Time to Upgrade. AMD Ryzen 9 5950x, EVGA RTX 3080 Ti FTW3 Ultra Gaming with an EKWB waterblock and passive backplate and an Optimus Foundation Water Block! I also threw in a Kingston KC3000 2TB NVMe SSD. The Water block has much better coverage for a larger set of dies/chiplets found on the 5950x. So far it's keeping peak temps below 75C.
3D Printing and top case mods
Since the EK GPU Waterblock is so tall the top fans won't fit inside the case in either a push or a pull configuration, so I needed to modify the top cover, 3D print taller standoffs, replace the top glass with acrylic, sand the acrylic to match the frosted look, cut holes for the fans and mount everything up.
Top and front frosted acrylic with cutouts for better airflow.
Modified the top cover frame to accept the fans. Rubber U-piping is what gives the cut portions a nice finished look.
You can see the height of the standoffs here.
Impetus for the build
When I designed my desk I was thinking about ergonomics for my workflow and stuck the case on the left in a pull-out tray. No bueno. I wanted a case that I would be able to see my build better, so I landed on the ThermalTake Level 20 VT. I replaced the tempered glass with custom cut acrylic so that I could have two 140mm holes in the front and four 120mm holes into the top to improve airflow. I also didn't want to sacrifice performance with my fans to get RGB, so I bought Noctua iPPC-3000's (120mm and 140mm) then put Phanteks Halos frames on them so that I could get the best of both worlds. I'm no stranger to water cooling. I've been doing it since water cooling two Celeron 333MHz processors to overclock them to 500MHz each back in 2000. This is my first hard-line build though.
I am a software developer and just about pee'd my pants the first time I spent the day writing code on two 49" Ultra-wide displays. For now the two 240mm rads are plenty, but there's room for a 120mm in the rear and 280mm in the front should I need it. I've delided the 9900K and am running direct-die with liquid metal. I rarely see above 76C, even when stress-testing the chip. The 2080 ti is also on Liquid Metal and rarely see anything about 42C with a 29C ambient. The trick with the liquid metal is to not use too much, take your time and put 3 layers of clear nail polish around the die to protect it should any get off the die. I'm able to reach 5.1GHz all cores on the CPU and +140 on the die (2085MHz) and +1250 on the memory (16638MHz) and they are stable under load. For Ethereum mining, the 2080ti is undervolted and hitting 60MH/s average... should help me pay for the ridiculously expensive GPU.
I have become a Monsoon MMRS and EKWB fanboy. The Monsoon modular res system is not only cheaper than other reservoirs when all is said and done, but IMO looks better. The Res tube came pre-frosted and I frosted the UV reactive tubes with bowling ball sanding pads (500 grit, then 1000 grit). This is my first hardline cooling build and my only regret was not doing it sooner. After a bunch of research, I decided to go Acrylic over PETG.
When I bought my used 2080Ti on eBay it came with an EKWB block. I like the block (not a fan of the height though). The only problem was that it was missing the RGB pigtail. I called them thinking "it's used, so I'll probably need to buy the missing pigtail." Nope, they sent me what I needed FOR FREE. I'm buying EKWB from now on.
You'll notice when I post images that the outlet on the pump goes to what is usually the outlet on the CPU. I assure you that I turned the pump block around (under the Raystorm cover), so it's going through the block the right direction. I needed this orientation to get a nice straight shot from the pump. Too many times I have seen hardline builds that look fancy, but destroy the flow rate with excessive bends. I designed this loop to look good, but not have ridiculous number of runs.
I had wanted to go through the rads 1st and then through the pump, but that was not to be. I couldn't do it without some crazy runs.
Case frame Mods
- Using a dremel I cut down and bent the arms connecting the motherboard tray to the front of the case. This opens up the case significantly and creates more space for the reservior.
- I cut custom PSU covers using acrylic to completely cover the underside of the motherboard tray. This will serve to hide the PSU and rats nest of cables. I will cut openings and use grommets for cables from the PSU. Later I will sand the front of the acrylic with 1000 grit sandpaper to give it the same frosted look as the tubes. If that doesn't hide the cables enough though, I will spray paint the back a matte black. All that comes at the end though to prevent scratches.
- Using a step bit I cut 24mm holes into the motherboard tray for fan/LED cables coming down from the top fans. I have grommets on the way that will clean up the holes nicely. The holes will be partially covered by the motherboard. I plan to sleeve the cables together to make a much cleaner look from the top down to the motherboard tray. Underneath all bets are off.
Mods to the motherboard tray.
Cable holes for the fans/LEDs
bending the arms to provide support to the motherboard tray.
PSU shroud will clean things up nicely.
I ran into two problems with this case.
1- The front and top fans have far too little airflow.
2- The top fans had to go above the radiator which means that the glass panel standoffs were too short.
Since you can't cut tempered glass without it exploding (look it up on Youtube), I opted for custom cut acrylic. This allowed me to cut two 140mm holes in the front panel and 4 120mm holes in the top panel. Using a razor I carefully separated the standoffs. The front and top glass acted as templates for the replacements.
For the top panel I fixed the problem with the standoffs by 3D Printing 4 longer standoffs that would sit high enough to not contact the fans. Additionally, using a Dremel rotary tool, I cut the opening to the metal top panel frame wider to accommodate the fans better. I was then able to use u-channel rubber tubing to neatly hide the cut lines on the metal.
Damage Becomes an Idea
The acrylic came with scuffs to the top. Originally I was going to send it back, but then I had the idea to sand the top of the acrylic to get the same frosted look as the tubing and res. This turned out to look better than it would have if I had left it clear. Besides, who wants to look at the radiator or the mesh screen on the front? The clear side glass pieces remained as they were to show off the components.
Went Team Red
Originally I was planning to keep most of my core internal components and just transfer the case and cooling, then upgrade later. Since I needed to build a system with my old parts to sell it as a system, I decided to do the upgrade now. In my research, it seems clear that Intel is getting spanked in the CPU division, so for the first time in more than 20 years, I'm going Team Red. For now my budget will only support a used AMD Ryzen 9 3900XT, but a few years down the road I'll likely replace that with a used AMD Ryzen 9 5950X or whatever the fastest supported on that socket is.