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My 'little big' rig grows up


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#1 mark84

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Posted 12 June 2014 - 02:40 PM

Some of you who've been around long enough might remember my 'little big' project rig.
The aim of it at the time was to cram the most powerful parts into the most compact size as possible. In that respect it was a smashing success, the moment you take the lid off the case it was just jam packed with wires, tubes and gear. This was at the time when small system builds were just starting to gain popularity.
See photo album of the build HERE.


Over the past year I've slowly began updating the guts of this machine. New SSD (an OCZ one died), new PSU (old one started getting wobbly) sound card (Xonar had odd behaviours I got fed up with). Eventually finally moved up to Haswell seeing as there was a big enough jump from the old i7 950 to be well worth it.
Each and every time I updated something I regretted having to put it into the 'little big' rig, was such a pain having to pretty much tear down the whole thing and rebuild it each time for just simple things.

Upgrading to Haswell and shoving in a new motherboard in was the last straw, too much pain and effort, that's when I decided I was going to move the guts out and into a more spacious case. Getting the R9 295X2 provided me the impetuous to get the ball rolling.

The case I decided on was the Corsair 350D. mATX and decent amount of room inside for water cooling.
If I'd waited I'd probably get the Phanteks Entoo Mini XL instead.

Come to think of it, the only bit of original kit from the 'little big' rig that's made it into this new one is the 256GB OCZ SSD where all my games sit. Everything else has been upgraded/replaced lol

New rig contents:
- i7 4770K @ 4.4GHz (not a very good overclocker) (might upgrade it to 4790K if they're decent at OCs)
- 16GB ram (G.Skill Trident X F3-2400C10D-16GTX)
- ASUS Maximus VI Gene motherboard
- Radeon R9 295X2
- Sound Blaster Z sound card
- Intel 128GB SSD (for OS & programs)
- old OCZ 256GB SSD (for games)
- 2x WD 4TB reds in mirror for mass storage
- Corsair AX860 psu
- Old slim blu ray burner will be put into an external USB3 enclosure for when I need it

Cooling:
- 3x Corsair Air Series SP120 Performance Edition fans
- 3x BitFenix Spectre Pro Black 140mm fans
- EK Supremacy CPU block
- Koolance 295X2 full cover block
- Koolance CU420V 120mm rad (got as it is the most compact I could find height wise. More on this later)
- Alphacool NexXxoS ST30 280mm rad
- Alphacool NexXxoS UT60 120mm rad
- Koolance QD3 Quick Disconnects (much easier than my old VL3N's)
- Koolance CTR-SPD1224M Pump Controller
- Swiftech MCP350 12v pump (got this over the 355 as it's quieter)
- Monsoon Series Two dual bay res (compact enough to sit in front of top 280mm rad in the bay)
- Lots of Bitspower fittings

PICS!
All pics HERE

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Water block fitted
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Some cabling done and before doing tubing
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Tubing cut and terminated. DDC pump installed into bay res.
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140mm + 1200m front fans and where the dual bay res/pump will go. Note how far the 280mm rad juts into bay.
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Fully assembled!
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Rear rad despite being not very tall still juts out enough to hamper the 1st slot. Cardboard inserted between the two just to make sure no shorting happens
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Rear IO panel, note the sound card slants due to rad
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Multitude of sins cabling hidden in the rear
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Looking into the rear of the pump/res bay area
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#2 mark84alt

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Posted 12 June 2014 - 02:41 PM

stoopid 10 image limit

#3 mark84

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Posted 12 June 2014 - 02:42 PM

HDDs + SSD cage + pump controller
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Dangle an LED strip in a loop out the front for nice back lighting effect up front
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Atomic green FTW!
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Inside in the dark
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Quite happy with it. Total cost is $5k odd for everything though all purchased over several months. Worth it considering it should last a good 3 years like the last build.

The 350D case could have been better, some issues I came across:
1. I ended up bending some of the metal in the top bays just to insert the dual bay res. One of the metal slides an optical drive might sit on in the top bay was a lot wider than normal preventing the res from sliding in (it has standard sized indents for these slides), so bent it down flat.
2. Inserting the top 280mm rad while possible as it comes from factory can only really be inserted from inside the case main cavity. I ended up bending away a bit of metal at the rear of the top bay to allow me to slide the rad in and out via the top 5.25" bay. Much easier to work with then. and also allowed me to have the rad under the fans = better cleaning
3. The SSD cage is made of quite brittle plastic. Un-clipping it's parts to re arrange it caused all the clasps to break on one side and one of the levers holding a drive in snapped off. Not pleased with the quality there. Just about to fall apart.
4. Front screw holes for fans/radiators could have been better implemented. There is room to stick a 140mm rad but the holes don't give enough clearance top and bottom to allow it, having more pre drilled holes would give a lot more flexibility.

Temps are good considering the downgrade to rad surface area.
Quick testing last night shows CPU peaking in the mid 70s which with the same block was happening in the old build with the dual 360x80mm rads so thats good. And GPUs were in the 60's peaking at 69 just playing some Star Citizen (Cry Engine 3) though that's with Xfire disabled atm in that game.

Pump controller turned out well. Even on minimum setting pump still turns over on start so controller must give it a 12v start up burst to kick it over. Pump is set at about 2/3 speed, best setting for least about of whirr/whine from it.

Still need to mess with fan speeds, but can happily sit idle with fans at an inaudible 20% easy. Scary quite :)

Loop topology, while it looks chaotic, serves 2 purposes.
1. Each length needed to be long enough to provide 'play' for quick disconnect actuation.
2. Thermally is also setup the best. Pump > GPU (most heat) > 280 rad (dumps out top) > thin 120 rad (dumps out rear) > CPU > thick 120 rad (dumps into case) > res > pump

Had a scare filling the loop, had a leak (fitting going into rear rad wasn't screwed in tight enough) and got the sound card covered in water, some even dripping down onto the video card.
Crapped myself when I noticed but kept calm about it. Mopped it up. Fixed the leak and left it to dry out for 24 hours. Then took to the cards with a gentle blow drier just to make sure. Thankfully all was good.

Edited by mark84, 12 June 2014 - 02:54 PM.

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#4 val0r0x

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Posted 12 June 2014 - 04:00 PM

Looks rad as hell, nice work. Enjoy!
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#5 st8smn

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Posted 12 June 2014 - 05:17 PM

I remember the little big rig and thought it was crazy. This one looks awesome too mate nice work. I had the same/similar issue with my 120mm rad at the back getting in the way. I put the fan on the outside and left the rad on the inside, or even turn rad 90* so hose's are both against the side panel maybe? it may or may not help in your situation. Love your work either way.

Edited by st8smn, 12 June 2014 - 05:20 PM.



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#6 mark84

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Posted 12 June 2014 - 05:43 PM

I remember the little big rig and thought it was crazy.

This one looks awesome too mate nice work.

I had the same/similar issue with my 120mm rad at the back getting in the way. I put the fan on the outside and left the rad on the inside, or even turn rad 90* so hose's are both against the side panel maybe? it may or may not help in your situation.

Love your work either way.

Thanks!

Yeah with that rear rad it's kinda the only way to squeeze it in. Tubes up top the top rad is in the way preventing mounting. Tubes towards mobo doesn't have the clearance either. Tubes to the side, the side panel can't be put on.
So tubes down bottom was the only way I could "just" get away with the 3rd rad ;)

Down side is that I can't use the top slot for video card and the bottom 4x PCI-E slot for sound. As it is the lanes get split into two 8x slots :\ Not the best for hungry dual GPU card, but being PCI-E 3.0 has double the bandwidth, so I guess kinda still ok all things considered.

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#7 st8smn

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Posted 12 June 2014 - 06:36 PM

Dang. I know your pain... I had issues fitting that exact rad in that exact spot (corsair 600t case) the 2x240mm koolance rads were fine inside just the 120 had limited options. I never got around to drowning the cards so I took the 240's out.


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#8 Dasa

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Posted 12 June 2014 - 07:23 PM

looks great
i wouldnt mind swapping most those components out with whats in my system :)
had a small leak in my build too the barb from the gpu through the rear of the case had a bit of a ridge and didnt clamp up properly on the first try but it didnt touch any components thankfully

received a warning yesterday to keep an eye on the black koolance qdc
http://www.overclock...sconnect-owners

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#9 mark84

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Posted 13 June 2014 - 12:07 AM

Thanks for the heads up RE black qdc's :\ Guess I'll know what's happening if I see them looking odd. Bit of a shame.

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#10 Director

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Posted 13 June 2014 - 06:30 AM

Nice work! :)

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#11 gamble

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Posted 13 June 2014 - 11:06 AM

I love the way it looks all around. The layout is great and the parts you used are top. I think the 4770k @ 4.4 will be just fine. Im seeing on my rig about 54c on the 290x @ 1100/5400 and low 70's with the cores @ 4.7ghz with bf4 and fans at 1/2 speed... which brings me to a question on your corsair fans, how do they sound to you? Any weird noise at different angles, any clicking or whine? I have one fan that is dying and another that came with my EK kit that is too loud. Was looking at those SP120. Also wanted to go with Asus sound card for the 192 bit but everyone is reporting driver issues and lock ups. How you like the Z?

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#12 mark84

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Posted 13 June 2014 - 11:30 AM

I love the way it looks all around. The layout is great and the parts you used are top. I think the 4770k @ 4.4 will be just fine.

Im seeing on my rig about 54c on the 290x @ 1100/5400 and low 70's with the cores @ 4.7ghz with bf4 and fans at 1/2 speed... which brings me to a question on your corsair fans, how do they sound to you? Any weird noise at different angles, any clicking or whine? I have one fan that is dying and another that came with my EK kit that is too loud. Was looking at those SP120.

Also wanted to go with Asus sound card for the 192 bit but everyone is reporting driver issues and lock ups. How you like the Z?


Regarding the Corsair fans, they're still quite new but I haven't experienced any weird noises with them yet. Tried one turn on while holding it a while back (just to see how loud top speed was) and apart from the whooshing air no strange noises, ticking or whirring. No matter the angle.
Currently have them at about 30% - 50% speeds depending on temps, keeps them fairly inconspicuous. Still tweaking fan speed profiles to my liking but audibly they're quite good imo and not noticeable much <50%.

RE sound card. I used to use a Xonar, as much as I liked it there was an annoying problem where if an application that played sound crashed or didn't close properly the last few miliseconds of sound it was playing would get somehow stuck in a loop on continuous playback in the card.
You could still hear other things playing but the looping remained until I restarted.
Was the main reason I switched to the SB Z. Haven't had any issues with the Z really. It can't do the direct DTS > Optical SPDIF that I used to with the Xonar (or maybe I can but it can't auto upmix stero to surround. there's some limitation anyway), but after learning that DTS>SPDIF compromises sound quality (compression), I've happily moved back to 6 channel analogue.
The software for the Z is reasonably good too, does everything the Xonar can and a few more tricks. Xonar and Z are equal in quality but the Z probably wins on the feature set front. The Xonar drivers have some quirks/issues and look a bit old now comparatively. Asus really need to create a new audio chip for their Xonars, getting dated imo. Had the D2X since 2010 and they haven't replaced it with a better product yet.

Edited by mark84, 13 June 2014 - 11:35 AM.

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#13 TheFrunj

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Posted 14 June 2014 - 11:18 AM

Looking nice :) Any idea of flow rates with all those rads?

What kind of temps are you getting with the 295X2?

You might as well delid that 4770K if you're going to replace it anyway, see if direct die (or better paste) will give higher overclock.

*edit*
Are you using the Xonar Unified drivers? They're much better than stock D2X drivers (I have that card too but use it mostly for digital output to my headphone setup).

http://maxedtech.com...nified-drivers/

Edited by TheFrunj, 14 June 2014 - 11:36 AM.

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#14 nobody813

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Posted 14 June 2014 - 10:47 PM

Woh, that does look pretty damn cool, though I'd hate to muck about with the plumbing in that thing :-P Had considered downsizing my down to mATX, but socket 1155 boards all but disappeared so that idea got scrapped. This case was on my short list though Also you should update your sig mark ;-)

Edited by nobody813, 14 June 2014 - 10:48 PM.

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#15 mark84

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Posted 16 June 2014 - 01:46 PM

Looking nice :) Any idea of flow rates with all those rads?

Thanks!
Water flow rates? No idea, haven't even bothered with such things. It flows, is good enough :p

What kind of temps are you getting with the 295X2?

~40 idle to about 70 under load.

You might as well delid that 4770K if you're going to replace it anyway, see if direct die (or better paste) will give higher overclock.

Meh, 4.4GHz stable is ok with me.
i7 4790k might be an option. But I'm not sure it'll provide much extra over 4.4GHz (its stock speed) to be worth purchasing it. I essentially have a stock 4790K with current config.
Some overclock reviews I've seen show 5C lower temps (with both at stock, so probably more to gain coming from my OCed 4770K) but not clocking much higher.

Are you using the Xonar Unified drivers? They're much better than stock D2X drivers (I have that card too but use it mostly for digital output to my headphone setup).

Think I gave them a go a while back, still had the audio stutter loop if a program occasionally didn't close right.
Can't remember with which or if both drivers, but had troubles with it coming out of sleep mode too, sound card didn't power back on. Another little niggle.

Also you should update your sig mark ;-)

Been meaning to do that heh

Edited by mark84, 16 June 2014 - 01:58 PM.

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#16 Dasa

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Posted 16 June 2014 - 03:08 PM

\
i7 4790k might be an option. But I'm not sure it'll provide much extra over 4.4GHz (its stock speed) to be worth purchasing it.\

from what i have seen they seem to be ranging 4.6-5ghz with v ~1.3-1.4v

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#17 TheFrunj

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Posted 16 June 2014 - 05:04 PM

"After speaking to numerous motherboard vendors who have tested dozens of samples, we’re told that less than 5% of retail i7-4790K’s will hit above 4.9GHz on air. We have no doubt some will be able to hit 5GHz with Devil’s Canyon but the vast majority of these processors likely won’t get any better results than their predecessors did."
http://www.hardwarec...-review-14.html


I wouldn't upgrade, personally. You shouldn't be having any problems with performance unless the game is already pretty CPU-bound, in which case you can't get any more cores/threads than you have now.
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#18 SonOfNoddy

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Posted 16 June 2014 - 09:07 PM

Nice rig man, I wish my rig was working...
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#19 mark84

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Posted 14 January 2015 - 03:29 PM

Bit of an update.

 

Ripped the guts out and replaced the motherboard with an Asrock X99M Killer (only mATX mobo that seemed to have the layout/features I wanted. Shame Asus isn't doing a Gene refresh), popped in a i7 5930K, 16GB of DDR4 and replaced the game SSD with a 500GB 840 Evo.

 

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Went with the 5930K for the extra PCIE lanes as I can only fit the GPU in the 2nd PCIE slot so paid the extra to give the dual GPUs full x16 bandwidth. Something I couldn't do with the 4770K build.

 

The CPU overclocked can pull over 300W all by itself! (400W system total) near on 400W at peak overclocks and loads. So decided to put it on its own loop using an NZXT AIO and keep the GPU on the custom loop only (fore and rear rads).

 

Motherboard BIOS is a bit rubbish, it doesn't want to boot with anything other than AUTO set for most things CPU side, have to leave the overclocking to windows software only which is annoying. Hopefully a new BIOS comes to help that.

 

With the CPU able to pull down 300W and the graphics able to pull some 600W going full tilt, my little 860W PSU is now boarderline. Should be ok mostly but I'm getting a 1200W unit to see me into the future and remove any worries.

 

 

Also @ Dasa, the black QDC's yeah they're rubbish. Pulled em apart and they've started to get that white surface deterioration going on and some had seized up after disconnecting them. A little coaxing got them actuating again but that's after leakage everywhere. So yeah. Still using them but when it comes time for a new loop those will be going in the bin unfortunately. How did they pass quality control during design??!

 

Might post a pic once the 1200W unit is in. After that, Broadwell-E should hopefully be able to plug right in when it happens.


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#20 gamble

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Posted 15 January 2015 - 06:13 AM

Hows the temps under stress with the AIO and the GPU on their own loops now?

 

That MB looks good in there!  Hopefully you can get the bios to take some decent OC so you dont have to mess with OS OC ...  You using F-Stream to OC?  I use it once in awhile but mostly use the bios.

 

I like the EVGA PSU since it gives 10 year warranty.  The one I have is way overkill on my current system since downgrading but never know I might need it in the next 10 years ha  


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