Tubing the Hard Disk Drives and the Intel 900P SSD
Ever since I decided to put waterblocks on the hard drives, I’ve been thinking about how I wanted to run the tubing, and should I plumb the two hard drives in serial or in parallel?
There has been much discussion of which is better serial or parallel, mostly relating to two or more video cards. But these two hard drive waterblocks are right next to each other like video card blocks are.
Flow rates, restriction, and temperatures will all vary depending upon which way they are plumbed. I’m not going to test the differences, but my guess is that it would be less than a one degree difference in temperature either way. These hard drives really don’t even need to be water cooled, so cooling performance is not important here.
This is one large loop with six radiators, and will have seven waterblocks in total. So less restriction is important. Serial will be more restrictive than parallel, but these waterblocks have very low restriction. Here’s a link
to a flow test of these HDD waterblocks if you are interested. That thread doesn’t get much action now, but there is some great information in there if you are interested in restriction and flow rates.
One of the main benefits to going with serial plumbing is that when you flush the system, it will push all the fluid through the waterblocks. The only way for me to go with a serial configuration would be to put two 90s in each bottom port with a short tube to connect them.
I can’t do that on the top fitting ports because the power connectors are in the way, unless I made a tube with big 180° bend which I don’t think would look good. Plus this would leave a lot of coolant in the HDD waterblocks after draining the system.
This is not the kind of build that you can pick up over your head and shake around to bleed the air out of it. So the ability to easily bleed the air out of the system, and the ability to drain as much coolant out of the system as possible is the most important factor with this build. All I can really do to help with bleeding the air out is to just lift each end of the case to tilt it slightly.
Therefore, parallel plumbing is the way to go here. Amazingly with a 90° fitting on the top port of the Intel 900P, I can put a straight piece of tubing directly to the bottom port of the rear HDD and the tube is level!
Since I’m going to run this in parallel, I need to put a tee fitting close to the HDDs and make a small bent 90° tube over to the front HDD bottom port from the tee fitting. I put a 15mm extension with a male/male adaptor between the HDD port and the tee fitting.
As you can see the tee fitting is right up against the reservoir top.
The problem I had here is that the fitting for the hard tubing is bigger around, and it hits the top of the reservoir. I had to swap out the 15mm extension to put a 30mm extension there, and then it would fit but just barely. Here the top has the 15mm extension and the bottom one has the 30mm extension.
The hard line fitting just clears the reservoir top now.
I was planning to reverse this same style of tubing for the top ports so that the tube going from the top HDD ports to the upper radiator would match the long tube on the bottom of the build that goes from the front radiator to the bottom radiator.
After some thought, I decided that it would look cleaner if I had both short 90° bends at the HDD end match with both coming out the rear HDD ports. Also this way the upper tube would run parallel to the lower tube.
There is one thing that kind of bothers me about the Intel 900P SSD, and that is that it sags down a little bit. I messed around bending and adjusting the rear mounting bracket, but no matter what I did it did not make a difference. It was the same way with the stock heat sink that it came with, so the waterblock has nothing to do with it.
The only thing I can think of is that Intel did that on purpose so when the card is installed in a standard ATX configuration that the card is more level. So basically I have to live with it like it is.
As you can see the tube here is nice and level, but the fitting on the 900P is slightly crooked due to the card tilting down. I think that fitting would seal ok, but I really don’t want to take any chances, plus the port on the SSD is actually about 6mm deeper than the HDD port is. I was originally going to try to bend a slight off-set in the tubing to make up for that 6mm.
After having a few cold beers while staring at the build for a while
I came up with a much better plan for the tube routing. I decided to flip the short tubes with 90° bends at the hard disk drive end around the opposite way, and replace the extensions and male/male adaptors with short pieces of tubing.
Now the bottom tube will go straight from the outer HDD port with a 90° bend in the tubing over to the SSD with the fitting on the SSD pointed straight out. Also I can run the top tube how I originally wanted to so it matches the tube at the bottom of the build connecting the front radiator to the bottom radiator.
Plus now I have more clearance to the reservoir, and I can actually get to the top outer port on the reservoir top if I want to.
I got this part of the tubing done and then made the power harness for the HDDs. I didn’t mention it before, but on the part of this power harness that goes to the front hard drive, I made each wire from top to bottom slightly longer to make up for having to go up and over the tubing.
Here’s the top tube completed.
Just a few quick tips on how I made that tube. I started by making a regular 90° bend. I use the extra mandrels to hold the tubing in place while it cools. This prevents leaving any finger dimples in the tubing.
Next I set up the board like this, the 45° mandrel on the right will allow me to keep the tubing straight, and the mandrel is mounted so the end of the tube will line up with it, so once it is heated I can just put the tube down and quickly be able to bend it. I have measured and marked a line on the paper. I need to bend this down 20mm.
For a normal 90° bend I heat the tubing about a minute and 40 seconds, for this bend I’ll go a little less about a minute and 30 seconds, plus I’ll heat a smaller area. I don’t want to heat up too much of the existing 90° bend or it will start to straighten out.
I then use the 180° mandrel on the left to keep the first bend at 90° both ways, and then I gently just pull the 180° mandrel towards me to the line I have marked.
I installed the HDD power cable and both SATA cables before doing the bottom tubing. I’ll still be able to get to these cables with the bottom tubing installed, but it’s just easier to do it now.
Here’s with the lower tube from the SSD to the HDDs installed. I think the tubing looks much nicer like this
Also the tilt of the SSD does not matter now because the tube will just rotate in the 90° fitting on the SSD, and the 6mm off-set is taken up with the tube length.
Here’s a few shots from down low.
There you have it… 24TB of helium filled liquid cooled hard drive storage
… installation completed
I’ll bet that was the longest hard disk drive installation you have ever seen