I build myself a decent computer about once every 6-8 years or so. My last build was with a Mozart TX case and an i7-920, if that gives you an idea...Needless to say, I was due for a new build. I wanted the option for over-clocking and some expandability. I am a system admin by day and do some very light gaming...Everquest 2, CoD, Battlefield franchise, etc... My 920 and gtx 275 just wasn't cutting it anymore, so I opted for the 4790k simply because I started buying parts back in April and the i7, power supply and hard drives were free. (customer build that partially paid but never finished). That being said..please no blasting about the Crucial BX100...I know they are not the best, but hey...it was free, but I digress. I knew I wanted the ability to overclock the cpu, and I wanted to try my hand at water cooling. I researched for days and was thoroughly impressed by some of the liquid cooled pc's...I was inspired. I originally thought of a themed liquid build for the Blue Angels flight squadron, as I live in their home town and get to interact with them a lot. I contacted the Naval legal team for their marketing and received the green-light for the planning process. As I was trying to figure out how to incorporate a jet theme into the build, I came across some pictures of Robotech and was blasted back into memory lane, as I LOVED Robotech back in my childhood. (Still have the entire series on DVD). I researched some more and could not find a single Robotech themed pc out there, so abandoned the Blue Angels idea for the Robotech theme..specifically Max Sterling and Scott Bernard who flew the blue Veritech fighters. It just so happened that one of the motherboards I was looking at was the ASRock Extreme 4/3.1 - which had great reviews and the components I was looking for AND WAS BLUE!
When planning the liquid cooled, for my first liquid experience...I watched a TON of JayzTwoCents videos and LinusTechTips..researched some more and began ordering parts. I chose the Phanteks Luxe case because of its' modular ability, ease with liquid cooling and overall look. I wanted the white case, to go with my theme, but they were all sold out (Well Ebay had them for twice as much.) I also had an idea for a mini-monitor in the Luxe side window to play Robotech videos as a geek-perk. I tried an iPhone 4 that I had laying around, but the screen was too small and someone had a Nexus 7 on craigslist for $50, so I tried that and am very pleased with how it turned out.
I ordered the XSPC kit from PerfomancePC's because I wasn't quite confident in my ability to build a liquid cooled computer with the appropriate components and knew that I wanted the ability to expand in the future. I also wanted to add GPU cooling whenever I decided to upgrade the video, as well as add a drain port and that kit has the d5 pump with 360 Radiator so I knew I could expand in the future.
I chose the R9 380 from Powercolor because of the price and reviews. I don't have a need for ultra high gaming and the R9 389 was so close to specs of the Nvidia 970 that I couldn't justify that big of a price leap for a few FPS more...Also, the 970 or 290 video cards were almost 4 inches longer than the 380 and I wanted the verticle reservoir as opposed to the bay reservoir and those cards wouldn't fit in my planned placement. As you can see by the pictures, the 380 is 8.5" long and has about 1.5" of space between the end of the GPU and my reservoir.
I wanted more light and LOVED the Avexir Raiden 16GB kit - with the blue lightning light - but NO ONE had them in stock. (Ebay and Amazon DID have them for 4 times the newegg price..uh, NO) so I went with the Crucial Ballistix after seeing them on Youtube AND reading the reviews. Unfortunately, and what no one states is that they have two kinds of color combinations...Blue and yellow or Green and red...and no known way to ensure that you are getting one or the other...I found this out AFTER my kit came in, and I was looking at how to change the colors in the Ballistix utility and only had the choices of red or green...errrrrr, annoyed, but I will wait for the Raidens to come in stock. 16 GB is also plenty for what I do AND the ddr3-1600 is plenty fast enough for my uses.
After all of the initial parts came in, I assembled (YAY, LOVE building) and ended up with a non-leaking flex tube setup. (was still waiting for the custom paint work at a buddy's auto custom paint shop, as well as the vinyl to be printed and thought...ummm...I don't like the flex tubing..I like the cleaner loook of rigid...so back to Performance-PC's I went..bought the rigid bending tool kit for $100 (waste of money..hack saw sucks and is way too small and I was better at manually bending than using their bend kits, but oh well..live and learn). I also wanted to hear the pc, as the D5 was too dang quiet, so I ordered a flow control so I could SEE and hear the pumping of fluid, so....more money to get new fittings and plenty of tubing...I ordered both Monsoon and Primochill tubing, but preferred the Primochill as it was more forgiving to a rigid newb like me. I ended up re-constructing the loop twice before I was satisfied and used about 20' (4 x 36" monsoon and 3.5 x 36" Primochill) before I got it right. I also used distilled water with the Mayhem UV white concentrate with mayhem blue dye for the effect you see in the pictures.
I did some of my own cabling and decided to use Ensourced for the remaining cabling...so happy with that choice. The cables they sent me are so pretty and they got the colors EXACTLY the way I wanted them. Finally, I chose the Lamptron FC5V3 for my fan control as there are ten fans in the case and I like the ability to see multiple temps as well as control some of the fan speeds. I am thoroughly impressed with the Lamptron...wow..besides the color changing, the power cable was sleeved nicely and the buttons feel solid..it is very well made. It has six full channels that can use 30w per channel.
Was originally thinking of doing both of the 500G SSD's in a RAID 0, but the system admin in me was having anxiety attacks over the idea, so I simply stuck with the MX200 as my boot/primary and the BX100 as a data drive. I have 6TB set up in a NAS, so not too worried about storage.
Used the ASRock utility to push the processor to 4.5GHz and she is super stable. Loaded Skyrim up and ultra High settings I am hitting well over 100FPS with my little 1920x1080 and 720p monitors.
Overall a great learning experience. So far only had one leak, after rebuilding the third time, simply because I left an O-ring off the outbound port of the Res/pump, so it was an easy fix. I love the colors and the theme, but please remember, this is my first mod and first liquid cooled, so I know it isn't perfect...with that said, hit me with some suggestions.