Beta Orionis – Part V

Build Log:

Where I last left off in Part IV, I mentioned that I would have preferred to have two 140mm radiators side by side instead of a 140mm and a 120mm, as is currently planned. Along these lines, I did discover that Koolance’s 140mm single-fan radiators are 140mm wide according to their specifications. However I’m not going to switch to using those for three reasons:

  1. they have M4 threads, and I really don’t want to drill out holes in my case to accommodate different screws if I can avoid it
  2. they have a high-FPI, meaning I’d need to use high RPM fans to have effective cooling, and
  3. they are more expensive than the XSPC radiators I am considering

These have the potential to fit the way I had hoped two XSPC 140mm radiators would fit, but being more expensive and a higher FPI, I’m not going to go with them.

Changes at Performance-PCs

Since posting Part 4 of this build log, Performance-PCs has made some changes to their website and business operations. The former I welcome – and will even more when they get all the kinks worked out – but the latter, not so much.

In the past, virtually every order I’ve placed through Performance-PCs has shipped the same business day as it was placed. If the order was placed at night after their business hours, it went out the next day. And I cannot think of a single instance where this did not happen. Now, however, you have to pay an additional $2.99 for “Rush Order” service to have it go out the same day. In other words, they’re now charging for what they used to do for free.

So the order I placed on an early Friday morning didn’t ship that Friday, which is what would’ve happened in the past. I understand that they may be getting a ton more business, thereby impacting their ability to get orders shipped out the same day, but they could’ve at least sent out an e-mail to the customers letting us know about the change in business practice rather than springing it on us. A quick e-mail saying “due to an increase in business, we can no longer guarantee same-day shipping, but for a rush order fee, we will prioritize your order.”

I may opt to pay the fee in the future – they’ll refund it if they don’t ship it same business day – but we’ll see.

One thing they definitely need to change is making overnight orders priority orders by default. I shouldn’t have to pay an additional $3 to have something overnighted.

They’ve been quick to handle mistakes and RMAs whenever I’ve had issues, so they’ll continue to receive my business – plus they tend to have some of the lowest prices. They also now have an explicit price match option, so that’s a plus, and I may have to exercise that in the future. They also have a new wishlist feature as well, which is where I’ve got listed everything I’m planning to purchase for this build – well everything short of the fittings.

Second GTX 770 or a GTX 970/980?

With all the fervor going on right now about the new 900 series of graphics cards, I’m not going to be upgrading to that. Instead I’ll be adding a second GTX 770 to my mix sometime down the road. And it’ll be the PNY board as well.

For Absinthe, though, a GTX 970 will be in order, especially given the current price tag on them. Absinthe is currently running a GTX 660 SLI pair. PNY’s board is apparently built onto the GTX 670 reference board, meaning water blocks already exist for it according to EK’s cooling configurator, and that’s likely the path I’m taking. I’ll start with one, and eventually I’ll get her the second.

That’ll be a few months down the road though. She doesn’t need them right now. Her 660 SLI pair can handle everything she currently plays without difficulty, and that’ll likely remain true for the foreseeable future.

Test fit #3 and change of plans

But their changes to practice meant I had to wait an additional day to do the test fitting on everything to plan future orders accordingly. The next test fit, however, was not for the radiator that was on the way. I found an XS-PC EX240 radiator at my local Microcenter and decided to pick it up for a different test fit to see whether it could fit mounted to the fan screw holes. It was then that I made a discovery that I wish I’d made while building Absinthe.

See those holes with 140 and 120 next to them? Those are the mounting holes that are recommended for a radiator. In building Absinthe, those were the holes I used for mounting the front radiator. Notice the other lines of holes on the case? Those are vent holes for the 140mm fans that come with the fan. The glints in the picture are two of the mounting screws for the radiator, so I’m using the vent holes to mount the radiator. The only downside to this is that you can only mount the 4 corner screws instead of all 8 of the screw holes on the radiator.

That is what I wish I’d noticed when building Absinthe. A little more test fitting by front-mounting the AlphaCool 240mm radiator I already have and putting the XSPC radiator on the bottom with a fan shows what I’m going to be doing for β Ori and is the next loop upgrade for Absinthe.

So as you can see, the radiator with fan fits neatly under the front-mounted 240mm radiator. The holes labeled “120” wouldn’t allow for this as the put the radiator too low (see Part VI of the Absinthe build log for details). The EX240 is also slightly thicker than the ST30 – 35mm for the EX240 vs 30mm for the ST30 – so this picture guarantees the fit for another ST30 where the XSPC radiator lays in this picture. It also means that I can use another ST30 for Absinthe instead of an XT45.

This is why you need to order your parts in phases, and you should start with the radiators so you can do test fits. And it helps to fully investigate what you’ve got to determine the full range of options.

So I returned the EX240 to Microcenter. I requested an RMA on the EX120 as well, citing a change of plans, and requesting a store credit which will be used toward the next batch, which will include an ST30 240mm. The EX140 I can’t return to FrozenCPU as it’s too long past the return period, but I can use it in a future project.

But that’ll make the radiator configuration two dual 120mm radiators and a triple 120mm radiator, a total of 7x120mm of surface area.

Next order

As mentioned the order that arrived after making the above-mentioned test fit included the EX120, but also the ST30 360mm. I don’t need to do a test fit on it as I already know it’ll fit without an issue. I’m considering turning the radiator so the fittings are toward the front instead of the back, the way I originally had it in the original water cooling build that preceded Absinthe.


Only if I do this, I’ll be taking the tubing through the 5 1/4″ drive bay with a pass-through fitting. The reason for that is quite simple: the top and front radiator should be in line with each other, both centered in the case, meaning the fittings line up with each other. Dropping one of the tubing holes through the bottom of the 5 1/4″ bay should provide for a simple mechanism for tubing it up.

The order also had the pump. Originally I said I was going with the AlphaCool VPP655. I ultimately went with the Koolance PMP-450. They’re basically the same pump, and the Koolance offering was less expensive than the AlphaCool pump on Performance-PCs website. The AlphaCool pump housing I plan to buy should still work with it without any problem, though, or I could just use the Bitspower housing I currently have, but I think I’ll use that elsewhere. I just think the Bitspower mod tops are ugly, and I like the AlphaCool HF D5 clear top better.

The next order for Performance-PCs is going for the pump top and some small parts along with another ST30 240mm radiator. For the water blocks, since I’m going Koolance on everything, I may just order those direct from Koolance, especially since Performance-PCs recently jumped their price of the GTX 680 water block. But having the pump top and a few other things should give me enough parts to start physically planning the loop.