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First custom loop

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So, since the idea's been bouncing around in my head for several months with no sign of leaving, I've decided I want to install my first full custom loop in my system. Specs are as listed in my profile.

Very much in the early phases, but I figured I'd start a thread where all of my questions and ideas can be contained. I'm sure I'll have at least a few ideas that are terrible and/or stupid and I want this to go down right. Just a repository where I can continually dump bumbles, rants, dumb questions... so on. One part log, one part support group, heh.


As far as budget goes... I don't really have one. I expect that this will be costly. I don't have an infinite amount of cash to toss at this, but if I need to spend more, I kinda just see that as nothing more than a little bit more time. I can wait if it means I'm getting better stuff. I will cut zero corners to get what I need to have a really good finished product. I will buy whatever is needed for quality and if I can't afford it I will just have to wait. So I'm not looking to cheap out on parts, nor am I looking to take the easy route building it. I want the best possible result with the least possible limitations (within reason.) And I want it to look as good as possible. I'm strongly leaning towards glass tubing, too. Also worth mentioning, the 2060 probably will not be my last GPU - a higher-tier upgrade will happen at some point. So it may one day need to accommodate for a little more heat than now. While this is largely a looks thing, I do also want the best performance I can get... enough that playing with all-core overclocks on my 3900X is worth it. I want to cross that line with it where it fully surpasses what can be done on air, with something that looks cool.

Basically, I don't care much about the expense or difficulty curve... I will spend and learn what I need to in order to pull it off. I feel like I understand enough about the physics involved - and nothing in the process is new to me as far as skillset goes. I won't be so easily talked into going the easier/cheaper way. :D


I do kind of have ideas about what the loop will need to have. I'm sure there are some limitations with an H710 (size/airflow,) but I keep coming back to the look of it and access is pretty good - it's a great builder's case. I can easily reach front panel from all sides, top panel is removable, two decent reservoir spots. Both top and front panels can accommodate 360mm or 280mm radiators. I wouldn't bet on anything much thicker than 45mm fitting w/ fans, which to me is acceptable. The cable management bar is movable/removable... same as the HDD cage under the shroud. The shroud has holes that might help with pump/res mounting, as well as two of those slits for reservoir clips on the cable bar and next to the expansion slot bay. It won't take any giant reservoirs, but maybe it would do two small ones! Here's the layout.


I have some idea of what I want to do, but right now I'm just looking at what my options are. What are some good vendors in the USA? I've been looking for one-stoppers but it seems they're mostly brand-segmented. If that's just how it is I will order from different vendors, but because of that, I'd need to know what parts are good from who. What products/brands should I be looking out for when it comes to performance? I have no idea where to even start shopping.

What would an experienced liquid cooling builder be considering doing if they were me? I only know a few things for sure.

I want to go dual-rad - probably 30-40mm (I probably can't go much thicker than 45mm.) I was thinking a 360 up top and a 280 in the front. I could put another 360 in the front, but I'm considering using that lower space for a pump and/or res and/or drain. What really is the rule on thickness? I don't think I'd want to use a slim rad, but thinner might be better in my case, simply because of the slightly restrictive airflow to the rads. I don't want to have to compensate with louder, higher-pressure fans. Not sure... but ideally I want the thinnest possible while still having enough radiator-real-estate to more than cover all of the heat from my components - a good bit of headroom might be needed for a higher-powered GPU, or pushing a 3900X-manual-OC (which amounts to a ton of heat.) Really like some input on that... maybe some suggestions on what to look at buying. I say all of this stuff, but if I have to get thicker radiators and shell out for the higher-end fans to keep it quiet while moving enough heat through them and the case openings, I'll still do that.

Also, how does fan direction work in a loop with top and front rads? I'd assume I'd want the top to be exhaust and the front to be intake... right?

Single pump/res (a smallish combo unit would probably work best - though I could mount a discreet pump down below the front gap in the PSU shroud.) I'm not sure there's anything small enough to fit in that rear spot but one way or another I'm sure there's something that'll fit up front. I could even be special and clamp one sideways to the shroud, with the pump again down in that front gap in the shroud. Since it's responsible for two blocks and rads, it obviously needs to be a good pump. I'd be curious about which pumps are best for this type of loop. Combo unit would be nice, but if I have to run a discreet pump to have one that's decently powerful but not ridiculously loud/unreliable, so be it. My concern is that pump on one of those really small combo units might not be good enough. If I have to keep them separate with a large pump and small discreet res, that's fine. I'm also assuming one really good pump is enough. I'd rather not have two discreet loops for the sake of not overcrowding the build. As far as a res goes, I don't expect to use anything very big... mostly just gonna be a fill spot. It'd be cool to be able to find one that fits in that little rear spot. A bigger one might not fit in the cable bar spot anyway, as my GPU is triple-slot and starts to just in front of it. Again, any suggestions of what to look at would be appreciated.

Blocks, I can kinda work out myself. I need an AM4 block and a full-cover GPU block compatible with my specific card. Are EKWB blocks any good? I saw a couple I liked. But I haven't looked much into blocks, yet. The EKWB ones seem a little overpriced, though they look really great. I'm sure there are other people making good blocks out there.

Also, any information on glass tubing and good fittings for glass would be much appreciated. I know how to cut glass tubing and I understand how sizing works with all of that stuff. I just don't know where to get what I need or what to look for.


Any advice or tips are much appreciated, too. Even general stuff... things relating to the whole process, features and design aspects to add to your loop for easy care, potential problems with certain things, good practices and all of that. But what would really be a huge help right now would be just having some places to look at stuff... just browse for parts so I can start to work up a big picture and start plotting out the build.
 
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That's a lot of questions my man!! You're going to love your new custom loop build and the superior cooling advantages.

So what I look at is the waterblock. You want something that's heavy, lots of copper. Raystorm Pro would be one to consider, and that would be my bottom line.
So depending on how serious you want to get and how much money to throw at a custom build, it'll be pretty much a forever build. You'll use it likely far into the future as long as they release brackets for future chips. So a top end waterblock would look like this https://www.aquatuning.us/water-cooling/cpu-water-blocks/cpu-water-blocks/22585/aquacomputer-cuplex-kryos-next-with-vision-am4-nickel/.925-silver?sPartner=googleshoppingusa&gclid=CjwKCAjw8ZHsBRA6EiwA7hw_seQTSBrIZhA_-7cEkn27PvMuCiEr4MgEI3P_ldF0f7UFWKvW56eEORoCNsoQAvD_BwE
That's nickle plated silver. I'd lap the nickle off the base.
1014542-1.jpg
Aquatuning is a site I frequent with a rather long wish list lol. There's a few other venders, this one is a favorite.

So radiators. Well you want to look at full copper and fin density and passes. The more the better.

Tubing size is a matter of preference in most cases. Hard tubing looks cool, makes for a fun challenging build.

Pumps. Well there's a lot of choices. I recommend variable speed with high GPM. Look around and find the top 3 choices pick one.

You want to build with a list and let people tweak it for you. A standing budget helps a lot, or we can really get crazy and build you a very top end custom loop with all the bells and whistles. :D
 
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INSTG8R

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Aqua Computer user here I second Shrimps Block recommendation.
 
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Thanks.
Here's a TPU review

 

INSTG8R

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Thanks.
Here's a TPU review

If I didn’t already have an OG Cuolex Kryos I’d have me one of those :love:
 
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exciting stuff... that's a nice case for a loop too! Tons of space and options

If you're going to over-rad it like that make sure the pump has enough head to push through two rads and two blocks, I would also set both rads as intake and let the exhaust fan do its thing.
 
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Regarding the 360 and 280 rads...

I just wanna mention that you probably don't want to do that unless you absolutely have to because you'll be undersized on air intake. If you go push on both rads you won't have enough intake. If you go push on one rad and pull on the other it'll be recirculating used air and reduce potential performance levels. Stuffing the case full of rads never ends up with an ideal scenario.
 
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Regarding the 360 and 280 rads...

I just wanna mention that you probably don't want to do that unless you absolutely have to because you'll be undersized on air intake. If you go push on both rads you won't have enough intake. If you go push on one rad and pull on the other it'll be recirculating used air and reduce potential performance levels. Stuffing the case full of rads never ends up with an ideal scenario.
Yep. Modded many side panels because of this!
 
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That case design does not promote the best airflow, so if you're installing 2 radiators than consider modding the panels to increase airflow.
 
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Here is an US-Shop where you can buy Aqua Computer and Alphacool Products:

I would go for a big tower when doing water cooling. I did my first custom loop in a mid tower too, the Fractal Design Define R6 and the components fit, but it get's a little narrow ;-)

- Case
So my next case for water cooling will be the new Phanteks Enthoo Luxe 2, or Enthoo 719 cause they had to rename it:

You have plenty of space also for bigger radiators and it looks nice in my opinion.

- CPU Cooler:
I have the Aqua Computer Cuplex Kryos Next with Vision and I love this cooler, cause it has an LCD display to show you infos to water temp/CPU temp/GPU temp and so on. You can setup this cooler with a software of them, the aquasuite, which you get for free when you buy this product. The temperature is no problem at all, I don't get past 65/66 degrees with my OC Core i7 8700K@5 GHz with it.

That's the AM4 cooler from their german site, but perhaps they also deliver to US or you can get it in a shop there

Or you get an EKWB CPU Cooler, they also make premium water cooling products and they deliver to US:

- GPU Cooler:
I have a Phanteks Glacier full water block and it works very good. Max temps of my RTX 2080 of 51/52 degrees even in Benchmarks like Firestrike or Superposition. In Games mostly in the 40s. If you buy a RTX 2060 then get an Asus Rog Strix model as the Phanteks cooler fits to the PCB.
The Phanteks cooler look also very nice and it also fits for the RTX 2070 ROG Strix Models. They have a compatibility list on their site where you can see what block fits to your card.

EK has also a water block for the RTX 2070 Asus Strix (fits also for some ROG Strix 2060 Models):

Unfortunately, you have the biggest selection of full water blocks at the time with an RTX 2080/2080Ti model...

If AMD is also in your consideration then EK has several water blocks for the RX 5700/5700XT Navi models:

You also have to consider if you need a back plate or not. Not every full water block is compatible to the factory back plate. Then you either do it without back plate, as back plates are often only for design or you buy a back plate for your water block, in example EK:

- Radiators:
I have 2 slim radiators from EK and they do a great job. Only 27mm diameter one 360mm and one 240mm. The 360mm is in the front pulling air inside, the 240mm rad is in the top pushing air outside. As warm air goes up I decided for this arrangement.
This is the coolstream radiator series of EK:

Another company making great radiators is Alphacool with their NexXxoS Line:

- Pump:
I have an D5 pump from Aqua Computer with tacho signal and PWM signal, so you can set the pump speed with the aquasuite software. You can mount it under a reservoir or you use a pump case, I have one from EK:

The solution to mount it under a reservoir is the space-saving one:

- Reservoir:
Must fit in your case, so the case mostly decide which reservoir you can take. There are plenty of companies out there making nice reservoirs, I have one from EK:

But there are many more, very nice looking is also the Glacier from Phanteks:

It depends also of your decision to mount the pump at the reservoir or to use a stand alone pump. If you use the latter one you can use every pump and reservoir combo, if you want the first one you can either use a D5 pump or a DDC pump. The phanteks reservoir only takes DDC pumps to mount on for example.

- Tubing:
Belongs to you if you use soft or hard tubing. The result is the same but in my opinion hard tubing has the cleaner look. If you decide for hard tubing you must choose between PETG or acryl. For both you need a heat pistol to bend. PETG needs not so high temps, 150-200 degrees are sufficient to bend, for acrylic you need 350-400 degrees. For acrylic you also need a saw to cut, you can use iron saws and sandpaper to smooth out your cut zone. I have EK 16/12mm acrylic tubes, but next time i will use 12/10:

- Fittings:
I use EK hard tube fittings and they do also a great job. No problem with leakage or so, didn't loose one ml in nearly one year now.

- Some considerations:
You also need a drain valve when you want to drain your water. I use a Bitspower valve, it's best assembled at the lowest point in your system. A system to control your radiator fans according to your water temp would also be nice. I have an aquaero 6 LT USB system from Aqua Computer:

Some facts to radiators:
You get better cooling with thicker ones but then you also need air coolers with higher static pressure. If you are using thinner radiators static pressure is not so important. If you use two radiators then one should take air inside and the other outside. According to tests it makes nearly no difference if you use push/pull, push or pull at one radiator. Push/pull has the downside that your rad gets very thick as you need air coolers on both sides. It also makes no difference how the radiators are arranged. In my system water goes from the reservoir to the pump, then to GPU, then to CPU, then in top rad, to the front rad and again in the reservoir. Many people ask if it would be better when water goes from reservoir to GPU, then to first rad, then to CPU, to second rad and again in reservoir. According to tests that makes no difference. CPU gets not higher in first case or lower in second.
There are also so called XFlow Radiators where intake and outtake are at the opposite end of the rad. For example one Alphacool XFlow Rad:

According to tests it makes no difference if you use an XFlow rad or not but perhaps it would be better from design to work with XFlow rads cause you need less tubes or so. Some XFlow rads also have two connectors on one side so that you can use one of them to assemble a drain valve:

Here are some pics of my system:

- Pump with drain valve:


- CPU Cooler Kryos Next Vision:


- Radiator Top:


- GPU Cooler:


- Reservoir:
 
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If you want to go with a loop and are using a AM4 or Intel system the Alphacool Eisbaer are a great way to start. The Eisbaer is a CPU AIO that comes with quick connect adaptors. You could easily add a GPU(or 2) to the block with any GPU waterblock.
 
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