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X99 - i7-5820K - GTX 980 ti graphics - custom water cooled gaming rig

by elind85


Part List View full price breakdown


Date Published

March 31, 2016

CPU Clock Rate

3.3 GHz

GPU Core Clock Rate

1.102 GHz

GPU Effective Memory Clock Rate

7.01 GHz


I previously had these components in an HTPC case but I wanted to upgrade to water cooling so I moved to the Corsair Air 540 case which is cube shaped and has the space divided into 2 compartments with the rear space used for power supply, 5.25" drive bays and cable management.

This project was to go all out with a custom water cooling system. Prior to this, the graphics card was reading max temperature and downclocking itself so I wanted water cooling to keep it running nice and cool and have the cooling capacity for overclocking.

I used 2 XSPC Ex series radiators. They do not have caps on the top, so in order to bleed the system of air bubbles I had to run the loop while holding the reservoir upright with the fill cap off and wait for air to escape.

I used the XSPC Photon 170ml reservoir and D5 Variable pump combo. The build quality is great and the glass reservoir looks SO much nicer than the acrylic ones. The only downside is that the reservoir has no particularly nice mounting options. This being a cube case I didn't have room to have the reservoir mounted vertically so I mounted it horizontally to the bottom of the case using double sided velcro to hold it in place. I had to hold the reservoir upright while filling it, but once its full it can be run horizontally as long as the water level is above the pump in/out holes.

I placed a flow meter on top of the graphics card which has a wheel that spins with the water flow. This is really nice because with all the bubbles out you really cannot see whether water is flowing through the tubes or not other than physically feeling the vibration. The small LCD screen mounted to the top of the inside of the case monitors the fluid temperature.

I ran Unigine Heaven on Ultra Settings at 4K resolution for a while and the GPU core temp was only warming up to 35-43 deg c under full load. The CPU was at around 30-35 deg or so. That is the power of custom liquid cooling!! smile emoticon

Comments Sorted by:

nakaman 4 Builds 1 point 37 months ago

This looks nice +1

Mucky_Pup 2 Builds 1 point 37 months ago

I really like this one. Nicely done.

ThugginMcMuffin 3 Builds 1 point 37 months ago

this is very...interestingly laid out. still an awesome build homie. +1

elind85 submitter 2 Builds 1 point 37 months ago

interesting, how so?

ThugginMcMuffin 3 Builds 1 point 37 months ago

haven't seen anything like it before. Can't remember what that spiny thing is called (have not seen one in a looong time) the placement for it I have never seen like that.

elind85 submitter 2 Builds 1 point 37 months ago

oh, the flow meter.

ThugginMcMuffin 3 Builds 1 point 37 months ago

there we go, thats what I was looking for lol.

MannyPCs 1 point 37 months ago

Looks like a little filtration system you got in there. What are the temps?

Great build. +1

elind85 submitter 2 Builds 1 point 37 months ago

with everything but the GPU plugged in the fluid temp was at 28 deg c with the computer idling. Once I get everything going i'll post some temps of the core temperatures under load.

rightinthepope 2 Builds 1 point 37 months ago

This looks like it belongs in a spaceship

Radox-0 5 Builds 1 point 37 months ago

Great build here. Always got to +1 the custom loops.out of curiosity what sort of temps do you reach on the water.

elind85 submitter 2 Builds 1 point 37 months ago

with everything running at idle except the GPU the fluid was sitting at 28 deg c. Once I get the system up i will let you know how the temps are under load.

SpecificAlduin 2 Builds 1 point 37 months ago

-Custom water cooling

Wolfemane 7 Builds 1 point 37 months ago

Where did you put your fluid temp meter?

elind85 submitter 2 Builds 0 points 37 months ago

I don't understand the question, you can see in the pictures where I put it.

Wolfemane 7 Builds 1 point 37 months ago

safari and chrome are returning an error when trying to view your pics (happens sometimes on this site for me, no idea why) and I don't have access to a PC until im off work. I haven't seen a flow meter and temp meter in a water cooling system in awhile and enjoy reading/viewing systems that use them. I was curious at what position you placed your temp meter.

Worded better?

elind85 submitter 2 Builds 1 point 37 months ago

Oh ok. Thank you. I have the flow meter mounted into the top of the GPU waterblock using a male-to-male extender, then a tube from there up to the top radiator. Does that make sense?

Wolfemane 7 Builds 1 point 37 months ago

Yup! Thanks. Can't wait to see the actual system. Also can't wait to see some temps and results under heavy loads. Two radiators should be a decent amount to keep those components nice and cool.

elind85 submitter 2 Builds 1 point 37 months ago

The custom water cooling is pretty incredible. At idle the GPU is around 23 deg c depending on the ambient temperature of my room. I ran unigine heaven benchmark on ultra settings for a while and even with my radiator fans cranked all the way down the GPU only got up to 43 max temp and the various cores were going between 35-44 deg c.

EdInk 11 Builds 1 point 37 months ago

Mi likey! Big fan of the digital temp sensor uber cool.

NitroOG 1 point 37 months ago

Nice build.

jdeaki 1 point 34 months ago

Great build!

I too am building a gaming rig

Airflow in your system must be quite responsive to your CPU/GPU temps and performance according to your stats above.

I assume your top radiator is an intake, such as your front radiator is an intake. Please correct me if I am incorrect. I have been reading further on airflow, and many people have debated about which radiators should be exhaust or intake. I am intrigued by how you assembled yours.

Also a question on the back of the case with the T-splitter from EKWB fitting... Is that for draining the system? If so, what is the best way to drain the system? Should the T-splitter be placed at end of the system before entering reservoir?


elind85 submitter 2 Builds 1 point 34 months ago

hello, thanks for the message. Radiator fans should always be pushing air out of the case and into the room. However whether they are in a push or a pull doesn't matter. The only real difference is that fans in a push make it a lot more of a nuisance to clean the rad fins since dust from inside the case will be blown out through the rad. However with strong positive pressure this isn't a huge issue since almost no dust makes it into the case to begin with. If you had a pull then you can clean the dust off the rad fins from inside the case without a fan obstructing. My front rad happens to have the fans on the outside so they are pull, but my top rad has the fans underneath the rad so they are in push. With full water cooling you really don't need any airflow inside the case since there is nothing in there that heats up (excluding the CPU and GPU cores of course). I have one other case fan which pushes air out of the case. Creating such positive pressure will reduce the dust accumulation inside the case to almost zero. If you have negitive pressure, as in more air being sucked into the case than being pushed out, you'll get a lot of dust building up on your components.

as for the T splitter for the drain valve, you really need to have the drain valve at the lowest part of your loop. But it doesn't matter which order the components are in. There is no really simple/easy way to drain the system. It takes a lot of tilting the case various ways to get water to drain out of the rads and tubes. So far I have only drained the system once and that was to flush it to put new fluid in. I didn't get it 100% drained and I ended up just taking the fill cap of the res off and poring the res water out. A small amount of fluid will stay in the tubes because of suction and there's no way to empty it 100% without cutting the tubes and taking the system apart. That theoretically is safe to do since you use a non conductive fluid so even if a drop did get onto a component it in theory shouldn't cause any damage. That is a reason why you want to change the fluid every 6-12 months since with using distilled water, it will over time suck in the metal fibers from the waterblocks and overtime become conductive again.

mspring 6 Builds 1 point 33 months ago

Perfect build. Great job. +1

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elind85 submitter 2 Builds 1 point 37 months ago

i wanted the x99 platform to allow for future expansion, it having 40 PCIe lanes available and supporting up to 128gb memory. Also it has a m.2 ssd slot which I wanted. At the time that I was shopping this board was a good price and the reviews on it were good.