PC interior

PC Water Cooling Beginner’s Guide – Stage 2 | Part 2

It has been a while since I added to my 2015 PC water cooling beginner’s guide but this post should wrap up stage 2. To review The Plan, the goal of this stage of my water cooling guide is to have a functional PC running Windows 8.1 utilizing an all-in-one PC water cooling system. This will allow me to benchmark the base components and get a feel for how well the PC performs. In this post I will be installing the SSD hard drives, the video cards, cabling the system, and giving my initial impression of the system with benchmarks.

Water Cooling Stage 2 SSD Hard Drives

The Phanteks Enthoo Luxe case has two spots on the back panel for mounting SSD drives along with brackets for mounting. I installed my two Samsung 850 pro drives using these two spots rather then the main cages in the interior of the case. First slide the drives into the brackets and attach with screws. Then simply align the brackets over each guide and slide them in place. I also slid the cables for the drives into the interior at this point.

SSD drives
SSD drives mounted

Water Cooling Stage 2 Video Cards

The next thing to do was to re-install the two EVGA GTX980 video cards. This is simply a matter of sliding them back into the two slots I utilized on the test bench rig. For reference these are slots 1 and 3 on the ASUS X99 Deluxe. You will also want to re-install the SLI bridge at this point.

Video cards installed
Video cards installed
Video card closeup
Closeup of video cards

Cabling the Stage 2 Water Cooled PC

The final thing I had to do for Stage 2 of my 2015 PC water cooling guide before I could load Windows was to cable the PC. The Phanteks Enthoo Luxe offers a lot in the way of cable management and makes the end result look really nice.

I began by cabling both video card’s power. I ran the cables through some of the cutouts next to the cards themselves and then back into the area where the PSU is.

Video card interior cabling detail
Interior cabling detail

Next I ran the SATA and power cables for the motherboard. These also went through some of the side cutouts in the case. The power cables re-enter the interior in the PSU section of the case.

PSU guard
PSU guard installed

Next I tidied up some of the fan cabling using some of the additional cutouts. This case really does a great job of cutouts for cables. Once everything was run I re-installed the PSU cover and tidied up the rear of the case. Finally I re-installed all of the panels and was ready to install Windows.

Rear cabling
Rear cabling of PC

Stage 2 Wrap Up

I used a flash drive to install Windows 8.1 on the water cooled PC. Here’s a guide on getting a flash drive ready to do this if you have not done it before. From there it is simply a matter of booting from the flash drive and following the prompts.

Once all the system updates were installed and I had updated all of the needed drivers for the PC, I installed several bench-marking programs on the PC. If you are new to bench-marking these numbers will not mean much but that isn’t the real purpose of this point in the guide. I am using the numbers simply to establish a baseline to compare this stage to the final stage. Here are the numbers for those interested.

  • Cinebench CPU – 1061 cb, OpenGL 147.38 FPS
  • 3dMark Firestrike – 16761
    • Graphics – 21321
    • Physics – 14264
    • Combined – 7159
  • 3dMark Sky Diver – 33775
  • 3dMark Cloud Gate – 27237
  • 3dMark Ice Storm – 86339
  • PcMark
    • Home – 3844
    • Creative – 5385
    • Work – 3175
  • Heaven Test
    • Ultra/Extreme – 749
    • High/Normal – 1047

Stage 2 Overall Impression

I have now been using this PC as my main rig for several months and can say this is by far the best PC I have ever run. It excels in all aspects of my usage. This includes work, writing and compiling code, photo/video editing, and gaming. Windows 8.1 took some getting used to but I was able to adjust and now feel it is a solid OS.

For most PC users I would say the stage 2 rig is a great system for all needs. I was pleasantly surprised by the Phanteks case and would highly recommend it. The only thing I would recommend to add to the stage 2 rig is an additional couple hard drives in RAID (I added 2 more Samsung 850 pro SSDs.) I also upgraded the SLI bridge mainly for looks.

PC Water Cooling Next Steps

For those who want something more then what Stage 2 offers or who are just interested in custom PC water cooling, the next stage of my beginner’s guide is for you. In Stage 3 I will be moving to a Case Labs case and custom loops for cooling.

Full 2015 PC Water Cooling Beginner’s Guide Series

PC Water Cooling Beginner’s Guide – The Plan

Prep Work

PC Water Cooling Beginner’s Guide – Prep Work

PC Water Cooling Beginner’s Guide – Prep Work Part 2 

PC Water Cooling Beginner’s Guide – Prep Work Part 3

Stage 1

PC Water Cooling Beginner’s Guide – Stage 1 | Part 1

PC Water Cooling Beginner’s Guide – Stage 1 | Part 2

Stage 2

PC Water Cooling Beginner’s Guide – Stage 2 | Part 1 

PC Water Cooling Beginner’s Guide – Stage 2 | Part 2 (This Post)