removed the cables and wired the 3 strips in series (instead of 3 cables hanging down) Pics (Click to show)

Testing the mobo

I used my scrap parts to test the Maximus to make sure it worked. Also did some Pentium overclocking wink.gif
Pics (Click to show)

Got it to 4.6GHz on stock cooler. Not bad considering I spent half an hour after work assembling & overclocking smile.gif



Part 2: GTX 980 STRIX and some watercooling parts

If anyone's considering putting a 980 in a 250d, you pretty much have no choice but to watercool it tongue.gif I managed to fit it in the case but I had to use some crazy pivoting to get it in. Once I put the block on, it slides in without a problem smile.gifPictures (Click to show)




I ordered a tube of coolaboratory liquid ultra for my deliding and I figured why waste the rest of the tube? So I cleaned the GPU die (the stock thermal paste was a mess and it took over an hour to clean it out of the capacitors) then protected the pcb with clear nail polish (didn't have any LET). For the VRMs and RAM, I used the thermal pads but I 'wet' the components with a tiny bit of thermal paste for better heat transfer. The EK backplate for the Strix (has the strix logo too) looks great smile.gif
Pictures and video (Click to show)













Next I installed a couple of rads and fans. I had to drill some holes in the case to move the 240mm radiator a bit because the fittings were touching the CPU fan header. The Phobya red fans look pretty cool smile.gif I had to buy screws at Home Depot because these fans have countersunk holes (10mm + thread into the rad). So after 4 trips to Home Depot (due to my lack of measuring skills), I finally got the right screws wink.gif
Pics (Click to show)




Part 3: Window mod [IN PROGRESS]

I wanted the GPU block to be visible (clear block + red coolant) so I needed to cut a hole in the side panel for a window. Cutting the hole was standard, but getting the acrylic to fit was a pain. This is because the power supply cage being very close. I wanted to have about 1/2" of acrylic around the inside edge but I had to trim it a bit to fit properly.
Pics (Click to show)




Part 4: Delidding!

This was my favorite part of the build biggrin.gif I delidded the Pentium first in case as 'practice' (prefer to break a $70 CPU over a $400 one)
I used the vise method and it was pretty easy.
I used electrical tape on the vise to prevent scratches and used a bit of packing tape to stop the CPU from flying accross the room tongue.gif
Pictures (Click to show)















































Videos (Click to show)


Part 5: CPU lapping

For the lapping, I used 400, 800, 1000 (wet), and 2000 (wet) grit sandpaper
Then I polished using headlight restoration compound, and then a 3-step car paint polish
EhiNHIc.gif3770k Part 1(took a pic after each direction on the sandpaper) (Click to show)
























3770k Part 2 (Click to show)




































3770k Part 3 (Click to show)






























4790k (Click to show)



















Part 6: Acrylic Polishing

I wanted the waterblocks to be really clear so I polished them using a similar technique to the CPU lapping. Also used the Dremel for some of it. These blocks are really complex (lots of small grooves) so I couldn't do as much as I wanted. A definite improvement but not what I expected (I was hoping for glass-like clarity). The machining marks are gone at least.
The pics don't do justice but here they are anyways Pics (Click to show)













Part 7: Watercooling Overview & Mods to Make it Work

Watercooling Overview

CREATOR: gd-jpeg v1.0 (using IJG JPEG v62), quality = 90

So I used my friend paint.NET and as you can tell, I should enter the field of graphic design rolleyes.gif

I know the diagram is complicated, but here's a legend to make it easier to interpret

White boxes: Watercooling parts (except gpu)
Purple box: Video card block
Red lines: Tubing
Green arrows: Direction of flow
Yellow circles: Fittings (compression + adapter = 1 fitting)

Fitting numbers will be referred to in the text with red, bold numbers (ex: (14) = Drain port)

  1. The outlet on the EK-SBAY has a compression fitting (1) and coolant flows to the GPU which has a 90 degree compression (2).
  2. Coolant then flows from the second compression fitting on the GPU (3) to the inlet port (compression) on the motherboard block (4).
  3. Compression on the outlet of the MB block (5) goes to the top compression on the 240mm radiator (6).
  4. A 90 degree compression (7) on the bottom of the radiator connects to a compression (11) on the 120mm radiator.
  5. Between fittings (7)and (11), there is a T-fitting with 3 compressions (8, 9, 10). Fitting (9) goes to a compression on the drain port (14) for draining the loop.
  6. A 90 degree compression (12) on the front rad goes to a 90 degree compression (13) on the inlet of the EK-SBAY

Mods for watercooling

In order to accommodate my setup, I had to modify the case slightly.

5.25 bay holder

The EK-SBAY is very short and the 5.25 bay in the 250D is about double the length. I don't need the bay to be that long (and in small builds like these, less=more). It also causes a problem for my fittings. Since the pump res is so short, the ports line up almost exactly with those of the radiator. If you take a look at the watercooling diagram I drew, imagine if fittings 12 -13 had to make a huge loop around the bay holder. Doesn't look pretty tongue.gif

This the the pump/res without the bay holder. Note that the fittings of the pump/res are very close to those of the radiator. The second pictures shows it with the two 90 degree adapters


So the bay had to be cut in half biggrin.gif



You'll also note that the cables on the pump/res were sleeved. This was done with some extra sleeving but I will redo it with higher-density sleeving when it arrives (more weaves = less cable color passes through). Cable length will also be custom-fit.

Drain port

Why am I putting a drain port on the loop? Let me explain with a little story...

My EK-SBAY arrived in the mail, and I wanted to test it out (make sure it wasn't leaking, pump operational, etc). I also took apart my motherboard block when I did the acrylic polishing (warranty voided) and wanted to make sure that wasen't leaking either. So what did I do? I hooked them up to each other (mb block already mounted on the mobo). I used some scrap tubing from a previous loop and my trusty Koolance quick disconnects. I've used this quick disconnects many times in the past and they never failed. At most, a few drops of coolant on the coupling when it was disconnected - not even enough to drip off the fitting. I should add: these aren't cheap. I think I paid $20 for each fitting.

As you can see by the picture, the QD is placed directly over the motherboard. After testing the pump for about 20 minutes (pump was the only thing connected to power), I shut it down and pulled on the ring of the QD so I could drain it (I have a piece of tubing with a male QD in order to drain into a sink/container).
What happened? Water began gushing out of the coupler (from the mobo block) and spilled all over my motherboard! sad-smiley-002.gif

So I reconnected the QD to stop the water from flowing and emptied it into the sink. I dried the motherboard right away with some towels and grabbed the air compressor hose and blew the water droplets away. Luckily, the mother board was off, the water was distilled, and I acted quickly.
End of story.

So my lack of trust in these fittings (maybe it got stuck from rust?) has led me to use a drain port. Not to mention that the QDs are HUGE and would look ridiculous in this build tongue.gif



Anyways... Here's what I did to accommodate the drain port:

  1. Flipped the case upside down to make it easier to work with
  2. Covered the components (mobo and gpu are already installed) with shop towels. This is to prevent contact with the metal flakes (computers and bits of metal don't like each other).
  3. Drilled a small pilot hole with the Dremel (drill bit) on the bottom of the case. I used the Dremel for this part because is is easier to control than a drill and it's a light-duty task.
  4. Used a power drill with a step bit to drill the hole for the drain port. The drain port OD is 18mm and the nut & head are 22mm. So a 19mm hole works perfectly (3/4")
  5. Deburred the edges with a grinding stone on the Dremel and finished off with a stainless-steel brush attachment.
Pics (Click to show)

The case still needs to be cleaned. Before installing the rest of the watercooling, I'll strip it down one last time and wipe it down smile.gif

Side radiator mount

The 90 degree fitting on my 240mm rad (7) touches the fan header on my mother board (default mounting would crush the pins). I moved the radiator a bit (holding on with just a few screws) and it still touches it (need room for the connector itself).

So I need to drill a few holes in the side to mount the radiator in a way that won't interfere. I'll be working on that today or tomorrow.


Part 8: Cable Sleeving

Since the case is so small, I had to reduce the amount of cables in the build.

Here is how I plan to do this:
-Reduce 24 pin to exact length needed (about 1 foot)
-Use 1 cable for sata devices, fans, pump, and lighting (as opposed to molex runs and sata runs and fan adapters....)
-Where possible, combine cables (ex; 3 led strips on top of case -> daisy chain so that there is only 1 cable coming down)

For the 24-pin, I was originally going to use my own 18AWG wire and crimp the connectors myself. I later realized that by keeping one end of the cable and just crimping one side, I would save 24 crimp connectors and lots of labor thumb.gif
Pics (Click to show)

I still have to clean up the cables a bit, but you get the point smile.gif

For the peripheral cable, I placed the sata power connectors in the exact location needed (the drives are very close to one another)
Not shown, but I've been working on the molex (for the pump) and 6 fan headers (for fans & LEDs). The fan header cables are very short (1 inch) but all cables will attach in the HDD bay. My fingers are starting to become sore from all this striping, crimping & sleeving frown.gif But no time for breaks!
Pics (Click to show)

I need to order a few more supplies for the cables. once the 24-pin and peripheral cables are done, I will fill the water cooling loop and use the stock cables temporarily. Considering I haven't tested the CPU since it was delided has started to haunt me.


Part 9: Putting it all together

For the cable sleeving, I'm leaving it at just the 24-pin for now. Don't have enough time + want to buy some better quality sleeving to redo it all after the event.

I ran into a little problem while setting up the water cooling. I had not tested the computer since the deliding or when the motherboard was drenched in water from the failed quick disconnect.
I plugged in the computer and it would post and get into BIOS, but it would power off after 30 seconds - 1 minute. It would get to Windows sometimes but only a few seconds. It appeared to be a thermal issue from the symptoms but all temps were pretty normal. I assumed the worst: damaged CPU from deliding or damaged mobo from water damage. I pulled the mobo from the case and did a bench build (with some spare water cooling parts). Same problem frown.gif Next, I pulled the water block (and had to dispose of the Indigo XS since its 1 application only). I swapped the i7 with the Pentium (also delided) + stock cooler and it was fine. Not exactly good news. Then I put the i7 on with the stock cooler and it was fine. Stupid computers... I assumed the Indigo was the issue (what else could it be). I put the water block back on but the old issue re-appeared... Sighhh...
Anyways... this was the problem + solution: Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
The chipset (usually covered in a thermal pad) had CLU on it + liquid electrical tape on the surroundings. The water block (all metal) was pressing against the chipset and the pressure caused it to short out surrounding components. Luckily, the computer was shutting itself down every time this would happen. Once I realized this, I kept the CLU but put the thermal pad on top. Not the best thermal performance but there's no other option (at least I wet the components with CLU). So after doing that (and replacing the Indigo XS with CLU), I reapplied the waterblock and it works! biggrin.gif

Here's the CLU on the CPU lid: Pics (Click to show)

So I reassembled the system (my hands hurt from doing 17 compression fittings 3 times). Filled her up with distilled water (don't wanna waste the dye until i know it won't leak).

Here's filling the loop with distilled water. Please excuse the many air bubbles. I don't like running the pump dry (it was only 30 seconds I promise) but I love to watch the water + air rush to the components tongue.gif


And here it is running with distilled water


Blood red coolant!



Not sure if I trust those temps, Ill check with a few different utilities

More coming very soon smile.gif
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post #2 of 19 (permalink) Old 02-24-2015, 06:38 AM - Thread Starter
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I'm looking for people's opinion on lighting in the case. Keep in mind I have red LEDs on the front and red coolant.

I'm thinking of placing LED strips above the motherboard (x2 on each side of the top window) and under the video card (to shine up the block)

Should I go red LEDs or white?

I'm worried that red will lessen the effect of the red coolant, so I'm leaning towards white.... Let me know! smile.gif
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post #3 of 19 (permalink) Old 02-24-2015, 07:25 AM
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White LEDs! In my experience, red LEDs will make anything red pop, but wash any other highlights away. Having red can help mask unwanted colors in a multicolored build and bring out the best in it, but yours is already very well matched. I think white will be brighter / highlight more.thumb.gif

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post #4 of 19 (permalink) Old 02-24-2015, 08:16 AM - Thread Starter
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Here's my plan:



Not sure whether light 1 is necessary (don't want it to burn with the light of a thousand suns) wink.gif
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post #5 of 19 (permalink) Old 02-24-2015, 02:45 PM - Thread Starter
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Update:
I just made a huge order from Dazmode:
Order details (Click to show)

In case you couldn't tell by the contents of the order, I'm going to buy some 18AWG cable and I'm making and sleeving my own cables smile.gif
I'm also buying some cable tools. As much as I love paperclips and staples, I don't have much time until the event and I might as well invest in the tools (despite mixed reviews on such tools)

I'm making my own cables (as opposed to just sleeving the PSU cables) for the following reasons:
-Mini-ITX = less room for standard cable lengths and extra connectors
-Cable management will be easier since each cable will be the perfect length (VERY excited for this)
-If I'm sleeving the cables, I might as well go all the way smile.gif

I also ordered a drain port (+ a T-fitting) for easy maintenance. I usually use Koolance quick-disconnects (the high-quality ones that go for something like $20 a pop) but they're way to big & bulky for this case :/ I'll drill a hole through the bottom of the case and panel-mount the drain port there. The T-fitting will go between my front radiator and my side radiator (lowest point in the loop) and I'll run the tube from there downward to the drain port. So when I want to drain the loop, I just have to place a container under the case, unscrew the drain port, and unscrew the fill port. No spills! biggrin.gif
If I was better with design programs, I'd draw a sketch of the loop but you'll have to use your imagination until its done tongue.gif

The order should arrive this Thursday (the 26th) but in the meantime, I'll work on the watercooling and post some more pictures smile.gif

Cheers,

Trev
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post #6 of 19 (permalink) Old 02-24-2015, 06:34 PM - Thread Starter
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The 5.25 bracket is cut and it fits the EK-SBAY perfectly! I'll run some u-channel molding around the edges later.




I also drilled a hole for the drain port in the bottom of the case. I used a small drill bit with my Dremel for the pilot hole, then used a power drill with a step bit. I went to 3/4" (19mm) as the drain port has an OD of 18mm with a 22mm nut & head. So it will fit nice and snug smile.gif



Quick tip: When drilling (especially metal) and you have components in your system, be sure to cover them up. I used shop towels to cover my motherboard and video card. If you don't you'l have tiny metal flakes everywhere and that's not good.



After the hole was drilled, I deburred the edges with a grinding stone on my Dremel and cleaned it up with a stainless steel brush.



I still need to clean up a bit, but I'll wipe down the whole case in a few days before I test the watercooling smile.gif
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post #7 of 19 (permalink) Old 02-25-2015, 11:35 AM - Thread Starter
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post #8 of 19 (permalink) Old 02-27-2015, 06:06 AM - Thread Starter
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Parts from DazMode arrived!


I quickly installed the drain port and the LED strips using electrical tape before heading off to work.

Here's the drain port:



And here's a quick preview of the LED strips wink.gif




Addition post with more pics of the LEDs and the water cooling coming soon smile.gif
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post #9 of 19 (permalink) Old 03-02-2015, 05:57 AM - Thread Starter
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Cable Sleeving!

Disclaimer: I have no idea what I'm doing and no one should take advice from me on cable sleeving. I used @Lutro0's posts as a learning resource.

Anyways.... This isn't my first time sleeving cables but it's the biggest job I've done yet. In the past, I've done pump/fan cables with heatshrink

I started with the 24-pin and made a ~1ft cable.



Here's the cable installed. Still needs to be straightened a bit.



Next up is the peripheral cable. I'm making 1 cable to accommodate all sata devices, the pump, lighting, and fans.



As you can see, the SSDs (HDDs pictured) are very close so the power cable needed to accommodate this.
It's still in progress, will update soon smile.gif
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post #10 of 19 (permalink) Old 03-04-2015, 06:17 AM - Thread Starter
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2 days left!
For the cable sleeving, I'm leaving it at just the 24-pin for now. Don't have enough time + want to buy some better quality sleeving to redo it all after the event.

For the LED strips, I removed the cables and wired the 3 strips in series (instead of 3 cables hanging down) Pics (Click to show)

I ran into a little problem while setting up the water cooling. I had not tested the computer since the deliding or when the motherboard was drenched in water from the failed quick disconnect.
I plugged in the computer and it would post and get into BIOS, but it would power off after 30 seconds - 1 minute. It would get to Windows sometimes but only a few seconds. It appeared to be a thermal issue from the symptoms but all temps were pretty normal. I assumed the worst: damaged CPU from deliding or damaged mobo from water damage. I pulled the mobo from the case and did a bench build (with some spare water cooling parts). Same problem frown.gif Next, I pulled the water block (and had to dispose of the Indigo XS since its 1 application only). I swapped the i7 with the Pentium (also delided) + stock cooler and it was fine. Not exactly good news. Then I put the i7 on with the stock cooler and it was fine. Stupid computers... I assumed the Indigo was the issue (what else could it be). I put the water block back on but the old issue re-appeared... Sighhh...
Anyways... this was the problem + solution: Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
The chipset (usually covered in a thermal pad) had CLU on it + liquid electrical tape on the surroundings. The water block (all metal) was pressing against the chipset and the pressure caused it to short out surrounding components. Luckily, the computer was shutting itself down every time this would happen. Once I realized this, I kept the CLU but put the thermal pad on top. Not the best thermal performance but there's no other option (at least I wet the components with CLU). So after doing that (and replacing the Indigo XS with CLU), I reapplied the waterblock and it works! biggrin.gif

Here's the CLU on the CPU lid:



So I reassembled the system (my hands hurt from doing 17 compression fittings 3 times). Filled her up with distilled water (don't wanna waste the dye until i know it won't leak).

Here's filling the loop with distilled water. Please excuse the many air bubbles. I don't like running the pump dry (it was only 30 seconds I promise) but I love to watch the water + air rush to the components tongue.gif


And here it is running with distilled water

Pictures + video of the red coolant coming soon smile.gif
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