The History of Azuremight

posted May 11, 2012, 3:42 PM by Andrew Stock   [ updated May 11, 2012, 3:42 PM ]
I'll start by posting some classic pictures... the 'evolution' of my rig, if you will, so you can get a feel of where this classic watercooling case has been, and it will put all the more context into where it's going. Enjoy!

First, Azuremight v1. It was my first shot at watercooling a system. It housed a P4 2.4Ghz running on an ASUS P4v533 motherboard, with a whopping 4GB of RAMBUS RDRAM. That's right. RAMBUS. That dates this computer around 2005 or so. It was... well... a nightmare, as this set of photos will show you:

Inside the maw of the beast:

A closeup, showing the P4, my Ram cooler from Koolance, the Radeon 9800 AIW, and the ghetto tubes going out the back of an unused PCI slot:

The rear of the case, sporting a 1986 Chevette heater core with a brandless fan tacked on the back (by twisty ties, no less!):

Another shot of the insides, showing the DD12V-D5 pump, and the back of a Coolermaster pump/reservoir/monitor all in one unit, along with the ugly 1/2" ID to 1/4"ID up/down converters to tie the whole mess together into one monstrous loop:

And finally, the case all closed up. The blue is great and all, but it's probably best that I didn't have any case windows... eh? 

Up next, Azuremight v2! The bold foray into case modding. I bought all new components, including an 8800GTX graphics card, EVGA 680i motherboard, Core2Duo E6600 (which was a beast of an overclocker, mind you), and some premium OCZ 'SLI' memory... whatever the hell that meant. I also planned on getting an EK waterblock for the GPU/northbridge, a switftech for the CPU, and a Thermochill PA120.3 radiator/grill/radbox for cooling:

I did a complete teardown of the case. I love this case so much... so big, so many options on where to put things:

I actually did a little (admittedly ghetto) planning this time, instead of just throwing things at it until they all fit:

(Yes, that's an empty paper towel tube to emulate my EK-250 Reservoir and a cut up cardboard box roughly the size of my Thermochill PA120.3 radiator. I used them prior to buying, to make sure they would fit. I know. Ghetto. :P)

I benched everything pre-watercooling too... just to make sure the components actually worked, and also to get some temps to compare against, validating that all my hard work actually netted me some gain. :P

Dremel time! First, I hacked up the hard drive cages down below, where I planned on putting my Radiator. Rather than strait up removing them, I envisioned them hanging above, leaving me a place to put them while still fitting in the radiator:

Nice, totally works!

Next, I taped off the bottom of the case and used the Thermochill Radgrill 120.3 as a template for cutting fan holes:

Here's my boss, inspecting my shoddy craftmanship. What, no sanding??

Now, I fitted the Radgrill to the bottom, applied some of the sound dampening foam, and made sure the self-tapping fan screws would fit through with enough threading to hold the fans in place:

I decided to scrap the self-tapping screws in favor of some longer bolts from a local hardware store... that way, I could sandwich the whole kit (Radgrill, Radbox, fans, and radiator) together against the case, keeping it nice and snug with rubber washers and sound dampening neoprene between layers:

Awesome, totally worked... but what's this? 

DAMNIT. The radiator ports line up with the hanging hard drive cage, making it impossible to hook them up. Great job self, way to measure. /facepalm. /flipdesk. Time for more dremeling. Nothing a bit of modding won't fix:

(as a side note, I patched up that hole with some certifiably ghetto electrical tape, to make sure all of my air pressure was going through the radiator, and not out of the gaping hole in the back.)

Much better:

Now, where are those tubes going to come up? Not much clearance between the ports and the mid-plate separating the bottom of the case from the motherboard section, where all the tubing needs to go. Quite a stretch to the factory-cut holes in the middle of the mid-plate too. Looking at my Lian-Li fan controller gave me an idea:

Dremel time! I marked off the holes in the fan controller with a pencil, then got to work. I wasn't too worried about the irregularity of the hole cuts, as I was planning on using some rubber tubing as an 'edge-guard':

For my reservoir placement, I actually got really lucky. I was wondering how I was going to attach it to the motherboard plate, when I noticed there was a pre-drilled hole already in about the place I was thinking of mounting the reservoir. Works like a charm!

Now that my reservoir was sitting where I previously had my pump... the pump needed a new home, and preferably not too far away from my other components to cut down on tubing. Ended up deciding on this location:

I attached it using a creative conglomeration of motherboard standoffs and thumb screws. One of the thumb screws ended up being a little close to the pump, to the point where I thought it might cause a vibrating/rattling noise, so I buffered it with an extra rubber washer I had. I know. Ghetto. 

Now we were finally getting somewhere. With all the components assigned a home, it was time to do some tube routing and such. I decided on a path of res>pump>radiator> and figured I would take it from there. You can see I still planned on using my Coolermaster, but now it was it's own loop, just for the hard drives and memory:

Excessive, I know, but I already had all the hardware. Why the heck not? :P

I skipped a few steps here... but I proceeded to sleeve all of my ET850 power supply (man, what a massive pain in the butt that was) and apply the water blocks to my CPU/GPU/Northbridge. For the blocks, I used a Swiftech Apogee for the CPU, an EK full cover block for the GPU, and an EK block for the northbridge as well. 

Now, for the finished product:

Nice vortex going, so the water pressure must be doing ok:

Temps doing good after 24 hours of torture testing in an apartment on a summer day with no air conditioning:

And finally, some night shots to show the 'ground lighting' effects the fans give. Nifty!

In the interim between completion and now, a few changes have been made (undocumented, sadly) including:
- Overclocking the E6600 from 2.4Ghz to 4.2Ghz, stable, without topping 50C
- Overclocking the 8800GTX by about 15% without any voltage mods
- Removing the Coolermaster/HDD/RAM loop. It got noisy, and wasn't doing much.
- Replacing the coolant mixture several times, always with the same mix of distilled water and Pentosin G11 (a recommendation made here ages ago that I have kept.)

That completes the history lesson. Azuremight v2 is still in service as of this posting, and has been performing dutifully for well on 4.5 years now. The components have grown old, and barely keep 60fps in modern games. The case is dusty and dinged up, but as functional as ever. Next post... the plans for tearing it all apart, and starting from scratch, but keeping the same old tried-and-true Lian-Li PC-v2000B. 

As a teaser, here's the components list, most of which is on a truck right now on the way to my door:
- Intel Core i7-3770K
- EVGA GTX 680 SC+
- Corsair AX850 psu
- 16GB of Samsung MV-3V4G3D/US
- Swiftech Apogee HD black
- EK 680 Full nickel VGA block

Still undecided on, but deciding soon:
- motherboard - ASUS P8z77-v Pro vs ASUS Sabertooth z77 vs wait for EVGA z77 FTW vs others?
- Pumps - EK-D5 dual top (PMP-450's) vs EK-DDC Dual top (DDC 3.2's)?
- radiator - Two Thermochill PA120.4 vs Two XSPC RX480s vs Two EK-CoolStream Rad XT480? (which gives you a hint to what I am doing for cooling )
- controller - Koolance TMS-205 vs Aquaero 5?
- Fans - Scythe Gentile Typhoons, any other recommendations?

See you soon!