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[WORKLOG] Dipped my toe back into watercooling again

Discussion in 'Extreme and Water Cooling' started by Cathar, Sep 18, 2019.

  1. Cathar

    Cathar Storm Father

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    Since I relocated to the USA some 5 years ago, I've been without a water-cooling setup this whole time. My old system in Australia consisted of an Iwaki RD20 pump driven at 16VDC mounted in a large custom radiator box that had a 30x24cm radiator facial area pumping to a prototype Storm G7 water-block. That all kept things nice and cool. I brought my PC to the USA, but left the water-cooling behind.

    Recently I upgraded my PC to an i9-9900K, MSI Gaming X Trio 2080Ti, on a Gigabyte X390 Aorus Master motherboard, all in a Thermaltake View 71TG case.

    Firstly, this case is a freaking monster! It's dark, beautiful, but it's like the demigod of full size ATX cases, and weighs enough to make the Hulk break a sweat. It also comes with enough mounting capacity to hold two 360 radiators (one in front, one on top), or a 280 radiator in the front and a 420 radiator (eg. http://www.sidewindercomputers.com/thpa420ra.html) on top. Heck, it can support dual 16cm radiators if you wish. Does anyone make those? You want radiators? The case has you covered.

    So I've always appreciated Swiftech for how Gabriel had looked after me with regards to the Storm G4 Waterblock production, and I know that Swiftech really researches their water-cooling development properly, rather than just slapping together some common designs.

    I ended up with an MCP35X pump (I had an MCP50X but it was too noisy), the 10cm reservoir for the pump inlet, an Apogee SKF CPU block, and chose the EK full cover block for the video card since it was the only one I could find for the MSI Trio aside from the Bykski one, which just looked to be a straight up copy of the EK one.

    All together, it looks like the picture below, but I've since re-routed the tubing slightly and am using blue liquid now. I'll post an updated picture once the Iris link for the CPU waterblock LED arrives.

    Overall, I'm happy. The system is quiet. The C/W of the system with respect to the CPU package temperature is around 0.30, which is a little disappointing, but I'm not blaming the components for this. Rather I believe the bulk of all of that is going to be simply due to the IHS on the CPU, which near as I can estimate accounts for about 0.20 C/W on this particular CPU I own.

    I'm able to run all 8 cores at 5.1GHz stable, but the CPU is pushing about 225W of heat using Prime 95 on all cores, which is a big ask even for water-cooling to keep on top of. If the CPU could be de-lidded it'd do a heck of a lot better, but sadly this isn't possible with the 9900K's.

    The GPU core is capable of running at 2050MHz tops, which peaks at 55C under load, but I think I bummed out on the silicon lottery on this own, as it was capable of 2040MHz @ 75C even with the stock cooler. The memory on the card is good though, and is capable of 8300MHz for 3DMark. You win some, you lose some I guess.
     

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    Last edited: Sep 18, 2019
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  2. museumman

    museumman Member

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    So cool to log in and see a post from you Stu. Good to see you watercooling again. Miss the days where watercooling was about something other than bling. If you ever dip your toe back in the river yell out. LR stuff was the goods. Thanks for those experiences, means a lot to me these days.
     
  3. straiton

    straiton Member

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    Nice.

    Currently using a Cascade on my 1070
     
  4. OP
    OP
    Cathar

    Cathar Storm Father

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    museumman I would like to construct some new waterblocks using the XJet 3D Printing technology (https://xjet3d.com/), but I think that's still a few years away from becoming affordable enough for a hobbyist like me to just ask for a few prototypes, but I do believe that's the way forwards for exploring leading edge water-cooling technology at CPU size scales. Right now everything out there is limited by conventional machining limitations. I'm still a fervent believer that controlled jet impingement is the way to achieve the best results, but at the scale of a CPU size, flow management becomes the dominant issue. The Storm G7 prototype was an amazing work of art, packing ~220 jets nestling into "cups" in the silver base, all in the size of an Aussie 10c piece (which is incidentally almost identical in size to a US Quarter). The visual effect was something that actually made it difficult for one's eyes to focus on properly as it cast light about in weird ways. This was all conventionally machined requiring about 2 hours of machine time per block, which is just impractical. We had to actually machine up the cutting tools first, just to machine the block, but boy did it ever keep that 10c sized patch cool. I estimated that you could easily push ~800-900W of heat load into that small patch safely before reaching 100C temps on a de-lidded CPU.

    So yes, I'd like to reproduce that on a more practical level, with better water discharge management for a lower overall pressure drop, or even allow it to scale out to larger patch sizes without having to spend 2 additional hours in machining. I'm still not happy with the inconsistencies that IHS capped CPUs bring to the table for high end water-block designs. To me, an IHS is a bit like putting 40" mudder tyres (https://www.4wheelparts.com/b/tires-wheels/40/mud-terrain/_/N-cm5b0Z1z0tc72Z1z13lwo ) onto a https://www.koenigsegg.com/car/agera-rs/ and expecting a scalpel-like high performance driving experience.

    On topic to the OP though, my LED power cable thingy arrived for my Swiftech waterblock, so here's a picture of my completed build. Edit: I used the full control mode on the phone camera to better reproduce what the build looks like to the naked eye. Still a little bright on the highlights, but this is a much more faithful representation.

    20190919_065239.jpg
     
    Last edited: Sep 19, 2019
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  5. juzz86

    juzz86 Member

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    Nah it looks beaut mate, I can picture the subdued lighting well. Case is a monster!

    How cool is it that we can sync all this stuff up now - no individual controllers and CCFL inverters to hide anymore!
     
  6. OP
    OP
    Cathar

    Cathar Storm Father

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    Thank you!

    I re-took the photo using full "pro" control mode on the camera. It's a lot better now, but the highlights are still a little bright. It still doesn't quite capture the crystal-like appearance of the coolant in the clear tubing, but I think that might also be a brain-based processing of stereo vision thing to achieve that effect to the eyes.

    Yeah, I was never that big into RGB case prettiness stuff, and CCFL lights and all that, but this new stuff makes it all so easy. Excepting the fan lights which came with the case, all the rest of the lighting is mouse-click controlled through the Gigabyte RGB Fusion App. It's now such that a lighting luddite like myself can even make something look half decent to my artistically blind eyes without much mucking about. Things have certainly come a long way from back in the day.
     
    Last edited: Sep 19, 2019
  7. juzz86

    juzz86 Member

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    Yep, new photo looks awesome - very sexy.

    I went down a bit of a rabbithole on a few of your old threads across different Forums the other night mate - I knew you'd been responsible for a lot of pioneering and custom work, but the magnitude and stuff blows my mind. Can see it still shining through in your posts now.

    Without trying to get all 'fanboy' about it, would you mind if I asked what got your brain ticking along the lines of blocks and whatnot? What kicked off the great lust in Cathar for better cooling?

    I understand if you'd rather not sully the thread with tales of old mate, too :thumbup:
     
  8. OP
    OP
    Cathar

    Cathar Storm Father

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    Haha, I don't mind. I think it's just in my nature to wonder if whatever it is I'm doing at the time can be improved. I'd started out trying to push 1Ghz stable on an old 700Mhz Intel Pentium 3 CPU, which led me to extremely noisy air cooling, with ducted intake vents by cutting holes in my case at the time, and those screaming 60mm fans running @ 7200rpm.

    Needless to say I got sick of that noise real fast, and wanted something better and quieter, without having to go phase change. I remember excitedly buying a water block from a local maker, and then thought about how it could be improved.

    I have to give a lot of thanks to people like Les, and Bill Adams, nikhsub1, and the crew at Procooling who pushed me to measure things in a more consistent fashion. I was trying to soak up as much engineering math as my brain could understand thanks to their "friendly" needling, but I'm also more of a "suck it and see" stubborn sort of guy as well. I don't want to be told that something is wrong until I see it for myself. Over time I started to see patterns in what worked and what didn't, and took my ideas to a number of CNC machinists until I found some guys who didn't say "it can't be done", and were prepared to try. The first white water prototype cost me $400 to get made, but I had faith in my research.

    After that, I just sort of followed a pattern of trying to improve every single aspect. I'm a software engineer by trade, and I work on software that pushes every single subsystem of a computer to the limit, and from working in that framework I learned that to make things fast, you had to find and solve every single bottleneck.

    I just applied that mindset to each of the water-cooling components, reading everything I could about everything until it started to make sense, and then fumbling at complex fluid dynamics maths and standing on the shoulders of giants just well enough to guide initial design prototypes that could be refined. I'm no expert at this stuff, just more persistent and stubborn.

    It all started though, with being pissed off at a 7200rpm 60mm fan screaming in my ear...
     
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  9. juzz86

    juzz86 Member

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    Unreal. All this from a shite fan. Thanks heaps mate, appreciate the insight! No doubt some big influences along the way, amazing that a little core of dedicated pro's with garden hoses and pond pumps spawned a sprawling market segment pretty much single-handedly.
     
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  10. OP
    OP
    Cathar

    Cathar Storm Father

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    They were good times. It really was a collection of people from all over the globe sharing ideas. I look at the water-cooling scene nowadays and see that it's all mostly following the broad design guidelines we had mapped out. Most radiators are still a little too high in fins per inch for my liking. The Thermochill PA140.x radiators were the ones that exactly followed my design research (he kept sending me prototypes, and I kept assessing all their characteristics and suggesting improvements in a cycle that lasted for 6 months or so), but I do appreciate that 40mm thick radiators (with 10 FPI) aren't the easiest things to fit inside cases, and that while 140mm fans are fairly common nowadays, that 25mm thick x 120mm radiators with ~12-16fpi are an acceptable compromise for the widest compatibility. I do applaud Thermochill though for following that no-compromises approach, and I see that even to this day the PA140.x radiator design still sits heads and shoulders WAY above everything else that's mass produced, if you have the case to put them in.

    I also see that most commercial tubing solutions has settled around G1/4" fittings and 3/8" ID w/ 5/8" OD tubing. Again, that's an acceptable compromise for small loops like AIO coolers, but the G3/8" fittings with 7/16" ID / 5/8" OD tubing stretched over 1/2" OD fittings offers the least flow loss in the 5/8" OD tubing form factor. I do understand that commercially it's not ideal to expect the masses to go about stretching tubing over fittings, and that economies of scale means it's cheaper for everyone to follow the same fitting size. Still, I'm a little sad to see that G1/4" fittings are the industry standard, and not G3/8", as G1/4" is a little small for optimal centrifugal pump performance as they especially don't like restrictions at the inlet. G1/4" also doesn't really support those who want to go with 7/16" or 1/2" ID tubing either as it sort of defeats the purpose of having 11-13mm ID tubing feeding into what is effectively 8-9mm fitting holes.

    The pump scene is the one that I see big leaps in too. The pumps that are around nowadays are what were my literal wet dreams (haha) back in the day. After recently scanning through a lot of PQ curves and power ratings of what's out there recently, I see that my top 3 favorite pumps to this day are the Swiftech MCP35X, and the Iwaki RD12, or Iwaki NRD12. The last 2 are 24V though (but 12V is apparently available if an OEM provider asks for it), and a little noisier unless using some sound deadening, but they're top notch quality and each would last until the end of time in a clean closed loop setup. The MCP35X though would have to be about as close to small form factor perfection as it gets, and with PWM to boot. If the AIO coolers all got behind that pump's internal design and brought economies of scale improvements to its price and reliability, then we'd all have pretty much zero compromise pumps in these systems, and probably see AIO temps drop by a few degrees.

    That just leaves the waterblocks. I see that most everything has settled on the fin-channelled approach, and some with the White Water style slit impingement over the middle. It's the most cost effective and highly performing design to mass produce, and price matters the most in mass production. The Storm design of micro-jetted impingement into "textured" cups performs anywhere from 2x to 5x as well in terms of heat flux removal (all else being equal), but it's not a mass production friendly design, and there's always the mass production downwards pressure of - is the cheaper option "good enough"? for which the fin channelled design says "yes". Still, it'd be nice to see someone at least offer a no compromise waterblock design and "hang the expense" of it, at least as an option, but is there really a market for $150 waterblocks that offer 5-10C lower temps if they don't offer much of an overclocking advantage because of the IHS used on CPU's though?

    So yes, I see where it's all ended up, but I still can't help but be a little disappointed that there's no "zero compromise" solutions out there, but I can understand why that is.
     
    Last edited: Sep 20, 2019
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  11. juzz86

    juzz86 Member

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    I really follow your thoughts on radiators there in particular - my own experience lies in that high-FPI isn't worth the deltaT over the noise - interesting to note the level of research and collaboration the Thermochill guys put into their gear - getting very difficult to find their radiators anymore, especially locally. Never had one personally, stuck with old HWLabs SR1s for my own stuff and XSPC for most everything else. Getting anything other than EK in Australia is becoming a bit challenging.
     
  12. mrbean_phillip

    mrbean_phillip Member

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    Welcome back, Stu, been a long time between innings. You relocated AUS to USA, 13 years ago I did RSA to AUS. A;ways a big move.

    Anyway, #New Cathar block confirmed

    juzz: I still have a few Feser and Alphacool rads here, enough to tide me over for many years. Will probably hang onto them, I find them very capable units.

    Cheers,
    Beano
     
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  13. juzz86

    juzz86 Member

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    I remember the Fesers mrbean_phillip, big things, think I had one at one stage that was 100mm thick!!
     
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  14. mrbean_phillip

    mrbean_phillip Member

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    Ha, some of them are monsters....I have one here that probably is 80mm thick or something, lols. Will check next weekend when I am back in from Mumbai...
     
  15. BlueRaven

    BlueRaven Member

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    Wow, Mr. Storm himself.

    Before my time, but I read a lot of posts from Cathar and the rest of the OG watercooling crew here before I got wet for the first time. Learned a hell of a lot, so thanks man.
    I'm on air these days due to a lack of time/enthusiasm/funds, but I still have my boxes of WC kit.
    One day, one day I'll get back into it and do another full custom build. One day....

    My last purchase before packing it all up prior to a house move was this custom PCB to add PWM control to an older Laing DDC (aka MCP355) - plus BLOO LEDS to get the most bling out of your acrylic pump top! :lol:
    Never did get around to finishing that project as I moved over to air at my next place.

    DDC_PWM.jpg

    The guy's site is still up if anyone has need of such a thing (can also be used to repair a cooked DDC/MCP355, provided the drive coils are not open-circuit/short-circuit):
    https://www.diyinhk.com/shop/ddc-pump/41-laing-ddc-pump-18w-repair-pcb-wled-smd-soldered-mcp355.html
     
    Last edited: Oct 13, 2019
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  16. juzz86

    juzz86 Member

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    DIYinHK. There's a site I haven't seen mentioned in a while!

    I did a few PCB swaps - I don't think they had LEDs on them but I remember getting the parts, being very overwhelmed, getting my old boy to do the first one for me, then taking over from there.

    Good memories, cheers mate.
     
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  17. pippin88

    pippin88 Member

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    Stew,

    Fantastic to see you posting again. I've popped by the Extreme Cooling forum over the years and wondered where you had got to.

    I've still got my White Water and Cascade blocks. Can't believe how long ago you developed these.

    I've continued water cooling throughout but these days just for low noise reasons. Shameful to admit, but I run stock speeds now...

    Building water blocks is what got me started in metal work - now my primary hobby. These days I spend my time designing and building CNC machines. Sometimes miss the early days of DIY blocks, but you pushed the block manufacturing scene to where it is now - good blocks available for cheap.

    I had thought ProCooling was dead and just checked. It's up, but unfortunately doesn't look like the water block section has been active for years.
     
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  18. mojododo

    mojododo Member

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    Crowd fund for new cathar designed cpu and gpu blocks? :leet:
     
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  19. Mjollnir

    Mjollnir Member

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    The legend returns!
     
  20. OP
    OP
    Cathar

    Cathar Storm Father

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    :) Thank you all. Life moves fast. In between my last post and today I've had 2 major emergency surgeries for appendicitis and a surprise diagnosis of the big C. After having chunks cut out of me, I seem to have gotten an all clear. I'm not after any sympathy, it's just an update. I'll continue to explore options for developing a "Storm design done right" with the new 3D printing technology coming out, but for while I'm just going to focus on my health until things settle down a bit. Anything I'd do would be purely experimental only, but it'd be nice to bookend that journey that was started so long ago as I always felt like the Storm design was held back by expensive machining limitations.
     
    Last edited: Nov 24, 2019
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