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Is my loop alright?

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Hello community


I have recently finished my first custom loop and I'd like to get some feedback, if everything is running as it's supposed to. I'm not particularily having a problem, but just feeling the need to make sure, you know.


My Case is a 280x and I've strapped an XD3 + 2x 240mm Rads, on the topside with HD120s pushing air out through the rad and the bottom one with Noctua NF12x15 due to clearance issues pulling air out from the case through the rad. I have 2x HD140 in the front for intake.

For the CPU, I have a 9900k @5GHz covered by a monoblock and GPU is a Zotac 2070S OC to 2100 MHz with a compatible fullcover block (the only one I could find actually)

From what I've read, loop order isn't really a big thing to worry about so I'm running XD3 - CPU - rad - GPU - rad


Coolant I'm using is XL5 clear

The loop doesn't seem to have any air left inside and I'm using the pump and fan curves preset in iCue.

Ambient temp is 24-25°C


Idle Temps:

Coolant on fresh boot: ~28°C

in normal use at ~30-35°C

CPU: ~40-45°C

CPU: ~35-40°C


few hours gaming load temps rise to about:

Coolant: ~40-42°C

CPU: ~55-65°C corewise, always jumping a little

GPU: ~60-65°C clocking down to 2055-2075 MHz


Are those temps to be expected from a setup like this? Anything I could improve?

A 280mm rad instead of the 240mm on top would be a really thight squeeze if it fits at all with the front fans. A 280mm rad on bottom is out of question because 140mm slim fans are most likely going to stuggle getting air through the rad. Maybe I could fit an additional 80mm rad on the back of the case with the help of a little drilling - Alphacool makes 80x40mm rads and I happen to have 80mm Noctua fans lying around but would that make any significant difference?


Thank you very much for your feedback!

Regards - Eric


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Can't you install the bottom radiator in front instead of under the GPU?

The slim noctua fans don't have great static pressure, and the 280X is fairly low on its feet, and the GPU is basically blocking all the flow anyway. Also these EK rads are 22 FPI if i'm not mistaken, so they like high static pressure fans (HD works pretty well).


If it works, that's good enough ^^ but if i was you, i'd see if i could fit a SE280 radiator to the front, and remove the bottom radiator.


For comparison, i had for a while a loop with two 280mm EK rads on a 9700K and 2080 with HD fans, and temps with roughly the same ambient temperature were 10° lower. Coolant temp never went over 35°


From the numbers you gave, it feels to me like the top radiator is doing most of the work and the bottom one isn't cooling much.


But again.. small case, glass everywhere, 42° on the coolant isn't terrible either :)

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Thanks a lot for your feedback! :)


I could probably fit the 240mm in front, might have to check clearance. But won't the pump block airflow on one of the fans almost completely and introduce hot air into the case?

Also - but that's just aesthetics - I really don't fancy the pump covering my ram completely ^^


A 280mm up front won't fit for sure, there's just enough space in the top corner to fit the fan + mounting bracket for the XD3.

With the 240mm frontside, a 280mm *might* fit on top, but would an extra 40mm make that much of a difference?

I'm thinking I rather get my hands on a single 80mm or dual 60mm rad to fit in the back of the case since that's at least double the surface than switching one of the 240mm to a 280mm.


Assuming I put the bottom rad in the front, would I still orient the fans the same way? (front in - top out - bottom in? - back out)

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hmmm looking back, the fact that this Maximus has the GPU PCIE one slot lower really screws you up in the 280X. Yea i don't see well how to fit a 280mm rad on the front. it will conflict with the rad on top. With a 280 on top you may block the CPU 8 pin cable route if it even fits.


As far as performance goes, a 280mm rad is closer to a 360. it's only 40mm longer than a 240 but it's the area that counts (40mm both length and width).


If you did put the bottom rad on the front, yes i'd keep the airflow the same as it is now.

One idea you might want to check would be if it is possible to mount the pump where the 80mm fan would go, above the motherboard IO, but i am not sure it would work with the pump fittings against the glass.


tight box!

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Yeah, 15mm fans are always going to be at a disadvantage. Thicker is better for radiator/pressure purposes. However, the difference between good and bad fans is usually only 2C or so to coolant (and thus CPU/GPU). That may not be the difference you are looking for.


Since it is in such close proximity, it's possible the bottom radiator is essentially using GPU surface heat as intake air and that is hurting efficiency somewhat. You would probably need temp sensors in the inlet/outlet of each radiator to compare, but again if there is a front option for the 240, that would allow normal 25mm fans and perhaps not such close contact with the full length of the GPU. You probably have a GPU surface temp around 45C after a bit of gaming and that does seem to be were things end up. However, that could also be the internal case temp as well, which could mean no change by moving.


If you do move it to the front, you likely want to exhaust the front radiator as it was before, switching the bottom to intake. You don't want to dump waste heat from one radiator to the other and an exhaust radiator set-ups are more essential with small box cases that don't have the volume of air to mitigate the increased heat being dumped into the case.

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I see, I see...too bad the 280mm won't fit then.

What would you think about mounting the pump on the front rad rotated by 90°? Maybe get some standoffs and longer screws for more clearance between pump and rad. That would leave me the option to mount another rad in the backspace of the case to make up for the lack of a 280mm, wouldn't it?

I'll use the HD140s for intake on the bottom then.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Hey guys,

Little update on the build - i've kinda managed to fit everything in. I ran into a few problems during rebuilding:

1. My plan to mount the pump parallel instead of perpendicular wasn't possible - there is just not enough clearance to all the other components. Bye bye juicy Dominator rgb :( they are now completely covered.

2. You have to mount the XD3 vertically - but you can only attach it to the front fan/rad - you can't have it hanging from the top rad (or standing up on the bottom) due to the hole spacing on the pump housing being rectangular and not square.This would be my suggestion to improve the product - remove this particular mounting limitation please.

3. The radiators. They fit barely - and the EK SE240 are the slimmest I could find. I was able to slide the top over the edge of the front rad with a considerable amount of force bending the top mounting bracket. But it didn't really matter since the mounting bracket came in the way because I had to mount the pump on the front rad (see 2.). The top rad is now at an offset and only held in place with one pair of screws in the mid portion - gonna drill some holes in the rear to get at least another pair of screws in.

4. My plan to mount an additional dual 60mm rad was out of the question once I saw the placement of the top rad. By having it so far back it has taken away all the clearance needed to fit the rad. Will now mount a single 80mm rad in the rear because I really want that radiator.

5. Front fans are intake, as suggested by you and the guys over at the alphacool forum. Top exhaust amd back will be exhaust aswell. I ditched the bottom fans completely.


I hope on Intel 11th gen release (when I will probably upgrade my CPU) there's going to be a decent uatx board like the Maximus - but with the PCIe x16 slot at the top. It really makes building in the 280x unnecessarily difficult. Could probably fit in 2x 280mm rads top and bottom if it wasn't fot that.

But it was a great learning experience and I can't wait to finish it and see the improvement (or maybe no improvement at all)

Maybe this helps anyone planning to use the 280x - its a great case overall if you ask me.



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It's the kind of builds that get your melon working overtime :p working around limitations.

It looks like you should see improvements. The EK rad has more room to breathe. These 22 fpi beasties can seriously cool when they breathe a bit more.

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So in the end I was curious how the loop would perform without the additional back rad. I'm not sure what I should do now though.

With the current radiator setup and the front fans as intake, overall performance was worse than before - quite substantially. The front panel really suffocates the HD120s, removing the panel took temps down again to what is was in my previous setup with the Noctua slim fans and rad on the bottom - and I had to bump up everything to 100% speed.

Flipping the front fans to exhaust made things a little better with the front panel on, but still worse than my inital setup.

So what do I do now? Should I even bother installing the additional radiator in the back? should I use the rear for intake fans? Would a combined 120mm even make that much of a difference?

I expected temps to improve not to get worse lol would really appreciate some advice.


Without front panel + intake

Coolant: ~40°C

CPU: ~55-60°C

CPU: ~60°C


With front panel + intake

Coolant: ~45°C

CPU: ~55-65°C

GPU: ~69°C not going over 2055 MHz

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You did remove the top glass for the tests too?

it was bad on the 680X already where the glass is further separated from the case but on the 280x it's flat out choking the exhaust.

It seems too hot for that setup, unless you run ridiculous voltages on the 9900K. I don't know how much is to be blamed upon the case itself.

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surely removing panels improves temps but whats the point spending a lot of money on a fancy case and cooling gear if it's worse than with the air cooler unless you remove stuff from said fancy case? Maybe I'll pick up custom panels but I'd still like to try to optimize without altering the case so much.


I'm running 5 GHz @1,28V, so nothing dramatic here. CPU temps are fine tho, it's the GPU thats worrying me.

I'm almost tending to ditching the 280x and picking up a O11D PCMR - cause that thing is NOICE. But I would rather not just avoid the issue by picking up a new case and call it a day.


Intake fans would probably turn down the case temp a bit - making cooling more efficient but another rad would probably get overall coolant temp down a few degrees due to larger heat dissipation surface, am I right? What's your take on the rear ports? Would you rather intake fresh air or put another rad?

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As a comparison, I run a 9700K (4.9 all core) with 2080, so roughtly the same power as your rig, and it ran fine on two 280mm rads on a 680x topping at 50°C on the GPU.

That case was modified to solve issues encountered with the 280X as far as i remember, that is higher feet to have better flow from the bottom, and a raised top glass.

Still, removing said glass dropped the GPU temps by 5°

Removing the front glass further improved..

All that to say these "high flow" cases are sweet looking hot boxes


2x240 would be a bit hotter indeed, but not that much.

I would test the computer with no front panel and top glass removed to see what your rads can achieve if they had proper access to air.

If it's still too hot to your liking, then i'd add rads in another case.


Your rig outputs in the ballpark of 400w which is about the maximum a good 360 can take. You would see improvements with more rad surface for sure, but in this PC case.. it would be difficult to achieve better temps in my opinion (sorry Corsair ^^').


Again, for comparison, in the O11D with 2x 280, same temps as in the 680X without glass. so, air flow matters.

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Will check again tonight with no panels - in only tested it properly with the front panel off. In any case it really hurts temps badly with no cool air intake fans.

But I would expect anything below 60°C should be possible on a sustained gaming load or am I asking for too much?


It really grinds my gears now that I can't fit the rad on the bottom properly - that would most likely be the solution I'm looking for. But it's not worth changing my MB just for that either.

Maybe I'll just bite the bullet and futureproof by getting the new O11D. I could still use the 280x for watercooling with that rad on the bottom for sure with a different MB, perhaps even on a Ryzen CPU which has a lower TDP as well.


Anyways, really appreciate your continuous support on this - I am learning a lot from this.

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No worries, just sharing experience ^^ take it with a pinch of salt, i have been watercooling for just under 2 years.


And yes you can totally run that RTX under 60°.

My 2080 never exceeds 45° on sustained load (coolant at max 34° typically), and fans at 1100rpm (HD120). I only saw it go above that during summer heat waves with like 30 - 31 ambient with a struggling AC, and still it was like 49° peak. Mind you it's on 2x 360 + 1x 280 rads but it works just as good with only one of the two 360. I added the second just to fill the case because why justify unreasonable purchases..

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I guess that's what forums are for right? :)


I'll just let that speak for itself - without front and top panel, only the dustfilter. Coolant temp never went about 34°C

That's not just a temp decrease but a ~30-50MHz increase on GPU clock aswell! Fans and pump were running full speed tho, but I don't care too much with headphones on actually.


Seems like custom panels it is then, but I'm gonna get that sweet sweet O11D PCMR anyways, just because I can and slap in a 3080 ti once those bad boys come out.


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yeah, pretty much - I'am wondering though how the 240 AIR I have here would do in comparison. Mabye it would redeem it's name :D

Thanks again for you help dude!


This is the end result of all that hassle - was it worth it? probably not ^^


Edit: Oh yeah, and I forgot to mention - you can actually fit a 280mm rad into the front if the top rad is all the way in the back of the case.


Edited by Infin1tum
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As a proud owner of a 280x who recently installed a hydro X set onto their case, I will tell you that it is 100% possible to achieve acceptable temps on your set up. (See attached picture of my completed set up)


I’ll start with my setup specs:

-8700K OC @ 1.26v

-RTX 2080

-4 sticks of vengeance pro rgb

-Micro atx gigabyte z390 motherboard

-LL120 x2 for front intake

-ML120 RGB (2500rpm version from h110i platinum)

-ML140 RGB (1800rpm versión from h115i platinum)


As you can see, my motherboard form factor already limits what I can do on paper. However, this is what I was able to fit into the case without any actual case mods:

-Corsair cpu + GPU block

-XD3 pump (mounted parallel to the front intake fans, allowing unobstructed view of the wonderful ram RGB)

-xr5 280 (top exhaust)

-xr5 240 (bottom intake)


This was a very challenging endeavor. I accomplished this by overcoming specific challenges in different ways. For the sake of organization and avoiding rambling I’ll explain each one separately


Step 1— Mounting the top 280 rad: I used a 45 degree elbow fitting attached to a 90 degree fitting on the back rad plug hole, this is the only way to enable the fitting to clear the motherboard IO shroud. I was able to bend it to exactly the angle I needed. I routed the CPU block and all fan cables BEFORE mounting it. You lose access to that top cable management aperture as soon as it’s mounted. You must mount this before placing the top intake 120mm fan(otherwise good luck even inserting the rad inside the case). The tubes also had to be pre-cut, attached, and secured to the rad fittings before mounting (again, impossible to access or tighten once it is mounted). The rad had to be mounted as close to the back as possible, and although it pushes the 8 pin CPU cable aside, it does not interfere with its connection to the motherboard.


-Step 2— mount the front intake fan: self explanatory. Securing the top rad as far back as the case allows, will allow you JUST the right amount of space to insert the front intake fan into its proper position.


-Step 3— Mounting the F@;$#&! XD3 pump: this was the most difficult part and the part that required lots of trial and error and digging through my old “spare accessories” ziploc bags. I mounted the XD3 to the 280 (yes the 280 included mounting bracket) over the 120mm front intake fan, which using long mounting screws allow it to sit at the exact clearance needed for the top filling port to clear the top fan blade. When I say “long screw” I really mean the male-male standoffs that come with the H100i platinum AIO, sandwiched between the screw-pegs (removed from the “X-shaped” plastic socket support bracket)- which end up being the exact length necessary to avoid interfering with the front air filter. I filled the whole loop through the top pump fill hole, while holding the pump in my hand. Once that’s done, THEN i finally (and with some difficulty) cap the fill port, and secure the pump. The thumbscrews that secure the pump to the mounting bracket end up right up against the vibration dampening pads of my LL120 intake fan, which really works out.


Finally, I populate the ram slots, with a few cuts on my fingers but a satisfied smile, and replace the glass panels on the case.



Step 4 — Increase the bottom ground clearance of the case: I placed furniture chair pegs underneath each rubber foot to increase the case height and maximize air intake. This does not affect aesthetics at all and does wonders for temperature


Step 5— Raise the top glass: I used superglue to secure each rubber piece to the screw poles at the highest point possible, before carefully sliding the glass through it and finally securing it with the standard screws. The end result is a top exhaust rad that is not suffocated. (Using superglue was extremely risky, as any stray glue drops inside the screw threads would effectively ruin the ability to screw in the glass- using nylon spacers is a much better equivalent solution that I did not want to wait for)


Radiator airflow : make sure you are using static pressure fans on all of your rads. Using QL120s and QL140s I got SIGNIFICANTLY worse water temps. By switching to the ML RGB fans (AIO versions) I was able to address this, effectively improving coolant temperatures by 4-6 degrees under load without sacrificing noise performance or RGB. The lesson for me was that water cooling in this case DEMANDS static pressure optimized fans for the radiators to function at all, and successfully overcome the airflow limitations of the case.


And finally, my conclusion [\B]

The end result yielded a 28-29 degree idle coolant temp (with 22-24 ambient temp, pump at 3000RPM and all fans at 1000 RPM), 39 degree load coolant temp (AAA gaming titles at 4K), and steady 41C coolant temp under MAX stress (1 hour of p95 putting 167W on CPU, and furmark simultaneously pushing GPU to 300W at 120% power target, for a total load of 467W that incurs a maximum fan speed of 1200-1300 rpm and pump speed of 3200-3500rpm). This took me a lot of trial and error but I am extremely happy with the outcome.


I hope this helps somewhat!



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Looks pretty snazzy - and performance sounds really great!

I would have liked to place the radiators top + bottom aswell by my MB doesn't allow for that unfortunately :( I'm jealous :P


Thank you for taking the time sharing your experience!

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another update on the build - finally got mail from alphacool.


I managed to install the 80mm XT45 rad in the back of the case. The easy part was drilling two holes. The hard part was figuring out a way to run the tubes with what I have available regarding extenders and angled adapters.


Tubes are all over the place but it works for now, basically the flow is in reverse. I did connect the blocks in a way, that coolant goes in the intended direction through them. Anyone knows if it's important to keep the direction of the flow into both cpu and gpu block as marked on them? Idk if Corsair's waterblocks are in any way directional.


Anyways, that radiator is a beast. Dropped temps with all the panels on about 10°C - yeah you read that right. GPU under full load is on a stable 58-59°C @2100MHz and CPU is still nice and cozy with everything running at full speed. I should mention though that I installed a slim 140mm fan on the bottom as intake, but it's probably mostly a placebo considering theres a big graphics card in the way - but why not.

The fan on the new radiator is a Noctua NF-A8x25 that I screwed to the case on the outside. I've ordered now a few more fittings and another one of those fans to get a push/pull setup going. Thilled to see how it's going to improve with that.


I also raised the top panel with some rummer spacers about 5mm to 11mm total and replaced the feet with some door stoppers if found on amazon to 18mm height. They weren't cheap tho with 12 EUR a piece lol

But I really didn't want the rubber blob aesthetic.

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There is generally a very slight loss of performance running reverse flow on a waterblock but it's so minute you wouldn't notice it.

Better to run reverse flow with minimal fittings than install a bunch of angled adapters and get to the same result

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