Upgrading the chassis

I realize this will sound hypocritical in the wake of what I said with the latest update on Amethyst. But I did say to only swap out the chassis and power supply if it no longer meets your needs.

I bought the NZXT H440 back in 2016 to have better room for HDDs compared to the Zalman Z12 Plus. The Z12 had better support for external water cooling, but at least the H440 had grommets. And, again, better support for HDDs.

And I’m upgrading to have room for more HDDs.

I considered using or building an external enclosure for the HDDs, but upgrading the chassis was actually the lesser-expensive option overall, both for cost and space. Taking in mind that I do have an LSI controller card for the HDDs as well, so would want to retain that rather than falling back to USB for the HDD connection.

Sadly, I actually bought the new chassis over 18 months ago and only recently just moved everything into it. Laziness being the reason it took so long. But two things spurred me into doing this. First was finally getting ahold of an RTX 3070 after sitting in EVGA’s reservation queue for over a year. And the second was… needing to swap out the power supply to support the that graphics card.

be quiet! Dark Base 900 (BG011)

The be quiet! Dark Base 900 is what I went with. It’s since been surpassed by the Dark Base Pro rev 2.0, which comes with the tinted window side panel by default. The Dark Base 900 comes with closed side panels, and the tinted window was available separately.

I prefer clear window side panels, personally. I didn’t like the smoked acrylic window with the H440 and replaced it with a clear acrylic replacement from MNPCTech. And I’ll likely have something custom made for this. A 2-part panel, actually: aluminum (painted black) to cover the HDDs and clear acrylic to show off the rest. Similar to the H440’s partial panel that hides the HDD cages.

Its modularity attracted me. It has a LOT of customization options, even though I went with, more or less, a standard setup not much different from before. You can also rework it into an inverted setup if you want. But its HDD support is what drew my attention. That the chassis is also designed and built for silence definitely helps.

That it comes with seven (7) HDD mounts was my only gripe with the chassis. And that the NZXT H440 had five (5) mounts was a little aggravating as well. And finding an additional one was… tedious for some reason at the time I went looking for it. But I was able to find one, thankfully. Since though I currently have only 4 HDDs in the system, my plan is to fill it out to a full 8 x 1TB setup.

If I didn’t have all the HDDs, this chassis would be great for water cooling. It’s bigger than my wife’s Corsair Obsidian 750D with room for 420mm radiators and a lot of options for mounting pumps and reservoirs.

But it doesn’t have pass-through grommets for external water cooling. So I had to rely on a pass-through bracket – Koolance BKT-PCI-G specifically. (I tried the AlphaCool PCI bracket, but I could not get it to not leak. I think one of the O-rings was faulty or just too thin.)

EVGA SuperNOVA 1000 G6

Back… nearly 10 years ago, I bought the Corsair CX750M in preparation for a full platform upgrade to something a lot more capable and power hungry than I had at the time. That power supply is actually still working very well in Nasira despite it being long out of warranty. (The uninterruptible power supply no doubt has something to do with that.)

And it quickly demonstrated to be inadequate for lack of power connections. It had two (2) PCI-E connectors and four (4) peripheral connectors. (The latest revision has three PCI-E/CPU and three peripheral.) Which became a problem when I went from a GTX 660 to a GTX 770, then to two (2) of them in SLI.

My first step up was the Corsair AX860. And after I mistakenly believed the unit was faulty (it was actually extension cables that were faulty), I bought the EVGA SuperNOVA 1050 GS. I looked at both as I had my system in the Zalman Z12 Plus at the time, so needed a short power supply.

Recall from above that I managed to get an RTX 3070. (Finally!) The XC3 version from EVGA has two 8-pin PCI-E connectors. This presented a bit of a problem with the 1050 GS. Since 1. I couldn’t find my cable kit and 2. no one made custom cables for it, so I couldn’t exactly order a replacement. The latter is due to the GS’s pinouts differing from the rest of the SuperNOVA lineup.

So out with the EVGA GS and in with the EVGA G6. Which uses the same pinouts as the G2, G3, and G5, meaning custom cables were a click away. Specifically the custom 8-pin PCI-E cable from CableMod.

This is better in two ways: 1. each 8-pin connector on the card has a straight line to the power supply rather than going through a pigtail, which allows for better for current draw (read: more stable overclock), and 2. it’s a true 8-pin connector, not a “6+2”-pin connector like on the GS. The PRO series from CableMod is better still since it uses thicker wire, meaning better current draw. (Most power cables in a PC are 18ga, which is more than enough for the vast majority of configurations, and the PRO series is likely 16ga, which is better for longer cable runs.)

Plus, again, it uses the same pinouts as the G5 and earlier, meaning custom and replacement cables are readily available. So to amend what I said in the update for Amethyst… picking a quality power supply is important. But if you’re buying one that is modular or semi-modular, pick one for which replacement cables are readily available, either direct from the manufacturer or from a third party. And on that, EVGA and Corsair are easily the two best brands.

Which brings me to my only gripe about the power supply: why are the SATA power connectors… inverted? They would work great for a top-mounted power supply, but not for floor-mounted. Hopefully the custom length cables I’ll be buying from CableMod won’t have that.

And needing to replace the power supply and install a new graphics card gave me the push I needed to finally migrate Mira into a new chassis.

Next steps…

So there are a few things on the todo list here:

  • Custom SATA power cables from CableMod (2 x quad connectors)
  • Replace SATA data cables with right-angle connectors
  • Install other 1TB HDDs
  • Water block for RTX 3070
  • Split side panel for chassis: part aluminum and part clear acrylic

For now I have just the CPU on the 9x120mm radiator capacity on the radiator box. I’ll take benchmarks and attempt to overclock the GPU after I get the water block.