Introduction: Danger Den / Nvidia Tri SLI Water Cooled Gaming PC

Picture of Danger Den / Nvidia Tri SLI Water Cooled Gaming PC

A year and a half ago, I built a hefty gaming rig, now its old hardware. I was going to update it, mainly swapping my 2 GeForce 8800 GTX for a shiny new GeForce GTX 280. But I went "mad scientist" and build and entirely new rig, starting with an acrylic case made by Danger Den, and inside a triple Nvidia SLI water-cooled monster.

Here's a shopping list:

Case: Danger Den Tower-21

Motherboard: XFX nForce 790i

CPU: Intel Core 2 Extreme QX9650 Quad processor

Memory: Corsair XMS3 DHX DDR34GB Dual Channel Memory Kit

Graphic cards: 3 Nvidia GeForce GTX280. 2 from PALIT and 1 from BFG

Power Supply: Corsair HX1000W

Hard Drives: Western Digital VelociRaptor

Watercooling supplies: Danger Den

Step 1: Building the Case Danger Den's Tower-21

Picture of Building the Case Danger Den's Tower-21

Take a look at Double Ds Tower-21 acrylic case. The Tower-21 is large, structuraly very solid, strong, and extremely heavy. I'd put the quality up against the best metal cases out there. And forget thoes cheap ready-built no name acrylic cases. They are like tissue paper in comparison. All the acrylic pieces comes covered with a protective paper film, protecting it from scratching. Danger Den cases uses a 3/8" acrylic for almost all of it, and the acrlyic can be custom ordered in a variey of different colors and UV. I got black and clear. Expect to spend around 1 1/2 to 2 hours for the assembly. The directions are easy to follow, the

parts come labeled and each set of screws come in a separate bags. Danger Den's kind enough to throw in white gloves, here a tip..use them! When I started without them I got fingerprints everywhere. This case is a showstopper so treat it like one.

Step 2: Water Cooling Intel's QX9650

Picture of Water Cooling Intel's QX9650

I'm using Intel's Core 2 Extreme QX9650 for the main brain of this beast. I Place the chip into the CPU socket on the motherboard, lock it down and paint on some thermal paste. I'm replacing the Intel heatsink with Danger Den's MC-TDX waterblock. Use the supplied nuts, threaded rods, and retention clip to set the block in place. The MC-TDX waterblock comes standard with regular 1/4" Thread Barb which I'll replace with compression fittings. Compression fittings are a much safer way to install watercooling, and I don't need coolant leaking from the chip down and on to the graphic cards!

Step 3: Filling the Tower

Picture of Filling the Tower

With the chip set on the mobo, I do a quick install of the rest of the components inside the case. As always main power goes first. The Corsair HX1000W has a modular cable design, helpful when trying to keep cable management in check. Screw it in with the provided 4 screws. Drop in the XFX nForce 790i Motherboard and screw it in place. Snap, into the ram sockets 2 corsair TW3X2G1600C9DHXNV. And ffinally, screw in the WD VelociRaptor hard drive.
Lets start cooling it all down. Danger Den is always on the cutting edge when it comes to water cooling. Double D is always refining their water block designs and pushing the limits of the water cooling performance. On the inside front of the case I install the Danger Den's Black Ice GTX360 with three 120mm fans from Cooler master. I take the DD / Laing DDC-12V pump and add the DDC Acrylic Top to it. The next part of watercooling is setting up the GPUs

Step 4: Three Nvidia Geforce GTX280 SLI Setup

Picture of Three Nvidia Geforce GTX280 SLI Setup

What happens when you take one of the most powerful graphic cards (until Nvidia makes another one) and link it with TWO other ones? First your girl leaves you for spending all that money on yourself giving you more time to play Crysis with every bell and whistle turned up to the max!
Here are 3 Nvidia Geforce GTX280 2 from Palit, and 1 from BFG. Even though the cards are from different manufactures and different specifications(the Palits are stock and the BFG came with the waterblock pre-installed) they will work together in SLI. Atfer I install them I'm going to use the Nvidia control panel to match the two stock cards with the overclocked from BFG. First I have to convert them to watercooling.

Step 5: Water Cooling the Graphic Cards

Picture of Water Cooling the Graphic Cards

I took the PALIT Geforce GTX 280 (with tears in my eyes) It makes me a little nervous when i begin to mod one of these beauties. After wiping my tears, I ripped off the stock heatsink and start the labor intensive process of replacing it with Danger Den's Tieton water block.

Here's an overview of process, Use the pictures as your guide:

Unscrew and score the stickers to remove the cards back plate, pry up the front housing and unplug the fan. wipe off and replace all the thermal paste and heat tape. Test fit the Tieton waterblock . Sandwich the card between the block and the new black plate (the black horseshoe) and screw it together, being careful not to over tighten.

Step 6: Installing Water Cooling

Picture of Installing Water Cooling

Water cooling is not as dangerous as it sounds. Just be careful go slow and check each fitting before hitting the power switch. Measure out each length of tubing carefully and follow the quick cheat sheet below to make a closed water cooled circuit.

The first tube is the fill tube (where the coolant is inserted) connect it to the top of the pump.

Next attach a tube from the top of the CPU water block to the first graphic card.

Stagger the SLI custom fittings on the GPUs. On the last GPU card attach it to the Radiator.

Attach another from the bottom of the CPU water block directly to the pump.

The Last one, on the pump add a tube going from the pump to the radiator.

When I first turn it on I have a huge flash light and paper towels stuffed in areas that could have a leak. If there is a leak (rare) power down immediately and give it a few minutes to a couple of days depending on the volume of damage.

Step 7: No Leaks!

Picture of No Leaks!

All connected, no leaks (wipe sweat from brow) and glowing blue from those 3 fans. The first thing; its so much quieter then my old PC. The combination of the thickness of Danger Dens case and the addition of water cooling keeps the noise down to a calm hum. Oh and yes it's runs like a bat out of hell!


ewolvin (author)2013-01-23

I had hoped to see "home made" water blocks instead of store bought ones. Anyone with $$$ can build this. Had you made a vid with water blocks made from scrap around your home Now that would have been a video !

Shadow Of Intent (author)2011-05-06

Dunno if this is still relevant to your interests, but in parallel, they would all recieve cool water, but since the water is divided between more tubes, it would pass through slower. In series, it would go through much faster, but successive GPUs would recieve water heated by the previous GPU, which would lead to the last card in the series running hotter than the others.

So, for a fixed volume of water pumped per second, series would have a greater temperature variation (Though if the flow is fast enough, this may be reduced to just a few degrees' difference), and parallel might have a lower maximum temperature, but many more tubes.

I'd go for series, both for neatness, and because the slower water flow of a parallel setup would probably result in poorer cooling on average compared with "second hand" water in a series setup.

Hope this helps!

egammoc (author)2010-10-25

what would it cost just to buy one off some1 with this kinda skill?

Muscelz (author)2009-02-02

i have to ask how did u manage to link the GPU water blocks together? iver never seen a 280 SLI waterblock setup :/

AnthonyV (author)Muscelz2009-04-09

wasent easy, when i did it but if you go to Danger Dens site they have the custom parts for the triple setup.

menahunie (author)AnthonyV2010-09-15

I am considering water cooling. I am currently using tec/air cooling.
My question is I have seen mose system hook the gpu's in series; what is moree better? Series or hooking them up in paraell?

zack247 (author)2010-08-10

what is that paper stuff you are holding with the tweezers in step 5?

awang8 (author)2009-02-16

Looks cool, but agin, isn't this kinda overkill?

Ah well, what the average frame rate for Crysis high detail on 1900x1200?

AnthonyV (author)awang82009-04-09

overkill is half the fun, + now i dont have to worry about frame rates on crysis

you think you could play crysis with ultra high settings on a three screen setup?

tinkerC (author)awang82009-02-23

So what? The over-kill makes you be able to update individual parts, so more can be cooled, without updating the cooling system.

awang8 (author)tinkerC2009-02-23

I'm talking about the GPUs...

tinkerC (author)awang82009-02-24

More screens mean more space to put your windows. Also, the quality counts, because then it looks better.

sqeeek (author)2010-07-19

Unless you ended up tight on money, which is understandable with a computer like this, I'd use a Seagate drive instead of the WD. I've been repairing computers for a job for about 5 years now, (doesn't seem that long unless you consider I'm only 18), and WD have _always_ been the first ones to fail, Maxtor being next after that. Seagate drives, however, seem to last forever. And when they do have problems, you can usually send them back and get a new one for free. Not that you'd need to - I have a RAID-5 array of 70gb SCSI Cheetah's from an old server that are around 6x their MTBF, and they're still going :D Only problems I've ever had were with some 500gb drives a couple of years ago, but Seagate was very nice about replacing them with drives that, as far as I know, are still working. No offense to anyone involved, but IMO, Seagate drives are worth the extra $.

Muscelz (author)2009-02-02

this is the most irritating step apart from pulling apart the vids, so fiddly. ahha dnt cha just hate those little scratches, they irritate you till your ripping out your hair then your sittin there for ages trying to get them out lmao

AnthonyV (author)Muscelz2009-04-09

heck yea, and the plastic faces get fingerprints all over them.

sqeeek (author)AnthonyV2010-07-19

There's a window cleaning spray solution I get at the local car parts shop, works great for cleaning those off :) Wish I could remember what it's called.

Muscelz (author)2009-02-02

u got your hands on a corsiar powersupply nice, highest quality PSU on the market, i guess you would want reliable power for a 8grand machine ayee :)

anarchysk8 (author)Muscelz2009-09-23

hahahaha lol no offense but corsair is a memory company not psu try ultra or thermaltake or even kingwin and they have modular way more efficient

Hycro (author)anarchysk82010-01-01

Take a close up look at the picture of the PSU...I was reading what you both said, and was wondering what you were talking about, checked it out, and it says on the side of the PSU that it's Corsair, but so does the RAM...

anarchysk8 (author)Hycro2010-04-20

yea corsair is a company that focuses on making ram and to expand their profit and consumer base they decided to make psu's and other parts for computers its just like OCZ which  is THE #1 IN MEMORY AND SSD'S  ocz makes psu's and other parts like cooling but i would never in my right mind buy a ocz psu for the fact that its just not as good as a company that makes psu's before others!!!

SmAsH! (author)2009-11-08

What are the actual specs of this beast? You've got me drooling in my chair!

Eddiepers (author)2009-10-25

and now they have comps with 10+ gigs of ram STATNARD!!

now thats futureproffing

ashchetm (author)2009-09-24


anarchysk8 (author)2009-09-23

great job next time go AMD SLI the two pair better than intel does and for $1000 for 3.3ghz compared to $240 for 3.3ghz i think its way better on the budget

Muscelz (author)2009-02-02

i advise you RIGHT now to change water blocks from plastic faced! alwayz get solid copper and aluminium blocks, ive see to many plastic faced water blocks crack around the gasket, screw and inlet and outlet base :/

anarchysk8 (author)Muscelz2009-09-23

lol danger den has never failed me and it actually works better the copper blocks they use have a better heat draw than koolance and others so just use DD and not a cheapo and you will be fine o and by the way its not a normal "plastic" its made out of acrylic and its hard enough to take on the best liquid cooling up to 90psi (twice as much as you should ever use on liquid cooling)

anarchysk8 (author)2009-09-23

its not the biggest improvement but its a good idea get a can of "Aqua Net" and spray it on the pieces (outside of the case only for static reasons) when you are building it no finger prints i did it on 3 different builds and they are still as shinny as when i opened the box

imnotarealaccount (author)2009-03-27

Oh man, this is beautiful. Looks a lil cramped though but, man, it is beautiful. How much did it cost? did you have to put your house up for collateral?

yea its cramped! it all just fit!. ps im now living out of the boxes all the stuff came in (lol)

TheScientist (author)2008-11-18

really nice, good instructable! i'm curious about a couple of things though: most setups i've seen have a reservoir, how come yours doesn't? and how hot does it run? those three cards under load + cpu must get pretty warm still all being on one loop? although that's a pretty huge radiator :-D

AnthonyV (author)TheScientist2009-04-09

the fill tube is acting like a res. and my temps are icey cold, on load cpu is around 50-55 c and gpus 46-50c

AnthonyV (author)TheScientist2008-11-18

the reservoir is the fill tube, same thing. as for the temps idle everything is running around 40c CPU and GPUS. I played Dead Space for about 3 hours and my temps never went past 55c.

TheScientist (author)AnthonyV2008-11-18

cool :)

Dantex (author)2008-11-20

You ca buy uv colour and uv light for a hell good light show

AnthonyV (author)Dantex2009-04-09

with what ive got in there my glass desk light up like a christmas tree

Muscelz (author)2009-02-02

waz ther any board difrences between the BFG and PALIT boards? ram location? for eg

AnthonyV (author)Muscelz2009-04-09

no differences

Muscelz (author)2009-02-02

how u like myne :) built it myself, cost enough (toooo much *pulls collar down*) , does the job :) Intel Core i7 965 @ 4ghz (45oC idle "liquid") ASUS Rampage II Extreme Motherboard (I7) Gainward Radeon 4870 X2 Rampage700 GS GLH Edition x2 OCZ DDR3 PC3-15000 Reaper 4x2gb 8gb total @2ghz Thermaltake Sword Aluminium Liquid Cooled Case Thermaltake Toughpower 1.2Kw Modular

AnthonyV (author)Muscelz2009-04-09

nice i building an i7 rig ill post it soon

warhound (author)Muscelz2009-04-08

did you make enough posts holy crap man!!!!!!!!!!

jeijei2 (author)2009-03-01

i sugjest if you build your own pc make sure NOT to use nvidia fx geforce 5500 or less trust me its the worst thing ever i updated my pc with it and now i can play any single 3d or online game uless its on the internet

Muscelz (author)2009-02-02

nice heat sink work (Y) great neat job :) anyone that wonders y i say that it insures maximum heat transfer

need (author)2008-11-29

Hi, Great job, thanks man.

mikeasaurus (author)2008-11-18

Great detail here, I like the look of the finished product. The blue lighting is a nice touch. How does it perform now? and what are you going to do with it now that it's water-cooled?

AnthonyV (author)mikeasaurus2008-11-18

its just fast hard to describe with out seeing it, no lags so far no issues I'm a 2-D artist, with a little 3-D in the mix, and my outlet is Gaming

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