Decided to put together my first custom loop as cheaply as possible while also getting quality components. Used parts were sourced from /r/hardwareswap and Micro Center. I first assembled this over 6 months ago, but recently rebuilt it with some new pieces, so I figured I'd show it off.

Part Notes

CPU - i5-6600K - carried over from my last build, which was in a much more comfortable ATX form factor. Got this thing a month after Skylake launched, and it runs at 4.6 Ghz fully stable. Not the best chip, but I don't mind.

Motherboard - ASUS Z170i - Yet another ASUS motherboard for me. The red accents don't match up at all with my general theme, but I didn't want to mod it and potentially void my warranty.

GPU - EVGA 980 Ti - Purchased this used with EKWB full cover block and backplate pre-installed, was a very good deal for the bundle. Replaced the GTX 980 that I had in the system before, a swap I primarily did because I felt that the 980 didn't put out enough heat to make a custom loop worth it.

PSU - EVGA Supernova 650 G2 - This unit is actually oversize for the case (as the compatibility notes will tell you). It still fits, however, but the extra length causes it to partially block the main cable routing hole between the back and the front, which makes cable management much more difficult. I ended up removing the rubber grommet in order to make room.

Pump - EK-XTOP D5 PWM - Bought this open box at Micro Center and got a decent deal for a brand new unit. It replaces the Swiftech Drive II & Topsflo TDC dual pump setup that I had before, and is much quieter to boot.

Reservoir - EK-RES X3 110 - This is one of the few reservoirs I could find that would actually fit in such a confined space and were affordable and easy to get. Got the white one and it looks great.

CPU Block - EK-Supremacy EVO White Edition - Purchased this used but it didn't come with all the mounting hardware :( Luckily I pulled a couple of washers off of my pump to use here. Mine was really gunked up from the last seller, remember to take apart the block and clean it out before you use it (if you buy used)!

Radiators - XSPC EX120 & EK PE 240 - Fitting two 240 rads in this case would be extremely tight, but doable. With my oversized PSU, I decided to just go with 240 + 120 instead. If I had an SFX PSU and maybe a smaller pump, double 240 might have been an option.

Lighting - Cablemod RGB magnetic LED strip kit - I wanted RGB lighting in the case, but there clearly wasn't any space for a HUE+ controller in the back with two drives installed already. This cablemod kit was a great way to solve the problem. The lighting controller is tiny, and the remote offers a good amount of modes. Would have been nice if I had an ASUS AURA header on my motherboard though, which would give me in-OS control.

The build

Building a small form factor PC is already frustrating, but a small form factor custom loop? Much worse.

Most of the tubing runs were fairly simple, but the tubing between the reservoir and the pump along with the drain port took a couple of days to figure out how to lay out without causing the tube to kink. I spent hours just wishing I had one more 90-degree angled rotary fitting to make the connection, but it would've taken too long to arrive. So of course, right after I finished up the build, I reached into my parts drawer and pulled out --- an extra 90-degree angled fitting! Perfect.

One very nice thing about this case is that Fractal Design has done a great job with the custom water cooling support - all of the water cooling parts were mounted without having to drill holes manually. That said, the included pump/drive mount bracket on the floor of the case only has two holes that line up with the pump. I was thinking about trying to mount it using the included reservoir mounting brackets, but they didn't fit on the bottom rails.

So finally, after almost a week's worth of time building and rebuilding the loop completely, testing various configurations, getting water everywhere, I put this thing together. Enjoy!


  • 34 months ago
  • 2 points

+1 Custom loops are hard and you aced it! Astounding build my friend!

  • 34 months ago
  • 1 point

I remember watching Fractal Design's video about this case and them talking about how you could fit a reservoir in the in here. I thought to myself... "no way would the rest of the system fit and still look good."

You've proven me wrong! the system looks great in the nano! Hope the hours you spent building this thing make it all the more enjoyable.

  • 34 months ago
  • 1 point

wow, it looks like an aquarium! very nice :) btw - can the Asus Aura be turned off completely in the software if one wants? I want a led light system that allows me to disable all the lights from the software :D

  • 34 months ago
  • 1 point

Oh sorry, I didn't fully explain. The cablemod RGB strips are controlled via RF by a remote control (you can see it in the last picture). I don't have the right header on my motherboard for software control, unfortunately, however that is an option. But yes, you can turn it all off if you want to :)

  • 34 months ago
  • 1 point

Very nice to see more SFF water cooling builds. Nicely done!

  • 34 months ago
  • 1 point

Sorry but your pricing is bullsh!t. You literally shattered the dream of thousands of thousands young people coming here because your rig price - was cheap. BUT nowhere in the world can you get a cooling loop for less than 100 GBP, not to mention half of your component list is 1/2 priced.

Nice job on the build though, but it is definitely worth around 2k

  • 34 months ago
  • 1 point

I totally understand if you think the build pricing is off. I'd like to clarify that.

Essentially every part of the loop (except for the reservoir) were purchased used or open-box. Additionally, some of the parts (the fittings, tubing, 120 rad, GPU and GPU block/backplate) were purchased as part of a bundle, so for those I tried to calculate roughly what the price would have been if I had purchased individually. For example, the 980 Ti was purchased for $360 with block and backplate pre-installed, so I priced the GPU at $300, the block at $45, and the backplate at $15. Every other part was exactly what I had paid for the item. I took the time to use a spreadsheet and breakdown the price of the build before making this post, but still, the prices are only estimated based on the total price of the bundle.

You're right: the build would have been roughly $1950 if all of the used parts had been purchased new. I'm sorry if this was misleading (or dream-shattering), as I viewed the price list as what I had personally paid, not necessarily what someone else would pay to get everything. However, I don't think the prices are unrealistic in any way - many of these water cooling components, such as fittings, fans, and radiators, regularly go for far less than retail prices on /r/hardwareswap and other forums, and a 50% discount is pretty normal.

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