Beta Orionis

Build Log:

With Absinthe complete – well, pretty close as of the time I write this – I’ve started planning out a similar build for my system. Absinthe got its name from the green lighting, and the blue lighting in my system has lent to the potential for several different names.

There were a couple names I considered. One was Azurite, which is a blue copper carbonate mineral. While darker than the blue of the CCFL kit in my case, I will be using annealed copper tubing for this build, so the name would work well. The recent death of Robin Williams brought to mind the name “Genie”, as the lights would give it a blue glow similar to the genie’s coloration in the 1992 animated film Aladdin. I have more in-depth reasons for considering the name that I won’t elaborate here.

But the name I ultimately settled on is Beta Orionis (image credit: Guillebot at deviantART)

Beta Orionis is the Bayer designation for the star commonly known as Rigel, in the Orion constellation. It’s a blue supergiant star, the brightest in the Orion constellation, with Alpha Orionis – i.e. Betelgeuse – being the second. And as beta is the second letter of the Greek alphabet, and my second watercooling build is going to be a large blue-lit computer, I think the name certainly fits well.

But enough talk on the name.


Here are the current system specifications:

About the only potential upgrade on this system would be to double the memory capacity – I use this computer not only for gaming but also for writing code and running VMs for testing (see my AMD vs Intel discussion).

I’m not hugely concerned about the power supply. It is bronze rated, so going with a gold rated like the RM1000 in Absinthe would be better, but with just one graphics card I’m not hugely concerned.

Planned water cooling loop

For the water cooling loop, I’m going with Koolance for the water blocks: CPU-380A for the CPU and the VID-NX680 for the GPU. The PNY board is built into the GTX 680 reference board, so this should work fine. I could go with EK for the GPU like I did in Absinthe, but the only reason I went with EK with Absinthe is the fact no one else had anything for the GTX 660. Going with Koolance blocks means I’m going with Koolance coolant as well, so it all works out.

I’m also considering putting water blocks on the memory with the Koolance RAM-33. If all goes well with that, I might consider the same as an upgrade for Absinthe, though it’d be something requiring me to pull apart the loop to reconfigure it – possibly adding a second pump if restriction might be an issue. What I like about the Koolance block compared to other offerings is the fact it sends coolant down through a thin channel along the chips themselves. Most memory water blocks work by flowing coolant across a block that is mounted to heat spreaders, with minimal contact on the heat spreaders as well, while relying on passive heat transfer.

Now while most memory is water cooled purely for bling, with air cooling being more than adequate unless you’re running a server that is constantly hit around the clock, I might as well get some more effective cooling out of the bling. Plus it’ll go with the other Koolance blocks. And by taking the loop across the memory, it alleviates the need to figure out how to get around it in planning the loop, though it does add some complication to planning it.

Like in Absinthe, the radiators will be AlphaCool, 360mm at the top and 240mm at the front – a lot of radiator space for just two blocks, meaning I shouldn’t have any problem keeping things cool, even if I add the memory into the mix. The fans are going to also be switched over to the Bitfenix Spectre Pro fans, but not using a fan controller. And also like in Absinthe, I’m going with the AlphaCool VPP655 pump and HF D5 pump top.

Where things will differ with Absinthe is the reservoir: the Phobya Balancer 150 Silver Nickel. This will mean a different loop design to what I had in Absinthe, as both the inlet and outlet are on the bottom of the reservoir. I was first considering going with the PrimoChill fittings like in Absinthe, but AlphaCool has recently introduced their own 13mm OD fittings – 13mm is a hair above 1/2″ (12.7mm). So I will order a pair of those and give them a try to see how well they work with 1/2″ copper tubing.

Build phases

There will basically be two phases to this build: the fans, and everything else, maybe some experiments in between.

In selecting the Bitfenix fans for Absinthe, I was wildly amazed at how quiet they truly are. As my system currently sounds like a beehive, it’s something I’d certainly like to remedy, so that will come first before everything else. The Bitfenix fans aren’t that much quieter than the 140mm fans that come stock with the Corsair 750D, so it’s only the 120mm fans that’ll be getting replaced up front, five in all. The 140mm fans will wait until I’m building out the loop and have the front radiator completely positioned – I had to pull the front ones off too many times in trying to build out Absinthe that I’m willing to wait.

Now with two of the 120mm fans on AIOs, I’m not sure yet if I’ll be replacing all, or only the three that aren’t on AIOs. In Part 2 of Absinthe’s build log, I posted charts showing a comparison between the Corsair SP120 and two other fans: Noiseblocker PL-2 and Bitfenix Spectre Pro 120mm. The chart shows that for airflow the SP120 and Spectre Pro aren’t that much off, only about a 10% loss in airflow going with the Spectre Pro, but the SP120 has more than double the static pressure, but close to double the noise pressure as well.

The AIOs both have high fin densities, and with those kind of radiators you typically want to lean toward fans with higher static pressure to get the best performance. The question is whether they will still perform well enough with the Spectre Pros that I’m willing to live with it, and I’ll experiment to answer that question. I’m willing to sacrifice a few degrees on the CPU and GPU to have a quieter system.

For refrence, in testing the CPU with Prime95 to get my 4.3GHz overclock, the CPU temperature topped out at 45C on the cores and 49C on the socket running Prime95 on small FFT for about 15 minutes. For the GTX 770 running Unigine Valley Benchmark on Extreme HD preset, the temperatures barely touched 50C as well. So if temperatures are significantly higher than that, like climbing into the high 50s, I’ll keep the SP120s on the AIOs.

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Well that’s it for this introduction into the next build I’ll be doing. The first order of fans is on its way and will be arriving later this week, so I’ll be switching out the fans and experimenting with the AIOs when those arrive. After that, parts will be acquired over time, so it may be a while before I have another actual update on any build progress.