Description

So this was effectively a vanity build. I had no need for anything this complex or powerful, I am at best a casual gamer, I don't really do any heavy processing or video editing. On the other hand I do quite like a challenge and I've never build a watercooled machine before. The only concession that I've made to pragmatism is the size of the case. I'm restricted in the amount of space that I have available to SFF seemed to be a sensible option.

So, if you're looking for sensible hardware recommendations this may not be the best place for you. If however, you are looking to learn about the challenges involved in building a dual radiator loop into a case designed for a single rad then read on!

Before I dive in, I'd like to point out that this build was heavily influenced by the following build: Chapeau's ncase. Without the images and information provided by Chapeau I don't think I would have had anywhere near as much fun as I've had. If you are reading this Chapeau then thank you!

Most of this build was pretty straight forward. What I wanted to cover here was the things that I found most challenging, or felt that it was hard to find information on.

Fitting the radiators One of the big concerns that I had in setting out to build this machine was whether I'd be able to fit a bottom radiator whilst retaining the usability of the front IO. I was especially concerned about the wiring. After some experimentation I found that although it was possible to fit the radiator without the need for removing the front IO, it wasn't possible to do that with the 1080ti FE card. The front IO pushed the radiator back far enough that the fittings were impeded by the end of the GPU. To resolve this I placed the fans under the radiator (instead of on top). This raised the height of the radiator sufficiently to have it above the front IO, allowing me to shift the fittings out of the way of the GPU

Because this build uses slim fans you'll need to source your own mounting screws. The one that I use in this build (which aren't ideal, being silver rather than black) are 20mm m.4 screws. They seems to be readily available and allow you to attach your fans to your radiator without damaging it. With that said, your milage may vary.

Fitting the pump/reservoir If you're looking to fit an internal reservoir into this case then you'll need to modify it to provide the mounting holes required, or find something strong and sticky. I went with modding the case which turned out to be a relatively straight forward operation. The aluminium was relatively easy to drill and I actually used a hand drill to create the holes. I'd recommend clamping something to the inside of the case when you drill, this will help prevent blow out of the aluminium and save you some time filing the edges.

I used a mounting kit from EKWB to get the pump/res in place. This comprised 4 rubber feet which attached to the bottom of the pump top. The feet have recesses in them which allow for the included bolts to be attached. The pump then sits quite securely on the side of the case.

One note of caution, my biggest regret in completing this build was not paying enough attention when mounting of the pump and reservoir. The pump block I have is not square and unfortunately I managed to have the pump incorrectly positioned (rotated 90 degrees out) when I first drilled. Although I was able to redrill with the pump in the right place, it's annoying to have an extra four unsightly holes in the case.

Cable management There is not a lot of room for cable management in the ncase once you've got all your radiators. I ended up going with a set of custom cables from ensourced. The actual setup was as follows:

  • 24pin shorty + 250mm extension cable
  • 8pin eps shorty + 400mm extension cable
  • 6pin pcie shorty + 1500mm extension cable
  • 8pin pcie shorty + 150mm extension cable

On reflection, this wasn't the best approach. I wanted clean, straight cables but what I ended up with was more of a cable management problem than I would've liked. If I were going to redo the cables I'd probably go with the following setup (for the strix Z370-i and corsair sf600):

  • 24pin @ 250mm
  • 8pin eps @ 350mm
  • 6pin pcie @ 180mm
  • 8pin pcie @ 180mm

The shorties are a great piece of kit but they are pretty fragile and due to the space restrictions in the ncase you can end up needing to be quite firm when doing the cable management. They're also quite bulky. A full custom cable might not be quite as clean but it would make cable management significantly easier.

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Comments

  • 25 months ago
  • 3 points

I can't stop looking at these images. From the cable management to the colour combinations, this is absolutely inspiring!

  • 25 months ago
  • 2 points

Thanks for the kind works. It's certainly been a project of passion so I'm really glad to hear that some of that comes out in the finished article.

  • 25 months ago
  • 2 points

Beautiful. I love seeing custom loops in SFF cases. +1

  • 25 months ago
  • 2 points

Thanks gsaiz85, it was a lot of fun to build!

  • 25 months ago
  • 2 points

Absolute yummmm.

One of my favorite mini ITX case's, love water, parts are exactly what I would pic and pics are great, easy +1

  • 25 months ago
  • 1 point

Thanks for feedback Radox-0. I'm really happy with the end result too.

  • 25 months ago
  • 2 points

Really love the build. Cables look slick, and props on doing a cpu and gpu custom loop in an insanely small case. The only problem I have is that Noctua fan is a bit of an eyesore :/

That being said, a well deserved +1.

  • 25 months ago
  • 2 points

Beige you either love it or hate it. I'm not a huge fan (pun intended) either, but you can't knock the noctua build quality.

I've vaguely considering trying to hide the colour with some short of custom shroud but I've not done anything about it yet.

Thanks for feedback!

  • 25 months ago
  • 1 point

could always try taking the fan apart carefully and giving it a spray paint job. I do agree that the noctua fans have excellent build quality though, but also since it is a SFF build and in the NCASE M1 which from what I have seen doesn't have a window, I would stick with the beige color, as it is not something you would see unless you open her up.

  • 25 months ago
  • 1 point

Yeah, given that the internals are going to be hidden away 90% of the time there really isn't much call for trying to disguise that beige.

What I would like to try and do is take that existing colour and make it look awesome! What would you need to do to produce a build with those colours that people would look at and say "Wow, that looks amazing".

  • 25 months ago
  • 2 points

Maybe like a gunmetal or black and beige(which is similar to like a desert tan camouflage color) noctua fan could look pretty good with a larger case and that MSI special camo mobo.

  • 25 months ago
  • 2 points

bro that cable management made me orgasm

  • 25 months ago
  • 1 point

Thanks! To be honest I think props are due to Ensourced, plugin in and routing cables is one thing, but the quality of the work that Joey at Ensourced produces makes everything so much easier!

  • 25 months ago
  • 2 points

Ensourced?

  • 25 months ago
  • 1 point

Absolutely! They did an awesome job and I really appreciate the dedication they put in to getting things right

  • 25 months ago
  • 2 points

Completely agree!

  • 25 months ago
  • 2 points

Looking good!

  • 25 months ago
  • 1 point

Hi Upgrade, thanks for feedback, I'm pretty happy with the result too

  • 25 months ago
  • 2 points

i like everything except the fluid color

  • 25 months ago
  • 1 point

Hey SirHalpin.

Thanks for the feedback and I don't disagree. The colour isn't exactly what I'd planned on and is probably something that I'll change in the new year, most likely for a pink or purple primochill Vue.

  • 25 months ago
  • 2 points

ooOooooOooOOOooh sounds clean

  • 25 months ago
  • 2 points

I'd say move up that Primochill Vue purchase. It will be so worth it.

  • 25 months ago
  • 2 points

If only they weren't out of stock I'd have gotten the primochill in the first place, but we can't have everything. A clean of the loop in the new year (when stock levels rise) will be a good opportunity to see how everything is holding together and give me a chance to see if I can't clean up and straighten up the runs a little. May also invest in some more RGB, I hear it's all the rage!

  • 25 months ago
  • 2 points

Your build looks great! The Vue fluid would look amazing in there. Im going to replace the fluid in mine with some gray/silver Vue probably soon after the new year.

  • 25 months ago
  • 1 point

I absolutely agree. Just need to wait for the stock to come back in.

  • 25 months ago
  • 2 points

Great looking build! What do your temps look like?

  • 25 months ago
  • 1 point

Haha, thanks for the feedback! I've not really pushed the system to it's limits yet so things are pretty stable. At idle, after running for a good while the system (CPU/GPU) will settle down to about 38c. When gaming, and bear in mind that these aren't the most demanding games (Skyrim, NMS, Divinity2) The temps might creep up to 55c, but as I say I've not really stretched the system too much.

The system is currently configured to run quiet rather than fast so the fan curves aren't that aggressive.

When I get a bit more time I'll look to properly measure everything and then overclock the system but I'm happy with performance and temps right now.

  • 25 months ago
  • 2 points

Beautiful job! - You can tell from the condition of the frame that you really took some care putting it together. Bravo!!

Your cable work in particular really is a step up from what I ever managed to do with mine.

  • 25 months ago
  • 1 point

Thanks Chapeau! You've not seen the back of the machine, it's still a mess and needs a jolly good sorting out!

  • 25 months ago
  • 2 points

What a piece of work

  • 25 months ago
  • 1 point

Thanks Yahtadi!

  • 25 months ago
  • 2 points

All I can say is that is one hell of a good job. Looks fantastic, and super clean with the pipe and cable work...

  • 25 months ago
  • 1 point

Thanks vMax65, it's great to get positive feedback like this. Really appreciate it

  • 25 months ago
  • 2 points

very nice Pc you did a good job in a very small Pc

  • 25 months ago
  • 1 point

Thanks Blacksm1le. Appreciate the feedback

  • 25 months ago
  • 2 points

So I've made 5 computers (2 for myself) but I still have not made the jump to full on liquid cooling. I figured after I graduate (soon), I'll have a better budget to work with! When I do I'll definitely reference this build man thanks for all the details and nice work!

  • 25 months ago
  • 1 point

Hi Nyyte, thanks for the feedback, I look forward to seeing the results of your work! It's certainly true that watercooling is not the best thing for the budget conscious. I had to save for the best part of a year to do this build. On the plus side it gave me ample opportunity to think about what I was going to do.

  • 25 months ago
  • 2 points

Epic build but hideous color of the coolant, I guess if you like it you should keep it but in my opinion it looks kinda barf green

  • 25 months ago
  • 1 point

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder but you are not wrong, the colour is not quite what I had in mind and I'll probably swap it out in the new year. The only thing it has going for it is that when paired with the beige Noctua fans the build has a kind of Shrek palette to it.

  • 25 months ago
  • 2 points

nice ensource cables I was just looking at them, do you recommend them?

  • 25 months ago
  • 1 point

They're very good quality and the service is great too. Not sure I'd recommend the shortys in the Ncase though, spacing is at a premium and the shortys don't like to be man handled to much. I'd probably go with full custom cables if I were to do this again.

  • 25 months ago
  • 1 point

Why the brown fans? Why not some green LED fans or something else not completely ugly?

  • 25 months ago
  • 1 point

Hey supermattdab0ss. Great question, sff builds tend to be a lot more limited on space so I was restricted to using only 15mm thick fans. These tend to be a lot less abundant than their 25mm thick siblings, so you're quite limited when it comes to choice.

In the end I went with quality over aesthetics. I know that Noctua make great fans, and as much as I am not a fan of the brown/beige look I'll take the hit.

Out of interest, are you aware of any rgb/led fans that come in 15mm thickness, I'd be keen to check them out if you know where to obtain them?

  • 25 months ago
  • 2 points

Ok. I do not know of any 15 mm thick fans that are LED. I guess another option would be to paint the fans, but other than that I guess quality is more important

  • 25 months ago
  • 1 point

Indeed, and painting was something that I looked into at one stage but I didn't think the end result would be great. One thing I have considered is creating a shroud for the fans to mask the color (at least when seen side on).

  • 25 months ago
  • 2 points

Yes. Even some black fans would look better than those. I like the green coolent it matches your build well.

  • 25 months ago
  • 1 point

Thanks, I'm not a huge fan of the coolant tbh, but I agree that it matches the build pretty well.

  • 25 months ago
  • 1 point

Hi there! I’m thinking of doing something like this myself. I currently have my ncase with an AIO on both my GPU and CPU, and while it does the job, I miss doing custom loops! I’m just wondering after 2 weeks, how are the temps? And the noise?

Cheers.

  • 18 months ago
  • 1 point

Temps? Thanks bud. Great build.

  • 15 months ago
  • 1 point

Congrats on an amazing build, really never seen a custom loop on such a small case, really great job you did there.

Whats temps do you get on Prime95 / Heaven4?

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  • 25 months ago
  • 1 point

I was so close to getting the Nano S. But in the end the space restrictions pushed me to the ncase. I really admire the build that Paul (of Pauls Hardware) put together in the Nano S, I think it was called Hotbox 2.0.

It was a lot fun building in the case, daunting certainly, but with careful planning (and someone to copy) the process was pretty straightforward.

Good luck with your next build!

[comment deleted]
  • 25 months ago
  • 1 point

Water and electricity, what could possibly go wrong...

I was worried about doing a custom loop too, but the fact is that if you're careful and take your time, the process is pretty straightforward.

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  • 25 months ago
  • 1 point

Interesting. I'm keen to hear your rationale, what is it that has you heading in the other direction?

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  • 25 months ago
  • 1 point

Good points, I do like being able to route the GPU cables around the front of the case. Lends itself to a much cleaner look.