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Blue-Carbon Desk PC - By SystemTech

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  • Blue-Carbon Desk PC - By SystemTech

    1. Designs, Ideas and Planning
    2. Frame Construction and Fitment
    3. Cable channels and desk top
    4. GPU Mount : Starting
    5. Main Desk Structure Complete
    6. Cable Sleeving
    7. GPU Mount : Testing and ideas
    8. Watercooling components (most of them)
    9. Motherboard Tray : Starting
    10. GPU Mount : Carbon fiber
    11. GPU Mount : Water Tubing
    12. GPU Mount : Final fitment and testing
    13. Motherboard Tray : Plan revisions and more construction
    14. Motherboard Tray : Final cuts, trims and checks
    15. Motherboard Tray : Carbon Fiber
    16. Final Fitment and adjustments.


    Well its been a journey. There are already some tweaks and changes i want to make but for the next while, my desk is officially complete and idling at a fantastic 2*C above ambient

    Here she is. I hope you enjoy the completed build and the log to get there :

    Thank you to Daz for the organization and management of this competition and forum. I am delighted to be a part of it and thank you to all the sponsors, judges and the other entrants as without all this would not be possible.

    Thank you.
    Last edited by SystemTech; 11-25-2019, 12:10 AM.

  • #2
    Designs, Ideas and Planning

    So I have always loved Alienware laptops and last year I got a Alienware M14X which started me on my Alienware road
    The idea was always to get a decent spec laptop and then get the Alienware Amp to bump it up when at my desk.

    So late 2016, with the release of the 15 R3's i was fortunate enough to get my hands on one.
    It was a 2016R3, with a i7 6770 and a GTX 1070. I replaced the stock SSD with a Samsung 960 Pro 512 GB.
    Additionally, i have an Alienware Graphics Amp with a RX Vega 64.
    For my display, I have an Acer XR341CK at 3440x1440.
    The Name, Blue Carbon, is as follows :
    i am going to set all my lighting options to blue, and have some additional blue LEDs that are going into the build.
    The Carbon is because there are going to be parts skinned in carbon fiber. The real stuff, not the stickers (although that would have been WAAYYY easier)

    The Original plan and idea (you need to know this for some of the pics to make sense :p ):

    So the Alienware 15 R3 runs quite hot, often thermal throttling which is a pity. But i have plans to resolve that

    So my plan, is to take my current desk, use it as a starting point and add a few extras

    I am taking my current desk, and creating an addition on the side to expand it somewhat, as well as house a bunch of other things. Firstly, my UPS, my NAS and then the more custom things
    This enclosure will attach to the left side of the desk, and a new desk top will cover both this enclosure as well as the original desk. I will leave the original desk top on, so that i can run some cable channels etc out of sight etc.

    As i mentioned i have a Alienware Graphics Amp.. I am going to take out the PCB and custom mount it to my desk, and watercooled my RX Vega. This will be in some form a GPU Mount on the right side of the desk. I am thinking of mounting the reservoir there too.

    I also have a Lamptron CW611, which is going to be used to control my pump as well as all my fans to keep thing as quiet as possible.

    The New Plan :

    So after struggling for a while, with heat and performance when using the 1070 in the laptop, and driver issues using the RX Vega 64 in the alienware Amp, i decided to throw in the towel.

    I friend was needing a fairly high end laptop for media related projects and the Alienware was a pretty good fit, and at the same time i found the Microsoft Surface Book 2 as a new mobile PC.
    So i sold the Alienware and bought a Surface Book2 15". It runs great but too has some heat issues, which i eventually figured out how to undervolt the CPU and things are now fantastic...When on the Laptops display. When i connect it to my ultrawide...things grind to a halt with trying to get a 1060 to run far too many pixels, which i fully expected.

    But in addition, my desk build was primarily made for an external GPU, under water.. So when i got the surface, my longer-term plans was to wait for Ryzen 3, and then build a Desk PC and have the Surface book as my mobile solution and im VERY happy i went that route.

    I now have a Ryzen 5 3600, in a Gigabyte X470 Gaming 7 with my Vega 64 and all is running wonderfully.
    Now obviously this has to tie into my desk, with the GPU mount and watercooling.
    So starts the new version of my Desk system. Its now a Desk PC

    I am re-using most of my work and ideas from version 1, and just modifying it accordingly to fit Version 2.
    Last edited by SystemTech; 11-24-2019, 11:10 PM.


    • #3
      Frame Construction and Fitment

      The work officially started. I had an idea of the size needed for the desk extensions and what slots i needed so i started cutting wood putting it all together:

      With the construction complete, it was time to do a test fitment :

      It looks a bit off but some of that is due to the small space i have and some due to the carpet. It actually fits way better, as you can see here :
      Merging the 2 parts together:

      Next up was starting to construct some of the components shelves:
      This is how i planned everything to fit together...
      The NAS has moved to my server rack downstairs though, so now thats a empty space for radiators:

      PSU fitted and all happy :

      I also completed the fitment fir the UPS and NAS but didnttake any pictures of those. You will see more of this in later pictures though.
      Last edited by SystemTech; 09-11-2019, 05:38 PM.


      • #4
        Cable channels and desk top

        So next up, was to cut the cable channels int he original desk for all the cables to route through, connecting the Motherboard to the GPU mount.

        This was the planned path to cut. the depth was dependant on what the filler was for the top of the table.

        It turns out it was just cardboard.... sigh for build quality haha, but hey, that makes it easier to make my channel:

        So this channel is to connect the 2 hubs together. Its is going to be filled with Power cables, water tubing and a few other cables.

        Then I constructed the table top. This was a fair bit of cutting, measuring and glueing and im going to let the pictures speak, as they are fairly self explanatory :

        And finally complete. To explain the holes, the one is where the laptop was going to sit (bottom right)(now the motherboard tray is going to be in there, the other is where the GPU Mount is going to sit(Left).

        Last edited by SystemTech; 09-11-2019, 05:46 PM.


        • #5
          GPU Mount : Starting

          Ok, next up was to create the basic rear support for the GPU mount. The font will be skinned in carbon fiber and the rear will be wood. I think these 2 prodcuts work well together and blend technology and woodworking, which are 2 of my passions.
          Until its complete it may not look like much, but you might get the visions :p

          and the final structure on the desk :

          And this is the final plan. To have the GPU Mounted on the side and the Reservoir is ontop with the fan controler to the side.

          Last edited by SystemTech; 09-11-2019, 06:00 PM.


          • #6
            Main Desk Structure Complete

            And finally the deks structure is all complete. As mentioend, this was orignially for my laptop and was meant to have fans cooling from below to assist the airflow.
            Now the laptop is going to be replaced with a motherboard tray. The GPU Mount stays the same essentially. I alo mounted the LED RGB strip under the desk and they are set to blue, as will be the rest of my build

            Test fitting, then some wax, and then the completed table top for now.

            Last edited by SystemTech; 09-11-2019, 06:09 PM.


            • #7
              Cable Sleeving

              Now seeing as i had to initially run a 24pin and 2x8pin GPU connectors to the hub, i had to find some really long cable extenders...
              I could not find any

              So then i tried finding someone who could make them, at a reasonable price....
              I could not

              So i decided to do them myself. I had sleeved/made cables before, but with mixed results and used heatshrink. It was horrible.
              This time, having learned a lot, i got to work.
              Given the blue and carbon theme, i went with blue and black sleeves :

              And completed the first wire

              And then a pile more :

              And even more :

              But wow it looks great once completed :

              Now given the change from the Laptop with the Amp to the Desk PC, the 24 pin is now redundant sadly.
              The 2 x 8 pins are not, so they are still in use along with a molex cable
              Last edited by SystemTech; 11-26-2019, 06:19 PM.


              • #8
                GPU Mount : Testing and ideas

                Ok, now the fun stuff starts. The GPU Mount.
                This will display the GPU, fan controller and reservoir and house the water pump and a bunch of tubing runs.
                Its a short update but shows the ideas of what i want to achieve here.

                So as per this pic posted earlier :

                This is the vision for the GPU Mount.
                I cut out the sides and made the relevant holes and then did a test mount of the GPU

                And all working well.
                But its a rather tight fit inside there :

                However now that im not using the Alienware AMP, i dont need the control board inside and have created some space.

                The final idea here, is to skin the MDF panels in gloss carbon fiber which is coming soon
                Last edited by SystemTech; 09-12-2019, 05:51 PM.


                • #9
                  Watercooling components

                  Now cooling is being done by water. I have always loved watercooling from way back when, when i got a janky CPU cooler, and made a plexi reservouir and put a submersible pond pump in it with a 240 mm Radiator. It worked fantastically until the res started leaking haha. Didnt break anything but learnt alot :p
                  This however is my first attempt at hardline tubing. How hard can it be hahahah, said nobody ever

                  The components to be used are :

                  So yes, a bunch of fittings (mostly EK, but some Koolance and Barrow QDC's and compression fittings (not pictured)
                  EK Vega 64 waterblock
                  Heatkiller IV AMD Waterblock
                  EK PE 360 Reservoir
                  DDC 3.25 Pump with EK Top
                  a bunch of PETG Tubing and a bending kit.
                  A bit of flexible tubing too.

                  The hardline tubings will be all the visable parts. So input/output of the blocks and res really. some behind the scene bends, but mostly just to limit the number of conenctors and fittings i need.
                  The flexable tubing is to connect the GPU Mount to the Motherboard area given that they are about 1.2 meters (4 feet) apart.
                  Currently i have just the one reservoir but I am planning to add another one to the loop...if i need it.

                  I also mounted the Vega Block.
                  I have a REALLY nice and flat GPU/HBM socket area. The stock mount was FANTASTIC :

                  And all complete and ready to go

                  Last edited by SystemTech; 09-12-2019, 06:40 PM.


                  • #10
                    Motherboard Tray : Starting

                    So this is where the big changes happen when changing from a laptop desk to a desktop desk

                    First thing to do, was create a motherboard tray. I had wood already cut close to what i needed and so i just went with that

                    I started the basic structure :

                    And built up on that quite rapidly :

                    You can see the rear IO and there will be a mesh of sorts to the right of the rear IO.

                    I also needed a long PCI-E cable, and a small hole for that to exit out of :

                    So the Rear IO will be facing the front of the desk, and the opposite side (24 pina nd SATA side) will be facing the rear of the desk.

                    So to explain a bit more of my plans :
                    The entire motherboard tray will be skinned in Carbon Fiber and then there will be a piece of glass that closes it all up. I need to still cut a piece that covers the front part of the motherboard tray, as that is going to be closed. I had thought of making it a flap, to be able to access the Rear IO, but in practice its actually just too small of a gap.

                    Thats all for now
                    Last edited by SystemTech; 09-13-2019, 03:32 PM.


                    • #11
                      GPU Mount : Carbon fiber

                      Ok so this is where the real fun begins.
                      This is a long update with TONS of pictures.

                      First thing to do, is to cut out the carbon fiber cloth. I obviously want to wrap it around the edges to give it a more consistent look so there is a bit extra left for the edges

                      Then starts the process of skinning. First step is gluing the cloth to the pieces. I am using weights to ensure a nice flat finish as i do not have access to the pro tools (vac bags and pressure chambers) :

                      And then a test fitment on to the GPU Mount, All looks good so far :

                      Then wrapping all the corners in, a very tedious process :

                      Then.. First coat of resin and suddenly it all comes to life :

                      And then the life is gone, sanding it to get a better finish :

                      And after another round of sanding and resin this is the end result :

                      I am very happy with the final product for the GPU mount. There is 1 or 2 small imperfections, but on the whole, it looks truly fantastic.
                      There is one or 2 places i could have gotten a better result but again, once it has everything mounted etc, you are hardly going to notice them.
                      Last edited by SystemTech; 09-13-2019, 05:08 PM.


                      • #12
                        GPU Mount : Water Tubing

                        Time for another update
                        This is another big section of work that took me a good while to complete. Its my first time with PETG and as with everything, there is a bit of a learning curve. Especialyl consdering that i am planning some Complex bends...this should be fun

                        So first up, was my first few bends....i scrapped and re-bent this piece again later:

                        Next up, was getting the tubing for the bottom of the Reservoir to the pump. Given that tubing is going to hold up the Reservoir, i am using the dual outlets at the bottom, and combining the 2 into 1 tube, and then into the pump. As simple as these bends look....Oh boy, i spent ALOT of time on them. Rebentand tweaked them a few times but they ended up looking great and fitting really well.

                        First Tube :

                        Starting the Second :

                        Second is in place :

                        These were not easy :

                        Finished product (connected to the bottom part of the Reservoir):

                        Then i had to finish the final bend to the pump, to get it all fitting nicely ;

                        And that is the pump side complete. I now need to redo the GPU side. which are 2 very complex runs.
                        First off though, lets mount the GPU, so we can ensure the tubing is accurate :

                        And then i did redo the initial bend, which is the GPU to the Reservoir.

                        And a bit later the GPU side was complete :

                        They are not perfect, but i feel they are close and once they have blue liquid in, you will not notice any of the small issues.

                        I then added a bracket for the pump and bundled the wiring together a bit to try and keep it all neat:

                        And finally i mounted the reservoir and fed throught he GPU 8 pin connectors :

                        Thats it for the main build of the GPU Mount. I still need to do a few things but the bulk of that side of the project is now complete and im very happy with the outcome.
                        Last edited by SystemTech; 09-16-2019, 08:50 PM.


                        • #13
                          GPU Mount : Fitment and testing

                          Ok so now that the build of the GPU Mount is complete, it time to add the finishing touches, and see how well it all works (praying for no leaks as that would be a pain to fix :p)
                          Lets get some lights going first though :

                          And then it was time to take it to the desk, connect it all up and do some testing. First, was add in the quick Disconnects. This allows me to seperate the entire GPU Mount from the desk because each cable, and tube, can be disconnected where it connects to the table.
                          Then filling it was easy, and i had no apparent leaks. Started the pump and let it run for 36 hours, and all was great :

                          Yay no leaks. For now, i am just testing with the radiator on the floor of the PC side, without fans connected to it and not using the GPU. Im just powering the other components of the hub.

                          Then i figured, lets test out these quick disconnects....
                          that didnt go so well :

                          As you can see, its diconnected but water is still coming out as its not sealed up propperly.
                          So as a hint, Barrow quick disconnets are not great. They feel great, look good, but are VERY restrictive and have a failure rate (25% in my experience).
                          So my loop has 4 Quick disconnects in it in total.
                          2 on the GPU mount to be able to seperate it from the desk, and 2 on the motherboard side, to remove it from the desk.
                          I promptly replaced the 2 on the GPU side with Koolance V3's...and WOW, they are considerably better. Far less restrictive too.
                          I will eventually replace the other 2 with koolance onces...maybe ill win them here

                          Moving along.
                          So i am now running my GPU attached. I initially had a PCI-E Extender problem, again learning as i go...
                          DO NOT BUY PCI-E extenders that are not thermaltake and do not have the rubberized cables.
                          Every extender ive used so far (i have 5 of them), only the 2 Thermaltake ones with the rubberized cables are still working.
                          As a result though, i need to cut one more slot into my table top for the differnet extender before i can officially mount it.

                          So i am having a interesting thing happen. I am running my VEGA, and have OC'd it a bit, and am getting comparable benchmark scores....except its being cooled passivly (other than the pump). The fans are set to come on at 40*C but it idles at high 20's and maxes out at high 30's so the fans are not actually switching on haha.

                          Also because of this, i feel comfortable to add my CPU to the loop using the one radiator for now, until i have funds to add a second to the loop unless i get one used or temps go out of control.
                          Last edited by SystemTech; 09-17-2019, 02:24 PM.


                          • #14
                            Motherboard Tray : Plan revisions and more construction

                            Going back now to the other side of the desk haha
                            Time for some work to be done here.

                            So i have a pile of 140mm fans lying around, and figured, i need to actually have some airflow in here. I have a gap at the front and rear but air needs to actually be moved.
                            So i started off by getting some MDF offcuts, and made some fan mounts :

                            And then attached them

                            Then i attached a bunch of things. Firstly, on the left i added brackets, so that the GPU Mount, can "Dock" to the motherboard Tray when they are in "Portable" mode.
                            I also added brackets to attatch the radiators to. There is space and mountsings for 2 x 360 radiators facing each other, and then half of the 140mm fan at the rear of the desk, will push air into the motherboard area, and the other half will help to move the hot air from the radiators away.

                            I also added one final piece of wood to the top and in addition, to add some context, the highlighted area here will all be carbon fiber with the glass top :

                            Then lastly,
                            I am making a power button indent on the front part of the motherboard tray.
                            What shape should this indent have? :
                            Last edited by SystemTech; 09-18-2019, 04:11 PM.


                            • #15
                              Motherboard Tray : Final cuts, trims and checks

                              Ok its been a while. This build is nearing completion, but there is still alot to do.

                              To start with, I had to trim the sides down a bit. Once the Carbon fiber and resin is applied, the edge will rise a bit. This is a bit of guessing but i think it is going to be good.

                              Then, what i didn't do on the GPU Moount, and regret it, is paint the base black. If you look closely, you can see the MDF between the fibers in places.
                              To eliminate that, and to look better where there is no carbon fiber, i painted the Motherboard Tray in matt black and it looks MUCH cleaner haha :

                              Its not perfect but does not need to be, as its all unseen when in the desk, but atleast when its out the desk, it wontbe ab eyesore

                              Then lastly, was a bit messy and "interesting" was cutting the groove for the glass. I had all the intentions to bevel it nice and straight, but my guide was not working and so i just went freehand

                              And the glass is in and nice and level

                              Next up, Starting the Carbon fiber of the Motherboard Tray
                              Last edited by SystemTech; 09-23-2019, 02:42 PM.