PCBuild

Fair Warning, this post is pic heavy.
It will be half instruction and half show-and-tell because Robyn already did a basic ‘how to build a PC’ post and I don’t want to copy her, but there are some more advanced topics here that she didn’t cover on her blog. For example, her build did not include M.2 Drives because they weren’t a thing back then. Nor did she cover custom water loops.

So on saturday, enough parts had shown up that I could begin preliminary work on building my new PC. Since a number of components attach directly to the motherboard before install, I began that work.

First up was installing the M2 drives in their respective slots. I didn’t grab pics of the first drive, but they both went exactly the same.

First remove the heat sink

Then test-fit the drive

Determine where the standoff for the M2 drive needs to be and install that.

With standoff anchored to motherboard you can install the drive.

Screw it down hand-tight.

Then reattach the heat sink.

Next up is the CPU. Its important with AMD CPU’s to match up the corner markings on the chip to the corner marking on the socket, because nothing prevents you from installing these backwards. Once that is lined up, just drop it into place and close the lever. its a ZIF(Zero Insertion Force) chip so it should just fall into place easily with the lever in its open position.

Next up is the CPU Waterblock. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for how to install this. It was pretty simple so I’m not going to cover in-depth how to do it.

Next is the RAM. I went with 4 sticks of 16GB each becaus I like to have 64GB of RAM. Because I’m compensating for something…



This is all the motherboard prep work. It is now ready to install inside the case. Sadly my case had not yet arrived, so I spent the rest of my saturday just looking at the motherboard, pining my day away waiting for the case to arrive. It was scheduled to not arrive until tuesday, so I had a while to wait.
Fortunately, it ended up arriving sunday, and I began immediately to continue work on building the PC. I’m very nearly finished and writing this on tuesday.
I was so excited when the case arrived that I didn’t get any pics of opening the box or removing the back panel. Since this case is basically just a slab on which you stick components, the ‘open’ state is simply taking off the back cover. And the only things that go ‘inside’ of it are wires and optionally hard drives. This design should allow for a very showy kind of build, since everything is out there and exposed to view.

First we attach the PSU, the beating heart of any PC. I’m re-using a PSU here because it went in to that PC more recently than the rest of the components in it, so its fairly new. And since that other PC is of no use anymore, I saved some money on buying a new PSU

Next the motherboard. I had to attach standoffs for this to the slab because it could fit one of several form factors so they weren’t pre-installed. They went on easily with the included thumbscrew tool.

This case allows for sideways mounting of graphics card to show them off, and I’m going to utilize that feature.


Next installed the Radiator, which seemed purpose build to fit into this massive case. I have seen few other cases that can fit a 480mm radiator.

Next I wired up the front panel connectors to the motherboard. I’ve got 2 sets of USB 3.0 ports and of course the usual buttons and headphone jacks.

the primary wire looms from the power supply. As I said this supply is newer and therefore modular. The PC it came from is so old modular supplies weren’t a thing when I built it initially. So when I had to replace the PSU a modular one made sense given the odd size requirements of that machine. And here it makes sense to use it so I don’t have to hide a bunch of unused wire harnesses.

I’m also hiding the HDD. There is nothing showy about it and so i’m not going to show it off. I’m only using it for backup anyway since the primary boot drive is going to be a stripe RAID.

Next I install the Reservoir and Pump combo unit. Also from thermaltake, the maker of the case and radiator. Given they show this case and parts combo in a lot of marketing material, it seems like they anticipate this particular build.


Next fans for the radiator. These are the only fans for the case, since it is basically open to the air it shouldn’t need any other fans to move air about.

And then I was ready to begin running hard tubing. After some very poor first attempts, during which I bent tubing in exactly the wrong way, I watched a tutorial or two and got it right. I still don’t have the graphics card mounted so these 2 are the only runs I could do between fixed components.

There isn’t really a ‘right’ way to run the hard tubing. As long as it doesn’t leak, you did it right. Some wisdom says that it should go from the radiator to the CPU first and then the GPU, but in reality the water is going to find an equilibrium and maintain it all at that temperature. I’m going to the CPU first because it and the radiator and pump are the only components installed at the moment so I can only run lines between them. I’m waiting for a replacement PCI cable before I can install my Graphics Card. Reviews said the cable that comes with this case is not to be trusted, and it doesn’t support PCI 4.0 so i’m getting one that does. Also remaining is to run the power supply extension cables to the motherboard and GPU. Not only will those cables be color-coordinated but i actually NEED extensions because the case is so large the standard cables from my power supply don’t reach.

Finally got an extension cable I needed to connect up the graphics card in ‘display’ mode. It’s a pretty card so I want to show it off.

And I got the power extension cables I need to connect up the PSU to everything.

And I ran the rest of the water lines. Once you get the hang of how to bend it isn’t really that difficult. Having a decent heat gun is important, and of course the silicon insert is absolutely needed. But I only sparingly used the mandrels. Usually just after making a bend to verify it was actually 90 degrees. The trick with hard tubing is to heat the whole circumference of the tube where you want the bend to be, and to either side. Melt a bunch of tubing, basically, the insert will keep the tubing in a round, pleasing cross-sectional shape. And then be gentle with it. Go slow, and don’t force the tubing. It will conform to the shape you want easily when you’ve melted it sufficiently. If it doesn’t move, it’s not been heated enough. Melt might be the wrong word here, because we’re just heating it past the glass transition tempereture, not fully liquefying the PETG. Similar to 3d printing, you want the filament to be suffuciently into the glass transition zone to be extrudable, but not much past that point or else it doesn’t conform to the shape being laid down by the nozzle.

The 24 hour leak test is proceeding at this point. No leaks were detected when I initally flushed the system with prep fluid.
Next I have to figure out how to drain the system without making a huge mess.

No leaks were detected after 24 hours. So I took the PC into the bath and drained the prep fluid. Not an easy task, given its weight and bulk. I had to maneuver it in various orientations to get the fluid to drain. But then I was able to put in the proper coolant fluid and go about installing windows. It was a bit of another chore to get the RAID set up in firmware, and then of course windows needed drivers to recognize said raid for installing windows upon it.