Water cooling build in my wife’s computer – Part VI

Build Log:

The original CPU water block was sent on its way to Germany a little later than I wanted, via USPS. That was part of the delay, as I originally wanted to send it either via UPS or FedEx, but both wanted what I considered too large an amount to send a 1lb package international. UPS was the worst, quoting me over $100, while FedEx wanted about $85. DHL quoted me at $75. The postal service, however, wanted only $25 using a flat-rate box.

But at least that’s out of the way.

Revisiting components

While talking with AlphaCool I was looking for alternate hardware, namely to replace the water block. I didn’t want to go with Alphacool again. Nothing on them, and I’m sure my experience was a 1-in-a-million occurrence, but when you are that 1 in the million, it tends to turn you away from them. And in this case, it’s turning me away, at least with regard to the CPU water block.

So I researched around a bit more and found the Koolance CPU-380A, which I ultimately purchased from Performance-PCs to replace the AlphaCool block. About the only concern with the block is its warranty, which carries this provision: “Use of 3rd-party replacement parts, coolants, or coolant additives will void this warranty.” So to keep the warranty in place, you need to use their coolants. This isn’t all that shocking since they can’t possibly test their water blocks with everything on the market. And I have no interest in using any dyes or additives anyway.

But having the block in hand, it feels significantly more solid than the AlphaCool block. I don’t think I’m going to have any problems with it. My only minor complaint is simply how heavy the block is, but again it feels significantly more solid.

For the graphics cards I gave my wife the option to upgrade to something else if she desired, but given that would require acquiring other water blocks, we decided to stick with the GTX 660, and getting two again as well since we’ve already got the water blocks and there is no indication either was damaged.

But on the coolant side, I was originally planning to go with just plain distilled water and copper sulfate, which is an anti-microbial. I ultimately decided to go with Koolance’s coolant in the end to avoid impacting the warranty on the CPU block (EK’s warranties don’t carry such limitations). The Koolance CPU block is entirely nickel-plated copper, even on the side exposed to the fluid, which is perfect as the EK blocks are the same so there isn’t really any concern about mixed metals with regard to the blocks, only the fittings.

Now one thing I discovered searching around on EK’s website is their suggestion that copper sulphate additives not be used as they can tarnish the components, especially nickel components. Again that is what I had originally considered using, just plain distilled water and copper sulphate. And that is what pushed me too Koolance’s liquids. The fact I’m not affecting the warranty on the CPU block is just a nice plus.

Different pump

Around the time I purchased the second radiator that was going to be installed before this whole mess started, I also purchased another pump – the AlphaCool VPP655. Performance-PCs had a special on it, getting the pump body only, no housing, for $75, which is still going on as of the time I write this. Getting this pump to flow, however, when getting it tubed into the smaller radiator has been problematic. I purchased the Bitspower D5 mod top from my local Microcenter for housing it, and again it seemed to not want to flow regardless of what I did. So I found AlphaCool’s HF D5 top for their pump and ordered that in.

In hindsight I should’ve just ordered it to begin with, especially given the price difference. But hey, you live and learn. And now I have a spare D5 pump top. Perhaps I’ll list it on Amazon after I replace the screw that ended up falling down the sink drain.

So why did I go with the D5 pump? Well in trying to tube up the reservoir to her existing pump, I was going through different fittings trying to figure things out, and the threads on the Phobya pump stripped as a result. Fittings can get purchase on it, but in trying to tube things up it’s easy to wrench things loose without realizing it with how stripped the threads have become.

Plus the D5 pump just looked better in the Bitspower housing – and it’ll look still better in comparison to the Phobya pump in the Alpahcool housing I have on the way, especially with the LED I also ordered to go with the unused LED plug that came with the Bitspower reservoir.

And the D5 is considered the more powerful pump as well.

So I’ll just keep the Phobya pump around for creating makeshift loops for flushing components. I do still need to put the new radiator through the water filter, now that I think about it, even though I’ve washed several gallons of distilled water through it. Just to be sure it’s rinsed out completely.

More time to wait

All in all, though, we’re not exactly in a hurry to get another loop built out. Instead I’m more concerned with what Alphacool is going to determine when they receive and examine the CPU block. Now while I’d like to get working on a new water loop for my wife’s machine, I’m content in waiting, even if I wait till I get new graphics cards. I’ve already ordered new thermal pads for the blocks.

I’ve still got plenty to do in the interim. I need to flush out both radiators and both of the graphics card water blocks. I’ll likely need to soak all the fittings in distilled water as well to ensure all traces of the previous coolant is gone. I need to wait for the new pump housing so I can figure out how to tube up everything – actually I have an idea in mind on how to tube the pump to what will be the lower radiator, so it’s just a matter of getting things hooked up and testing for flow.

So there’s definitely more to come in the future on this. And hopefully sometime in the next month I’ll have a finished water loop that won’t leak again two months down the road.