After 3 or 4 test builds (while waiting on parts), I think I'm finally done:
Build notes / Commentary:
This was the only case I was able to find (at time of purchase) that is capable of using 2 x 280mm radiators with fans. I'm very happy with the cooling capacity this allows, and vertical design means this case has a relatively small desk footprint (it's actually smaller than my prior xtia xproto with all of the watercooling accessories).
The finish of the case as received was excellent, though I've managed to ding it up in the build process and especially while bleeding, but the scratches kind of add character / weathering -- I kind of like how it's "breaking in".
The hardest part of this build was dealing with the 3090 - I found it to be unstable without the active backplate, but the EKQB blocks with active backplates add a LOT of chonk to an already chonky PCB. The original EKWB Vector Active Backplate (from 2 years ago) just barely
fit because it requires an inlet/outlet on top and bottom of the terminal block. The new Vector2 backplate conveniently is designed to allow inlet/outlet on the same side, but the block is HUGE. It's extra-wide because 3090 + fancy cross-flow terminal block, and it's stupidly tall because EKWB likes chonk. It would not fit in the case unless I removed the RGB module, which is fine, because I don't like RGB (don't @ me).
Sadly, the width of the GPU water block prevents me from mounting the pump/res combo on the "floor" of the GPU compartment, so it's mounted high and horizontal over the GPU. Which means it's essentially the highest point in the loop, so I'll have to be very careful about continually topping the loop off as I bleed it so the pump stays hydrated.
On the theme of EKWB liking chonk -- I previously used their Quantum Torque fittings and adapters, which are very nice, but quite large. In a case this compact, I found them to be too large (both physically and aesthetically). I also really like the aesthetic of the Alphacool TPV stuff (seems more designed for industrial/server stuff), so I decided to give that a go and am very happy with this choice.
Having the front and back panels screw off for radiator mounting is excellent... until it's not. It's very difficult to manage order-of-operations for pulling panels, mounting fans/rads, running header cables), while also having the core out to mount components, while also trying to manage cables and run as much as possible under the motherboard, and also planning the cooling loop. Here is what I found worked best for me:
- Pull the front panel and mount the rads and fans first and manage as much of the fan cabling as possible. Reinstall.
- Pull the back panel and mount the rads and fans first and manage as much of the fan cabling as possible.
- Mount components to the core except for the motherboard (which goes in last).
- Slide the core in and reinstall the back panel was off.
- Manage cables under the motherboard, install all components on the motherboard, and install the motherboard.
- Complete the loop.
With all fans set as exhaust, temps are pretty good. I set a fan curve in the BIOS based on a water temperature sensor, with low fan speeds until water temps hit 40 and then rising fairly rapidly. This leads the build to be inaudible while idling/browsing the internet (fans at 850 rpm), with moderate fan noise (fans at 1200-1400 rpm) under load. Fans never hit 100%, even while stress testing. It's often >76F in my office, so folks with lower ambient temperatures would probably have an even better time.
- At multiple points in the build, I wished that the case interior was a few mm larger, but I think most of that is my fault due to parts selection. If I had used a smaller card/waterblock, I'd probably have a better time. And, while I'd like the case to fit more components more easily, I don't actually want it's dimensions to grow, so...
- I don't know if my particular chassis isn't square, if I warped things, or if I'm incapable, but I had a horrible amount of trouble with the rail system. No matter what I did, I could not get the core to slide smoothly, and generally had to retry and retry and retry and/or hammer on things until the core slid (in either direction). I would love to see this improved somehow if there is a V2.
- I wish the thumbnuts were captive. I've completely lost 2 thumbnuts and all of the plastic washers, and thought I'd lost even more over the course of the build process due to them suddenly dropping off the bolt while I was struggling with sliding the core.
- The motherboard screws are only minimally magnetic, leading to some exciting adventures when I dropped a screw while installing the motherboard into an otherwise completely built chassis.
- Ryzen 5900x w/ Optimus CPU block
- PNY 3090 w/ EKWB Quantum Vector2 GPU block + active backplate
- EKWB DDC with Barrow mini-reservoir
- Alphacool NexXxos ST30 w/ 2 Thermaltake Toughfan 140mm fans
- Alphacool NexXxos ST20 w/ 2 Arctic 140mm slim fans
- Alphacool TPV tubes
- 9 Alphacool TPV 90 deg fittings
- 1 Alphacool TPV metal fitting
- 1 Alphacool ES Quick Release Connector Kit TPV Pushin (Industry Version)
- 1 each M/F Koolance QD3 QDC for optional external rad