What was the intent of this build?
To bring an older, stable build up to speed with the latest demands of 2018 and beyond gaming.
What was the build configuration before this Devil's Canyon redux?
The build had a long history of refactoring, which I've distilled in my personal blog. You can see the initial build I started with in the photos. In short, the build went from minimal and noisy, to more efficient and quieter, to really quiet and efficient except GPU temps, to optimal noise and performance.
What is the machine used for?
Everything! Gaming, programming, streaming - you name it. This is our main powerhouse computer for the apartment.
What worked well?
No leaks: first, second, and third fill! 8 pieces of XSPC tubing was enough, though only one complete pipe remained in the end... Long runs are really annoying, and will be the bane of any build. Bending really wasn't that bad, but a slight miscalculation on a long run can ruin a whole piece of PETG! The acrylic-based gasket and PSU cover were definitely worth the time and effort and help focus airflow, and protect other pieces in the case of a leak. Radiator thickness ended up working out great, though some out-of-the-box thinking had to be used to get the Swiftech pump and reservoir mounted - the end result was fantastic. Nearly half a day under stress-testing and the system remained completely stable and functional.
What didn't work so well?
Well... custom water loops can be a treacherous thing to partake, and can cause a ton of stress. The fact that the intent is to mix electronics with water itself is stressful, let alone rebuilding the entire base of a perfectly functional system. Upon rebuilding I swapped my Corsair PSU for a Seasonic FOCUS, which the first unit ended up being an RMA. This alone cause a full teardown, diagnostic, and rebuild which could have been avoided having checked that up front. Fittings and tubings were constantly being revised and reconsidered, as things often didn't fit as well as imagined.. Although the 400s is fairly roomy, some of the bends were considerably tight. Also of note is that the Swiftech MCP50X does this really weird thing where it needs PWM input to control it, otherwise it over-pulls on amperage.. This was mitigated by using a molex power adapter used mainly for cooling entertainment centers. This causes the Swiftech pump to eventually normalize operation after an hour or two of power cycling, which ends up being useful for getting rid of bubbles. Cutting acrylic and bending it sucks, while PETG bending can suck for other reasons. In either case, multiple revisions and learning moments ensued.
The rebuild was a ton of fun, and effectively dropped overall system temperatures drastically! Going from a CM Storm Scout 2 to the Phanteks Eclipse 400s was a great transition and change of layout, and the tempered glass is stunning to show off the custom loop. Along with the loop, the upgrade from a 970 GPU to 1070ti bumped the cost of the upgrade significantly, but the results were phenomenal. Finding full covers for non-reference, older GPUs is nigh impossible. The Strix 1070ti was about half of overall upgrade costs, despite all the parts needed in the custom loop.
- Updated photos; better cover photo for the build!
- Better photo sequence as far as time goes - start to finish.
- Added photo of the build before deciding on a custom loop :)
Still a strong processor in 2018!
Z87 Platform is a bit lacking, but the Maximus Hero series was and continues to be some of the best boards available. BIOS support for pretty much anything is a huge plus! No .m2 date this motherboard a bit, but otherwise its an equal contender to the newer platforms.
Fantastic memory with solid overclocking capabilities.
Although a bit overpriced at purchase time, the 1070ti upgrade has been really fantastic. The base clock on the 1070ti is where I'd typically have my 970 OCed to, making temps more reasonable on the 1070ti, and providing more headroom to push it further. Adding the custom loop really enabled pushing this card to the next level!
Phantastic case for the price! The feature set is hard to beat sub-$100. My only complaint is that integrated fan control is somewhat useless if running any serious number of fans.... LED control is nice though, since my motherboard doesn't have AURA support. The extra 3 or so inches in length over Fractal Designs' Meshify really helped fit everything in!
No complaints, though the first unit was RMA-ed. Fantastic unit so far.
Got it for free from the Windows 7 upgrade... Definitely better than 8.