Description

This PC lives in the front room so quiet is king which is why we originally went with the p180, then got carried away and started watercooling. This case is very tight if you want to keep things internal, and is not exactly spacious if like me you go with external rads. This .5 upgrade switches out the GPU for dual 290Xs and replaces the car AC condenser I was using for proper PC radiators, plus adds some bling such as LED plugs and strips.

While the condenser worked well for a CPU + 6870 it is restrictive and sealing it to the tubing was always problematic.

I removed most of the Noctua fans as the colour scheme is nasty. There is one left, mostly out of sight, in the top, vertical exhaust. The Aerocool fans now live in the front intake and rear exhaust positions. They are quiet and quite blingy, but Noctuas are a better quality package. I put one of the evictees into my NAS and the 4 year old rubber isolators were fine. In comparison, 3 of the Aerocool ones have already snapped.

Ambient air temperature is around 27C so with 2 290Xs and a heavily OCed 2600k, tonnes of cooling was specified to keep fan speed down. In hindsight I may have gotten out of control with dual 560 rads.

Each Rad has four 140mm Akasa Viper PWM fans, each set connected to a pair of Swiftech's 8-Way PWM Cable Splitter (room for expansion to push-pull just in case there was insufficient cooling!...). One splitter is driven from the CPU header, one from the first GPU header to allow software control and fan-curve tuning using familiar software such as Afterburner and AI Suite. The Vipers have good static pressure for radiator use, and reasonable airflow for relatively low noise.

The radiators obviously don't fit inside the case and hang down from the back of my desk. This gives up ~1 lpm compared to having them horizontal at the approx mid case level due to the extra head lift required out of the pumps, but this doesn't impact temps significantly. The radiators are also well placed to trap air and easy to bleed, plus the warm air keeps my legs warm. From the photo 8 you can see the problem with having the radiators horizontal at low level - Doha is extremely dusty.

After initially being paranoid at keeping the water temps down with aggressive fan curves I have relaxed them down 25% and only ramp up as the CPU passes 65C or the GPUs pass 50C. The radiator fans are essentially inaudible below 50% with the UPS fan and the room's AC running, but run as slow as we can to avoid sucking dust in where possible.

As there are ~3.5 litres of coolant shock loads are not a problem and with so much radiator coolant temperature drops quickly once load is removed. After a few hours of full GPU and CPU load in a 27C room, water out to the radiators is at 35C and inlet is 33C. Cranking the 8 fans up to 11 brings that down to 33C/31C but is too noisy for me.

The Kryographics waterblocks are works of art. and almost worth building a windowed case where you can see them. I fitted the backplate too knowing that it slightly adversely affects the GPU temp, but really helps keep the VRMs cool. After hours of heavy load, the VRM temp is comfortably under 70C.

Most of my fittings are Koolance and, with the exception of many of my QDCs leaking when disconnected, they have been fine. I'm using nozzle and barb rather than compression because I prefer the look, and it makes it easier to see if a hose is working loose. I did try some Monsoon fittings but cannot recommend them. The angled ones are difficult to screw in and the rotary mechanism is not good - one managed to loosen while I was working and drip into the PSU without me noticing. Cue a flash and very loud bang, and a requirement to buy a new PSU.
I also had problems with their LED fittings - one simply didn't work, two leaked, and another has a bad solder joint that has to be just right or the LED won't light.

The Koolance RP-452 (v1.3) bay reservoir works fine but is not that easy to bleed unless you have a killer flowrate. With the less restrictive rads I have dialed both D5 pumps to approx 3/4 RPM and still push 4lpm. Ath that speed they are inaudible. I'm using dual pumps in series for redundancy and as a legacy from my previous restrictive radiator. I also have a Koolance controller that displays flow rate from an INS-FM17N impeller and two thermocouples. That's been going years and works fine, except for moderate fading of the OLED matrix display.

The venerable p180 is still a good quiet case. Some of the plastic tabs on the side panels have snapped due to the lack of space behind the MB putting too much strain on them with the mass of cables now hidden back there but everything else is doing fine. A 1KW PSU is just too long for the lower chamber fan to fit which does raise HDD temps a little above what I would like so a fanless PSU of this size is not recommended.

Don't mind the crazy outlet tubing. Couldn't quite work out how to get the LED aligned with the outlet otherwise. That quad block also holds the outlet temp probe. On the inlet you can see the flow meter, block holding the temp probe and the 90 degree swivel block that also houses the inlet LED.

The loudest part of the system by miles is the UPS's 80mm fans but I'm not sure if I'm safe to mod that. They're almost as loud as the pair of 40mm Alpha 'screamers' I had on my dual celeron BP6 back in '99.

OS+programs are on one SSD; games on a Intel RST RAID5 volume across the 4 HDDs (recovered from a NAS upgrade), photos, downloads, junk, etc on another R5 volume. Since games are mostly sequential reads that array behaves like a 3 disk RAID0 array which is fast enough until Charm v3's SSDs. Write speed is however pretty wretched at around 30MBps. The second SSD, freed from another pc, is a manumatic SSD cache where I store the games I'm currently playing via junction points back to the RAID5 array.

images:
1+2: Kryographics Hawaii warerblock and backplate
3: filling and leak testing using an external pump
4: up and running showing the monsoon LED light injectors.  Not as bright as I hoped, but still pretty
5: original radiator placement - moved to vertical (image 7) because of  (image 8)
6: Aerocool fan at the mid point, matching LEDs in the lower drive bay
7: latest rad orientation - keeps your feet warm
8: nasty nasty mat of dust and cat fluff - dust filters for v3!
9: the glow
10+11: charm v2


History:
CHARM v1:   core2 duo E8400 @4GHz, 4870, SB XFi xtreme gamer, p180
CHARM v2:   -e8400, -mb, -4870, -RAM,  +Asus P8z67, +i7-2600k @4.8GHz, +6870, +RAM, +watercooling, +ssd
CHARM v2.5: -6870, +2x 290x, 2x rads, +bling, +2nd ssd
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Comments

  • 58 months ago
  • 2 points

I'd say Frankenstein would be a better name for the machine. It looks like something you'd see on a computer shop workbench. :)

The most important thing is performance/cooling, regardless of aesthetics, and it's obvious quite a bit of time was spent in achieving that. +1 on the build

[comment deleted by staff]
  • 58 months ago
  • 1 point

Hey, it's only the rads that are outside the case! :P And their fans.
And the fan splitters. And the power feed and PWM cables. Everything else fits in!...

If you want ghetto, there was a molex spare at the radiators so I ran that to an old case twin-LED fastened behind the monitor. That casts a red pool of light across the keyboard for night use, and is also a handy indicator that at least some of the fans should be spinning.