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Raise the roof
I’ve noticed a lot of comments about fitting twin-fan all-in-one liquid coolers into the top of various cases. For me, though, the problem is always interference with memory and other motherboard components.
I recently built a new PC in a Cooler Master N300 case, as I wanted the external drive slots and a smaller case than my old one. Trial fitting before installing the memory was fine, but once the memory was installed, the cooler fouled the memory heatsinks (not particularly tall ones). The radiator and fans needed to move away by around 20mm. To solve the issue, I made up two brackets from strip aluminium, drilled mounting holes for the original radiator screws, and drilled and tapped holes to take 3mm screws for the holes in the case. Anyone building a PC will have loads of these screws lying around. To finish off, I sprayed the strips satin black to match the case.
Although the radiator doesn’t line up exactly with the perforations in the case, the airflow isn’t affected and it looks fine from the outside. Out of interest, I also tried a 120mm Cooler Master all-inone unit I had lying around, but it would still have fouled the memory, so it wasn’t a case of mismatching brands. Why case manufacturers do this sort of thing is a mystery to me. I’m not picking on Cooler Master; they all do silly things. Great mag by the way. I wish I had the time (and money) to do a custom build like some of your contributors. TED DRURY
Ben: That’s sadly often a problem with thick radiators in smaller cases, Ted. You don’t need to install your radiator in the roof, of course, but that’s usually a good place for it. Proper room for radiators without fouling components is one of the key factors we evaluate in our case reviews. To be fair to Cooler Master, the N300 is a budget case that costs under £40 – it probably wasn’t designed for dual-fan radiators, but I have to say I applaud your commitment to fitting your hardware. It might not look pretty, but taking a drill to your hardware so you can make it suit your exact needs is what this hobby is all about!
VR laundry tips
Having read Joe Martin’s Virtual World article in the September issue, he states that cleaning the supplied foam face cushions isn’t easy, as they can’t be soaked due to the Velcro. Oops, no one told me, or I didn’t read the instructions in my eagerness to see another world in 3D.
I’ve had my HTC Vive for around a year, and I only have the original foam face masks, which I use nearly every day in Elite, as well as in more energetic games. The wide one is used the most, and is now needing replacing due to fair wear and tear. However, it’s in very good condition after a year, especially considering the use it’s had and the number of times I’ve cleaned it. I soak it in hand-hot water with washing-up liquid for a bit, then in slightly less hot water with Milton fluid, gently massaging and rinsing at each stage, then letting it dry after a gentle squeeze. It works for me, with no smells.
The main issue I have is the HTC site. It wouldn’t work for me a year ago and doesn’t work for me now; I had to buy the headset from Scan. STEVE WRATH
Joe: Hi Steve, it’s great to hear someone at least has had success cleaning their face cushion, but personally I wouldn’t go back now I’ve tried a fake leather
replacement. It’s just so much easier to wipe it down than to risk damage by washing. As for the HTC site – it works for me, but I’m not surprised you’ve had issues. I can’t even get HTC’s PR department to return my emails!
Under the weather
I’ve read the article on making an external box to house a watercooling radiator by Antony Leather. At no point does he mention any need for antifreeze in the cooling solution. As an experienced refrigeration and chiller engineer, I know that as soon as the temperature outside drops below freezing point, you’ll risk the radiator freezing up and bursting due to the ice formation inside the pipework of the radiator coil.
The fix is to add an antifreeze into the circuit – either Monoethylene Glycol or an equivalent. The problem you have with these antifreezes, though, is making the solution more viscous than water, so your circulation pump has to work harder. I suspect there will be no warranty on the pump if it runs on glycol solution, or the radiator if it’s mounted outside. There’s also a potential corrosion issue if the fins of the radiator are made of aluminium, and you live by the coast or near a busy road.
The correct way to do this job would involve a heat exchanger, a separate glycol pump, an external radiator and a control gear to prevent the secondary cooling circuit from supplying water at below freezing point. It’s cheaper to have air conditioning fitted to the house. Also an air-conditioning unit will heat the room in winter when your hands are going blue with the cold. PHIL MORTIMER An external radiator box will be fine outside in hot weather, but will cause problems in the winter
Antony: Hi Phil, you make some important points that I missed in the guide, although it was only really meant to deal with hot periods in the UK, rather than sub-zero or even sub-room temperature conditions.
I did mention the need to bring the unit indoors in winter in my adjacent column (it’s not particularly useful there, admittedly), not just to prevent the coolant from freezing but also to prevent sub-ambient coolant causing condensation issues in your PC.
Interestingly, Mayhems claims its pre-mix Pastel coolant can cope right down to a temperature of -8°C, which should be enough for most people’s needs, and most radiators have copper fins these days too.
However, I’d personally only recommend using an external radiator box to deal with your PC in warmer conditions, where these issues aren’t a problem.
Oops, no one told me, or I didn’t read the instructions in my eagerness to see another world
Compact budget cases, such as Cooler Master’s N300, won’t give you much room to fit a dual-fan radiator in the roof
Joe finds fake leather cushions easier to clean