[Build Log] SilverStone FT-03 MINI with H2O cooling - Overclock.net - An Overclocking Community

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[Build Log] SilverStone FT-03 MINI with H2O cooling

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post #1 of 42 (permalink) Old 10-13-2013, 12:15 PM - Thread Starter
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What started as a minor update to my previous build soon evolved into a near complete scratch build. My previous build, AeroStrobe (build log link in sig block), was a large (to me) item that bothered me by it's sheer size. I wanted something smaller. Thus started the AeroMini endeavor.

 

Like all builds, I need some reason to build it. Which means laying out some requirements; they finalized as such:

 

1) The new computer shall be intel based.

I've always been an intel guy, and switched to AMD on my last build. Needless to say, I was underwhelmed. So I came back to intel.

 

2) The new computer shall use less power.

I'm not gonna lie, my last computer wasn't entirely efficient. Two HD 6970's with every expansion port filled with something taking power plus an AMD 955 BE, it was a little pointless for my needs. Time to slim it down a bit.

 

3) The new computer shall be smaller than it's predecessor.

At over 30 lbs with sharp corners and an external water loop, the last computer was just annoying for maintenance, set-up and just moving around. I've been following a theme lately to decrease the footprint of the things I use, and this was the next step. 

 

4) The new computer shall integrate the entire water loop into the rest of the system.

In my last build, the pump, rad and rez were external of the computer, and the loop came through bulkheads in the case. The idea was to get the computer silent by having the fans away from me. While this worked very well, the hoses were a pain and a half, and it wasn't as elegant as I imagined. So I decided I'd try something new, and make a quiet loop with the case. 

 

Bottom Line Up Front: This is the near-complete AeroMini:

 

AppleMark

 

 

 

 

 

A humble beast, it is relatively quiet, and much more efficient than the last build. It is also smaller :thumb:

 

Of all the components I planned on re-using in this build from the last, only the SSD, pump, rad, one HD 6970 and two memory sticks remain.

 

And I couldn't be happier!

 

 

 

For those of you who didn't quite know how much smaller a SFX PSU is compared to a full-size ATX one, here are some comparisons. I couldn't believe it!

 

 

 

 

My HD 6970 card was just 4mm too long for the case #grumble. So I had to cut the bottom of the case to get the card to stick through (pic below). Battle with the bottom plate was extensive due to my lack of proper tools (constantly overheating Dremel was all I had for this), but I was able to get my GPU to fit.  I had to guess and check my cuts, and then file it down with a metal file when I thought it was correct. It worked out elegantly in the end, as when the white bottom fan cover is on the case, it can't be seen at all :)

 

If they were to make this case just a half inch taller, it could fit 3x as many graphics cards. then again, this is for a mini-ITX mobo...

 

 

 

 

 

To get inside the case, you need to remove the two smaller panels before the bigger panel on the side. In order to do that without having to bleed the water loop, I had to send the loop down through the bottom of the case, and make the radiator independent of the panel. I used a stepper bit and put two holes through the bottom plate of the case and put in a bulkhead for each hold. I also had to cut one of the braces with the leg to get the bulkhead to fit flush with the surface and avoid any leaks. I don't know how I got it to fit as well as I did, but I love it!

 

 

 

 

The top of the case has a white divider which houses the HP, Mic, Power/Reset & USB3.0 ports. However the cables that they have are very long (not sure why) so I had to remove the panel and stuff the extra cable in it. That was a chore because it's not designed to be opened (I think) but the cables are now out of sight and everything still works!

 

 

It took me weeks to figure out just how I was going to fit my water loop in there and dry-fit everything, especially since I kept ordering parts when I realized I needed them. Because I'm stubborn, I decided I couldn't get rid of my D5 pump, so I got a small rez to match it, and found it fit like a glove!

 

 

If anyone says that Bitspower triple rotary fittings and crystal link systems are anything less than amazing, they may or may not be 100% incorrect. The shutoff valves are there when I have to remove the rad for whatever reason, but I haven't found a need for them just yet.

 

 

 

 

I ended up moving the SSD from the back of the case and putting it next to the graphics card, as it was way too hard to access. This also helped manage the long sata cable I used.

 

 

 

 

 

It fits! :wheee: I will be honest, I can't sleeve for the life of me. The one cable I tried to sleeve in this build came apart. At least I got the cables to the right length and have them somewhat match!

 

Now for the tricky part of the build: putting on the radiator (which I now know as a radiator backpack :D! thanks WiSK!).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As explained earlier, I had to figure out a way to support the rad and the fans externally while also allowing the panels to be removed. This meant that I had to attach the backpack directly to the frame of the case. 

 

I found a way to do it. After lots of attempts, I figured the best way was to have a hole in the panel for the fan cables, and a slot that I could stick an L-Bracket into and fasten to a threaded hole conveniently located on the top of the case! I have no idea what the hole is for, but it couldn't be in a better place as it centers the backpack on the case. Unfortunately there wasn't another spot on the other side, so I only have one bracket holding up the case, but it removes the strain on the crystal link connected to the rad, so it does it's job!

 

The bracket is threaded on the radiator side, so the bolt that holds the fan and rad doesn't slip off. This also avoids the need of a nut to hold the bolt, making dis/assembly easier.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The left panel is the unaltered front panel. The right panel is the modified one. The square hole near the top is for the bracket to slide through, while the round hole in the middle is for the cables for the fans to run through to the motherboard. I also had to bring the bottom clearance up on the right to allow the water loops to go to the rad. The white clamps on the side hold the power, displayport, usb and optical cable to the case so they don't go into the fans. I actually love those little white rubber clamps; they're very nice.

 

For only a Dremel and drill bit, I'm pretty happy with the results, especially the bottom clearance cut. The square hole, well, was a lesson learned. I will do it like they did on the front disk drive, and have rounded corners next time.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Update on 24 Oct 2013 (Post 21) 

 

Update on 1 Dec 2013 (Post 26)


Update on 27 Feb 2014 (Post 32)

 

Update on 8 March 2014 (Post 34)

 

 

Components:

 

Computer:

 

  • Intel i5-3570k
  • ASRock Z77 mini-itx mobo
    • I upgraded the wi-fi card that came with the board with an intel Wireless-ac & Bluetooth card - Model 7260HMW. SO FAST. I do need 5 GHz antennas however...
  • Mushkin Enhanced Chronos Deluxe 120 GB SSD
  • Corsair Vengeance 2x4 GB 1600 9-9-9-24 1.5V Memory
  • PNY GTX 750Ti OC
  • SilverStone SFX 450 Gold Modular PSU

 

Water Cooling Loop:

 

  • EK Supreme LTX CPU waterblock
  • EK NB / SB 6 Waterblock
  • Black Ice Stealth GT 240 Radiator in Blue
  • Laing D5 variable speed Pump
  • XSPC D5 Tank reservoir for D5 pumps
  • A lot of Bitspower Crystal Link fittings
  • BitsPower rotary and 90Fittings
  • BitFenix Scythe PWM White fans

 

I'm gathering the last few items I need and hopefully this build will be complete!

 

Benchmarks & Performance:

 

Currently: i5 at 4.5GHz in a stable condition, and am trying to get a 4.7GHz under 1.35V, but it hasn't proven stable like some others have as of yet.

 

Update on 8 March covers some of the GPU performance. When I get some better benchmarking programs, more will come.


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post #2 of 42 (permalink) Old 10-13-2013, 01:50 PM
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Amazing build, one of my favorite SFF cases, too. I can't even fathom how or what a pain it must have been to cram everything into that case, especially the D5. Great work! thumb.gif

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post #3 of 42 (permalink) Old 10-13-2013, 02:51 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DevilGear44 View Post

Amazing build, one of my favorite SFF cases, too. I can't even fathom how or what a pain it must have been to cram everything into that case, especially the D5. Great work! thumb.gif

 

Hah thanks! 

 

I though for sure I had messed up the mobo at least a dozen times smashing it up and getting my fat fingers in this case. Whatever cable management I was hoping for went out the windows when I realized just how small this case is...


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post #4 of 42 (permalink) Old 10-13-2013, 03:06 PM
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Really awesome build. I love those cases

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post #5 of 42 (permalink) Old 10-13-2013, 03:53 PM
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As someone who's been there too, you have my respect. Love the radiator backpack smile.gif


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post #6 of 42 (permalink) Old 10-14-2013, 07:48 AM - Thread Starter
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Really awesome build. I love those cases

 

Thanks! This case is very handsome; clean and simple. It is very nice to work with too

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by WiSK View Post

As someone who's been there too, you have my respect. Love the radiator backpack smile.gif

 

Radiator Backpack. I had no idea this design even had a name. I love it. hahahah. Thanks!


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post #7 of 42 (permalink) Old 10-14-2013, 09:11 AM
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post #8 of 42 (permalink) Old 10-14-2013, 09:05 PM
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After seeing more pics, love this build even more after seeing all the valves and super clean runs. That reservoir looks like it was made for this build! Shame it can't fit a slim drive, but I'm just old-fashioned about those kind of things.

I think the outside would look even better with a silver-bodied radiator and some clear or white fans, but any recommendations towards this build is just being a nit-picky Nancy. Great job x2! thumb.gif

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post #9 of 42 (permalink) Old 10-15-2013, 03:30 PM - Thread Starter
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Awesome job man.

 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by DevilGear44 View Post

After seeing more pics, love this build even more after seeing all the valves and super clean runs. That reservoir looks like it was made for this build! Shame it can't fit a slim drive, but I'm just old-fashioned about those kind of things.

I think the outside would look even better with a silver-bodied radiator and some clear or white fans, but any recommendations towards this build is just being a nit-picky Nancy. Great job x2! thumb.gif

 

Hey thank you everyone! I'm glad you like it.

 

And Devil, I completely agree about the fans. In fact, I'm probably going to get some white fans for the rad. I was gonna get some Noctua fans, but at $20 a pop I couldn't justify. I'm thinking the BitFenix Spectre's will go on the rad.

 

And recommendations are welcome! My imagination is exhausted at this point hah.


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post #10 of 42 (permalink) Old 10-16-2013, 06:54 AM
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Great job! One of my favorite cases. smile.gif

Still to see one with a rad inside. xD
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