Mini-DTX Build with Liquid Cooling - AVS Forum
Home Theater Computers > Mini-DTX Build with Liquid Cooling
politby's Avatar politby 07:29 AM 05-12-2013

I don't believe I have seen a mini-DTX build featured on AVS before so I thought I'd share one that I just got started on. Apologies for the quality of the photos; too lazy to dig out a real camera so these are phone pictures hence the not-so-precise focus. 

 

I have never really been happy with the Intel 2000 IGP in my current HTPC so I decided to move up to a discrete GPU. The challenge is my AV rack only has room for a very small unit so mini ITX has been a requirement and my current system is an i3-2125 on an Intel ITX board in an Antec ISK 300 case.

 

In addition, I need a twin DVB-S2 tuner card for my satellite feed; this is occupying the only PCIe slot in my current system so nowhere to install a graphics card. So I started investigating other options and found out about the mDTX form factor. The Silverstone SG06 case supports two expansion slots and would fit perfectly in my rack, so I went ahead and ordered one without really having checked for availability of motherboards.

 

Turns out I could not find a single DTX mobo available anywhere in Europe. Found a few Zotac models but they were all discontinued. To the rescue, like many times before: Amazon. They had the ECS H61H2-MV available, at no more than $44.99.

 

I also picked up an Ivy Bridge CPU, i3-3220, and 8GB of Corsair DDR3.

 

 

I have always wanted to build a watercooled HTPC but I quickly came to the conclusion that there simply wasn't enough room in the SG06 for a real system with radiator, pump and CPU block. But I was pretty sure a pre-built closed loop system would fit if I got rid of the 3,5" and 2.5" drive brackets in the SG06, keeping only the optical drive bracket. 

 

I bought a Corsair H80i system, which has a thicker 120mm radiator than standard and two fans in a push/pull setup.

 

Here is the case with all the innards removed and the motherboard in place:

 

 

 

I had already decided to replace the Corsair fans:

 

 

 

But I soon found out there was no chance to run two fans, so I would have to settle for a single one, pulling in air from the front of the case and pushing through the radiator:

 

 

 

The radiator/fan and hoses take up a lot of space...

 

 

 

I had also found an nVidia GT640 card from Asus that would fit great. Not a lot to choose from that only occupies one slot but still has decent performance.

 

 

 

Corsair CPU block/pump in place. It has USB, fan, SATA power and mobo fan connectors - quite a mess of wires. But the cooling hoses are quite flexible so they can be pushed out of the way. The next challenge will be to get the power supply and all its wiring to fit back in. Also don't know where to put the SSD since I removed the 2.5" drive bracket, but I'll find a spot for it.

 

 

 

 

 

Now I need to shut down the old machine and transplant the SSD, optical drive and tuner card. But that will have to wait until tomorrow. More pics to follow.

 

Critique, feedback and/or suggestions welcome. smile.gif



C17chief's Avatar C17chief 08:16 AM 05-12-2013
Looks good. I wouldn't have gone watercooling myself for HTPC, but no harm if you were itching to use watercooling on a computer as it is. That said, I probably would have gone for the low end watercooling setup vs the mid tier like that tho. There isn't much point to overclocking a HTPC as it doesn't offer much benefit and has the downside of more heat and more power consumed, so the low end water setups would of suited that just as well and been cheaper. You really would of been just as well off with an air cooler though. Even the stocker heatsink would be fine since HTPC's don't need to be overclocked, so my only goal would have been noise. Even though water cooling is relatively quiet, you still have a fan AND a pump going where as you could of had a single quiet fan on a heatsink.
politby's Avatar politby 09:22 AM 05-12-2013
Quote:
Originally Posted by C17chief View Post

Looks good. I wouldn't have gone watercooling myself for HTPC, but no harm if you were itching to use watercooling on a computer as it is. That said, I probably would have gone for the low end watercooling setup vs the mid tier like that tho. There isn't much point to overclocking a HTPC as it doesn't offer much benefit and has the downside of more heat and more power consumed, so the low end water setups would of suited that just as well and been cheaper. You really would of been just as well off with an air cooler though. Even the stocker heatsink would be fine since HTPC's don't need to be overclocked, so my only goal would have been noise. Even though water cooling is relatively quiet, you still have a fan AND a pump going where as you could of had a single quiet fan on a heatsink.

Of course you are correct on all counts. But this is more fun cool.gif


politby's Avatar politby 12:44 AM 05-14-2013

Completed the system yesterday, I am quite happy with the result; only one minor issue with that the CorsairLink software forgets the fan settings and restores the radiator fan speed to 100% at seemingly random intervals. Maybe a firmware issue.

 

Of course I had thrown away the full height bracket that came with the tuner card so I had to resort to some minor violence. Fortunately the graphics card bracket was wide enough that I could pinch the flange on the tuner card bracket between it and the case. As long as someone does not reach behind and tug hard on the coax cables it should not be a problem.

 

 

 

 

 

I just left the SSD in the front corner, held in place by some bunched up wires. I was out of double sided tape so had to keep my OC mentality in check on that point. I managed to stow most of the PSU cabling at the top beside the PSU so there is a surprising amount of space left for air flow. With the radiator fan set at max 1000 rpm the system is idling at 34C processor temperature and pretty much inaudible from the couch. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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