Yes. Fine. I will put windows in. Check back in a few weeks.
Seriously though, thank you all for commenting.
First build in ~5 years, and first ever water-cooled build, so of course I went with a hard-lined custom loop mini-ITX because trying one new thing at a time is for chumps.
The pictures don't really do it justice, but I am not much of a photographer. Sorry.
Numbers in parentheses (#1) indicate related image number.
- Fractal Design Core 500 Case
- GTX 1070
- Water blocks on CPU and GPU
- 2 x 120mm radiators, hard tubing
- Some purple s**t
I've been a laptop convert for a long time, but I wanted a proper work and gaming station again as my life has become a bit more stationary. I knew I was only going to want/need a single video card, and my inner engineer disliked how much empty space I was seeing in < $2000 ATX builds.
So I started looking at mini-ITX cases pretty directly. Planning a build around the case felt kind of backwards to me as it's always been the last consideration in my previous ATX builds, but it's the way of things once component dimensions become make-or-break factors.
I liked the understated industrial look of Fractal Design, Silverstone, and the Ncase M1. Looked at Node 304 builds for a long while, very nearly bought the Ncase but didn't want to wait for it, then came across this, which became the inspiration for much of my build. That guy did a nicer job overall, but I managed to fit both fans inside the case, so... Ha.
Video Card / Water Block
The other difficult decision to make was on a video card and water block. I really didn't want to pony up for a Founder's Edition 1070/80, but at first the only non-reference water block I could find was the EK TF6 which is (IMO) kinda ugly. Eventually I figured out the MSI Aero uses a reference layout without the Founder's Edition prices, and went for the Phanteks water block (#2) because it looks fockin sweet.
Waffled on MoBo options for quite a while, ended up getting the one I did mostly based on price and availability. I kind of wish I'd got one with an RGB header, but oh well.
The PSU had to have depth < 170mm since I was using a full-size video card and the SeaSonic G 550W fit the bill perfectly. Actually, it's only 160mm, and if it had been any larger I would have had some serious issues getting cables to fit.
No catastrophes, POSTed on the first try, pretty smooth relative to my past builds. I did hit a few snags getting everything to fit.
Snag 1: Fan Controller
I got a fan controller for funsies to put in the Core 500's removeable 5.25" bay. Unfortunately, the fan controller's plastic bracket (#5) got in the way of the top fan/radiator. I thought about abandoning the fan controller and the 5.25" bay since I only had 2 quiet fans anyway, but decided to just chop off most of the plastic bracket instead (#6) . The remaining screw holes in front were more than enough to hold it securely.
Snag 2: 5.25" Bay Bracket
When it came time to place the coolant reservoir, I ran into problems with the 5.25" bay once again. The extra millimeter of width the bay's metal added to the top railing meant the difference between a too-tight fit and an impossible fit (#8). So again I solved my problems with a Dremel and cut a bit off the bay's bracket (#9). Keeping the bay meant a bit less space for airflow to the top fan, but the space between it and the PSU also provided a convenient area to hide cables.
Tubing and Coolant Fill
Most of the rest was just figuring out how to do the coolant tubing. I had originally planned to follow that other guy's pipe layout pretty much exactly, but ended up with something quite different. I went with PETG tubing rather than acrylic for ease of bending, and I'm glad I did. Even so I ended up wasting a lot more tubing than I used on mistakes and weird little wiggly pieces (#11).
I had a bunch of fitments left over at the end so I made a cool little spigot that swivels out at the bottom should I ever need to drain the loop (#19).
I thought a had a leak near the reservoir for a bit, but it turned out I just spilled a few drops when I was tilting the system around trying to free up the bubbles (#15).
Bleeding the cooling system was kind of frustrating, but mostly because I was impatient. I eventually gave up on getting all the little bubbles out and they worked themselves out after a couple days.
Runs like a champ! I haven't actually overclocked it yet (good thing I got that 6700k, eh?!), and I'm not sure my two small radiators will actually be able to handle much of an OC, but I'll update this once I find out.
The pump gets very noisy over 3000RPM. I'm not sure if it's due to cavitation, a bubble, or the fact that I accidentally ran it dry for 10-15 secs when doing a POST test, but I just set the speed at a static 2500RPM since I doubt the flow rate is my cooling system's bottleneck anyway.
I built a computer.