Log Bifurcated Ghost S1

trees_z

Caliper Novice
Original poster
Jan 27, 2021
28
16
For the longest time I was running a pretty standard air cooled Louqe Ghost S1 set up but got a little bored during the pandemic about 6 months ago and decided to start playing around. Since then I've been trying to make the best use of PCIe gen 4 and the space available in the Ghost S1. That's just naturally led me down the path of custom watercooling and PCIe birfurcation.

I've made a few posts on reddit but am looking for a better place to log smaller steps and just keep random thoughts. This forum's been a wealth of information so I figured I might as well start here. First few posts will be a recap but will get on to the new stuff soon. But here's the latest part's list and a few pictures:



Current Parts List:

Motherboard - ASRock X570 ITX/TB3 Phantom Gaming
Power Supply - Corsair SF750 Platinum
CPU - Ryzen 5 5600X
CPU Cooler - Thermalright AXP-90
RAM - 32GB of v-Color VLP memory
GPU - Radeon RX 5700XT Reference card
GPU Block - Watercool Heatkiller IV
Pump - Alphacool DC-LT w/ Plexi pump top
Radiator - Magicool 120 G2 Slim w/ Noctua NF-A12x15
Radiator - XSPC TX120 Ultrathin w/ Noctua NF-A12x15
Fan Controller - Aquacomputer Quadro
Bifurcation PCB - C_Payne x8x8 Bifurcation Riser
 
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trees_z

Caliper Novice
Original poster
Jan 27, 2021
28
16
The first step of the build was seeing whether or not I could fit a custom loop into the case without adding a top hat - I'm just not a fan of the look. Here's the longer original post on reddit but here's a summary of what I think are the important things...

Since the main point of the build was to explore PCIe bifurcation, I probably approached a custom waterloop from a different perspective than most. I'm not trying to reduce temperatures or noise - I'm trying to reduce space taken by components. That also means I'm pushing temperatures and fan speeds higher than most other loops. I ended up with a custom loop for my GPU only on a single 120mm radiator and I think it worked out perfectly. Here's a picture of the initial GPU only loop and some of the cut outs needed into the case to make things fit:


Overall I considered this a success. GPU temps and noise where both down from the original stock cooler, and the liquid temps were with in safe ranges. Here's a quick part breakdown for that original loop:

GPU - Radeon RX 5700XT Reference card
GPU Block - Watercool Heatkiller IV
Riser cable - LinkUP 25cm PCIe 4.0 Riser with 90 degree socket
Bifurcation board from C_Payne
Radiator - Magicool 120 G2 Slim w/ Noctua NF-A12x15
Pump - Alphacool DC-LT w/ Plexi pump top
Tubing - Tygon E3603 6/10mm tubing

One thing to note is that I really recommend 6/10mm tubing for any SFF builds. I still don't understand why everyone uses 10/16 tubing still... it just seems like royal pain in the ass.

I initially thought this would be as far as I needed to go but I couldn't get the GPU to run at PCIe gen 4 speeds. That kinda defeated the purpose of bifurcation in the first place so further down the rabbit hole I went...
 

trees_z

Caliper Novice
Original poster
Jan 27, 2021
28
16
After digging into PCIe gen 4 some more, I was eventually able to get PCIe bifurcation to work on gen 4 link. Here's the reddit post with all the details. But what it seemed to come down to is that the specs for signal loss on gen 4 are a lot stricter than for PCIe gen 3. That also contributes the all the riser cable hoopla that's popped up as of late. I was under the impression that I was at the limit of the signal loss limits because I was going through a riser cable and a second PCB to get an added PCIe slot. Reading online, I found that the only options to reduce signal loss were through higher quality components, or to boost signal with a PCIe redriver or retimer card. This PCIe redriver card from C_Payne seems to be the only one readily available to consumers. Here's a few pictures of it installed in my Ghost S1:


Some people reached out to me after with their experiences trying to get bifurcation to work on a gen 4 link and some were able to get it to work without a redriver card. But they also all had their gen 4 cards on the first slot. I thought that was interesting so I ended up switching the slot my 5700XT was in and I can confirm it does work at gen 4 speeds... sometimes.

The consistency of the gen 4 link feels a lot more suspect. Sometimes I'll boot up my computer and it'll be at gen 3, other times it'll be at gen 4. Consistency also seems to vary based on what version of the BIOS I'm on or even Radeon Software version. These are all just my gut feelings and I don't really have any numbers to back it up with, but the link speed is definitely not as consistent with the redriver card installed.

At the end of the day, I've kinda settled on running my system without the redriver card. Switching around the GPU to the front slot actually works better for my layout since it allows slightly wider water blocks to be used. Instead I'm not playing around with different riser cables and lengths to see if I can improve link consistency. Currently I'm waiting on a shorter riser cable with what looks like it'll allow for better airflow. I've ordered this ADT Link version for Aliexpress and it's slowly on it's way to me.
 
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trees_z

Caliper Novice
Original poster
Jan 27, 2021
28
16
One last post to bring everything up to speed - but one day I was randomly looking at other watercooled Ghost S1 builds and I can across this post on the LTT forums where the poster tried to fit an XSPC slim radiator on the CPU side. The poster said he wasn't able to fit the radiator but when I saw that picture I immediately thought it would be doable with the right CPU block - I just needed one with side inlets and outlets. The only block that I found was the Alphacool XPX-1U block from Alphacool's server line of water cooling products. Turns out it fit pretty well! Here's a few pictures block install and fit up:


Full write up is here on reddit but results were pretty positive - the loop runs quieter and cooler. For a full GPU loads I saw about a 15% drop in loop temperature with the added radiator. I also tested a fully loaded condition with the GPU overclocked and PBO on the ryzen 5600X. I didn't see any thermal throttling on the CPU which what I was mostly worried about.


I finally got in some goodies for the next update. Planning on putting everything together this weekend. Hopefully the outcome is to further split the single x16 slot into x8x4x4
 
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trees_z

Caliper Novice
Original poster
Jan 27, 2021
28
16
Had some free time last night so I started putting together the new add-in card I got. It's this little m.2 bifurcation riser from SuperMicro:


It allows me to run a 110mm m.2 drives which is convenient. I don't think I've seen any ITX boards out there that support 110mm drives. The Intel 905p Optane SSD's is perfect there.
It also makes me feel a little better about the build because I've always thought it was a waste to run a x8x8 bifurcation scheme. There really aren't many add in cards that can take advantage of a x8 connection besides GPU's and some NVME RAID cards. Most the miscellaneous add in cards are x4 or x2 connections. So now I have the freedom to try and stuff one more add in card into the build. I currently haven't decided on what to with the free m.2 slot yet but will probably convert it into a PCIe x4 slot for more flexibility. I'm open to suggestions if anyone has any?
 

trees_z

Caliper Novice
Original poster
Jan 27, 2021
28
16
A quick update to some of the loop and cooler changes.

For a while I've been trying to figure out ways to get some more GPU thermal head room out the loop for an future upgrade to an RTX 3080. One thing I wanted to test was if I could adequately cool the Ryzen 5600X CPU with a low profile CPU cooler stacked with radiator and sharing a fan. I ran through a couple of test-fits and ended up with the following stack: CPU -> Thermalright AXP-90 -> Noctua NF-A12x15 -> XPSC 20 mm radiator for a total thickness of 67 mm. Here's how it fit up:


Seems to be working well enough for now but temperatures on the 5600X are definitely higher than there were previously. Loop liquid temp is definitely down though which was the goal here. Will need some more thermal testing to figure out if the 5600X is under control.

I also made some other minor changed to the set up. First thing is the Noctua fan swap on the Corsair S750. I didn't have any complaints about the stock fan, but I had an extra Noctua 92 mm fan sitting around and some spare time.

I was planning on switching out the 24 pin power cable with the J-Hack M2426 but unfortunately received of the faulty ones from the second batch. I guess that swap will have to happen once that situation gets sorted out.

I also ended up switching around the PCIe slot order on the bifurcation PCB. So the GPU is now running in the first slot and the SuperMicro bifurcation board in the second slot. From some previous tests, that seems to allow gen 4 bifurcation without having to use the redriver card. It also looks a lot cleaner from the front as both the add in card and the Quadro are hidden now.

Here are some pictures of the newest set-up as it stands today:

 

trees_z

Caliper Novice
Original poster
Jan 27, 2021
28
16
👀✋ AFS85 from Reddit here!
Just responsed to your post there. Hope it was helpful!

I respect the dedication to watercooling without tophats. Awesome build!
Thanks! Although recently I have been putting together plans for a top hat as a Plan B... I'm trying to see if I can fit another PCIe card in to get an extra USB Type C port with DP Alt mode. Space is just getting pretty tight and am a little worried about air flow. Maybe I'll try a few 40 mm Noctua's first
 

AndreUniverse

Efficiency Noob
Mar 3, 2021
6
3
Just responsed to your post there. Hope it was helpful!


Thanks! Although recently I have been putting together plans for a top hat as a Plan B... I'm trying to see if I can fit another PCIe card in to get an extra USB Type C port with DP Alt mode. Space is just getting pretty tight and am a little worried about air flow. Maybe I'll try a few 40 mm Noctua's first
It really was helpful! Thanks for sharing the wealth!
 

trees_z

Caliper Novice
Original poster
Jan 27, 2021
28
16
So I've had some more time to run some thermal testing this week and results are a bit of a mixed bag but make sense the more I think about it.

Under the same GPU only load at 180W, the liquid temp does not change from the previous set up with the idling CPU in the loop. The fans run slightly slower but not by much. I guess this makes sense since an idling 5600X is really only pushing like 25W. Here's a quick summary of GPU only temps

GPU TDPLiquid TempFan Speed
GPU + CPU in Loop180 W48°C82%
GPU only + CPU on AXP-90180 W48°C76%


For a combined CPU and GPU load things are probably the most disappointing. Comparisons are not directly comparable because I'm now using the new PBO2 with the new curve optimizer but, as mentioned earlier, there's definitely not the same overclocking headroom. I'm definitely right up against the thermal throttling limits on the CPU with the stock 76W PPT. Previously I was able to push that up to 105W at similar CPU temps.

GPU TDPCPU PPTCPU TempLiquid TempFan Speed
GPU + CPU in Loop195 W105 W95°C54°C100%
GPU only + CPU on AXP-90195 W76 W95°C47°C100%


Fan control is also more of a hassle. I can't set the fan speed based solely on liquid temp because of the shared CPU/Radiator fan. There could be scenarios where the CPU is under load but the GPU is not. The GPU loop temperature also has an effect on the CPU temperature because the hotter the loop temp, the hotter the exhaust is that's cooling the CPU heat sink. I've settled with using some virtual temperature sensors on the Aquacomputer Quadro that are enveloped for the worst case of relative loop liquid temps and CPU temps. It's a little annoying but seems to work well enough.

I'm also not sure if the set-up has the thermal overhead for the RTX 3080 I was planning to upgrade to. Ideally I would run stock settings because I have very little appetite for tweaking undervolt settings but that would probably be required. And at that point I think I may as well add the CPU back into the loop.

Not sure if I would recommend this set-up - but probably need to do a little more testing on more real world use cases instead of artificial loads. Will probably try some more things this weekend
 

trees_z

Caliper Novice
Original poster
Jan 27, 2021
28
16
So my biggest concern with the cooling set up in the Louqe Ghost with the set-up I'm running has always been the poor case airflow. I don't have fans actively exhausting hot air. So I decided to jerry rig something up to see how much improved air flow matters:


It's two spare Noctua NF-A12x25's I have from a previous setup just tossed on top to simulate a medium top hat. The fans are just connected to a rear USB port with a USB to 3 pin fan header adapter. The adapter is a step-up version to convert to 12V that I use for my external rad/pump set up for when I fill or bleed my loop. I also added a Noctua LNA in there since the noise of the fans at 100% was a little much.

Here are the same temps from that previous post but with a new row for the "top hat":

GPU TDPLiquid TempFan Speed
GPU + CPU in Loop180 W48°C82%
GPU only + CPU on AXP-90180 W48°C76%
AXP-90 and "Top Hat"180 W44°C64%

GPU TDPCPU PPTCPU TempLiquid TempFan Speed
GPU + CPU in Loop195 W105 W95°C54°C100%
GPU only + CPU on AXP-90195 W76 W95°C47°C100%
AXP-90 and "Top Hat"195 W76 W88°C43°C97%

So if there was ever a question about whether or not case air flow matters for water cooled loops - I think the answer is definitely.

I don't know if I'll end up running a medium top hat like this but it's good to know that improved airflow has bring temps into a good spot for a RTX 3080 upgrade. I may look into squeezing a few 40 mm Noctua's and switching the bottom rad to exhaust first.

If the added 40 mm's aren't enough, I'll probably go ahead and put the GPU back on water then add 240 mm radiator on top. Plan would be to go with a medium top hat to hide the fans and leave the top 240 mm radiator exposed - I think the new Heatkiller 30 mm thick radiators look pretty sleek. Would also need to switch out the DC-LT for a stronger pump. The Alphacool 1U DDC pump top and reservoir would be the way to go and it would fit nicely on the GPU side.
 

alitech

Caliper Novice
Jan 7, 2021
31
6
alitechno from reddit. Well done on your build. Awesome. What was the motivation to go small over temp control?
 

trees_z

Caliper Novice
Original poster
Jan 27, 2021
28
16
alitechno from reddit. Well done on your build. Awesome. What was the motivation to go small over temp control?

Well... I don't think temperatures are not under control. I'm just guessing that they probably wouldn't be with an RTX 3080? Would need to get my hands on a specific model before I can say for sure. EK also recently released some true single slot blocks that probably fit in the Ghost S1 for the RX 6000 series that actually open up more options for GPU upgrades now.

As for the case choice, I've just had the Ghost for a few years now and there aren't any cases that I feel are worth switching to. I don't think there's really much to gain from going to a larger case, and I don't think I would be able to fit everything into a smaller one. I guess if I could find a case (and platform) that had the following I would make the switch:

ITX motherboard with Thunderbolt 3/4 or DP over USB Type C ports
ITX motherboard with support for at least one 110 mm M.2 drive
Sub 10L case with standard (not sandwich) layout
Front panel USB 3.2 Gen2 Type C connector

The closest one I've found it the Deng A12 which I've really considered ordering from TaoBao in case it goes out of stock. But I'm probably going to wait until Intel releases their 10nm desktop chips until I really contemplate an entire upgrade. Or I guess if Asus shrinks their B550 Creator to ITX but that's unlikely...
 
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trees_z

Caliper Novice
Original poster
Jan 27, 2021
28
16
Here's a bit of a non-update update for now. Basically just a smattering of hardware pieces I've gotten but haven't yet or won't be putting into the build.

I guess first up is the ADT Link PCIe gen 4 riser cable that I ordered of AliExpress a while ago. They accidentely sent me the 20cm long version instead of the 25cm long one so it wont fit in my build. But more importantly, I don't think I'll be reordering a 25 cm version either. Holding it in my hands it just feels like less of a finished product compared to the LinkUP riser cables. It's very - for a lack of a better word - crinkly? Also very shiny. Here are some pictures:


I think I'll end up sticking with the LinkUP cables as they feel a little more polished and work well enough. I'll probably be looking to downsize from my current 30cm one down to a 25cm one. The 25cm fits pretty perfectly without the redriver card so the CPU cooler exhaust should have a pretty clear airflow path. I guess if anyone wants the 20cm right angle one from ADT Link, just let me know and I'll let you have it for shipping.

I've also slowly collected pretty much every option I've found to add USB Type C ports to the build. Here they are below:



Delock M.2 to USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type E adapter: This is probably the one I'm going to use for now as it's the easiest to fit in my current build.

Generic M.2 to USB 3.2 Gen 3 Type C Female Header: This is the first one I got but ended up realizing that it probably wont work for me. I'm limited to single slot width and all the Type C cables are too tall to fit. The only options seem to the be the ADT Link right angle versions for the other end doesn't have a panel mount so I dont have a good way to mount the connector.

Sunix UPD2018: I think this is the holy grail in terms of my use case. Doesn't have all the hassle of Thunderbolt 3 add in cards and still allows me to output data + DP 1.2 to my KVM or monitor. I just need to figure out how to fit it in my case. Current plan is to get an M.2 to PCIe x4 adapter and let the card hand somewhere towards the front of the case. Would run DP and USB Type C extension cables to the back so we can pretend nothing sketchy is happening on the inside.

And lastly I got my J Hack M2426 replacement last week but haven't gotten around to putting it in yet. So that's part of my weekend plans. I'll also probably flip the fan on my bottom radiator to exhaust to see if that helps temps.
 
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