Posted on

KitsuneHiFi – Custom Water Cooled PC build

Here is a custom PC that we had recently built and have entered into a contest @

Please check it out and support us! vote for our build so we may have a chance to win prizes. Voting has already started but ends March 21st 2019.

My name is Tim and I’ve been building computers since I was eleven years old and now approaching 38 years old! To some of you that makes me an old fart. I love how computers have evolved over the years and now they have become a passionate hobby and are more expressive of our personalities. Sure, it was a passionate hobby for me when I was young, but it certainly wasnt cool or “rad” at the time. I was a complete nerd and most of my friends did not have computers or have any interest in them.
As innovation has improved, pc components are now fit and finished and appearing beautiful even. My old machines were beige towers and didn’t even need heat sinks for many components like CPU’s.

I still remember my biggest mistake ever while building a computer. I was about 11-12years old and assembling a 486 dx 50 which at the
time was a beast! All other cpu’s had a front side bus speed of 25mhz or 33mhz yet this machine actually had a FSB of a blazing 50mhz! 
My Father and I were building the machine, which btw was meant to be for him. I was carelessly installing the cpu into the motherboard and didn’t take note of the orientation of the chip and it’s corner which is marked. And no, they are not keyed to prevent installation with incorrect orientation…. so when it came to turning the power in to the board/cpu it had a peculiar looking red dot in the center of the cpu and I thought to myself, “wow, that’s neat, a little orangish red light on the chip!”. My child like mind decides to immediately touch this little orange colored light and good lord I was in for a surprise! That was cherry red hot ceramic where a pin of the cpu was literally burning a hole through the motherboard socket! Mind you, this happened all within 10sec of powering on this system for the first time. My finger tip was wiped of its indentity by a horrible burn and a funny smell of flesh and burning plastic. This my friends is my most embarrassing moment when building a computer. Thankfully Since I was just a child I can laugh at this easily. I’m so glad that today’s machines practically fall into place with keyed components and connectors that cannot be mistaken. For those who are a vintage fart like I am, they know that older machines really didn’t have these fail safe designs. Enough of my past, let’s talk about my most current build. Which to some they may find it a bit insane that it has about 40+ fittings into this build for a very expensive yet cool looking result of hard line tubes and fittings everywhere. There is even a drain tube type fitting that is made up of 4 fittings that attaches to the lower drainage port. It’s extremely easy to fill and drain this system since I spent a bit more time planning it all out.

For those who have done full blown water cooled rigs and the even less likely few who have experience with doing solid tube builds with copper piping like that found in my shared build. For those who know, it’s a big undertaking to do builds like this. I’ve have over 80+ hours into this build and lost count of the exact amount of time. So many little things they go overlooked that require so much time to complete. It may be hard to see why it would take so long.
This is one of a whole ton of builds i’ve done in my lifetime. But I think I can say this is my favorite! Realistically I’ve built several dozen custom builds for myself and usually my “epic” builds last for a long time since I rarely spare any expense and go with the best components available.

I chose to go with solid red copper tubing with chrome plating… and was a bit worried about leaks so went overboard and went with a new design of fitting… solid brass and nickel quad gasket fittings to ensure no chance of leaks. In some places the seals were upgraded to monsoon silicone gaskets for a more snug fit.

Some of copper tubes come pre bent 90 degree’s for ease of making a nice clean look. Obviously you can’t bend chrome plated tubes without them cracking…. so very careful planning is required. Of course, a good pipe cutter like the Milwaukee brand pipe cutter really does work well and assists in clean cuts and no scratches. Funny, as I tried 4 different pipe cutters before finding one I found to do a pretty good job.

I can’t stress enough how important it is to get measurements within 1mm accurate. Metal pipes don’t flex at all if compared to soft tubing or even petg hard tubing. Plus the metal tubing is sharp once its been cut…it takes patience to properly remove any burrs and essentially smooth each of the edges to a nice clean finish. A foam sand paper square was used and a dremel for some specific modifications. This helps the assembly process and prevents damaging any o ring seals. It’s worth it!!! Don’t you think?

Obviously, my inspiration was from the Verge’s PC building video and was sure to use enough thermal paste and a little extra just to be sure! I couldn’t forget using my Livestrong bracelet and a good pair of tweezers (sarcasm). This video will never die! haha. Sorry, I had to mention it… maybe one of the greatest YouTube videos last year.

Seriously though, This build is my most ambitious and involved project i’ve done while working with water cooled PC arts. This build is based around the clean and sleek looking Phanteks Evolv X case. Why? you might ask, well I do like the anthracite grey anodized finish and the dual tempered glass panels… But mainly I found this to be one of the most compact size of cases that would fit the hardware I had in mind. If you look carefully you’ll notice how many water cooled bits i’ve managed to fit in a moderately sized case. There is no wasted space with pointless drive bays for hard drives , diskdrives or cd drives. I can’t remember the last time I used a Compact disc. Even the last few builds I’ve done I included a Blu-ray DVD burner whatever and never used it once. So this time would be different. As far as the water cooling, it was very difficult to fit all the gear into this average sized case. Generally it would take a large tower case for this much cooling…. In fact the larger reservoir and dual 360 EKWB radiators barely shoehorned their way into this rather small case.
I wanted epic performance with no compromises. The important factors for me are the following:

1. Must be excellent at FPS at high resolutions like 4K(chose the i9-9900k as the heart) some believe 4K gaming is silly, but it’s doable with the pg27uq monitor, otherwise 60hz is no good.

2. Must be ideal for audio enthusiasts so must be very quiet overall(my audio gear setup is just as impressive as this machine) And must be able to process DSD1024 in HQPlayer with moderate filters.

3. Must be perfect for content creation and photography (sorry for some of the photography, as this project should of been captured with my A7R3, but instead was shot with an iphoneX during assembly. 

4. I’m a water cooled lover however understand that the very best of watercooling comes at a price, and also requires a tremendous amount of patience and extra hours of labor to achieve results that are desired. This is where my OCD comes in and helps achieve a good end result that i’m fairly happy with. This build was started sometime around October 2018 and don’t recall exactly when it’s completed, technically it’s not done since I will be adding a second 2080ti soon, reroute some tubing and also get some slight revised Cablemod pro cables to perfect cable management in the backside which I’m fully aware of. 

So for those who just want to know the specs…. Here is a quick list/run down of what this build has going on inside.

1. Phanteks Evolv X – Anthracite Grey anodized finish

2. Intel i9-9900k – Overclocked @ 5.1ghz all 8 cores (it does a stable OC to 5.2ghz but I didn’t like the temps being higher)

3. Asus Formula XI Motherboard (ekwb watercooling is stock)

4. Teamgroup TeamDark DDR4 Cas14 3200mhz ram (32gb total or 4 sticks of 8gb) (this is the lowest latency ram I could find) – the heatspreaders were replaced with aesthetically appealing EKWB polished nickel heat spreaders. This matches the overall theme i’m going with.

5. Storage – Two of the 970evo NVME 1tb drives… One is for the OS (win10) and the other is for AAA title games. Then there are 3 860Evo 1tb’s for general storage of media. External storage is one 850evo 1tb, one NAS that has 4 drives and total of 11tb of storage, another 4tb WD enclosure, yet another 8tb Samsung drive, and lastly several portable drives from samsung of 1tb and 500gb variants.

6. EKWB 360mm radiators (two of these), EKWB X-RES D5 250 RGB – this is the MAXIMUM size resevoir/pump combo to fit. In fact it required very careful planning and custom fittings to get properly mounted – EKWB CPU water block (Velocity Nickel RGB) – Lastly the fans are a total of Seven Noiseblocker B12-2 120mm – 17db – 1300rpm fans. One exhaust on the back of the case and three for each of the radiators (push out top and pull from the front) – this requires special spacers for the front, as well as special foam gaskets to optimize air flow. The resevoir had a custom bracket I made to properly fit this within the case. Planning the loop was tedious and overall this build was over 80+ hours to complete. Which includes planning the system from beginning to the very end. unlike most of my builds being from 3-8hours for water cooled systems. This was many steps beyond. – Lastly must mention thermal paste and pads, which all paste was Thermal Grizzly and the pads used for the video card and ram was Fujipoly Extreme XR-M. All pads were replaced anywhere possible, and paste used to improve thermals of video card, CPU, motherboard etc.

7. Nvidia RTX2080ti 11gb (asus dual was the base card I started with) added the EKWB Waterblock that is polished Nickel and clear acrylic and also has the optional polished Nickel backing plate. This was mounted in the vertical slot in the Phanteks case which is an optional kit that was purchased separately. I would have NEVER done this with an aircooled 2080ti since they obviously get too hot…. however watercooled is no issue and purely an aesthetic choice at this point.

8. Majority of all fittings are either Barrow quad sealed nickel plated finish for solid 14mm tubing, some Byski fittings and some EKWB. The tubing is all Pure Red Copper with chrome plating from Barrow/Byski. I went overkill with fittings and well over 40% of the cost of this build was in the watercooling bits.

9. There are some RGB bits added from Phanteks that was added to tastefully add lighting. Usually its set to subtle lighting. 

10. JCat Femto clock USB dedicated PCIe card for audio grade external gear like my Dac, Amp and headphones which I can get into later.

11. The power supply many people may think i’m insane for choosing, yet I carefully chose the Corsair AX1600i PSU for the reason it has the lowest ripple noise of any PSU on the market, and this can help for audio related tasks. Second reason was that I knew the fan speed would NEVER be on, therefore the noise spec would be dead silent…even under full load. So this alone was the major reason I chose to go WAY overkill in this department.

12. Cablemods helped me get some of the very first ever made Pro series cables that have the new aluminum combs that were made for a single comb type dual 8pin PCIE cable setup. I was fortunate to get these for my build. And Matt @ Cablemod was great to deal with and we talked a lot about custom builds and I expressed my urgency to have this dual PCIE comb piece for my build. I think my color scheme of UV purple, chrome or polished nickel, anthracite grey/black is all very clean! These cables really help tie it all together! What do you all think?

13. Monitor i’m using is the Asus PG27UQ which is the first to have 4K 144hz, gsync and HDR1000 all together. However you only can have HDR at 98hz really…this is OK for me. And I can’t be happier with this monitor. It works very well for photography with perfect color and works very well for gaming with vivid beautiful smooth 4K graphics that are well above the typical 60hz panels that are common.

14. Mouse is the Swiftpoint 700 and runner up mice are the Roccat AIMO and Razer Basilisk 

15. Keyboard is a Corsair Platinum K95 with a few custom keycaps I’ve added.

16. External Sound (headphone setup)- HoloAudio Kitsune Tuned Edition Spring2 DAC, HoloAudio Azure Amplifier, iFi Pro iCan Amplifier, Meze Audio Empyrean Headphones, Hifiman Susvara Headphones, Sony Z1R Headphones, Hifiman Arya Headphones, Audeze Mobius (for gaming), and Meze Audio Neo Classics.

17. External Sound (bookshelf speakers) – Vanatoo Transparent One speakers w/ Definitive Audio Supercube 2000 subwoofer – I highly recommend these bookshelf speakers with the ISO acoustics Aperta stands which improve imaging significantly. The subwoofer is overkill if you want some seriously insane sub bass and don’t have a lot of space. Just the speakers alone will product lower freq than other bookshelf speakers that are 3-4times it’s cost. I love these significantly more than the KEF LS50’s