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Verran's Armor / Water Cooling Worklog


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#1 Verran

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Posted 21 July 2009 - 05:34 PM

This mod is done and ancient history. In fact, it's already been mostly disassembled. However, I had a great worklog for it and it got lost in a server crash that we won't talk about. So now it's gone and I'm sad. But hey, things are always better the second time around, right? So why not recreate it? So just keep in mind that everything you're reading here is already done. :)

Stage 01 – The Idea

OK, so I blame hardnrg. It was the time of 939 Opterons. Hardnrg heard a whisper that they were coming, told me he was pulling strings to get one, so of course I had to have one too! So he got his and I got mine. Turned out I was blessed with a “golden” CABNE stepping. That was the stepping to have. His was good too, but mine was great! And it was sitting on a DFI nf4 SLI-DR too, which was pretty much the best board you could get for it.

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So the overclocking begins and it becomes obvious that these things make a LOT of heat. So I settled for a 650mhz OC on stock volts (from 2.2Ghz stock speed). Certainly nothing to shake a stick at, but I knew it had more if only my already lapped Thermalright XP-120 could cool it better. Hardnrg moved forward with ridiculous voltages on air and started throwing down some serious OCs. I stayed content with my stock volts OC for a bit, but in the end it wasn't enough and I looked to water.

So I decided to go with DangerDen parts, but I needed a case that could handle a dual-120mm radiator as well as some spare room for the pump and reservoir. I started looking at the Thermaltake Armor because I just really liked it, but it only had one 120mm fan in the back and that just wouldn't do. So with a bit of photo-chopping I mocked up my idea to show nrg...

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And that was good enough for me. It wouldn't be easy, but I'd make it work. It'd be a helluva mod and that would be half the fun. Did I -need- watercooling and those extra few hundred megahertz? Of course not! But the effort to get there was what I was really looking for. So I ordered the parts:

Thermaltake Armor Case
DangerDen 939 TDX Brass-Top
2x5.25 Bay Acrylic Reservoir
Black Ice CrossFlow 2x120mm Radiator
Eheim 1250 AC-Powered Pump

(more to come as I type it up and dig up the pics...)
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#2 ccokeman

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Posted 21 July 2009 - 06:02 PM

aaah I remember the days !

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#3 Verran

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Posted 21 July 2009 - 06:22 PM

Stage 02 – Testing The Water System

So the water parts all showed up and I couldn't wait. I wanted to know what the temps were going to be like. So I decided to hook it all up outside the case just to make sure everything was working and after a bit of leak-testing I slid my motherboard under it and just made sure everything looked good.

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Once I was happy it was all working and was going to cool well, it was on to the case work...

Stage 03 – Deconstructing The Thermaltake Armor

So there's a few things I don't like about this case right off the bat. First of all, there's this horizontal cross-member thing that just serves to get in my way, so that thing's gone. Next, the pretty little green and purple “toolless” card locks. Gone! I've never met one of those I actually trusted to hold a card in and I'm certainly capable of turning a few screws and doing the job right. Then, there's the clear things that swing and hold the 5.25” drives in place “toollessly”. Well, I feel the same about “toolless” here, so off they come. Unfortunately, the top one was stubborn and wouldn't come off, so it had to stay, but the rest were history. Again, I can turn a screwdriver and do the job right...

So here's a shot of before (left) and after (right):
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So now, there's the matter of the extra drive rack in the upper left. Unfortunately, it's not in the pictures, but it was a removable rack that held 3 or 4 3.5” drives that mounted up in the back next to the PSU. Well first of all, the standard 3x3.5” cage that mounts up front would be more than enough for my needs, and second that extra cage had to go or my plans for the new PSU mount would never fly. So a few rivet-drillings later and that one's out too. Now we've got ourselves a wide open case that's ready for some hardware!

Again, here's a before (left) and after (right) pic:
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Stage 04 – Cutting (AKA: There's No Turning Back Now)

So my idea to rotate the PSU mount 90 degrees would be no small feat. I knew that going in, but it had to be done if there was any chance of getting room for 2x120mm fans in the back. So I started by cutting out the plate where the PSU mounted. I hoped to just reuse that piece because it had all the proper screw holes that would just line up perfectly for the PSU.

In this pic, you can see where I've cut the plate out and set it against the case. (Cut from the upper right and currently sitting in the lower left)
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So unfortunately, there's a few skipped steps here where I didn't take pictures. But remember, that was years ago now, so don't blame me, blame 25 year old me :P Anyways, what I did was I stood the case up on it's front so the back was facing up in the air. This way, I could set the radiator where I wanted it for the purpose of mocking it up. Once I liked where it was and it wasn't interfering with anything else, I used a blue marker to mark where it was so that I could work around that. You can sort of see the blue in the pics.

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As you can see, from this point I just started cutting with no mercy. I had two goals: One was to get the PSU plate to sit where it should. I accomplished this with a few different tricks. One was to have one of the holes in the plate share a mounting screw with the top metal of the case. The other was to use a lip that the plate already had to sit against a cut I had made in the old mesh where the single fan should be. This joint involved some JB Weld, which I'm a bit ashamed of, but it got the job done and after some testing I was VERY confident in its ability to hold the weight of any PSU I could perceivably throw at it.

The second goal, from before, was to cut out as much of the back of the case as possible for maximum airflow for the two new fan holes. It was like cutting out the mesh of a fan mount but doing it on a fan mount that doesn't exist yet :P The trick here was to leave just enough so there was something there for the fan bolts to go through. The plan, you see, was to have the rad on the back, fans inside, and the bolts going through the metal of the case to hold the whole contraption on. So after a lot of test-mounting, cutting, and repeating, I had sufficiently massacred the back of the case to my liking. As ugly as the cuts are, I knew 95% of them would be hidden by the rad and fans, so that didn't bother me and I took no effort to clean them up, which I think it's painfully obvious in the pics :)

(more to come still...)
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#4 airman

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Posted 21 July 2009 - 06:37 PM

I remember this! And I remember the CABNE chips :) I had one...aahh the memories.

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#5 kingdingeling

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Posted 21 July 2009 - 11:26 PM

You may have had the CABNE 0528, which was a bloody golden one compared to my KABYE 0540 Athlon 3700+, but I had those G.Skill HZ 2x1GB sticks you could only dream of :lol:

I guess I have no excuse for not being as awesome as King... - iKillSteal

Seriously, big credit goes out to King for maintaining this list. He puts a lot of work into this thing and he deserves our thanks! - Verran

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#6 slick2500

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Posted 21 July 2009 - 11:55 PM

I was wondering how you had dual 120mm fans in the back of your Armor, the Armor would have been the best case hands down if they had the psu in it the normal way and it had dual rear 120mm fans from the factory, this is the only reason I want to get a different case because there is nowhere to mount a damn radiator in this friggin case. I am still working on fabricating a custom mount to hold the radiator in the front of the case.

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#7 Verran

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Posted 22 July 2009 - 04:05 PM

Stage 05 – Radiator Test Fit

So at this point I hadn't finalized my PSU mount with the JB Weld or anything, I was just focused on making sure the radiator and fans would hold themselves up with the holes I'd made. I was also concerned about whether I'd cut out enough of the metal in the back that the fans would get good airflow into the rad. Furthermore, I needed to make sure that the barbs for the rad would stick through the metal of the case is a usable fashion. I'd still have to get tubing and hose clamps on there, after all.

So what better way then to mount it all up and take a look first hand?
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So it looks fine from the back, but as you can see in the next pictures, the barbs still don't have enough clearance and I'm a bit worried I'll be cutting into GPU-mounting territory to get the room I need. But what choice do I have? It's probably going to have to get cut a lot more. So you can see where I marked the blue for the barb holes but for the moment I decided to work on other stuff and think some more about the possible GPU/barb overlap problem.
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Stage 06 – PSU Test Fit

So at this point it was pretty much the same story, just new parts. I needed to test out that new PSU mount now that the JB Weld had hardened and the bolts were in place. I had been pretty confident in it before but when push came to shove I was a bit antsy. But I mounted up a cheap-o PSU I had laying around at the moment and even pulled down on it a bit to “simulate” the weight of a bigger and better unit. It wasn't going anywhere and I was pretty pleased with myself.
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Stage 07 – Pump And Reservoir Test Fit

At this point, I needed to drill some holes in the floor of the case inside the drive mounting bays where the pump would sit. Once I had the spots for the mounting holes marked, the drilling angles proved to be pretty tricky, however that was nothing. The actual tightening of the bolts was downright grueling because of those same goofy angles. It took four times longer than it rightly should have, and the sad part was it was just a test mount so I knew I'd have to take them out and do it again later. The reservoir fit a little tighter than I'd like as well, given how prone acrylic is to scratching, but there wasn't much I could do there but be gentle. All in all, I got it into place and was happy with the way it was working out.
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So after everything else was mounted and working right, I had to go back to those radiator barbs and their possible interference with the GPU mounting slots. A little more cutting did the trick, but I'll leave that for next time, when the paint starts flying...
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#8 Boinker

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Posted 22 July 2009 - 07:16 PM

That looks Aad BASS

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#9 gebraset

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Posted 22 July 2009 - 07:40 PM

Dude, oh my god, I love worklogs. Like no lie.

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#10 psycho_terror

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Posted 22 July 2009 - 07:50 PM

ahh i'd seen the odd pic of your armor in the past, and i had always wondered why you rotated the PSU. pretty cool idea really.

i recently moved to a 240 rad myself, and just sacrificed the bottom 6 drive bays to fit it inside. if i was gonna cut it i would have done the top of the case. seems like a lot less work!

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#11 mattwalter85

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Posted 22 July 2009 - 08:02 PM

that looks like alot of work just to mount a rad on the back of ur case man.

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#12 Crazy_Nate

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Posted 22 July 2009 - 08:07 PM

Hmm...opteron, lanparty, armor case...why does that sound familiar? :lol:

Keep it coming :)

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