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Old 11th Jul 2012, 20:24   #1
RebootTech
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Project: Lian Li PC-U6 Nautilus - 4th Feb 2013 (FINAL PICS)


Lian Li PC-U6 Nautilus

Water cooling and transparent side panels in a micro ATX Snail

Quick Reference:
2. Cable Management/Sleeving
2a. Cable sleeving video by GotMods?
3. Custom SATA Power Pigtail
4. Water cooling mock-up
5. Cable Management Final Pics
6. Fan painting
7. Prep for WC
8. Water Cooling Install
9. FINAL PICTURES*NEW*

I've read a LOT of project logs over the years, and since BT thankfully allows pictures to be viewed by guests, I never registered because I never had anything to add to any conversations. My skills compared to you all are quite n00b…my jaw drops at just about every project log I read, not to mention the tools that some of you have access to. Nevertheless, I guess we all have to start somewhere.

So, here I am: first post and first project log...on a case that's certain to make some people roll their eyes.



I am certainly aware that the popularity of the Lian Li PC-U6B has pretty clear divisions. "A Snail?" "WTF???" "Ew." All comments I've read many times in response to posts and reviews on this case. Personally, I first saw it about a year ago and loved it but found the $260-300 price tag a bit of a barrier for something so unique and "single purpose". Nevertheless, six months later and a limited time price drop had it in my hands.

The case itself is mATX and is designed kind of like the LanBoy in that it's a mesh case that relies on direct airflow to keep things cool. Construction is typical Lian Li…quality finish, grommetted cable pass throughs, tool less design and innovative solutions to hardware placement. Aside from the shape and lack of water cooling (to be fixed), I believe most people would applaud the case.



Ah, but the shape. At first I sort of enjoyed the "nautilus" design (preferable description to "snail", IMO) but soon found myself fantasizing about fitting in water-cooling and a window to see it. This has challenges such as the mesh design, side mounted fans blocking the view, and lack of space for a radiator…but i have some ideas to fix all of this.

As far as other mod projects with this case I've searched high and low and have only found 1: here In this particular case, the modding seems very limited…chrome the side panels and replace the red LEDs with blue. I want to take it further.

So without further ado, I bring you the WIP title "Snail Impressions". I look forward to your feedback, suggestions and ideas on my first project log!



Initial Build"


First step was ordering the case and parts. I wanted a fairly powerful computer to run games at good resolutions, but didn't need a powerhouse. Last time I considered myself a big gamer was back on my Commodore 64. I was soon pwn'd by my friends who quickly overtook my ability in Mortal Kombat on N64 and the rest is history. But I digress.

Motherboard is an Asus Maximus IV Gene-Z/Gen3. I admit the black and red color scheme played a role in the decision, but it also came with fantastic over clocking features and other fun stuff like an on-board power button and…never mind, I paid more for the color scheme:



Core i5-2500k, 8GB of Corsair DDR3 RAM, dual 120GB SSDs and a Geforce 560ti rounded out the setup:



I've been running this setup in stock form (no mods, air cooling) for the last 3 months, so I needed a cooler that could at least handle a 4.6Ghz over clock until water cooling got underway. The case seemed to beg for a top down design, so I went with the CoolerMaster GeminII…a fantastic cooler, and appears to be Gen 2 of a cooler I've used in a couple of my customer's setups that have always worked great. Full setup is powered by 550watts…I know it doesn't seem like much, but running Prime95 and Unique Heaven, fans on high I've only seen 320watts being used. This is a potential future upgrade, but I should be fine for now. And it has a red LED lit fan. I'm weak.

Here are the parts setup for initial equipment tests before install (and pre-560ti):



Installed in case WITHOUT the side fans mounted:



Once I put in the side fans, you can see that it blocks a lot of visibility for future upgrades, but does a fantastic job of cooling. This will be resolved later:



So this is the completed "stock" build before mods. Now it's time to make it look cool…more to come!




Installing windows...literally


Time to take the "snail" out of it and put in some windows. Thankfully, Lian Li made it easy…the mesh panels are screwed onto a frame, so removing them was just a matter of taking out 9 screws on each panel. Then traced the mesh onto smoked grey acrylic:





Once it was traced, I cut the two pieces apart with a jigsaw and then used a scroll saw to cut out the shapes and drilled the screw holes. For whatever reason, those pictures appear to not have taken. But then I DO have pictures attaching the acrylic to the frame:



I picked up some rubber grommets at the hardware store to act as spacers and provide a softer clamp:



Once complete, the side panel looks like this:



In order to make more room for water cooling and allow an unobstructed view of everything, I needed to remove the dual 120mm fans on the front. I relocated one of the fans to the front, which will eventually mount to a radiator I need to somehow fit in the same space:



Finally, here's the picture of the panel installed on the case (yes, this is a cell phone picture, but it somehow shows the inside lit up better than the picture I took with the actual camera…go figure):



These were done on both sides, but the other side just shows cables (though they're smoked out pretty well). I'll be sleeving wires, so I haven't yet decided if I will further tint that panel to hide them or allow the wires to be seen…guess it depends how nice my sleeving works! More soon!

Last edited by RebootTech; 5th Feb 2013 at 00:46. Reason: Updated date in title
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Old 11th Jul 2012, 21:05   #2
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I simply love that case, it's awesome, now quick, mod something on it before anyone notices and you get moved to modding!
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Old 11th Jul 2012, 21:19   #3
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I simply love that case, it's awesome, now quick, mod something on it before anyone notices and you get moved to modding!
Will do
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Old 11th Jul 2012, 21:26   #4
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Duplicate...was approved way late

Last edited by RebootTech; 12th Jul 2012 at 14:20.
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Old 11th Jul 2012, 21:48   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Balder View Post
I simply love that case, it's awesome, now quick, mod something on it before anyone notices and you get moved to modding!
He's right. Take out a fan and post a pick of it haha. The moderators are moving quickly...
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Old 11th Jul 2012, 22:22   #6
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I love that case and if i didnt already have its big brother the 777 I'd have bought one as soon as they were available.

Im interested to see what you do with this, I was thinking of creating a radiator to replace the mesh panels on mine.
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Old 11th Jul 2012, 22:35   #7
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I must've spent ten minutes trying to get that cursor to move.
You could mount a radiator to the foot brackets. I always wondered why they didn't route the cables out the optical area and make it look more like its namesake.
1384's idea could also be done by daisy-chaining a bunch of 120 single rads together. How are your soldering skills?
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Old 11th Jul 2012, 22:53   #8
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Originally Posted by Cheapskate View Post
I must've spent ten minutes trying to get that cursor to move.
That's hilarious...I had no idea what you meant till I went back up and looked. Too funny.

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Originally Posted by Cheapskate View Post
You could mount a radiator to the foot brackets. I always wondered why they didn't route the cables out the optical area and make it look more like its namesake.
1384's idea could also be done by daisy-chaining a bunch of 120 single rads together. How are your soldering skills?
My thought is a 120.1mm radiator where I moved the fan to, with the fan pushing through. If I take out the dust filter, I think it should fit. Then from that, send water to the CPU, then to an 80mm radiator on the back where the small red fan is now, then from that to the reservoir. Eventually I want to cool the GPU, but don't have the money for that yet...easily adds $100 to the cost, so will need to wait for that. The two rads should have no trouble cooling the CPU...whether they can cool the CPU and GPU together with a moderate overclock, guess I'll have to see. I'm hoping to avoid an external rad...
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Old 11th Jul 2012, 23:30   #9
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or boddaker's curved rad from the tron cycle...
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Old 11th Jul 2012, 23:53   #10
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or boddaker's curved rad from the tron cycle...
THIS was totally one of my thoughts...but 1) it's probably way out of my budget, and 2) I couldn't find the company he mentioned that made it for him...
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Old 12th Jul 2012, 14:28   #11
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I received the supplies yesterday to start sleeving cables. However, have some questions...any of you experienced guys have some tips?

I ordered 1/8" sleeving, which seems the right size, and then 1/4" 3/1 heat shrink. However, the heat shrink shrinks around the sleeving but stays loose on the wire, meaning it then won't fit back in the connector. If I flatten the heat shrink, it measures 3/8", but I'm assuming the 1/4" is the diameter. From what I read, 1/4" is best for 1/8" sleeving, but I'm second guessing now.

I really like the look of no heat shrink too, but am also having trouble making that look nice. I'm guessing I need a cutting tip for my soldering iron to fix this, but when I cut the sleeving with an Exacto knife, it frays pretty quick. I've sealed the ends with a lighter, but then it bows out a bit and doesn't slide in the connector right.

Anyway, been doing a lot of reading and will be Googling for tips, but thought I'd throw it out there for you all.
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Old 12th Jul 2012, 18:57   #12
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If you *very, very carefully* cut the supports from a conventional radiator, then you should be able to very, very carefully bend the radiator I don't think you'd get the radius tight enough, but it's possible, although it'll give you tapering fins...

Build your own? Someone recently made a giant passive box/radiator/case/thing project was called HUSH. No curves, but it shouldn't be too big a departure.
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Old 12th Jul 2012, 21:27   #13
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That looks pretty cool with the smoked sides. I have a idea. Build a RAD box out of wood that will fit the old snail sides. They have plenty of airflow and the Two Boxes side by side on your desk would look awesome. The wood to make such a box would only cost 30 bucks or so.
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Old 13th Jul 2012, 02:13   #14
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For what it's worth, user GotMod? posted a video in his Monochrome project log that saved the day on sleeving...is perfect if anyone is interested: http://forums.bit-tech.net/showthread.php?t=233119 It's post 15, but the log is worth a look itself Been taking pictures of my own sleeving today...but ran out of material. Waiting until I finish to post the progress

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If you *very, very carefully* cut the supports from a conventional radiator, then you should be able to very, very carefully bend the radiator I don't think you'd get the radius tight enough, but it's possible, although it'll give you tapering fins...

Build your own? Someone recently made a giant passive box/radiator/case/thing project was called HUSH. No curves, but it shouldn't be too big a departure.
Thought about this...would take some pretty impressive skills (which I'm lacking) and I also worry about the tapering fins. I'll have to do some searching for Hush...sounds very interesting!

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That looks pretty cool with the smoked sides. I have a idea. Build a RAD box out of wood that will fit the old snail sides. They have plenty of airflow and the Two Boxes side by side on your desk would look awesome. The wood to make such a box would only cost 30 bucks or so.
Very interesting idea...and good use for some unique metal side panels!
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Old 13th Jul 2012, 10:26   #15
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did you know they did a bigger version to? the lian li PC-777 can't wait to see what you come up with either way
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Old 13th Jul 2012, 12:04   #16
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Well done and good choice of a unique case RebootTech!

Subbed and keep moddin!
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Old 13th Jul 2012, 16:24   #17
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Well done and good choice of a unique case RebootTech!

Subbed and keep moddin!
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Thanks! Hope to not disappoint ;-)
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Old 13th Jul 2012, 16:31   #18
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Cable Management


Announcement! My wife always says that my projects are not true projects until I'm bleeding. Well, this is now a true project thanks to those dang pins on the ATX connectors.

In addition, I've now hit 11 posts (yay?) so I can now respond to your comments real time…been taking about a day for my replies to show up

Cable management is something that I really wanted to do right on this build, especially since the water cooling and full clear panel won't hide much. Plus, there is a smoked panel on the back as well that shows the mess of cables behind the MB, so even that needs to look nice.

Here you can see the mess of cables, though admittedly I thought of taking it only AFTER I'd sleeved some wires…just imagine a big, round cord of wires sticking out:



This was my first experience sleeving my own cables and it was very important to me that it look perfect. Here is a pic of me practicing different methods on an old power supply with much frustration:



I really struggled getting it to look right…the sleeving was catching on the pins, the heat shrink was too thick and not tight around wires, singing the nylon ends was making them look funny, etc. Then I found GotMod?'s video that I mentioned a few posts up and it fixed everything!

PCI-e cables (red is after, the other one is obviously before):



FWIW, I also took the opportunity to remove the extra two pin dongle on the cable since I only need two six pin connectors. I did take careful pictures to know where the cables go should I ever need the 8-pin again

Then it was time to void my warranty on the power supply. Since the original sleeving went into the PSU on the cables, I had to crack the case to get to it so I could fully remove it (and also moved the measly 550w label to the top where it won't be seen...not exactly something I want to show off!)



I did start on the 24-pin cable but got about halfway through and ran out of sleeving! Dangit. Can't believe I went through like 12 meters of sleeving and only finished 2 full cables. Anyway, that means pictures of the completed sleeving will have to wait until I get more product, which shipped out yesterday (another 18 meters just to be safe!).

However, while I wait for that (and try and figure out where the money for water cooling will come from), I'm going to tackle the issue of SATA and fan power cables…there are just too many connectors and too much cable right now.
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Old 16th Jul 2012, 00:35   #19
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Cable Management - SATA power


I was able to work on the SATA cables this weekend. The modular power supply just had the typical long strand of cables with 3 connectors along it.



However, for the two SSD's, I only had to go about 6" from the power supply and both were equal distance. So, I made my own pigtail to connect them and get rid of a bunch of extra cables.

To do this, I had to cut 10 new pieces of wire about 8" long (to allow for bending) and then crimp/solder pins on the end to go into the PSU. Since I don't have crimpers, it was a big of a hassle and I used a combination of mashing tabs and solder to get the wires to stay.



Then I inserted into the PSU connector from the old cable and heatshrinked:



Voila. SATA power pigtail:



Now I'm sort of out of things to do until the new sleeving comes in…hopefully early this week! Also think I may be ordering the water-cooling stuff this week, or at least the radiators and maybe pump for sizing. We'll see...
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Old 16th Jul 2012, 17:07   #20
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did you know they did a bigger version to? the lian li PC-777 can't wait to see what you come up with either way
Just saw this note...I did know it, but had never looked at it much. In fact looking at it now, I wonder if the same side panels are used in both cases...hard to tell how size compares. Seems like the PC-U6 may just have less metal around the side panels.

The 777 is a very interesting case indeed, and I think the U6 upped the ante on sleekness. Is kind of a bummer only having one 5.25" bay, but not really sure what I'd do with another...
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