Description

. . . prepare for an ADVENTURE !!!

the ICE Dragon project was an adventure of - firsts, frustration, collaboration, skill building, education ... but most of all - FUN

ICE was started way back in 2017 ... since I had been hooked while building a previous Gaming PC for my 11 year old son (10 yrs at the time) and I needed to get back to it . . . the project scope continued to experience seemingly endless CREEP and allowed me to develop many new skills - sourcing, graphic design, photography, video editing, cable making, tube bending ... and especially - Problem solving ! But I was not able to do this alone - it only was possible with the great help of both old and new friends from around the globe.

So, TWO new areas explored in this adventure were:

  • Introducing the two separate worlds of Art Glass and Hi-Tech ...[special thanks to glass artist Garrett Brebes of PISMO BEACH, CA]

  • Introducing the Migration of stock AIO (CLC) to the aesthetics of Hard Tube

Otherwise, I had a goal to run Benchmark tests as the project evolved in order to make a real life comparison of the impact of the changes . . . oh yeah, AND a goal set to reach a stable 5.0GHz !!!

One of the biggest challenges right from the start was sourcing. I'm a US Guy living in Denmark (and loving it!) . . . and that, my friends, makes these types of efforts - well, INTERESTING ! [BTW - all items in Denmark are subject to 25% tax ... when you can get them through customs - which basically excludes the US and China as resources]

So there you have it . . . for the whole story you can visit the Build logs . . .

Cheers, __SpikeV

Part Reviews

CPU

What can you say . . . still the main line gaming and single core performing CPU to beat

Comes in at 4.2GHz and was easy to OC to a stable 5.0GHz . . . in my case, at just 1.30 volts

CPU Cooler

Unbelievable customer support . . . reached out to DeepCool on several occasions - and they got back to me within just a few hours - in every case !!!

DC even checked the production run for my cooler when I needed to challenge them on a reliability concern in connection with a highly modified build

Was impressed with the Fans even though I planned to substitute them due to the theme buildout - was a bit of a shame not to use them

The researched reviews -and- my early experience indicate - this is a well performing AIO and is keeping the sometimes finicky 7700K temp in check

Installation is a snap NOTE: . . . if you need special Rad fasteners like I did (acrylic case and - panel/fan/rad config . . . 6/32" is your size -and- you have 5mm of depth to play with between the rad frame and the fins

[Fun Fact- likely of no concern to most - but, here goes . . . contrary to published information the direction of flow is ... IN - bottom of block / OUT - top of block ]

[NOT an Asetek OEM product]

Motherboard

Previously used the GA-Z170MX-Gaming5 mATX in my son's Gaming rig - and it continues to be - Rock Solid !

So, again, went with Gigabyte and my preferred FF - mATX . . . this despite EVERY effort Gigabyte made to keep me from using their product (!)

After all the early release Marketing for the 270 chipset Gigabyte motherboards ... Gigabyte, Europe decided they would not participate in the mATX market and would simply let ASUS own it (???) . . . Believe me, I tired - even had an 'inside' guy in Gigabyte UK try to acquire one of these for me - but NO WAY! It was only after an incredible (and stupid effort) that I arranged to get this board - ended up shipping from the US (here to Denmark) . . . so, perhaps I'm the only guy in all of Europe to have built with this motherboard !!!

In any case - it's still GREAT ! (please let Gigabyte know - I'm their biggest EU Fan!!!) I have 4 set of fans being driven off 4 sets of MoB Fan headers - each set mapped to a particular temp sensor on the motherboard - and, each with an individually set Fan curve (via Bios) aimed for different needs . . . also utilizing the RGB (but not W) header.

Got the 7700K OC'd to 5.0 GHZ (stable) with little effort.

And, installed a totally customized LED overlay ... as well as, published how to change it out - which doesn't seem to be information available anywhere

There's nothing I don't like about the Gigabyte GA-Z270MX-Gaming 5 - it's one of the best values on the market - and, I would buy it again (unless Gigabyte is still not interested in selling mATX in Europe . . . then, likely be going to EVGA)

5-Stars for the board . . . 0-Stars for Gigabyte EU marketing

Memory

Awesome .... Fast .... Compatible .... Temp sensing .... White

(and, NOT Trident Z) .... zzzzzzzzzzzz !

Storage

It's THE go-to for all the right reasons

was headed toward Crucial ... then, considered Optane (too early) ... but then decided to just do the right thing !

(I'm not rich enough for 'PRO', nor smart enough to notice the difference!)

Storage

the Seagate FireCuda 1TB Hybrid was chosen as a starting point for volume storage backing up the M.2 which is handling the Operating system - and, just to get the build underway . . . and while SSD prices are - out of control!

This hybrid storage has 8GB of built in SSD buffer which learns what files you use most often - then keeps those most used files in Que for faster retrieval. That usually means that when first installed, retrieval times are the same as a standard (non-hybrid) HD - then usually after the 3rd-4th time a particular file (such as a favorite game) is retrieved ... load times significantly improve.

So the real question here is - why do the hybrid manufacturers utilize 5400 rpm drives as the base for their hybrid SSD buffered offerings rather than the faster 7400 rpm HD units . . . and, in the end - which is actually faster (and more bang for the buck).

In my case, it could be just a mental thing . . . don't know if I could even tell the difference in the real-life scenarios (or even care !!!) . . . but these days who doesn't like a "Hybrid" !!!!!

I used one of these hybrid drives in a prior build and it has performed quite well for more than 1 1/2 years. Would I buy it again ? . . . Well, perhaps if in a large capacity unit such as 5TB or more . . . but, meanwhile, I keep waiting for pricing on the 1TB+ SSDs to drop . . . maybe as a result of recent legal price fixing actions on the big three.

Video Card

Likely the 1070Ti makes a bit more sense overall at this point in time - but for me, I bought just at the right time, when, amazingly the hybrid was actually lower priced than the air cooled edition (?) -and- just prior to the loss in control of retail pricing.

the FTW edition of the Hybrid is a somewhat different configuration (due to add'l power supply) than the non FTW . . . the orientation of the Asetek built AIO is located a bit more inboard and the onboard MOSFETs cooling air fan is not a blower type (radial) but instead an axial which is actually sucking air out of the unit rather than into it (!)

The radiator fan was replaced on my build due in part to keeping with the theme design - BUT ... the initial release tests per my research indicated that the Rad fan speed (solely controlled by the PCB) was not adjustable and perhaps a bit too conservative (given that the copper plate was cooling the VRAM as well as the GPU) . . . . so, when replacing the Rad fan, I choose to power it from one of the motherboard fan headers and set a specific fan curve in the Bios

While the 1080 FTW Hybrid comes - out-of-the-box - with a Base/Boost clock of - 1721 GHZ / 1860 GHz . . . by just moving the bios switch to Slave (which raises the power target to 130%) I am getting 2021 GHZ without any overclocking effort . . . what more could you ask for?

Power Supply

The EVGA SuperNOVA G2 is both Awesome and Annoying at the same time.

It has a very good stability reputation with some of the lowest Ripple effect issues in the market, primarily due to the technology applied by the OEM - Super Flower . . . so why not just buy direct from Super Flower ??? - cuz SF are not distributed in the US and EVGA provides a better warranty - go figure ???

Also (something I like) is the G2 has a big ol' 140mm Fan for moving lots of air when needed . . . but, then again, it also has features to insure the Fan is needed as seldom as possible - hummm!

The PSU is totally modular - which only ever made sense to me anyway - especially since my preferred form factor is mATX . . . but, why the heck does the ATX cable have two terminal connectors (18 + 10 pin) PSU side when every motherboard on earth has a 24 pin header ??? . . . then if you want to sleeve that cable - now you have secondary filter capacitors hanging in the way ... on the friggin' outboard end ... could you possibly make this any more inconvenient ???

So, of course the necessary trend is replacing the ATX cable, anyway, with some awesome Custom Cables - just seems odd that none of the custom cable makers bother with those capacitors (you know- the ones that help give the unit the great ripple control rating) - just go straight to 18 (or 16) gauge . . . so why didn't SuperFlower just do that in the first place . . . I'm just so confused . . . so I guess if that bothers you at all - you can just move up to a Platinum or Titanium unit ... then replace the ATX (gold plated terminal pins) cable with an awesome custom cable

Anyway - it's a Love / Hate thing for me ... but will probably be buying another one for the next build

Operating System

We'll be Lurking for You !!!

Wireless Network Adapter

Solid performer (USB3) ... have not experienced any connectivity issues ... handles wireless connectivity supporting - simultaneous Gaming (including competitive), Live Streaming, and You Tube, on a triple monitor system with no apparent latency issues or dropped transmission (on cable internet service - not fiber)

Needs D-Link software downloaded prior to activating ... has directional seeking antenna (tri-band) ... and the form factor is - well . . . entertaining !!!

Would definitely buy again.

Keyboard

Best keyboard out there - at least for me, and as long as you like RED (and I do !)

This one has Cherry Reds (other options available) - so fully mechanical switches . . . is otherwise fully mechanical with no add'l software to mess with, just plug and play . . . super slim form factor - just switches (full size) . . . sleeved cable is fully removable (yeah!) - even comes with a heavy duty mesh bag (for LAN parties) [ and, Yes ... it has LEDs with a bunch of cool patterns - but note ... LEDs are RED ONLY ]

The only wacky issue I have is - the cable requires 2 USB PC connections- one to carry the user interface and another to carry ONLY power to the auxiliary mini-USB terminal . . . what that means is that the auxiliary mini USB port on the Keyboard can only be used to power accessories (like your phone) -but, otherwise does not carry data (???)

Would I buy it again . . . You bet !!!

[ I love this keyboard ... but would actually rate it 4.5 stars due to the limited aux mini-USB issue ]

Comments

  • 9 months ago
  • 1 point

Holy Crap! I don't think I've ever seen any build go as far as having custom tubing like that before! That is impressive, well done.

  • 9 months ago
  • 1 point

Thanks so much drferrell . . . it became a vision once I figured out I needed a 'theme' - turning that vision into reality ... well, that's a whole 'nother story !

  • 9 months ago
  • 1 point

THE DEFINITION OF "FEATURE"

  • 9 months ago
  • 1 point

HUMBLED !

  • 9 months ago
  • 1 point

+1 all the way!!

I love the dragon spines on that glass tubing!!! And the other transparent accents add to the ice glow! Was it possible to add the dragon spines onto the other sections of tubing (after you had measured and bent them)? That would add to the visual effect if all tubing sections had similar dragon spines on them.

I think this should be FEATURED!

At first glance, your third photo, for some reason, reminded me of a 2007 American horror comedy movie called "Teeth". If you have watched that movie before, you would know what I am talking about. lol!

  • 9 months ago
  • 1 point

(what makes you think I measured them)? ... Ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha !!!!!

(seriously) Thanks for the good words ... I really do appreciate it.

What I have learned from this project is that you can make just about anything happen ... you just need A LOT of perseverance ... AND, A LOT of Friends !

['Teeth' - Yikes, you're freakin' me out !!! ]

  • 9 months ago
  • 1 point

Calling it, your getting a feature.

  • 9 months ago
  • 2 points

Whoah! ...

posted my little project late last night ... woke up this morning to THIS !

. . . doing this project was total FUN ... sharing it is even FUN'er (!)

Many thanks

  • 9 months ago
  • 1 point

I've always disliked when people mod aios. That being said, the custom hard tubing is the single most impressive thing I've ever seen anyone mod, even beating out p0pes work. +1

  • 9 months ago
  • 3 points

OM... you are completely Too kind my friend . . . I mean . . . Wow !!!, Thank you

  • 9 months ago
  • 1 point

At first I was thinking a custom loop liquid cooling setup when looking at the first pic then I wondered why both tubes from the GPU was going into the radiator at the top and I didn't see a pump/reservoir for that. Then I noticed an AIO pump on the CPU but saw a large reservoir at the front.....

After going through the other pictures I see what you really did and it all made sense after. Both the CPU and GPU water loops are from AIO designed ones but with custom tubes and fluid which is a really interesting idea. A lot of extra work but those aesthetics are worth it. Awesome build.

  • 9 months ago
  • 1 point

Tet, your words are - over the moon !!! (sorry about that !) . . . Thank you

Yeah - the project has been a wacky and wonderful journey ... what I am most happy about is that, eventually I was able to work things out pretty much as I hoped for . . . that part wasn't very easy - but I left most of those details in the build logs

Cheers

  • 9 months ago
  • 1 point

nutty +1

  • 9 months ago
  • 1 point

Thanks MTP . . . just goes to show- even a 'nutball' can have a little fun with this stuff !!!!!

actually the best part was learning from so many very talented and intelligent people in this space - I am super grateful for that experience

  • 9 months ago
  • 1 point

This is amazing. Love the colors and the dragon spines on custom tube work you have there. For the "ice dragon" theme what made ya use the green? Over something like blue?

  • 9 months ago
  • 1 point

Many thanks Raizr . . .

well, the coolant was originally just going to be Clear DP Ultra from aquacomputer . . . after some research, I needed something that would deal with mixed metals (after all - most PC AIOs are mixed metals and usually come with multi year warranties- go figure !) - AND - I was going to frost the tubes after bending (did a few trials and they came out great) . . . but I really wanted the tubes to 'POP' - so just decided to get the most highly reactive UV stuff available ... see how it goes - then change to whatever seemed like the next fun stuff when refill time comes up

so, after a little more research - decided on CF Acid Green UV (more reactive than the the Blue) - and I LOVE this stuff (for all sorts of reasons) . . . so it's acid green 'Dragon juice' running thru his veins !!! . . . and just for grins - I drilled an 'eye' into the side panel Dragon engraving and installed a 3mm Green LED attached to the MoB front panel HDD header . . . so you can see the Blood in His eye when he's awake !!!!!

  • 9 months ago
  • 1 point

Not only is the color scheme unique... SO ARE THE TUBES!!! 10/10

Really like what you did with this and I am VERY impressed with the tubing. (Though I am sure you get a lot of comments about the tubes!)

Deserves a feature! :)

  • 9 months ago
  • 1 point

Thanks soooo much SU ... I'm really glad you find it interesting

... the best feeling in the world is being able to work a vision through to reality !

my original plan was that this project would go through stages of development -and- I would run benchmarks to compare those stages - that has happened so far ... but, after I ran the initial tests with the stock AIOs, I just felt I needed to move to get the Dragon tubes and Res installed as soon as possible - I really wanted to see the results . . . then, as soon as I did the CPU loop I couldn't stop, so needed to do the Hybrid straight-a-way . . . Is it practical ??? HECK NO !!! But, dang - it sure looks Sweet !!! (at least to me ! )

  • 9 months ago
  • 1 point

Quick edit> Added 4 more photos . . . the Dragon comes alive at Night !!!

  • 9 months ago
  • 1 point

Dat tubing tho. °_o

  • 9 months ago
  • 1 point

' + /-/ ^ /\/ /< - /_/ '