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Watercooling Upgrade

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So I want to upgrade my watercooling loop (seen in my system specs) for my birthday. I think the biggest problem currently is the case (A CoolerMaster Storm Trooper) and not having enough cooling area (or radiators) for this ridiculously hot CPU. Something like a Case Labs S8 would probably solve my problems but I don't like the sound of spending $350 on a case. Also I need a better solution as far as drainging goes. This works well enough but it's somewhat annoying. So something like a T-Line would probably be a good idea as well.



1. Case

2. Radiators and fans

3. Larger reservoir and/or new pump



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Bumping for visibility. I'll probably take the question to a dedicated site but I was curious if anyone here had any thoughts.

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Hi Phazer - your system is very similar to mine - 4770k and 780 - so I can take you through the steps I used myself...


1. The normal advice is to count up the heat sources in terms of how many 120mm units of rad space they require. 1 for the CPU, 2 for a gaming GPU, 1 for the motherboard if cooled and 1 spare. Since you don't mention cooling your motherboard, that would add up to 480mm of cooling space as a minimum. The idea behind the spare capacity is no one wants their fans running flat out so by adding at least one extra fan, you can run them all slower and quieter. That will give you the minimum rads required.


2. You don't need a larger reservoir - that doesn't help with cooling as it is only there to trap air. I have an EK 140mm tube res. A single pump is OK for a single GPU but you want a reliable one. One of the branded D5 variants is advisable because they are dependable. You only really need a dual pump system if you have many GPUs or if the machine is business critical. Twin pumps in series means that if a single pump fails, the other will still keep the flow going while you arrange a drain down and replacement.


3. You only want a single loop since you only have the one CPU and GPU to deal with. In fact, even if you go for, say, 2x970s in SLI in the future like Neovalen, you still only need a single loop. Dual loops only come into play in bling builds or if you have, say, 3x or 4xGPU setups.


4. It doesn't matter how many radiators make up your surface area. 1x 120 and 1x360 will work the same as 2x240 or 1x480. You can mix and match 140mm rads in the loop with 120s without issue. Remember to wash out any new rads thoroughly with hot water, then white vinegar (to dissolve any flux residue) then more hot water.


5. Tubing comes down to your budget and aesthetics. Flexible tube is cheap but may leech plasticiser. Buy good branded tube. If you go hardline, you have three choices - straight acrylic with 90-degree elbows where needed, curved acrylic for which you need the heatgun bending kits and copper for which you need a tube bender.


6. Coolant - just use a quality branded premix and remember to replace it once a year as the biocide gets used up. Don't bother with pearlescent fluids as they have issues with pumps and residues.


7. Drain - you MUST have a drain. You will find that many good pumps and reservoirs have spare ports on them to run a drain off. Make sure the drain exits at the lowest part of the loop and has a good tap on the end.


8. Case - because you have an ATX board rather than an mATX board you do have to be careful with your case. As you said, an S8 is more than you want to spend but I can say from personal experience that they are a dream to work with. If you do choose a CaseLabs case, make sure you get the drop-in radiator mounts as it makes your job a LOT easier at build time.


9. Fans - don't bother with push/pull fans - just use 30mm, 45mm or even 60mm rads with fans in push only. Draw cool air in from the outside and allow the warm air to find its own way out.


9. Fan Controller - you may want to see if the budget will stretch to an Aquaero or Lamptron fan controller. I use an Aquaero 6 because I have fans split into several channels (case, push and pull) and it makes my configuration so much simpler.


My own machine is a bit of overkill because I had a cash windfall and didn't know how hot the 4770k and 780ti were going to be so I over specified... a lot! I have 2x360 60mm rads in push/pull which is way more than I need. At 100% GPU load, the GPU temp is reported at only 41C. At 100% CPU load the 4770K is reporting 45C at 4.5GHz.


The Aquaero allows me to set up multiple sensors so I monitor the difference between water temperature and ambient air and base the fan speeds off that. At idle I have case fans at 40% on a rising curve and the push fans on the same setting but the pull fans are off. At idle I have only a 4C difference between the water and the air. Once I start gaming, the water temp rises. The case and push fans speed up a little and once it reaches 10C over ambient, the pull fans start too. In Skyrim with an ENB at 1440p, I reach 13C over ambient - the water is about 35C with the air being about 22C.


I really do advise the CaseLabs cases. Sure they are premium but you will keep the case for the life of that form factor of motherboard. They are designed to be stripped for cleaning or even total rebuilds. Every screwhole or gap is carefully thought about and they are so well made. Spares are always available. DEMCiflex will do custom filters at a very reasonable price if you want dust protection or you could go filterless and air-blast your rads every couple of months.


That should give you something to think about.



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Well I have ~$750 I got from Christmas, plus however much I get from family for my birthday.

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