This portion of my beginner’s guide to PC water cooling wraps up Stage 1 of the guide. The plan for Stage 1 was to end up with a test bench setup that was able to boot to make sure all components were working properly. In my last post I mounted the PSU, motherboard, CPU, CPU cooling, and RAM on the test bench. This post covers mounting the two graphics cards, the SSD drives, cabling, booting the PC, and setting up RAID. This will give me the preparation I need to move on to Stage 2 of the PC water cooling guide, as well as ready the PC for the installation of Windows 8.1 using the Flash Drive I setup using this post’s guide.
Graphics Cards, SSD Drives, and Cabling
Mounting two EVGA GeForce 980 GTX video cards on the ASUS x99 Deluxe motherboard in 2-way SLI will vary depending on the processor you select. Since I am using a 40 lane Intel i7 5930k, the video cards should be mounted in slot 1 and 3. The cards are quite large so be careful as you press them into the slots. For the test bench rig I used the SLI bridge included with the ASUS x99 Deluxe motherboard.
Once the graphics cards are mounted on the motherboard, the only things left were the Samsung 850 Pro SSD drives and cabling everything up. Since the test bench does not come with a way to mount SSD drives, I just set them up on the bottom section and let the cables hold them in place.
Cabling the rig was simple because on a test bench everything is open and looks are not important. I started by cabling up power from the Corsair ax1200i PSU to the video cards, SSDs, and motherboard. Next I ran SATA cables to the hard drives from slots 1 and 2 of the motherboard. These are the 2 SATA slots that are set away from the rest and are close to the M.2 slot. Once the SATA cables were connected I connected the Corsair H105 to the motherboard. I plugged the pump into the CPU fan slot and the fan into the CPU optional slot. Both are located on the top side of the motherboard near the RAM and EATX12V extension. At this point you could use the ASUS q-connect to rig up the test bench power and reset buttons but since the motherboard includes buttons for power and reset it isn’t necessary.
First Boot and RAID Setup
With the video cards, SSDs, and cabling done I plugged in a keyboard and mouse and pressed the power button on the motherboard. Everything worked and I was greeted with the ASUS splash screen. During the splash screen I pressed F2 to enter the Bios. The ASUS Bios is attractive and showed a quick overview of the state of the PC. The only thing left to do to complete Stage 1 of my PC water cooling beginner’s guide was to setup RAID for the drives.
The two drives I had for the test bench rig I am using for the operating system and applications. As such I decided to set them up in a RAID 0 configuration to maximize speed. To do this from within the ASUS Bios, click the On button in the middle of the main screen under Intel Rapid Storage Technology. The ASUS EZ Tuning Wizard will quickly guide you through the process to configure the RAID. I have included pictures of the screens you should see but the process itself is straight-forward. I apologize for the flash on a couple of the pictures.
PC Water Cooling Next Steps
This completes Stage 1 of my 2015 PC Water Cooling Beginner’s Guide. From here I will be moving on to Stage 2. Stage 2 has a main goal of ending up with a usable PC featuring an all-in-one water cooling solution combined with case fans. I will be using this setup to get a baseline of the components before moving on to a fully customized water cooled PC and overclocking.
Full 2015 PC Water Cooling Beginner’s Guide Series
PC Water Cooling Beginner’s Guide – Stage 1 | Part 2 (This post)