Description

Why this Build?

1) I'm a big fan of small form factor (SFF) builds and mini/micro ATX builds.

2) Loved the look of this case

3) Wanted to try a custom water cooling loop in a case with a Window

Put these together, and that's where I was at pretty much. This case is amazing to work in, and in my opinion, the best available for an SFF custom water cooling build.

Quick Notes:

I've never done a custom loop before, so I'm sure I made plenty of mistakes. Constructive feedback is appreciated.

I didn't want to put a Rad up top, because I like the look of the case with the top cover on, and I thought it would be too noisy with the top off.

Once I change out the fluid in the loop, I'll probably just remove the ball valve. It was a good idea on paper, but it doesn't serve much purpose in it's current spot, and I couldn't really fit it anywhere else.

I may add a fan controller sometime in the near future.

TIPS/Lessons Learned:

This build was heavily influenced by JayzTwoCents custom loop build in the same case, and I recommend watching his video if you want a custom loop in this case. It helped answer a lot of initial questions I had. I didn't follow his build exactly, but it convinced me to use glass tubing with 90 degree fittings, as well as a Liang DDC pump/top combo with a topfill/pushdown tube reservoir. On that note, as you can probably see from the build log, the prices of all those fittings can add up quickly. I wasn't quite expecting that, and maybe would have changed my mind about going this route if I knew that initially.

As you can also see, I went pretty much Alphacool everything. It was a decision I made early on in the build, and I'm stubborn so I stuck to it, no matter how painful it was at times. If I didn't make that early decision, I probably would have gone bits power on my fittings and EK on my blocks.

If you know a little bit about this Motherboard, you know that it uses a Narrow ILM socket, which is primarily used on servers as I understand it. This greatly limited my CPU block options, to basically EK blocks only. However, using the EK Narrow ILM bracket, I was able to have a custom bracket made that fit the Alphacool CPU block that I wanted to use. Once the bracket was made I just had to paint it. I did have to widen the bracket a bit so that it would fit with the orientation of the block the way I wanted, but it was pretty painless and works great. (Also if you don't mind the default sideways orientation, there's no need to widen the bracket, just make the hole bigger).

If you know a little bit about the GPU Block, you know that according to Alphacool, it is not compatible with Mini ITX motherboards. I took a chance on this one, and lucked out. It fits just fine on my board, though I can see why they say it's not supported. There is not much clearance between the backplate and the audio ports on the Motherboard. The only reason mine fits, is because on the Nano (and only the Nano?), the backplate just happens to be flatter on the section that fits next to the audio ports. On this same GPU block for other cards, that's not the case, and the backplate will not fit.

If you watched the JayzTwoCents video, you probably heard him mention a 120 rad won't fit in the back. Well, in my case (no pun intended) it does fit, however because of the thickness of the window trim, It didn't allow me to put the side panel on without it bending a bit. I plan to cut part of the trim so that the panel will fit flush. I'll post a picture of it once I do.

I chose the power supply because it was a 140mm length PSU and I was concerned about a longer PSU covering the grommet holes. I've seen builds of people using longer PSUs though, and it didn't seem to cause much of an issue. YMMV.

On cable management... get a short cable set. That's all.

Other than that, everything else was pretty straight forward. I thought I was being clever by using a cross-flow radiator to get me closer to the connectors, but honestly in the end it just made the build much harder because tight turns are way harder to deal with when you're not bending tubes. You have to rely more on angled connectors (which can be a pain in tight spaces).

Hope this helps.

Comments

  • 43 months ago
  • 2 points

Is it just me or does it appear that you have the inlet running to the outlet on your cpu block? In one picture the block is oriented with the out facing up. I followed your tubing and it looks like it is out from the pump/res combo, to the gpu, to a rad, to the outlet on the cpu block. Unless you rotated it? I may be misinformed here. Just the way your pictures were set up that seems to be the case. Amazing build, I would just hate to see something go wrong because of a minor mishap. If I am wrong please let me know! I'm curious. Very clean and nice build otherwise.

  • 43 months ago
  • 2 points

indeed that looks to be the case. the simplest solution would be to flip the cpu block upside down.

  • 43 months ago
  • 2 points

You're right, it is backwards on the in/out of the CPU block. It was done mostly to try and help the routing of the tubes but I'll fix it once I change out the fluid. I tried to read up on whether or not it would make a huge difference, and it seems I may lose a few degrees cooling as a result.

  • 43 months ago
  • 1 point

Agreed. Doesn't seem to make a huge difference, I was just thinking it might be less efficient and perhaps over time if it may ruin the micro fins on the inside of the block due to a reverse flow. Doubtful, but just curious. At least it is a simple fix. Just remove the tubing there and flip the block around and you're golden. Once again, great build. And +1 for the inspiration taken from Jay. He's definitely a knowledgeable guy.

  • 43 months ago
  • 1 point

You're right, and I decided it was worth it to just take apart and re route it. I didn't want to flip the Alphacool logo text on the block upside down, so I flipped the 120 Rad to make routing a bit easier. Thanks for pointing it out, I've updated the photos to reflect the new routing.

  • 43 months ago
  • 2 points

Very good! Looks excellent. I personally think it looks better that way. You get a bit more blue showing with that one long straight piece from the GPU to the rad.

  • 43 months ago
  • 1 point

Ive been saving for a mitx custom loop with a R9 nano. Though on the 1150 socket and in an Evolv ITX. It'll be air cooled while I save for the loop.

Awesome to see something similar to inspire my build a bit more. Glass looks much better than acrylic or petg. +1

  • 43 months ago
  • 1 point

Nice to see a watercooled nano nano!!! +1

nano2 build

  • 43 months ago
  • 1 point

That is sick. Planning to do something similair in a phanteks evolve atx. And so nice to see someone using glass instead of petg or acrylic +1

  • 43 months ago
  • 1 point

Nicely done! Kudos to the water cooled setup using glass tubing! I was drooling of JayzTwoCents' build and now this one too!

+1 to another Define Nano S build!

  • 43 months ago
  • 1 point

lol Jay's build is stunning

  • 43 months ago
  • 1 point

My personal build also has the 5820k (also @ 4.0GHz) and the R9 Nano. + on coincidence

  • 43 months ago
  • 1 point

Do you have your R9 Nano overclocked by any chance? And if so what wattage are you running on the PSU? I'm wondering if overclocking the nano would be pushing the PSU too much.

  • 43 months ago
  • 1 point

Yes, my Nano is running @ ~1055MHz, on the Corsair RMx 550w. So far, I've had no issue. You should be okay with at lest a 550w, depending on the rest of your system.

  • 43 months ago
  • 1 point

I love this build. Nice job. Great choice with the nano and water cooling parts. I'm a big fan of alphacool.

  • 43 months ago
  • 1 point

just a question that I've always wondered since i cannot find information about it. Is a nano with a waterblock better than a fury x with a waterblock? How are your Overclocks? Personally, I am currently rocking a fury X with an ekwb on and the OC isn't that high

  • 43 months ago
  • 1 point

Not sure to be honest. I'm not overclocking the Nano just because I don't want to run into any PSU issues (only got 550 Watts). I think the Fury X is a better card though, stock and overclocked. The nano just has a lower power draw and is slightly smaller.

  • 43 months ago
  • 1 point

im actually running 550 watt + i5 6600k and got a moderate OC on my fury X without problems. I heard that Nano's are higher bind cards compared to the fury X, so I thought that it might be a better choice when going for watercooling.

  • 43 months ago
  • 1 point

That seems like you're cutting it close, but your 6600k only pulls 90 watts right? The 5820k pulls 140 stock. Also I read on Anandtech that overclocking it to 4.1 Ghz (mine is running at 4.0) causes it to pull an additional 104 Watts. This CPU is a power hog, so I dont wanna risk the GPU overclock for now. Maybe sometime in the future if I ever change power supplies.

  • 43 months ago
  • 1 point

Looks great, Hope this gets featured!

  • 43 months ago
  • 1 point

Obligatory +1 for the Nano S. :)

  • 43 months ago
  • 1 point

I thought of doing a water cooled R9 nano in this case to. If only I won that fractal design contest.

  • 43 months ago
  • 1 point

Hello, very nice build, I have this case too and plan to watercool in the future and just like you I want to keep the top cover on. I was also thinking of a 280mm rad in front and 120mm in the back like you did but according to the specs on the fractal case the only 280 rad that would fit was a bitspower 280 leviathan (slim). I looked at the alphacools and they were supposed to be bigger than the specs, which exact models did you get for the radiators?

Im also thinkin gof using the EK Xres 100 D5 pump res combo unit which is supposed to be 150mm tall I plan on maybe buying a GTX 1080 when they launch so the combo unit would be on the res wall on top of the card I guess judging by the 10.5 in length. Do you think it will fit ok? I wondering how hard will it be to fill the loop and how would I drain it since i think the unit only has one fill port on the top and it would be a narrow space or too close to the top moduvent. Any comments you could provide are highly appreciated.

Again kudos for the buils it looks sweet.

  • 43 months ago
  • 1 point

Thanks! The 280 rad I got is the Alphacool NexXxoS ST30 Full Copper 280mm. The dimensions are 297 x 144 x 30mm. It does fit in the front of the case, although it is a tight fit and you have to angle it in at first, but it fits upright along the front and the screws line up perfectly.

The 120 rad is the Alphacool NexXxoS ST30 Full Copper X-Flow 120mm. The dimensions are 172 x 124 x 30mm. It also fits fine in the back (screw holes align just fine), however you may have problems getting the side panel to close properly unless you cut some of the trim off the window (windowed version only).

You can go thicker on the 120 rad if you want (plenty of space) however it gives you less room to work with on the routing of the tubes. I wouldn't recommend going wider on the 280, especially with a full length GPU, but if you're planning to put the rad/pump above the GPU, you do have some extra room to work with there. But it would likely be a close fit depending on the GPU length(unless you're planning to ditch the front dust filter).

Filling and draining is still a work in progress on my build. I bought a ball valve to try and make the process easier, but I haven't figured out a good place to mount the valve yet (it wont fit on the extra port on the pump unfortunately). Even so, I found ways to drain/fill it. I had to re-open/close ports on the reservoir while I rotated the PC to get the liquid to a spot that made it easy to drain, but it worked out OK, just adds some extra time/work. Luckily though my res has 3 ports on top, so I could fill easily without much hassle. Having the res lower in the build helped me use those top fill ports, but I think even if it was mounted higher on the wall, I could have made it work with a good funnel (maybe one that has a flexible tube or something).

If you want any specific measurements, I can try and get those to you, and good luck with your build!

  • 43 months ago
  • 1 point

How is the Motherboard? I've seen mixed reviews on it and wonder as to its performance. +1 for SFF LC

  • 43 months ago
  • 2 points

Thanks! I've had no issues with it. In fact I'm using the preset overclock parameters provided by the XMP settings in the ASRock BIOS. I know that's probably frowned upon in the overclocking scene, but it's worked well for me. I'm at a stable 4 GHz on the CPU and 3000 MHz on the RAM, and it was easy as changing one BIOS setting.

The only issue I struggled with on the Motherboard was the fact that it used a Narrow ILM socket. But that was fairly easily resolved with the mounting bracket adapter. (Also replace the jet engine they call a stock heatsink/fan. That thing is seriously trash).

It helps that this board is the only X99 mini itx board available (unless of course you're willing to go with the ASRock EPC612D4I), so in some sense you have no choice if you wanna go x99, but all things considered I'm very happy with it so far.

  • 43 months ago
  • 1 point

those fittings prices add up quickly! nice to see a build like these

  • 41 months ago
  • 1 point

Great build. I'm getting the components together for a similar build and wondered if you could give some advice.

Just seen a review of the 280mm rad http://www.xtremerigs.net/2016/02/14/alphacool-nexxxos-st30-280mm-radiator-review/2/

It doesn't look like the EKWB compression fittings I was going to use will fit - ( they are 22mm wide. ) Did you find the fittings hard to fit when your fans were added to the radiator.?

  • 41 months ago
  • 2 points

No, I had no problem with my fittings hitting the radiator fans. I'm not sure the exact dimensions I had to work with though. I could have just been lucky since my fittings are only designed for 12mm hard tubing, but I didn't feel like I was too cramped on space for a potentially larger fitting to work.

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