Water-cooled PC

So, the idea was to make my main computer a bit quieter. Sounds easy. I also wanted something to cut my teeth into, literally. I do like my power tools and hadn’t played with them much recently. For a few years have toyed with the idea of water cooling, not really for overclocking purposes as I’m not a PC gamer and don’t want to eek out a extra few Mhz. I just wanted something that kept things cool, was quiet, and looked good. Couldn’t be that hard, could it? Well, no, except for the company all the gear was bought from.

Anyways, this how the machine looked before it all started. A bit messy, but it was tucked away under a desk so it didn’t matter much:

First came marking out the location of the radiator mounting and cutting it to size. The fun stuff. Out with the jigsaw and makin’ some noise! Was fairly straightforward, though drilling the holes still caused the drill to slip a little due to the upper casing being shiny, but nothing a bit of downwards pressure didn’t fix

Done and dusted, the radiator was installed, and the water block, radiator and pump connected together. Once topped up and left for leak testing, all seemed to be going smoothly. Not so. The self tapping screws the radiator ships with are too long, meaning when installing into the case, the screws run straight through the radiator casing and into the radiator itself. Not so smoothly then… Wasn’t having any of it trying repairs and I wasn’t too keen on having a patched up radiator sat at the top of the computer, so had to order a new one. Whilst waiting for this, on with cutting out the side window:

At the point of ordering the replacement radiator I also decided that due to space restrictions I should use angled barbs out of the radiator which were now in stock having been out of stock first time round. 6 days later, 3 replacement barbs, and finally I get the right barb sent through after the wrong ones constantly being supplied and delays in the postal service. But, eventually they came through so back in it went, including drilling and installing a switch to the side to control neon lights to be installed later:

The inside of the case all got a nice coat of black paint to get rid of the ‘orrible silver shine caused when people install neons into cases that just bounces off the finishing of the case. With the radiator and exhaust fans installed and water dye added, this started looking pretty cool. The exhaust fans are needed to get rid of the heat pushed out from the radiator, which although not huge, I wanted rid of. They’re about 18dB a piece running at 2000rpm so they’re drowned out by the power supply anyway:

With the rest of hardware installed back into the system, lights installed, and put back in place, the ‘On’ switch was tentatively pushed and a little whisper told me it was on. The power supply is the loudest thing, which is pretty quiet anyway, and a massive improvement over before. The side window, lights and water dye set it all off quite nicely – may as well make it look good even it is a little sad + geeky (before someone comments on it!).

As for how the computer runs, the system temperature is about 2-3 degrees celsius warmer than before due the radiator heat, and the processor itself is about 10 degrees celsius cooler. Quite happy with that, as the fans on the radiator move very little air across the radiator, but are very quiet. More powerful fans will move air, thus cooling the water passing through it more and dropping the CPU temp more, but I’d rather not have the extra noise that goes with it. Think I’ll stick with these for now.

I’ve also had some people asking about my other machines, so here goes:

Main computer (homer): Athlon XP 2800, 1Gb Crucial DDR3200, 1 x 160Gb Maxtor SATA hdd + 1 x 80Gb Maxtor IDE hdd, Sony CD-RW, NEC DVD-RW, Creative Audigy 2, 128Mb nVidia GeForce4 4200ti, Netgear 54g wireless adapter
Webserver (marge): Pentium II 400Mhz, 192Mb Kingston PC133, 30Gb Maxtor IDE hdd, Sony CD-ROM
Test-bed machine (bart): Dual Pentium II 400Mhz, 256Mb Kingston PC133, 80Gb Maxtor IDE hdd, Sony CD-RW
Media Center (lisa): Shuttle SN45G XPC, AMD Semperon 2400, 512Mb Crucial DDR2700, 160Gb Maxtor SATA hdd, Sony DVD-RW, Creative Audigy 2, nVidia GeForce4 4200ti + TV out
Laptop (barney): Toshiba Satellite Pro L10, Intel Celeron 1.5Ghz, 512Mb DDR, 60Gb hdd, DVD-RW

And yes, for the observant of you, all named after Simspsons characters, which goes back years – the machines have all had numerous hardware changes but keep the same roles, and I can’t be arsed to modify the hosts + DNS settings (the router is called maggie, just complete the family…). From left to right – homer, marge, bart, lisa:


Senior Content Development for Microsoft writing about Azure Kubernetes Service (AKS). Model train nerd. Occasionally I play video games.

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