Hey all. It has been just short of a year since I first started this mod. It is time for some updates.
First the cheap hardware store tubing eventually did cloud over with the enemy of all appearances, plasticizer. I've just recently replaced all my tubing with Duerelene.
In all honesty the Watts tubing from my local hardware store worked perfectly. Even when I pulled it out of the system the water was still clear, and despite plasticizer build up it wasn't terrible. No mountains of plastic gunk on my radiators or even in the Kuhler blocks. It was just ugly. Hopefully this new tubing will fair a bit better!
I like to think a year with the same build is pretty good though!
Here are some new pictures using the 920 block pumps I was gifted ever so generously. They are still working perfectly to this day with zero leaks .
What you see on my GTX 780 is OCN's own Richie with his Bright Light backplate mod! He was really brought a lot of useful tools to use in incorporating a AIO to a GPU.
I plan to add my second 920 block that you see idling on the bottom of my case to my GPU, but I ran into heat problems with the VRM's and so am working on a more unique solution.
I'm also in the process to publishing a off hand video of when I redid my whole loop. From start to finish, with zero preparation, you'll see just how easy or hard it is to do exactly what I did.
Complete with blood, sweat, and salty tears! of joy of course. Stay tuned!
Some of you are like me. We jumped on that AIO fiasco like white on rice because it offered something our 2 ton blocks couldn't.
AIO's gave us good cooling with little noise and space. For some it was even affordable.
Then I added another 470... and another Kuhler 620
Sometime after a period of some kind of time frame one of the 470's died, then the other one followed suit (RMA came back successful!) and in that period of Darkest Of Days I was running this...
If you don't know what that is, that is the embedded GPU of my i7-3770k. Thus were not many a graphically intensive game was even played. - though I did try. But then a miracle happened. I got my paycheck. Then another miracle happened.
Oh yeah! That EVGA GTX 780 SC with that lovely ACX cooler, and thus x2 Sparse Grid Super Sampling did welcome me with open arms.
Life was good. Too good in fact because I then realized something that every enthusiast eventually goes through.
Man I was thirsty. So I began my journey with Google to look into the enlightened world of water cooling. Everything was looking great, I had an understanding of what I would need, rad capacity, fans, a snazzy looking block for my CPU, those awesome twisted reservoirs, and a full block from EVGA for my GTX780.
It then occurred to me, as I was playing around with the clocks of my GTX 780. Oh right... I just bought a GTX 780, there are no more funds.
But wait! I still have those Kuhler 620's just sitting there, collecting dust, not cooling. Now how to make them abide to my wishes, and on basically zero funds. So let us be realistic with this. What is the least amount of cash I will need to pull together to get these perfectly working pumps and radiators cooling my system. Could I have just stuck them in there as is, with full warranty, and been perfectly happy with the result? Yes. Is that acceptable? Definitely Not! My system already runs cool and quiet on regular air, this is not about just working, this is about making it work so I can gloat about it, because honestly, am I going to break world records with the low flow of a Kuhler pump/block combo? Maybe!
So what do I have? Well, a perfectly functioning 3770k setup running a GTX 780 in a 300R. Cool.
I have two Antec Kuhler 620's, so two blocks with pumps, and two 120mm radiators, and 2 fans. - and something that resembles tubing.
So far on my water cooling setup I have a combined cost of $96 USD. Each 620 cost me $48 USD.
Now here is where I made a decision. I could probably sell both 620's for (lets be generous) $35 USD. I looked into a kit like the XSPC 240 or even a 360! That would be great. However the block for my GTX 780 would run me at the cheapest ~ $65 USD, or $150 USD for a full block. Whelp there goes that idea... So, back to the 620's. I'm already $96 invested into two blocks and 2 rads.
First up I definitely want to run a reservoir. I could bleed the system and re-run it as a full closed loop again (soon to come!) but that isn't any fun at all! I want to feel like I'm actually running a custom loop here.
So first up the smallest reservoir I could find. a Swiftech Micro Res! ($22). For tubing I stopped by my local store and got over 20ft of tubes for a mere $6.00. Thus the mod began...
- also applies to most AIO's not designed for expanded use.
Everything here is at your own risk. I have no idea if warranty will be affected.
Please forgive the quality of these pictures. I am using my Galaxy S4 phone. I had settings enabled which took away from the quality and performance, so future pics should be a lot better.
I am writing this one in its own post in case anyone wants to link to it directly.
Let me just start off by saying you do not need to cut the tubing on an AIO to mod it. there is nothing special about how these coolers are designed, they follow the same technology of any other water cooling design.
To start you will need some tools:
Small flat head screwdriver
A larger flat head screwdriver (optional but useful)
An AIO unit - duh
A Lighter for fire
You do not need to unscrew any bolts on the pump block. You can unscrew the two screws seated directly next to each elbow barb if you'd like to take the barb connector out of the pump. I did not. All in all it took me about 15 minutes to do this.
At this point I first removed the tubes from the Radiator and emptied the Glycol coolant into my container (glass cup). A little out of order but it will all make sense, I promise.
The thick plastic looking band around the tube end first needs to be loosened. To do this take your lighter and lightly wave the flame around the rubber. Do Not leave the flame on the rubber, you only want to warm it up a little. I waved the flame back and forth a few times, it doesn't need much heat at all.
Now with your Small Screwdriver slide under the rubber cap and gently work the screwdriver around the tube to loosen the rubber cap. If you let it cool it will tighten back up. Apply a little heat to soften it again.
With a firm hold start wiggling the end of the tube back and forth while gently pulling. The plastic elbow is a Barb so you need to slide the tube off the barb. Using the large flat screwdriver you can gently push the tube to get it going a little easier. Once the tube is off the plastic barb elbow it will look like this...
Do the same for the other tube connector. The same process applies to the Radiator as well. The Radiator barbs are a part of the radiator and are made of metal, so you can give them a little more muscle, but they are still easy to remove with a small amount of force. Wiggling is the key to sliding the tubing off the barbs.
That rubber end cap sits free and can be easily taken off of the pump assembly. Keep these! You will need them if you decide later to return the AIO back to its original design. I put them in a small bag and stored them in with my box of bolts.
This is what your Radiator will look like.
A shot of roughly how much Glycol coolant is to be found in the Kuhler 620. Don't drink it!
Everything disassembled! No need to cut the tubing, and no damage done to the unit which is now ready to be used in your custom water cooling loop.
Up next is testing of a custom loop. Adding your own tubes, a reservoir, and how to get it all working.
*Optional* - correct 1/4 ID matching Barbs with g1/4 screw thread. (US hardware store size is in MIPs)
*Optional* Power Supply with Mosfet Fan Adapter
*Optional* small wire or paper clip. - to jump the PSU.
At this point you have emptied the contents of the AIO into a container of some sort. You can go ahead and add that fluid to your storage bottle and set it aside. You can continue to use this mix once your loop is completed or use a custom solution. Keep in mind the Radiator is aluminum and the CPU block is Copper.
I live in the U.S.A. Our plumbing seems to work around the MIP metric/unit/thingy. The reservoir I got, the smallest one I could find cheaply, is G threaded. What this means is that all of the easy to acquire plumbing hardware will not work with my reservoir. I could tap the reservoir with the MIP thread but I lack those tools and I really don't want to break it. Additionally I could not find an adapter/reducer, all proper solutions pointed at actual water cooling shops .
Thus, the two different tubing sizes. The AIO is built around the 1/4 ID size. This may be different for the larger units like an H100, I have no idea. If you didn't already know larger diameter tubes have this neat ability to fit over smaller diameter tubes. So you have a couple of ways to go about this. 1. run the 1/4 ID size tubes to the reservoir, or 2. run the 3/8 ID size tubes to the pump and radiator. I opted for option 2, to run 3/8 ID size tubing.
Step 1. - Cut 4 roughly the size of the 1/4 Barb pieces from the 1/4 ID Tubing.
Step 2. - Install those cut pieces over the barbs of the Radiator and CPU Block.
It should look like this
Great! Now lets look at that pump. Logic dictates all things mechanical tend to go Left to Right. Let's test that theory.
In order to get the pump working you first need to prime it, or partially fill the half loop. The pump is not strong enough to pull fresh water into the loop on its own. I sucked on one end of the tube to pull water from my container, just enough to fill the pump and a little into both tubes. It works the same way once you add a reservoir and radiator, you will need to fill the loop partially to get things going.
I used the Fan Mosfet adapter and a spare PSU to power the pump. You use the paper clip or wire to trick the PSU into running. This way I didn't have to use my actual computer while working. I purchased my spare PSU from my local store, appears to be a Dell 250w unit I got for a staggering $2.00 USD.
Yup, The Left sucks the Right spits.
It probably doesn't matter how you end up finishing the loop, but most guides suggest the pump pushing water from the Radiator to the CPU Block. In my build I'll be adding an additional Kuhler 620 for the GTX 780, so we can explore options later. What we know though is the pump orientation.
Ok enough gibber gabber. What does a completed loop look like? And does it work?
Of course it works, what, you'd think I'd post my failures on the internet?
Now for some closer pictures of the working loop.
Feel free to use any tubing you want. Again keep in mind I'm on a super tight budget. I didn't buy lunch for 3 whole days to buy that reservoir. I made my own.
I'm far from a pro when it comes to water pressure and cooling efficiency but it looks like the pump pushes the water decently. You won't be using it to spray water at your neighbors dog but if you have a low flow radiator I think this will do quite well, it doesn't have a problem at all pushing water through the 3/8 ID tubing.
Thoughts on Pump/Block to Radiator configuration?
During my test I also turned off each pump individually to see the effects to flow. I only had the reservoir return to see if their was any difference. There was no noticeable difference that I could see with only 1 pump running in the full loop.
When I did my 2nd kuhler I noticed a tiny amount of adhesive on the barb. More so than on my first one. Applying a little extra heat and pushing on the tubing with my flat screwdriver I was able to get the tube off the barb without breaking it.
As for the simplicity of just cutting the small amount of tubing, if you want to try to keep warranty then you can't cut it. No guarantee warranty will still work but you can return the cooler back to its original state, thus giving you the best chance.
By all means cut the tubing if you don't care about warranty or your warranty period has expired.
Applying heat to the barb will still make it easier and reduce your chance of damaging the barb, as the ones on the pump/block are plastic.
I recommend using heat to loosen the fitting.