My current desktop is nearly five years old, it was put together in an emergency when my previous system stopped working due to a warped motherboard. At that time the Intel i7 920 had just been released days earlier, so I popped down to my “local” component shop and built myself a new machine. For something I did in a snap decision, it’s turned out very well and I’ve been happy with it ever since.

However my use case of my PC has changed, I now like to record 1080p game footage at a solid 30fps, something this poor 920 can’t do while playing the game as well. So time for a refresh, fear not though, the current hardware will be “promoted” to running the house VMware ESXi server.

As it happens Intel’s Haswell refresh was announced recently, and Devil’s Canyon was launched in early June (though rumours had been circling for some months before), with likely availability of chips somewhere around the back end of June (25th to 30th). Devil’s Canyon officially needs the Z97 chipset to run, so that made the chipset choice easy enough.

Additionally I recently upgraded to two Asus GTX 770 DC II’s running in SLI, these get hot in the current case/cooling arrangement, primarily due to having not room to breath around the first GPU.

The other major change for me is I want a silent PC, at full load I want to it be quiet, very quiet. My current PC is not offensively loud, but it isn’t the quietest it could be. So I made the decision to water cool for the first time.

Once I decided I wanted to water cool everything I quickly realised I’d need a new case, my current case doesn’t have anywhere useful to mount radiators, reservoirs or pumps. I watched a lot of videos about cases, I wanted to be sure I’d be able to fit everything I wanted in. In the end I went with a Corsair Obsidian 900D case, it’s not cheap, but there’s nothing I can’t do with it.

Once I had an idea of the kind of case I was dealing with I started to look at the actual water cooling components. Given I had the Asus GTX 770 DC II cards it left me with very few choices if I wanted to go full block on the GPU, in fact it gave me one choice, the EK-FC770 GTX DCII.

Given I’d started with EK it felt “right” to keep going, so a EK Supremacy for the CPU block, and EK-Coolstream XTX 480mm radiator and finally a EK D5 Vario X-RES for a combined pump and reservoir.

One thing that drew me to the XTX radiator was that it had a drain port on which I could position at the bottom of the rack and made available through the spare PSU slot on the 900D. Coupled with a matching pair of the Koolance QD3 Quick Disconnect fixtures it means I can drain my loop simply by plugging a tube, no turning the case upside down or on an angle, awesome.

Remaining fixtures are all EK-CSQ compression fittings on 13/10 tubing. As for coolant I’ve gone with the XSPC EC6, one thing I really wanted was the low conductivity, just in case something does go wrong. And the colour? Not to be a bore, but blood red.

For fans I went with the Corsair AF-120, SP-120 and AF-140’s, they aren’t the quietest fans, I think some of the Noctua ones beat them, they are good enough, especially when running at 7V they are silent.

That’s about all the preplanning done, I am writing this after the fact, so hopefully I’m representing this as it was when I decided it. Things will change… a little bit.