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Case Mod - In Progress Project Монолит: Transplanting the C-Consciousness into a new Sarcophagus

Discussion in 'Project Logs' started by Kilmoor, 4 Dec 2010.

  1. Kilmoor

    Kilmoor lurker

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    Project Monolith
    Classification: UNCLASSIFIED
    Caveats: NONE

    Having ten other "project Monolith" titled logs on this forum, I must establish my reasons for choosing such a name. This is directly inspired by the S.T.A.L.K.E.R. series. :dremel:

    [​IMG]

    As one who remembers playing Atari when Mt. St. Helens erupted, I can confidently say I've played a lot of games... Today, the gaming market is sadly dominated by consumer electronics- consoles, that is- by brute force. The sheer numerical disparity between PC gamers and console gamers has shifted favoritism for developers to write for Xbox first, PC last. The way that console owners are multiplying in hordes and inexorably forcing the direction of video gaming away from fine quality and into high-volume production would make Stalin proud.

    The problem is, cross-platform games are inferior products. The kludgy interfaces made for thumb controllers can ruin otherwise outstanding games- like Bioshock or Fallout3, where the twitch element of the first person shooter is lost to the slow target acquisition and imprecise aiming that is inherent in a handheld controller. Because of this "thumb lag", the AI is dumbed down so that the player can locate, aim, and fire without being unfairly hosed by AI that would respond as quickly as a player wielding a keyboard and mouse. The low resolution of TV sets (not all consoleers have 1080p) makes for big, stupid-looking icon-based menus, and requires interactable objects to be highlighted... I could go on and on, this is turning into Orwell's "Morning Hate" here. :eyebrow:

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    I want to commemorate S.T.A.L.K.E.R. because it embodies anything I could ever want in a PC game. It is intelligent, realistic, beautiful, and exceptionally challenging. Like my mod project, it is also overly demanding with respect to hardware, a tad unstable, and full of bugs. And so, we have Monolith. The Wish-granter. The C-Consciousness. The center of Reaktor#4, deep within the "sarcophagus" at Chernobyl. Behold.

    [​IMG]

    Objectives:

    1.) Make it dark... the "Borg" color theme of toxic green highlighted over black featured in my last three projects has lost its luster. I'm tired of the overpowering glow of CCFLs and LEDs, and the phosphorescence of cooling fluid under 420nm lights. Like an over-adorned icon of Lady Guadalupe in a Mexico cathedral, the blips and flashies of color and light have become garish, gauche, and gaudy. Black is universal. Black is the absence of light.

    2.) Make it BIG... I'm not interested in reaching into my case with a pair of hemostats to plug in a connector or removing the guts just to check a fitting. There must be room for all my water equipment and drives, plus some finger room to manage it all.

    3.) Turn it down... I'm sooo over air. I haven't used an air-cooled heatsink since the P3. Water is the best thing going... but it takes fans, too... so I'm placing fans in the less-efficient push position, so that their whirr inside the case is more of a soft woosh through the radiators on the outside. HDDs (especially those noisy 10k ones) will be living an isolated life inside a silenced sarcophagus of steel, copper, asphalt matting, and POM, twice decoupled from the chassis. Then I'll line it all out with some acoustic dampening mats.

    4.) Speaking of water... this is my biggest water setup yet. I've stepped through the phases, beginning with 1/4" then 3/8" tube, gone through five successively larger pumps, strapped extra rads to the top of the case with velcro, and now I have arrived at the big-daddy stage- 1/2x3/4" tube and dual loops fed by a pair D5's. I've doubled my radiator area to 8x120mm to chill the SLI cards, CPU, RAM (yes I need it), and HDDs. Discussing system specs later, I'll just declare I'm going for the brass ring after finally winning my luck of the bin draw with my current hardware. I'm achieving excellent clocks, and hope to do even better. This water system will get me there... And I've got something else up my sleeve (pic teaser soon) to cool even further for those late-night overvolted hardware flogging sessions.

    So, what to start with? Well, over a year ago I got in line and grabbed up one of these babies-

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    A nice looking home for this sprawl...

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    I figured it was a good starting point... but room had to be made. The lovely HDD rack had to go. It works really well, and is a great design, so I've put it aside for use later in a stacker module for an external RAID or something. I'll come back to this stacker module thing... but for now, I needed room for pumps and rads. Strip down.

    [​IMG]

    Really a well-built case.

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    Now, it's unfortunate that a year passed between that photo and the next. Life gets busy sometimes. I ended up drilling all the rivets out and painting the chassis black (paint it paint it paint it black) and reassembling it with some fine black rivets from Nils at MDPC-X. I also cut a hole at the bottom of the 5-1/4" bays to route tubing through. I then :dremel: cut a pair of aluminum mounts for the pair of 2x120 rads that will keep the video and HDD rack cool.

    [​IMG]

    It is quite a jump, so I'll post some detail shots in the morning. I think I've met the moderators' requirements for a first post on a log... More to follow, and if you've made it this far, thanks for reading!
     
  2. Dragonphreak

    Dragonphreak Member

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    Lots of Hype, Check.
    Lots of Cooling, Check.
    Lots of Win, Check.
     
  3. Kilmoor

    Kilmoor lurker

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    So, I'd better show what I've got this far. Since I didn't take photos with Dremel in hand, I'll just give you a few pics to show how I got the two 240 radiators in place. I made L-brackets that were clearanced for the case feet hardware, riveted them in place, and built rad mount plates from Al using the A.C. Ryan grille template as a guide. Had to cut reliefs into the lower portion of the 5-1/4" drive bay rack, and a pass-through for tubing in the bay rack floor.
    [​IMG]
    The two holes in the bottom in the above photo will be for an L-bracket that will hold my SSDs vertically and help conceal wiring.
    [​IMG]

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    The extra holes seen in the 5.25 bay were to mount the Aqua Computer water cooled drive bay backwards. I thought it would be great to have the plumbing run down the face behind a plate, which would have made for a very clean look inside the case. Lo and behold, there was no way to pull it off and still mount the 360 radiator up top. Additionally, I had doubts over the integrity of my 90-degree fittings from AquaTuning. That was an epic ordeal that I'd rather skip. So, out with the drill and Dremel again, so that I could get the Aquadrive bay set back behind the front bezel so it could be covered up nice and neat.
     
  4. Kilmoor

    Kilmoor lurker

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    I had to get creative to make a pump mount that would solidly hold 2 D5 pumps, be acoustically decoupled, and accessible. I came up with this "sled" from extruded aluminum stock, which tucks between the twin 240 rads. The L on the forward end is padded with adhesive felt, and tucks under the big front fan. The rear is mounted on velcro. Works out nice!

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
  5. Kilmoor

    Kilmoor lurker

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    There we go!
    [​IMG]

    Nice and neat. Plenty of room for airflow, despite the look of it.
    [​IMG]
     
  6. Kilmoor

    Kilmoor lurker

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    Hey! Could this have been a problem cause? Two MOSFETS with no contact with the heatsink! :nono:

    [​IMG]

    Well, let's get it right!

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: 9 Dec 2010
  7. Kilmoor

    Kilmoor lurker

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    This RAM has been very good to me... Running stable at 1800MHz in all four slots makes me happy, so I better treat it right.

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    These cards, however... Well, let's say they need optimization that EVGA couldn't provide out of the box. I have an EvBot coming that will allow me to tweak the voltages, so I suppose I better treat them right too.

    [​IMG]

    ...Aaaaand five minutes later:

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    Okay, maybe a little longer, since I had to carefully remove those heat spreaders and figure the RAM sinks out. Also upgraded to a much better CPU block. Love the EK stuff!

    [​IMG]

    Now we're cooking with gas!

    [​IMG]
     
  8. Kilmoor

    Kilmoor lurker

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    Well, it's starting to come together... But there is still so much more to do! :dremel:

    Ah, well. It's not the destination so much as the journey. Maybe I can get the water loops together this weekend. We'll see.

    So far,

    [​IMG]

    So good!

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    I apologize for the weak photos. I don't have the lighting, tripod, or backdrop for the super-bling. Sooner or later.
     
  9. masterchief9615

    masterchief9615 PC builder / Modder

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    Looking good so far!
     
  10. Kilmoor

    Kilmoor lurker

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    Phwew! I used every inch of the 15 feet of tubing I had- not a bit to spare. I guess all those mental measurements made while lying awake in bed at night paid off.

    [​IMG]

    So here's the thing- I stated in Objective #2 that I wanted room to work... Well, turns out my PC is like a goldfish, it will grow to the space it is given. I seriously have no idea how to go about disassembling this thing. I haven't even got the wiring in yet...

    [​IMG]

    So away I go for my leak test. So far, minimal issues.

    Now, I mentioned a stacker idea before. Here's the main components...

    [​IMG]

    That's a pair of 300w 15v power supplies and two big ol' peltiers. I figure I can move about 275 watts across those TECs, which I plan to sandwich into a heat exchanger on an isolated water loop. I can fit that with a couple more rads into a fabbed up mini-case to go under the tower, along with the HDD rack that was removed from the case originally. That can hold a mirrored RAID nicely... So when I'm gaming or benching, I can switch on the pelts for additional cooling. The system won't go sub-ambient, too much radiator surface to do that, but I should be able to push some nice, cool water to the CPU and video cards when engaged. It'll take some time to get together, but that's nothing new.
     
  11. Kilmoor

    Kilmoor lurker

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    Well, shoot- It looks like I'll be breaking my water loop whether I like it or not. I did have a minor leak on one of the 240 rads, where the chamfering on the inlet port was deeper than the o-ring's thickness, so it did not get an effective seat. Band-aid fix worked by putting a drop of clear nail polish (thanks, honey) at the joint and letting it wick around and seal. That was all fine and good, so I went to BOOT...
    ...and recieved the dreaded long-beep and error code F7 and a black screen... F7 is a halt prompting user input to continue. I can force past it with keyboard input, and the computer goes to FF and loads OS. But that black screen and long beep mean one thing- faulty PCI. Frustrated that something went wrong with my well-tested video cards, I turned to the forums and started the RMA process. Before tearing down and stripping the water blocks off of the video cards, I thought I had better test things real well before giving up my out-of-manufacture GTX285 Classifieds for a warranty replacement of unknown series that would make my waterblocks useless. I'm on a budget here!...
    ...Visual inspection after a few days of ponderance indicates the EK waterblocks don't have enough clearance for the unique VR chips that only the Classified cards have. I may be shorting them with the block! So I've got to tear down, remove blocks, and hopefully insulate the pins that touch the waterblock with some thermal tape. If that fails, then on with the factory HSF.. if that fails, in the box they go- and I'll be running my old water cooled 8800GTX cards for gawd knows how long until I receive a warranty replacement. Where I am located, US mail takes a bit of extra time. It could be two months until I get something back, and since EVGA RMAs are refurbished product, who knows how many times I will have to exchange. Fingers crossed, and thanks to EVGA and their 2-year warranty that does not disallow the removal of the factory HSF.

    In the mean time... :dremel: Dremel still works, and there's still work to do!
     
  12. Kilmoor

    Kilmoor lurker

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    Update!
    The last few weeks have been frustrating on the computer front. I tore everything down and put my system back on the bench for some serious troubleshooting, the extent of which is broken down into excruciating detail elsewhere. In the end, I think I knew what Elvis was feeling when he shot that television set with his .44 in a hotel room. Ultimately, I solved my problem to my satisfaction by spitefully pulling out my pocketbook. The ol' "bigger hammer" approach:
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    ...That ought to do the trick.
     
  13. Kilmoor

    Kilmoor lurker

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    Lack of pics lately... Long story short, I got the i7 setup in and running. I spent many, many hours finding that stable overclock... Then one fine day, while running OCCT Linpack at 4.5GHz/1.4xx volts QPI and core with LLC disabled and 1.2v IOH (measured values at terminals), I left the room to eat dinner. Fine, I thought- my temps were barely over 70C, and 10 minutes had elapsed... I'll just let this run.

    After dinner and some time with the wife, I decided to go back up to my computer room and see how my stability tests are doing.

    What is that smell? Is it hazy in here, or is that something... else? Hmm, computer is off. Guess the OC failed. Wha? Nothing? ROG Connect log on remote computer shows it ran for almost 40 minutes, then shut down without any volt spikes or temperature increases. Hmm, I guess I'll have to take this mother apart yet one more time.

    Lo and behold,
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    D'oh! (echoes through the canyon)

    Believing I was operating under green conditions, I was granted an RMA. Knowing the turnaround time was on the order of 20 days, I ordered a second R3F board. Thinking (foolishly) that everything would be fine, I reassembled the whole works... only to find that my CPU died in the fire! Nooooo!

    Grumble... off to Atelco to pick up a brand new CPU.

    In the end, this set me back quite a bit. I have a chip that is less overclockable on the high end of the spectrum, but takes a lower voltage at the mid-range. I really wished for a 4.4GHz clock for 24/7 use, but I had to settle for 4.2. Oh well...

    Now that that is done with, my next task is sleeving my new CoolerMaster Silent Pro Gold1200, then getting the side panels cut :dremel:, and then the exterior paint!
     
  14. searching

    searching I am searching...

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    oops double post...
     
  15. searching

    searching I am searching...

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    Damn, unlucky with the overclocking! That would be devastating to be honest! :wallbash:


    Although love the simpsons reference, burns avalanche episode? :thumb:
     

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