Water Cooled PC

I built the PC from scratch to be a near silent, high end games machine. As such all components were chosen with that in mind. It started out with a Chieftec Dragon tower case. Plenty of space for mods and good sturdy steel chassis. In it's first incarnation the PC was air cooled using a variety of Zalman coolers. Additional dampening was fitted to the case using Akasa matting and a very quiet Fortron Source 350W PSU was utilised.

To further keep the noise down a Samsung Spinpoint P80 hard disk drive was used. These things are almost silent when mounted properly to minimise vibration transfer to the chassis. I used some anti-vibration rubber bobbins and bolted the drive through the bottom of the chassis. This solution allowed the PC to be transported and the drive was still inaudible.

Soon however I was craving more power. I upped the processor speed and had to re-think the fan arrangement also as there was not enough cool air flowing through the case. To combat this I cut a large hole in the front of the chassis to ease airflow, and made a baffle with two 12cm Panaflo fans in it running at 5v. To further optimise airflow I blocked off the top of the case with another baffle.

This set up lasted some time but it was still too noisy. So it was time to bite the bullet, pull out all the air cooling and fit water cooling. I used an Eheim 1048 240V pump as they're renowned as one of the quietest out there that still has respectable flow rates. It's mounted using the same style rubber bobbins I fitted to the hard drive to minimise vibration transfer to the chassis. The pump was connected to the same power block as the PC PSU to prevent one being powered on without the other.

The reservoir is a Typhoon Quad, dual 5 1/4" that's fitted with 1/2" brass barbs. I chose this specifically to sit at the top of the case to aid filling as it can slide forward a couple of inches on it's runners exposing the filling hole.

The CPU water block is a Danger Den Maze 4. It was chosen primarily because it works well in a low pressure system and the 1048 isn't as beefy as some of the other pumps out there. I'm not going to fit a water block for the chipset as I'm going to continue to cool that with the large fanless Zalman heatsink. The reasoning is not to impede flow and to adversely affect the cooling of the two hottest components in the system (CPU and GPU) by adding another heat source to the circuit.

Finally there is the Danger Den NV-68 water block. This thing is a work of art and cools both the GPU and the RAM. It looks to be of a very similar design to the other Maze coolers so should once again work well in this low pressure set up.

Popular opinion is to use a car heater core as the radiator. However I simply couldn't be arsed to go get one and fiddle about with it when there was something out there that did the job for me, fitted the gap I had and was available off the shelf. Idleness rules! The Black Ice Pro 2 is therefore in situ in the front of the case providing cooling duties. I went for the Pro and not the thicker Xtreme version because the low speed fans I'm using will struggle to pull air through the thicker rad and there will be no real cooling benefit without fitting noisier fans.

The whole system utilises 1/2" fittings and is plumbed together using ClearFlex 60 1/2" ID tubing, again for flow. It's filled with a 10-1 mix of distilled water and glycol based anti-freeze (to keep algi and corrosion at bay).

I've had a bit of a change around in the power department also. The FSP 350W PSU was been replaced with a 400W Nexus 4090. Basically a bit of future proofing while I had it in bits. Likewise I've swapped out the Panaflo fans with Nexus items that are even quieter due to their even lower RPM. They are mind bogglingly quiet so I've even kept the fans in the back of the Dragon to keep air flowing through the case. This should easily keep the chipset and HDD cool silently.

The results were awesome. Noise has been mostly eliminated. There is a bit of hum from the pump that is being amplified by the crap computer desk I currently have. But when it's stood on the carpet is is exceptionally quiet.

Final Specification
Case: Chieftec Dragon
Motherboard: MSI 865PE-NEO2-FIS2R
Processor: Intel Pentium IV 3.4Ghz 800FSB with HyperThreading
Memory: 2GB PC3200 CL=2 Non-parity DDR400 Crucial Ballistix
Graphics: 256MB Gainward Ultra/2400 Golden Sample (6800GT)
Sound: Sound Blaster 5.1 Digital (Cambridge Soundworks 5.1 speakers)
Hard Drive: Samsung P80 Spinpoint 80GB SATA150 (SP0812C)
CDRW-DVD: Samsung SM-352B
Power Suppy: Nexus 400W (NX-4090)

Air Cooling
Fan Controller/Temp Monitoring/RPM Monitoring: Akasa Fan Control
Northbridge: Zalman ZM-NB32J Cooler
Case Fans: 2x Nexus 80mm fans (SP802512L-03)

Water Cooling
Radiator: HW Labs Black Ice Pro 2 + 2x Nexus 120mm fans (D12SL-12)
Reservoir: Typhoon Quad
Pump: Eheim 1048
CPU Waterblock: Danger Den Maze 4 P4 Block
GPU Waterblock: Danger Den NV-68 Block
Tubing: Danger Den 1/2" ID ClearFlex 60

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