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I am in the process of upgrading my current AGING MSI 990FXA-GD80 / FX-6100 based (HTPC) system & using most of the parts to hand down to my 3 kids to build them a gaming PC (they are currently using another one of my old systems which is an MSI K9N Diamond)


I just received a new Corsair Carbide Spec-03 case today, A nice budget option to salvage an old motherboard etc, Here in Australia the blue Spec 03 case does not seem to be available anywhere so I went with the red case, I will simply change over to blue fans etc (Received a pair of Corsair SP120 blue LED fans today also) & some strip LED's to help out




Might be a little while before I do the changeover as I need to collect a few more items for this build & collect as much as I can for the new HTPC build that will be going back into my Silverstone LC-13B HTPC case


The 990FXA-GD80 motherboard deserves an upgrade to the FX8350 CPU eventually which will require some liquid to keep it cool so I have some of the water cooling goodies including an XSPC EX240 multiport radiator & an XSPC dual bay reservoir on the way to get started, The EX240 will be mounted in the lower front of the case, The radiator is 278mm & the height from the bottom of the case to the drive bay is about 28.5mm (11.25") which makes it a fairly tight fit




The front meshed intake vent area is 120mm x 240mm & should provide enough cool air, The front is easily removed, Perfect for when it time to clean

I might do some trimming to get rid of any restriction in front of the radiator & shape the intake more rectangle rather than 2 circles, Every little bit helps



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The first mod that I can see the case needs is to make a plate at the front to clean up the air flow & direct the air through the 120mm fans better, Any exhaust fans up top are going to draw air in around the front intake fans rather than suck through the intake fans & help the overall flow, It is nice having the option to fit 140mm or 120mm fans in the front but it makes a mess of the flow into the fans, Some of the case will need to be trimmed then the (142mm x 280mm) front panel will be cutout from some sheet aluminium & (obviously 2 circular holes) will be shaped to suit the fan frames nicely, As a bonus this will also allow me to position the radiator up or down if needed



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Front panel cut out, Waiting for the radiator to arrive so I can get the correct height for the fan cutouts, Im hoping the EX240 (multiport) radiator will fit in where the original front fan mount holes are in the case

A bit of black paint will finish it of nicely after the fan holes are cut



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I was hoping my new EX240 radiator would be delivered today but no luck there, I am unable to sort out the front panel fan/radiator mount section without the radiator, I did receive the XSPC dual bay (ball front) reservoir, XSPC blue UV 3/8 hose & a few other bits n pieces (Fittings etc) today

I test fitted the reservoir & found there was plenty of excess unwanted drive bay that I could remove, I ended up cutting 3" off the lower & window side sections, This opens up the view into the case a bit more, Before trimming some of the drive bay is visible through the window, Should make for a much tidier look







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My EX240 multiport radiator finally arrived after it went MIA for a few days

I found that the mounting location/holes would need to be modified moved approx 15mm down to fit the EX240 (multiport) radiator at the front intake in the upright position (fittings at the top) so I have decided to use the multiport at the top exhaust section of the case which will also allow me to fit a fillport in the top of the case to make things easier

I have a standard EX240 (non multiport) radiator on the way which will make it much easier to fit it in the front, It will still need slight relocating but this will be done on the new front panel I am fabricating & it will be no troubles, There is no need for the extra ports in this spot & the slightly shorter radiator will be able to be fitted closer to or actually in the proper position as intended, I will find out when it arrives?


I also have an XSPC acetal D5 pump top & XSPC fittings etc on the way so I can sort out the pump placement/mounting & hose routing, Should be some fairly short runs for the hoses too by the look of it until I go to GPU cooling also

Might be a slight change in the overall build (MSI Z97 mobo & MSI R9 280X) but the liquid cooling system will pretty much be the same as planned so far


Not the best pic (taken at night) but it shows how nicely/snug the EX240 (multiport) radiator fits in the top of the spec-03 case now, It has about a 1mm gap where it meets the (leftover) optical drive bay, Perfect!

Shown fitted with 2x SP120 PWM Quiet Edition fans in pull configuration (I picked up 6 as new for $70AU, A bargain)

Also the stock exhaust fan is still able to be fitted



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Still waiting for the EX240 radiator to arrive so I can sort out the front intake panel mod


Thought I may as well make a shroud for the radiator that is going to be fitted in the upper section of the case, The corsair SP120 & similar fans dont have a perfectly square fan case so there is gaps when trying to fit them onto a radiator, They would still work fine & do the job as intended but they will work better with the fans sealed where they meet the radiator forcing them to only draw air through the radiator in the pull / exhaust configuration (fans at the top)


This is what I ended up with>




With an XSPC radiator gasket there is still gaps around each corner & also the gap in between the 2 fans is a problem area, They really should make these fans with optional square fan cases???




A much better fit now with no gaps at all & totally sealed off between the fans & radiator core, With the rad gasket & shroud plate there is about 15mm between the radiator core & the fan mount surface

This will be the template for another one which will be used on the front radiator too, A little bit of black paint will finish them off nicely



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I have the following items to get things started

MSI R9 280X 3GB BF4 LE (+1 for crossfire would be sweet)

Corsair Vengeance low profile 2x4GB RAM (another 2x4GB set will be added)

Corsair GS 128GB SSD


I am pretty set on purchasing the following items soon>

MSI Z97 Gaming 7 Mobo

Intel i5 4690K Devil Canyon

Corsair AX 760 or 860


Any advice / recommendations would be appreciated


I have most of the water cooling goodies on the way also so I can sort out the hose routing etc


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Waiting on more goodies to arrive including a HX650W PSU & more hose fittings etc so I can get a better idea where to route the hoses

Tallied up over $800 AU so far & I still need to get the main ingredients - An MSI Z97 Gaming 3, 5 or 7 mobo? + an i5 4690K CPU or similar

Really need the mobo & XSPC Raystorm CPU block now to keep things moving along


Received the 2nd XSPC EX240 radiator, Had to lower the mounting position 15mm down from the original front case fan mounting position which is great as most will know the typical fan spacing is 15mm, I still need to cutout the front panel intake for the radiator, all the mounting holes are there for now

Through the side panel both radiators & almost no hose will be visible, I like the idea of keeping the hose to a minimum & as you can see the radiator & res fittings are within a few inches of each other, One thing that is seen on almost all water cooled PC's is lotsa hose so if I can go for a clean & almost hoseless look it will certainly be different




Looking at a few different options to mount 2x SSD's, Using the original Corsair bracket I might end up with something like this nicely tucked out of the way but still slightly visible & still accessible even with the XSPC D5 pump & Acetal pump top fitted on the bottom of the case>



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A little bit of progress, Completed the front panel fabrication & modification, Gave it a hit of black paint & fitted the radiator to the front of the case using an XSPC 240 radiator gasket so it is totally sealed off to the front panel

I need to make the second (pull) shroud for the lower / front radiator to seal the intake fans off to the radiator (same as above)






looking through the front panel radiator & fans, Looks like it is able to flow plenty of air>




XSPC pump top & another possible mounting position for 2x SSD's? Thinking of fitting them above the lower intake fan raised up so the top of the SSD's are level with the top of the PSU basically for a nice clean look, They would be just visible through the side window being level with the bottom of the window too, Just enough room to squuze them between the pump & PSU





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I went with my first idea for the SSD mounting, Using more of the scrap aluminium sheet I fab'd a simple triple SSD mount setup + it will also help hide some of the wiring


I notched out a spot on each SSD perfectly to get the SATA & power cables connected easily with the (windowless) side cover removed, Each SSD can easily be removed also with the side cover off, Hopefully there will be no need but I made sure it is still possible when I designed the mounting plate


I thought while I was drilling the mount holes I may as well drill some 5mm holes in the middle of each SSD & poke some (red) LED's through behind each SSD, It should look as though each SSD is just hovering with light coming out from behind it, Will be interesting to see how it looks, I need to get some longer (M3) screws & some spacers around 5mm to give the LED's some room

(Excuse the crappy pics taken at night with my even crappier phone)




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Managed to get the XSPC pump top position sorted, I fitted the inlet hose from the reservoir to the pump & outlet hose to the lower/front radiator

I decided to use extenders & 90 degree fittings rather than 45's for a cleaner look running straight hoses, The reservoir to pump hose needs a 5mm shorter extender on the res to get the hoses sitting perfectly parallel

Pretty much all the hoses will not be visible through the window looking directly from the side, Only the CPU block hoses will be visible & they should be fairly neat & tidy (straight) too




I also have power now via a Corsair HX650W, I will be upgrading to an AX760i or AX860i later on but this will do for now



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Decided to go with an MSI Z97 GAMING 3 motherboard, It has everything that we will ever need including the option to run crossfire later on, The gaming 5 does not have SPDIF output & the gaming 7 is a bit more expensive & is not really needed, Getting closer, Need to chase up the CPU & another Corsair GS 128GB SSD or 2?

I will be able to sort out the CPU block hose routing when it gets here at least, The final part to complete the liquid cooling


Got a few other bits n pieces to do also including fitting a fillport in the top of the case which will be connected to the upper (multiport luckily) radiator, The XSPC fillport is on the way so waiting....., This will make filling & bleeding much easier, The reservoir wont have to be removed (which is near impossible due to the short piece of hose connecting it to the upper rad) to top it up & all of the air can be bled out



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Motherboard is in! Most of the cables etc are connected, The SATA cables arrived in the mail literally minutes after I got these pics

Cable management is tight & tricky but I have managed to keep it fairly neat & tidy so far


Just received a Bitfenix 24 pin power cable & an 8 pin EPS cable & 2 Corsair AF120 quiet edition fans, I fitted the AF fans in the lower intake & rear exhaust positions, Fans are plugged in to the motherboard (SYS1 upper/rear & SYS2 lower) & the fan headers are in perfect spots to keep the wires tidy


I have some 6 & 8 pin Bitfenix Alchemy (Red / Black Mix) GPU cables on the way to match the 24 pin cable also


Got some pics before the upper radiator goes back in, Coming along nicely, Actually better than I had planned

XSPC Raystorm CPU block is on the way, I will be able to complete the loop when it arrives





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  • 6 months later...

Finally back again guys, This project was pushed aside due to my mother passing away after a short battle with cancer


It was sitting there gathering dust but I am getting back into this project now, with all the new stuff out there now this will be old generation before I complete it, It is being built mostly for my kids to play anyway & it will be capable enough for their needs for now


Some of the previous progress>


The AX860i is in along with the XSPC CPU block & R9 280X for a test fit




Fitted the XSPC fillport, One of the end ports on the (multiport) upper radiator is pretty much spot on in the middle of the case, The fillport is connected via an XSPC 90 fitting then a short male/male fitting connects the fillport to the 90 which makes it a solid connection, Only problem is there is no adjustment so I need to skim about 1-2mm off the bottom off the fillport to get it to sit flush on the top of the case, No big deal & it will be exactly how I wanted it, It will be so easy to fill & bleed soon, Cant wait



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  • 2 weeks later...
  • 3 weeks later...

so sorry about your mum...my condolences ...


very nice build..im surprised to see the top rad fits with that mobo in there..how is this board? any issues?


nice...PS dont underestimate the hx 650/ive seen people run xfire and sli setup with very power hungry older gpus...and it didnt break a sweat...even older 580's in sli ...draws alot more juice than the 280s...if its working order..ont ever toss it..those are legends...like the hx850..

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  • 1 month later...

Thanks Extreme Mods


I have been slowly working on little bits n pieces & I have just made a few orders to round up the rest of the parts to finally get this thing going

OH well its only going to be a year late! I cant believe how quick this year has gone??? it has felt like 6 months, maybe I am just getting old?


Anyway I have doubled the RAM (added another matched pair) as I wont be able to change that later on due to the very little clearance between the RAM & upper radiator, 16GB of Corsair LP RAM should do the job nicely


Also bought another Corsair Force GS 128GB SSD, Would be nice to start with 1 much larger SSD but for now I might try these in a RAID configuration, I would like to upgrade to a few 240GB or even 480GB SSD's later but these will do for now, any advice or recommendations on this subject would be great


The AX860i had an issue so it was returned, have read that there is quite a few failures with these PSU's & dont want to risk all of these new parts so I have sadly decided to try out a Bitfenix Fury 550G for now, looks nice in their though but I will more than likely go back to a Corsair AX PSU later on


Going to be a bit of a race to get it all up & running before Christmas, hopefully it will be going before then?

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  • 3 weeks later...

Well it is a nice rainy weekend here so I am unable to get out & do much so I decided to get stuck in & get this thing done

So far all good, put some liquid in & bled it & run it for a while to check for leaks, hooked it all up & fired it up & got it running

Running Win10 64 bit, I have pretty much everything installed, have not had a chance to give it a work out yet but it is idling nice & cool around 28c

Not bad considering how hot it is here at them moment & the upper rad is fanless / passive also, just the air fed in from the front fans is enough air movement to cool the upper rad, you can put your hand over the upper rad & actually feel cool air rising up through the top


The kids were treated to a new Steelseries Apex Keyboard & new MSI mousepad




A bit of blood red coolant sets it off nicely




I will have to get some better pics when I finish off the inside, need to mount the XSPC temp display when the correct one arrives, ordered a red one but received the blueish looking one



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  • 3 months later...
  • 6 months later...

Have not been on here for a while, very nice blue version there v5-aps


Our Spec 3 / MSI build is still going strong, probably due for a good clean & some maintenance but it has been very reliable


Might be time to finally upgrade my MSI 990FXA-GD80 / FX-6300 HTPC soon?

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