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Old 5th Nov 2011, 15:05   #1
debs3759
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Finished! - Project Black Ice - Dec 29, GPU Installed, WC finished

I have built a lot of computers since I built my first 486SX system, but they have pretty much all been cheap, standard systems with basic air cooling and no attempt at optimising beyond basic BIOS settings. I considered a number of options for a new build, as my existing system is a few years old and no longer performing as well as it did in it's day. I decided I want a dual-Xeon system, but as the EVGA SR-3 motherboard will be out in a few months, along with the SB-EP processor, that became my first choice. That left me with a dilemna...

I wanted to build a system now, that won't dig too deeply into my resources and stop me building the SR-3 system. But I also want it to be high-end for the chosen platform and to be a platform for learning how to efficiently water cool a PC. I opted for a mATX motherboard (I'll details the parts in my next post). That gave me extra options for the case, and I opted for an Antec Mini-P180, as I like the look and the internal layout.

Most project logs that I have read seem to involve a huge amount of modding. There will be very little modding in this build, although the drill will have to come out at least once (to make holes for the bulkhead fittings). I have called this project Black Ice as it's mostly black and I am considering experimenting with a TEC once the WC loop is built. This is not related to the BlackIce radiators (although if they want to sponsor me I won't say no - my chiller can then be dedicated to my next project!).

A few pics of the case:



From the outside, this looks like any other case I've had in the past, except that there are only 4 expansion slots and it's not so plain! I've never used a mATX board or case before, so I expected something a little smaller. Measuring it, it's 2 inches shorter than my last case from front to back, but it's half an inch taller and about 1.2 inches wider! The width is going to be handy for fitting a large cooler until my water cooling parts arrive.




The interior design is compartmentalised, with the PSU at the bottom, and with this design the PSU will not generate significant heat in the main body of the case. That was one of my primary reasons for choosing this case. The drive bays are removable. The top drive bay has anti-vibration mounts, while the bottom bay has removable cages with anti-vibration mounts, as well as holes positioned for both 3.5 inch and 2.5 inch drives.

I have left the bottom bay out, and placed a 120mm BeQuiet! SilentWings USC fan there (unfortunately the fans only fit with the bays removed). This serves a dual-purpose. Firstly, it will help maintain a decent airflow until my watercooling kit arrives. Secondly, it will pump cool air toward the GPU, allowing me a little extra leeway for overclocking it. When the WC kit arrives, the 2 * Laing D5 pumps will be placed directly in front of this fan. If I opt for a GTX580, which is a distinct possibility, I will have to remove the fan, as I will be approx 10-15mm short on available length. In that case I'll have to take some new measurements and see if a slimline fan will fit.




Behind the front door, there are 3 5.25 inch drive bays, 1 at the top and 2 at the bottom. Between these are two panels that open out to reveal removable air intake filters. That's another first for me - every system I built in the past was built on an economy budget with economy cases, and they always fill with dust, sometimes quite quickly. I won't have that concern in this build.

That's it for now. Time to write up the initial build.

Updates:

The inital build
Internal Watercooling Parts
More goodies
Let's Get Wet!
GPU madness
Finished!
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Old 5th Nov 2011, 18:08   #2
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Time to put the system together. Because Aquatuning have let me down with my purchase of most of my WC parts, I'll have it cooled by air for a few weeks. That means the log will be running for at least a few weeks while I do some initial testing, wait for the parts to arrive, and finish planning the loop.

The parts list:

Motherboard: Maximus IV Gene-Z
Processor: Intel i7 2600K
Cooler: Noctua NH-D14, Kingston HyperX Fan (although the latter won't fit alongside the Noctua, but will be useful when I wet the system and start to push the speeds).
Memory: 8 GB Kingston HyperX DDR3 2133MHz (2 4GB kits, KHX2133C9AD3X2K2/4GX)
Power Supply: Coolermaster SilentPro Gold 1000W (Yeah, I know 1000W is a lot, but I'll explain my choice later...).
GPU: XFX HD6770 (to be upgraded to NVidia GTX580 next month)
Hard drives: ST2000DL003-9VT166 (2TB Sata III, rated highly on benchmarks), ST31000524AS (1TB SATA II)
Optical drive: Generic DVD-RAM drive. Nopoint going overboard her as it'll only be used for Windows and a few other installs, and maybe to burn a few DVDs.



I chose the Maximus IV Gene-Z for a number of reasons. In the first post I explained why I want to use mATX for this build. Having made that decision, I wanted a board that would be good for overclocking, and the ASUS ROG boards have a good reputation. I also like the red/black colour scheme and the fact that I can get a waterblock designed for the board (OK, not full cover, but a kit which has a separate chipset block and looks good is cheaper than some of the VRM only options). i7 2600K is a good option, as this system will be overclocked and used for folding. The 2700K, which I had considered (and even pre-ordered) turned out to not be as special as the hype had suggested, so I changed the order for the cheaper 2600K.

The memory is the fastest I could find that will do the job. I bought 2 * 4GB kits asit is cheaper than 1 * 8GB kit. I'll soon know whether that was a wise decision in terms of performance

Then of course the coolers.The RAM coolers are for use after the rest of the system is under water. The Noctua is among the best air coolers available, hence my choice. I can always resell it when I have the WC installed, as it'll only see a few weeks use.



Where did my PCI-E x16 slot go? I'm glad this is a folding rig and not a gaming rig! The Noctua covers most of the board, with it huge size and 2 fans! I'll keep it in place while I install the components in the main portion of the case, but it'll have to come out before I can attach the cables, as there'll be no room for my hands.



With the board in place, its easy to see why I won't be able to install all the cables with the heatsink in place! Being able to install the drives to the bay externally to the caseis a time saver,and also means I don't have to remove both panels when I add an SSD next week. I've got a 128GB Vortex 3 on it's way from the States at the moment (courtesy of CPU-World where I'm writing a few CPU related articles).

The GPU is currently an XFX HD6770, but will be replaced with a GTX580 in a few weeks. With everything installed, it's easy to visualise (and measure) the space the GTX580 will take. I think to fit the pumps in the space left by removing the lower drive bay I'll have to remove the intake fan in order to keep room for the huge graphics card



I chose a CoolerMaster Silent Pro Gold 1000W as my PSU for a number of reasons. My first thought was that I want to be prepared in case I decide to add a second gpu (probably a second GTX580 if I do) at some point. If I decide to use a TEC block once the cooling loop is installed and tested, that will need another 150W or thereabouts. I don't want to have to redo all the cabling, so just opted for the PSU the maximum set up would need. The choice of model is a combination of wanting a modular PSU, and finding one that has 80Plus Gold certification (if I'm going to use that much power, I don't want to throw too much away!). Having just one 12V rail also means that I don'thave to mess around with calculating whichc rail has power to spare if I add all the bells and whistles (such as a second gpu and TEC) that I'm considering.



With the PSU installed and the various cables attached, I can now see why so many builds mod the PSU cables. It was a stretch to fit the 24-pin ATX cable while keeping it hidden behind the mB panel. It was also not easy to keep the cables tidy, as they were either stretched (so could only go in one direction) or were so long that lengths had to be doubled back on themselves or tucked away below the DVD drive at the base. I guess I'm going to have to look for my soldering iron, which I haven't looked at in a few years, and start buying a few modding tools ready for my next build. Not to mention the wires and sleeving I'll need

I tested the system at 4.6GHz a few days ago, and have a 90 minute Prime95 screenshot. After a couple of days of folding, it started crashing, and as I don't want to raise the voltages (and temps) too high before I get it under water, I throttled it back to 4.5GHz @ 1.35V. I don't have a screnshot at 4.5GHz, but it has been folding at that for a couple of days with core temps mostly below 60C and never exceding 66C. When I hit our folding teams top 1000 (in couple of days, although I'll be away from home for a couple of days) I'm going to stop folding for a couple of days and get back to some stress testing, and attempt to get back to 4.6GHz with reasonable temps. I consider 70C to be the max I want to go, so much over that will have to wait until it's under chilled water.

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Old 26th Nov 2011, 18:45   #3
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Old 2nd Dec 2011, 22:01   #4
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Internal WC Parts

A few things slowed me down in the last few weeks, but thankfully I am back on track. There was confusion with the order for most of the watercooling parts, which added a delay of about 3 weeks. Then I changed the procecssor for a 2700K, and discovered a broken pin in the CPU socket so had to wait for a new motherboard (another Maximus IV Gene-Z) to arrive. I only had a few days downtime on the working system, I just wasn't able to do any more work on the system.

If I have similar issues on my next build, I will try to always have something to document

Anyway, now I have all the parts for my watercooling loop, her are details of all the internal parts.



That's all the major internal components. I'm using 2 pumps to ensure a constant flow. It'll make more sense when you see what I'm using to cool the loop. I'm not sure what difference fancy packaging is supposed to make, but it was nice to see that most of my parts didn't come in fancy packaging



My choice of CPU block is the Swiftech Apogee XT Rev 2. It's not the best for flow, but as I'm using 2 pumps in series that won't be an issue. I picked it because out of those available (on sites that I knew at the time of ordering) it has one of the best thermal ratings, and I liked the look over others I checked out. I have seen better since I spent more time studying them, but this'll do for this build



I bought a MIPS full cover MB set. The only others I could find were either EK Nickel (which I don't have enough faith in) or didn't really match the board they are made for. I willprobablynot be using the SBS block, for a couple of reasons. First I don't think it's needed. Secondly, when I fit a GTX570 I'm not sure that I could fit the block and fittings under it. No sweat, as it's the VRMs that I will be pushing



I grabbed a Bitspower GTX570/580 block in the marketplace. I don't have the GPU yet (I'll be buying that in about a week), but having the block means I can get on with building the loop, and just slot the block into the loop when the card is here.



The part that took most planning - what fittings to buy? I have a load of straight compression fittings and a couple of extra of the 90 degre and 45 degree corners just in case things don't work exactly how I envisage it. In this photo, I have already connected the bulkhead fitings and ball valves.



These arrived today. Double distilled water with 0 ppm dissolved solids. 35 for 20 litres (shipped). As I calculated that I will be using 6-7 litres, at approx 3.50 per litre from Scan and more than that at most watercooling sites, I decided that 20 liters at half the price will allow me to flush the entire loop with distilled, then change it and let it run for a couple of months before changing it again. More on why I need to do that in the next post!.
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Old 2nd Dec 2011, 22:06   #5
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Project logs must contain pics of work in progress. Moved to modding for now...
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Old 2nd Dec 2011, 22:07   #6
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Looking very good! I have had the same case and I loved it!

It will be very interesting to see what you will do with the chiller.
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Old 2nd Dec 2011, 22:09   #7
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Project logs must contain pics of work in progress. Moved to modding for now...
OK. I thought it was a work in progress, I'm working on it now, but whatever.
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Old 2nd Dec 2011, 22:09   #8
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Originally Posted by debs3759 View Post
As I calculated that I will be using 6-7 litres, at approx 3.50 per litre from Scan and more than that at most watercooling sites, I decided that 20 liters at half the price will allow me to flush the entire loop with distilled, then change it and let it run for a couple of months before changing it again. More on why I need to do that in the next post!.
I'm sorry... I must have misheard... 6-7 LITERS? Holy moly...
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Old 2nd Dec 2011, 22:37   #9
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I'm sorry... I must have misheard... 6-7 LITERS? Holy moly...
I was thinking the same thing, I run dual loops with 3 rads and I'm using about half of that amount!
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Old 3rd Dec 2011, 00:26   #10
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The rest of the goodies that are going to be installed tonight and tomorrow.



That's the first of the goodies I get to fit tonight. A pair of Vertex 3 120GB SSD that are going to be in RAID 0 on the 2 SATA 3 ports. If this wasn't a budget build, I'd have bought 2 240GB drives To fit them in a single 3.5 inch slot (that's all I have available) without buying an adapter, I had to think a bit. One drive is installed back to front (on the right side of the bracket but facing the wrong end). It overhangs the braccket slightly doing it that way, but that's OK. Now turning it so both drives are facing the same way, but the connections are not adjacent, I have velcroed them together and they will fit in the one slot, while being able to use angled cables.



I have been undecided about which tubing to use, so I bought some clear tubing and some neoprene for internal tubing. I have now decided I will be using the clear, as I won't always be running this system below the dew point, and when I get a window cut in the side panel it'll look a lot better with clear tubing and the die I am using than black neoprene. The blue and red are what will be going between the bulkhead and the chiller. Finally, the Armaflex is to cover the tubing when I cool below the dewpoint.



And this is how I will be keeping everything cool (or COLD!). I bought it on eBay for 200 (less than half the price new). It is rated to be able to remove 795W of heat per hour with a flow of 1500 l/h (hence using 2 pumps in series to ensure I maintain flow whatever happens).

The guy I bought it from had used it to cool an aquarium for 2 years, and he said he had never flushed or cleaned it since disconnecting a year ago. Needless to say, I expected the worst for cleaning it - dried on sludge, etc! I filled it (it took 1 litre of water) and left it soak for a couple of days. Then I emptied it - and 3 litres came out! Great, nothing had been allowed to dry in, it shouldn't be too hard to clean out

A few fill-ups and empties, until the water started flowing clean of debris. Then a few more rinses with tap water just to be sure. Then an anti-scale and anti-sludge solution, and a few more rinses. Well, you get the picture. I don't want my blocks full of fish pooh!

Last night I finally plugged it into the mains to test. The lowest setting is 3C. The current water temp was 19.2C. It took 25 minutes to cool the water (without any flow) to 3C, at which point the cooler switched off. An hour later, once the temperatures in the still water had normalised it was 1.6C! Great, I'm going to get good results here Just to make sure the thermostat was working properly, I left it plugged in until it turned back on. 4C and it turned on (another 3 hours later).

Another 30 minutes and my current folding task will be finished. I can get the drill out and start installing
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Old 3rd Dec 2011, 00:29   #11
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Quote:
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I'm sorry... I must have misheard... 6-7 LITERS? Holy moly...
Quote:
Originally Posted by bulldogjeff View Post
I was thinking the same thing, I run dual loops with 3 rads and I'm using about half of that amount!
For the initial testing, it will only be about 4 litres, as the chiller will be next to the computer. But once I have tested the loop, I will be moving the chiller into the kitchen, about 20 metres total of extra tubing. I estimate that to be 1.5 litres in the tubing. With 3 litres in the chiller, and inside the computer probably half a litre that's about 6 litres. I prefered to overestimate on my water purchase than underestimating
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Old 3rd Dec 2011, 00:59   #12
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Thats a hellof a long run of pipe work, bee good to see how the temps are on it though.
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Old 3rd Dec 2011, 05:11   #13
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Well, I'm off to a good start. I've drilled the holes for the bulkhead fitting, went to install a few 90 degree fittings, and I've bought the wrong ones! Got 12 90 degree fittings with a 3/8 thread instead of 1/4! I have enough spare 45 degree and straight compression fittings to improvise until the replacements I just bought arrive, it just won't be the neat, final set-up that I hoped to have tonight/tomorrow!

I guess it's time to go sleep, and finish off in the afternoon when I get up No big deal, just means I have to use my old computer for a few hours longer
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Old 5th Dec 2011, 00:05   #14
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OK, time to get this lot wet! Time to get the drill out and venture into this wonderful new world of watercooling



That's my first time drilling a case. Of course, I forgot to take pics of the holes before I put the bulkhead fittings in place, so here's a couple of pics once they were set up with the test loop (I don't want to connect up an extra 3 litres in the chiller until I am sure there are no internal leaks).

Neither hole is perfect. The first hole had a couple of tears in the aluminium and a scratch a few mm long that shows up. The tears are covered up by the bulkhead fitting, so I didn't have to worry about them looking bad. The one problem I don't have tools to fix this week is the burringon the aluminium. I'll have to buy a file (or maybe a dremel? ) to get rid of them, but for now the bulkhead fitting is tightly in place.

The case for my next build, although it is a large watercooling case, is another without outlets for tubing. Fortunately, the seller has told me they can put the holes I will need in the position I want them prior to shipping, so I won't have that problem again



Fitting the bloccks was easy enough. No real difference to fitting a heatsink/fan, except that they are much smaller and easier to handle. I left the stock cooler on the SB as I don't think the extra cooling will outweigh the limited space for fittings when I put a larger gpu in.

The reservoir is another matter. Because it's a tight case, the options are limited, hence using a bay reservoir. It turns out the fan stops my chosen res from fully inserting in the bay! I'm about 1mm from having the res click in place. As I'm going to be away most of this week, I guess the following week I will be looking for my easiest way to cut 1 mm off the rim of the fan. I'll probably be in the market for a few good stanley blades from the local DIY shop and heat them up to make the job easier



Fitting the tubing turned out to be more difficult than expected. I've done my fair share of household plumbing, and even plumbed in equipment with potentially hazardous chemicals, so that didn't worry me. But I've never used compression fittings, and in this build they turned out not to be the easy option.

The clear tubing I bought for the interior is strong enough not to easily kink, but using it with compression fittings was a problem. Once the tubing is over the bard, the compression nuts wouldn't fit over the tubing! I measured the tubing, and it is definitely 10/13, as advertised, so maybe it just needs to be more flexible to use with compression fittings.

No problem, I just took the compression screws off the fittings and used them as barbs. Fortunately, I had bought about 15 compression clips, to use with plastic elbows, so that will work until I receive some proper barbs.

Another thing that didn't help was buying the wrong 90 degree elbows. It seems I have a pile of 10/13 90 degree fittings with a 3/8 BSP fitting instead of 1/4 BSP. I guess I must have sen 3/8 in the listing and known I needed 3/8 ID.... No harm done, it never hurts to have extra fittings

You can also see in this pic that I have installed the SSDs. The holes in the bracket that OCZ supply for fitting in a 3.5" bay only line up with the closer holes on a standard bay. My bay only has holes equivalaent to the far holes! Oh well,I have some left-over velcro. It still all looks neat even with all the cables installed (ecept power, of course).



All filled up and testing began. The pump took a while to fill properly. I let the water drain into it from the reservoir initially, and waited until it was showing in the pump outlet before turning it on. At first, it stuttered and turned on and off. I'm not sure, but I think that was an air blockage causing that, as it cleared when I shook the pump a bit. Once I had sorted that out, it took about 5 minutes to fill the loop (thata just the internal tubing and a small piece of tubing outside, no radiators or chiller yet). 0.6L and it was running for initial testing.

The only leak was a fitting that I hadn't fully tightened - that turned out to be directly above a 1000W PSU!. Phew, good thing I wasn't over-confident when it came to testing
The extraa tubing at the bottom/left is because it will only be a little over a wek before I add in a GTX 570 and block. Using a multi-way block I can drain the bottom of the loop when the block is ready to plumb in. I'll have the new fittings by then as well so will be able to improve on it.

Also, the pump is not yet fixed in place, as I need to get it's position spot on when the gpu is in place. I think I need to remove the front fan for it to work, but when I have a watercooled GPU I won't need cold air blowing toward it. That's when I will fit the second pump.

I was surprised at how quiet the pump is. I read about people saying pumps are noisy, and that decoupling is needed. My alphacool VPP655 is so quiet, I had to keep picking it up to check that it is working!



OK, it's connected up to the chiller. I've now had it running for 24 hours, with the chiller set to 12C (so I don't have to insulate against condensation yet).

I reset the BIOS to default setings, and then set the processor to the same speed and core voltage as I had under air. A 5 test run of IBT, 8 threads, maximum stress, gave a maximum temp about 23C lower than the Noctua NH-D14. I'll be testing more (different temps, overclocks, etc) in a little over a week, as well as checking whether I can get 4.8 GHz stable with a lower core voltage at the lower temps.



All that, and I think I only broke one warranty

It'll be about 10-11 days before I have another update. During that ime I won't be able to reply to any comments daily, but I hope to make up for that when I have the last few parts and finish it off. Then I just need to send the side panel off to have a window cut.
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Old 5th Dec 2011, 00:35   #15
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Old 16th Dec 2011, 01:00   #16
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GPU madness!

Yesterday started out well. I was woken by a courier with my new gpu:



I'm looking forward to overclocking that and folding with it.



Nice, my first high-end card (well, as high-end as the size of the case will allow). And even better, the card is an inch shorter than a standard card (I hope it's still a reference design, I already have the waterblock!). That means I can keep my intake fan in place, with the pumps pushed right up against it.

Time to install it and test it.



Oh well, no point taking pics of the card in place, it's going back for RMA I guess it wasn't such a good day after all!

I have no idea what the problem is, but the card gives a totally unusable output. As soon as the card starts to post I get those lilac/green blocks all over the screen. That's using the same monitor cable I have connected with the HD 6770. The PSU is a 1000W with a singke 12V rail, so it's not a lack of power. I'm assuming a bad facctory overclcock, but I have no idea.

I sent several emails today to both EVGA and the retailer, and the retailer have got their courier collecting it tomorrow. Hopefully they will manage to get a working replacement to me before christmas
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Old 29th Dec 2011, 19:46   #17
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Finished

I received the replacement GTX 570 Superclocked on Tuesday last week. Initially, it had the saame issues as the original, but after making some enquiries I was adavised that for this card to work on this motherboard I needed the latest BIOS for the gpu! OK, not ana easy task with a barely usabale screen, but not impossible. I updated the BIOS, and everything works as it should!

So, having established that it now works, on with the build.



Hmm, imageshack seems to have rotated the second image! My photography didn't do justice to the block, looks like I need to get in some practice with my camera before my next build (or at least check all my pics before I install everything!).



And with the gpu installed and the loop finalised and tested, this has to be the most beautiful computer I ever built.

I've spent the last few days testing various gpu overclocks. The best I got is 1000MHz gpu core, 2000MHz shaders and 2500MHz memory clock, with a core voltage of 1.088V for most benchmarks.



And the CPU benchmarks, at 5.5 GHz. I will be trying higher clocks and altering more than just the multiplier and Vcore some time next week.



I settled on speeds of 5.0 GHz @ 1.43V for the CPU, 2133 MHz @ 1.65V for the memory and 1000/2000/2300 @ 1.088V for the gpu. It seems that when folding, it finds instabilities that other stress testing and benchmarking doesn't find! So, that's helping me to find my final setings.

Curently, the CPU is at 5.0 GHz @ 1.44V. Memory is at 1600 MHz @ 1.55V. GPU is at 975/1950/2300 @ 1.1V. My chiller is set to 12C, anad is constantly on with a temp of 14C. I might change the setting to 18C so I don't overstress the chiller. An extra 4 degres will push the gpu temp up to 40C fully loaded while folding, and the CPU max temp will be 62C on the hottest core.

All in all I'm pretty pleased with my first high-end watercooled system. I've got more testing to do, but I feel I know enough to get into my dual-Xeon build I plan for 2012
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