Overclock.net banner

1 - 2 of 2 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
492 Posts
Discussion Starter #1


The is the first time I've done a build in a actual PC case in a few years. My most recent build was a mineral oil PC and before that was a custom desk PC. I actually started this project over a year ago, so it's been a long time coming. I've finished the project, so I will detail all the work I've done in this post as well as share the final pictures.

The motivation/inspiration of the project was an all white build with blue highlights and a splash of orange. The title I picked for this log will be explained later on in the post. I am not big into having the most up-to-date and high end gear, so don't expect much in that department! This is a very aesthetic-based hobby for me and I go for looks more than performance. And of course, it's just plain fun to build stuff like this.

This build took so long mostly due to lack of time to work on it, but also due to lack of experience with general modding. I had a blast doing all the work, even when making all sorts of mistakes.

So to get started, here is a summary of what's in the build. It's been so long since I ordered a lot of this stuff, so I found myself searching through my emails to remember what's all in here. This everything that is in the final build. Throughout this post, I will show the components that I had originally bought but didn't make the final cut for various reasons.

Components:

Hardware/Case:
+ Corsair Carbide Series 540 Air (White)
+ ASUS Sabertooth Z97 Mark S (White version)
+ 2x OCZ Trion 100 240GB SSD
+ Intel Core i7 4790K Devil's Canyon 4.0 GHz
+ Avexir Raiden DDR3 16GB RAM (4x 4GB)
+ Zotac GTX 760 2GB
+ Corsair AX760i

Cooling:
+ 5x XIGMATEK XLF-F1253 fans (white LED, orange blades)
+ 6x Silverstone SST-FQ121 fans (white frame, blue blades)
+ XSPC Raystorm Pro (white)
+ XSPC EX 240mm radiator (white)
+ XPSC EX 360mm radiator (white)
+ Swiftech MCP655
+ Monsoon stand-alone pump top/cover
+ Monsoon EV2 3/8" x 1/2" blue fittings
+ Monsoon clear tubing (3/8" x 1/2")
+ Monsoon dual bay reservoir
+ 2x Monsoon 100mm blue reservoir tube
+ Monsoon 50mm clear reservoir tube
+ 2x Monsoon white couplers
+ Monsoon fill/drain port base and cap (white)
+ Lamptron FC9 fan controller
+ Mayhems White Pastel Concentrate
+ Mahyems orange and yellow dye

Misc:
+ ColdZero Corsair 540 motherboard cover
+ ColdZero Corsair 540 light box
+ CableMod WideBeam LEDs (magnetic)

Since this build spanned over so much time, the following log may be a bit haphazard, but I'll try to keep it coherent. I am mostly recounting the order of events by the dates on the photos I took. Due to the vast number of photos, I'll put one giant spoiler tag so people don't have to scroll forever to see the end of the post with the final pictures.

The first thing I did back in November 2015 was to try to repurpose my Corsair AX760i PSU. I had used it at one point in my mineral oil PC but it didn't work out. So I had a mineral-oil soaked PSU that should be completely functional. I wasn't so sure about how this would turn out but I figured it was worth trying:




Nice soak in soapy water took care of the mineral oil, but then I had to let it dry for weeks to make sure it wouldn't fry as soon as I turned it on. Luckily at this point, I didn't have any hardware yet so I had no need to use the PSU.

Next, I ordered the Lamptron FC9 fan controller. I was looking for a fan controller without a big LED screen. Just something simple but with some subtle lights perhaps. This seemed to fit my needs, especially considering it was 50 watts per channel (definitely overkill for me). But man, those knobs looked terrible. I wasn't expecting them to be so lopsided and ugly. I ended up removing them in the end.





However, the overall theme of this build is white, so I had to deal with that. Painting the outside frame was straight forward once I took it off, but I didn't know of a good way to paint the black mesh-like part which had the LEDs behind it. I decided to use some white paint pens and it worked out pretty good. Put down a coat of grey primer on the frame and then finished up with flat white.








Then I ordered the case. I was drawn to the Corsair 540 because of its cube design and that it came in white. However, it wasn't white enough for me, so I still ended up doing loads of painting:






I then got the motherboard. Again, I was looking for anything that would fit well with the all white theme and there are very few motherboards out there that fit that bill. I think I found this as an open-box item on Newegg and grabbed. The only issue was the (IMO) ugly colored ports on the board. The brown and green wasn't going to stay. You can see a failed attempt in the first picture at using a blue paint pen on one of the PSU connectors.





Against everything I've ever read on the Internet, I decided to paint the motherboard. Now this isn't as bad as some people who just paint the entire PCB. This motherboard has a "cover" that covers a majority of the sensitive areas. So I kept that on and covered up the areas that were left exposed. To be extra safe, I stilled painstakingly covered up some areas with masking tape. I then covered the entire outside as well. You can see the degree at which I went to cover up even the tiniest gaps, using tweezers and what not. I didn't bother to cover up some areas like the fan headers since I assumed I could scrap off the paint if needed, but I didn't intend to use the fan headers on the motherboard at all. I stuffed the 24-pin connector with little pieces of paper towels I think. I then put cardboard/tape in the RAM slots








I lived in a 7th floor studio apartment at this time with no balcony access. Being impatient and lazy, I did a lot of spray painting indoors. Clearly a stupid decision. Even with all the plastic I put down and being as careful as I could be, there's virtually no way to avoid the spray paint "dust" left behind. Luckily this particular paint job was small, so it only required a few sprays:




















I then took off the heatsink from the motherboard and painted the black parts. I also painted the motherboard cover thing and the back plate, which was white but had a camo theme going that I didn't really like. And I painted the PCI slot covers as well so everything would be the same tint/style of white:











Naturally, the first thing I did after all the paint was dry was to make sure I didn't make a giant paperweight out of the motherboard. I had to wait until I got the CPU and RAM in. I saw this RAM somewhere online and it satisfied my inner 12-year old who wants everything to have lights. It looks a bit silly but at the same time, very addicting to stare at. I wasn't a fan of the black plastic parts that go around the plasma tube things, so I took those off and painted them. And good news, the motherboard works! Tested it out with the RAM, stock heatsink and an old graphics card I had (I actually painted the card recently at the time because I was intending on using it).












Next I got some actual watercooling parts in. One of the interesting things I found about this case was the 2 "compartments" it has; the main compartment that houses the motherboard and everything and then the "back" compartment that most people tend to stick their pump, reservoir and other things. I wanted to do something different in the back compartment and once Monsoon released its modular reservoir system, I got a cool idea. I wanted to combine their bay reservoir with a tube reservoir that would extend all the way to the back of the case. So the tube reservoir would be completely horizontal. Then I would cut out a window in the back side panel to show off the reservoir. I'll explain more about this later. For now, I have the bay reservoir. It took a bit of work to get the reservoir to fit into the 540's drive cage. There are some metal tabs that prevented it from sliding all the way in, so I had to break those off.







I also ordered the tube reservoir adapter thing. This replaces the standard back piece of the bay reservoir and allows you to attach a tube reservoir to it:



And then I have the radiators, XSPC EX240 and EX360, white. I guess I didn't take any photos of them outside the boxes, but I'm sure everyone knows what radiators look like:




Here is the pump and the Monsoon stand alone pump top/cover. There aren't very many places for the pump within the loop design I had in mine. Below is what I was thinking of, but it was slightly altered in the end. Also note the hilariously bad white sleeving on the pump. I selected the option to have it sleeved when I ordered it but I didn't think the wires would bleed through that bad.







To fit with the overall theme of the build, I wanted to go with blue fans inside and orange fans outside. I've also liked the look of these white LED fans, but over the course of this build, I have learned to never buy into LED fans if I can help it. Or at least these particular ones (though painting them could have definitely screwed them up). As much as I wanted to keep the blue fans, an LED at a time kept burning out on the fans, ruining their look. But here is what a couple of them they looked like initially:




However, the black frames had to go. I wanted the blue fans to have white frames and the orange fans to have blue frames, since the orange fans would be behind the "mesh" coverings of the 540 and those would be painted blue. I moved my painting to the bathroom, covering the tub and everything with plastic. Still a god awful idea. But surprisingly, no permanent damage to myself or the apartment (except super dirty feet). And the clearance between the RAM and the fans was unbelievably close. In the end, I used different fans that gave me a bit more room.






























During this fan painting process, I got the modular reservoir parts in. This was really fun to put together because it felt like I was building the reservoir, even though you're simply just connecting a few parts together:











I also took off the face plate of the bay reservoir and painted that white as well as painting the tube adapter back plate white. I used a spare end cap (which I painted blue out of curiosity) and 50mm tube to attach to the back plate so I wouldn't get any paint in the sensitive areas. I then chopped off a good portion of the 540's drive cage because it was covering part of the reservoir now. I intend to cut a window in the side panel to show-case the reservoir and the drive cage the way it was looked bad.










I then wanted to get an idea of how the water would look in the reservoir. I wanted to use Mayhem's orange pastel since I had never used pastel before and I think it would look cool. I used the white concentrate stuff, mixed it with some distilled water and used orange dye. My main concern was whether the orange within the blue tubes would look brown or some other off-color. But I think it looked good.








Sometime during this I painted the pump top to be white:





I also wanted to do something about the stickers on the fans. I was trying to think of something that would match the color-scheme of the build. Naturally, Magikarp came to mind and I had some circular stickers made (and thus the inspiration of the log's title). I tried different combinations of sticker colors on the fans, as shown below. I ultimately ended up using blue stickers on the orange/blue fans and white stickers on the blue/white fans (I also made Gyarados stickers to use for the blue/white fans, which you can see later on in the build):









And here are some more pictures with all of the painted fans installed








I ordered a motherboard cover and light box for the 540 from ColdZero. More photos of those will follow later.



I ordered a new graphics card as well. Well, "new" is a relative term lol, since this is a GTX 760. As mentioned earlier, I am not huge into getting the most high end gear; this is a very aesthetic-based hobby for me. I wanted a very short graphics card and I wanted to water-cool it. So this card fit the bill. I found the Amazon over-size packaging quite entertaining. And then I got an EK waterblock for it.








Around this time, I had recently got engaged and my fiancee was moving in with me to a new apartment. So I had the pleasure of breaking down my massive 7-foot desk PC and moving all my other stuff. Moving a build-in-progress was not fun. And I ultimately chose to trash the desk PC. It was just way too big to keep. I got a few years of usage out of it and it was great. But the good news about the new apartment was that it had a balcony, so I actually could do some of the messy work outside for once.




Unpacking some stuff into the new apartment. I wanted to get a very simple and easy to move desk. Where we moved had an IKEA right down the road, so I picked out a few pieces to make a pretty big corner desk. I am sticking a triple monitor setup on it and the mount alone is extremely heavy. I wanted to make sure the desk wasn't going to flex, so I screwed it an additional leg. But the photo below was before I put that leg there.








For the lightbox I bought, it was designed to sit ontop of the hard drive mounts in the bottom of the case. However, that prevents you from putting a 360 radiator in the front. Since I was never a fan of the hard drive mounts, especially considering that I was planning to use SSDs, I just cut out the entire bottom (went to visit my brother over the 4th of July and made use of the fact that he actually has a house and a garage; much better than working on an apartment balcony). That gave the radiator enough clearance to fit. I started with a dremel and then did a bulk of the work with a jigsaw. The last picture shows the clearance for a fitting (and you can also see the installed motherboard cover). It's a bit strange that the fitting looks so crooked. It isn't the lightbox; the fitting itself doesn't seem to sit in straight. Even in the completed build, it's still slightly crooked.







Around this time, my fiancee and I needed a computer set up, so I took some junky case and stuck the hardware in there. It served as a good way to make sure all the painting I've done so far hadn't broken everything:




I also picked up this really cool work-bench thingy from IKEA (ok, it was advertised as a kitchen cart). Perfect size for my apartment and what I need to use it for:



So I wanted to get all the case modding out of the way before the next big job, which was painting the entire case white. So I needed to make a hole in the back of the case to attach the reservoir to. This also serves as a fill/drain port. Thanks to the good design of the fill/drain cap, the hole I made didn't have to be anywhere near perfect. I think I ended up just using some pliers to cut/bend the little mesh pieces away until a semi-circular hole was made.











Next, I realized I needed a way to mount the pump in a certain orientation. The way I had shown it earlier makes it difficult to route the tubing the way I wanted. The inlet was on the top of the pump and the outlet was on the side. My plan was for the pump to feed directly up into the 240 radiator. I wanted to mount the pump "horizontally" and ironically, I was able to do so with Monsoon's vertical mount:









Now comes the part of the build that I was certain to screw up and/or do a poor job on. I had never cut out a side-panel window before, so it was a new experience. As mentioned, I wanted to show off the long tube reservoir in the back by cutting out a window in the side panel. However, I hate the u-channel molding look so I wanted to cut the window to an exact shape and have a window with a raised lip sit right inside of it. That way, the window is flush with the side panel. So I had a piece of acrylic made with that design and then cut out the template in the side panel. In the end, after a lot of filing, it came out decent. Good enough for me! It was a great learning experience.








With all of the case cutting and modding done, it was time to paint. I picked up some PVC pipes and connectors to make a small paint booth. I started with the small pieces: the front/top mesh and the plastic pieces that go with those. I decided to change the dark blue look that I had done on the fans before to a lighter blue. So I also repainted the blue fans to match that. I then got new stickers that matched the light blue color



















Another idea I had was to cover the back portion of the motherboard tray of the 540, the part that would be visible from the side panel window. I already jacked up my first motherboard cover by attempting to mod it to hold/secure an SSD, so I ordered another motherboard cover from ColdZero to replace it. I then used the old one and cut off some pieces to make it fit in the back. Here is the front and the back.




Now it was time to break down the case, sand it and paint it. I didn't want to take every piece apart, mostly due to laziness. So I took the risk of keeping it all assembled, even keeping the motherboard covers installed. In the end, it worked out pretty good:
























Another thing I needed to do was take care of the black border around the lightbox. So I took that apart and painted it. Here is the painted case with the lightbox turned on






Next, I wanted to cut a hole for the fan controller. Since the bay reservoir is a dual bay, I had no free slots for the controller. I was super worried about doing this because you can't order a replacement plastic front-cover for this case and I didn't want to screw up. Luckily, the fan controller has a bit of a lip to it that hides poor cuts. I then cut a hole out of the case itself. I would have done this prior to painting, but I wasn't sure if I was going to attempt the fan controller mod. So I had to be extra careful not to scratch the paint in any visible areas.










I then could paint all of the exterior plastic parts of the case. While they were already white, they needed to be the same tint/shade of white as all the other painted parts. While not pictured, I also painted the side panels. I also wanted to paint the case thumb-screws and radiator screws (don't have pictures of the finished radiator screws, but you can see them in the later build pictures).







Around this time, I had started to notice that some of the LEDs in the blue/white fans were burning out. I really wanted to keep them in the build, but when only 3 out of 4 LEDs were working, it looked terrible. I tried to buy replacements but apparently the version/batch of the fans I had bought before (at this time, that was almost a year ago) were very different from what they were selling now. The fan housing was a different design and the blades were a different tint of blue. The old and new ones looked awful next to each other. And I couldn't swap out the blades due to the different design. I decided to scrap the fans and get non-LED fans. But I kept the blue/orange fans since they were still working great (plus I really wanted to keep them). I picked up some Silverstone SST-FQ121 fans. While they are advertised as having a white frame, it was a pretty off-white color. So I painted those. I also got some white Gyarados stickers to put on them, which you can see later on in the build.








Another thing I noticed that needed to be painted was part of the graphics card water block. The piece where you attached the fittings to was black. Luckily it was straightforward to remove, but a bit tricky to protect the sensitive areas from being painted. Also painted some parts of the XSPC Raystorm CPU block. Don't have pictures of everything painted but you can see them in the final build.










I also had a custom GPU backplate made by V1Tech. The Magikarp is a bit red-orange but I still think it looks good.



Luckily, Monsoon released white-versions of some of their parts, which saved me the trouble of painting them. Here is the reservoir's new look






For cables, I got some pre-sleeved wires from MAINFrame Customs. I would have opted to sleeved them myself, but at this point, I was in a hurry to get this build done. The apartment was a mess and I really needed a set up working lol






For the SSDs, I really wanted them to be visible and sort of "float" above the light box. I used the existing SATA cables that came with the 540 and just wedged them behind the light box. That naturally made the cables stick up a bit, so the SSDs can float. A real cool effect!





Now came a pretty annoying issue. When I had tested fitting clearance, I used some spare 3/8" x 1/2" fittings and everything seemed good. However, I wanted to use 1/2" x 5/8" tubing and bought some of the new Monsoon EV2 fittings. I quickly realized that the added size of the fittings was preventing them from fitting into a couple places. One was the bottom of the 360 radiator. There wasn't enough clearance between it and the light box. The second was the back part of the 240 radiator. The motherboard's cover/case thing was too bulky and wouldn't allow the fitting to screw in. So I ended up scraping the idea of using the larger tubing and switch to 3/8" x 1/2" tubing and fittings.

Anyways, I started the process of routing the tubing and bending. The first piece was from the pump to the 240 radiator. The alignment between the two fittings was off by 2 inches or so. Making any kind of "S" bend would have looked pretty bad IMO. So I devised this, perhaps equally ugly, contraption of two 90-degree rotary fittings. Over time, it has grown on me though. But it allows me to just use a straight piece of tube.



Next was the CPU block to GPU block (sorry for the bad photo, all I had!)



Then I did the GPU block to 360 radiator, trying to make sure it was as level as possible:



The hardest bend was from the 240 radiator to the CPU. Due to the tightness of most of the bends, I had to free-hand most of it, which is something I am not used to. Not perfect but good enough!




Next was to handle the tubing that goes from the reservoir to the pump. Since I didn't care how it looked by the reservoir, I focused on it from the other direction: from the pump to the reservoir. It turns out that from the pump to the reservoir, a single piece of tubing (2 ft I believe) was not long enough, so I would have to add on a section somewhere. Since I only cared about the tubing coming directly down from the reservoir and the tubing coming from the pump, I ended up "cheating" in between, as you can see a few pictures later. I also did the tubing that went from the 360 radiator to the reservoir. That was a bit tricky since it was such a tight bend. You can see these below, along with a wide shot of the other tubes.





Handling the tubing back near the reservoir was fun. As usual, I underestimated the amount of cabling-mess that would be back there, so routing tubing was a challenge. I ended up using rigid tubing for the parts coming down from the reservoir, since that would be visible through the window. I then used short sections of soft tubing to connect those to the other pieces of tubing (going to the pump and coming from the 360 radiator). You can see more of that ugly stuff a few photos down.



I then used Mayhem's Blitz to clean the radiators (part 1) and to clean all the components (part 2, though it may have not been necessary since all the blocks were new). Filling this beast was interesting. I tip it onto its front and fill up the reservoir. Then flip it back and cycle the pump a couple times. I repeat this flip-fill-flip until there's enough water in the system. To drain, I flip the case the other way and put a bucket under the fill/drain cap. It works really well actually. Since I have soft tubing in the back, I can detach a section and then blow the rest of the water out.








That's all of the build-related work!

Finally, everything is clean and flushed. I mixed together some orange pastel. I used the white concentrate, distilled water and then added orange and yellow dye until I got the look I wanted. I had hoped to get it a bit more saturated, but I think the look has grown on me. Took advantage of some interesting late afternoon lighting for some cool shots:












And here are some pictures with the system turned on. It's a bit tricky to photograph since the light box is so bright and everything else isn't really lit up.












I then added some LEDs to provide additional lighting. I wished I had the motivation to handle the cable management better by the reservoir, but oh well.


























And that wraps up the log! I hope you guys enjoyed the read if you bothered to go through all of the steps, or enjoyed the final photos if you skipped to the end! I haven't overclocked anything, so reporting temperatures may not be too interesting to anyone.
 
1 - 2 of 2 Posts
Top