NCase M1 mod for vertical GPU - build log

einmannbude

Limp Gawd
Joined
Aug 16, 2014
Messages
128
Hey there,

I thought it would be a good idea to share my process of this project.

Where I come from:
I was operating a Titan X and i5 CPU inside the NCase M1 for some time. Until one game did use the CPU more than any other game before, which resulted in temperatures of the components, one should have a look at. I already then was water-cooling everything and the temperatures were quite ok, nothing special, but with 10°C more ambient in the summer resulting in 10°C higher temps in the case, I got concerns. Touching the fittings and tubing wasn't possible when the machine was under load, which got me concerned even more. Therefore I asked around here and got some feedback.
I had only one 240mm radiator on the side panel to cool the hole system. Since the GPU is a Titan X and highly overclocked on top, the system pulled around 340W off the wall while running games and the solid opinion was, that one 240mm radiator is not enough to prevent the fluid becoming unhealthy hot.

So the first thing I did was installing another 240mm radiator on the bottom of the case. This had only little to no improvement at all. I tried different fan orientations and assumed, that bottom intake and side exhaust would bring the best results. But I was wrong. Best result was the opposite: side intake, bottom exhaust. That made me think, that the air didn't had a chance to rise from the bottom upwards, because the GPU sitting right above the radiator significantly blocks the flow.

The next logical step was then thinking about how to improve air flow and I still had some pictures in mind of someones mod about mounting the GPU vertically. I then made some early measurements inside the case and came to the conclusion I would give it a try.

Disclaimer:
I never modded a case before. I am not an expert with a Dremel. I give a sh*t about internal aesthetics. If you expect a superb build here with matching color schemes and high-polish photos, I have to disappoint you. This is just for sharing my knowledge and reporting difficulties. Maybe it helps someone anyways.

Reused Parts:
Case: NCase M1
Board: Gigabyte Z97N WIFI
CPU: Intel i5 4690K
RAM: 2x 8GB Crucial Ballistic Sport
GPU: Nvidia Titan X
SSD: Samsung Evo 850 1TB
PSU: Silverstone SX600-G

Rising the case
I put some wooden bricks under the stock feet of the M1 to test, if this helped lowering the temperatures with my old build. And it helped in deed. So for my new build I thought it would be a good idea to replace the feet by higher ones. I found some feet that are usually used for A/V Receivers and liked them.
I enlarged the holes for the stock feet by drilling with a M4 drill and finally mounted the new feet to the bottom. Easy.
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Board, CPU, PSU
I installed the Board with the CPU and the PSU. There is nothing special to report. You have seen this a thousand times.
The only thing of notice would be my idea to replace the PSU by a Corsair SF600, because I find the Silverstone's fan noisy at load and hoped the bigger fan on the Corsair unit did a better job. I ordered one and built it in to realize, that the cables are very stiff and hard to route inside the case. I finally gave up and reinstalled the Silverstone PSU.

CPU & Block
I had to uninstall the CPU block anyways (EK Supremacy Evo), because it had to be oriented in a different way for the new build. So I took the chance and disassembled it to clean it. When I took a closer look, I noticed, that it was assembled wrong by me the last time I cleaned it. I always wondered about high CPU temperatures under load. They were ok while gaming but really bad while CPU benchmarks and I think this was the reason. I oriented the metal plate wrong, so the incoming water would not spread over all the little rills, but using only the ones in parallel to the slit.
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New radiator
I took the Magicool LCRADI240S as my new radiator. It is also 240mm in length but 45mm high. 14 dpi, so fans will not have to run at full speed to push the air through. I mounted the two NB eLoop-B12-PS I used before under the radiator and put everything inside the case. I measured the clearance between motherboard I/O and case bottom before purchasing and it would just fit, which it did, but while looking on the board I realized, that the PCI-E slot was blocked by the radiator. I swapped out the fans out for some slim ones and this would have been sufficient, but I decided to not go this route and cut the shroud of the radiator instead. Just enough to be able to insert a riser cable to the PCI-E slot. This would not effect the cooling performance of the radiator at all, which the slim fans might had have.
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PCI-E Riser
My initial intention was to find a riser cable that was going strait off the PCI-E slot, laying flat and then having an angled female connector pointing upwards. For the length anything between 7 and 11 cm had been ok. I didn't find a single cable matching this requirements and looking good enough to handle the data a GPU needs. It had to be shielded and good quality in general. The only cable I found that I felt ok with was the Lian Li PW-PCI-E-1. It claimed to be shielded and for high performance use. I think it is a spare part for one of their cases, which made me feel more comfortable than getting one of these 5$ cable via eBay.
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The only disadvantage of the cable is its length with 30cm. This is too long to mount the GPU in a way where the connectors are at the bottom. So I decided to turn the GPU around with the connectors pointing upwards to better use the cable length. Still, there is a "wave" needed above the radiator, but this will only help air flow.
I then ended up buying an angled riser in addition to make kind of a U-turn on the top of the case. It is the Delock 41788 Riser PCI-Express. It is the green thing on the previous picture.

Additional Fans
I thought it might be a good idea to help the warm air rising from the bottom to the top. So I tried to install a slim fan on the upper right side of the radiator. It is a Cooler Master XtraFlo 120 slim. Unfortunately it interfered with the RAM, wo I had to made a little cut to the fan frame. Nothing complicated.
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My plan is to install another fan in the top of the case, right between the PSU and the top panel. There is room for a slim fan, but not for a 120mm unfortunately. The PSU cable gets in the way. So I will have to purchase a 92mm fan first. Nevertheless, I already cut the PSU bracket to get the clearance.
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Pump
I tried to mount the pump on the inner side of the PSU. This did not work very good. Also the plan to mount it above the radiator on the right side instead of the fan didn't work. On the inner side of the front panel of the case also was just a few millimeter too less clearance. So I ended up mounting it to the top panel of the case. I had this EK-DDC 3.2 PWM pump laying around, which in its original state is not able to be mounted somewhere. I had to replace the top with an EK-XTOP DDC - Plexi to make the EK-DDC Anti-Vibration Mounting kit work, because you cant screw it to the original top. Because of the initial plan of mounting the pump on top of the radiator, I also purchased the EK-UNI Holder DDC Spider. Everything mounted together you can see on the pictures. The outer holes in the top panel of the case to almost perfectly fit the mounting holes of 120mm fans. I had to enlarge the holes in the spider bracket a little bit, but this worked out very well and the outside of the top panel is harmed negligible in an aesthetic way by the screw heads.
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Tubing
I did half the routing of the tubes. I am using PrimoFlex Advanced LRT Flexible Tubing. The loop starts at the reservoir, going right to the pump. From the pump to the CPU block. From there to the radiator. Still to do is the way back from the radiator to the GPU and ending in the reservoir. Between reservoir, pump and CPU there are some tight curves. I added anti kink spirals there to guarantee a smooth bend.
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Additional fans #2

In the end I had to remove my pull fan on the right side of the radiator. First of all the fan blades were touching the radiator. Second: I was not able to plug in the front USB to the motherboard with the fan installed. And third: I needed the space for the GPU Power cables.
But I installed a Noctua NF-A9x14 PWM Slim 92mm fan on the forward part of the top panel.
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Tubing #2
There was a serious kink in the tubing between the pump and the CPU block, although I already used anti kink coils. So, I decided to reroute the tubing. It now goes
Reservoir - Pump - GPU - Radiator - CPU - Reservoir
There are also Koolance Quick Disconnectors to make it possible for me to take the GPU and the top panel apart without draining the system.
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GPU
My plan was to use some angled metal plates to mount the GPU to the back side of the case. I got some from the DIY market and tried to cut them to length with my Dremel. But I only have blades for Aluminum and the angles are made of stainless steel. It was not easy under this circumstances but I made it short enough only to break my tap in the end.
By some testing I also found out it would get hard to insert the GPU with this metal angles installed and even if this worked it would be hard to plug in the Display Port cable. That's why I hang up the GPU with zipties to see where it had to be with the DP cable installed. There is nothing more everlasting than a temporary solution and since the GPU can't go anywhere, it is now still not mounted more secure than that.
I also had to cut a rectangle in the back side of the case to make the DP cable plug.
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Bleeding
To not damage the pump as discussed, I had to turn around the case. Laying upside down, it was easy to make sure the pump has continuous supply of water.
 
Last edited:

einmannbude

Limp Gawd
Joined
Aug 16, 2014
Messages
128
I took the chance to move this question from the Ncase main thread and answer it here.

Where are the video outputs supposed to go with the res at the back?

This is the main nut I still have to crack. Since I didn't model a CAD file in advance or made serious plans at all, my hope is, that I can just cut a little bit off the back side of the case and plug the display port cable right through the case panel to the video card. I only use one display port and this port will be the top most port, near the top of the case. There is still room between the upper end of the reservoir and the upper end of the case. There is already a hole in the case for either the PSU cable or the case name plate. So if I am lucky, I will get away with enlarging this hole to the upper end of the reservoir. It might just be enough. We will see.
If nothing helps, there are angled display port adapters.
 

einmannbude

Limp Gawd
Joined
Aug 16, 2014
Messages
128
Any updates on the GPU?

Sorry, I don't have much time on workdays. Even worse furthermore is the kink I discovered, although I already used anti kink coil. So, at the moment I am thinking about routing the tubes somewhere else. But I didn't came up with a solution I feel comfortable with yet.
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einmannbude

Limp Gawd
Joined
Aug 16, 2014
Messages
128
I don't think that DDC pumps like being mounted upside down

I have waited for this hint. And thank you for the kind wording :)

I read the manual and did some research before. And I tried to mount it on several other positions, which all did not work out. What I want to say is: this was no easy decision, but at the end, the only reason why the manual says you should not mount it this way is because of the danger of the pump running dry. If there was another reason, then EK itself would not sell this product: EK-SBAY DDC 3.2 PWM (incl. pump) – EK Webshop. If you manage to supply water to the pump, it will be ok. So I will only have a bit of a difficulty when filling the loop. After that I expect everything to work as normal.
 

einmannbude

Limp Gawd
Joined
Aug 16, 2014
Messages
128
I finished the build and here is the missing parts.

Additional fans #2
In the end I had to remove my pull fan on the right side of the radiator. First of all the fan blades were touching the radiator. Second: I was not able to plug in the front USB to the motherboard with the fan installed. And third: I needed the space for the GPU Power cables.
But I installed a Noctua NF-A9x14 PWM Slim 92mm fan on the forward part of the top panel.
thumb_IMG_2764_1024.jpg

thumb_IMG_2765_1024.jpg

Tubing #2
There was a serious kink in the tubing between the pump and the CPU block, although I already used anti kink coils. So, I decided to reroute the tubing. It now goes
Reservoir - Pump - GPU - Radiator - CPU - Reservoir
There are also Koolance Quick Disconnectors to make it possible for me to take the GPU and the top panel apart without draining the system.
thumb_IMG_2761_1024.jpg

thumb_IMG_2766_1024.jpg

GPU
My plan was to use some angled metal plates to mount the GPU to the back side of the case. I got some from the DIY market and tried to cut them to length with my Dremel. But I only have blades for Aluminum and the angles are made of stainless steel. It was not easy under this circumstances but I made it short enough only to break my tap in the end.
By some testing I also found out it would get hard to insert the GPU with this metal angles installed and even if this worked it would be hard to plug in the Display Port cable. That's why I hang up the GPU with zipties to see where it had to be with the DP cable installed. There is nothing more everlasting than a temporary solution and since the GPU can't go anywhere, it is now still not mounted more secure than that.
I also had to cut a rectangle in the back side of the case to make the DP cable plug.
thumb_IMG_2767_1024.jpg

thumb_IMG_2768_1024.jpg

thumb_IMG_2770_1024.jpg

thumb_IMG_2771_1024.jpg

Bleeding
To not damage the pump as discussed, I had to turn around the case. Laying upside down, it was easy to make sure the pump has continuous supply of water.
 

iFreilicht

[H]ard|Gawd
Joined
Sep 23, 2014
Messages
1,348
I might've already asked this, but what riser is that flexible one?

For the GPU mounting and display output, a DP panelmount extension like this one would probably be very helpful. Too bad you already ruined the back of the case :/
 

einmannbude

Limp Gawd
Joined
Aug 16, 2014
Messages
128
I might've already asked this, but what riser is that flexible one?
In the first post there is an entire paragraph about the riser. It is this Lian Li riser: Lian Li PW-PCI-E-1
Lian Li PW-PCI-E-1 Riser Card Kabel Gen.3 - schwarz: Amazon.de: Elektronik

For the GPU mounting and display output, a DP panelmount extension like this one would probably be very helpful. Too bad you already ruined the back of the case :/
Thanks for the link. I wished I knew about this earlier. Together with an 90 degree DP adapter between the GPU and this extension it would have been a neat solution. The DP plug itself is too long to fit strait inside the case. I still have the part I cut off the case. I can solder it back in
 

iFreilicht

[H]ard|Gawd
Joined
Sep 23, 2014
Messages
1,348
Ah sorry, missed that. With the riser being as long as it is, couldn't you move the GPU forward even further? Or would that still not be enough for a straight cable to fit?
 

einmannbude

Limp Gawd
Joined
Aug 16, 2014
Messages
128
Sorry for not responding for a long time. Was kind of busy.

Bad news is, I took the computer apart the day I finished it. But first things first:

With the riser being as long as it is, couldn't you move the GPU forward even further?
There was still not enough space.

Is the DDC pump making much noise?
At full speed: yes. In PWM mode at 40% it was okay. Problem with my Gigabyte motherboard is: I couldn't find out yet how to control the system fan header, which is also PWM. Had no luck with Speedfan and did not find the BIOS fan settings I read about in tutorials. I could have hooked up the pump with the CPU fan header, but then the fans would have run from the system fan header at full speed.

Conclusion
I did the same tests as with my slim side radiator setup and got temperatures that were even worse than before. So the goal of the whole project was missed badly. I am still wondering how a slim radiator performs better than a thicker radiator with the same hardware, but anyway.
Now I am back to two slim radiators on the side an the bottom of the case. Knowing that the bottom radiator does not make a hell of a difference in this setup, but it was laying around. And I replaced the Titan X with a GTX 1080. The GPU replacement lowered the temperatures by around 10°C and they now are at a level where I don't have to care about even during hot summer days. I don't remember the ambient, but I expect it to be around 23°C, where I got around 50°C of GPU temp and CPU also in this area, being always slightly higher than GPU.

What's up next
The GTX 1080 is a great card, but my framerate at Witcher 3 for example still drops under 60 fps from time to time and I didn't set all settings to ultra yet. So the next thing I want to do is a 1080 SLI build. Although I believe there would be a weird way to do this inside the NCase with PCI-E bifurcation and PCI-E splitter cable and fancy mounting of air cooled GPUs, I am not that sort of modding pro, who could maybe make this happen. That's why I ordered a Project mATX case. It already crossed the Atlantic and I can't wait getting my hands on it.
 

Zap

[H]ard|Gawd
Joined
Apr 1, 2004
Messages
1,421
I am still wondering how a slim radiator performs better than a thicker radiator with the same hardware
Assuming no issues with the installation (air bubbles, blocks mounted a bit off, etc.) and the radiators share similar design, possibly your fan choice produced less static air pressure? Thinner rads can get away with that, but thicker ones cannot.
 
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