Name Scuba Steve due to the fact that this build is watercooled, both cpu and gpu. I wasn't going to do a long write up but then I thought about all the times I've loved reading everyone else's build write ups, plus it's my first foray into the world of watercooling. So most of this build was going to be purchased at Microcenter when my wife and I went to a concert where they have a MicroCenter. But I ended up finding the exact (almost exact, different mobo) build I was looking at for about 300 less ($600) than it was going to cost me from a guy who'd just built it but lost his job. So I'll go ahead and list my reasons for choosing what i would have gotten anyways.
CPU: Chose this as it would have been the same price as the 8350 and for what I do (gaming, media server) this will be perfect! On a side note, the guy I bought it from had delidded it already, so that was an added benefit that I didn't have to risk!
CPU Cooler: I've heard rave reviews about the H220 and loved the fact that it was expandable if I ever got more into it. Well that didn't take long! I found a guy selling an evga 760, waterblock, H220, resevoir, and tubing. He was upgrading to a full custom loop so I got that whole set up for $310, sold my original 760 for $200, hence the 110 price. I'll into more detail later about setting it up and getting it to fit the case, but take a look at my temps from this mornings quick tests using MSI's Afterburner and you'll see it keeps the gpu frosty under load!
Motherboard: This is my first motherboard that has a UEFI BIOS and I must say that I really enjoy it. There are a ton of options and I haven't explored everything yet but I only had the stock intel cooler til last night so I couldn't overclock with that. I'm not a huge fan of the gold but meh, no windows on my case so no biggie.
Memory: I ended up just reusing a 16GB (4x4) ram kit from my previous build. It runs fine and it's 16GB so I'm happy. I left the original memory in for pricing and reference.
Storage: I already had a kingston 120 SSD and a WD 1TB, so I got the OCZ and WD 500GB in the purchase. I use the OCZ for OS, kingston for games, and the other two for media, etc. Startup time is somewhere in the 10-15 second range.
Video Card: As mentioned earlier, I sold my original card because the waterblock wouldn't fit it (evga 760 dual sc w/acx). To me it's a wash since i don't use a second bios and the acx would be useless since I'm watercooling. Haven't gotten to OC this yet but I will how far it can be pushed.
Case: I really like the simplistic look of the 300R. From all my research I knew that I could fit a 240 radiator in the front with some small mods, but I decided i was going to top mount it if at all possible. I hadn't seen any one else do it so that was my challenge. I'll detail this at the end of the post. Other things about the case, came with two phanteks up front, a hideous gold (i understand trying to match the mobo but ugh) silenx rear fan, and 2 noctua f12's up top. Plenty of room for cable management in the back and I really like the toolless harddrive bays.
Power Supply: The power supply gives me more than enough juice to power everything I've got going. It's modular so that eliminates a lot of unnecessary wires hanging around.
OS: Legit copy of Windows 7 Pro included, works perfect.
Now for the watercooling adventure. I had to tear down everything to see if it would even be close to fitting the radiator at the top. Wouldn't you know it, it was gonna be super close, maybe too close. But I held it up there and determined it was going to clear the memory, heatsinks, cpu fan pin, and 8-pin cpu power by a hair! I ended up sliding the radiator as close to the front of the case as possible, while staying within the mesh top. I had to use some tin snips and cut holes in the mesh to secure the fans to the case. Once I did that I realized I should have connected the cpu fan before installing. What a pain! It took nearly half an hour just to get that dang thing hooked on, but I got it.
With the radiator installed it was time to move on to the cpu. I took off the stock intel cooler, cleaned both the swiftech and the cpu off, applied some GELId extreme (got for free on a shipping mixup), and secured everything properly. I then installed the gpu (he just left the waterblock on it so it was already installed) and determined where my resevoir would go. Next up was to dry fit all the tubing. I was able to use most of the same lengths of tubing that he sent, but made a few modifications here and there. Once everything was dry fit and in place, I filled up the resevoir and began lifting it up to fill up the loop. Once it was full I closed everything up and prepped for a leak test.
I didn't run into any problems with the leak test, other than my stupidity of not realizing I didn't plug the pump into the fan controller :P With that out of the way it was only a matter of adding some more water and getting rid of all the air bubbles. I hooked everything up and was good to go!
Ran a few quick tests with Afterburner to check on temps and no matter what I threw at it, the GPU never broke 47 C!
Things I've learned: 1. Don't use too much thermal paste! I made the mistake of being a bit too liberal with my TIM and ended up with some on the mobo causing a short. Fortunately I was able to figure that out and clean it up before any damage was done, but still frustrating to have it not work after all that effort. 2. Case mods are difficult to make them look good!
Thanks for reading!