Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

I figured I’d post a quick little blog of what I’ve been doing the last week or so rebuilding my test bench and gaming.  I was invited  to PDXLAN this weekend and figure it was a good reason to do some remodeling on the torture rack I use regularly for my block testing.  The LAN space was technically 24″x30″ per seat, and my horizontally mounted 480 rad and pump setup was in need of reorganizing to be more LAN friendly.  With the “Compact/Clean/More Portable” idea in mind, I mounted two of my triple radiators vertically, and switched to the Monsoon D5 pump/reservoir.  I also spent some time cleaning up the various bits and installing new tubing/fluid.

I do have a few sponsors  including:

A very special thanks to Dennis and Jeremy from Danger Den for the M6 block, Monsoon Reservoir, and seat at PDXlan:

Paul from XSPC for the RX and EX 360:

Eddy, Niko, and Gregory from EK for the UV blue EKoolant:

And BoxGods & Performance PCs for the Monsoon Free Center Compression Fittings

I bought the torture rack and hardware myself.  While I’d never consider myself a case modder/builder of any sort, I was pretty happy with the result.   The rebuild went pretty smooth.  The M6 block mounted nicely, Monsoon fittings cleaned up the clamp look, the Monsoon reservoir green blended in nicely, and the EKoolant added some much needed color to the tubing.  The EKoolant is one of the newer less toxic food grade antifreeze coolants with both algae and corrosion blockers built in.  I thought the blue went well with the MSI motherboard.

The two triple XSPC radiators are way overkill, but I couldn’t help myself…I’ve always enjoyed seeking those single digit water/air deltas..:)

Here are a few quick snaps:

Yeah I know the 570 needs water…:)

Got a chance to try out the new Monsoon free center compression fittings which look really nice.  They held the tubing in place nice and solid when done and made for a really clean look.

After braving Friday 5:00pm Portland, OR rush hour traffic on the interstate, I found my way to the gaming Mecca..PDXLAN event #19.

Sorry for the quick snaps, I was focused on gaming and only broke the camera out for a brief intermission before my battery went south.

The LAN event was a blast! I had never been to one before, so it was a whole new experience.  What’s better than gaming online?  how about organized tournaments, prizes, give aways, and gaming with 500 other gaming enthusiasts that share the same passion.  While my system doesn’t even come close to some of the builds at the event and I’m average at best in gaming, I had an awesome time!

Finally had a chance to meet the great folks at Danger Den as well as a few people from the west coast that frequent the forums.  Everyone there was really welcoming and there was generally a very strong “Have fun and play” atmosphere.  The event also offered some sneak peaks at Gearbox’s new Borderlands 2 game trailer that was never seen before.  Lots of new technology demos of several products scattered around the many booths to drool over and play with.

It was the perfect testing vacation and I managed to get several days worth of much needed medicinal frag time…:)

PDXLAN 19 Preview

Posted: February 18, 2012 in Uncategorized

So I’ve been taking my priorities seriously (having fun) and decided to drive up the the famous PDXLAN event in Portland OR.  I’m a gamer myself and while I don’t consider myself “Tournament Worthy”, the thought of piling into a large LAN event has always had my curiosity.  While I have played online multiplayer games myself for some time now, I never attended an actual LAN event.  PDXLAN has been at it and perfecting the event for many years now, and this round was #19, an event starting at 6:00PM on Friday carried on throughout Monday with a slew of gaming tournaments, prizes, and general gaming fun.  I particularly enjoyed seeing the variety of computer case builds, visiting with fellow gamers, and generally enjoying a weekend of gaming.  What is better than gaming at home?  How about gaming with 500 other gamers that share that same passion, tournaments, and prizes.

Before going to far, I would like to give special thanks for Jeremy and Dennis at Danger Den for sponsoring a seat at the event.  I think they have me hooked!


Since I had never been to a LAN before, I didn’t really spend much time thinking about portability and space.  At the moment I had my torture rack setup with a quad rad mounted horizontally with my pump suspended off the back.  That worked well for easy changing out of blocks, but it didn’t look very nice and took up quite a bit of desk space.  Soo…in an effort to make my rack more compact and LAN-able, I decided to switch out the quad rad and pump.  I installed my two XSPC RX and EX triple radiators vertically, and installed my Danger Den monsoon reservoir D5 pump combo to clean up the clutter.  In addition

Ahh the joy of mixing metals in a closed water loop…:)  While many water coolers have had excellent success with running copper/brass/nickel over the years with plain water, we have seen many examples of where certain conditions result in not so favorable results.  While we often call copper/brass loops a “Similar” metals loop, I think we are also forgetting that “Similar” is not the “Same” and we have a LOT more than just copper and brass in our loops.  Your typical water cooling loop has a mixture of copper, brass, nickel, and tin.  Note, that I think I’m the first example of the “TIN” corrosion by an unintentional experiment I had been carrying out over the last year or so..:)

The manufacturers pretty much all say “use our coolant” which includes corrosion inhibitors, yet we persist in thinking nothing is wrong with this mixing of “Similar” metals.  I’m not a corrosion expert by any means and have typically had the same or similar good success without the use of inhibitors.  I am however becoming more of a believer of corrosion potential as these repeated problems persist and as I have now experienced a recent loss myself.

Last year when doing my fan testing series, I filled up two radiators with water as part of my testing rig templates.  One was a Swiftech MCR120, and one was a Hardware Labs SR1 140.  Upon digging those radiators out in preparation for my radiator testing bench rebuild, I noticed that the MCR was still full of water, but the SR1 140 was empty.  I also noticed what appeared to be water stains on the bottom of the SR1.

Could this be corrosion?  I thought..

Oh my, my SR1 has become a victim of corrosion!!

But I thought the idea was if you run copper/brass loops, corrosion wasn’t possible?

Well…it is..

My SR1 is now a leaking sieve, so I decided to do a little digging in on galvanic corrosion.  I think most people including myself have been thinking about corrosion between copper/brass/nickel, but I don’t think we have been thinking about the solder in radiators.

What is Galvanic Corrosion?

Per Wiki:

Galvanic corrosion is an electrochemical process in which one metalcorrodes preferentially to another when both metals are in electrical contact and immersed in an electrolyte. The same galvanic reaction is exploited in primary batteries to generate a voltage.

So it’s not all bad..after all Galvanic corrosion is what starts your car in the morning..:)

What is needed for Galvanic Corrosion?

Per the

  1. Electrochemically dissimilar metals must be present

  2. These metals must be in electrical contact, and

  3. The metals must be exposed to an electrolyte

Of particular interest to me is #2, I didn’t realize that the metals had to be in electrical contact, but that does explain a few things I’ve been seeing.

Now to make sense of my SR1 loss:

Ok, so in a closed loop of water, while water is initially non-conductive, it only takes a short time in a water loop to become contaminated and conductive.  Once conductive it now satisfies the “Electrolyte” criteria. #3 is done.  The stagnant condition (and not at all typical) probably made this many times amplified.

Also the metals must be in electrical contact.  In my radiator example the soldered connection of the radiator fins is clearly a good metal contact. #2 is satisfied.

And finally they must be dissimilar metals:

According to the anodic index, it appears a normal copper solder radiator has about a .30 galvanic potential.

Yep, seems to make sense I guess.  How about a few other examples others have shared:


Aluminum and Copper in direct contact.  Pn0yb0i gave an example of what running an aluminum/copper block can do after an extremely long 4 year run here.  He was going to reuse the block after cleaning, so I ask him if I could use some of his pictures if I sent him a replacement block sample for free.  He accepted happily and I feel better that he’s got a new block too..:)  Anyhow, here are a couple of photos that he shared and gave me permission to use.

He said he used distilled water plus pentosin and purged every 2 months.

And to compare the anodic index between copper and aluminum.

In general most manufactures have given up on attempting to make aluminum/copper blocks, which has led to eliminating that problem.

However, as water cooling has become “Art” as much as it is performance, there has been a dramatic increase in Nickel plating of blocks.  It is handy not having to deal with tarnished copper and a lot of people like the shiny surface of Nickel plating which in itself has caused problems as well…

Nickel Plating

The hot topic in the forums has been in regard to nickel plating failures.  Manufacturing processes have been improving regarding the plating quality.  Electroless plating is the latest preferred method which is supposed to plate the parts more evenly.

If you look at the anodic index again and compare nickel to copper, you can see it is actually very similar in index meaning their corrosion potential is very small.  In the case of metal corrosion, opposites attract and nickel/copper are very similar.

But….the difference is still there.

We have seen failures on blocks and we have seen failures on fittings.  The one commonality I have seen in all the various forum examples is “stagnant” water.  Just like my radiator example, where you normally see plating fail, is where water sits still.  I believe this stagnant condition is what promotes the #3 electrolyte condition.  The longer the water sits still near metals the more contaminated and electrolyte like it gets.  We typically see plating failures between surfaces such as the GPU block and acrylic or delrin top.  We also see it between CPU nozzle plates and the CPU block bases plated in nickel. In fittings we see the plating failures at the threads…again where the water is stagnant.

The other reason I think the small index still causes problems is simply due to the plating being very thin it just doesn’t take much to show.  Also since copper is the anode to nickel, it works in an undermining process where the copper goes away, and the nickel flakes.  Also as the copper goes away and undermines the nickel, it creates a pocket where that electrolyte enhancement (stagnant water) grows even faster.

I do think a “Perfect Plating Job” could avoid the issue with plastic tops, if there was a perfect nickel plating over the copper block and that was the only metal in direct contact, you will have essentially removed the “electrolyte” variable.  If there is no way for the electrolyte (water) to get between the copper and nickel, then life is peachy.  I just don’t think plating is ever perfect.  Any little microscopic pin hole, scratch, or thread wearing into the plate will expose the copper allowing the reaction to occur.

What is the problem?

  • We are mixing metals.
  • Some of the mixed metals have direct electrical contact.
  • Our water is becoming an electrolyte with stagnant water conditions in some areas.

Sacrificial Anodes

One thing that hasn’t really been explored much in water cooling is the use of sacrificial anodes.  These are used quite regularly for corrosion applications where the idea is to make the electrolytes go after a more active metal instead of the metals you are trying to protect.  The anode need to be in electrical contact with the other metals and will over time corrode and need replacement.  You see them in household water heaters and on ships in saltwater, and bridges along the coast.  Most industries that have some sort of corrosion problem lean toward either or a corrosion inhibitor or some sort of anode to provide that protection.

I don’t see why you couldn’t have some sort of zinc barb insert or something that could be easily replaced though. I’m not quite sure what sort of deposits the zinc would make, but it should theoretically work in preventing corrosion from occurring. I’m not sure???

I could see that as being a possible solution for folks that would rather not run anything than water. That’s what we do for water heaters (inhibitors not possible), why not for water cooling?

Anyhow, not sure if sacrificial anodes would work or not, but I’m really curious to try. It could be a solution for giving plain water loops corrosion protection without the fuss of a coolant with inhibitors.  You would just need to attach a piece of zinc to each of the mixed metals blocks/rads and see what happens.


I don’t think it is possible to completely stop galvanic corrosion from occurring, but we can reduce it by:

  • Eliminating direct electrical contact of dissimilar metals (Plastic top/unplated copper base blocks)
  • Reduce Electrolytic Conditions – Reduce areas where water is stagnant, flow is your friend.  Regular maintenance and complete cleaning of the block/pieces probably helps too.
  • Improve plating processes and increase plating thicknesses.
  • Slow the process with corrosion inhibitors in the fluid
  • Slow the process using a sacrificial anode in system running plain water.
But I don’t think you will completely stop corrosion.  The idea is to keep it at bay long enough and/or reduce it for the intended service life. Unless you made the entire loop of one metal or kept all the metal parts from touching one another, you will have the potential for galvanic corrosion to occur.



While I have done radiator shroud testing before using more conventional 7 bladed fans, I wanted to do an update to both serve in shroud results and also give me some hands on time with my new radiator testing bench to see if there are any tweaks remaining before settling on a test method.  I had noticed in my previous shroud testing that push vs pull optimization was different depending on the fan used, but I didn’t really have enough data to conclude it was fan speed alone or if it was simply the type of fan.

After testing many more fans, the Gentle Typhoons were again one of the stronger in CFM/dbA ratio on a radiator, so I figure it only makes sense to follow up with that fan to see what if any change is apparent there.  In addition I used TFC 30mm shrouds in the old test and I wanted to compare that shroud to using an old gutted 25mm fan which is cheaper and many people do use.

So with that, I’m updating to a new radiator test bench with more controlled air flow measurements and the ability to also measure air flow volume.

Before getting started, I’d like to thank the sponsors that provided parts I used in this test:

Swiftech sponsored the MCR120QP radiator

Koolance sponsored the PMP-450 pump

Danger Den sponsored the MC-TDX waterblock

TFC sponsored the TFC 30mm shroud


Using my new radiator test bench V2, I’ll be running the system with the pump at setting 3 which is producing approximately 1.7GPM or so. Heat is provide via a modified aquarium heater and tuned to 125W for approximately a 10C delta system with the fan running at full speed.  Seventeen thermal probes are measuring water in, water out, air in, and air out.  In addition a hot wire anemometer is measuring air velocity, a “Kill-a-Watt” is measuring heater wattage, and another multimeter is measuring voltage at the fan plug.

Here is the setup with the access window temporarily opened.  During testing the top acrylic panel will be closed so all air out goes through the air out port for air measurement.

I’m looking to log temps for about an hour after stability is reached to average out the ambient fluctuations.

As with any good testing, I think it’s important to show not only the testing rig, but also the data collected to develop the conclusion.  While many go straight to the results, I’m sticking to my usual “testing story” approach and going to share the details of how I came to any conclusions.

While I’m not reviewing any particular product here, the talk of fluids and additives and dyes are always a talking point.  I figured I’d just share my own personal experiences and opinions on the topic.


My first experience, I followed directions and also desired to have “color” in my fluid. I chose to use Swiftech Hydrx which is recommend by Swiftech and produces a nice UV green.  I eventually wanted more and started experimenting with other colors and dyes as well.

This is how it looked at Day 1 after changing the fluid out.  While I was happy with the looks, I noticed that this bright “UV” effect was mostly gone within about 3 weeks to a month of use and I also noticed staining of the tubes particularly with the blue and red dyes.  I went along with this for several months to a year and pretty much had a 2-3 month must flush and clean my blocks out routine.  The Hydrx didn’t have any problem with sediment dropping out but the red and blue dyes both left little chunks of blue and red in my blocks that required regular maintenance and cleaning.

Over time, the 2 weeks of color “Bling” just wasn’t worth the maintenance for me…  Looking back now I realize that most “Dyes” are actually based on a solid powder solution.  If you think back to high school chemistry, you might recall the “Centrifuge” in which tubes are rotated at a high speed to make those solids precipitate and collect in the bottom of the tube.  Well, I think your average water cooling loop is not all that different, there are twists and turns and areas where velocities are low that creates that environment where those solids stop moving and collect.  Bottom line, UV reaction is temporary and any suspended solids will eventually stop and build up somewhere. This is responsible for many “What is this GUNK in my loop forum discussions”.

Hydrx generally worked better for me than any of the dyes or other solutions, but it also did loose some UV capabilities over time and did stain the tubing a minor amount.  Fortunately at least for me, it didn’t have any issues with sedimentation or plugging up stuff.  Despite the slight staining, increased maintenance, and toxicity, I like Hydrx as a corrosion blocker.  It is very simple, economical, and produces a nice UV green without plugging stuff up.

I continued with this mix of products for a while..