my 2008 gaming system is done

Last week I finished putting everything together for my 2008 gaming machine. It’s been about 6 years since my last gaming machine, so I was due for an upgrade. The parts list is saved on my wiki. Special props to NewEgg, my hardware supplier for many, many years. And I added as my water cooling parts supplier. Excellent service at both, and absolutely no bad parts this go-around! My source of most information comes from the HardForum.

Total cost is probably somewhere around $1100-1300 (not including monitors), with probably the largest chunk being all the water cooling parts. Six years ago, I saved a lot by putting the system together myself, but these days gaming boutiques and other computer outlets have pretty damn good pricing, and I likely didn’t save all that much off a comparably performing pre-built system. But few of them do water cooling at all without a premium cost. So to get silence with water, I did save a bundle.

The system is running on WinXP 32-bit right now. I know, I lose some performance, but I didn’t want to spend any huge time (getting everything to work and run) or money (a real, honest license [damn Microsoft]), until I hear more details on when Windows 7 will be out and how long Windows XP will be extended. If they start to overlap, I’m just going to skip Vista like I skipped ME. (DirectX 10 support/availability may make a difference when Starcraft II comes out.)

Everything works great. Wow sits at 60 fps no matter what I do (including fraps recording), and isn’t taxing the system at all. Temperatures stay barely above room temp, even after hours of gaming, so I’m very happy with the water cooling.

I ended up water cooling my GPU as well. When powering up system components the first time, I was terribly disappointed with the noise from my HD-3870 fan. With that gone, the system hums away unnoticed.

What would I do differently with my setup if I knew what I know now:

  • Bigger case. It took a lot of experimenting to get everything in a good position in the midtower case I got. I lucked out with the top fan (didn’t have to drill more holes to mount the top radiator), but I got screwed with the hard drive cage and other crap in the lower right corner of the case. I moved what I could, but the pump still is at a non-optimal angle. Also, I wouldn’t mind making a bigger hole on the top and mounting the radiator on the inside of the top of the case rather than the outside. Alas, not a huge deal.
  • Bought all the water cooling parts at once. Since this was my first time parting water cooling out, I did it in very small orders. I think 6 total! I would have planned a bit better too: gotten a flow indicator somewhere in the line, better fill setup (currently the only thing still in progress) so I don’t even have to open the case to add liquid (not that I will need to very often), and maybe a drain port if I ever upgrade stuff and need to remove parts. As it is, I’ll need to turn the case upside down and around to fully drain it.