Danger Den Water Box Plus Case (Part 5)

ccokeman - 2007-08-30 22:34:59 in Cooling
Category: Cooling
Reviewed by: ccokeman   
Reviewed on: September 9, 2007
Danger Den
Danger Den
Price: $894.50 USD


The anticipation...it's killing me. We have taken a look at all of the water cooling components we will be using with this case project, so now it's time to dig in and get it all set up. We will show the installation step-by-step to show what is really involved with a project of this kind. The system components that will be installed in addition to the case and cooling components are listed below.

System Setup:


Upon completing the installation, I will do a series of tests to validate the cooling performance that the components we have chosen have given us. Cooling performance will be measured at both idle and load settings with comparisons being made against the air cooling setup the system previously used. Another item we will look at is the change in overclocking ability of the hardware. Currently, the CPU being used in this project tops out at 400x9 prime stable with 1.61v on the core. This gave my air cooling setup fits and it was unable to manage the heat at that voltage. With the cooling capacity of a liquid cooled system, I look for some serious improvement in load temperatures as well as an increase in overclockability. The two video cards being used for this setup top out at clock speeds of 600MHz on the core and 950MHz (1900) on the memory when air cooled. Danger Den quoted that a performance improvement of up to 30% is possible with the lower temperatures the full coverage blocks for the graphics cards provide. We shall put that claim to the test. Follow along in this final installment of Project Danger Den.


What I found out while building this project is that the bottom half is built from the inside out. This means that once it's in there, very little room exists for people like myself with big hands to maneuver around inside the lower compartment. With that being said, the first item I installed was the radiator. It is held to the case with 8 number 10-32 screws. I used standard wire grills because I feel they offer the least amount of obstruction to the incoming airflow. The biggest thing to be careful of is that the screws do not protrude into one of the liquid tubes in the radiator. These tubes run right under the screw holes, so measure carefully. I had pre-installed the fans because it would have been a bear to get them in otherwise, so the whole assembly is screwed onto the case. Tighten the screws evenly to prevent twisting the radiator out of shape.



The hard drives mount one of two ways, either upright on the side or mounted directly to the case wall. I chose to mount them to the case wall to keep as much free space as possible to provide as much airflow through the case as I could. The head screws provided with the case do a great job holding the drives in place. Before I mounted them in place, I attached the SATA cables and power supply cabling because once mounted, the process was more difficult.



Seeing as how things will get tighter down the line, I went ahead and ran the 8-pin 12v auxillary power supply connection up to where I wanted it in the back corner. This puts it behind the optical drives back out of the way .


If you are going to use more than one optical drive, you will want to make sure that they are of the short variety. I was in luck because my two drives were of the short style. The reason for this is readily apparent when you insert both drives and find that one tries to occupy the space of the other one. You will want to slide the optical devices into the case to test fit them. As an alternative, you can use a fan controller or card reader in place of another optical drive.

The optical drives attach to brackets mounted under the motherboard tray. To install the drives, slide them into the case and do all of the wiring before tightening the drives into place on the supplied brackets. There is nowhere near enough room to do so once the drives are in place. Danger Den has left holes in the case wall to allow for tightening the rear screws for the optical drives to provide a secure mount.



Once the under side is complete, with the exception of mounting the pump and attaching the tubing, prepping the motherboard for the installation of the CPU water block was next on the agenda. Mounting the block to the board is achieved by using four lengths of number 6-32 allthread secured through the board with two jam nuts insulated by nylon washers. After the first one, repeat three more times until all four studs are installed. This is the foundation used to tighten the block down.




With the mounting studs in place, we can get the CPU block situated on the studs in preparation for the final installation. Test fit the CPU block onto the board to check for any possible interference. I found that installing the block horizontally across the socket, the mounting plate on the block hit the PWM heatsink. This could be fixed in a couple of ways: one, rotate the block into the vertical keeping the water impingement area on the center of the core or two, you can break out the dremel tool and start cutting away the offending metal. We chose the first option and mounted it vertically.




After the trial and error of test fitting the block, it's time to actually install it before installing the motherboard. In prepareing for the final mount, you should clean your CPU with 90% rubbing alcohol to remove any fingerprints or contaminants from the CPU and block. Apply the thermal paste to the CPU and slide the block down onto the CPU.





Securing the block to the board will be a series of nylon washers, springs and knurled brass nuts to keep the block down tight on the CPU core.The order in which they are assembled is block, washer, spring, washer and finally a knurled nut.



Tighten the knurled nuts down in an alternating pattern to prevent the block from sitting unevenly on the CPU core. Continue tightening until the springs are almost at the zero compression point (coils stacked). Once tightened down, the motherboard is ready for its new home. Installing the motherboard is just as easy, if not easier, to install into this chassis than any I have worked with. Install the motherboard onto the standoffs, making sure the I/O panel is installed correctly and screw down the motherboard onto the standoffs and it's done!



Next stop, video cards!


We are using Danger Den's DD-8800GTS full coverage blocks on the video cards. Originally, we started with just one card but decided to go SLI and cool both of the cards with liquid cooling. The process for swapping the video card coolers is not really complicated, but it does take some effort and time to do properly. Follow along as we show how it's done!

Obviously, you need to have the video card and full coverage water block to get started. Well, we just happen to have them right here! The factory cooler is held on by eight spring loaded screws to keep the block tightly against the board. Once the screws are out, flip the card over and gently wiggle the card to loosen the grip the thermal paste and pads have on the GPU and memory, and it should come loose with minimal effort. If you have two cards as we do, just repeat the process to get the second card apart.




The thermal paste and pads used from the factory are applied quite liberally. You will need to clean all of the thermal paste and pads from the core, memory and voltage regulators to install the new pads and thermal paste. Install the thermal pads and paste to the components specified in the directions and the cooler is ready to be installed.



The DD-8800GTS is held on to the card with a series of screws. There are two different sizes used, number 2-56 for around the core and 4-40 used around the outer edges of the card. A trick I learned a while back to get the cooler on the card without smearing the thermal paste everywhere was to insert standard toothpicks into the screw holes on the cooler and gently lower the card onto the cooler with the toothpicks being my guide to the screw holes. When you get to the card, install a couple  of screws loosely into the cooler and continue on with the installation. No fuss no muss. Works every time!




Since we are using an SLI setup in this project, there is one more thing you need to do to get the block ready for installation and that is to remove the right hand forward facing plug and the corresponding inlet fitting and swap them front to rear. This gives you a direct line for the fluid to flow from one GPU block to the next. On the second card, adjust the fitting to match and that's it for the GPU blocks.



With the small items prepped and ready to go, it's time to push forward to get the plumbing done.


Before going any further, now would be a good time to get all of your wiring installed for the board and any items on the underside of the case. Otherwise, the ability to get into the area is severely compromised when the water pump and tubing are in place.





Speaking of the water pump and tubing, it's time to get to work installing these items. The pump is held in place by a large strip of Velcro. It works to minimize any vibration, as well as secures the water pump to the case. Peel the paper off of both the male and female sides of the velcro and place the water pump where it's needed. Install the first video card into the motherboard and cut the first piece of tubing to go from the CPU block outlet to the video card. Cut to length the pieces you will need to go to and from each part of the system and connect them to their respective fittings.




Once the tubing is connected and the most appropriate route for it has been determined, the clamps should be installed to prevent a blowout or leak. While ordering the clamps needed for this job, I had miscounted what would be needed by two clamps. After a fruitless search for the clamps we are using locally for this project, I came up with a viable solution. I usually have some odds and ends around that come in handy. This time I used a couple of Oetiker clamps in the 19.8mm size. They are a full encirclement type of clamp so they worked just fine. The only issue is that to install them you need a set of Oetiker pliers to crimp the tab on the clamp. No problem here with that issue because I just happen to have a set.



Before installing the tubing onto the outlet side of the second graphics card, I used it to pre-fill the radiator and have the "T" line as a vent. This allowed me to get as much fluid into the line as possible so that the pump is not trying to push air on the intial start up. Once the radiator is full, the tubing that feeds back to the video card is connected and we are ready to fill the system.



Once the loop is complete, the "T" line is the only means to fill the system with coolant. To complete the fillup of the system, we hooked the pump to an external power supply to feed only the water pump. This way, if there are any leaks, we don't cook any component. The process used to fill the system was to power up the pump until it hit an air pocket, stop the pump, and refill the "T" line and repeat until the system was running without any air pockets. Initially, there will be some frothiness to the liquid, but as the air is completely purged from the system, the coolant will clear up. During this time, leak testing can begin. As the air works its way out of the system, continue filling the "T" line completely until there is no more air in the system.



This is the reason for leak testing!! After moving the tubing around to get into the center of the case, I discovered I had tweaked an o-ring on the fitting to the radiator and sprung a leak. It pays to leak test for 24 or 48 hours. The solution was a trip to the local big box hardware store to find a replacement.




The top of the case has cutouts for two 80mm fans. Having a UV reactive board meant that I had to use UV lamps somewhere, so I figured why not use a fan with the lamp already attached and kill two bird with one stone? Attaching the fans to a 3/8 thick acrylic case wall using just screws would not work, so I used a short piece of number 6-32 allthread to make my own attaching screws to go all the way through the case, fan and UV lamp. The ends of the allltread are capped with number 6-32 acorn nuts to leave a smooth surface in case of any incidental contact with the tubing. Finding a place to mount the UV cathode converters presented some challenges, but where there is a will, there is a way. The air inlet grill above the I/O panel presented a convenient location to mount the converters for the UV cold cathodes on the top fans, nice and cool.




At this point the case is basically done. Mounting the top panel, re-checking all of the wiring connections and installing the front panel are all that is left before the fun begins. So let's get to it. The top and front panels use the same mounting method as the rest of the case with a captured nut that the screw runs through to pull the panel into position. Now that we have the case finished, let's step back and take a look! First up, the front and rear views with the Overclockersclub.com artwork front and center.



Side views as well as the 3/4 view help to finish out the 360 view of the completed case.



Of course, what would a case with UV components be without the shots in the dark? If you said just a plain case you would be correct! This is no ordinary case! This is the Overclockersclub.com Overclocking to the Next Level Case!



After the long buildup, it's time to do some testing on the case and components. Follow along as we put this case through its paces.


Testing this case and system components are really the only way to validate whether or not there was improvement in the results. Testing the CPU temperature and graphics card temperatures while under load and comparing the results to the same tests while the components were air cooled is the way we will verify any improvement. Danger Den states that an up to 30% increase in video card clock and memory speeds are possible while using the full coverage blocks. We shall see! We will be using Stressprime 2004 Orthos Edition for load testing the CPU and system memory, while at the same time running 3DMark06 and looping it 5 times to heat up the video cards, ensuring a fully loaded system. The fluid we are using for the project is MCT-5. This coolant is manufactured exclusively for Danger Den by Midwest Cooling Technologies. The reason for choosing this product for our project is that it is a non-conductive fluid. Being non-conductive means that should a leak develop, the system should not suffer a meltdown because of the leak. Electricity and liquids usually do not play nice together, so this bit of protection is a welcome bonus. We will test the fluid to see if it is conductive or not, as well as a couple other popular cooling fluids. Let's get on with the testing.


Testing Setup:


Testing tools:


Having a liquid be non-conductive is a concept that is tough to wrap your head around. Many of the liquids you would use as a coolant are conductive and leaks would be a disaster if they were to happen. I tested three liquids that are commonly recommended, MCT-5, distilled water and distilled water with Zerex Super Racing antifreeze. I will test for any continuity through the liquid to see if a charge will pass through the coolant. The results kind of surprised me. The MCT-5 really does not pass a charge through it in our testing. On the other hand, the distilled water and antifreeze mixture both allowed a charge through them.



The balance of our testing is based on the temperatures generated by the hardware in this case. While a comparison between air cooled and liquid cooled may seem a little unfair, it shows the capabilities and load capacity of the systems in question. The item we will test are the three items that are liquid cooled vs. the temperatures while air cooled. The voltage on the CPU is 1.61v set in the BIOS and no voltmods to the video cards. All temperatures are in degrees Celsius with the lower value being the winner in the tests








Airflow through the case was measured by checking the the airflow from each fan and using simple math. What goes in must come back out. The two Papst fans used on the radiator are rated at 55 CFM each. These are blowing into the case, while there are three 80mm fans pulling air out of the system. Two of the fans are rated at 27 CFM and the power supply fan is not rated, but is variable depending on heat load. The total intake was rated at 110 CFM but measured closer to 100 CFM. The two case fans mounted to the top measured above spec at 30 CFM each, while the power supply measured 31 CFM under load. The exhaust comes up a little short, but with a slight improvement in fan selection, the airflow will become balanced.


What can I say about this experience? Bitchin'! With load temperature drops of 21 degrees Celsius on the CPU core and 13 to 15 celsius on the graphics cards, the question I ask myself is "Why did you wait so long to try water cooling?" I think it had something to do with the apprehension of putting water and electricity together. The E6700 that I used in this case tops out at 3.6GHz prime stable, period. Lower temperatures and higher voltage are of no help with this chip, so unfortunately I was not able to increase my overclock on the CPU. Now the graphics cards, on the other hand, showed a huge improvement in both the GPU and memory clocks that I was able to achieve. On air, the cards were good for clock speeds of 600MHz on the GPU core and 953MHz for the memory. With the only change being the method of cooling the cards, the clock speeds increased to 631MHz on the GPU core and 1010MHz on the memory, both pretty substantial improvements from the stock clocks of 500MHz/800MHz. Not quite the thirty percent improvement that was suggested, but pretty darn close.

Another part of the equation here is that the noise generated by the fans and pump in the case is minimal compared to the air-cooled CM Stacker the system used to be in. Dropping the noise level while giving the CPU and GPUs some additional cooling were two things that have been an issue in the past. Air cooling is a compromise; you have killer cooling but the the noise penalty is huge. Not so with the Danger Den setup we have put together. Without sophisticated sound testing equipment, it is hard to quantify the results, but the ringing in my ears is now gone at the end of the night. The Papst fans that were used are rated at a 30dB, and I truly cannot hear them with the case buttoned up. I was afraid the DD5 pump would really put out a lot of noise, but again was pleasantly surprised at the noise level that it performed at, almost dead silent. During the leak testing, I had to keep grabbing it to make sure it was still running. Talk about a serious change, it's amazing.


I'm sure that some of you are wondering about the total cost of the buildup. Well, it's not the cheapest buildup you will ever see, but it IS the buildup that we wanted. With a total outlay of $894.50, it included the following items.


This is the Overclockersclub.com Overclocking to the next Level case