Advanced build tips
So, that’s the basics dealt with, but what about some more advanced tips and tricks for the would-be liquid-cooler, the OCD-oriented cable tweaker, and the avid overclocker? Never fear, we have you covered.
TIP 1 Liquid planning
A fully custom loop is something most PC builders aspire to at some stage. Whether you’re keen to try it or not, knowing how to build one successfully is a key piece of knowledge to have. As with most builds, it all starts with a good plan, some acquired knowledge and a touch of research. There are two basic principles to remember when liquid-cooling. Firstly, your pump must almost always be gravity fed by a reservoir and, secondly, each component you wish to cool must have at least 120mm of radiator to support it — more for overclocking. Once you’ve got that pinned down, it’s on to the planning stage. Similar to our first plan we did back on page 50, it’s a good idea to use a side-on image of your case, sketch out roughly where your CPU and GPU will be, and work from there. By that we mean decide where to place your radiators, reservoir, and pump (or pumps, if you’re going for dual loops), then figure out how to run your tubing. Visualise your build, understand what direction the coolant will flow, then decide on your tubing runs. For beginners, we recommend keeping it as simple as you can at first, until you get the hang of it. If you intend to introduce a bend to your tubing, it’s easier to work one into a long length than a short one, and it’s always advisable to use angled fittings wherever possible, to reduce the number of bends you’ll have to produce.
TIP 2 Cable management
Good cable management is all about layering. Identify what cables need to run where, then layer them. Most cases have more than enough room in the back to allow for cable management. Zip-tie bunches of them to the back of the motherboard tray, or use the Velcro straps often included in today’s cases. Tie down your 24-pin and 8-pin CPU power first, then work on PCIe cables, and anything else afterward. Modular power supplies are a must — minimising the number of cables you have keeps a build tidy.
TIP 3 Pro lighting
Good lighting is hidden lighting. The aim is simple: Anything that produces light should be hidden so you can only see the light that is thrown, as opposed to the light source itself. Hiding strips along the edges of cases, hidden by the thick black borders of tempered glass, or along the bottom of a chassis away from prying eyes, is a smart way of achieving this. On top of that, two strips are often better than one. Put one along the bottom and another along the front side, and you’ll immediately light up two separate angles, producing a more dynamic lighting effect. Additionally, always go for a white light. Singlecolour strips (red, blue, green, and so on) typically drown out all definition and design on components. If a motherboard has red and black accents and you throw a red LED strip in there, all you’ll see is red everywhere.