Description

Sorry for the long description. Just wanted to make sure that anyone planning to mod their graphics card had a resource to refer to!

After meticulously selecting all my components, I was excited to put this beast together. It was harder than I thought it would be since I liquid cooled both my CPU and GPU with AIO coolers. I made sure to choose parts based on value; components that would be somewhat future-proofed but economical in a sense and not be considered too overkill for my non video/image editing purposes. Took advantage of the holiday sales/discounts as much as I could. I expect this rig to have great overclocking potential in the future. Installing all the components was most straightforward but did come with some issues that required finessing.

I originally wanted to use the Cooler Master N200 Chassis for its compact yet highly efficient design, but eventually settled on the Corsair 350D Window since it would be more conducive for installing an H100i. The Cooler Master N200 would have forced me to place the H100i radiator at the front of the case, using the hot CPU air as intake for the rest of the components. Although not as compact as the former, it's compact enough to be placed on a desktop with the bonus of side panel viewing of the rig. I was also planning to purchase a 750W power supply but found an incredible deal on the 850W version.

The Corsair 350D allowed me to plan for the H100i to be exhausted from the top of the case which gave me the idea to mod the MSI R9 290X Lightning with an H55 as well. I didn't know if this chassis would have worked out for this setup perfectly but fortunately it did. Ordinarily you'd see the H100i radiator hoses traveling to the left/back of the rig, but I had to flip it to the right to allow room for the H55 to be exhausted at the back of the case. It's also more aesthetically pleasing since the lit up Corsair logo on the H100i pump is better displayed with the hoses out of the way. This hose placement worked since I didn't have an optical drive taking up room in the large drive bay.

After all my research about case fan optimization, I ended up trying to go with a balance pressure system as much as possible versus a negative or positive air pressure setup. The case made it very easy and the included dust filters were just what the doctor ordered. The front 2 fans are serving as intakes with two 140mm AF120 fans. I chose to use SP120 fans for the radiators exhausting air out of the case since they are supposedly better than the AF versions in push configurations. I would have chosen AF fans for a pull configuration but wanted to display colored fans within the side display. For those of you who don't understand push/pull, Push is when a fan blows into a radiator and Pull is when a fan blows air away from a radiator. I've even seen rigs with both push and pull which seems like overkill. Performance-wise they are mostly the same with Pull having an advantage since it would be easier to clean dust from the radiator as opposed to Push blowing dust directly into the rad. One thing to note about the radiator: it is very easy to damage the fins of your radiator if you're not paying attention while screwing them in. Although it won't render the component useless (as long as you don't accidentally drill into the water lines), one should pay attention to the screw length and use washers when possible. I even bought some additional screws/washers for this purpose.

The GPU mod was the most "exciting" part of this build since I wasn't able to find any build on PCPartPicker or on any other forums of someone successfully modding the MSI R9 290X Lightning with the NZXT G10. I chose a Blue G10 as it most closely matched by color scheme (even though it's not a perfect match). I even bought some blue thumb screws to replace all the black ones that came with the Corsair 350D. Removing the stock fans and heatsinks was easily done with just unscrewing. One should note that this will force the breaking of the warranty seal on the middle screw so be warned. The additional metal plates also detached without major issues. A great thing about this card is that MSI provides an additional metal plate/heatsink to be installed for cards that are modded for liquid-cooling blocks. It covered up most of the VRMs which allows the stock G10 fan to cool the VRMs better. I did NOT need to buy Gelid Icy Vision Enhancement Kit for 290X's. However, I did buy 16x Copper Heatsinks for the VRAMs as they were not attached to any heatsinks. I chose to buy new Akasa thermal adhesive as the stock adhesives on the Copper Heatsinks are horrendous. The Copper Heatsinks were added for extra insurance but apparently is not absolutely necessary. Note that 4 of the Copper Heatsinks do make contact with the MSI provided metal plate for additional heat transfer. I connected the G10 fan directly into the video card fan header by using a Gelid 4-Pin PWM adapter.

I opted to remove the stock thermal pastes from both the H100i and H55 and applied the Gelid Solutions GC Extreme for its wonderful reviews. Just make sure not to put too much, only a small dab is necessary. The G10 wasn't exactly fun to install but was straightforward. The downside to modding this graphics card was that it was sagging when placed onto the motherboard. The card is very very long and the mod doesn't provide a long metal support structure like the stock fans/heatsinks do to prevent bending or sagging to occur. Although I didn't try installing the card with just the stock fans so don't know if that's entirely the case. Anyways, I decided to run the power cables above the card and twist tied them to the SSD drive bay to hold up the card better. I also used the hard black foam that came with the MSI card, cut it to length with a box cutter and used it as a prop to support the weight. It's not a perfect solution but it works well and is pretty discreet. I've seen others use fishing lines tied to the top of the case, black legos supporting sagging cards from the bottom etc. I liked the foam/twist tie idea since I didn't have to buy anything else.

Lastly, the fan controller made it possible to power all of the fans without buying any adapters or splitters to fit them all on the motherboard. I connected all the case and radiator fans to the NZXT Fan Controller and it works like a charm. One should note that this requires manual adjustment of the fan speeds (great since you can better control noise) as they are not connected to the motherboard or graphics card. Although the instructions suggested that I connect the Fan Controller temp sensor to the base of the CPU, I decided not to risk messing with the CPU. One could potentially place the temp sensor at the base without affecting contact with the heatsink but was more trouble than it was worth. The included yellow adhesive that came with the Fan Controller was terrible and wouldn't adhere. I decided to just use discreet black electrical tape and placed it on the chassis to monitor the temps inside the case.

As you may notice, I chose mechanical keyboards with Cherry MX Brown switches and couldn't be happier. They are a joy to type on. Since this is my very first build, I was eager to post it ASAP. I plan on adding more pics or info later including Load Temps. Thanks for reading. Cheers!

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Comments

  • 62 months ago
  • 1 point

Awesome build man!

  • 61 months ago
  • 1 point

Thanks!

  • 62 months ago
  • 1 point

Very cool! Just ordered my parts yesterday, got the Lighting card for $350, glad I ordered yesterday. Hope you like your GPU! Very ambitious for a 1st build, kudos! Dan

  • 61 months ago
  • 1 point

Thanks Dan!

  • 52 months ago
  • 1 point

How did you plug in the nzxt fan controller into this motherboards?