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.