Advice First Custom Loop - Advice

justkeevin

Chassis Packer
Original poster
Sep 8, 2021
18
9
I currently have a Geeek A50 with an external 240 AIO attached to it. My plan is to get a better case and reuse my Geeek A50 as an HTPC for my living room with my spare components.
I saw the Q58 and it gave me ideas!

Hardware:

Case: Lian Li Q58 [Preordered]

CPU: AMD 5900x

GPU: AMD Reference RX 6800

RAM: 32GB DDR4 (2x16)

Motherboard: Gigabyte X570 I AORUS PRO

PSU: Corsair SF600 Gold

Storage: Sabrent 1TB Rocket


Water Cool Components:

CPU Block: Alphacool 6800 Reference Block

GPU Block: Optimus PC AMD Foundation Block

Res/Pump Combo:

-Alphacool Laing DDC 1T Plus PWM & Bitspower Premium Magic Cube

Radiator: Corsair XR5 280mm

Fans: 2x Noctua iPPC 3000
1x Noctua A12x15

Coolant: EKWB Cryofuel Clear

Tubing: EKWB ZMT Matte Black 10/16

Fittings: Bitspower G 1/4 Plug Temp Sensor

Bitspower Compression Fittings

Controller: Aqua Computer QUADRO

Finally found time to take some photos!

 
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thoughtfix

Cable-Tie Ninja
Jun 18, 2019
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212
Better than answering the questions is learning how to find the answers to your questions, so I'll offer what I can.

For questions 1: There is a lot of variance to that question because it's not just the size of a radiator that's the factor. To determine if you have sufficient cooling with your radiator, you should consider
  • The size of the radiator (in your case, 280mm)
  • The thickness of the radiator
  • The fin density and flow of the radiator
  • The fans you are using
  • The fan RPM (noise levels) you consider reasonable.
  • Pump flow rate
You mentioned the Corsair XR5. That's a 30mm thick radiator with an average fin density - good "middle of the road" performer. Learning a bit about that radiator, it's apparent that the Corsair RX5 is actually a rebadged Hardware Labs Nemesis LS (OEM issue of Nemesis GTS) so we can find reviews of those.

Let's put a pause on the cooling conversation and talk about power supply.

You need to consider how you are using the system. Are you rendering video? Gaming? Facebooking? At full bore, a 5900X can go over 190W running Blender while overclocked but stay around 133W stock. See GamersNexus review for those details (skip to the power consumption bit.) TomsHardware has a good rundown of power consumption in their reviews, and an RX6800 running Furmark stress tests reached 244 watts. That helps you decide on the power supply (CPU + GPU + some headroom for motherboard, pump, fans, USB devices, WiFi, etc) and try to give yourself even more room for "boost" power. In your specific case, I *think* a 600W power supply will keep it running while gaming intuitively, but get a little more piece of mind from a power supply calculator first. Before you block and plumb everything (while you still have your air coolers on) plug everything together on an open bench (or nonconductive table even) and give it some stress testing. An inexpensive device like a Kill-A-Watt is useful for measuring the total power draw from the wall (keeping in mind that PSUs aren't 100% efficient.)

Back to the subject of cooling: Watts of power and watts of thermal load are not the same thing. The power watts in the last paragraph are watts of power used to operate the chip, but watts of thermal load are watts of power that turn into heat while the chip is used. It's confusing, I know. Still, it's good to know how much total power draw your core components are using when guesstimating your heat dissipation system. Over on Alphacool's official forums, Eddy gave the following advice:

It always depends on how high the noise can be. For example, a 120mm ST30 radiator can handle up to 300W with a 4000rpm fan.

But there is a simple rule you can follow
80W TDP per 120mm radiator space with 600rpm fans
100W TDP per 120mm radiator space with 800rpm fans
120W TDP per 120mm radiator space with 1000rpm fans
150W TDP per 120mm radiator space with 1500rpm fans
180W TDP per 120mm radiator space with 2000rpm fans

Then went on to say

With 140 mm radiators.... i would say +20W for each step at the list above.

That's not really scientifically conclusive, but it can give you a ballpark estimate from an experienced builder. Again, fan quality (static pressure and airflow) and radiator quality matter a lot in these calculations.

I hope that gives you a good starting point on your calculations and plans.

I, too, am preordering the same case and will find a way (through modding and 3D printing or through sheer luck) to take advantage of the lower 120mm fan are to add another 120mm radiator just to give me a little bit more of a boost. I'm also nervous about my ability to cool, even with a much cooler (5600X) CPU. Where are you going to put your pump?
 
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thoughtfix

Cable-Tie Ninja
Jun 18, 2019
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Here's another useful bit of perspective. Optimum Tech tried to get a 5950X and a 3090 together and liquid cooling them with a single slim 240mm radiator:

It didn't go so well.
 

thoughtfix

Cable-Tie Ninja
Jun 18, 2019
148
212
Here's another good resource - GGF Events did a video of a custom loop on the same case with a 240mm radiator with a 10600k (130W peak load) and an RTX 3080 (up to 350W peak load) and was getting CPU temps in the low 70s and GPU temps in the mid 60s.

 

justkeevin

Chassis Packer
Original poster
Sep 8, 2021
18
9
Thanks for the advice! Definitely gonna do a little more research! I've been trying to find other builds with people using a 280mm with similar specs.

As for the pump, my GPU is on the longer side roughly 265mm. Doesn't leave me much room for a ddc or a D5 pump. The DC LT 2 fits perfectly but it's a rather weak pump. I've been messing around with mock ups. Maybe the FLT 80? But it's also pretty big too.
 

Valantar

Shrink Ray Wielder
Jan 20, 2018
2,174
2,166
Hey, looks like my build experience is coming in handy! A warning: this is turning into a bit of a wall of text. Sorry about that - I'm not good at being concise. I've made some subheadings for ease of reading :p

So, first off, let me allay your fears: that radiator can easily cool your build, given sufficient airflow and reasonable ambient temperatures. How do I know? I have the same radiator in my (all-mesh) Meshlicious, cooling a 6900 XT Liquid Devil Ultimate and a 5800X. From what I've seen, the Q58 should have decent airflow, so I see no reason why this wouldn't work well - though if I were you I would test different mesh/glass placements to see which works best.

My build, for comparison:
  • ASRock Phantom Gaming B550 ITX/ax
  • Ryzen 7 5800X
  • 2x16GB G.Skill DDR4-3200
  • PowerColor RX 6900 XT Liquid Devil Ultimate
  • Corsair SF750 Platinum
  • Aquacomputer Quadro fan/pump controller
The cooling setup:
  • Nouvolo Aquanaut CPU block+pump combo, with
  • Laing DDC 1T Plus/3.2 PWM and an Alphacool DDC heatsink
  • EK ZMT 10/16 tubing
  • EK Cryofuel clear premix coolant
  • Alphacool industrial nylon QDCs (a godsend for servicability and ease of building, and reasonably affordable)
  • included EK block on the 6900 XT
  • Corsair XR5 280mm
  • Arctic P14 fans, pulling air through the rad (only way they fit in my case)
  • Two Barrow in-line fluid temperature sensors
  • An EK flow indicator with the rotor removed as a micro res for bleeding/filling
  • Various fittings; some Alphacool, some Barrow, some EK; 90°s, 45°s, extensions, T-blocks, etc. I do not recommend Barrow rotary fittings - several of mine have become near impossible to rotate.
-Overall experiences, thermals, tuning
I haven't run any long-term benchmarks that I can show off, but I've used the system daily since I built it a few months ago, and it's overall been fantastic. The cooling is pushing it with everything at stock - this summer, when my room temperature crept up to around 30°C, I saw fluid temperatures hit ~45°C under gaming loads. That's a bit high, certainly well above what large form factor custom loop builders would call acceptable, but it is entirely unproblematic. That fluid temp saw my GPU running at ~65°C @ 330W and the CPU at the high 70s - more on that below. Now that ambient temperatures are a bit more sensible, my fluid temps don't really exceed 40°, the GPU hovers around 60°, and the CPU after some tuning sits in the mid 60s while gaming, mid 70s under something like a handbrake encode (long-term 100% load with AVX).

Those CPU temperatures are probably making you think there's an issue here, but ... there isn't. Yes, this is hotter than most water cooled CPUs. That's down to two factors: The 5800X and the Aquanaut. The 5800X is possibly the most difficult CPU on the market to cool, as it has insane thermal density, and the reverse-flow Aquanaut isn't particularly well suited for it. The 5800X at stock pulls ~130W through a single CCD, which makes it notoriously hot-running. The dual-CCD 5900X and 5950X are much easier to cool, as they have the same power limit but spread across twice the die area, dramatically lowering thermal density. You can see this in reviews and build logs all over the internet - the higher end chips are always easier to cool. Thus, in the stock config, I could even see the CPU reach 85°C under all-core loads.

I've since tuned the CPU a bit, with -10 all core curve optimizer, +100MHz boost offset, and slightly lowered the TDC, EDC and PPT. It now peaks at 120W, boosts to 4950MHz in bursts and sits happily at ~4.7GHz while gaming/~4.5GHz in all-core loads, and runs noticeably cooler.

-CPU block and pump mount choice
One question you might be asking: would I recommend the Aquanaut? Yes and no. It's incredibly handy for building a compact loop, saving you from needing a separate pump top/res and place to mount it. It also performs adequately - after all, even my worst-case-scenario CPU isn't close to throttling. And yes, any CPU is perfectly fine even running 24/7 at 15-20° below its rated max temperature. This will in no way negatively affect the CPU. Still, there are two possibly better options now: the just-launched Aquanaut Extreme, which has a new, larger cold plate, non-reversed flow direction (should be a marked improvement), and easily accessible fill ports. I haven't seen any thermal results yet, but the design looks very promising. The other option is the Alloy Craft LOBO, which is currently looking for beta testers (I'm going to try one out unless shipping to Sweden is prohibitively expensive). It's a reverse-flow block, but with a highly specialized cold plate design that should be an improvement over the Aquanaut.

Would I go for one of these over a conventional CPU block and separate pump? Yes. Without a doubt. Even the original Aquanaut. It works well, and saves so much space and hassle in your build. The Aquanaut would likely work noticeably better on your 5900X than my 5800X, so if you're price sensitive, I'd go for that, but if not, the Aquanaut Extreme would be my choice - it's available for sale now, after all.

Another option would be the Alphacool Eisbaer Solo LT - that's a DC-LT pump in a CPU block. It should work well enough, but it might be a tad on the weak side for a CPU+GPU loop. If you go that route, you might consider adding a second DC-LT elsewhere in the loop to ensure a good flow rate. A single DDC is definitely less hassle though.

I'd highly recommend a DDC pump - mine is inaudible at the speed I've got it running at idle (~1200rpm), and even at 3000rpm it's barely noticeable. At full speed (can't remember right now, but something like 4500?) it's audible, but not annoying. And it delivers plenty of flow. DDCs aren't as reliable as D5s according to the internet, but given how common they are I doubt you'll have a problem. What I wouldn't do is use an off-brand copy like the Bitspower K1M. Pump quality is paramount.

-Fans and fan control
I would also highly, highly recommend the Arctic P14 fans. AFAIK, they are the best 140mm fans on the market for combined noise and performance. The 120mm P12s are neck-and-neck with the Noctua NF-A12x25, and the P14 is just a scaled-up version of that design. Mine work fantastically. The only thing worthy of note is their 3mm thicker than standard size - make sure they fit! Mine were a very tight fit, but ultimately had no issues in the Meshlicious. They perform fantastically, and are very quiet even at full speed.

I'm not familiar with the Phanteks fans you've mentioned, but I have a very hard time imagining they're comparable to the Arctics. Also, the Arctics are dirt cheap. Tbh it's shocking how good they are. IMO they are the main reason why Arctic's AIOs are reviewing so well - they simply have the best fans out there for an AIO, plus a slightly larger than average cold plate.

I'd also really, really, really recommend getting an Aquacomputer Quadro for fan and pump control. The Aquasuite software is unbeatable in its configurability and monitoring power, and the Quadro is tiny yet very powerful, supporting 4 separately controlled PWM fan outputs (up to 25W each, can easily power my 18W DDC pump), four thermal sensor inputs, flow meter inputs, and more. Thanks to it I can have my loop tuned for silence, adjusting fan and pump speeds based on fluid temperature. This ensures I get no sudden fan ramps due to spiking CPU thermals or similar, leading to a very pleasant experience overall. (I have a separate 100% fan profile that triggers if the CPU is at 100% load for more than 10 seconds, as that typically means it's running a render or similar, in which case I prefer to just have it run flat-out rather than ramp slowly - but that's the configurability of Aquasuite for you, you can set it to change between several profiles based on what you want it to do).

-Other stuff
There's probably a ton I'm forgetting here, but one big thing that stood out with your config: the Aorus B550 doesn't have a header for front USB-C, which the Q58 requires. So if you go for that motherboard, you'll be left with only USB-A on the front (or only USB-C if you buy an adapter for the 3.0 header). AFAIK the Asus Strix and the ASRock Phantom Gaming are the only B550 boards with that header. FWIW, I'm pretty happy with my Phantom Gaming, it's an excellent board.

Going from my experience, 600W is likely more than sufficient for your build. While transient power spikes are a potential issue with modern GPUs, especially with SFF PSUs with relatively low bulk capacitance, I can't imagine 600W would be anywhere near too low for that with your build. At stock your config will, under an unrealistic 100%-on-everything load pull 250W for the GPU, 140W for the CPU, ~25W for the motherboard and RAM, ~5W/SSD, a few watts for two fans, and 10-20W for the pump. That's ~450W ABSOLUTE max - though everything running 100% is highly unlikely outside of workstation loads. Gaming doesn't come close to that - I'd expect < 350W in gaming loads. 450W places a 600W PSU well above the 20% safety margin I routinely include in any PSU calculation. Remember, that's 20% on top of an already unrealistic calculation. In reality, with 600W you'll have more like a 70% margin in gaming loads. That should be sufficient to handle any transient power spike from the GPU.

And, of course, some undervolting is highly recommended. Given how utterly overpowered the 6900 XT is I mostly run mine in an underclocked and undervolted profile (1850-2150MHz @ 950mV, peaks at ~190W for a ~15% performance loss), which is perfectly fine for most games. The 6800 won't have the same performance headroom, but from what I've read it should undervolt better than the 6900 XT at stock clocks.

Also, if you've got the budget for it, I would really recommend getting some QDCs (quick disconnects) for your loop. It makes assembly, disassembly, filling, draining and bleeding so much easier. I've run custom loops for about five years now, and getting QDCs into my loop has been a dream. Suddenly components can be easily swapped, trouleshooting is relatively simple, and so on. Filling and draining becomes much easier thanks to the option of using an external reservoir (I've got a spare from my previous non-SFF build), or just sticking some spare tubing into the coolant bottle if you don't have that lying around. Most QDCs are brass, and are heavy and expensive (upwards of $20 each). I decided to "cheap out" on Alphacool Industrial nylon QDCs, and I love them. Now, they aren't drip-free like some premium brass offerings (Koolance comes highly recommended everywhere), but they are relatively compact, lightweight, spill only a few drops per connection cycle (I tried weighing it out over 10+ connections and couldn't really get a reading - it's something like 1-2ml per disconnection), are secure and easy to connect and disconnect, and ... I just love them :p QDCs do require putting some extra thought into your tubing runs, but IMO they are so worth it. I likely wouldn't pair QDCs with a weak pump, as they do restrict flow a bit, but the restriction from the Alphacools is not noticeable in my loop (with three QDCs, ensuring each component is easily removable).

Phew. That was a lot. Hope I didn't forget anything, and hope you got through this massive wall of text :p
 
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justkeevin

Chassis Packer
Original poster
Sep 8, 2021
18
9
I appreciate everything you wrote. Very informative and super useful!

As for the lack of USB C headers, I'm looking into a USB 3.0 y splitter with an adapter for the USB C. Probably a reduction in speed but overall a usable port.

-Splitter with Adapter

I've also been messing with undervolt on my 5900x and 6800. Managed to get ~ -20 all cores on my 5900x, probably have to tweak my TDP/EDC/PPT settings a bit more. I'll post what I have when I have time tomorrow morning. My 6800 is currently at 2256 MHz @ 900 mV, been stable so far with Apex, OW and Unigine Superposition. No crashes yet but haven't had time to run a full stability test.

-Any good reading material/videos for undervolting CPU & GPU? I feel like I'm going at it wrong.

My idea of filling/draining the loop was the put a T fitting with the EK Torque Drain Valve and attaching a barb fitting with ~2 ft clear tubing and fill while turning on/off the pump to bleed the air bubbles. With the case being small, I can easily tilt the case on its side so that the t fitting will be at the highest point. Maybe this is a bad idea? Who knows, this is my first attempt at a custom loop. I'll definitely look into the QDCs.

I'm also looking into making custom cables to shorten the runs to maximize air flow.
 
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thoughtfix

Cable-Tie Ninja
Jun 18, 2019
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How do you like that Aquanaut, @Valantar? I just preordered the "Aquanaut Extreme" because I have little faith even the Apogee Drive II will fit comfortably.
 

Valantar

Shrink Ray Wielder
Jan 20, 2018
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I appreciate everything you wrote. Very informative and super useful!
Thanks! :)
As for the lack of USB C headers, I'm looking into a USB 3.0 y splitter with an adapter for the USB C. Probably a reduction in speed but overall a usable port.

-Splitter with Adapter
That looks like a decent solution. Bulky, but as long as you're able to wrangle the cables it might work - though it might also mean that your USB-C devices only work when conncted in one direction, as the splitter takes away half the USB lanes of the type-c plug. If that's the case, I'd still say that's better than the port not working at all though :)
I've also been messing with undervolt on my 5900x and 6800. Managed to get ~ -20 all cores on my 5900x, probably have to tweak my TDP/EDC/PPT settings a bit more. I'll post what I have when I have time tomorrow morning. My 6800 is currently at 2256 MHz @ 900 mV, been stable so far with Apex, OW and Unigine Superposition. No crashes yet but haven't had time to run a full stability test.
-20 all-core is very good! My 5800X is nearly stable at -30 all core, but I get some intermittent (and very weirdly timed) crashes. Curve optimizer works very counterintuitively, with crashes mostly happening at idle or when cores are asleep, so it's hard to test for. But if -20 works for you, that's fantastic. Those GPU clocks/voltages seem very good as well. I don't think I ever tested my 6900 XT below 950mV, but it refuses to handle anything above 2150MHz at 950, so it definitely can't match yours - but then the Navi 21 XTX silicon is mainly binned for peak performance and clock scaling at max power, so the lower bins typically do better with an UV. Btw, 3DMark Time Spy is often considered the best stability test for GPU OC's these days - the specifics of its graphics workloads tends to trigger instability very easily for some reason.
-Any good reading material/videos for undervolting CPU & GPU? I feel like I'm going at it wrong.
I haven't found much myself. Curve Optimizer is a bit of a black box, with the general approach being "start at -30, use the PC as normal, if it crashes, reduce the offset by 5 until it no longer does". You could probably also add some boost override to your PBO - that just allows the CPU to boost higher if it has the thermal and power budget to do so. Essentially it's free performance, though if set too high that can of course also trigger instability. And don't change several variables at once, i.e. don't both change your CO offset and your PBO offset at the same time :)

Back when I was experimenting I couldn't find a single undervolting guide for RDNA2, but OC guides provided a decent starting point. One thing to note: the minimum clock setting is often a determinant of stability, and a 2-300MHz range between min and max is often more stable than the stock ~2GHz range. I have mine set to 1850min/2150max. Beyond that it's just trial and error: if you're starting from stock clocks, leave your max clock, raise your min to max minus 2-300, and start stepping the voltage downwards until you hit instability. A single Time Spy run is a pretty good indicator. If you've reached 900mV already, there likely isn't much left to go - that's low. At that point, try stepping your clocks up, 25-50MHz at a time, testing in between. You could also try setting fast memory timings and raising your memory clocks a bit, though there is seemingly huge variation in how well memory clocks across RDNA2 cards - I've seen people maxing out the slider, and others not getting past stock. I've got mine left at stock with fast timings.
My idea of filling/draining the loop was the put a T fitting with the EK Torque Drain Valve and attaching a barb fitting with ~2 ft clear tubing and fill while turning on/off the pump to bleed the air bubbles. With the case being small, I can easily tilt the case on its side so that the t fitting will be at the highest point. Maybe this is a bad idea? Who knows, this is my first attempt at a custom loop. I'll definitely look into the QDCs.
That's how I've been filling and draining, and it works okay, but it's a bit of a hassle. The main issue is that a loop with a single point of entry/exit needs both air and water to go through the same opening (in opposite directions) which easily causes things to stop. And filling and bleeding can start to take a long time once you're at the point where you get a few ml of fluid in each time before you have to shuffle the case around. One way of avoiding that is to stick a very thin tube inside of your fill tube to act as a passageway for air to escape - but it's a bit of a hassle. The main benefits of QDCs is that it allows you a lot of flexibility in filling, bleeding and draining - you could even completely fill and bleed the loop before mounting it in the case, as it becomes modular. And with enough QDCs, each component can be filled and bled separately. But it's of course a noticeable cost, and they do need some room in the case. I had no trouble fitting three in my Meshlicious, but YMMV.
I'm also looking into making custom cables to shorten the runs to maximize air flow.
Not a bad idea, but beware that most custom individually sleeved cables are much thicker than stock PSU cables, and thus take up more space. If you really want to open up for airflow, something like @Thehack's M2426 PSU adapter is a fantastic solution, reducing the 24-pin down to just six wires. It's not cheap, but then neither are custom cables typically.
 

thoughtfix

Cable-Tie Ninja
Jun 18, 2019
148
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Not a bad idea, but beware that most custom individually sleeved cables are much thicker than stock PSU cables, and thus take up more space. If you really want to open up for airflow, something like @Thehack's M2426 PSU adapter is a fantastic solution, reducing the 24-pin down to just six wires. It's not cheap, but then neither are custom cables typically.

pslatecustoms and cablemod both offer "unsleeved" custom cables now for SFF chassis, and pslate has amazing customer service.
 

Valantar

Shrink Ray Wielder
Jan 20, 2018
2,174
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pslatecustoms and cablemod both offer "unsleeved" custom cables now for SFF chassis, and pslate has amazing customer service.
I've heard a lot of good things about pslate, and unsleeved (if they offer it) is definitely the way to go. Still won't match an m2426m, but definitely better than stock :)
 
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justkeevin

Chassis Packer
Original poster
Sep 8, 2021
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Yeah as soon as people start receiving the cases, I gotta figure out the cable lengths, esp the 24 pin.

I did a mock up of my drain/fill loop, based of this:

This is essentially how I'm gonna have to position my pump. Outlet facing upwards (Read that it shouldn't be an issue). I'm gonna have a T fitting for the Inlet port. Water feeding the top of the T fitting from res, with a 90 degree adapter connected to the bottom to an EK Quantum Drain Valve. I'll keep a Barb fitting with ~5ft worth of tubing to attach to it to fill/drain. I'll just have to lay the case on its side or back when filling and constantly tilt it. If the XR5 had extra G1/4 up top, it would be much easier.
 
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Valantar

Shrink Ray Wielder
Jan 20, 2018
2,174
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Been too busy perfecting my build finally got some photos.

Very nice! Those chunky EK fittings always look good with ZMT tubing. Only change I would recommend: get a heatsink on that DDC. It really, really benefits from it. DDCs have a reputation for failure, and a huge part of that is that they run hot. It looks like you have the clearance for a finned heatsink on there, so that would be a very good addition to your build.
 
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justkeevin

Chassis Packer
Original poster
Sep 8, 2021
18
9
If i could install the heaksink without disconnecting my tubing I would. bleeding this was such a pain in the ass haha.