Here is my new PC build that I have been planning since back in May some time before Zen 2 was released. I had planned from the beginning to build a triple radiator water cooled pc in the o11 dynamic case (yeh I know, so imaginative). The intention was also for it to be top end without going with a HEDT platform. I have built plenty of PCs over the past 20+ years, but this is the first time ive attempted a custom loop.
It has taken me so long to get this build sorted, because parts I planned to use have kept getting delayed. Firstly, I decided I would wait for the o11 Dynamic XL which was delayed until October, then figured I'd wait for the 3950x which was delayed until the end of November. But in the end this gave me plenty of time to keep researching water cooling components and planning the loop.
A lot of thought went in to component choice, and nothing was chosen without careful consideration.
Case: The PC-O11 Dynamic is basically the default choice for a lot of water cooled builds these days, and I went for the XL version so I could avoid some of the headaches that arise from trying to fit so much hardware in to a small case. The other case I considered is the Phanteks Enthoo Luxe 2 which would have probably been easier to build in, but I like the look of the Lian Li more. I made a slight modification to the top of the case, I took to it with a drill so i could add a fill port. The EK fill port fits perfectly and is low profile enough to hide under the top panel.
CPU: This is the top binned Ryzen 3000 part. 16 cores is complete overkill for a gaming pc, but it manages to use less voltage and put out less heat than a 3900x while having 4 more cores, so I figured why not?
Motherboard: Passive cooling on the chipset was a big part of its appeal versus the competion. On top of that it looks the part and is overall a brilliant board. I was a little wary of going with Gigabyte, as I almost always use Asus, but hopefully all will be fine. After using the board for a while, I really do miss the Asus software for controlling fans. The Gigabyte software has been a bit of a let down really. I knew going in that this would probably be the case, as most people dont have anything nice to say about it. To get around this I switched to a Corsair Commander Pro for fan / lighting control and iCUE is a little nicer than Gigabyte's software. Unfortunately I couldnt escape leaving RGB Fusion 2.0 installed, as without it, my RAM stays illuminated when the PC enters sleep mode.
RAM: The memory I went with is the fastest that Zen 2 will allow with a 1:1 IF clock, while still having good timings. Also a major factor for me choosing this kit is that it's Samsung B-die which may give me the oportunity to further tweak it if i choose. 64GB is more or less pointless in a gaming PC, and I could have saved a lot going with 32gb, however I decided that I'm likely to have this pc for 5-10 years, and I don't want to have to upgrade the RAM at any point as it will likely be impossible to match the sticks that I buy now.
SSD: The 970 Evo Plus is one of the fastest on the market and I got it for a good price. There is next to no real world difference in performance betweenn this and the current gen pcie4 ssds, so I went with this with the intention of adding a newer faster ssd at a later date when it becomes viable.
Video Card: The 2080Ti I am using in this is just temporary until Ampere is released next year. At that point I will go with something along the lines of a water cooled EVGA FTW3 3080Ti. It made no sense getting a water cooled card for now, as this card will end up in my Sim Racing PC when I upgrade. One thing with this though, I had planned on buying an EVGA FTW3 or a Gigabyte Aorus Xtreme card but when this came on special on Black Friday, I jumped on it without doing any research beyond how the cooler performed. I knew that i had more than enough room for any of the other 2080Ti's I had looked at so just assumed this would fit too. Well it is significantly bigger than the others and hits on my resevoir. Luckilly i could just manage to squeeze it in, so while not ideal, it did fit.
PSU: It really wasnt necissary to spend this much on a PSU, but I figured I may as well keep with the overkill theme. On the plus side, I can rest assured knowing that my system is being supplied some of the cleanest power available, from a PSU that should well and truly outlive the usefull life of this system :)
Next up we have the cooling loop. This took by far the most of my time in research as I really was going in blind. Part choice here was changing weekly but I'm fairly confident in what I have ended up with. Initially I really wanted to go with hard tubing with white opaque coolant which would have looked great, but the entire point of this loop is to be as low maintenance as possible. While I know that it is not the cleanest loop, and there are some long tubing runs that could have potentially been avoided, I have managed to keep the majority of fittings away from the motherboard and all other electrical components. There are no rotary fittings at all that can leak onto important hardware, as these are probably the most likely point of failure. For monitoring the loop, I have a Koolance flow meter and a Phobya temperature sensor. Oh, and this loop is an absolute nightmare to drain, so that sucks :/
Radiators: All 3 are Corsair XR5 360mm which are made by Hardware Labs, some of the best in the business. I would have gone with HW Labs Nemesis GTS radiators, but they are wider than the Corsairs which makes it too hard to mount one in the back chamber like I wanted. I took a bit of a gamble with the Corsairs as there were no reviews available at the time of purchase. It seems to have paid off tho, as i havent had any issues with them, and have since seen some fairly positive reviews on them, thank god. These radiators are unfortunately quite restrictive, and while I'm not 100% happy with my flow rate, my temps seem ok at 60% pump speed so I should be fine, even with my GPU added to the loop eventually.
Reservoir and CPU Block: These are Watercool Heatkiller gear which seem to always get favorable reviews and look damn good to top it off. Again, these are considered to be right up there with the best brands available, and far more respected than something like EK. One thing though, the cpu block is quite an old design now and is likely not ideal for the die layout on Zen2. If updated blocks come out that show a significant improvement, I will have to consider upgrading. I had intended to go with dual D5 pumps, but couldnt work out a good way to fit them without restricting the amount of room i had for a video card.
Fittings: I ended up going with Barrow which seem to be very popular despite the low price. Having never planned a loop before, I did end up purchasing a bunch more than i ended up needing, but at these prices it didnt bother me too much. I had planned to go with Bitspower, but I would have paid over 4x as much for the fittings.
Tubing: I used black EPDM rubber hose, similar to EK ZMT. While it doesn't look as nice as clear tubing (especially hard line tubing) it makes up for it in durability and low maintenance. There is no chance of it leaching plasticizer into the loop, and now I've decided I actually like the look of the black tubing with nickel fittings.
Coolant: Clear Mayhems XT-1 Nuke. There are no dyes or anything to separate out, which ties in with minimising maintenance requirements of the loop. I would have loved to go with my original choice of white pastel coolant, but I stuck with what's practical.
Performance has been about what I have expected so far. I am running at completely stock clocks and the cpu is idling at around 40c, peaking at about 65c. At stock, my score in Cinebench r20 is about 9087 with cores hitting 3925mhz and 60c. With PBO i get a score of 9403 with cores 4100mhz @ and temps at 77c.
In 3D Mark Time Spy I get 14585 at stock settings.
So that is my completed build until I can upgrade to a water cooled GPU. Also, I am going to upgrade this ancient monitor to something that will actually do this system justice. Contenders so far are either the PG35VQ or the 48" LG OLED when it comes out this year. Both options have some pretty major downfalls which makes spending that sort of cash hard to justify. Finally, I could really do with some more storage. I will hopefully grab a PCI-E 4.0 SSD once the next gen faster controllers are out, and would love a slower 4TB mass storage SSD or 2 at some point, price permitting of course.
Anyway thanks for reading, and sorry for the massive wall of text!
I have resubmitted this due to it not showing up on the main page. I originally started my old build page in early December, so after publishing, it ended up getting lost many pages back
Very expensive CPU, and complete overkill for my needs, but its fast and apparently runs cooler than the 3900x. If you actually have a need for this many cores and can afford it and the supporting hardware, it will not disappoint.
Very easy to apply (easier than the Gelid GC-Extreme I have previously used) and supposedly one of the top performing on the market. I wouldn't have bothered with anything less.
Great board, but very expensive. It is absolutely packed with features though, and the build quality, feel and look of it is just insane. I have knocked off a star because unfortunately the software does not do the board justice, and that is a huge shame. I am not really hopeful that the situation will improve either because this has been an issue with Gigabyte for years now.
This RAM looks amazing and has some very good specs. After a bios update it booted up fine with XMP settings and has not missed a beat since. These use Samsung B-Die chips, so can possibly be tweaked even further.
This SSD is very fast, provides plenty of storage, and is far more affordable than the current lot of PCI-E 4.0 drives. Despite being significantly cheaper, performance is supposedly more or less equal, so it made sense for me to just stick with this drive.
Its a 2080Ti - Its Fast - Its Expensive. Oh, and this one is bloody huge. Make sure you check it will fit in your case because its even longer than the Strix, FTW3 and Aorus. Its about 2mm too long for me so hits on my resevoir, but I managed to shoehorn it in :)
This case is great, it looks amazing, and can fit a beast of a system inside. Its been a pleasure to work on and there is a huge amount of space in the back for cable management. Even with 0 experience water cooling I managed to fit in a triple 360mm radiator loop with ease. Build quality on mine has been perfect, although i have heard reports from others of things not lining up as nicely as they should (such as video card rear mounting bracket).
Total overkill, But If you want the best....
These fans are pretty much silent at about the 900rpm I am running them at. They are not the best at anything (there are faster fans, there are quieter fans, there are fans with higher static pressure, there are fans with much fancier RGB), but they really are a great all round performer with little to no trade offs besides price. Be warned though. If you buy these as a single fan you will need a corsair RGB controller / hub of some description.
These fans are pretty much silent at about the 900rpm I am running them at. They are not the best at anything (there are faster fans, there are quieter fans, there are fans with higher static pressure, there are fans with much fancier RGB), but they really are a great all round performer with little to no trade offs besides price. If you buy these in the 3 pack, they come with all required RGB controller and RGB hubs to get you going. The controller can handle up to 12 fans, but the included hub will only connect 6.
These are made by Hardware Labs and are the OEM version of the Nemesis GTS and are slightly narrower in width, meaning they will be more compatible with cases with less room. The finish on these is top notch, and while you will absolutely need to flush them before use, I had very little crap come out of them, certainly far less than i have seen from competing brands on forums. Be warned though these are a restrictive radiator so make sure you are using a D5 or DDC pump if you are chaining several together.