Welcome to another Build!! You can check out the unboxing, partial build log, and glam shots here on my youtube channel BlackWolfe CC. Thanks to my amazingly talented and gorgeous wife for some of the pictures in this build post! Enjoy!
When Phanteks FINALLY announced a release date for their Evolv Shift and Evolv Shift X cases and Newegg put up a pre-order, I decided it was time for a couple new computer builds. I fell in love with these cases when they were introduced at Computex at the beginning of the year. My wife's photography rig was in desperate need of a new case, and she could do for some upgrades. My system was in need of a better way to manage cpu thermals. I LOVE the way my Node 202 mod turned out, but it does not provide enough air to cool the 7700k under any kind of load. As I do a ton of video editing these days and my CPU is under constant load, I wound up underclocking and undervolting the 7700k to keep from thermal throttling. I wanted to move away from this and get back into watercooling. The Shift and Shift X looked like the perfect solution for the two systems.
The easiest part of this build was CPU selection. With a sale on Amazon I wound up grabbing an R7 1700x for $289.99, cementing an AMD build. The MB wasn't hard to choose either as I really wanted a board with usb 3.1 gen 2 ports. The Gigabyte ab350n-wifi was the only option. Asrock offers a type-c port, but only as usb 3.1 gen 1. I also wasn't willing to wait any longer for the Asus boards (which STILL haven't been released yet...). I upgraded from my EVGA GTX 1080 SC to Asus's beautiful ROG GTX 1080Ti. Lastly, when it comes to new parts, I went with a 256gb Plextor M8Pe NVMe m.2 drive as my os and apps drive. This has been a great little drive, but after installing a 960 pro in my wife's computer, I kinda wish I had dished out the extra cash for it instead. I decided to use the CoolerMaster Masterliquid 240 as a temporary cooling solution as it had mounting hardware for AM4 and it would give me an idea of how the rad, fans, and plumbing would fit into the Shift X. This would let me get my system up and running and allow me to design my cooling loop at the same time. The rest of the parts came from my previous rig or spare parts lying around. With all my parts in hand, it was time to BUILD!
My first bump came when I went to pre-order the two cases. The Evolv Shift was selling for $109, which wasn't to bad, but the Shift X was selling for $159... $50 more!!! I had a hard time swallowing the massive mark up for very little addition. After a day of contemplating I decided to go with a standard Shift. This posed a problem. The cooler I was going to use was not going to fit into the standard shift, I hadn't ordered my CPU water block yet, and non of the air coolers I had would fit the AM4 format.
What to do...? I could have ordered brackets for a couple of my coolers (though the one I really wanted to use wasn't going to support AM4.... which was a bummer), or order a new cooler altogether. In the end I decided on plan C; make a new back cover out of 1/4" plexiglass to mount the AIO radiator. This route went far better than I expected. The mounting points for the hardware to secure to the case where simple drill points, the cut out to allow airflow for the AIO was straight forward as were the holes for mounting the rad. The only mistake I made, and I didn't realize this until AFTER I had assembled, was a hole to allow the two fan cables to pass into the case. Oh well. Really more for aesthetics than anything else. While editing the video for this build, i was heart broken to find out ALL the video recorded for this part had corrupted on both camera's I used. Basically lost all footage of this and the mounting process.
The GPU was the second bump I ran into. The Asus Rog 1080ti is about as large a card as this case can handle. First off the bracket the GPU mounts into is a little to narrow in one place, requiring me to bend the bracket a bit to allow the card to fit. Second, the card couldn't fit in the recommended configuration (fans facing in), so I had to rotate the card so the fans face out. It seems Phanteks partially had this in mind for larger cards as the GPU bracket can be mounted in either positions, which was nice. BUT, mounting in this position left the card roughly 1/4" from the glass. As I learned with my Node 202 build, this was going to be a problem. My solution was to cut the AIO mount directly inline with the GPU. This would give the GPU a constant flow of air. Now, at this point, I KNOW what some are thinking. That's going to be warm air being pushed onto the GPU. Well it's not actually not that bad. The Ryzen CPU's stay pretty cool even under decent overclocks, and the Cooler Master AIO is a pretty decent AIO. The heat being pulled off the cpu and dispersed via the rad only warmed air temps leaving the rad by a few degrees above ambient (a little thermal thermometer read about 5c - 6c above ambient).
My third bump was one I was expecting and the solution for it back fired. This revolves around the VRM temps on this Gigabyte board which is a problem all AM4 itx boards experience. I KNEW this issue and thought I had a solution for it. I had placed a high pressure 2500rpm slim 120mm fan on the right side of the case, and I connected it with the AIO fan controller which I have set to run at max speed. The idea was that this fan would be responsible for moving air into the case and over the VRMs while a 140mm fan at the bottom of the case and a 120mm fan at the bottom right side of the case would be driving air out of the case. This didn't turn out the way I thought it would. After a bit of tinkering, problem solving, and testing I found a few problems. The first is in the placement of the fans. I had to place the top fan on the outside of the case between the case itself and the case cover. After measuring, I thought I had plenty of room between the fan itself and the cover allowing for a decent amount of air to be drawn into the case. This partially worked. The space between the fan and the case cover turned out to be less than I expected, causing the fan to work harder to force air into the case. The second is in the god awful layout of the gigabyte board. The USB front panel connector, sata connectors (which I use all 4) AND the 25 pin connector ALL block a direct path for airflow to the VRM's. This was an area I should have expected but overlooked. And lastly, there's no way to efficiently remove the heat from the top of the case out the bottom. As we all know hot air rises, and my current setup has me using 2 exhaust fans. one forcing air out the bottom and one forcing air out the bottom right. As the fan on the bottom right is below the top fan, the top fan is sucking in hot air that's coming out of the case and rising up. I was hoping with the AIO air flow and the slim 120mm air flow I'd get a decent amount of negative air pressure, but forcing hot air down and out is counter intuitive and hence VRM temps reflect this.
Besides the few little hickups the system runs pretty well. The CPU stays very cool under full load, and the GPU stays pretty cool as well. Both were plesent surprises. Under full load rendering a 10 minute video shot from a D750 in Adobe Media Encoder using the youtube 4k preset, CPU temps top out around 53c @ 3.85ghz. Running furmark at the same time pushes the GPU to 63c - 65c. I recently backed off the overclock to 3.7ghz stable @ 1.175v with a "low" offset setting due to VRM temps peaking in the 110c area. This has dropped my VRM temps down to 95c - 100c, which is better, but I'll need to find a better solution fairly soon. Which I am working on.
Well there you all go, I hope you enjoyed. I had a great time modding, building, and shooting this build. My wife's rig will be going up sometime next week along with another video (my kids helped!). Feel free to leave any comments or questions below and I'll answer as best I can! Thanks for watching, looking, reading!