Thank you PCPP for the feature! There are some REALLY nice/interesting builds currently, so I appreciate it. Also thank you to the PCPP community for the love.
Hello and thanks for stopping in! This is a build, that in some respects, began about two years ago with a previous project. I’ve always been drawn to small form factor builds, however, this was my first full custom loop in an itx case which, needless to say, presented a few interesting challenges. I learned a great deal while putting this together and in the end am quite proud of the result...my wife even admitted it looked, "okay."
This is a full custom hardlined loop, consisting of EK 12/16mm rigid PETG tubing, EK compressions fittings and various EK angled adapters. The radiator is an EK 240 Dual (medium thickness) and the reservoir is an EK-XRES 100 Revo with a D5 Alphacool pump. The CPU block is Bitspower, and the GPU block is EK. I had to use EK’s 120mm uni fan bracket to mount the pump and res to the radiator since space was limited. I considered a horizontal mount to the top of the case but decided against this. The coolant is distilled water with biocide added to prevent algae growth. The loop begins in the reservoir, travels to the GPU, then the CPU, the radiator and finally deposited back into the reservoir having been cooled. Designing the loop took a lot of thought and some creative use of angled fittings. I wanted simple bends but needed a number of 90, 45, 2x45 degree angled fittings to accomplish this in such a small space. Clean, straight, symmetrical lines are a must for me. I’ll talk about overclocking and temperatures at the end!
Few ITX cases provide the necessary features for water cooling. However, both the Fractal Nano S and Phanteks Enthoo EVOLV ITX provide exceptional support for custom loops. Having previously owned the Nano S, I chose the Phanteks case. What I liked about this case was the increased width which allowed me to go with a custom 1080 PCB and GPU waterblock. Front mounted 240/280mm radiator support with a dust filter was critical. Motherboard cutouts, removable drive cages and a PSU shroud, along with sturdy construction make this case a flat out winner.
Originally purchased for a build in early 2016, the Intel Core i5-6600k performs wells and overclocks like a champ. Because my GPU does most of the heavy lifting, and I primarily use my system for gaming, I felt like an overclocked i5 was the way to go. If I were purchasing these parts today, I’d probably have taken the Ryzen 5 1600X.
Back in 2016 I initially paired this CPU with a GTX 960 for some mid tier gaming, however, after the release of Pascal and purchasing a Dell 1440p 144Hz Gsync monitor, I upgraded to the EVGA GTX 1080 FTW. Phenomenal card, looking forward to putting it to work!
Performance, Overclocking and Temps
Initially I was a little skeptical about a sing 240mm rad to support both the CPU and GPU in the custom loop, however, I am totally blown away by the performance of this loop. Currently I have a healthy 4.5 Ghz at 1.352 volts running on my CPU and no overclock (yet) on the GPU. Idle temps for both CPU and GPU are around 32 C. After 10 minutes of 3D Mark Time Spy, CPU maxed out at 55 C and the GPU stayed around 49 C.
Future Considerations and conclusions
I really struggled to find a decent spot to install a drain port and finally gave up. Currently I have to use the same squirt bottle I used to fill the reservoir in order to drain it, which is a slow process to say the least. I’ll be looking at clever ways to add a drain in the future. Additionally, I may redo the short little bend from the radiator to the reservoir, it could be a slightly smaller loop. Anyway, thank you for taking a look at my build. Hopefully this build proved helpful to anyone considering any of these parts. Some very helpful vendors I used were Mainframe Customs, Performance-pcs and Newegg. Looking forward to your feedback and thank you to PCPartpicker for providing this amazing website and community.