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First Watercooled rig: Define R4 watercooled

by Luminouslight


Part List View full price breakdown


CPU Clock Rate


CPU Temperature While Idle

28.0° C

CPU Temperature Under Load

60.0° C

GPU Core Clock Rate


GPU Effective Memory Clock Rate


GPU Temperature While Idle

28.0° C

GPU Temperature Under Load

45.0° C


I am replacing my 4 year old i7 920, GTX 470 build. While I could have stuck with my current processor and motherboard, I decided to jump to Haswell as I really wanted to use an SSD. The Load times easily made up for it. I first ran the computer on stock for a month without my GTX 780 waiting for a decent deal. Assembling this part was trivially easy. Boot times were snappy, booting Windows 7 in 20 seconds from pressing the power button.

Assembling the water cooling portion was certainly an adventure. I would probably not use the Define R4 again for watercooling largely due to the hassle. I had to custom order some washers to use the mounting screws for my 240 rad on top. I also had to buy an additional mounting holder for the Pump/Reservoir.

Probably the most difficult thing was getting the 280mm rad in the front. You'd think that since you can mount 140mm fans in the front, that putting a 280mm rad would be easy right? Wrong. The easy part is modding the front fan holder to be able to line up the 140mm fans. It was an incredibly tight fit getting the rad into the actual space, largely because the measurements left only mm are clearance between the 5.25 drive bay, and the floor of the case. You can see the pic of the space between the top of the rad. That's with the rad on the floor of the case. I actually had redrill some holes to lower the fan placement to get it to fit.

Aside from those roadblocks, the installation of the watercooling was pretty easy considering I had no watercooling experience. The fittings and the tubing were pretty easy to install. Had a couple leaks in my initial test, but they were just due to loose fittings which was easily resolved.

In terms of actual performance, I get somewhat mixed results. My GTX 780 has incredible temps, topping out at 45C in furmark. The i7 4770k was somewhat disappointing, topping towards 60C on stock in prime95, but since the motherboard runs the processor at 1.2278 volts I can understand why it runs so hot, and I should probably lower it.

I will plan on overclocking in the near future, but right now just enjoying the rig on stock.

Comments Sorted by:

skemble 24 Builds 7 points 44 months ago


Electrospeed 2 points 44 months ago

My thoughts exactly :D

Although, he could use some LEDs!

skemble 24 Builds 8 points 44 months ago

I wouldn't define a computers greatness based on lack of LEDs. Those are always a personal touch and make or break a great setup.

Electrospeed 2 points 44 months ago

Yeah yeah yeah, don't get me wrong. His computer's awesome.

LEDs would just make it that much better, especially with that watercooling loop and the cleanliness of cables :D

Luminouslight submitter 1 Build 2 points 44 months ago

The water blocks came white LED's that I thought about installing, but I kinda rushed getting the rig done as I was going to be traveling for the holidays. Maybe in the future I will add them in as well as some other LED accessories.

Right now the inside of the case is illuminated by the red BIOS Debug LED code, which I don't care for much.

Thomskon 1 Build 1 point 44 months ago

if you ever do decide to get led's look at the bitfenix line. i Have 2 30cm white led strips in my r4 and they look great

JakeyU72 3 Builds 3 points 44 months ago

Amazing :D Isn't the Define R4 a beaut? ;)

RyneSmith 7 Builds 2 points 44 months ago

I would love some more pictures, great build my friend

Hulaa 1 point 44 months ago

very nice, though personally i would have chose a different color tubing :D

Luminouslight submitter 1 Build 1 point 44 months ago

If I had chosen a different case, I probably would have, but I wanted to match the white inside the interior of the Fractal R4. I suppose it doesn't matter as much considering I removed the hard drive cages which probably added the most white to the case.

I was thinking of getting the Nanoxia DS1, but ultimately chose this case because it was in stock and on sale for $65.

ImElkay 1 Build 1 point 44 months ago

What headphones do you use with that sound card?

Luminouslight submitter 1 Build 1 point 44 months ago

I currently use my 4 year old HD-555's, but also have a pair of SRH840's that I generally use for work and travel. I have been thinking about getting a new set of headphones as my HD-555's have been falling apart, but haven't found anything I really want.

ImElkay 1 Build 1 point 44 months ago

If you go to head-fi.org, you could probably find the perfect ones for you.

bgiunt4 1 point 44 months ago

hmm.. I would have thought your temps would be lower with 480mm of rad. SWEET build none the less

18hockey 1 Build 1 point 44 months ago

why such an expensive PSU?

love the custom loop tho :D

Luminouslight submitter 1 Build 1 point 44 months ago

I got the PSU for about $100 (Just got my MIR back), which for a full modular platinum PSU is a really good deal. I was looking for a fully modular PSU and it fit the bill perfectly.

gseyffert 1 Build 1 point 44 months ago

Set your voltage to Override and re-run Prime95 to get a more accurate reading of your temps. Loading the AVX instructions from Prime95 overrides any max voltage setting that you have. From what I saw when overclocking my own system, running Prime95 with the default/Adaptive voltage setting would add at least .05 volts on top of the max voltage I set. For example with my overclock set to 1.25V, I would get voltage readings of 1.31~1.32. So when you're overclocking, make sure you're running stability tests with the voltage set to override. When you have a stable OC, set it back to Adaptive. I suspect your temps will be much lower. Also, the fact that it peaks at 60C at that voltage bodes well for overclocking. I mean, I have a 4770k under an H100i(mounted in the front, so I understand what you're saying about compatibility), and under IBT I hit the mid 90s, clocked at 4.6GHz w/ 1.265V. Good luck!

Also, I'm happy to see this, because I have a Define R4 and want to do a full loop in the future. Glad to know that it can in fact be done!

MahimulH 1 point 44 months ago

That's a nice build dude. How are the Helix fans doing? Some people say they are like the Gentle Typhons and some say they are bad. How much noise do they produce? Can you hear the fans at full speed?

Luminouslight submitter 1 Build 2 points 44 months ago

I can hear the fans at full speed from my seat (It's on the ground, and I am sitting next to it), but I have them on a fan controller and run them low enough that they are silent. I don't have GT's to compare to so I don't think I could give you an accurate assessment to the difference it would make.

MahimulH 1 point 44 months ago

Alright, thanks. :) Would you recommend the fan?

Luminouslight submitter 1 Build 2 points 44 months ago

I think it's a pretty good fan. One of the main reason why I got it was to match other fans in the case. So basically I was trying to decide between this one and the Phantek PH-F140XP and this one. The Phanteks are certainly quieter according to the stat sheet, but cost nearly twice as much.

I don't think my fans are dead silent, but then again I don't really need them to be.

MahimulH 1 point 44 months ago

Thanks for your reply :) I think I'll go with the NB eLoops.

brelovix 1 point 44 months ago

Owh, owh das sexy, das...CLEAN +`1

8F01C198997 11 Builds 1 point 44 months ago

This is awesome! I have one question though. I'm no expert in custom cooling loops, but would it not be more effective to go from Radiator to CPU to radiator to GPU instead of radiator to radiator to CPU to GPU?

Luminouslight submitter 1 Build 1 point 44 months ago

I don't think it really matters, that much as the water warms up fairly uniformly. That and the GPU is actually the far cooler component of the the two and it comes after the CPU. I did the tubing such that it would be clean and require the least amount of tubing.

The general rule is you need the Reservoir before the pump, which in my case I just have a combo kit so it doesn't matter.

ReDnAx1991 7 Builds 1 point 44 months ago

Don't worry about the i7 temps, Haswell is known to be somewhat of a hothead. Amazing build +1.

Luminouslight submitter 1 Build 1 point 44 months ago

I figured that was the case. Haswell is notorious for being hot. I may delid and reapply some high quality TIM on my processor to see if that helps.

ReDnAx1991 7 Builds 1 point 44 months ago

I like to use Arctic MX-4 which is the best solution from Arctic. That TIM has saved my builds multiple times.

Nyg_empyre 1 point 40 months ago

What fps are you getting on that beauty of a build? any problems with the gpu im planning that gpu dual sli and wanted to get some feedback from an owner