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
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
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
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
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
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
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!
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!