I wanted to play Star Citizen, and my 6-year-old gaming computer was not up to the task. This is my build to take me to the stars….
CASE: Step 1) Remove the top, front and both side panels. Step 2) Remove all the hard drive trays and set them aside. We will need one tray to modify into a tray to hold the Alphacool Light Tower reservoir. Step 3) Get out your electric drill and with a drill bit a little larger than the rivet hole, start drilling out the rivets that hold the hard drive tray back frame in place. What we are doing here is just drilling the rivet head until it separates from the rivet body. We are not drilling into the hole the rivet is in. When the rivet head separates, you can then pull the rivet out of the hole. (Really, don’t be afraid to get out your electric drill, Dremel Tool, and hack saw to modify your computer case. It is great fun.) Step 4) With all rivets removed, remove the hard drive tray back frame. Now we have room for the Alphacool UT60 radiator and the push/pull fans.
I love this NZXT H440 case. It is a no nonsense no frills case that really gets the job done. Nice clean lines, great looks easy to work with and modify. The only weakness is the air intakes in the front and top panel. (NZXT fixed this issue with their Noctis 450 case).
MoBo: ASUS Z97 Sabertooth Mark 1. I really like the whole line of ASUS Sabertooth motherboards. They are tough, no frills, great cooling, and very clean looks. And they work (5 year warranty).
CPU: Intel Core i7-4790K, LGA 1150. Already over-clocked from the factory to 4 GHZ. Has Turbo Boost so it auto-overclocks even more as needed.
THERMAL COMPOUND: Thermal Grizzly Hydronaut High Performance Thermal Grease. It scores quite high in the comparison ratings, so I am giving it a try. Very easy to apply and work with.
MEMORY: 32 GB (4x8 GB) of Corsair Vengeance Pro Series, DDR3, 1866 MHZ, 9-10-9-27 timing.
STORAGE: 2x Samsung SSD 850 EVO 500GB M.2. I have these mounted on a Bplus M2PS card, which takes power off the PCIe bus but puts no data on the PCIe bus. The data still has to go through SATA cables to the regular SATA III ports on the motherboard, just like a regular 2.5-inch SSD. I just love the M.2 form factor for SSD’s for a PC. It is simple, compact and you can tuck your SSD’s out of sight. I do have a 40mm Noctua fan blowing on the SSD’s to keep them cool. On a 2.5 inch SSD, the metal case acts as a heat sink and radiator to keep them cool. I had these two 850 EVO’s in RAID-0 for several days, but I found that RAID-0 is not sailor-proof. I managed to break RAID-0 by unplugging my keyboard during a system reboot. (my BAD!). Now I have them set up in standard C: drive and D: drive. Still plenty fast on the SATA III ports. NOTE: The Bplus M2PS board is for M.2 SSD’s that are keyed SATA key B+M, such as the Samsung 850 EVO. If your M.2 SSD is PCIe key M, it will not work with this board. The Samsung 951, and the new Samsung 950 Pro are PCIe key M. They are designed to put data directly to the PCIe bus, and will not fit on the Bplus M2PS board.
POWER SUPPLY: Corsair AX760. I have had real good luck with Corsair power supplies in the past. The power supply fan only comes on when needed. The fan is oriented on the bottom where it takes suction through the bottom case air filter.
WATER COOLING: This is my first attempt at water-cooling a computer. The CPU and GPU are plumbed in parallel; the two radiators and pump are in series. In my setup the EK-Supremacy EVO All Copper Waterblock gets the lions share of the flow. The ASUS Poseidon GPU has what looks like a ¼-inch O.D. U-tube in it, which works very well.(GPU fans come up to speed at 45 deg.C). I love the industrial/steam punk look of copper tubing so that is my first choice in this computer. I used 3/8-inch (.500-inch OD) type M copper pipe (Grainger.com model # MH03010). Other copper fittings are all standard 3/8-inch copper fittings from our local home building and supply stores.
PUMP: Swiftech MCP655 G/14 Threaded Special Edition with speed controller. The inlet and the outlet of the pump are insulated from the hard pipe with a short length of plastic tubing. This prevents pump vibration from becoming pump noise in the hard copper pipe. I had to cut a hole in the case above the pump so it would fit, but hey, that is what Dremel Tools are for.
RADIATORS: Alphacool UT60 360mm in the front with Noctua NF-F12 PWM fans in push/pull. Alphacool ST30 280mm in the top with Noctua NF-A14 PWM fans in pull only (this is a very tight fit with this motherboard).
RESERVOIR: Alphacool Light Tower with a green LED light in the bottom shining up through the tower. It was difficult trying to figure out where to put the reservoir. I ended up modding one of the drive trays into a platform to mount the reservoir, hanging the front of the tray frame from the upper case frame with 1/8 inch copper tubing. Next build I am going to try using one of the radiators as the reservoir.
FITTINGS: A mix of Bitspower, Alphacool, Enzotech and Monsoon. Most of the Bitspower True Brass fittings were ordered directly from Bitspower in Taiwan (a good international shopping experience). I did order two Bitspower True Brass fittings from FrozenCPU.com (FrozenCPU.com is up and running although a bit of a dysfunctional company).
I love the design of the Monsoon Free center Hardline fittings. The Orange color is actually Copper Orange and matches the copper pipe quite nicely. People do not like this style fitting because the common mode of failure is the plastic cap that gets glued on the end of the tubing. The caps eventually crack and leak. (The company has recently changed the compound in the plastic for a more durable cap.) The caps don’t fit the end of copper pipe very well, so I eliminated them altogether. I replaced each cap with 2ea Swagelok ½-inch Brass Back Ferrule (Swagelok part no. B-814-1) and one standard size: QR-111 Quad Ring. This setup works perfect for a durable leak tight fitting. The brass back ferrules are glued to the end of the copper pipe with Loctite Marine Epoxy (Loctite item no. 1405604). I chose the Loctite Marine Epoxy for it’s excellent adhesion to copper, brass and other metals, it’s resistance to water, and it withstands a high temperature of 302 deg.F (105 deg.C). It is a two-part epoxy, after mixed it has a working time of greater than 30 minutes, and I found it cures hard in about 4 hours. All copper fittings in this system are glued together with the Loctite Marine Epoxy. Nothing is soldered. Very easy construction.
All 0-rings, quad-rings, rubber seals, and plastic threads got a light coat of Parker O-Ring Lubricant. This stuff works great for lubricating and ensuring a watertight seal.
I am running straight distilled water in the system with a Monsoon Silver Bullet Antimicrobial plug in one of the unused radiator ports.