Project: Ryujin -- mITX full watercooling build Corsair 250D

rubix_1011 Corsair 250 mITX full watercooling build

Code Name: Ryujin (Japanese Dragon God of the Ocean)

**** I've recently rebuilt the majority of this machine with CPU, RAM, motherboard, m.2 SSD and GPU. Below list is updated accordingly to current hardware specs. ****

Going through a changing of the guard...downsizing from a tower monster to a tiny cube. Many components will remain from my current build. I've always wanted to build a very compact, powerful, quiet and of course, watercooled small form factor machine. The Corsair 250D mITX case was my choice due to it's handsome outer appearance and spacious (by comparison) interior. It's also very well ventilated which is highly beneficial when you have a lot of powerful components jammed into a little cube.

Overall Difficulty Level: 8.5 out of 10 - One-handed, blindfolded Origami


Case: Corsair 250D
CPU: [url= i7 6700k
Motherboard: Gigabyte mITX GA-Z170N-WIFI LGA-1155
RAM: 2x8GB GSkill Trident DDR4 3400
SSD (OS Drive): Samsung 960 Evo m.2 250GB
SSD (Steam Drive): Samsung 840 Pro 256GB
HDD: WD Black 1TB
GPU: EVGA GTX 1070 Founder's Edition 8GB - nVidia reference PCB
PSU: BFG 1200w Modular


Pump/Res Combo: EK-SBAY DDC 3.2 w/DDC 3.2 PWM

240 Rad: Alphacool NexXxos ST30 240 Slim Rad (side mount)

140 Rad: MagiCool Slim 140mm (front mount)

CPU block: D-Tek FuZion CPU block w/1155 adapter (pre-existing)

GPU block + backplate: EK GTX FC770 Acetal Nickel WC Block Yes, nickel. I realize the EK and nickel issue. I plan to test this first-hand with their newer plating process and see if I need to use EK fluids, or if distilled-only is good enough these days.

Phobya 3/8"ID Compression fittings:

XSPC 3/8" Tubing:

Scythe Kaze Slim 12mm thick fans, 38 CFM (240 rad; space considerations):
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More about project ryujin mitx full watercooling build corsair 250d
  1. Before the teardown; Pre-Insanity:

    Tops and sides removed:

    You can see how much dust accumulates in the case from the ACX GPU cooler. The Scythe 2000 rpm Ultra Kaze's did a number on the other side, as well.

    Top down view of Mobo and Thermaltake cooler. BTW, great little air cooler for around $10 as a replacement for the boxed Intel cooler. This model comes with a backplate, which is the main reason I bought it. It performs about the same as the boxed cooler, maybe a tad better, but I really liked the security it provides by using the backplate and screw-down design.

    Reply to rubix_1011
  2. I would compare the actual install of the AlphaCool ST30 240 and the MagiCool 140 rad to nothing less than trying to playing actual hardware Tetris inside this little shoebox of a case. While there is plenty of room for this configuration, you really need to be aware of your motherboard components in reference to the side-mounted 240 rad. The slim 30mm wide rad is about the most you can really get in here; although if you used the Slim Kaze fans like I did (12mm wide, or 1/2 that of a normal 120mm fan) you could possibly use a slightly wider radiator. I know that some people have used the ST30 with normal case fans, but my motherboard's I/O components against the back wall were really blocking the radiator fitting ports. As it is, I had to use the alternative mounts for my radiator and fans which was about 0.5 cm diagonally left/up from normal mounts. This gave me JUST enough room to install the 240 with the bottom 90 degree swivel. The top fitting is just a normal 3/8" compression.

    The CPU block's I/O ports were simply too close to use the compression fittings as they were too wide to fit. I used some 1/2" ID barbs and slipped the 3/8" tubing over them. It was pretty snug, but this XSPC tubing is almost silicone-like, which makes it incredibly flexible. I'll likely use this in all my builds going forward. It is really silky, flexible and easy to cut compared to other PVC-based tubing. I've been a fan of PrimoChill PrimoFlex LRT for quite some time, but it is nowhere near as flexible as this stuff.

    Loop order: Pump/res -> CPU -> 240 Rad - > 140 Rad -> GPU -> Pump/res

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  3. Completed, assembled box.

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  4. Notes and Final Thoughts

    I bought 8 feet of the XSPC white tubing. This stuff is absolutely great. As mentioned before, it is incredibly flexible, smooth and silky. I ended up using about 6.5 feet when it was all said and done with very minimal scrap. (Measure 3x, cut once and remember, you can't cut it longer...only shorter.)

    The EK pump/reservoir is fantastic, super quiet and no vibration. It moves a lot of water and is running like a champ. I HIGHLY recommend this pump/res combo for anyone looking for a SFF/HTPC watercooling build. When you consider that there aren't many 1x 5.25" bay mount pump/res combos, this creates a problem with very few solutions. I looked at offerings from Koolance and since many of their solutions also offer DDC pumps, I started looking at reservoir build quality and overall cost. EK has really made a handsome reservoir to house a DDC pump in this compact package. The fitting ports are perfect; the acetal is magnificently milled. It is simplistic, functional and well designed. Heck, it's even space-conscious compared to the Koolance pumps...close to 1/2 the size. The only thing I can partially complain about is that it would be nice if the wiring for the power adapter were sleeved, as it was not.

    The Phobya 3/8" compression fittings were great. Yes, they aren't quite as handsome as high-end Bitspower or Monsoon fittings, but for decent cost, they work very well and are quite attractive. I opted for the 'less-flashy' black nickel finish. Overall, I used 4x 90 degree fittings (2x on the 140mm radiator, 1x on the 240 radiator and 1x on the GPU block). I used 2 normal fittings on the pump and 1x each on the 240 and GPU block. (See the layout and flow diagram above.)

    The EK GPU block and backplate are very, very well built. However, I have some issues with the installation steps. While they aren't difficult at all to complete, it is very annoying to have to trim, cut and apply all the little thermal pads that need to be applied. These could be pre-mounted on the block or at least already cut to size. The instructions tell you to cut your own and apply them without much guidance on the dimensions in which you should do so. It's kind of a 'best guess' based on how well you eyeball your work.

    The AlphaCool 240 rad is well built and solid with fairly average FPI in the 9-12 FPI range. Being 30mm wide, I really needed to be aware of my space constraints for this radiator. I'm not entirely sure it would be possible to use this radiator with normal 25mm thick 120mm fans, but if it is, make sure you check the tolerances for your own motherboard, fans and radiator of choice. Not many manufacturers make slim 240 rads at 30mm or thinner, so make sure you know what you are getting. My choice to use slim 12mm Scythe Kaze fans made this side installation much easier. I installed the fans on the outside (case side) of the radiator in PULL config. I'm opting to use the lower CFM and lower static pressure to exhaust inside air. Yes, PULL on the inside would be a better choice, but my overall concern was getting and keeping warm out out of the case, not putting it inside. Pulling all the inside warm air and exhausting it out the side was the best choice, in my mind.

    The MagiCool 140mm rad is also fairly thin with similar 9-12 FPI fin spacing. I could have opted to use a slightly thicker rad here, or even gone for a larger rad, overall. However, I don't believe that a rad larger than a 180mm or 200mm would fit as you are very close on the overlap of the side-mounted 240 rad as it is. I used the Corsair 140mm fan that is supplied with the case and mounted it on the outside (case side) of the radiator as a cool air intake, PUSH fan. This fan is really pretty spunky and I wanted to take advantage of as much cool, intake air as I can over that big 140mm rad.

    The Corsair 250D case itself was really nice to work with...just enough room to move around and work in, but not too much that makes it too easy. Having a power supply with as many modular cables as possible is going to be your very best bet, here, as you'll want to really do your best at cable management. I created my own 4-way fan tail to power off MOLEX for the two 120mm slim rad fans and the two 80mm back mounted exhaust fans. The 140mm front fan powers off an already-existing MOLEX splitter that I utilized. All fans run at 100% speed and with these fans plus the pump running full speed (also powered off MOLEX; not CPU fan header), the entire rig is barely audible. Getting close to it reveals typical humming of fans and barely noticeable whir of the pump.

    Running BOINC distributed computing, I've noticed a 20C drop in temps. With stock GPU ACX cooler and the Thermaltake CPU cooler, I was seeing temps around 57C GPU and 75C on all CPU cores. Currently seeing 38-40C on GPU and 45-50C on CPU cores.

    Some other things to consider:

    I wasn't able to use ANY of the mounting hardware for either radiator. The screws provided by both AlphaCool and MagiCool weren't really of any use and didn't seem they would be, even with normal fan mountings. I took my radiators, fans, fan grilles and went to my local hardware store to find exactly what I would need. I ended up getting around $9 in additional washers and M3 screws to the length that I needed for my build. And you know what? It totally paid off. Everything mounted perfectly and I didn't spend time getting angry or frustrated because I didn't have what I thought I needed...because I already thought ahead and got it. I HIGHLY recommend this step for anyone doing a watercooling build as you never know exactly what your build might need.
    Reply to rubix_1011
  5. Oh man! I can't believe I missed this build log altogether...serves me right for sleeping on my watch!

    Couple things I'd like to ask mate:
    1| Those Scythe Jyuni fans, how are they treating you? I didn't like the way they undervolted and the way they made that high pitched sound at designated rpm's
    2| How are you liking the downsized system? I'm just waiting on funds and parts for my SFF build. Its a little surprising seeing you move from that Askew build with an SLI setup to something cubic and sleek.
    3| How as your experience with bleeding the system?
    4| Was there any reason you went with the B75 instead of a Z chipped board?

    Love the overall look of the build. Mind If I ask you to post a pic of the entire workspace with the 250D showcased :)?

    Again, two thumbs up buddy!
    Reply to Lutfij
  6. 1. Fans are doing well. They are really quiet, actually, and move a decent amount of air in PULL.
    2. Love the small cube system. It's refreshing to have something so compact and still more powerful than that huge box.
    3. Very simple. The reservoir ports allowed me to cap open the fillport, cycle the pump on a few times and then once I got it moving, I just continually poured my distilled in until it was topped off. It's still forcing out some bubbles as my res is showing more head space, but it was a piece of cake.
    4. I went B67 because I am running the 2600 non-K version i7. I didn't necessarily need anything to allow overclocking at this time since I had the hardware from before. (I still kick myself for not being patient and getting a K chip). Regardless, this will allow me to still use this case when I upgrade again, so I will make sure not to make the same mistake twice.
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  7. Next project should be equivalent to blindfolded onehanded origami but using your non dominant hand and with headphones on playing some godawful dance music Rubix, shiny build mate, very nice :-)
    Reply to Motopsychojdn
  8. Looks extremely neat, compact, and efficient!

    Nice work! :)

    I've tried to imagine how I could get my big fat carpenter hands inside, to even assemble the thing?

    Impressive!, Most Impressive!

    My next build plans are towards the complete other end of the size spectrum, as I would like to house all my chilled water cooling into one huge Mountain Mods case, your entire computer could easily get lost inside the case I have planned!

    Great work Rubix! Ry
    Reply to 4Ryan6
  9. Actually just flushed and refilled the loop this weekend. Replaced PSU fan, added a NB active air cooler, re-did the 4-way fan tail for the side/back fans and added a single SATA cable for easier management. All this also allowed me to remove one of my modular SATA cables from the PSU, freeing up space and airflow behind the 140mm radiator. Also trimmed back a couple runs of tubing so they fit/lay better.

    I'm actually planning either a MicroATX or EATX build (haven't decided) distributed computing build in either a MountainMods or CaseLabs case. I'm leaning more towards the CaseLabs, but I like the BYO functionality of the MountainMods site. It will be fully watercooled and run either 4-way 980's or maybe 1-2 Titan/Titan-Z's. I'm also considering 4x 750/760's for lower power draw as this will be a 24x7 CUDA/CPU cruncher. Of course, this is still in the planning phase, so we'll see. I really like the small form factor cases, and like what a MicroATX brings...multiple GPUs but in a smaller package. Of course, there are still some nice cube chassis that will house ATX/EATX for 4-way boards if I decide to go that route.
    Reply to rubix_1011
  10. Hey, great build. I'm attempting something similar, using the same radiators/slim fans. Would you happen to remember the size of the M3 screws you needed to get them mounted?
    Reply to ferdejac
  11. No, I took what I needed with me to the hardware store to make sure I had the correct lengths. I didn't pay attention to that much, I was mostly going for correct thread and ability to fit how I wanted. Washers can be used as shims, where needed.
    Reply to rubix_1011
  12. Some interesting tidbits to update on.

    Did the simplest test of all 100% load: water temp vs. ambient air temp

    Load was applied for 20 minutes using BOINC and 100% CPU and GPU utilization and then measured using my Thermapen instant read thermometer (I use it for brewing beer on the weekends :) )

    Kill-a-Watt meter bounced between 285w and 290w with it hovering most of the time at 286w for the entire system load draw on the socket. Considering the following, that's almost EXACTLY what I'd expect

    i7 2600 (non k) = 95w
    GTX 770 (stock speed) = 230w

    95w + 230w = 325w
    325 x .85 = 276.25w

    Seems well within the ballpark of realistic expectations.

    ambient 80 F = 26.6 C
    water temp 98.5 F = 36.9 C

    10 C delta

    I picked up a 30 psi manometer to measure pressure drops and a graduated flow meter (same one Martin and Skinnee use) to do some testing. Also have 2x 300w aquarium heaters (220w actual draw - sadface) that I'm going to manually set to 100% and run with a variac A/C transformer to control loop wattage to test radiator loads in a lab loop.
    Reply to rubix_1011
  13. Just to ask on behalf of the readers who may not be upto speed with the temperature measurement department, how did you take readings for water temperature? Via an internal temperature probe within loop, temperature probe on device or software?

    10C Delta - is kewl! :)
    Reply to Lutfij
  14. I have an instant read thermometer- A ThemoWorks Thermapen that I also use when brewing beer. Since you have to be very accurate with temps for brewing, the $90 investment was worthwhile.

    I measured ambient air in the room as well as loop temp in the reservoir. Since the thermometer is instant-read, I can actually see fluctuations in loop temp in 1-second intervals.
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  15. ^ That explains alot actually! I know of a couple of folks who don't factor in the necessity to be nit picky about details and in this case, the temps and the means to which that data is collected. For watercooling attention to detail is crucial ;)

    I see you as the Skinee of Tom's heh now that you're slowly rolling into gear that is capable of setting up a watercooling testing facility or something on a smaller scale(or perhaps on a larger scale :) ?)
    Reply to Lutfij
  16. I'm going to start a post with my testing gear when I have it all assembled. I'm still looking into what I want to use for my temp probe management and reporting. There are a few solutions I have been looking at and have yet to make a firm decision.
    Reply to rubix_1011
  17. Do lemme know if I can pitch in on shortlisting them...? I'll see what I can dig up as well ;)
    Reply to Lutfij
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