Building Arcturus Part 2 Assembling the Monster
This is part 2 of my build log for project Arcturus. To see Part 1 please take a look at the previous post.
In this section I will be covering the assembly of the machine, as well as explaining some of the intricacies of building something of this magnitude.
What made me select the CaseLabs TH-10?
Well the answer to this is pretty simple, this case is huge and can hold just about anything I could ever imagine to put into it. It also has virtually limitless options for customization, bay configuration, support for 480mm radiators etc.. Not to mention this case is also made here in the US so I knew the quality would be second to none, and that proved to be true in every way imaginable. This case was an absolute dream to work with, and it really is built better than any other case I’ve seen before, and yes this does include Lian Li.
If you are interested in looking at some of caselabs’ other offerings, head on over to http://www.caselabs.net
The first thing I decided on for this build was a red and black color scheme, so that meant I had to choose certain parts and look for the best options that fit this color scheme decision. For this reason I chose the ASUS Rampage IV Extreme motherboard, both for it’s cool looks and unmatched performance. I’ve always been an EVGA fan but ASUS made EVGA look stupid with their Rampage IV.
Another thing I decided to do was to sleeve all of the cables in my build, which is actually something I’ve never done before but I’ve always wanted to try. So I headed over to http://www.mdpc-x.com/ and ordered some black and color-x (dark red) sleeving to use on all of my cables. I then decided to individually sleeve every single wire for my AX1200 Power supply to make the wiring in the build look absolutely killer. Here are some pictures of the sleeving and some cables:
As you can see in the above pictures, the sleeving completely changes the look of the PSU cables from any run of the mill build to something that really shows time devoted and a quality that you just don’t see in high end PC builds. You might notice that a few cables aren’t sleeved. This is because I ran out of sleeving, I have to order some more to complete those cables.
The next thing I needed to accomplish for this build was the mapping out of the water cooling system. This whole build was thought up around the cooling system, so every single detail had to be worked out before the assembly started. This meant mounting the blocks to the motherboard, the GPU blocks, and mounting the CPU block. Then I had to decide on placement for the radiators and work out the routing for the tubing. Here are some pictures of the block mounting process:
As you can see above, I went with all EK blocks with Black Acetel tops. These are all EN Nickel plated blocks that are supposed to be free from the flaking/corrosion issues that plagued the previous generation of Nickel plated blocks. We’ll see in a future post how that worked out.
One of the first things I established for the water cooling was that I would be using 1/2” ID, 3/4” OD tubing with bitspower black compression fittings throughout this whole build. I love the way compression fittings work and their appearance is just amazing and really shows a higher quality over a standard barb and clamp style setup. Here is a couple of pictures of some assorted bitspower fittings that were used in this build:
There were more used than seen in the above pictures, but the initial iteration of this build was mostly straight fittings as well as 45 degree fittings.
Next was the process of mounting the mounting the motherboard and GPU’s to the case and start working out some of the tube routing. The routing of the tubing was actually one of the bigger challenges of this build because of how close some of the fittings are, specifically the chipset blocks in relation to the CPU block. I thought about using SLI connectors for this purpose but actually decided against that as it would present too much of a hassle to work out the height differences to get the connector fitting perfectly level. If those things are even 1mm out of level, they would leak. So below are some pictures of some of the tube routing worked out between the chipset blocks and the CPU block, might look a little whacky, but it works.
The next task was to figure out where I was going to fit the 2 480mm radiators as well as the 360mm radiator that I would be using in this build. Before I discuss that though, I should probably answer the question of why I used so many radiators in this build. Well the answer is increased surface area equals more efficient cooling. Basically I could then run my fans at a lower RPM and achieve the same cooling as someone who uses less radiators with high RPM fans. And I could also have the option of using performance fans and achieving very good temps even with high overclocks, not to mention I also have 2 GTX580’s in this loop which can put out a fair amount of heat.
Here are some pictures of the radiator placement. As you can see the 2 480mm rads are in the back compartment that also houses the PSU, and the 360mm is in the main hardware compartment:
One other thing that I should probably cover is the pump situation in this build. I knew from a very early stage of planning that with a CPU block, 2 chipset blocks, and 2 GPU blocks as well as 3 radiators as well as a ton of tubing that a single D5 vario pump was probably not going to cut it for this machine. So I made the decision to go with 2 D5 vario pumps to keep the flow rates high enough to achieve maximum cooling performance out of the build. Here are some pictures of the pump arrangement. As you can see the initial design had the second pump sitting after the video cards as the boost point to get the water moving again. This would later be changed, and the reasoning will be discussed in a future post, but nevertheless, here are the pictures of the initial design:
As you can see here, I am fitting the Monsoon reservoir which houses the primary pump, and you can also see the secondary pump below with the hose running to it coming from the out port on the GPU blocks.
One other thing I will cover is the decision I made in regards to the GPU block flow. I decided to go with a parallel setup in order to keep restriction in the loop to a minimum and allow for the highest flow rates possible. Plus this also helps keep the GPU temps even so I don’t have a “hot” GPU and a “cold” GPU in the loop. Here is a picture of how I have the GPU’s set up:
As you can see, most of the complexity of this build was around the cooling system. But the other part that was important was the appearance of the wiring as well as the cable management. And as you may have already figured out, cable management on something this big isn’t exactly the easiest thing in the world. I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves on this one. Most of the excess wiring was hidden in the PSU/Rad compartment, and I think it all looks pretty damn good, but you can be the judge:
Also one other thing I should mention is the fans. I put a LOT of fans in this build, 11 for the radiators alone, and the rest in the case. Every intake fan also received a silverstone dust filter to minimize on dust getting into the case. It won’t completely stop it, but at least it will slow it down. Here are some pictures to show the fans and the filters:
On the last picture above, you can see the filters on the bottom of the case for all of the intake fans, the ones toward the bottom of this picture are for one of the 480mm radiators.
The rest of the build went smoothly after all of the cooling and other little nuances were handled. Here are some pictures of the final internals for the initial design:
In the next post I will talk about the first few weeks with the machine running, and some of the issues I started running into as a result of some parts not being up to the quality standards that they once were. This build log isn’t over yet, so stay tuned until next time!