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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
I started this build quite a while ago (January 2018). It took a long time to finish, mostly due to lack of free time. I finally finished up in September 2019. Below is a fairly verbose log of the process. Feel free to skip to the next post to see final pictures/video. All images (besides some final ones) will be in spoiler tags to cut down on scrolling.

I would opt for one long post with the entire log, but I guess things have changed since I last posted on here. The process of attaching images seems overly complicated. So I will be breaking the log into individual posts. This may take a day or so to finish.

The build is largely inspired by a timelapse build I saw on youtube. But I added my own flavor to it, so it's quite a bit different.

As someone who owns 2 cats (at the time of the build, 3 now), I was very aware of the open-concept nature of the case. I was optimistic that I could deal with it and the cats, but the in the end, it was a bit too impractical. I'll explain near of the end of the build, but I'll be repurposing this build for something new.

Anyways, hope you enjoy the log and I apologize for the length! I didn't want to post a log while in progress, since it would have dragged on for so long.


Table of Contents:

1.) Parts List and Unboxing P90
2.) Attaching Acrylic Sheets to P90
3.) Attaching Motherboard
4.) Attaching GPU
5.) Cutting Hole For Fan Controller
6.) Cutting Holes for Fans and Radiators
7.) Hacking Case to Accommodate Air Flow and Fan Controller
8.) Assembling and Attaching Reservoirs
9.) Cutting Holes for Exhaust Fans and Installing Pumps
10.) Cutting Holes for GPU Riser Cable
11.) Cutting Holes for GPU/Motherboard Cables
12.) Changing Motherboard Mounting Screws and Hooking Up GPU and Fans
13.) Fully Assembled Case (Minus Tubing)
14.) Fittings, Cables, etc. Arrived and Beginning of Tube Bending
15.) Drain Valve Construction and Reservoir Outlet Tubing
16.) First and Second Attempts at Reservoir Inlet Tubes
17.) Radiator Tubes and Reservoir Aqua Tubes
18.) Assembling GPU and Installing CPU, RAM and SSD
19.) Cleaning Radiators, Peeling Off Paper From Acrylic and Air Testing Loops
20.) Blitz Part 2
21.) Final Pictures and Video
 

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Discussion Starter #2 (Edited)
Final Pictures

It was a long project, especially without a lot of free time to work on it. But it came out just how I wanted, so I was pleased.

Unfortunately, I will be taking it down soon and repurposing it for a new build. As anyone could have guessed, this open-concept case is not cat friendly. Even if I opted to use the tempered glass that came with the case, they would still have relatively easy access. I’ve seen the cats get too close for comfort (i.e., using the tubes to raise themselves up to sniff things). What pushed me over the edge was that one of them, perhaps the new kitten we got, chewed through every single front I/O cable to the motherboard EXCEPT the power switch. I’ll take that as a warning from them.

So I’ll be working on a more conventional enclosed case next. It won’t be as mod heavy as this, but I’ll try to get around to posting a log. In the end, I want to be able to use this computer and with this build now, I’m more likely to just close the door to prevent disaster.

Here is a video of filling the two loops:


Here are the final pictures:


233.jpg

236.jpg

240.jpg

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257.jpg



The rest are in spoiler tags since there's a lot. Enjoy!


 

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Discussion Starter #3 (Edited)
0.) Parts list

Here is a break down of the parts used in the build:

Hardware:
Thermaltake P90 case
Various pieces of 1/8" thick black acrylic sheets
Asrock Z370 Killer
Intel i7 8700K
32GB DDR4 Corsair Vengeance
512GB Samsung 970 Pro MMe.M2
EVGA GTX 1060 SSC
EVGA Supernova 750 G3
Custom PSU cables from MAINframe Customs

Cooling:
4x XSPC EX120 radiators
6x Corsair SP120 fans
EK-Supremacy EVO Nickel/plexi CPU water block
EK-FC GeForce GTX FE RGB Nickel waterblock
EK-FC1080 GTX backplate
2x Monsoon 250mm modular reservoirs with bottom pump setup
2x EK-D5 pumps
Aquacomputer Double Protect Ultra 1000ml - Blue
Aquacomputer Double Protect Ultra 1000ml - Red
Assortment of Monsoon fittings
Thermaltake Commander FT fan controller

1.) Unboxing P90

One of the first things I wanted to make sure was that the case would be accessible from the inside, so I took off the top triangular piece. Luckily, most everything in the case can be taken off. I also purchased a rotating pedestal thing so that I could easily move the case around, both when working on the build as well as when it’s finished. We already have foreshadowing of cat trouble!

 

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Discussion Starter #4
2.) Attaching acrylic sheets to P90

The plan for this build was to cover all three sides of the case with acrylic sheets, and then mount the components to the sheets. That gives more flexibility to the location and orientation of everything. I knew I would need to drill some precise holes in relatively fragile plastic, so I picked up a table-top drill press. One the best things I’ve bought, as I would never have had the steady hand to do this build.


I measured each side as precise as I could and placed an order for the acrylic sheets. While we won’t see what they look like underneath for a while, they are a nice glossy black. The first side I tackled was what I am referring to as the back, which is the largest side. But it’s the easiest to start with because the back of the case already has a removable metal panel that has pre-drilled holes to attach to the chassis. So I used that panel as a template and drilled through those holes. PS: I am not trying to always include cats in the photo, they just naturally show up!


Next, I started on the other two sides. They meet at a 90 degree angle, and there are existing holes at the corners to attach the metal pole things that secure the tempered glass. I decided to make use of those holes to secure the sheets. I wanted to make sure that if screws/wingnuts were used on both corner holes, they would have enough clearance.

 

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Discussion Starter #5
3.) Attaching motherboard

My choice of components for the build are mostly aesthetic-based. I am going for a black-blue-red scheme, so this motherboard seemed to fit the bill: Asrock Z370


Before attaching the motherboard to the acrylic sheet, I outlined the existing holes in the chassis with how they overlay with the sheet. My plan was to make use of the existing pre-drilled holes in the chassis for the motherboard standoffs. For the sheet itself, I picked up a motherboard template and lined it up with the markings I made. I then drilled through the holes in that template.


I used standard 6-32 thumb screws to push through the chassis and into the sheet. I then screwed on black nylon hex spacers to make a standoff for the motherboard. I ended up replacing the standoffs shown here with longer ones when I realized I needed more space between the motherboard and the sheet.

 

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Discussion Starter #6
4.) Attaching GPU

For the GPU, I wanted to pick up something that wasn’t going to break the bank but also had a waterblock available, so I arrived at this GTX 1060.


I then started to plan out where I wanted to place it on the acrylic sheet. The GPU will be separated from the motherboard, but connected with a riser cable. It's a fairly long GPU with respect to this build, but it fits just right.


The waterblock I got was already opened, which was a bit concerning. I chose to ignore it and luckily didn’t run into trouble. I also got a metal back plate, which is a crucial component for attaching the GPU to the case.


The idea is to allow for the backplate to be attached to the acrylic sheet, after the backplate has been attached to the GPU. So the first step was to make the necessary holes in the backplate so it can be attached the sheet. I picked up a drill bit set that would give me both counter sunk holes as well as tapped holes (used later on in the build). I need the holes to be counter sunk because the heads of the screws that go through the back plate and attach to the case will also be in close proximity to the GPU itself. I didn’t want anything to be touching. I drilled through the backplate and into the acrylic sheet, using the backplate as a template.


Next, I put screws through the holes and put on the same style of black hex spacers used for the motherboard. The excess length of the screws push into the acrylic sheet and then some wing nuts are used on the other end to hold everything in place. That way, I can attach the back plate to the GPU and then attach the entire waterblock+GPU+back plate to the case. As you may notice, I accidently made my first hole in the backplate on the wrong side!

 

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Discussion Starter #7
5.) Cutting hole for fan controller

Next, I wanted to cut the hole that would fit the fan controller. Honestly, the main reason for the fan controller was to reduce the complexity of routing fan cables through the inside of the case and to the motherboard. There will not be that many fans in this build (i.e., no push-pull). I had a hard time finding a fan controller that fit my needs and matched the color scheme. But this one has been working out well.


I took the frame of the controller and measured out the dimensions and translated them to the acrylic sheet. The fan controller will be on the side that will have the fans and radiators. I drilled some starting holes and then used this Dremel moto-saw to cut the rectangular hole out. With the rough hole made, I took a file and cleaned it up as best as I could. I’ll rely on the frame of the controller to cover up anything ugly. What isn’t shown here are all my failed attempts at making the hole just right.

 

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Discussion Starter #8
6.) Cutting holes for fans and radiators

For this build, I wanted to do something interesting with the radiators, rather than the standard 240mm/360mm/480mm. Taking inspiration from the timelapse build I saw on youtube, I picked up four 120mm radiators. Two of them will have red SP120s and the other two will have blue SP120s. Seemingly unrelated, I also picked up the water block and fittings. I need these because the placement of the radiators will depend on the routing of the tubing. I apparently got a bad rotary fitting, as it has a very noticeable "shine" that the other one does not have.


I decided on a design where the tubing will be a majority of 90 bends that go around the case, making use of 90 rotary fittings when possible. I wanted the radiators to be assembled in a square, two on top and two on bottom. The top radiator ports needed to be aligned with the ports on the CPU waterblock, while the bottom radiators needed to be align with the GPU waterblock ports. To be honest, I mostly eye-balled this part. I tried my base with a laser level and what not, but I couldn’t get anything ultra precise. Luckily it worked out in the end.


With the placement figured out, I took some fan grills and made sure they were aligned and centered correctly. I’ll use their four holes as a template to drill through. Some of the holes are a bit wonky, but they are large enough that I can do fine tuning when attaching the radiators before tightening everything. I then used a 4” hole saw to cut out the holes for the air flow of the radiator/fans (some of these photos are taken out of order, due to some screw ups with the fan controller work and what not; I purposefully ordered extra sheets since I anticipated that I would mess up!).

 

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Discussion Starter #9
7.) Hacking case to accommodate fan airflow and fan controller

Next, I needed to hack up the metal chassis of the case to make sure there was enough airflow for the radiators. I marked up the case with some tape and made some decisions on where I could cut. I wanted to make sure the structural integrity of the case was maintained, so I left some areas alone. Here are some before and after photos. Good thing is that it’s all going to be covered, so my sloppy jigsaw work will be hidden.


One thing that I realized at this point was that the fan controller’s body was way too big. It would stick out and be in the way of the back panel. Luckily, the bulk of this was just the part of the controller that you attach to the standard drive-bay slot. Since I won’t be doing anything like that here, I took that part off and just left the bare essentials. With that, the radiators and fans are attached and working. Later on, you’ll see the reason behind the design choice of mix-matching the fan colors like this.

 

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Discussion Starter #10 (Edited)
8.) Assembling and attaching reservoirs

This will be a dual-loop build, so I picked up two 250mm Monsoon reservoirs and two pumps. I went with a classic black theme with the end caps and tension rods. The two pumps will be mounted directly below the reservoirs in those black metal cap things (see later in build).


The reservoirs are then attached to the back panel with the supplied Monsoon mounts. These are really nice as they are clean and really give that floating look. The key thing here is that the bottom (outlet) ports on the reservoirs are aligned with the GPU ports and the bottom radiator ports. As mentioned, the tubes will be wrapping around this case. So the reservoir on the left will feed into the bottom radiator and the reservoir on the right will feed into the GPU. As we’ll see later, I got more or less lucky with the top ports of the reservoirs (inlets) being in a good location with respect to the top radiator and CPU block.


I was concerned with the back panel having too much weight pulling on it from the reservoirs, especially when filled. So I made four extra holes in the panel that go into the existing VESA mounts for the case (the case can be wall mounted apparently). That gives me a lot more confidence that the back panel won’t sag/fall off. It does complicate how I attach the back panel with the reservoirs already attached. We'll see later how I dealt with that.

 

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Discussion Starter #11
9.) Cutting holes for exhaust fans and install pumps

I need exhaust somewhere in this case. The mostly logical place is the back panel, as it only has the two reservoirs. I made two fan holes on the top and will use some black fan grills (the fans will be mounted on the inside).



Here, I install the pumps into the bottom of the reservoirs. The only mod here is to route the molex cable through the back panel. I cut the smallest hole I could that would fit the cable through (after removing the connector). It means removing the reservoir/pump will require removing the molex connector, but that is OK. It’s worth it for a clean look.


And a bonus: the current state of my workspace. It’s quite a mess but it’s unavoidable in an apartment. I have to cover the case to prevent our cats from getting into trouble.

 

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Discussion Starter #12
10.) Cutting holes for GPU riser cable

Since the GPU will be separated from the motherboard, I needed to make a hole for the riser cable to go from the GPU to the motherboard. I made the hole so it is mostly obscured by the GPU itself, as well as the riser cable when it is installed. So the cut is pretty wonky but not visible. I’ll need to daisy chain two riser cables together to actually reach the CPU (shown later).

 

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Discussion Starter #13 (Edited)
11.) Cutting holes for GPU/motherboard cables

Next, I made various holes and cuts for the motherboard cables and GPU power cable. All of the motherboard holes are covered by the motherboard itself. The only tricky one was the GPU power cable. I didn’t want to make a hole big enough to fit the 8pin connector, and I didn’t want to try to cut a nice smooth rectangle either (I’d screw it up for sure). So I made a hole big enough to pass the cables through without the connector, just like I did for the pump. Shown here is a test with an old cable (haven’t got the custom cables for this build yet). Again, it makes it annoying to remove the cable in the future but I’m OK with that. I made use of a step-drill for the holes, which has been really handy.


Now it’s time for more case hacking, this time for the cables on the motherboard/GPU side. Same idea as before: do a terrible job with the jigsaw and have it all covered up by the plastic panel. I made use of the drill press when possible. When I couldn’t, I used a much more powerful drill than I had prior to this. That made quick work of the case. One thing worth noting is I made a hole in the bottom of the case for the PSU wall-plug to fit through. Shown here is also the extended riser cable(s). It’ll be a tight fit with everything shoved into the interior of the case (see later).

 

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Discussion Starter #14
12.) Changing motherboard mounting screws and hooking up GPU and fans

I had a resolve a issue here with how I was mounting the motherboard. The case has a horizontal piece of metal that goes across the back. This is the VESA mounting bracket. The way it attaches to the two sides of the case interferes with the thumbscrews I was using to attach the motherboard. So I replaced those with more low-profile screws. Here are some pictures with everything set in place now. The standoffs shown here are still the original small ones. I later replaced them with longer ones.


I am now ready to start attaching components and connecting everything together. The goal here is to make sure everything fits and can reach where it needs to. So I got the GPU connected to the motherboard and the fans/radiators mounted.

 

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Discussion Starter #15
13.) Fully assembled case (minus tubing)

Next, I install the exhaust fans and the reservoirs. Because of the new way of securing the back panel via the VESA mount, the screws to access are blocked by the reservoirs when they are attached. Ideally, I’d attach the reservoirs to the acrylic sheet and then attach the sheet to the case. So now I have to half-way assemble the reservoirs, then attach the plastic, and then finish setting up the reservoirs. A bit of an oversight of my part but nothing too problematic. Also shown here is my first solution of dealing with the top port inlets for the reservoirs. I got two bitspower aqua tube things. We'll see later what I ultimately end up doing instead of using these.


Here is everything assembled, with respect to the outside portion of the build.

 

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Discussion Starter #16
14.) Fittings, cables, etc arrived and beginning of tube bending

One of the last major shipment of components arrived. This includes fittings, PSU, cables, etc. Bonus cat picture.


Now the second half of the build starts: bending tubes. I have a little piece of MDF that I use to attach the Monsoon mandrels, which is also a perfect lounging spot for cats apparently.


I also picked up this drill-bit to clean up the ends of the tubes after cutting (I used my Dremel moto-saw to cut them). It’s been super handy.


The main issue I had was the included Monsoon silicone insert was too small for the Monsoon tubing. All of my bends were terrible looking (I had previously only worked with 1/2" tubing, so this was my first batch of 5/8" tubing). I ended up getting a slightly bigger one, which made bends look great. But getting the insert into the tubing was hell, especially for some of the longer bends shown later. Shown here are the first two bends, GPU to radiator and CPU to radiator.

 

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Discussion Starter #17
15.) Drain valve construction and reservoir outlet tubing

Before I went further, I wanted to make sure I had an easy way to drain the loops. I hate when I have to take apart half of the build just to drain. Luckily, it was straightforward for this build, with everything exposed. I made some drain valves to attach at the outlets of the reservoirs. Monsoon has these drain plugs that come with these caps that are the same style as their actual fittings. So it makes it look a bit cleaner.


With that, I made two bends for the reservoir outlets. I made use of some 45-degree rotary fittings to help made it a 90 degree bend. Otherwise, I would have made some kind of crazy bend that wouldn’t have looked as nice.

 

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Discussion Starter #18
16.) First and second attempts at reservoir inlets tubes

The tricky part was the reservoir inlets, at the top. I wasn’t sure how I wanted to bend the tubes. This is my first attempt, which is basically the most direct path from the radiator/CPU to the reservoir. It looks absolutely hilarious! In order for the connection to be made, the tubing has to jut out pretty far from the case before it has a straight line to the reservoir. I decided to scrap that and try something else


For my second attempt, I decided to go for a multi-angle bend. First, the tube will do a 45 degree turn to get around the corner. Then it makes a 90 degree turn to line up with the reservoir inlets. This significantly reduces the profile of the tubing and actually looks pretty cool.

 

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Discussion Starter #19
17.) Radiator tubes and reservoir aqua tubes

The next hard part was what to do with the radiators. The design of the loops was that they would change elevations at the radiators. Meaning, the left reservoir feeds into the bottom radiator then goes up to the top radiator that is diagonal from it, and then into the CPU and finally back into the top of the reservoir. The other loop does the same idea. So I needed a way to connect the radiators in a diagonal pattern. I thought of several designs, many of which were just infeasible or terrible. I opted with this one, which required a lot of extra fittings. I simply couldn’t bend a single tube to be the length I needed. Plus, making each bend in the single tube would be difficult to get just right. So I broke it into sections, using 90-degree adapters in between.


The other challenging part was that the two loops needed to be at different elevations, so they could cross over each other. So I had to use some extensions on the radiator fittings to raise up the tubes for one loop. In fact, I had to raise up both loops just so they could clear the fans.


It isn’t 100% perfect from all angles, but it was good enough for me. With that, all the tubes are in place!


Since the reservoir inlets are at the top, I wanted to avoid splashing and other problems like that. There are no available aqua tubes (or whatever people like to call them) that will work correctly with Monsoon. The aqua tubes use too many threads of the port for a fitting to work on the other side. There are some aqua tubes that come with a female port on the top, but that will raise the fitting higher than the radiator/CPU, making my bends even more complicated. Again, I wanted everything to wrap around the case without changing elevation, except at the radiators. So I opted to DIY it. I took a section of tubing and JB welded it to the inside of the reservoir cap. Not ideal, but it gets the job done. The reservoirs will not be filled so high that the weld point is submerged (and even if it was, I wouldn’t be too concerned).


I noticed some bowing of he back panel when everything was attached, so I made two extra holes at the top and bottom to tighten everything down (only the top one shown here).

 

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Discussion Starter #20
18.) Assembling GPU and installing CPU, RAM and SSD

Next, I put together the GPU. Before, I just had it loosely attached for planning purposes. Now, I fully attach the water block and back plate


Next up is installing the CPU and block, RAM and SSD.


I wanted to do a quick power test to make sure the components are actually working. Rigged up the PSU on the outside and luckily no cats were in sight.

 
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