H20verkill: Extreme Cooling without the Extreme Looks
I toyed around with the title for a few minutes, A lesson in frustration and A lesson in how to potentially ruin a computer for marginal performance gains just didn’t have the same ring to it.
Here is the finished project
Sit down ladies and gentlemen, this will take a while.
Our story begins almost 2 years ago. I had just returned home from contracting in Afghanistan, and I had a whole bunch of money burning a hole in my pocket.
“Build a PC,” I heard from a nasally voice somewhere deep down.
“PCMasterRace,” it squealed, while incessantly tugging at my overflowing wallet.
“I do enjoy PC Gaming, and my 4 year old laptop is really showing its age when I play Skyrim,” I thought. “Maybe I should do some research on Computer Components tonight.”
If you’re like me, research usually ends in a shopping cart full of shit you don’t need. This was no different. I discovered
The worst website to go to when you have some extra money PCPartPicker.com and away I went.
A few hours later, sweaty and out of breath, I cleared the haze from my eyes and beheld the horror in front of me. Not just a shopping cart, but order confirmations had filled my inbox.
“***Glorious!***” Shrieked the voice.
Oh god what have I done.
Within a few weeks I had everything, it wasn’t my first time building a PC, but this was definitely the most expensive and highest performing PC I had ever built. I assembled, setup my OS and installed Steam. I fired up a game and cranked the graphics settings to 11. It was beautiful, no doubt, but my god was it loud. 760’s in SLI sounded like a turbine engines. Case fans running at max speed were creating enough wind speed and turbulence to ground a Cessna.
Something had to change.
“watercooled or gtfo”
Damn it. Time for more research…
I couldn’t justify the cost at the time, I mean I had just bought a bunch of stuff I didn’t need, and the wife was already pissed enough, so I decided to take it slow. Watercooling was uncharted territory for me. I mean, sure my hair was turning white, and I had a sudden interest in deep V-Neck T-Shirts, but I didn’t know anything putting water inside a computer. I knew I wanted maximum cooling ability, and I knew I didn’t want any flashing lights or uv reactive fluid. I wanted subtle performance.
I watched youtube videos, reviews, read countless articles, assembled parts lists, reassembled parts lists, drew mock builds, measured for radiator placement, watched fan reviews and noise tests, calculated how much cooling capacity I would need for a dozen different builds, etc etc…
Finally almost 2 years later, I had a good idea of what I was doing, and I was tired of having to wear hearing protection every time I pushed the power button. I logged onto
another bad website to frequent when you have extra money Performance-PCs.com and assembled my shopping cart one last time.
About a week later I had all the parts I would need:
EK waterblocks for CPU, Motherboard, and GTX980ti
ST30 Alphacool Radiators (420, 280, 240, 140)
Alphacool D5 PWM Pump, Koolance Straight and 90* Fittings, Swiftech 8-way PWM Splitter
Alphacool 150ml Res with Pump Top, Silver Kill Coil
20ft Primochill Advanced LRT Tubing 3/8 - 1/2, Clear, 3 Noctua NF-F12
8 Noctua NF-A14
Just out of curiosity, I ran some benchmarks to moniter temps, nothing serious.
CPU Stress Test: AIDA64 System Stability Test
GPU Stress Test: UNIGIN Heaven Maxed Settings
I ran them simultaneously for 10 mins
AIDA64 / UNIGINE Heaven
CPU @ 50
GPU @ 57
Temps were about the same
Goodnight Sweet Prince
Glamor Shot, looks pretty enough
Lets take off the Dust Filters and the front fans
Oh my god
Case is empty, and Motherboard stripped (except RAM for some reason, Don’t ask questions.)
Motherboard and waterblocks
Chipset heatsink off, ready to clean, reapply thermal paste, and install waterblock
The Chipset Waterblock had this weird 5th standoff in the empty hole on the bottom, I had to remove it after a test fit, the standoff was sitting on a thing on the motherboard, preventing me from mounting it. Must be for a different board setup despite being labeled as Maximus VI Formula specific.
Top Stuff Heatsink removed and prepped for waterblock install
Waterblocks installed, no ROG Thermal Armor
Reviews had said that the install was tricky, so I prepared for the worst. They were referring to removing the OEM Backplate picured above. 3 bolts. It gets Replaced with
And just like that…
Video Card Waterblock
Stock Cooler Removed, Thermal Paste applied to GPU
Thermal Pads for all the other Video Card stuff
I get to reuse my cool EVGA OEM Backplate right???
Wrong. Add to Shopping Cart.
I had to preinstall one fitting, because I knew there was going to be some clearance issues. I was pretty much just crossing my fingers that the 140mm Rad and Fan were going to fit above the I/O panel and not block the Motherboard fitting
Damn that’s tight. Looks like it should fit. We’ll see.
Radiators / Fans
That was the Hard Part, right? Radiators should just bolt up, right?
Silly RedBeerde. Nothing is that simple.
According to Corsair, the 750D can fit a 360/280 top, 280/240 front, 240 bottom, 120/140 rear.
4 radiators. No “either/or” qualifiers… Guess what. There is a lot of Either/Or
The 280 front and 240 bottom don’t play nice. In fact no front and bottom radiators play nice. The case is designed for the front radiator to be mounted low, almost touching the bottom, and the bottom radiator to be mounted forward, almost touching the front. Obviously one of them has to move. The front rad did have some mysterious unmarked mounting holes in a 280mm pattern that would raise the front radiator almost 40mm, flush with the 5.25 bay carriage. Unfortunately I needed about 5mm to account for the radiator core in order to line up with the holes.
Nothing a hammer can’t fix.
Problem solved, Almost.
Remember that 40mm gap I talked about? I needed 55. (30mm rad + 25mm Fan) No one makes 15mm fans or rads, so I improvised.
That was easy, wait… the case is sitting on the fans.
Solution: Lift Kit for the 750D
Velcro, 3/4" steel spacers, and furniture feet. I’ll think of something better later. I Might just fiberglass over the lift kit. make it look real fancy.
I started getting tired, and took less photos than I should. Long story short, the 420mm Rad fit up top, but only with the fittings towards the front. So much for my hopes of having short runs. The 140mm rear radiator and fan did fit, but only by a hair.
280mm Front in Push/Pull with 240mm Bottom in Push
140mm Rear in Pull, fittings up
420mm Top in Pull, fittings forward.
Pump / Reservoir
Assembly was simple, mounting was interesting. I found two holes that look like they may work. They are close to the SSD mounting bays though, but that shouldn’t be an issue…
Wow that was a pain
Everything installed, ready for tubing.
Relatively straight forward, Nothing fancy, just soft tubing. Only one spot that concerned me was going from the top motherboard thing to the CPU block
A little ugly, but it’ll do.
Oh much better. Now I get what a 10’ mod is.
Lets follow the flow.
Pump --> 280 --> 240 –
–> Chipset --> GTX980Ti –
–> CPU --> Top Motherboard Stuff Waterblock --> 140 –
–> 420 --> Resevoir
Fill and Leak Test
I went to fill and bleed the system only to find that my PWM D5 pump could barely produce a trickle. At its current rate it would take 12 hours just to fill the radiators. Without a motherboard to plug into, the D5 had no PWM signal and defaulted to its minimum RPM. There had to be a better way.
PWM Looks for a 5v signal at 100%.
MOLEX provides 5v on the wire opposite red.
Leak Testing. I’m going to let it run overnight. The drips on the towel under the reservoir must just be from me spilling a little while I filled…
May as well do some Cable Management while I wait.
12(ish) Hours Later…
After breakfast I decided to check in on the leak test. That spot where I thought I spilled? No. That was a leak. Right out of the Pump Housing. I went to check the tightness of the bolts, and found on stripped out. Perfect.
Good for me, I had a tap laying around for 10-24 which is one size up from OEM threading, I just needed to go get a socket head cap screw in order to fit the bolt in the recessed surface.
While I was doing all this, I noticed an O-Ring for one of the fittings sitting on the bench. Oh no.
I began the arduous task of removing each fitting to find the on who was missing an oring. While none of the fittings were leaking at the moment, introduce heat and time to the system and one day I will wake up to a very expensive paperweight.
Found it. Chipset input 90* Fitting.
Remember way back when we mounted the reservoir? Turns out it does block the SSD cage mounting holes.
Well I am not about to drain, relocate, refill, and releak test again.
What a mess.
Less of a mess
Mess Solved. (Don’t look on the other side)
Ready for Benchmarks!
1**PUSH THE POWER BUTTON!**
Damn it. Nothing, Just a pulsing Republic of Gamers LED mocking my failure.
In my rage I didn’t take any pictures of the problem, but after doing some research it seems that the most likely culprit was the NGFF / WIFI Adapter on the ROG Z87 Boards. I did move it around a bunch while I was plugging stuff in, so I assumed I unseated it or something.
Of course its not as simple as just unplugging it. Its located in just about the worst possible spot.
I had to remove the rear 140mm radiator, Video Card, and unseat the motherboard itself in order to shift it enough to unscrew the retaining screw on the bottom of the motherboard. If it wasn’t ruined before, it sure is now.
Fortunately, the soft tubing gave me enough play to do all of this without draining and disconnecting the lines. If I would have had to drain and refill again, I probably would have just thrown my PC straight into the trash.
With everything remounted and hooked up, its time to try this again!
1**PUSH THE POWER BUTTON!**
Same tests, looking for Temps
CPU @ 41
GPU @ 33
Temps were cooler than AIDA due to the on/off cyclic nature of the RealBench
CPU lost 9*
GPU lost 24*
ROG RealBench Gained 7000 points. whatever that means.
CPU and GPU sit around 27-30* vs 37(CPU) - 45(GPU) on air.
The real benefit is sound.
All those benchmarks had the fan set to 13% / 170 RPM. Pump set at 60%. Effectively Silent.
I tried to increase my overclocks, to no avail.
CPU: 4.6 @1.27v via BIOS (I can get 4.8 stable @1.37, but that voltage is just too high for the mediocre gains)
GPU: 1650mhz @ 100% power via EVGA Precision X
So was it worth it? Spend all that money and deal with all that frustration for slightly better performance, and significantly cooler components?
Yes. Absolutely. Plus I love the looks. I have never been into the flashy crap that comes with “gaming” oriented hardware, and in fact I dislike the color scheme of the motherboard itself, but it is subtle enough that I am OK with. The black and clear colors from the watercooling setup are subdued enough that they don’t stand out in a room, but give off a clean and powerful look when you are looking at the tower. It was exactly what I was looking for.
So there you have it. That’s how you fit 4 radiators in a 750D while only partly destroying the case. Good enough for me.
Next on the list: New power supply.
Dog were witness to all this.