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 Post subject: Upgrading my 3D Test PC with Koolance Exos 2.5 Water Cooling
PostPosted: 03 Jul 2010, 15:50 
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A few weeks ago I had the good idea to upgrade my 3D test PC with water cooling, because the summer was coming ant the temperatures were starting to rise. And anyone with a high-end video card knows that with high ambient temperatures and heavy load because of playing demanding games, especially in stereo 3D mode. And unfortunately the high temperatures come with more noise coming from the air cooling, so going to water to get better cooling and quiet computer seems like a good idea, don't you think?

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And because the original idea was just to add water cooling for the CPU and the GPU, I started with looking for a good external unit that has the water pump, cooling radiator and the fans outside of the case. The reason for that being that the Chieftec case I had did not have a lot of space inside for installing a bigger radiator (just one 120mm on the back and that is just not enough). I was researching different solutions, including passive convection radiators, water towers etc, and the final decision was to go for Koolance's external Exos unit - the 2.5 model that has triple 120mm fans and a 3x120 radiator. The idea with that was to get the unit run at reduced capabilities to achieve silent operation while at the same time to have more than enough cooling power to keep the hardware at low temperatures even after long hours of maximum load. Another important reason for choosing that was external water cooling unit was because its size was just about the same as the top of the Chieftec case I used, so the combination seemed just perfect, making the whole computer still quite compact and easy to move, unlike with some other external water cooling solutions I've seen.

Of course the Koolance Exos 2.5 unit contained all the external parts for the water cooling system - the fans, radiator, pump and reservoir, but the rest in the form of fittings, water blocks and tubing needed to be decided on as it is completely custom. So I've ordered all the needed parts and started building the water cooling upgrade, but somewhere during that process I've also decided to go for building a second high-end system with a completely custom water cooling solution starting by choosing a nice and big enough case, but the worklog for that will come after finishing with this one.

So the ATI/AMD-based 3D test computer was ready to finally get the more serious attention that it needed for quite some time, and the water cooling upgrade was just an excuse to do that. And so the that was the general idea upfront, but meanwhile the things did not turn out quite as good as expected...


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 Post subject: Re: Upgrading my 3D Test PC with Koolance Exos 2.5 Water Coo
PostPosted: 03 Jul 2010, 21:11 
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This is how the system looked before the upgrade, I did a lot of changes, upgrades etc. without having the time to rearrange everything and I frequently postponed the maintenance part, but the water cooling upgrade gave me the excuse to finally do something with the PC. You can see that the cables are a real mess, and since I' ve been using the 1KW PSU for quite some time it was one of the first of its kind when it came out it was not modular and the power cables became a bit of a mess...

Here are the basic specs of the system:
- Radeon 5970 Video Card
- AMD Athlon II 620 CPU (Quad Core)
- Gigabyte GA-MA790X-UD3P Motherboard
- 4x2GB DDR2-800 MHz Super Talent RAM
- 300GB Western Digital Velociraptor System HDD
- 2TB Western Digital Green HDDs for storage
- Fortron Epsilon 1010W Power Supply
- Chieftec Mesh Middle Tower Case
- Auzentech Prelude X-Fi Sound Card
- Scythe Ninja Air CPU Cooler
- Pioneer Optical DVD-RW Drive
- iMon 2.4G DT Remote Control


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 Post subject: Re: Upgrading my 3D Test PC with Koolance Exos 2.5 Water Coo
PostPosted: 03 Jul 2010, 21:27 
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The Scythe Ninja is a very good air cooler that can manage to cool down the CPU very well with a silent fan, but when considering to go to water cooling it will be a shame to just water cool the CPU, so the CPU has to get the water treatment too... ;)


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 Post subject: Re: Upgrading my 3D Test PC with Koolance Exos 2.5 Water Coo
PostPosted: 03 Jul 2010, 21:36 
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I've decided to paint the different expansion cards' backplates in black, it looks much nicer, although inside the Chieftec case is more like silver (not exactly) than being black... As you've probably noticed this PC is not exactly with matching colors of the hardware, but I did not want to go to such extents here, especially since the case doesn't have any acrylic windows anyway. The original idea was just to get the system up to date with a water cooling for the CPU and the GPU, but things never go so easy...


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 Post subject: Re: Upgrading my 3D Test PC with Koolance Exos 2.5 Water Coo
PostPosted: 03 Jul 2010, 21:50 
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I've started by adding the water block to the video card, the Radeon 5970 is a quite big card and it needs a good and effective air cooling in order to provide good balance between an effective cooling and not so noisy operation. But going to water cooling means much quieter operation while maintaining lower temperature, it is a win-win situation, but unfortinately not for your budget... ;)


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I've decided to go for a water block from EK Water Blocks, in this case it was the 5970 water block from copper with nickel coating and transparent acrylic top, so that you can see the fluid inside and a black backplate for the other side of the card.


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The backplate form EK for the Radeon 5970 is not needed specifically, as you should be able to use the backplate fromt he original air cooling, but I've liked the EK blackplate better. And it is needed to have a backplate because the card has some memory chips on that side too, so they need some cooling. Another good point in using a backplate is to have the card more steady and not giving up to the weight of the water block as it is indeed quite heavy, but the EK backplate unfortunately does not cover the complete back of the card and it should've been better if it did cover it fully...


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The Radeon 5970 card with the water block looks really great, and the painted in black backplate is great too, but unfortunately the backplate is for two slots and with the water block the card actually takes up just a single slot, but anyway that is not an issue.


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 Post subject: Re: Upgrading my 3D Test PC with Koolance Exos 2.5 Water Coo
PostPosted: 03 Jul 2010, 22:01 
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After the video card's water block comes the one for the CPU, here it is again from EK Water Blocks - the EK Supreme HF which is again a copper cooler with nickel coating and a transparent acrylic top. This water block is one of the best with a really good price/performance ratio (probably not the topmost performing one, but the look and flexibility is also important).


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Installing the backplate of the water block at the bottom side of the motherboard to ensure stability of the cooling solution at the top side... here you can be creative as well as sometimes the instructions do not have the best possible option presented and this can vary depending on some specifics of the motherboard you may own.


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After replacing the default bracket on the top of the water block as by default the one for Intel is installed with the one for AM2 sockets it is time to try how the water block fits on the motherboard... it certainly looks nice.


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 Post subject: Re: Upgrading my 3D Test PC with Koolance Exos 2.5 Water Coo
PostPosted: 03 Jul 2010, 22:04 
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Getting the motherboard back into the case with the water blocks on the CPU and the GPU, the wholes for the fittings at this point are covered with masking tape in order not to get dust inside while working on the other parts of the system... at this point everything still looks like a real mess... ;)


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 Post subject: Re: Upgrading my 3D Test PC with Koolance Exos 2.5 Water Coo
PostPosted: 03 Jul 2010, 22:10 
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It is now time to start working on the tubing part, planning and cutting the needed pieces and deciding on what fittings to place at each point in order to have the optimum flow of the cooling liquid inside the system. The tubing I've used was Nalgene Type 180 tubing 12,7/9,5mm (external/internal diameter) with the idea to have the tubing pass through the Koolance backplate from outside to the inside of the case and respectively the fittings used were 13/10mm to 1/4" to match the tubing... Of course some of the things planned beforehand turned out to be a bit different so the planning stage was not exactly the same as the building stage, but I was prepared to be flexible by having more than needed tubing and from the different fittings - straight, 45 degrees and 90 degrees...


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 Post subject: Re: Upgrading my 3D Test PC with Koolance Exos 2.5 Water Coo
PostPosted: 03 Jul 2010, 22:20 
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As I've mentioned I did some planning beforehand and ordered the required components based on that, but when building the actual thing you need to be prepared for some surprises as there are always some things you forgot about or did not anticipate. So another planning on how to make the loop with the real components available is done and according to that the needed fittings are being placed. Starting with the Koolance Exos 2.5 unit's back 90 degrees compression fittings.


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The CPU block gets one 45 and one 90 degrees fittings. The 90 degree one goes in the output, because of the way things turned out, although it is not the best recommended way... you better have a straight fitting on the input of the water block on the CPU for maximum efficiency. And on the output from the block there was a 45 degree fitting as this makes it easiest to connect the output to the input on the video card water block.


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The GPU block also gets one 45 degree fitting on the input and a 90 degree one on the output in order to have the optimum tubing placement, although using straight fittings is the best in order not to restrict the flow of water in any way, however sometimes you need to sacrifice some of the efficiency to make things look and work out good and usually there is enough planned in addition to the needed one, so the sacrifices can be planned ones.


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 Post subject: Re: Upgrading my 3D Test PC with Koolance Exos 2.5 Water Coo
PostPosted: 03 Jul 2010, 22:26 
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I've already mentioned what hard drives I'm using for best results in that system. Since I'm quite happy so far form what I've been seeing from using Western Digital products it is no wonder I have only such drives in the PC. For a system drive there is a single 10000 rpm WD Velociraptor drive that provides great speed and quicker seek times for the OS and the programs installed and for everything else I'm using 2TB Western Digital Green HDDs for getting big enough capacity for storage. They do provide enough performance for storage, although they are not as fast as the Velociraptor... and I'm not using RAID here as I've decided that a second Velociraptor is not that worth for my needs that much to invest into and better put that money into additional storage drives ;)


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