Edit: A big thank you to the PCPP staff for the Featured Build!
This machine was built back in January when Kaby Lake was first released. Due to a heavy travel schedule I ended up putting it on air, half-built for a while before I had a free weekend to sit down and complete the loop. I built the computer to take the place of my current build that is used for everyday computer needs, gaming, and a workstation for my job.
This was a fun build and one I had been wanting to complete for a while. I don't see many horizontally mounted reservoirs out there and I like the way it fills in the empty space at the bottom of the case. I wanted a more neutral metallic theme that I could highlight or change the feel of with LED's if the mood struck me. I really appreciate the "natural" look of clear coolant and non-colored tubes in a water cooled build. I think it accentuates the hardware a little more and the way light plays off of the clear tube in reflections and translucence is quite nice.
This was also the first build I've done where my wife was very impressed. She understands computers are a hobby and thinks the ones I've built, including hers, look nice but it's ultimately not something she's interested in. This build appears to have changed her appreciation in how a computer can be artistic in a way so that's a win in my book.
If I missed anything below please feel free to ask. Thanks, enjoy!
I made a few modifications here and there but nothing that crazy I don't think. First, I used some custom cut 2mm, black acrylic panels in the case to give a more streamlined and blacked out aesthetic. There is the main acrylic piece that covers the top of the basement, one situated vertically on the motherboard side of the case to hide the holes and Phanteks logos, and a single smaller piece on back. They are held in place by a few small pieces of double-sided black 20lb. tape. The reservoir is also held in place on the acrylic with the same tape.
To the case itself I removed the radiator tray in the top and got rid of it. This allows you to mount the radiator and fans quite a bit higher in the case. To mount the radiator I purchased a piece of 1.5" wide, 1mm thick aluminum from Lowe's to run across the top of the case. I spray painted it black to match and drilled some holes so the radiator and fans could be mounted securely. Because I opted for a pump that wasn't PWM controlled, there is hole drilled in the bottom of the case directly below the pump dial that I can easily adjust with a screwdriver. I also pulled the rubber padding off the included pump bracket that comes with the Phanteks case which I didn't use. I cut some pieces to fit and stuck it directly to the pump mounts to reduce vibration. I also used a piece for the bottom of the vertically mounted radiator so it wasn't resting metal on metal.
The last modification I made was the inclusion of a small LCD display. The purpose of this was to have a quick and easy way to monitor system temperatures without opening programs. I was really not a fan of a few of the existing screens out there and wanted something I could fully customize to my liking. I ended up finding exactly what I was looking for from Adafruit. It's a 5" display with an HDMI controller that is powered via usb.
The unit itself required a little modifying. After testing it for a few hours I noticed a few of the chips on the controller pcb where quite hot. Afraid I might create too much heat for it in the basement I opted to install some heatsinks on the unit which helped tremendously. The monitor also comes in a bare aluminum color which required some black spray paint in order to match the case. In order to mount the control unit, I cut a few 1/2" pieces of PETG tube and secured them with the 20lb. double-sided tape. This allowed me to mount the control unit to the wall of the basement and provide some breathing room for the unit. There is a thin ribbon cable that passes up through the basement top and acrylic piece to the actual LCD which is also mounted to the case using the double-sided tape.
I used a flexible HDMI cable from Sanus and routed it and the usb power cable through the basement, out from under the bottom of the motherboard, and through the pci-e slots on the back of the case. The LCD unit also has a settings module that allows you to adjust LCD brightness, gamma, on/off, etc. I routed that unit out of the front of the case and through the fan filter where it's mounted directly to the front of the fan filter. In order to access it I simply need to pop off the front case cover.
The monitor is setup as a secondary display where I'm using Rainmeter to display the customized temperature modules. What you see currently is the "rough draft" version. I intend to add a few more modules to monitor fan rpm's, loop temp, etc. It currently monitors gpu/cpu temp, gpu/cpu load, gpu/cpu mhz, ram usage, and gpu vram usage.
The last modification I did was to delid the 7700k. I used a Rockit 88 tool for the actual delid and applied Thermal Grizzly Conductonaut liquid metal for the tim. After cleaning off all the excess silicone leftover from the delid I opted not to secure the IHS again. In the event I decide to lap it later for ***** and giggles, I didn't want to deal with delidding again. Once you line the IHS up correctly it's fairly easy to transfer the cpu back to the motherboard. Afterwards you need only hold the IHS in place with your finger until you begin to apply a little pressure with the cpu clamp. After that it doesn't move.
I ran into a few minor problems but thankfully nothing detrimental or serious with the build itself. Originally the pump was mounted horizontally in the basement, which according to Alphacool was perfectly fine. However, the pump failed to perform in that orientation which causes issues when I initially filled the loop, and I couldn't get proper flow. To fix the problem I had to flip the pump orientation to vertical and shave down 1.5mm off the top of the pump top so it would fit in the basement correctly. I also pulled out a few 90° angles and reconfigured the tubing just as a precaution. Ultimately this completely fixed the flow issue with the pump.
So far I haven't toyed with overclocking that much. I pushed the cpu to 4.8ghz at a stable 1.21v and I overclocked the gpu to 2088mhz. When I get more time I'll see what the limits for each one are. I've only benched using what is currently installed on the computer. My intake rad fans operate at 800rpm while my exhaust rad fans operate at 600rpm. The only thing you can hear from the computer is a very quiet hum.
Cinebench cpu - 1056
Cinebench gpu - 175.41
CPU-Z bench - 10407