Description

Disclaimer: This isn't my first computer build, but it is my first build where I focused more on performance than being on a budget.

Build is pretty much done. Still need to tweak some things.

What do you use the machine for?

  • Gaming and Video Editing and Rendering. Not even video editing. I am just taking raw 2.7K video footage and overlaying data over it, compressing it, and then uploading to YouTube. The main reason I upgraded to this machine is so that I could render video in a resolution higher than 1080p. My previous i5-4670K (on Windows 7) was unable to do that due to the limitations of the OS.

Details?

Rig

  • i7-8700K overclocked to 5ghz (also delidded), 32GB of DDR4-3200 Memory, Reused my ASUS GTX 1070 Strix, 500gb Samsung 970 Evo, EKWB S360 Watercooling Kit (360mm radiator), EKWB S280 Radiator, EKWB GPU Water Block

Cost

  • When I set out to build this system, I wanted to do so in such a way that it didn't hit my wallet all at once. I ended up building the computer in stages with only the necessary stuff being purchased first. I started out purchasing the CPU, memory, motherboard, SATA M.2 SSD, and power supply, and then adding the other pieces later. I reused my ASUS GTX 1070 from my last computer. To save more money, I ended up buying open boxes of the SATA M.2, the NZXT case, and the power supply. Easily saved $100 across those three parts.

Temperatures

CPU Speed Cooler Paste Delidded Temperature
CPU Stock CoolerMaster Evo 212 Arctic Silver Not Delidded Load - 61 C
CPU Stock CoolerMaster Evo 212 Arctic Silver Delidded Load - 55 C
CPU Stock EKWB S360 Kit Thermal Grizzly Delidded Load - 50 C
OC - 5.0ghz EKWB S360 Kit Thermal Grizzly Delidded Load - 75 C (Need to Retest)
OC - 5.1ghz EKWB S360 Kit Thermal Grizzly Delidded Load - 80 C (Need to Retest)

Overclock

  • Delidded the i7-8700K and applied liquid metal (Thermal Grizzly Conductonaut). Overclocked to 5ghz on all cores. With the current fan curve (for silent system), the temperature settles around 70-71 C under load (Intel Burn Test or Intel Extreme Utility). According to the max temps in HW monitor, package temp does spike toward 80 C, but it seems to be just that. I forget what the fan curve was set to, but it is the minimum 20% until CPU reaches 55 degrees. From there, it ramps up. I think at 80 C, the fans will be going full blast. Like the watercooling fans, the case fans are set to silent. There's definitely more room to work with if I am willing to deal with the noise.

  • 5.0 ghz (on all cores) Overclock Profile - Main Profile - Was able to overclock to 5.0ghz. Looks like it is stable. Not that Folding@Home is an ideal stress test or anything, but what it does allow me to do is to put load on the CPU and GPU at the same time for extended periods. Takes some time for the system to become fully heatsoaked, but otherwise, still have some thermal headroom on both the CPU and GPU to play with.

  • 5.1 ghz (on all cores) Overclocking Profile - Experimental Profile - Still working on this. So far the system seems to be working just fine with CPU only. Still need to try to see how the system will handle both CPU/GPU load at the same time. If this holds okay, we'll try for 5.2 after.

GPU Overclock

  • The ASUS GTX 1070 comes factory overclocked. I installed an EKWB waterblock on this. At full load, temperature is around 40 C to 50 C depending on the fan curve.
ASUS GTX 1070 STRIX Speed
Base Clock (Default) 1,632 mhz
Boost Clock (Default) 1,835 mhz
Max Clock (Default) 2,037 mhz
GPU Speed Cooler Temperature
GPU Stock Stock Cooler Load - 63-70 C
GPU Stock EKWB WaterBlock Load - 40-50 C

Custom Loop Water Cooling

Components Notes
EKWB S360 Radiator 3x Vardar F3 120mm fans
EKWB S280 Radiator 2x CoolerMaster RGB 140mm fans
EKWB Supremacy MX WaterBlock CPU: Intel i7-8700K
EKWB FC-GTX1080 Strix WaterBlock GPU: ASUS GTX 1070 Strix
EKWB SPC Pump/Reservoir Combo Upgraded 250 ml reservoir
Koolance Drain Fitting
AlphaCool Flow Indicator
In-Line Temperature Probe

Fan Curve

  • CPU Fan Curve - This fan curve controls the 3x 120mm fans mounted to the front 360mm radiator. Minimum speed is 20% from 0 to 35 C. Between 35 C and 60 C, the fan speed increases from 20% to 35%. Between 60 C and 80 C, the fan speed increases from 35% to 60%. Anything above 80 C, the fans will spin at 100%.

  • GPU Fan Curve - This fan curve controls the 2x 140mm radiator fans on the 280mm radiator and 1x 140mm rear exhaust fan. Minimum fan speed is 20% between 0 C and 40 C. I was considering setting these fan to 0%, but at 0%, the RGB fan lights don't work. Between 45 C and 50 C, the fans run at 50%. At 55 C, the fans will run at 75% and at 60 C, 100%.

  • The CPU temp never really goes above 80 C and the GPU temperature never goes above 55 C. In order for one to even get close to those highpoints, both CPU and GPU need to be running at full load simultaneously, and for extended amount of time (few hours). It takes time for the cooling system to become fully heatsoaked from the heat generated from the CPU/GPU.

  • Pictures of the fan curves are available in the image gallery.

ASUS GPU Backplate

  • I reused the original backplate with the LED ROG symbol instead of replacing it with the the EKWB one. More information on how to do that with the ASUS GTX 1070/1080 (non-Ti) Strix can be found here. It was actually quite easy, though the card sags in the case. Short of it is that you are going to remove some screws holding the backplate in order to accommodate the waterblock mounting screws.

What worked well?

Storage

  • M.2 storage form factor is the way to go. My ASUS board has two slots. One is dedicated PCIe and the other is a "flex" slot that can do both SATA and PCIe. Even if you go SATA, pay a few dollars more and go this route! Easy to install and you don't have to deal with the data and power cables. Clean build and less hassle! I read that the NVME does get hot, but an M.2 heatsink only runs $10-20.

Custom Loop Watercooling

  • I purchased an EKWB vertical mount to mount my pump/res combo. With the bracket oriented the normal side up, I was only able to mount the pump/res bracket on the middle fan. However... If I turned the bracket upside-down, I was then able to mount the bracket on the bottom fan and allow me way more space for a larger reservoir.

Any problems? Comments on components? Etc.?

EKWB S360 Slim Watercooling Kit

  • Only problem that really stuck out was the noise the water pump made in the EKWB kit. That drove me crazy. Remember that you need to bleed the air from your water cooling loop after you get the loop all set-up. Be patient with this part. It still makes noise, but only during start-up and occasionally during usage. Otherwise, the kit was fairly easy to set-up. For fitting the tubes over the barbs, I'd definitely recommend keeping a cup or bowl of hot water nearby. You can heat up the tube to soften them up to go over the barbs.

  • Before installing everything in the case, I would definitely put as much together. Install all the fittings to each component, assemble the CPU bracket so you are familiar about what goes where, flush the radiator, etc.

Case - NZXT H700i

  • Removing the cable shroud really opens up a lot more space to work with. It really seemed to get in the way of a lot of stuff. I ended up leaving it out as the insides of the case looked a lot better. The Smart controller (lighting and fan controller) made things super helpful. The fan controller has a three way splitter for each fan channel (3 channels total). The controller also has one lighting channel that supports up to two Hue+ strips.

  • I really liked that the case allowed you to take out things you didn't need. I was able to remove all the SSD caddies, the cable shroud, and the HDD tray. Ended up pulling out all those things because I like the minimalist look.

M.2 Form Factor Storage

  • Definitely go this route. Don't have to deal with data and power cables. Prior to purchasing your board, check to make sure that your motherboard supports your M.2 devices. My board as one PCIe only slot and one PCIe/SATA slot (which can be changed in the BIOS).

Samsung 970 EVO M.2 NVME

  • For the Samsung 970 Evo, I removed the label to make more direct contact with the controller/memory and the heatsink. The removal of the sticker does void the warranty, but I think it'll be okay. I'd recommend carefully taking off the label with tweezers then saving the sticker by putting it on the Samsung box. I think proper installation of the heatsink is worth the risk. To be on the safe side, test the M.2 NVME prior to removing the sticker!

Intel i7-8700K

  • Prior to voiding your warranty, make sure to test the CPU for functionality! Better to find out that the CPU doesn't work before delidding versus after. For good practice, I found testing the CPU/motherboard/M.2 on the "bench" prior to installing it in the case as a good idea, especially if you are doing watercooling. Easier to troubleshoot outside of the case.

What's Next?

  • Cable management. Want to make sure everything works correctly first, then will sort out the cable management. The front end looks really good, but behind the panel... that's a different story.

  • Update: Finally got the chance to install the 280mm radiator, 3x RGB 140mm fans, the waterblock for the 1070, and the new pump/reservoir tube. Next is some cable management and some nice pictures of the system.

Benchmarks

Benchmark Score
ASUS ROG Real Bench - 5.0ghz 150,615
ASUS ROG Real Bench - 5.1ghz 158,460
CineBench - OpenGL 157.81 fps
CineBench - CPU 1,644
User Benchmark - Gaming 116%
User Benchmark - Desktop 152%
User Benchmark - Workstation 134%

User Benchmark - Results

Folding@Home Temperatures

I used Folding@Home to stress test the system because it loads up both the CPU and GPU simultaneously. When both are loaded up, it takes about 4 hours for the whole loop to completely heatsoak.

Folding@Home Temperature
CPU (with GPU under load) 75-80 C
GPU (with CPU under load) 50 C
CPU Only (OC to 5.0ghz) 67 C
GPU Only (Stock) 41 C

Have a Question

If you have any questions of any part of the build, feel free to ask! I love the comments and will try my best to answer your question.

Comments

  • 16 months ago
  • 2 points

Thanks for posting a comment on my build! Our builds are very similar, I really like the look of the lighting you've set up and removal of the non-essential bits. Is it NZXT Cam that drives the case color based on temp feature? Great build and a really nice write-up!

  • 16 months ago
  • 2 points

Thanks! I ended up getting the H700i because I found a great open-box deal off of Amazon and it ended up being cheaper than the H700.

The three top fans, the rear fan, and two lighting strips (there is one that is attached vertically to the radiator) are controlled by the Smart Controller/CAM software. The controller wasn't a selling point to me, but after using it, I am really impressed. My only complaint is that you need to use NZXT's LED strip, but... honestly... I don't think you need more than the one that comes pre-installed in the case and the extra one that is included. Both are pretty bright.

The CAM software has been really good to me so far. Previous versions... not so much, but the current one has been awesome. Software is easy to use and easy to set-up. It is really easy to set-up the fan curve for the fans attached to the controller, and you can set/store several profiles.

I haven't done the cable tucking yet, but the controller has 3 channels that can each support 3 fans each. It's nice because all the wiring from the fans and controller can done behind the motherboard out-of-view.

  • 16 months ago
  • 2 points

Would have looked sick in the O11, but this still looks fantastic! Great job.

  • 16 months ago
  • 1 point

Thanks! Appreciate it! Got some things in mail. Once I get that all together, I'll ask a friend to help with taking some nice pictures of the build!

  • 16 months ago
  • 2 points

Good stuff dude, I dont usually like soft tubing but the placement is nice on this one! I got the same 1070, love strix series!

  • 16 months ago
  • 1 point

Thanks! It's not super sexy like hard tube is, but was super easy to work with. Got some things in the mail to add onto the loop. Looking to watercool the 1070 as well as add another radiator and a drain plug. This thing just keeps becoming a bigger money pit! Lol.

  • 14 months ago
  • 2 points

How did you get those ekwb prices? I've been on the configuration recently and it was muchhh higher for a similar soft tubing setup

  • 14 months ago
  • 1 point

Some things I bought second hand on eBay. Like the waterblock. Someone bought the GPU waterblock but ended up upgrading to something better which the block wasn't compatible. Made an offer on it and got a good deal.

Was there something specific? Some stuff I bought new from eBay. Some things I bought new, but second hand, and others parts I bought new on Amazon or similar.

The EKWB Slim 360 Kit was about $270 or 280 on Newegg, and that pretty much includes everything you'll need. Most of the cost is actually the pump. When it come down to it, the D5 and DDC pump are expensive. The slim kits use an SPC pump. It is similar sized to the DDC pump, but less pricey.

I double checked my list and I think most things are about retail price.

Just let me know what questions you have and I'll try my best to help you.

  • 14 months ago
  • 1 point

Oooh I didn't pay attention to what pump you used. I didn't realize you used the 360 kit. My fault for not reading.

  • 14 months ago
  • 1 point

Yup. I started with the Slim 360 kit and added on a GPU waterblock, a drain valve thingy, a radiator, and two fans. I think the kits are a great place to start. Gets you most of stuff, and it feels like you are getting a price break also.

  • 13 months ago
  • 2 points

The tube connecting the cpu to the gpu looks so cool +1

  • 13 months ago
  • 1 point

Thanks! It worked! I started out with that tube on the little longer end. After looking at it, decided to cut it little by little until it fit perfectly. Hard tubing looks really cool, but I think with soft tubing, you can totally do something unique if you are creative.

  • 7 months ago
  • 1 point

Great build! +1

Would you recommend a newbie on building PCS, me, to go for the custom water cooling system? I've always wished to have a clean water cooling PC, just like yours!

Good job and enjoy your PC!

  • 7 months ago
  • 1 point

Hey. I definitely recommend building your own PC. It's a lot of fun and a great learning experience. In terms of custom loop water cooling, it is really a matter of if you can afford or want to spend that much more money. Going all-in-one cooler, or aircooling, is WAY cheaper and more practical. If you look at my parts list, you can see that I easily spent $5-6-700 on the watercooling alone. Fun to do, but... expensive.

And there's nothing wrong with just getting a basic tower cooler first, then upgrading to custom loop later.

  • 7 months ago
  • 1 point

Thanks for replying!

Will $1,000 - $1,200 CAD be enough? Doesn't seem like it. Anyways, Thats a great build and maybe after I build my first PC, I'll upgrade to a custom water cooling PC. Thanks and good luck!

  • 7 months ago
  • 1 point

I think it would definitely get you started. You don't have to make a huge investment up front and right away. You can totally start with your basic system and then upgrade later. If you are on a tight budget, I'd say think about what you are planning to do and what would be the best bang for the dollar.

I would definitely draft out a system first. Then you can kind of play around with where you want to focus your money. Example: Instead of buying a RTX 2080 Ti, which you might not fully take advantage of, you could downgrade to a 2060 and use the difference to fund something else. Maybe get a nice monitor or upgrade to a quality mouse and keyboard? Just an example.

  • 7 months ago
  • 1 point

I see. Thanks for replying!

I already have a basic build to go with. And yeah, I did the same with focusing on where to use the money, and it seems like I'm gonna get my first build done before summer! Anyways, thanks for replying, and really appreciate your time and effort. Good luck and enjoy your new PC.