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Water-cooling Windows 7 Gaming Rig

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First post, by FFXIhealer

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Gonna document what I've been doing with my Windows 7 rig. Since the internal PC components are effectively 11 years old at this point, they're getting along in age, yet still work.

Specs
CPU: Intel Core i7-860 2.8GHz stock (4c/8t)
Socket: LGA 1156
Motherboard: MSI Big Bang Trinergy
Video: 2x GeForce GTX 480 (SLI)
Boot Drive: 250GB Samsung 850 EVO SSD
Game Drive: 1GB Samsung 850 EVO SSD
Storage Drive: 3TB Seagate HDD
Case: Thermaltake Versa H26

Back in 2010, I bought a Swiftech 240mm radiator (dual 120mm fans), 30mm thick and never used it. I also bought a waterblock for my EVGA GTX 480 graphics card - also unused. I planned to EVENTUALLY do a custom water-cooling loop and I never did. First, it was stupid expensive. Second, I never really NEEDED the extra cooling since I never overclocked anything. But yeah, the CPU is using the stock Intel heatsink.

So what has happened since? I sold that 480 waterblock on Ebay and then turned around and bought a matching pair of EKWB FC 480 waterblocks, since I have two working GTX 480s I plan to SLI together. This is also why I had bought a $350 motherboard back in 2010. It gives me 32-lanes of PCI-Express to use effectively with the built-in NF200 chip.

Just over a week ago, I bought an EK Quantum Vortex CPU waterblock in Copper/Plexiglass and a 280mm radiator from EKWB (dual 140mm fans), but the rad was 45mm thick and with the 25mm thick Vardar fans I bought with them, it was too tall to fit into my case. It hit the top VRM heatsink and wouldn't slide into place. So yesterday I drove nearly 3 hours one-way to hit up a Micro Center that a week ago I didn't even know was there and I bought instead a Corsair 280mm radiator. THIS one was only 30mm thick and fit into my case just fine. I also bought EK's D5 pump and res combo unit.

So far, I've only mounted one of the graphics cards waterblocks, since It's not currently in the system. I also bought 4 low-profile hard-tubing compression fittings to go on the graphics cards so I can run them in parallel. I have to buy 16mm OD PETG tubing to put the two together. I'm thinking of doing the rest of the build in flexible tubing. I'm not sure I want to do hard tubing bends yet.

The 240mm rad is already mounted in the case in the front with a pair of Corsair SP120 fans pushing air through. The 280mm rad is now installed on top with a pair of 140mm EK-Furious Vardar EVO fans pushing air through. The two 120mm fans made noise at 100% speed, but it's NOTHING compared to those Vardar fans at 100%. Holy damn, dude. People complained about the GTX 480 blower cards making noise, but THIS is ridiculous! I have to put them at 50% speed to shut them up (they're fairly quiet at that speed now).

Give me a little bit more time and I plan to get the rest of the parts I need. I'm thinking I need a Corsair Commander Pro to control the fan curves, since my motherboard BIOS only supports setting fans to either 50%, 75%, or 100% and none of them are dynamic or respond to temperature changes. Not even the CPU fan is dynamic right now (it's always set to 100%). My plan is to go from Res/Pump to the two GTX 480s in parallel, then to the top rad for cooling, then down to the CPU, then to the front rad for cooling again, then back to the Res/Pump. I also plan to overclock the CPU to at least 3.6 GHz and I want to use as low a voltage as I can to stay stable... then slowly push up to find if I can do 4 GHz flat without burning anything up. This Big Bang Trinergy was built for overclocking, but the OC Genie function is garbage. It OCs everything, or course, but you get stupid-high voltages that way.

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Reply 1 of 20, by chrismeyer6

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This sounds like a great setup. I would love to see some pictures of it.

Don't get caught up in loop order as your gpus won't heat up your cpu. Go with the loop order that give you good runs with the tubes. Jayztwocents has some great videos on water cooling. I'm currently in the planning stages of liquid cooling mine and my wife's new builds.

Reply 2 of 20, by FFXIhealer

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Well, my plan is to do something like this.

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Loop Plan
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That's an image I threw together.

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Front of the case
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Full Case shot
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Pump and CPU Heatsink
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Front Radiator
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Reply 3 of 20, by FFXIhealer

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More pics, since I'm limited to 5 per post.

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PSU Shroud and Video Card
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Blurry Top Rad and CPU
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These are my video card heatsinks now.
8396d1274252831-vendo-waterblock-ek-per-geforce-480-gtx-fc480gtx_front.jpg

And this is the CPU block
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Reply 4 of 20, by FioGermi

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I never thought i'd see watercooling still semi modern ish components on this forum. Is time going by that quickly? Timey-Wimey!

Good luck with the build! I did a custom loop for my main PC and its been worth it so far as a cool-freak. Great temperatures 😁

Reply 6 of 20, by mastergamma12

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Oh that thing looks sweet. I was considering doing GTX 480 SLI on my Windows XP/7 rig but that would've required me to drop either my USB 3 card or my Wifi Card.

IKWX6Aj.png

The Tuala-Bus (My 9x/Dos Rig) (Pentium III-S 1.4ghz, AWE64G+Audigy 2 ZS, Voodoo5 5500, Chieftec Dragon Rambus)

The Final Lan Party (My Windows Xp/7 rig) (Core i7 980x, GTX 480,DFI Lanparty UT X58-T3eH8,)
Re: Post your 'current' PC

Reply 7 of 20, by FFXIhealer

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mastergamma12 wrote on 2022-04-25, 02:30:

Oh that thing looks sweet. I was considering doing GTX 480 SLI on my Windows XP/7 rig but that would've required me to drop either my USB 3 card or my Wifi Card.

Funny that you mention that... one of the primary reasons for water-cooling my 480s is to make them single-slot cards. I even got single-slot brackets for the cards. That will uncover the 2nd PCI-Ex1 slot that I can then use for my USB 3.0 Expansion card. It has two rear ports and an internal header that will allow me to connect the two front ports.

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Reply 8 of 20, by chrismeyer6

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FFXIhealer wrote on 2022-04-25, 13:04:
mastergamma12 wrote on 2022-04-25, 02:30:

Oh that thing looks sweet. I was considering doing GTX 480 SLI on my Windows XP/7 rig but that would've required me to drop either my USB 3 card or my Wifi Card.

Funny that you mention that... one of the primary reasons for water-cooling my 480s is to make them single-slot cards. I even got single-slot brackets for the cards. That will uncover the 2nd PCI-Ex1 slot that I can then use for my USB 3.0 Expansion card. It has two rear ports and an internal header that will allow me to connect the two front ports.

That's quite the good idea. The Fermi cards run hot and generally had sizable air coolers. Now you can better keep their temps under control and make use of your expansion slots. I have a sparkle GTX 470 and it's cooler is quite sizable but it does keep the temps in the low 60s. Hopefully this fall I can get all the parts needed to liquid cool mine and my wife's build and then turn my sites on my core2 duo xp build and get that liquid cooled for fun and maybe add some longevity to my 470.

Reply 9 of 20, by FFXIhealer

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I did a full dis-assemble and cleaning of my two GTX 480s a few years ago, including de-lidding the GPUs. I cleaned all of the old thermal paste off and used Thermal Grizzly Kryonaut (12.5 w/mk thermal transfer) on the naked GPU die before re-attaching the IHS down with some high-temp liquid gasket - basically a red rubber glue meant for sealing engine headers. Then when I reattached the massive heatsink, I used Arctic Silver 5 (~9 w/mk). I haven't seen either of the cards reach 70C since, even under load. I swear they used to get into the 80s back when I used them heavily.

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Reply 10 of 20, by chrismeyer6

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Awesome all that work paid off as I wouldn't doubt that your 480s hit 80 or more. Before I cleaned and repasted my 470 I would hit the mid 70s depending on the game. Now it'll hit the mid 60s. Where did you find water blocks for your cards if you don't mind me asking?

Reply 11 of 20, by FFXIhealer

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I don't remember exactly, but I knew that I wanted a PAIR of identical waterblocks so I could do the cooling loop in Parallel (water splits and goes through both cards equally). If the two waterblocks had been different, I'd have been forced to do Series on them (through one card, then through the 2nd after). I want to say it was off of Ebay, but since I can't see anything earlier than 2020 on my account, it wouldn't show anyway.

The first waterblock I had bought back in 2010 was a DangerDen block for the GTX 480. I remember it was black nickel on top and looked sweet, but since I couldn't find ANOTHER one, I had to sell it and get the other two. Besides, I really dig the bare copper look.

When you say you repasted your card, are you just talking about the heatsink or did you de-lid your GPU the way I did?

And man, did that huge IHS/Heatsink take a LOT of thermal paste. Luckily I had just enough Arctic Silver 5 on-hand to do it. I have since bought a BIG tube of Kryonaut. That stuff is like magic. It's extremely good at transferring heat without going into liquid metal and damaging my components. Has anyone else ever looked into this?

Thermal Grizzly Conductonaut (Gallium-based Liquid Metal) = 73.0 w/mk
Thermal Grizzly Kryonaut (ceramic-based paste) = 12.5 w/mk
Arctic Silver 5 (silver-particle in polysynthetic oil) = 8.9 w/mk
Arctic MX-5 (silicon-based paste) = 6.0 w/mk

Last edited by FFXIhealer on 2022-04-25, 15:59. Edited 1 time in total.

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Reply 13 of 20, by chrismeyer6

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I didn't delid the GPU I just changed the paste on the heatspreader. I used KPX a friend of mine uses that paste and he let me borrow his tube a two years ago when I pulled my card apart for cleaning.

Reply 14 of 20, by mastergamma12

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FFXIhealer wrote on 2022-04-25, 13:04:
mastergamma12 wrote on 2022-04-25, 02:30:

Oh that thing looks sweet. I was considering doing GTX 480 SLI on my Windows XP/7 rig but that would've required me to drop either my USB 3 card or my Wifi Card.

Funny that you mention that... one of the primary reasons for water-cooling my 480s is to make them single-slot cards. I even got single-slot brackets for the cards. That will uncover the 2nd PCI-Ex1 slot that I can then use for my USB 3.0 Expansion card. It has two rear ports and an internal header that will allow me to connect the two front ports.

Wow, now that I think about it, if I were to watercool 480s, I have a PCIe 2.0 4x slot underneath my first 16x on my DFI X58 UT Lanparty board.

IKWX6Aj.png

The Tuala-Bus (My 9x/Dos Rig) (Pentium III-S 1.4ghz, AWE64G+Audigy 2 ZS, Voodoo5 5500, Chieftec Dragon Rambus)

The Final Lan Party (My Windows Xp/7 rig) (Core i7 980x, GTX 480,DFI Lanparty UT X58-T3eH8,)
Re: Post your 'current' PC

Reply 15 of 20, by FFXIhealer

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I pulled the trigger on some items today.

3x EKWB EK-Quantum Torque STC-10/16 Compression Fitting for Soft Tubing (4 fittings per package, 12 fittings total)
EKWB EK-DuraClear Soft Tubing, 10/16mm (3/8" ID, 5/8" OD), 3 Meter, Clear
EKWB EK-AF G1/4" X-Splitter Fitting, 4X Female Ports, Black Nickel
EKWB EK-Quantum Torque Drain Valve, Black
Bitspower G1/4" Temperature Sensor Stop Fitting, Black Sparkle

Ok, so the soft tubing is for everything except the cross-overs between the two graphics cards. Those will be 16mm OD PETG hard tubing, but cut to fit. Those will bind the two cards together as a single unit.

The 4-way X-Splitter will be attached right after the pump so that I can install the temperature sensor on the back, the drain plug on the front, and then the tubing going out to the graphics cards straight left with the most direct flow.
This will not only allow me to monitor the temperature of the water coming out of the pump, but also allow me to drain the system easily for maintenance.

Getting the fittings early will allow me to begin doing mock-ups of all the tube paths. If I need 45-degree or 90-degree fittings, I'll be able to find out and order them. I also still need to figure out how I'm going to mount the pump/rad combo. I know it's going behind the front rad, but not sure how to hard-mount it yet.

Parts should come in in about a week.

Last edited by FFXIhealer on 2022-04-30, 14:24. Edited 1 time in total.

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Reply 17 of 20, by FFXIhealer

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Yeah, I was thinking about having a ball-valve with one of those push-on fittings in front to hook up a drain hose, but then I saw that EK had that push-pull valve. I can still put a fitting on it with a hose because I ended up buying 12 fittings and really only need 10. It's good to have extras, huh?

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Reply 19 of 20, by FFXIhealer

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Parts already arrived today. That was awfully fast. I got the 12 compression fittings, the 4-way, the temp sensor, the drain plug, and the 3m of soft tubing. I should get the straight connectors tomorrow. After that, I can begin mock-ups of the system and begin cutting, but I also still need the two PETG hard tubes between the graphics cards. I literally do not know what the distance between them will need to be, so I can't order them to spec. I'd have to get a tube and cut it to length. Or get someone to do that for me. I also still need the coolant.

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