First time custom loop build. Did AMD way back in the day (Thunderbird / Athlon) and thought I'd try it out again for my new gaming machine. Most the parts are chosen their looks.
There were not a lot of X399 motherboards to choose from at the time. The Gigabyte DESIGNARE EX fit my look. While searching for cases I fell in love with the Lian Li PC-O11 Dynamic layout. The all glass front and side mounted radiator was a different and intriguing setup.
The top 2 fans are exhaust and the radiator are intake (pull only). The attached temp graphs show the difference in top fan orientation. The red line shows exhaust while green line shows intake. The exhaust seemed to work much better. It might be possible to swap the fan orientation of the radiator but I haven't tried that yet.
What I like:
- It looks pretty cool. I like the way everything lights up and reflects off off the white surfaces.
- Everything fits together well. The radiator is a tight fit but works.
- Single 360 radiator seems to be enough cooling. CPU stays under 66c and GPU under 52c during CPU and GPU stress test after 15 minutes load with fans at 100%. The idle temps with fans all low are about 34c for both CPU and GPU.
What I don't:
- Something other than X399 / Threadripper? The performance feels worse than my old 7700K. Boot is slower and the system doesn't feel as snappy despite high benchmarks. Possible I need some tweaking and tuning.
- Corsair premium cables are super stiff and hard to work with. There are extra cables in some pins and makes it awkward to fit the combs.
- Any overclock seems to perform much worse than leaving it stock. Overclocking seems to disable any boost clocks and locks the base clock in place.
- I should have added a way to drain the coolant. The initial coolant flush was a pain. But it was manageable. By sucking as much as I could out of the reservoir, closing it all back up, laying case on its side, then disconnecting the GPU to reservoir hose after the coolant drained out. This allowed me to attach another hose to the disconnected fitting and drain both into a large bowl.
- Expensive! My most costly desktop build to date.
- Controlling RGB is awkward. I need 3 applications to set everything up (RGB Fusion, Thermaltake TT, and Corsair iCUE). I wish this was more open so there could be better 3rd party applications existing.
- The Thermaltake TT software spins the fans up and down based on CPU usage. There doesn't seem to be any hysteresis in the fan software. This makes the fans spin up and down often with every little CPU spike. I'm looking at swapping the fans out and use a Auqacomputer Auqaero for fan control instead.
- UserBenchmark: https://www.userbenchmark.com/UserRun/12096468
- Time Spy: 14469 (https://www.3dmark.com/spy/5030971)
- PCMark 10: 6344 (https://www.3dmark.com/pcm10b/401854)
- Cinebench: 3409
Update January 2019:
I've swapped out the Thermaltake Riing Plus fans and controller for some EK Vardar 120 RGB, a Aquacomputer Aquaero 6 LT controller, and a Aquacomputer farbwerk RGB controller. This setup is a bit pricier. But I like the look of the EK fans a lot better and the Aquaero controller for controlling it all is amazing. The software is much better than Thermaltake.
The Aquaero has 4 fans headers. I've got a 3-way PWM splitter for the 3 fans on the radiator going to channel 1, the pump going to channel 2, then channels 3 and 4 are the two top exhaust fans. The fan curves are based on the exhaust temperature probe which is over and exhaust fan held in place by the filter. The radiator fans have a temperature probe zip-tied to the top radiator fan.
I've also changed out the PSU cables for some custom Ensourced. The Ensourced are much better than the Corsair premium cable set. Much more flexible and keep a nice bend better than the Corsair ones.
The later added pictures near the end show off the new fans and cables.
Update February 2020:
Flushed coolant with EK CryoFuel Solid Electric Purple premix. Definitely needs a drain plug somewhere. Pain in the butt to not get coolant everywhere.
I added a photo of how the purple looks at the end. I think it looks a little better than the white. But depends on how you like the contrast. It "pops" much more than the photo shows. I'll probably try another color scheme next flush.
I purchased this board for two reasons:
- It fit the look of my white case. All the other X399 boards at the time were all black or more darker colors.
- It had a compatible EK monoblock available.
Though, the board seems to work great as well. No complaints. I've done Gigabyte components in the past and never had an issue.
There are some complaints of RAM compatibility issues on the Gigabyte forums. It also looks like it may be due for a BIOS update. Like any component choice in this price range: Do your homework.
Seems to perform as expected and looks great. Once you get the color set in the iCUE app you don't need to keep the app open in the background (there appears to be a Corsair service running that handles this). I'm only overclocking with the XMP profile.
This was the first component I purchased. I was able to get my hands on the second batch pre-order pretty early and based the build around it once the EK water block was available.
Didn't care about the aesthetics as I knew I was going to be water cooling it. Card runs very cool (never gets over 60c during stress tests in my custom loop). I'm now running the GALAX BIOS to boost the power limit to 127% (380W). I've got it stable at +800mhz memory and +140mhz core with 127% power limit.
So, why one star off? I've got an audible coil whine from the card. This just seems like an unacceptable fault on such a premium product. I understand that coil whine is one of those random things that doesn't affect performance. But it is there and it is annoying and I can hear it when everything else is silent.
Overall amazing case with a unique cooling layout that seems to favor water cooled setups. I can't say much which hasn't already been said about the case. But I'll list my general pros and cons:
What I like:
- Glass panels really give a great view of the insides. Definitely a case for those who want to show off their components.
- RGB lights really pop off the white interior. Everything will glow the same colors as your fans / other lighting components.
- Plenty of room for custom loops. I've only got a single radiator but I've seen people doing 2 and 3 radiator setups in this case.
- Thermals seem decent despite the interesting cooling layout.
- Side chamber is roomy and you can hide a lot of mess back there.
What I didn't really like:
- The side radiator mount really should have more room. You won't be able to squeeze many 360 sized radiators in there because of clearance issues. I was able to barely get my EK CoolStream SE 360 to fit.
- The side radiator mount also only seems to allow the ports to be at the top. There isn't any cutaway at the bottom for the ports.
- I would have liked to see the top cable management hole moved back a bit and maybe fitting two up there.
- No rubber gromets on some of the cable management holes (if they even are cable management?). The cable management to side chamber could have used more thought overall.
- Some velcro strap tie downs in the side chamber would go a long way for helping tidy up cables back there.
Purchased for the color (to match my white case build) and because it came with the Corsair premium cable kit instead of the regular flat cables. However, there are two things in hindsight I'd like to point out:
- You can't really see the PSU in my case so the color actually doesn't matter that much.
- The premium cables are super stiff and cable combs very difficult to work with.
The reason for one star off is because of the "premium" cables and cable combs. Some things I wish I knew about the cables beforehand that I didn't research enough:
- These cables have a capacitor added inline to help with voltage ripple. This makes the cables bulkier than most in the middle of the cable. Not necessarily a bad thing since it will normally be hidden in the cable management area of the case. But something to note.
- Some of the pins have two wires going to them. Perhaps this is because of the inline capacitor? Either way, it makes using the cable combs extra difficult. Lining up all the wires is already difficult. Lining up two in the same channel of the comb is even harder.
- The cables are really stiff! I couldn't get them to really look smooth at all. Any bend you make with them just seems to deform them more and more.
I eventually got rid of the cables in lieu of some Ensourced custom PSU cables. The PSU is fine otherwise and seems to do its job. I don't notice the fan at all (it doesn't even seem to come on during idle).