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Thread: Project Prism - A Lian-Li PC-v2000 Worklog

  1. #1
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    Project Prism - A Lian-Li PC-v2000 Worklog

    ====================[ Intro ]====================

    Hello Everyone! Welcome to my humble build log!

    First things first... I'm going to say first a lot in this first sentence! This is my first post on Xtremesystems' forums, my first super-detailed worklog, my first "all the way down the rabbit hole" custom case mod, and my first foray into a lot of the modding techniques I'll be undertaking in this build. I'm super-excited about all of it!

    The goal of Project Prism is, as you might expect, to build a new custom modded and water cooled computer. The inspiration for this project started with my case, a Lian-Li PC-v2000b that I purchased way back in 2005. To this day, it is still regarded as one of the classic 'best' modding cases... simple and understated, tons of room, unique, etc. I seriously love working with this case, and as such, I've kept it throughout all of my mods. This build log will be somewhat of a 'rags to riches' story, as I'll start with the old system in it's state of disrepair, and gradually improve until I end with a (hopefully) impressive looking end product. I had originally planned on sticking with a black and blue motif, but after playing with lighting and such, I was inspired to stick to a more solid black and chrome approach, so that I have flexibility with colors in lighting. Thus the rename from "Azuremight" to "Prism".

    Before I get too far into the build log and progress, here's the parts I'll be using:
    Case: Lian-Li PC-v2000b
    Processor: Intel Core i7-3770K
    Motherboard: EVGA z77 FTW (waiting for release still...)
    Graphics: EVGA GTX 680 SC+
    RAM: 16GB of Samsung MV-3V4G3D/US
    PSU: Corsair AX850 Gold
    Storage: OCZ Agility 3 SSD, 2x 2TB WD Caviar drives (Raid 1)

    As for the cooling components:
    Radiators: 2x XSPC RX480 Quad Radiators
    CPU Block: Swiftech Apogee HD
    GPU Block: EK-Waterblocks GTX680 full cover Nickel-plated
    Reservoir: EK-Multioption RES 200
    Fans: 10x Scythe Gentle Typhoon AP-15's (8 on radiators, 2 misc)
    Pumps: EK-DDC Dual v2 top with two Swiftech MCP35X pumps
    Fittings: Tons of Bitspower Shining Silver compression fittings, and some Monsoon free-center fittings

    Current Status
    - Second case wall design cut
    - Top and Front design in progress

    If you would like an easy format for reviewing all the posts, check out my website at Omnifront.net. It's in a much more readable format there, and you can even subscribe to an RSS feed!

    Random Photos of progress:






    Also, a special thanks to my sponsors, for believing in this build and all that it can become!



    Bitspower is sending a 'surprise' package of equipment, very excited to see what shows up!



    Hughes is a client of mine for my day job, but they graciously supplied me with all the extra Aluminum I want, and access to pressure molds should I want them! Sweet!

    ====================[ /Intro ]====================








    ====================[ History ]====================

    Before I get into what's coming, first, a history lesson of my computer. I'll start by posting some classic pictures... the 'evolution' of my rig, if you will, so you can get a feel of where this classic watercooling case has been, and it will put all the more context into where it's going. Enjoy!

    First, Azuremight v1. It was my first shot at watercooling a system. It housed a P4 2.4Ghz running on an ASUS P4v533 motherboard, with a whopping 4GB of RAMBUS RDRAM. That's right. RAMBUS. That dates this computer around 2005 or so. It was... well... a nightmare, as this set of photos will show you:

    Inside the maw of the beast:


    A closeup, showing the P4, my Ram cooler from Koolance, the Radeon 9800 AIW, and the ghetto tubes going out the back of an unused PCI slot:


    The rear of the case, sporting a 1986 Chevette heater core with a brandless fan tacked on the back (by twisty ties, no less!):


    Another shot of the insides, showing the DD12V-D5 pump, and the back of a Coolermaster pump/reservoir/monitor all in one unit, along with the ugly 1/2" ID to 1/4"ID up/down converters to tie the whole mess together into one monstrous loop:


    And finally, the case all closed up. The blue is great and all, but it's probably best that I didn't have any case windows... eh?


    Up next, Azuremight v2! The bold foray into case modding. I bought all new components, including an 8800GTX graphics card, EVGA 680i motherboard, Core2Duo E6600 (which was a beast of an overclocker, mind you), and some premium OCZ 'SLI' memory... whatever the hell that meant. I also planned on getting an EK waterblock for the GPU/northbridge, a switftech for the CPU, and a Thermochill PA120.3 radiator/grill/radbox for cooling:


    I did a complete teardown of the case. I love this case so much... so big, so many options on where to put things:


    I actually did a little (admittedly ghetto) planning this time, instead of just throwing things at it until they all fit:


    (Yes, that's an empty paper towel tube to emulate my EK-250 Reservoir and a cut up cardboard box roughly the size of my Thermochill PA120.3 radiator. I used them prior to buying, to make sure they would fit. I know. Ghetto. :P)

    I benched everything pre-watercooling too... just to make sure the components actually worked, and also to get some temps to compare against, validating that all my hard work actually netted me some gain. :P



    Dremel time! First, I hacked up the hard drive cages down below, where I planned on putting my Radiator. Rather than strait up removing them, I envisioned them hanging above, leaving me a place to put them while still fitting in the radiator:


    Nice, totally works!

    Next, I taped off the bottom of the case and used the Thermochill Radgrill 120.3 as a template for cutting fan holes:


    Here's my boss, inspecting my shoddy craftmanship. What, no sanding??


    Now, I fitted the Radgrill to the bottom, applied some of the sound dampening foam, and made sure the self-tapping fan screws would fit through with enough threading to hold the fans in place:


    I decided to scrap the self-tapping screws in favor of some longer bolts from a local hardware store... that way, I could sandwich the whole kit (Radgrill, Radbox, fans, and radiator) together against the case, keeping it nice and snug with rubber washers and sound dampening neoprene between layers:


    Awesome, totally worked... but what's this?



    DAMNIT. The radiator ports line up with the hanging hard drive cage, making it impossible to hook them up. Great job self, way to measure. /facepalm. /flipdesk. Time for more dremeling. Nothing a bit of modding won't fix:

    (as a side note, I patched up that hole with some certifiably ghetto electrical tape, to make sure all of my air pressure was going through the radiator, and not out of the gaping hole in the back.)

    Much better:


    Now, where are those tubes going to come up? Not much clearance between the ports and the mid-plate separating the bottom of the case from the motherboard section, where all the tubing needs to go. Quite a stretch to the factory-cut holes in the middle of the mid-plate too. Looking at my Lian-Li fan controller gave me an idea:


    Dremel time! I marked off the holes in the fan controller with a pencil, then got to work. I wasn't too worried about the irregularity of the hole cuts, as I was planning on using some rubber tubing as an 'edge-guard':


    For my reservoir placement, I actually got really lucky. I was wondering how I was going to attach it to the motherboard plate, when I noticed there was a pre-drilled hole already in about the place I was thinking of mounting the reservoir. Works like a charm!


    Now that my reservoir was sitting where I previously had my pump... the pump needed a new home, and preferably not too far away from my other components to cut down on tubing. Ended up deciding on this location:


    I attached it using a creative conglomeration of motherboard standoffs and thumb screws. One of the thumb screws ended up being a little close to the pump, to the point where I thought it might cause a vibrating/rattling noise, so I buffered it with an extra rubber washer I had. I know. Ghetto.



    Now we were finally getting somewhere. With all the components assigned a home, it was time to do some tube routing and such. I decided on a path of res>pump>radiator> and figured I would take it from there. You can see I still planned on using my Coolermaster, but now it was it's own loop, just for the hard drives and memory:

    Excessive, I know, but I already had all the hardware. Why the heck not? :P

    I skipped a few steps here... but I proceeded to sleeve all of my ET850 power supply (man, what a massive pain in the butt that was) and apply the water blocks to my CPU/GPU/Northbridge. For the blocks, I used a Swiftech Apogee for the CPU, an EK full cover block for the GPU, and an EK block for the northbridge as well.

    Now, for the finished product:


    Nice vortex going, so the water pressure must be doing ok:



    Temps doing good after 24 hours of torture testing in an apartment on a summer day with no air conditioning:


    And finally, some night shots to show the 'ground lighting' effects the fans give. Nifty!



    ====================[ /History ]====================

    In the interim between completion and now, a few changes have been made (undocumented, sadly) including:
    - Overclocking the E6600 from 2.4Ghz to 4.2Ghz, stable, without topping 50C
    - Overclocking the 8800GTX by about 15% without any voltage mods
    - Removing the Coolermaster/HDD/RAM loop. It got noisy, and wasn't doing much.
    - Replacing the coolant mixture several times, always with the same mix of distilled water and Pentosin G11 (a recommendation made here ages ago that I have kept.)


    That completes the history lesson. Azuremight v2 is still in service as of this posting, and has been performing dutifully for well on 4.5 years now. The components have grown old, and barely keep 60fps in modern games. The case is dusty and dinged up, but as functional as ever. Next post... the plans for tearing it all apart, and starting from scratch, but keeping the same old tried-and-true Lian-Li PC-v2000B.

    See you soon!
    Last edited by Noblesoft; 08-31-2012 at 03:57 PM.
    EVGA z77 FTW -- 16GB of Samsung MV-3V4G3D/US -- Intel Core i7-3770k -- EVGA GTX680 -- Corsair AX850 PSU -- Lian-Li PC-v2000b -- 2x XSPC RX480 Rads -- EK-RES-250 -- EK-DDC Dual Top/pumps -- EK-FC680EN Full Cover block -- Swiftech Apogee HD Block

  2. #2
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    So, as eluded to in the previous post, I have big plans for my next system. Each iteration (as you can see from above) has gotten significantly more complicated... and this iteration will be no different. The evolutionary path continues:

    Azuremight v0 - Air cooled, stock parts, stock case, no OC
    Azuremight v1 - Water cooled (single 1x120 radiator), after-market parts, stock case, no OC
    Azuremight v2 - Water cooled (triple 120 radiator), premium parts, intermediate case modding, heavy OC

    And now, for v3 naturally I'll be taking things a step further:

    Top end components
    - Intel Core i7-3770k (great overclocking potential, but high heat... at least, without proper cooling.)
    - EVGA z77 FTW (if only they would release it already!)
    - EVGA GTX680 SC+ (with plans to go SLI as budget allows :P)
    - 16GB of Samsung MV-3V4G3D/US (a little gem found on [H] that overclocks like a beast)
    - Corsair AX850 PSU (gold rated by [H], supposedly the best out there)

    Water cooled
    - Dual XSPC RX480 Quad radiators (more or less the best, comperable to PA120.4's which are hard to find)
    - EK-DDC Dual top for Dual DDC 3.2 pumps (redundancy, better head pressure, nearly as good as two inline pumps, and looks cleaner to boot!)
    - Tygon 1/2" ID tubing, clear (never faded in my old system, still perfect)
    - Aquaero 5 pro (starting to like this more than the Koolance... looks like it has more options)
    - 12-14 Scythe Gentile Typhoons (4 for each radiator, 4 between the radiators, and misc!)
    - EK-FC680EN for the GTX 680 (love EK blocks, top performers, and look stylish)
    - Swiftech Apogee HD (top performer, best mounting mechanism, and found a heck of a deal)

    Case Modifications
    - Sticking with my tried and true Lian-Li PC-v2000b, shown in all the pictures above. Haven't seen another case quite like it, with so much potential and style.
    - Going for dual quad rads in the bottom area, which means I'll be cutting up the sides of the case, making custom ventilation chambers, etc.
    - Cutting my own custom-shaped window, to show off all my purdy hardware. :P
    - Going to try my hand at adding some case lighting
    - Planning on giving the internals of the case a slick paint job from top to bottom, mostly black and chrome with blue highlights.

    Getting really excited to get my hands dirty... more and more components showing up every day! I'm also working on a fairly significant render in Google Sketchup, which I'll post some shots of tonight after tweaking it a bit and working on tubing.

    Looking forward to your opinions on hardware choices, as well as any recommendations of what you want to see!
    EVGA z77 FTW -- 16GB of Samsung MV-3V4G3D/US -- Intel Core i7-3770k -- EVGA GTX680 -- Corsair AX850 PSU -- Lian-Li PC-v2000b -- 2x XSPC RX480 Rads -- EK-RES-250 -- EK-DDC Dual Top/pumps -- EK-FC680EN Full Cover block -- Swiftech Apogee HD Block

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    Welp, it's time to tear down Azuremight V2 to make way for all the changes V3 will bring. One last thing I wanted to do before the teardown, though, was a quick re-bench of the system to get my system temperatures, clock speeds, etc. That way, when i do make improvements, I'll have something to compare against! :p

    So, I threw together a spreadsheet of temperatures under various conditions, just to keep track:




    Now, you'll notice a few things in the screenshots:

    1) My processor is an E6750, not an E6600. I forgot that I swapped out processors a while ago, and gave my brother the 6600 in favor of a 6750, after reading that the 6750 had even better OC potential than the 6600. Turned out to be not so much... I could push it as high as 4Ghz, but it was running rather hot (and made this creepy squeeling sound, like a lobster being boiled alive.) I landed on 3.5Ghz as a safe number for everyday use, as most things weren't pegging out my CPU anyway.

    2) My Graphics card is running at stock speed. I recently rebuilt my computer, and haven't put the time into recreating my OC profiles. Lazy.


    Worth noting, these temps are with the sides of the case off, and the three radiator fans running on the 'high' setting... about 2100 RPM. It's also been about a year since I took the system apart and cleaned everything out real good, so the radiator probably has about an inch of cat/dog hair in it, among other things.

    Finally, here's some parting shots of the system, exactly as it is right now under my desk. So long, Azuremight v2!



    EVGA z77 FTW -- 16GB of Samsung MV-3V4G3D/US -- Intel Core i7-3770k -- EVGA GTX680 -- Corsair AX850 PSU -- Lian-Li PC-v2000b -- 2x XSPC RX480 Rads -- EK-RES-250 -- EK-DDC Dual Top/pumps -- EK-FC680EN Full Cover block -- Swiftech Apogee HD Block

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    So I took a crack at creating my planned setup in Google Sketchup. I must say, Sketchup is an amazing program. Can't believe I hadn't found a reason to use it until now!

    Anyway, here's some renders of the plan:






    Here's a shot of the drain port I have planned... It's gonna take around $50 in bitspower hardware, but it should look pretty nice when it's done, and make flushing the lines incredibly easy:




    The tubing is still a work in progress... I am not sure I'm satisfied with the long runs going towards the front of the case. I am considering changing them to go through the midplate more towards the center using some of those 'through ports' from bitspower, maybe meeting with 90 degree brackets on the underside to run back to the radiator. Thoughts? I know the elbow might reduce flow a little bit, but I'd be surprised if it's noticable, and I think it might look cleaner with shorter tube runs.

    I'm also not totally set on the Pump/reservoir position. I like the look of the reservoir,and think it might be cool to have it visible through the case window I am planning... but I could also see hiding it back in the hard drive cage area, as long as I have enough room for my Optical/drives/Aquaero... but looking at the renders, that doesn't seem likely. I could also try laying the reservoir/pumps on it's face... but it seems to me like that would potentially cause problems with air getting in the lines if there is any open air in the reservoir. Hmmm... :p
    EVGA z77 FTW -- 16GB of Samsung MV-3V4G3D/US -- Intel Core i7-3770k -- EVGA GTX680 -- Corsair AX850 PSU -- Lian-Li PC-v2000b -- 2x XSPC RX480 Rads -- EK-RES-250 -- EK-DDC Dual Top/pumps -- EK-FC680EN Full Cover block -- Swiftech Apogee HD Block

  5. #5
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    I wonder if it's not worth to pass tubing from cpu block throught that cable management hole in middle floor?

  6. #6
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    Some holes on the motherboard tray might help you with cable management.

    subscribed.
    PC:
    MOBO: Maximus VI Extreme
    CPU: Core i7-4770k
    RAM: 2x4gb Dominator Platinum 2133
    GPU: GeForce GTX Titan

    Greetings from Brazil!

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by churchy View Post
    I wonder if it's not worth to pass tubing from cpu block throught that cable management hole in middle floor?
    Yea, I had considered using the central hole that is already present... but it looked goofy to me in the render so I undid it. I am actually thinking that I will replace the midplate with a 'clean' version that I will fabricate myself, so that the pre-cut holes are no longer there.

    Quote Originally Posted by LeoAndrade View Post
    Some holes on the motherboard tray might help you with cable management.
    Totally Agree LeoAndrade. I don't have it in the render yet, but I actually plan on bringing the motherboard tray forward slightly, cutting holes in the midplate behind it, and cutting a small hole along the left hand side of the tray along the side of the motherboard to route SATA, power, and other misc cables through.

    I actually have another very cool idea (a surprise for later) about how to 'clean up' the look of the motherboard as well... to keep it very sleek looking, with some special lighting and acrylic. That comes later though.

    Thanks for subscribing, hope to make this a rather entertaining project!
    EVGA z77 FTW -- 16GB of Samsung MV-3V4G3D/US -- Intel Core i7-3770k -- EVGA GTX680 -- Corsair AX850 PSU -- Lian-Li PC-v2000b -- 2x XSPC RX480 Rads -- EK-RES-250 -- EK-DDC Dual Top/pumps -- EK-FC680EN Full Cover block -- Swiftech Apogee HD Block

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    So I've been playing with several ideas for the airflow on the bottom. My current thought is to have both pushing out each respective side of the case. What's not evident in the render is that I currently have 3 120mm fans in the bottom of the case that are pushing air up through my current radiator. I was thinking of keeping those fans, so they can push air up, which is then pushed through each side of the case. I was also considering developing some kind of "V" shaped Shroud, to make sure the fans on each side weren't fighting each-other. Kinda like this:










    This is just my initial thought. I'm not totally sold on it yet. The rows of fans on the bottom and the two fans on the front/back of the case would be pushing air into the radiator 'cluster', and the rows of fans lining each radiator would push that imported air through each radiator and out the sides of the case. I do agree that the space between the two radiators is tight. I wish I had enough room in the case to put the rows of fans along the outside of each radiator... so that I could have more of a push/pull on each radiator instead of a push/push... but I don't. Not in the current layout anyway.

    The other configuration I have considered is putting the two radiators in more of a 'fan sandwich'... so it would go Case > Fans > Radiator 1 > Fans > Radiator 2 > Fans > Case... or something like that. All the air would be flowing in one direction, so one of the radiators would be slightly less efficient due to warm air being pushed through it... but I think the increase in air being pushed through it may mitigate that.

    I plan on doing a lot of temperature testing once I actually get the radiators, and I will certainly try these two layouts (plus others) to see which one gives me the best temps.

    Feel free to suggest configurations! My only limitation is that I would like it to all fit within the confines of the case.
    EVGA z77 FTW -- 16GB of Samsung MV-3V4G3D/US -- Intel Core i7-3770k -- EVGA GTX680 -- Corsair AX850 PSU -- Lian-Li PC-v2000b -- 2x XSPC RX480 Rads -- EK-RES-250 -- EK-DDC Dual Top/pumps -- EK-FC680EN Full Cover block -- Swiftech Apogee HD Block

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    Killing time until Diablo III releases tonight... decided to have a look at what it might look like if I decided to use pass-through fittings instead of sending the radiator lines all the way up to the front of the case.



    It's cleaner... but i'm not completely sold yet. Hmmmm....
    EVGA z77 FTW -- 16GB of Samsung MV-3V4G3D/US -- Intel Core i7-3770k -- EVGA GTX680 -- Corsair AX850 PSU -- Lian-Li PC-v2000b -- 2x XSPC RX480 Rads -- EK-RES-250 -- EK-DDC Dual Top/pumps -- EK-FC680EN Full Cover block -- Swiftech Apogee HD Block

  10. #10
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    Why not turn pump-res block 90deg in horizontal plane (or in other words put near/by right case wall/near mobo) to shorten/straighten tubing from pumps to rad?

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by churchy View Post
    Why not turn pump-res block 90deg in horizontal plane (or in other words put near/by right case wall/near mobo) to shorten/straighten tubing from pumps to rad?
    Yea, I could do that. I'll mock it up and see what it looks like with the through-ports... I actually had the pump/res that way in the original renders, but moved it around and landed on the current layout arbitrarily to try something different.

    The one compelling reason I turned it this way was to try and keep an even length of tube run from both radiators, and to put the two through ports in a line... thought it gave it some nice symmetry, but i'm not super happy with how the tubes coming from/going to the CPU and GPU look now.

    Thanks for the suggestion!
    EVGA z77 FTW -- 16GB of Samsung MV-3V4G3D/US -- Intel Core i7-3770k -- EVGA GTX680 -- Corsair AX850 PSU -- Lian-Li PC-v2000b -- 2x XSPC RX480 Rads -- EK-RES-250 -- EK-DDC Dual Top/pumps -- EK-FC680EN Full Cover block -- Swiftech Apogee HD Block

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    Whelp, I pulled the trigger on over $2000 worth of merchandise last night while waiting for Diablo III to go live (I told my wife it's Blizzards fault.) This 'ish is about to get real!

    Performance-pcs.com - $700 (Mostly bitspower parts, and $200 worth of Scythe Gentile Typhoon AP-15's @_@)
    Jab-tech.com - $400 (Radiators and pumps)
    Newegg.com - $600 (GTX680 SC+)
    Microcenter - $300 (Intel 3770K)
    Frys - $200 (Ram and PSU)

    Yeeehaw.

    Now if I could only settle on a pump/tubing layout that satisfies my endless need for symmetry/balance/clean lines. Hrm.
    EVGA z77 FTW -- 16GB of Samsung MV-3V4G3D/US -- Intel Core i7-3770k -- EVGA GTX680 -- Corsair AX850 PSU -- Lian-Li PC-v2000b -- 2x XSPC RX480 Rads -- EK-RES-250 -- EK-DDC Dual Top/pumps -- EK-FC680EN Full Cover block -- Swiftech Apogee HD Block

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    Whelp, I spent about 5 hours last night tearing down my old system to clear out the case so that I can start tinkering with it. I'm putting my current system into a tiny Lian-Li case that I had as a spare for the meantime, and going with air cooling due to the size constraints. Lots of pictures of the 'reverse watercooling' to follow tonight!

    I also spent a good amount of time playing with options for the pump/reservoir placement. I have two that I am considering now, but still thinking of other options. I haven't played much with the idea of keeping the pumps and reservoir separate yet... but I forgot to order the EK-RES Multioption link in my giant order last night >.< ... so maybe I'll try a few to see what I come up with before I go order it. I did notice that the EK-DDC dual top block I ordered comes with some 5 1/4 bay mounting equipment, which is awesome, but I do not think I will have room in my bays for the reservoir, all my drives, etc.

    Has anyone tried mounting the reservoir (EK-RES 250 multioption) on it's side? I've seen some pictures here and there, but I am wondering what the impact on performance is (if any), and if it makes bleeding / getting air out of the lines significantly more annoying (I am guessing so...) Might look fancy though, if done right...
    EVGA z77 FTW -- 16GB of Samsung MV-3V4G3D/US -- Intel Core i7-3770k -- EVGA GTX680 -- Corsair AX850 PSU -- Lian-Li PC-v2000b -- 2x XSPC RX480 Rads -- EK-RES-250 -- EK-DDC Dual Top/pumps -- EK-FC680EN Full Cover block -- Swiftech Apogee HD Block

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    As promised, here's a bunch of pictures of my efforts to de-watercool my system in preparation for cleaning up and modding the case. I had a great time doing this... destroying can be just as fun as creating! :P

    I also played around with my camera settings quite a bit... I thought it would be fun / funny to take a bunch of those 'dramatic angle shots' that people always take of their sick mods, except it would be ironic because my current rig is gross and pretty much garbage at this point.

    Without further adieu, I present to you: Watercooling a rig. In reverse. :P

    A few dramatic parting shots of the old rig:








    My Etasis850 has been great to me and all... but man. It was a gigantic squid, and half the reason my case looked like such a mess. The cables weren't even sleeved originally, I had to sleeve every one of them myself! THAT was a learning experience in patience.


    The other reason for my ugly cables... Lian Li has great case style... but dear god their case cabling is awful. These will have to go, and I'll need to find some kind of replacement for the front ports while I'm at it:



    Eww. I just cleaned this like... 6 months ago. Just goes to show you what having two dogs and a cat will do.


    Without all those cables, the system is actually looking fairly respectable (albeit rather dusty):


    Not the most elegant tubing path, probably could have cut out about half of the tubing I used by optimizing a bit more. That will be fixed in v3:


    Time to empty out the lines! The one saving grace of my excessive use of tubing... I can invert the case and move the reservoir way below the rest of my blocks, making it a heck of a lot easier to empty the lines. Into the trusty Home Depot bucket! :P


    (As a side note... the water smelled TERRIBLE. Not sure what the deal was, but there didn't appear to be any algae or anything... just a thin white film, which I assume is the tubing breaking down after 5 years of use.)

    Now that everything was drained... time to take apart my radiator core. This is a unit that I didn't bother to break into during the entire life of my system... so I was naturally a little scared of what was lurking inside. Peeling off one corner of some of the electrical tape I used to make the radbox air tight took this delightful creature out with it


    And what is this... a bale of straw? A toupee?


    NOPE, just the surface of my radiator. You cannot even see LIGHT through parts of it!


    (Trust me, I'll be taking apart my rig at least once a year now and going over it with a toothbrush. Horrifying!)

    Here's a few shots of my Radguard and fan setup. Probably the only respectable portion of this rig:



    Ok... well... sort of respectable. Those are pretty rough cuts:


    OK NEVER MIND. That's awful. Was I 12 when I did this? Sheesh. :P

    Oh, and what's this??

    PLASTIC barbs? Sheesh. How embarrassing. At least I used teflon tape, like a good plumber.

    Time to pull apart all the lines!


    Of all the 'dramatic' shots I took, I think I like these the best:




    A little digging around in the garage produced all the stock coolers for my hardware... they could use a good lapping... but I'm not that worried about it. Not trying to win any benchmark records here. :P


    Next, time to un-mod the video card!



    Not a bad distribution of paste. Little heavy at the top, but not toooo bad:


    But what's this? Must have had a poor seal here, or something... looks like the paste is dried up or burned or something:

    That would explain why I could overclock my GPU's processor well above the average others were hitting, but couldn't keep my memory OC stable to save my life.

    All cleaned up, time to put the stock cooler back on, with some good 'ol AS5. Didn't feel the need to go with any kind of super expensive thermal paste, as this will just be the stock cooler, and will only be temporarily in use:


    So uh... the screws that were holding the EK block on definitely do not fit in the stock cooler... D'OH.


    I KNOW I kept a baggie of screws around somehwere... after a half hour of scouring the garage, SUCCESS! A funky looking bag of screws with little springs around em...


    Dramatic shots of stock card, just for yucks:



    Brings back memories. I remember the first day I opened the retail box with this beast in it. It was easily TWICE the size of any other graphics card I had ever seen. I want to say this was the first card that required two sockets worth of space?

    On to the rest of the blocks!



    Eww... bit too zealous with the paste on the CPU. The middle looks good, and it all got squished out the sides... so at least I know I had good pressure on the block! :P



    The NB cooler looks about normal:


    But what happened to the SB? Ewwww. Looks like somebody smeared spinach and artichoke dip on the block. I vaguely recall having some difficulty mounting this block, so it must have slid around a bit during mounting, exposing a bunch of it to air:


    All better! Nice and clean. Family photos!




    I SEE you! Not a bad finish for a 6 year old dusty block.

    Putting the old blocks on was a snap. Literally. Just push them against the board till they snapped in.


    Dramatic macro shot of a super un-interesting fan/block!


    Finally... time to put all this stock hardware into a temporary home so that I have a computer to game/work on while I delve into mod mania. This process was boring, so I didn't document it, but here's the shoddy end result:


    Theres 'the squid', with its entrails hanging out of the tiny case, because there's no room for them.


    It actually doesn't even fit in the case... there are a bunch of giant capacitors on the motherboard that keep it from slotting in without cleaving them off. *Sigh*, guess I'll just leave it sticking out an inch...


    Hmm... not enough hard drive bays for all 6 of my drives either. Guess I'll just stack the SSD's in a 5 1/4" bay. They won't mind.


    You want cable management? I'll give you cable management. Painters tape!



    Welp, that's all for this episode! Hope you had a lot of laughs, I certainly did. But this is where the ghetto ends, and things get serious. Time to start hacking up my case! ^_^
    EVGA z77 FTW -- 16GB of Samsung MV-3V4G3D/US -- Intel Core i7-3770k -- EVGA GTX680 -- Corsair AX850 PSU -- Lian-Li PC-v2000b -- 2x XSPC RX480 Rads -- EK-RES-250 -- EK-DDC Dual Top/pumps -- EK-FC680EN Full Cover block -- Swiftech Apogee HD Block

  15. #15
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    Sometimes, inspiration hits you like a truck. I was fiddling with my case last night thinking of what kind of creative thing I could do with my pump and reservoir placement to really make this case stand out. I wasn't coming up with anything, and my cat started attacking one of our leather chairs... so I put down the reservoir to go swat the cat, and when I came back, I noticed I had set the reservoir in the center of the open front of my case where all the drives and such usually reside. Then it hit me... that would be an awesome place to showcase the reservoir, which is one of the more 'artsy' parts of my loop right now.

    I thought about it more last night, and how I could tweak it to really show it off well. I present to you, my 'mad microsoft paint skills' version of the Front-Reservoir concept:


    So, some 'splainin is probably due. What I was thinking, was I could mount the reservoir standing up in the front of the case where all the 5 1/4" bays are. I would then put a piece of semi-translucent blue acrylic as an 'enclosure' of sorts around the reservoir, in a half cylinder, leaving maybe an inch of open air around the reservoir. I would use LED or cold cathodes to light the acrylic so it gives off a tron-like glow, then sandwich the acrylic in black aluminum that matches the rest of the case, leaving only the edges exposed for light to shine through. I was also thinking I could cut a small slit directly behind the reservoir, so that light shines through illuminating the reservoir (that dark blue line running through the reservoir.The right hand part of the image shows a 'close up' of what the aluminum-sandwiched-acrylic would look like.

    I'm going to try and mock this up in sketchup tonight I think... or maybe just fabricate a cheap version to see if I like how it looks in real life, since I already have the case and reservoir. My one concern is the loss of a majority of my front bays... I need room for three or four hard drives (SSD for OS, two 2TB drives in RAID1 for storage), so I do need some kinda place to put my drives. With the drive racks at the bottom of the case gone, that leaves precious few options. I did buy a Lian-Li drive enclosure that turns three 5 1/4 bays into four hard drive rack slots, too... but I think my RES-200 might be too tall for that. I was considering ditching my optical drive for this build, since I cannot remember the last time I put a CD/DVD in it... I can always just hook up a USB3/eSATA optical drive in the rare case I need it...

    Hmm... maybe if I cut through the midplate and put the reservoir down a few inches... I like where this is going. Lots of dremel dust and exploded cutting wheels in my future...
    EVGA z77 FTW -- 16GB of Samsung MV-3V4G3D/US -- Intel Core i7-3770k -- EVGA GTX680 -- Corsair AX850 PSU -- Lian-Li PC-v2000b -- 2x XSPC RX480 Rads -- EK-RES-250 -- EK-DDC Dual Top/pumps -- EK-FC680EN Full Cover block -- Swiftech Apogee HD Block

  16. #16
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    Quick update this morning:

    1) My previously main computer died a less-than-spectacular death last night. Mid Diablo III, there was a satisfying pop... then morbid silence. The EVGA 680i that ran like a truck for 5+ years breathed it's last. It's like it knew it's days were numbered or something. Anyway, it gave me a chance to stretch that lifetime warranty on the A1 version I opted to pay for... so a new one is 'in the mail' and v2 should be up and running again in no time. Fortunately I still have my laptop, so updates should continue. :P

    2) One of my day job customers is an aircraft part manufacturer, so I got a massive hookup of some aircraft-grade aluminum and steel. Pictures of that to come. They were even so kind as to mention they would be happy to bend/fold/pressure mold any custom aluminum pieces I want. Awesome! I guess that kinda makes them a sponsor. I'll see if they want me to post their banner... great little company, awesome people.

    3) Parts finally started showing up! So far, I have the CPU, GPU, RAM, and Power supply. Fittings and misc stuff should be here either today or monday. I'll put together an unboxing for all that stuff too.

    4) I'll be updating the front page a bit to better describe the project, post the most current info, etc. Easier for first time viewers, methinks.

    Thanks everyone!
    EVGA z77 FTW -- 16GB of Samsung MV-3V4G3D/US -- Intel Core i7-3770k -- EVGA GTX680 -- Corsair AX850 PSU -- Lian-Li PC-v2000b -- 2x XSPC RX480 Rads -- EK-RES-250 -- EK-DDC Dual Top/pumps -- EK-FC680EN Full Cover block -- Swiftech Apogee HD Block

  17. #17
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    holy eff that was one dirty computer for a while there. I suggest you rig up some easy removable filters in your next setup. Magnetic maybe so you can clean them out every few days easily.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by lowfat View Post
    holy eff that was one dirty computer for a while there. I suggest you rig up some easy removable filters in your next setup. Magnetic maybe so you can clean them out every few days easily.
    Haha yea, no kidding. Combination of dogs and laziness makes for a quick buildup of grossness.

    I saw those magnetic fan filters over on performance-pcs.com and considered them... not a bad idea, especially given my situation.

    The next build I am working on will take the 'easily cleanable' aspect into consideration greatly... I plan on having fan grills on the outside of the case that can be removed with a few hex screws perhaps, as well as making sure the entire radiator core can slide out either side of the case, or perhaps the back when the PSU plate is removed. The fact that I will be pushing air out instead of pulling it in (from the ground no less) should help greatly with not pulling in so much dust/dog hair.
    EVGA z77 FTW -- 16GB of Samsung MV-3V4G3D/US -- Intel Core i7-3770k -- EVGA GTX680 -- Corsair AX850 PSU -- Lian-Li PC-v2000b -- 2x XSPC RX480 Rads -- EK-RES-250 -- EK-DDC Dual Top/pumps -- EK-FC680EN Full Cover block -- Swiftech Apogee HD Block

  19. #19
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    So, as I posted a little while ago, I think I have a really creative idea going for the front of my case. I did some additional day-dreaming this weekend... and I think I just added another potential $500 in cost to my case. Who said dreaming doesn't cost you anything? :P

    Anyway... I was wondering if anyone out there has experience with really GOOD LED controllers and light strips. Here's the requirements I am looking to meet:
    1) A controller that can control multiple light strips... maybe as many as 10, and independently. I'm looking to display the same pattern in multiple locations, but potentially randomized a bit. May not be a requirement to be randomized though... I could just be looking for a way to multiplex one signal.
    2) A controller that is programmable, or has many options pre-programmed for color and motion control of lights, patterns, etc.
    3) A controller that is managable in size, or can be hidden away in some fashion, ideally within the case somewhere.
    4) LED strips that are thin and flexible, able to be molded into various shapes
    5) LED strips that have RGB at each point, so that I can vary the color displayed to any color I want.

    Anyone have any experience with this stuff that can point me towards a product? I found one potential with a little googling, but I am not sure that it can control multiple strips independently... it looks like it wants them all ganged together: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xTkiNIJkWrY. That, and dear god is it expensive.

    I may end up going back to my programming roots and set up an Arduino if I cannot find what I am looking for. @_@ Thanks in advance for any advice!
    EVGA z77 FTW -- 16GB of Samsung MV-3V4G3D/US -- Intel Core i7-3770k -- EVGA GTX680 -- Corsair AX850 PSU -- Lian-Li PC-v2000b -- 2x XSPC RX480 Rads -- EK-RES-250 -- EK-DDC Dual Top/pumps -- EK-FC680EN Full Cover block -- Swiftech Apogee HD Block

  20. #20
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    Time for an update! Finally, a few consecutive hours to play around with stuff this past weekend, so I spent some time gathering parts, planning, and disassembling/cleaning my case. Most of the pictures I took just so I could remind myself what was riveted to what, and where... :P But, I figured you all would enjoy a few pictures anyway. Here you go!

    First, here's a dramatic concept shot of what I want to do with my reservoir... looks a little better than it did in MS paint, and I think it will look a lot better when it's actually done up the way I want it:


    Now, for some parts!



    Also spent a few hours at Home Depot, collecting up tools! >=) Before you ask, the compressor was something I had been meaning to get for a while, mostly for cleaning cases, inflating tires, and other misc stuff like nail guns and painting. Probably won't have a major role in this project, but whatev! :P


    Now, for some random dis-assembly photos:

    (cleaned up, but pretty badly scuffed/scratched. Definitely painting this midplate, and maybe replacing it outright. I don't like the holes, and don't have a good idea for plugging them quite yet that would end up looking nice. )

    Rivet removal. SO MUCH rivet removal. I swear, this case had no less than 50 rivets I had to drill out before all was said and done:


    So many tiny pieces too... Not even sure what purpose this piece served, but I am sure it was there for a reason... :P


    Finally breaking the Rubik's Cube that is this case. There are rivets hidden under other pieces of metal that are riveted to yet other pieces. Definitely going to be a puzzle to put back together:



    Finally got it all apart and sorted!


    Now that dis-assembly is done, time to practice some painting! This is the first time I've attempted painting any kind of metal, let alone aluminum (which I've heard is particularly picky - any pointers appreciated!) I spent a good amount of time reading guides online, and so far, I think the process looks like this:

    -material preparation-

    80 grit sanding / 200 grit / 350 grit (wet)
    denatured alcohol/tack cloth

    -priming-

    SEM Self etching primer in short bands, north/south
    wait an hour
    450 grit sanding (wet)
    SEM self etching primter in short bands, east/west
    450 grit sanding (wet)

    -color-

    Initial color coat (light north/south)
    wait a day
    1000 grit sanding (wet) (north/south)
    second color coat (light east/west)
    wait a day
    Evaluate finish, repeat last 3 steps if more needed, alternating directions, otherwise proceed

    -finishing-

    1000 grit sanding (wet) (north/south)
    1500 grit sanding (wet) (north/south)
    2000 grit sanding (wet) (north/south)
    clean with soft cloth and water
    clean with cloth and rubbing compound
    polish with soft cloth using polishing paste
    clearcoat?

    Anyway, here's the first few prep steps I completed... mostly sanding and making a cheap/easy painting box using an old cardboard box I had laying around and a wire hanger. Cheap can be just as effective!

    I got some aluminum strips from the previously mentioned aircraft manufacturing facility that fairly closely matched the finish and such of my case. I took a strip and sanded it down as per above:

    Then sanded it again, with a finer grit:

    Then into the box for priming!


    Next time: The results of priming and initial coats of painting!

    Also, lots of hardware showing up this week! Radiators, fittings, sleeving... exciting times!
    EVGA z77 FTW -- 16GB of Samsung MV-3V4G3D/US -- Intel Core i7-3770k -- EVGA GTX680 -- Corsair AX850 PSU -- Lian-Li PC-v2000b -- 2x XSPC RX480 Rads -- EK-RES-250 -- EK-DDC Dual Top/pumps -- EK-FC680EN Full Cover block -- Swiftech Apogee HD Block

  21. #21
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    Small update! With the anticipation of a long weekend coming up, and maybe a few days off, I loaded myself up with materials this week! I grabbed some spare acrylic, some various tools, some additional paint colors, and some cheap materials to build a simple photo booth!





    (I took about 20 photos of my reservoir trying to get the light/color/sharpness right. This thing has so many options... still trying to get it right. I need a tripod, too... right now using combinations of boxes and books.
    First, some blank Acrylic from the local Home Depot to play with. I've never touched the stuff before now, so this should be a fun learning experience.



    But what to do with it? Hmm. I know! Something useful. Time to break out the sharpie and start measuring!



    Lines, lines, and more lines... any idea what I am building yet?



    I tried a number of different ways to cut the Acrylic. By far, the most effective was to clamp a metal ruler along where I wanted to cut, then get a tungsten tipped razor knife and score it heavily... then just give it a good quick bend... *snap*... Nice clean line. Well... sometimes. :p




    Only part of the way there... For the small corners, I ended up using a coping saw... proved way better than a dremmel... man, what a mess! It's ok... I'll fix it up with some liberal sanding.



    More on that little side project later!

    Finally, I played around in sketchup a little bit, and got most of the concept for my Front-mounted reservoir together:




    The concept is causing more problems than anything so far... Here's what I mean:



    ... I have no idea what to do right there with the pump! I've been rotating it around, flipping it here and there... nothing seems to be granting me that 'AHA!' moment yet. Looking for a way to keep a lot of the tubing symmetrical and clean, keep the pump upright or on it's side, and connect it all in the order Res > Pump > Radiator. I know line order doesn't matter as far as termperature or flow restriction is concerned too much... but I've found it's a heck of a lot easier to fill the lines if the pump is immediately after the reservoir.

    Hmmmmmmmmm.....
    EVGA z77 FTW -- 16GB of Samsung MV-3V4G3D/US -- Intel Core i7-3770k -- EVGA GTX680 -- Corsair AX850 PSU -- Lian-Li PC-v2000b -- 2x XSPC RX480 Rads -- EK-RES-250 -- EK-DDC Dual Top/pumps -- EK-FC680EN Full Cover block -- Swiftech Apogee HD Block

  22. #22
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    Mmmmm Like the build

    I have a V600 at the moment that I am working on but I do have a BRAND NEW IN THE BOX V2000 in my garage for my next build :p

    So I will be watching this to get some ideas

    Nice Work so far

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by Farmerbrown View Post
    ... but I do have a BRAND NEW IN THE BOX V2000 in my garage ...
    Jealous! I was looking all over the internet for a backup v2000... you know... in case I botched cutting the case sides or something...

    Thanks for the compliment! Hopefully you'll get a lot of good ideas out of this one!
    EVGA z77 FTW -- 16GB of Samsung MV-3V4G3D/US -- Intel Core i7-3770k -- EVGA GTX680 -- Corsair AX850 PSU -- Lian-Li PC-v2000b -- 2x XSPC RX480 Rads -- EK-RES-250 -- EK-DDC Dual Top/pumps -- EK-FC680EN Full Cover block -- Swiftech Apogee HD Block

  24. #24
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    Quick update for the morning... All of my hardware is finally here! Also, Bitspower has decided to sponsor my build with a 'mystery package' that should be showing up on my doorstep soon! Can't wait to see what it is!



    Also, I'll be spending most of today constructing a new workbench for this build... I cleaned out a corner of my garage, will be making a loft, then putting a bench and work area under it. I'll probably post some photos of it too! :p
    EVGA z77 FTW -- 16GB of Samsung MV-3V4G3D/US -- Intel Core i7-3770k -- EVGA GTX680 -- Corsair AX850 PSU -- Lian-Li PC-v2000b -- 2x XSPC RX480 Rads -- EK-RES-250 -- EK-DDC Dual Top/pumps -- EK-FC680EN Full Cover block -- Swiftech Apogee HD Block

  25. #25
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    Another quick update before a flood of photos! I spent pretty much my whole weekend building a loft for my garage to get a bunch of junk out of the way, then set up a nice workspace for myself for this build... on the actual computer front, I finally got all of my hardware delivered! Lots of pictures / unboxings to follow, but here's a few teaser photos:





    See you tomorrow!
    EVGA z77 FTW -- 16GB of Samsung MV-3V4G3D/US -- Intel Core i7-3770k -- EVGA GTX680 -- Corsair AX850 PSU -- Lian-Li PC-v2000b -- 2x XSPC RX480 Rads -- EK-RES-250 -- EK-DDC Dual Top/pumps -- EK-FC680EN Full Cover block -- Swiftech Apogee HD Block

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