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  • Mini builds and water cooling

    Hey All

    I'm currently content with my computer (Currently planning air filters for the intakes), but like anyone, I'm always planning my next build in case some catastrophic failure gives me an excuse to build another machine. The two questions:

    Anyone build a gaming machine using either the micro ATX or Mini ITX form factor? Tips? Hardware recommendations? Case recommendations?

    Anyone do water cooling? If so, DIY or factor sealed systems? Difficulties? First time tips?

    Anyone combine them into a water powered shoe box?

    Lemme know.
    |TG-6th|SirNerd

    My Resume includes Pirate, Mercenary, and a Devil Dog, what else do you want.

    Pain is Inevitable, Suffering is Optional.

    When you can't run anymore, you crawl and when you can't do that, you find someone to carry you.

  • #2
    Re: Mini builds and water cooling

    I have no experiences with SFFs, so I can't comment on that. As far as factory sealed water cooling systems, I've yet to try, or hear of, a product that isn't outperformed by cheaper fan solutions, so if you're serious about having a go at it, I'd go DIY.

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: Mini builds and water cooling

      look for cases that can hold a full size GPU. If you can't then look at the only really robust small card i know of--fury nano.

      I have water cooling, but it is pre-built from Corsair, so if you are looking for something that requires an outside pump, then I can't help.



      Interested in listening to guitar playing and a good conversation, look for me on TS.

      "Hope is for the weak. I hope for nothing. I work for things. That is the only way for events to unfold." -Cleverbot

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: Mini builds and water cooling

        Hmm. I'd give the opposite advice to Jyden. Again, no SFF experience, but switching out my big tower cooler for my current Seidon 120M gave me a lot more internal space in my case. Clearing the obstruction of a big heat sink gives you less restricted airflow through the whole case, and lowers your ambient case temp by moving the heat sink from the center to right at the exhaust point. These two factors increase the efficiency of all the other air cooling in your system to one degree or another.

        Other than that, closed loop CPU cooling has been getting more and more competitively priced over the last few years. Entry level water coolers are generally similar to high end air coolers in price and performance, with the consensus being that water cooling tends to run a bit cooler, but make a bit more noise.

        For your application it sounds like the bottom line will be space. To get the efficiency of a water-cooled loop, air cooling has to use either big sinks or high-rpm fans, or both, or dual fans, or dual fan / dual sink in the top-of-the-lines. I know I'm not going back to air, I'd suggest you look into water options.

        I'm curious to hear the opinion of someone who has built their own full-case water cooling setup. I like the idea in principal, but sounds like it would be a real pain, not just for initial setup, but for any modifications that have to be done later.
        Teamwork and Tactics are OP


        Strait /strāt/ (Noun) A narrow passage of water connecting two seas or two large areas of water: "the Northumberland Strait".

        Comment


        • #5
          Re: Mini builds and water cooling

          From experience building SFFs and a upcoming UCFF, my biggest tip: PLAN PLAN PLAN!

          Get as much information about the parts you are putting together:
          + length of cabling
          + W x H x D of cards, boards, case, etc
          + TDPs of your CPU, GPU, and Mobo
          ----- I'd probably try to stay under a combined 350/400W. Ideally the lower the better since most PSUs won't offer more than 450W.
          ----- Keep in mind the heat generated by these 3 major components. If they generate heat too fast for the airflow to suck out, maybe you need to rethink your cooling solutions or part choices.
          + Which ports and how many are important to you? (This applies to the case front ports and the mobo itself. Seriously determines future expandability.)
          + Go careful, manage those cables! (Airflow is extremely important in small builds. You want to wrap your cables with quick ties or sheathing to keep blockage to mininum.)
          + Put it together BEFORE you decide to start modding (unless it won't fit).

          I'll post up some build pictures from the SFF Richland rig I built last year (giving it to my mom to replace her dying desktop). I have some terrible cabling and made a not so good choices when I was assembling. Not to mention I basically pushed the Silverstone mini-ITX case to its limits.


          As for water cooling, it's doable. I have a 120mm AIO water cooler in the above mentioned SFF rig. I'd probably stick to a case that can do intake and exhaust using fans. Otherwise, you're going to have some serious airflow and heat issues.
          |TG-18th| Acreo Aeneas
          TG World of Tanks Clan Executive Officer
          Former 9th & 13th

          Pronounciation: Eh-Cree-Oh Ah-Nay-Ess
          Still can't say it? Call me Acorn then. -.-





          SSDs I Own: Kingston HyperX 3K (240 GB), Samsung 840 Pro (256 GB), Samsung 840 EVO (250 GB), Samsung 840 x 2 (120 GB), Plextor M5S (120 GB), OCZ Vertex (30 GB)

          TG Primer and Rules

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: Mini builds and water cooling

            WARNING: High-res photos. If your browser stalls, it's not my fault!

            Here are the promised build shots. I was mistaken and this build was from 2 years ago (Christmas 2013).













            ^^ Yes that is a standard PCI-E graphics card in that small case. Specifically, it's the HIS Radeon R9 270



            ^^ This is what I mean about planning your build carefully! I don't suggest trying to max out a small case like the one I chose. Usually a bad idea. As you can see, about half the radiator is blocked by the jumble of cables and that really restricted airflow to the board which suffered from being fairly warm to hot at times. Not to mention, a air cooler might have been a better choice.



            ^^ Here it is booted up and me installing Windows 8 on it at the time. It's now sitting on the floor (well raised somewhat) nearby ready for my mom use complete with Windows 10.

            A quick spec list:

            + AMD Athlon X4 760K (Richland APU without the GPU)
            + Cooler Master Seidon 120V (or is it 120M?) AIO Water Cooler for the CPU
            + ASRock A88X mini-ITX motherboard (A88X chipset, FM2+ socket, good audio chipset with EMI filter and op-amps)
            + 8 GBs of DDR3-1600 RAM (G.Skill)
            + 250 GB Samsung 850 EVO SSD
            + Silverstone SG05-B (non-PSU included one)
            + Silverstone 450W ST45SF-G SFX Form Factor PSU (80 Plus Gold rating, Modular)

            Whether or not you go modular for a PSU needs to be considered if you are building as small as I was (or am now). Going modular might mean less cabling to deal with, but also add more initial length to the cabling that comes out of the PSU. For me it was trouble getting the stiff ATX12V cable to bend and stay down so I could shut the case.

            My next gaming rig will be a bit bigger than this one is. I'm still aiming for mini-ITX board and AMD's upcoming Zen processors. Otherwise, it's microATX if mini-ITX is a no-go.
            |TG-18th| Acreo Aeneas
            TG World of Tanks Clan Executive Officer
            Former 9th & 13th

            Pronounciation: Eh-Cree-Oh Ah-Nay-Ess
            Still can't say it? Call me Acorn then. -.-





            SSDs I Own: Kingston HyperX 3K (240 GB), Samsung 840 Pro (256 GB), Samsung 840 EVO (250 GB), Samsung 840 x 2 (120 GB), Plextor M5S (120 GB), OCZ Vertex (30 GB)

            TG Primer and Rules

            Comment


            • #7
              Re: Mini builds and water cooling

              Recently came across this related pornography:

              http://imgur.com/a/fgbN6

              (SFW)

              Sir-Nerd, I challenge you to do this for your next build. :P
              Teamwork and Tactics are OP


              Strait /strāt/ (Noun) A narrow passage of water connecting two seas or two large areas of water: "the Northumberland Strait".

              Comment


              • #8
                Re: Mini builds and water cooling

                Wow, that's impressive.
                |TG|Melee
                Clear Eyes, Full Hearts, Can't Lose!

                Comment


                • #9
                  Re: Mini builds and water cooling

                  I want to see the Xen related APUs that are rumored for 2016/2017



                  Interested in listening to guitar playing and a good conversation, look for me on TS.

                  "Hope is for the weak. I hope for nothing. I work for things. That is the only way for events to unfold." -Cleverbot

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Re: Mini builds and water cooling

                    Originally posted by Strait Raider View Post
                    Recently came across this related pornography:

                    http://imgur.com/a/fgbN6

                    (SFW)

                    Sir-Nerd, I challenge you to do this for your next build. :P
                    I actually drooled a little
                    |TG-6th|SirNerd

                    My Resume includes Pirate, Mercenary, and a Devil Dog, what else do you want.

                    Pain is Inevitable, Suffering is Optional.

                    When you can't run anymore, you crawl and when you can't do that, you find someone to carry you.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Re: Mini builds and water cooling

                      I think Corsair just came out with exactly what you may be looking for: a closed loop system for mini ATX. I just saw something about it yesterday, and I immediately thought of this thread. :) IIRC, it was priced pretty reasonably, too (can't swear to that though).
                      "The power of accurate observation is commonly called cynicism by those who have not got it." - George Bernard Shaw



                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Re: Mini builds and water cooling

                        Originally posted by Strait Raider View Post
                        For your application it sounds like the bottom line will be space. To get the efficiency of a water-cooled loop, air cooling has to use either big sinks or high-rpm fans, or both, or dual fans, or dual fan / dual sink in the top-of-the-lines. I know I'm not going back to air, I'd suggest you look into water options.

                        I'm curious to hear the opinion of someone who has built their own full-case water cooling setup. I like the idea in principal, but sounds like it would be a real pain, not just for initial setup, but for any modifications that have to be done later.
                        I have a large mid-tower case with a custom water cooling loop going over my CPU, and both my 7970's. In the loop there is two 120mm rads and a 240mm rad, as well as an external pump and reservoir. I have as you described the "push-pull" setup. All the rads have fans on both sides to increase the airflow. Total in the case there are 9 fans. By no means is it space efficient and by no means is it easy. Allowed for very temperature safe overclocking though :). Took a while to build, not to mention case modding to have everything actually fit inside. It was fantastically fun to build, but I will definitely be going the factory-sealed route next time, and probably only water cool the CPU. Maybe GPU if it becomes more viable with factory sealed coolers.

                        The idea of a smaller packed PC is growing on me more and more these days.
                        |TG-Irr| di1lweed1212

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Re: Mini builds and water cooling

                          The last two people I've built machines for used the Corsair 250 case (m-itx), and a DiyPC cuboid Green edition (mAtx)

                          Pain in the butts to wire, good airflow, an issue with the Corsair is that the fans on have 3 pin connectors and no molex adapters, and i could only have one fan running with the itx's single fan connection. Oh well. The Cuboid had such good airflow i was getting 50C temps with the PoS stock intel cooler.

                          My next serious build will be a small computer decked out to have a full sized graphics card, but that won't be for awhile. I'm getting better and better with cable management. I've worked with 3 antex 300s and my currenet machine is an Antec 900, but I want something small and sleek next time. Won't be for a few years tho.
                          |TG-6th|SirNerd

                          My Resume includes Pirate, Mercenary, and a Devil Dog, what else do you want.

                          Pain is Inevitable, Suffering is Optional.

                          When you can't run anymore, you crawl and when you can't do that, you find someone to carry you.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Re: Mini builds and water cooling

                            Oh yes, pins! Keep in mind that the closed loop systems (afaik) all require two fan connectors - one for the pump and one for the fan. Didn't make a difference for me since the rad fan doubled as the rear exhaust fan, but something to think about.
                            Teamwork and Tactics are OP


                            Strait /strāt/ (Noun) A narrow passage of water connecting two seas or two large areas of water: "the Northumberland Strait".

                            Comment

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