Build Day – We’ll only need one, right?
One of the best things about my PC building and gaming hobby, is the fantastic community that is built around it. Friends who not only play games, but enjoy getting together whenever one of us acquires new kit. When this happens we have a Build Party!
Attending this fluidic encounter were Benschmark (system owner), Shiftnplay (Tubing and Cabling Guru) and myself BakerMan bloke with some technical knowledge sporting one or two scars from cheap case builds back in the day.
Benschmark has been tempted to the damp side and gone with a custom water loop solution, along with theming a Star Wars Stormtrooper inspired black and white build.
This is purely a performance/cosmetic upgrade, coming from an already well specced rig, 5820K, Phanteks TC14PE 140mm Cooler, 16GB DDR4 G-Skill Ripjaws, MSI GTX970 GPU, EVGA Supernova 750 G2 PSU, 3 SSD’s all wrapped up in a rather nice Lian-Li case.
The new case, a rather gorgeous InWin 805 tempered glass OCD inducing polishing challenge.
Water cooling parts start with a huge White Black-ICE Sr2 280mm radiator, this is a beast at 60mm thick! XSPC ION Combo Res/Pump in White a bit of a budget combo and not the quietest, however I have been using one for a few months and am very happy with the performance. XSPC Raystorm CPU block in white, Black compression fittings (I will get to these later in the write up), white tubing, EC6 coolant which is staying clear, a fresh tube of MX4 TIM and a pair of the brand new Corsair ML140 mag-lev fans.
We run a birthday club within our group, the present for Benschmark being a core set of braided cables, PSU/MB/GPU in black and white.
Now we get to the pre-assembly, we have only done a couple of custom loops prior to this one, Air/AIO has been the mainstay previously. So when building a loop we put things in place for measuring up to cut the tubing, then once all the water parts are connected we take the loop out of the rig and away to be filled and leak tested.
The power supply bay only allows for the bottom mounted unit to be placed upside down, there seems to be no reason why a filter could not be created underneath, like the one featured under the front end.
The radiator mounting plate at the front does not support radiators that have multiple tubing port options as the Black Ice Sr2 does, this is going to require modding. Here we see the radiator not fitting flush with the plate.
Now for an issue that is happening to us for the second time. The XSPC ION mounting brackets are not suited for easy mounting in many cases I have checked out, they are simply too long in some cases and don’t have any adjustment to the angle meaning the Res/Pump mounts interfering with side panel installation.
The mod to fix this is not too difficult, we used two mending plates (similar to meccano) to drop the mount down a few millimeters to allow a more satisfying location for the ION.
Feeling ever so pleased with ourselves this is the point where we hit a snag ending our watercooling expedition on the first day, and it was all my fault since I had of course shopped for all the parts. I found some nice, well priced, black compression fittings, then went to find the tubing, called up Benschmark who reminded me he wanted white tubing, scrolled down the page and clicked without another thought. The size was wrong! Hanging my head in shame we went online to acquire the correct size white tubing, only it was out of stock pretty much everywhere, our intrepid Benschmark is a brave fellow, he just slapped his credentials in and grabbed a full set of EK fittings in the larger outer diameter size, quite the more expensive solution.
So I quickly grabbed my emergency BeQuiet Pure Rock cooler (you know in case my water cooling matches the skill used by the kitchen installers) and sent him on his way with a temporary solution while we waited through a bank holiday for a delivery.
Day 2 – Let’s Get This Thing Wet
First off Benschmark had gone ahead and sorted out the mounting plate issue with a couple of well placed holes drilled.
Once we were happy with where the tubes were going, everything came out again for filling with coolant and a good shake-about leak test.
That huge radiator made sure that we used about 800ml of coolant to fill it up.
After about 30 minutes of leak testing (I know some people like to leave these things for hours just to be sure, but we are maybe a little impatient 🙂 ) we assemble the loop back into the PC mounting the Raystorm CPU block properly with a small pea sized blob of MX4 in the middle.
We then switched on only the water loop and some LED’s that came with it to finally make sure it wasn’t leaking and didn’t suffer from any flow restrictions such as kinked tubing.
A note about the LED’s that come with XSPC kit, they are a fantastic addition but don’t always sit very well in the holes provided, there is nothing but the insertion pressure holding them in place, so do be careful not to have them fall out.
After another 10 minutes or so of running the loop and gazing in wonder upon our creation, we set about getting the machine ready for a proper boot-up.
Such a gorgeous case, no fan noise whatsoever the new Corsair ML fans look great and make hardly any noise, but I don’t think I could notice anything really different from them, other than the fancy tech.
Finally we did a little cable tie work and got the machine ready for its trip home.
Benschmark still has a little work to do, extra PSU leads (he forgot) are needed for 1xSata connection and 2xMolex connections (for the LED’s), he is also going to grab some braided SATA cables in the next few days.
We had a very successful build party. The story does not end here, in the coming weeks or months Benschmark intends to paint the shroud on his MSI 970 Gaming white to compliment the build and when the Red or Green team release the next big gamer contenders (Vega/1080Ti) he is looking to grab a water-blocked card and add it to the loop.
Long gone are the days when PC enthusiasts lived in basements and spare rooms, embarrassed to talk about their hobby for fear of social isolation. They are now fully out of the shadows and there’s enough around that anyone should be able to find enough like minded friends who at the very least wouldn’t say no to getting together for a beer or two while such a project was being built. I thoroughly encourage you to consider taking your next solo build and turning it into a social gathering, if for no other reason than to share the back-pain of bending over a case for hours on end, screwdriver in hand.
We really hope you enjoyed reading this as much as we enjoyed having our build party. If you have some thoughts on how to make a get-together such as this more successful, enjoyable and entertaining then let us know in the comments. For some examples on builds you can put together for a range of budgets, check this out.