Well we’ve designed our loop, spent hours searching the web comparing parts and twiddling our thumbs nervously before clicking the submit order button. And why shouldn’t you be nervous? You just added enough gear to your cart to buy a crappy car! But it’s done, funds have been exchanged, time has slowly and painfully ticked by, and the tracking number has been checked hundreds of times (does the refresh button even work anymore?). Finally the status is green, the package has been delivered, our parts have arrived from Aquatuning.us, Phanteks, and ThermalTake! What did we get you ask? Follow along as we unbox and check out our glorious shiny new water cooling gear. Welcome to Water Cooling 101: Episode 3!
Our Water Cooling 101 series is brought to you by our great friends at Aquatuning! Check them out for all of your water cooling needs!
When you have this much gear coming at you it’s hard to decide which gift to yourself you should open first. Let’s go ahead and start from the outside and move in. That means beginning with our chosen chassis for this project, the humble skeleton that will hold our gear and let us create art.
We had a little trouble deciding which case we wanted to do this project in. We know which companies are our favorites, but deciding which would work best in regard to our project was a little difficult. In the end Phanteks won out. At ThinkComputers we have reviewed nearly all, if not their whole product line and know first hand that the guys and girls over there know and love watercooling. Deciding which of their many awesome cases to use was even more difficult, but in the end the Enthoo Evolv ATX really stood out for this particular project. There are many features that make this case ideal for water cooling but mostly it’s the open floor plan design that gives us the most options to do what we want, where we want, and that is ideal. We received the Anthracite Grey windowed version and it’s absolutely gorgeous. Check out my full review on the case.
With the home for our new rig fully decided upon and set in stone, we can go ahead and get into the water cooling gear that we chose. There really is no day like the day that you receive your giant box of water cooling parts for the first time, heck first time, second time, and everytime after that! This time around we’ve ordered all our gear from Aquatuning.us. The site was easy to use and everything arrived on schedule in a single large brown box. All the gear was packed nicely into the box with packaging material taking up the extra open spaces like you would expect. Once we had everything out of the box we lined it all up for a group photo of our haul.
All of our parts were carefully selected from Alphacool and Phobya. Two well established companies that we know from experience and reputation make some of the best parts in water cooling. Let’s check out exactly which parts we picked and why.
For our CPU block we consulted Stren’s Water Block Round Up just as I recommended for you. We selected an updated version of one of the top performing blocks, the Alphacool NexXxoS XP3 Light.
This block is pretty consistently in 3rd place for all the tests and looks good as well. In addition to performance and aesthetic appeal it is an Aphacool product so we know it will be a quality part and the Acetal version we picked out comes in at a pretty good price as well.
The machining looks really good and the kit comes complete with all the mounting hardware as well as thermal paste.
The next part we unboxed were our fans. Our selection criteria for fans was pretty specific. We wanted fans with a good amount of static pressure that were also fairly cheap. With water cooling you can sink a small fortune into fans alone. We also know from experience that there are fans out there, be it somewhat unknown, that are cheap but perform great. We went with ten Phobya G-Silent 120mm 1500rpm Red LED fans. These have a moderate static pressure of 1.61mmH2O and 57.22 CFM. Importantly they are designed to run well at lower voltages and should allow us to keep the system pretty quiet which is a pretty big deal when you have ten of these guys running at once.
They also look pretty good and should give our build a nice red glow to offset the black gloss interior of the case.