Step1 :The Coolant Reservoir and Radiator:

 

A coolant reservoir in this system is technically not needed, but it is a nice, simple way to not only fill the system with coolant when the time comes, but also to bleed the system of air quickly. The reservoir I chose is manufactured by Danger Den, and was supplied to me by my buddy Bruce over at Cooltechnica.

Along with the reservoir, I also ordered a bottle of Zerex Racing Super Coolant, and a bottle of UV water dye. While neither of these are required for the system's operation, the super coolant could only help in a small system such as this, and the dye will look damn spiffy flowing through the system when lit up by a couple of black light cold cathodes. More on that later.

The reservoir must be mounted as high as possible in the case as air trapped in the system will move to the highest point and needs to be 'bled' out when we are done setting up. Bearing this in mind, I decided the best place to mount the reservoir would be in front of the radiator, which is also mounted to the top of the case. Now, doing this takes up two 5 1/4 drive slots, but the Digital Doc that I use for fan control is empty on the inside, and I have only 2 other drives in the system....a 48x12x48x Liteon CD burner, and a Creative 52x CD-ROM, so this should not be a problem. I began by laying out the radiator, Digital Doc and the reservoir so I could get a general idea of how they would all fit together, and then I marked the top of the case for taking one of my favorite case modding tools to...my trusty Dremel! I actually used a 1.5 inch hole saw to remove the bulk metal of the hole, and then touched it up with my Dremel. This method gave me a nice, round hole to mount the reservoir through so that only the red cap will be seen outside the case.

Done, and looking good! The radiator I have chosen is a Black Ice PRO that I picked up from Danger Den. It mounts inside the top of the case and sits underneath the120mm Sunon exhaust fan that mounts to the outside top of the case. That should cool the liquid in this system quite well while looking very nice at the same time and staying nice and decently quiet.

 

With the coolant reservoir and radiator installed, let's move on to the coolant pump!

 

Step 2: The coolant pump and electrical:

 

One of the most important parts in watercooling your computer is the pump you choose. After all...this is what pushes the water through the system and if it has problems, the system will fail, and that is bad. The pump you choose needs to follow some simple guidelines in order to be effective:

 

  • Low noise...our purpose is to minimize it
  • Good flow rate...usually 250-350 gph will be plenty for a system with 3/8 or 1/2 inch tubing and up to 3 water blocks
  • Low EMI (Electro Magnetic Interference) output...this pump will be close by to your sensitive electronic devices like your hard drives, monitor and PCI cards, so you do not want problems with EMI messing around with their operation
  • Power consumption...lower is always better
  • Quality construction...spend the extra cash on a quality pump. This is not a part you want to give you problems, or worst case fail on you

 

With these necessities in mind, I once again contacted Bruce over at Cooltechnica to see what he had in mind for me. On that note, for the best in watercooling gear as well as expert advice, I highly recommend Cooltechnica as they have just about everything you will ever need from the best names in the business (Swiftech, Danger Den, and Tweakmonster, to name a few). Bruce recommended this model pump he just got in for my needs:

This pump is manufactured by an Italian company named Hydor. It is the model Seltz L30-SC, and flows 317 gph while consuming only 23 watts of power, and in turn gives off 23 watts of heat, which is 5 watts less than the Eheim model 1250 pump which (right now) is probably the most popular computer watercooling pump on the market. As you can see from the picture, it is only about 5.5 inches long, and will fit nicely in the spot I have chosen for it in the somewhat cramped Lian Li PC-65 case...the floppy drive cage.

The good 'ole 1.44 MB floppy drive is just about completely phased-out, in my opinion. Heck, about the only time I ever use one is to boot into pure DOS for BIOS flashing, or to install a RAID driver for OS installs. This time I have chosen to pound one more nail in the floppy drive's coffin by handing it's enclosure over to my new water pump. Adios Amigo!

 

 

Pump installed! As you can see, it fit perfectly into this drive cage (with some minor modifications...), and the fact that the cage is easily removed with 3 thumb screws makes it that much more perfect should maintenance ever need to be done on the pump. One of the best things about the Lian Li case is it's modular design. Just about every section of the case is easily accessed without having to remove anything else other than some thumb screws, and the front bezel, which snaps right on and off without the need for any tools. Gotta love that.

 

Before installing the pump it is good practice to disassemble the pump impeller area, and seal it well using some silicone sealant (available at most automotive parts stores). The reason for this is that most of these 'mag-drive' pumps use only an O-ring seal around the pump chamber, which seems a bit inadequate to me. Sealing the O-ring with silicone just adds that bit of extra insurance against leakage, especially seeing as this pump is mounted directly over the hard drive array in the case. Water + hard drives = NOT GOOD. Now with our pump mounted in the case, let's get it wired up!

 

 

Along with the pump, I also picked up one of Cooltechnica's pump relay switch kits, which allows you to wire up the pump so that it powers on and off with the computer's power supply. A very handy modification so that you do not have to worry about pushing a separate button for the pump power every time you turn your computer on or off. It comes with simple to understand instructions on how to wire the pump using the kit, which is basically a relay that uses 12VDC current to close the contacts for the 115VAC pump.

I chose to mount the power cord connector in the bottom rear of the motherboard tray because this would not only keep the 115VAC pump power line away from anything that might pick up any unwanted EMI interference, but also to facilitate easy maintenance should I ever need to remove the motherboard tray. I then mounted the relay circuit in a hidden location, as it never needs to be seen again. For mobility purposes this mod is great, as all you need to do is plug a standard run-of-the-mill computer power cord into the socket to run the pump. The rest is automatic when you hit the power switch. Perfect!

 

Bruce over at Cooltechnica tells me that he is going to be one of very few USA retailers for these Hydor pumps, and I give it a definite thumbs up for ease of installation, size, performance, and it's extremely low noise level. I had to check twice when I plugged it in for the first time, as I could not tell it was even running until I saw the coolant circulating! And as far as EMI interference goes, I have detected very little, and it does not seem to be affecting any of my components. Remember that everything electrical creates some EMI, it's just when it causes problems with other devices around it that you need to really worry. For added protection, you could wrap the pump in some EMI shielding foil or tape. I did not have any problems, and so I did not. It probably could not hurt, though.

 

Now that our coolant pump and it's power supply cord are installed, let's move on to connecting the rest of the system!