Watercooled 2U server from Poweredge C2100 corpse

Discussion in 'DIY Server and Workstation Builds' started by RAMhog, May 8, 2018.

  1. RAMhog

    RAMhog New Member

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    Hi all,

    Let's the get required portion out of the way first:
    Build’s Name: Graveyard Watercooled 2U
    Operating System/ Storage Platform: VMWare ESXi 6.5
    CPU: Intel Celeron G3930
    Motherboard: Gigabyte GA-H110M-A
    Chassis: Dell Poweredge C2100
    Drives: Seagate Barracuda 750 GB HD
    RAM: 16 GB DDR4
    Add-in Cards: none
    Power Supply: Dell Poweredge C2100 PSU
    Other Bits: watercooling parts

    Due to my frustration with the noise and power consumption of my HP servers, I decided to embark upon creating a minimalist, low-power server from some existing parts I had. Since I didn't have any experience with watercooling, I decided to dip my toe in the water (so to speak) and try to make a watercooled server.

    Initially I wanted to stuff everything in a 1U server, but I had problems finding any watercooling solutions that fit in such a tight space. The typical problem was the size of the radiator; most just won't fit in 1U of space. After some searching, I found an AIO (all-in-one) solution that looked like it might work, the
    Corsair Hydro Series H5 SF:
    Corsair H5 SF | PC Perspective

    After some wrestling with it, I found it to be unsuitable and decided to start over from scratch. This time, I bought a kit with a bunch of individual watercooling parts, and decided to use a 2U chassis. Here is the kit I bought:
    Water Cooling Kit 240 Radiator CPU GPU Block Pump Reservoir Tubing Fan Heatsink | eBay
    [​IMG]

    I had a Dell Poweredge C2100 that I bought to use as a NAS, but I ultimately opted to go with a different approach. So I gutted the server, and ended up only using the parts of the chassis, the power supply, and the power distributer (I guess this is what it is called?).


    Off to a messy start...
    [​IMG]

    I had to rip out almost all of the removable parts of the chassis, including the fans, fan bracket, and the above metal piece. Luckily (and unlike the HP equivalents), the Dell power supply was ATX-compatible, so it was just plug-and-play like I bought an ATX PSU off the shelf. I was even able to remove the extra cables I didn't use:
    [​IMG]

    I initially had some leaks in probably the worst spot: the CPU waterblock
    [​IMG]
    All of the other screw-in fittings fit snugly using only hand-turning, and one of the YouTube watercooling guides I watched stressed not to over-tighten them as they may crack the acrylic. So I left these two fittings screwed in too loosely, and the result was water dripping dangerously close to the CPU/motherboard. Thankfully, I put paper towels down to catch potential leaks, and no damage occurred.

    The next problem was with the radiator. Since it is 120mm tall, and a 2U chassis can fit only maybe 80mm height fans, I had to orient it sideways (this is a view from the top):
    [​IMG]

    Getting all of the air out of the loop was the next issue. It seems to gradually escape on its own, but if there is too much in the loop initially, the pump is only moving air, and the water doesn't flow. So I had to mess with the orientation and relative positions of the pump, radiator, and reservoir, in order to coerce the water/air into moving to the correct places.

    I found this cool temperature gauge that screws in to the end of the reservoir and monitors the water temperature. In a lucky coincidence, the display part fit perfectly into one of the 3.5" bays on the front of the chassis:
    [​IMG]

    You can also see that I stuffed the hard drive in the right-middle top bay. Obviously it isn't hot-swappable, but I don't really need it to be.

    This is truly a Frankenstein-esque monstrosity, but it's still pretty cool (in more ways than one). Ultimately, I want to experiment more with watercooling servers, maybe even 3d-printing some custom parts to get things to fit properly, but that will have to wait for a time when I save up some more money.

    Right now I'm waiting for the air bubbles to finish making their way out of the loop, and then it will get (gently) moved into my rack.
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
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    Last edited: May 9, 2018
    maze, Evan and Patrick like this.
  2. RAMhog

    RAMhog New Member

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    Welp, here it is after being put in my rack for about a day:
    [​IMG]

    Not too attractive. I'm thinking about maybe finding some of the disk caddies for the Poweredge C2100, and possibly re-attaching the backplane so I can put disks in there and have them work.

    After a couple hours of one or two of my VMs pegging the CPU at 100%, the temp of the water in the reservoir has went up considerably from the mid-to-high 20's C it was at yesterday:
    [​IMG]

    Still relatively cool, though.

    Another shot looking at the watercooling innards and LED lights shining through the empty drive tray:
    [​IMG]

    Last note, I solved the issue (that I don't think I originally mentioned) of the pump vibrating up against the case and causing some considerable noise. I did this by putting a bed of foam under the pump:
    [​IMG]

    It's hard to see, but there is a small rubber dampener that I pulled from a server fan, located just to the right of the pump. The idea is to keep the pump away from the side of the case by having the rubber act as a "doorstop" for the pump, so it doesn't make direct contact with the case.
     
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  3. maze

    maze Active Member

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    Have you considered rotating the rad a bit so it actually gets some front to back pull? - maybe putting up a lownoise fanwall consisting og some 80mm fans with decent pressure to put air through it - maybe in some sort of ducted design?
     
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  4. RAMhog

    RAMhog New Member

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    I do have an 80mm radiator on the way, I am planning on seeing if that will fit. If it does, then I could possibly chain 2 or 3 of them together, if necessary (although I honestly think I could get by with just a single 80mm rad).

    Haven't heard of a "fanwall" before, what is that?
     
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  5. alex_stief

    alex_stief Active Member

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    Is the radiator made from copper or aluminium? I imagine that at this price point it can hardly be be copper. In this case use anti-corrosion additives and inspect the loop regularly. And you should leave at least a bit more air in the reservoir, otherwise you could be in for a nasty surprise.
     
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  6. Rand__

    Rand__ Well-Known Member

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    1. Nice idea

    2. The CPU you have probably would have been fine with an appropriately sized air cooler which would have had minimal noise too

    3. With your current design the heat stays inside the chassis causing additional heat. Mounting the radiator standing up you could blow the air out (or through) with the fanwall @maze suggested - a fanwall is just a bunch of fans put together standing up in a single piece (looking like a 'wall', held together with a frame or ziplocks or glue)
     
    #6
  7. RAMhog

    RAMhog New Member

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    Aluminum. It's a little ambiguous, do you suggest to use anti-corrosion additives and regularly inspect the loop in the case of the radiator being copper or aluminum? What could potentially happen otherwise? I do seem to recall some of the more expensive copper radiators having the threads made of brass...

    What surprise?
     
    #7
  8. RAMhog

    RAMhog New Member

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    That's true. I guess I was a bit unclear in my reply to maze, but with the 120mm radiator size, plus the tubing sticking out, the maximum angle that the radiator could be angled would be maybe 30 degrees maximum. Kinda like this:
    [​IMG]
    Theoretically I could flip it around and maybe get a little more room if the tubes oriented differently, but it would be more horizontal than vertical, and it would likely require re-cutting the tubing.
     
    #8
  9. Rand__

    Rand__ Well-Known Member

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    And there is no 2U high radi that you could get?
     
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  10. RAMhog

    RAMhog New Member

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    See above, I do have an 80mm radiator on the way, purchased on the basis that 80mm fans fit in a 2U case, so theoretically an 80mm rad should fit. I'll update this thread when I receive it and figure out if it will fit or not.
     
    #10
  11. Rand__

    Rand__ Well-Known Member

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    Quoting Wikipedia...
    So you have 88,9mm which leaves you about a cm slack which should be enough for a couple of mm's cover and bottom :)
     
    #11
  12. alex_stief

    alex_stief Active Member

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    There is a very simple rule of thumb for "custom" watercooling loops: don't mix copper and aluminium. You will get corrosion very quickly, it's basic chemistry. I would be surprised that the company sells this Kit with both materials mixed, but not so much considering its market positioning.
    The surprise with a loop that has virtually no air in it are leaks. You need a little air in the reservoir to account for expansion of the water or shrinking of the tubing. With no air to act as a spring, pressure can build up inside the loop and cause it to leak fluid.
     
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  13. RAMhog

    RAMhog New Member

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    It's hard to find anything other than a multiple of 120mm sized radiator (e.g. 120mm, 240mm, 360mm, and even some 480mm width, all x 120mm high x whatever thickness).


    Thanks for the warnings. So, even the small amount of copper in the CPU waterblock will cause a problem with the aluminum radiator? I guess that would leave the only two options to fix it being to replace the aluminum waterblock with a copper one, or replace the waterblock with an aluminum one, correct?

    Regarding the water level, I filled it so fully because I noticed that air bubbles had a tendency to flow into the outlet of the reservoir and be introduced into the loop. My gut feeling is that the loop wasn't completely devoid of excess air when I put the lid on and placed it in the rack, but I will take it back out and check the air levels to make sure they are ok.
     
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  14. maze

    maze Active Member

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    #14
  15. lowfat

    lowfat Member

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    Anything less than a 120x120mm radiator is IMO not worth it. The frontal surface area is just too small to do anything. Air coolers will be significantly better for noise to performance ratio. You'd need 4x60mm radiators to get the same frontal surface area as a 120mmx120mm. Even a 80mmx80mm radiator has less than half as much frontal surface area as a 120mmx120mm.
     
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  16. RAMhog

    RAMhog New Member

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    60mm is still too big for a 1U case, 40mm should work. What I really need is something like this:
    https://www.amazon.com/Alphacool-NexXxos-XT45-Copper-Radiator/dp/B00IF6OZGQ

    Even for heatsink/fans that fit in 1U of space? The ones I've encountered (which haven't been many, to be fair) have been loud, high-pitched screamers.

    What about making up for the 2D width x height area by increasing the thickness? See the above link, that Alphacool radiator is 41mm thick, maybe that would make up for the small w x h profile?

    I'm actually tinkering with an AIO, the Corsair H5 SF, in a 1U enclosure. It's going to end up looking something like this:
    [​IMG]
    (see Dynatron Corporation | Leading Provider of Cooling Solutions for details on the above pic)
     
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  17. lowfat

    lowfat Member

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    For radiators, thickness makes pretty much zero difference. Its frontal surface area is what is important. 80mm thick radiators perform pretty much identical to 45mm thick radiators.

    If you look at that Dynatron unit you linked. The fans run @ 16000 rpm :eek: yet it can only handle a TWP of 160W.
     
    #17
  18. pc-tecky

    pc-tecky Member

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    .... :eek: ... where to begin? o_O wow, nice idea, clever.. not pretty, and would likely need more tubing, but I'd move the radiator and the reservoir outside of the case.. get plastic/rubber grommets for any wires or tubes that pass through the metal.. Koolance(??), if still around, sold drip-free quick connects - just like hydraulic lines on farm and construction equipment. Physics, friend or foe? Definitely need more air space if you want physics to be your friend. Or physics will be your foe when the lines blow or force the coolant past the seals.

    Get some screws and jam nuts or some standoff posts onto the lower rear of the radiator to get some airflow going (see RAMhog's pic/diagram above).
     
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