Intro: Objective of this project was to build a 4K gaming PC intended to be cool, quiet, as small as possible with some headroom for overclocking.
Build: Except Ncase M1 all cases I found on the market were either much bigger than my previous Node 202 or couldn’t be water cooled using regular size parts. Even with Ncase M1 that is designed for side radiator I would have to go with external reservoir (like the one from FrozenQ) and squeeze DDC pump below GPU or go for some waterblock + pump combo … I didn’t want any of that. I was thinking about super slim bottom radiator like some others using this particular case, but I had serious doubts in performance of such radiator, considering it requires slim fans and its placement between GPU and desk surface is not optimal neither.
So despite the fact that I haven’t seen it done before I wanted to try if I can mod Ncase M1 myself to be used with top radiator while still using regular size, static pressure fans. I decided to give it a shot and at the end of the day I can say it was absolutely worth the effort. I am happy with the looks, temps and performance. Pump is running at 25% and fans don’t go over 50% so it is very quiet as well. While I was buying parts I was worried if single 240 radiator will be enough for both CPU and GPU, but it works like charm.
Part Selection: In case you want to do similar project yourself the ‘only’ thing you need to mod is the case itself as from the box it is not designed for top radiator, just be warned that few irreversible mods are required. Regarding part selection you need a single slot GPU like 1080 Ti, otherwise there won’t be enough clearance above motherboard to fit regular size fans. 7700K I got is ok’ish, I got it stable on 4.8 Ghz with 1.25 V, it’s temp is a bit jumpy but I heard it’s common with 7700K. With my previous build I got good experience with MSI Mobo and GPU so I used them again here, I bought my GPU after Bitcoin hype finished and prices dropped. For RAM I chose Corsair because I got problems with Kingston form factor before. I also got Corsair PSU as I used it previously and knew it’s quiet mode and that it won’t add much heat. Just got flexible cables this time. I wanted Noctua fans because of reputation and I never got those before but I didn’t want their famous color. So because Chromax series isn’t available yet I chose slowest Industrials, just running them half speed. I didn’t have prior experience with water cooling so for radiator and pump type I simply followed performance benchmarks. For water blocks I chose EKWB because of reasons. For fittings I chose Barrow because of those subtle 90 degree rotary fittings. I was considering Bitspower but I find their logo placement too aggressive. So far I am happy with all parts I used in this project. If you have any questions or want me to upload some additional photos please do let me know.
Disclaimer: This is my second PC build and first water cooling project so please don’t judge if tubes are not bent perfectly or case mod isn’t pro enough. I decided to bend those tubes as this gives me fewer potential leak points and a less restrictive loop than with 90 degree fittings used instead. I realize that by the book I should have put radiator in the loop after water blocks. However I read few technical articles about it and came to conclusion that with high flow rate pump in place going with more complicated loop just for that isn’t worth it as temp difference (if any) would be negligible. Temps are averages measured with ambient temperature of 26 °C, because its summer in my place.
Edit: Based on request I added new picture showing how I used original side panel tray to mount top radiator.
Edit: Thanks for making this a Featured Build, much appreciated!!