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QuakeCon 800D - First Place at QuakeCon 2012

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This will be my second water-cooled Corsair 800D computer and my first attempt at modding it from the stock case design.


The inspiration for the build is an annual gaming convention held in Dallas around the beginning of August. QuakeCon is North America's largest LAN party, the largest free LAN party in the world, and usually runs over a period of four days.




My first QuakeCon was in 2009 and I have been a regular attendee ever since. Every year they have several case mod contests segregated into 2 main categories: scratch-built and classic case mod. The scratch-built category is one built with no pre-existing structure, while the classic case mod is one where an off-the-shelf case is modified to some extent.


I thought that it would be fun to try my hand at entering the classic case mod contest.


I decided to show my love for this annual event by using the QuakeCon logo as my central build theme.




I will be using the Corsair Obsidian 800D for the case since the size and shape are conducive to a clean, organized build layout. The case is constructed of steel and aluminum throughout, which make it durable and ideal for powder-coating.


This will be my second build using the Corsair Obsidian 800D case and I am looking forward to getting away from the normal black color scheme and trying something more creative.


Equipment Hardware:

Corsair Obsidian 800D

Intel i7 3930K

ASUS Rampage IV Extreme

32GB Corsair Vengeance 1866Mhz DDR3 (8x4GB)

240GB Corsair Force GT SATA III

120GB Corsair Force GT SATA III

1TB Seagate Barracuda

1TB Seagate Barracuda

(2) EVGA GeForce GTX 680 Superclocked Signature 2 in SLI

Corsair AX1200 Modular

Optical Drive:
ASUS Internal Blu-Ray Burner

Audio Controller:
Sound Blaster X-Fi Titanium Fatal1ty



Cooling Equipment:

CPU Block:
XSPC Raystorm

Motherboard Block:

GPU Block:
(2) EVGA Hydro Copper for GTX 680

GPU Backplate:
(2) EVGA GTX 680 Backplate

Koolance RP-452X2 Rev 2.0

(2) Koolance PMP-450S

Radiator 1:
XSPC EX480 Quad 120mm

Radiator 2:
XSPC EX240 Dual 120mm

Radiator Grill 1:
MNPC Tech Pro-Line 4x120mm '360' Slotted

Radiator Grill 2/3:
MNPC Tech Pro-Line 1x120mm '360' Slotted

Fan Controller:
Lamptron FC-5V2

(12) Cougar CF-V12H Vortex 120mm, (2) Cougar CF-V14H Vortex 140mm

XSPC High Flex (UV Orange) (3/8" ID x 5/8" OD)

Bitspower G1/4 Black Compression, 3/8" ID x 5/8" OD

MDPC Orange and Black

LED Controller:
Bitspower X-Station LED Power Hub



Completed case



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I absolutely love the design of the 800D case. The solid construction and tool-less design are perfect for modding.


Here is the case fresh from the box and ready to be disassembled.




To get a better feel for what the case can accommodate, I removed the side panel and took a photo of the stock interior.




After some careful deliberation, I decided to go with a dual-loop water-cooling system with a quad (4x120mm) radiator at the top and a dual (2x120mm) radiator on the bottom. I want to try something different for the bottom radiator and mount it on edge with ventilation holes in the side panels. I will use a single reservoir mounted in the drive bays with 2 separate reservoir sections in it.


The wires will be sleeved with MDPC material and the overall color scheme will be orange and black.


I was going to use a Bitspower Mesh Radguard 480 radiator grill for the top radiator, but decided against it. I did not like the slim design. I want something that presents a more powerful presence and allows for more customization.


I decided on using the anodized MNPC Tech Pro-Line 4x120mm '360 Degree Rotating' Slotted Radgrill.




I love how each radgrill center is removable and adjustable. The thick 3/16" aluminum is designed with strength in mind and is imposing in appearance.



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I disassembled the 800D and went about modding the top panel to fit a 4x120mm radiator grill. The top panel is factory-designed for a 3x120mm radiator, so some extra cutting is necessary.


After covering the top panel in painter's tape, I used the frame of the MNPC radiator grill as a template and sketched where the fan cutouts needed to be.




As you can see, the template will be filling the majority of the top panel. I will be removing all of the recessed fan grill area and the entire forward section with the 3 recessed grooves.


After carefully measuring and laying out all the lines, it was time for my trusty dremel and jigsaw to get to work. Instead of merely cutting the entire inside section out, I decided to leave tabs where the fan screws were to help reinforce the rigidity of the top panel since so much of it was being removed.


The cuts went quickly and smoothly. Here is the top panel with the appropriate cutout completed.



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Now for the side panels.


I decided to cut a pass-through ventilation hole for the bottom radiator assembly to allow for more efficient airflow.


I purchased two of the MNPC Tech Pro-Line 1x120mm '360 Degree Rotating' Slotted Radgrills to match the top 4x120mm version. I wanted to coordinate the 3 radiator grills to bring a more cohesive design to the build.




I took careful measurements of both the case and panels to ensure that the grills would be identical in position on both panels, and would not interfere with the proper functioning of the side panels themselves.


Here is the windowed panel with the grill position marked prior to cutting. In the photo you can see my new MNPC Tech modder's ruler and gauge! This tool is a breeze to work with and is worth every penny.




Now the other side panel is marked with the same measurements to ensure proper positioning.



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In my first 800D build, I mounted the bottom radiator flat on the bottom. In this build I thought it would be more interesting to mount the radiator on edge. This would allow for better airflow circulation since I will be utilizing side panel ventilation cutouts. It also alleviates the need for cutting new ventilation areas in the bottom panel.


The first step was to see about where to position the radiator.




In order to keep the radiator from moving around once installed, I decided to physically secure it down to the bottom case panel with 4 bolts. This is an easy solution since the XSPC EX240 radiator uses a slim design. There is plenty of room between the radiator outer edges and fins for the bolt nuts to fit without physically coming into contact with the delicate fins.


Here is a photo of the radiator bottom with the four bolt holes drilled.




In this shot you can see the spacing between the radiator outer edges and fins. No problem putting a nut and bolt in there.




This method also makes it very easy to remove the radiator at a future time for cleaning.

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All of the cuts have been completed and it is now time for the panels to be sent to the powder coating shop.


Here is a shot of the various steel and aluminum panels that make up the Corsair Obsidian 800D case.




The silver bracket in the lower middle of the photo is from the X-Fi Titanium card. I did not like the silver color and it will be powder coated black.


If you look closely on the right hand side, you can see that I cut out the mesh fan area of the back panel rear fan assembly. I opted for a clean unobstructed fan opening.


Here is a shot of the side panels with their new ventilation holes cut out and side window removed.




I took a color printout of the QuakeCon logo to the powder coating shop and we matched it to the 'Vermilion' color (RAL 2002). This is a red/orange pigment that is bright but not overly flamboyant.


All of the panels will first undergo an abrasive media blasting to remove the existing factory finish without warping the panels.


The exterior panels (top, sides, front) will be powder coated Vermilion and all the other parts will be flat black.


The contrast of vermilion and black will complement each other perfectly.

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The items came back from the powder coating shop right on time and look amazing.


Here is a shot of some of the exterior panels in the Vermilion color, along with some of the flat black interior panels.




Here you can see the original logo placed next to the front panel.




This is the left side panel with the window placed back in place and the MNPC Tech Pro-Line 1x120mm grill temporarily in place. The black is a perfect compliment / contrast to the vermilion color.




I mounted the front panel rear structure that included the hot swap bay frame and top power switch / cover to the front panel piece and installed the 5/25" bay covers to see how the color scheme would look in the front.



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Now that the powder coating process is complete, it is time to start assembling the case.


Starting from the bottom and working your way up is always the best practice. The first step is to assemble the feet back on the bottom panel. Attaching the metal legs were relatively easy - just screw them on. The tricky part is getting the rubber pads back in their sockets with adhesive tape so that they retain that factory finish look.


Here is a closeup of one of the rubber pads back in place.




Here is the entire bottom panel with all legs/pads attached and ready.




The rear panel quickly and easily attaches to the bottom panel and upward the project progresses.



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After about 30 minutes of slowly fitting the pieces together and riveting them in place with black rivets, the case is starting to look impressive in black and vermilion.


I placed the MNPC Tech 4x120mm radiator grill in place to see what the overall color scheme will look like.




Here is another angle from above and in the front slightly. You can see that the hot swap bay cover is in place and completes the front assembly.




One final shot showing the right panel with the MNPC Tech 1x120mm radiator grill mounted in place. Those black beefy grills perfectly accentuate the vermilion color.



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Now that the case is ready, time to turn my attention to the interior.


First off, putting the EK Full Board water blocks on the ASUS Rampage IV Extreme motherboard.


Here are the materials ready for assembly.




This is the stock motherboard freshly opened and ready to have the cooling fins removed.




This are the EK Full Board water blocks (consisting of the southbridge and MOSFET modules).




I spent about an hour removing the old air fins, cleaning the components, and installing the new blocks. Here is the motherboard with the new blocks installed.



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Next up is the CPU, CPU water block, and memory.


For the CPU I selected the Intel i7-3930K Sandy Bridge-E 6-core processor rated at 3.2GHz (3.8GHz Turbo).




I picked the XSPC Raystorm CPU water block for the aesthetics and good reviews. The block mounted easily onto the LGA2011 assembly with a set of supplied posts that screw directly into the socket. Only took about 10 minutes to mount the whole assembly.




For memory, there was no other choice - the Corsair Vengeance memory modules are my favorites!


I went with two sets of the 16GB (4 x 4GB) 240-Pin Quad-Channel DDR3 SDRAM rated at 1866MHz. That brings the system specs to 32GB of quad-channel memory!




Here are all 8 modules firmly seated and ready for action!



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Now that the motherboard is ready, time for the other components.


First up is re-attaching the newly powder coated black bracket back on the Sound Blaster X-Fi Titanium card. I really like the bracket in the black color than the original silver color.




Next up are the pair of EVGA GeForce GTX 680 SuperClocked Signature 2 video cards. I also purchased the matching EVGA GTX 680 Hydro Copper water blocks and EVGA GTX 680 back plates.


Here are all the components lined up and ready for assembly.




This is a close-up of what the EVGA Hydro Copper kits come with.




This is a close-up of the EVGA GTX 680 back plate.




After carefully removing the original air cooling assembly and cleaning the components, they are now ready for the water blocks.




Here are the pair of GTX 680 cards with the hydro copper water blocks and backplates installed.



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I went with a Koolance RP-452X2 Rev. 2 Dual 5.25" Reservoir and two Koolance PMP-450S pumps.




I liked how the pumps are mounted and hidden on the rear of the reservoir itself. Saves me trying to find a place to mount 2 pumps.




The reservoir is split into two separate compartments so that I can maintain a dual-loop system without having to install a second reservoir. The 2 compartments may be combined to act as a single reservoir if so desired.




The sides of the unit have notches to install LED lights that can be used to illuminate the interior of the reservoir. To keep the light from leaking out the sides of the unit, I placed black electrical tape over the clear acrylic edges of the reservoir. Now the light will not be seen in places not wanted.



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Since the build will be primarily orange and black, I went with the Cougar CF-V12H Vortex 120mm and Cougar CF-V14H fans due to their brilliant orange colors. The top radiator will require eight 120mm fans and the lower radiator will require four 120mm fans. The rear exhaust and hot swap bay fans are both 140mm.


Here is a photo of all 14 Cougar fans before opening the packages.




I did not like the manufacturer's sticker on the rear of the fan assembly, so I will be replacing them with my own sticker.




For the top radiator I decided to try the XSPC EX480 Quad 120mm. The slim design will make it easy to arrange a push-pull configuration for the fans.


Here is a shot of the intake fans mounted on the radiator.




This is the exhaust side with the new stickers in place.




It took about an hour to mount the complete upper radiator assembly into the case.




From inside the case, the upper fan stickers are clearly visible.




For the lower radiator I decided to try the XSPC EX240 Dual 120mm. The same push-pull configuration for the fans will be utilized.


Mounting the assembled radiator was a snap.




Here is the rear of the bottom radiator with the stickers clearly visible.




This is with both radiators and the 140mm hot swap bay fan mounted in the case.




I removed the mesh from the back panel exhaust fan area so that the airflow will be unobstructed and present a clear view of the 140mm orange Cougar fan.



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The sleeving material selected was from MDPC-X. The quality and colors of the material are the best that I have seen. The owner, NILS, makes a graphic on the package of every order. Here is a shot of the graphic on my order.




This is the orange and black sleeving selected for this build.




The stock Corsair AX1200 modular power supply cables are not individually sleeved and in dire need of getting dressed up.




After about an hour of slowly trying my hand at cable sleeving, I was able to complete my first group. This is the 8-pin CPU connector. I still have to work on getting the heat shrink lengths uniform.




Here you can see the color scheme for the 24-pin motherboard connector.




It took nearly 3 days but the results are worth it. I sleeved all the cabling to be used in the build (including the SATA connections seen on the right).



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I also did not like the standard white LED bulbs used in the power and HDD activity lights.


Here is one of the two 3mm orange LED that will go in their place.




A little solder and the new orange LED looks perfect.



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Now that most of the electrical wire sleeving is done and the main components are installed, it is time to start configuring the water loops.


I absolutely love Bitspower compression fittings and for this build I selected the Matte Black color.


Here are the fittings all ready for installation.




For the tubing I purchased the XSPC High Flex Hose 3/8″ ID, 5/8″ OD in the Red / UV Orange color. The color of the tubing is very similar to the vermilion color of the case and in UV light the orange stands out nicely in the black interior.




I decided to start with the upper radiator. I ran the tubing from the rear port along the top and through the upper grommet so that it will pass behind the motherboard tray until it comes out again near the reservoir. I also ran the two upper CPU power cables over the top to help support the tubing and show off the sleeving.




Here you can see most of the CPU / Motherboard loop completed. On the right hand side you can see where the upper tubing comes out from behind the motherboard tray. It is just temporarily sitting on top of the video cards since the tubing has not been connected to the reservoir yet. You can just see the fittings on the rear of the reservoir on the right side.




Here is a section of the video loop with the connections on the two GTX 680 cards. You can see that the X-Fi card has been installed between the video cards.




The lower radiator tubing was tricky due to the very narrow space available and how short the tubing pieces were. Here you can see the upper tubing piece is only about an 2" long. I used two Bitspower G1/4" Female / Female Pass-Through Fittings in the tray for a more clean look. The crooked support on the right was only temporary and removed shortly after the photo was taken.




This is a front on look at the lower radiator connections. Nice and clean.




Both loops are completed and I am filling them with distilled water (w/ PT Nuke) for the leak testing phase. After 12 hours of running the system, no leaks were found.



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The Corsair 800D window design is such that the power supply unit (PSU) and cables are visible through it. To maintain the clean appearance for this build I decided to have a cover made that would hide the lower region and promote QuakeCon at the same time.


Here is a very rough sketch for this idea.




The material will be 3mm flat black plexi with the letters cut out by laser. The holes will then be filled with matching laser cut graphics of the appropriate color plexi and set flush with the original plexi. The whole wording will be lit from behind with an LED light strip. The lower two white areas will be cut out, these are where the side panel connections are. I also measured the case window dimensions to ensure that the wording will be visible when the side panel is on.


Due to the increased airflow provided by the side vents, I decided to cover the mid-shelf 140mm ventilation hole. I sketched out the new mid-shelf design with the ventilation hole removed and the pass through holes moved inward slightly. I did not like how close the original pass-through holes were to the case window.



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The project is completed!


The illuminated PSU plate with the 'Quakecon' wording was received and installed. Here is a photo of the case interior with both loops filled and the power on.




Here is a closeup of the upper case interior.




With the camera flash turned off, you can better see the UV lighting effect.




A little farther out shot. You can definitely see how bright the 'Quakecon' panel is.




All panels are installed.




Side shot.




You can see how the 'Quakecon' wording is perfectly visible through the side panel window.




Right side panel.




Top MNPC Tech 4x120mm radiator grill.




Rear panel. You can see that removing the 140mm fan grill definitely makes the fan more visible and increases air flow.




Front panel.



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At QuakeCon 2012, my case won first place in the Classic Mod category of the Case Mod competition held by Modders Inc.


Here is a photo of me on stage accepting the medal and a link to the site.






I won quite an assortment of prize gear from Corsair and Sapphire, including another Corsair Obsidian 800D case!



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