The build — continued
Here's a look at the H60 cooler installed. As you can see, not having a giant tower cooler in place really opens up the space around the CPU socket, allowing that big fan at the top of the case to pull air across the DIMMs and the VRM heatsinks.
Because the H60 is self-enclosed, I didn't have to worry about getting the right level of coolant into it, checking for leaks, or any of that hassle. All you do is install a bracket on the back side of the socket, secure the four screws for the copper water block, and attach power leads for the pump and fan. The fan is a 120-mm unit that exactly matches the size of the fan behind the CPU socket in the 600T and many other cases.
I replaced the existing fan with the one that came with the H60 because, happily, the H60's fan has a four-pin power lead. That's important in this build for a simple reason: Intel invented the four-pin PWM fan-control method, and it apparently won't stoop to supporting three-pin DC fan control for CPU coolers on its flagship motherboard—even though a great many very good coolers don't have four-pin fan connectors. The board's other fan headers support three-pin DC control just fine, but if you want fan speed control for the CPU, you've gotta have four pins.
On the flip side, I plugged the three-pin header for the H60's pump into the fan controller built into the 600T. That was the only header I connected to the 600T's fan controller, and I did it to avoid fan speed control. I don't want the pump voltage wavering. The 600T's other fans are all connected to mobo headers, so there's no need for me to play with the fan speed dial.
Obviously, the H60's radiator mounts atop the 120-mm fan, so you get additional CPU cooling whenever that fan ramps up. I know we've found in the past that good air cooling can be just as effective as a cheap water cooler, but I really like the fact that installing the H60 doesn't add to the total number of fans in the case. Besides, routing the CPU's heat directly to a radiator placed over an exhaust port makes a tremendous amount of sense. For what it's worth, I started this build before the H60 arrived and was using a high-end tower cooler during the initial build. Swapping in the H60 produced lower CPU temperatures and a subjectively quieter system. This sort of cooler may be a bit of a luxury at around 73 bucks, but I consider it a true upgrade over most air coolers.
Here's an interesting touch that shows you how up-to-the-minute the 600T happens to be right now. There's a USB 3.0 port on the front of the case, but most motherboards with USB 3.0 don't seem to have headers available for internal connections. Corsair has recognized that fact and included a cable that routes through a pre-cut hole in the nearest expansion slot cover and plugs into a USB 3.0 port in the rear cluster. Yeah, it's not exactly perfectly seamless, but it was the best possible solution for the motherboard we used.
Without further ado, here's the payoff: the guts of the fully assembled system, with everything connected and operational. This is what blew me away on the show floor in Vegas and what I had hoped to duplicate in my own build. Making it happen was simply a matter of being deliberate about each connection and using the provisions built into the case and other hardware. Compared to the messy jumble of my prior builds, this thing is a minor miracle—and a major upgrade.
While I'm heaping praise on modern PC hardware and standards for making such a wondrous thing possible, I should pause to consider one mistake I didn't make: plugging a USB port into a Firewire header on the motherboard and vice-versa. Such mix-ups used to be way too easy to make, but most standards now have unique pinouts to prevent calamities. USB and Firewire, however, still share the exact same header layout. I did not make this mistake because, well, I'd already made it this past Christmas, when I sacrificed a perfectly good motherboard (and a USB flash drive) to my own education in this matter. Sparks were involved.
One anomaly you might be wondering about in the picture above is the black cable jutting into the lowest 5.25" drive bay. The DX58SO2 comes with a rectangular plastic doodad that provides Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity, complete with double-sided tape for mounting in an empty drive bay. The cable is a USB lead running up to that doodad. I have no need for Wi-Fi in this system, but I use Bluetooth for headsets for Skype calls, so in it went.
The cooling situation is worth discussing a bit from this view, too. There are two intake fans and two exhaust fans. The intakes are the massive 200-mm fan at the front of the case, by the drive bays, and the 120-mm fan in the PSU, which pulls air in through a cutout (and an air filter) in the bottom of the case. The exhaust fans include the 120-mm fan behind the H60's radiator and the 200-mm giant at the top of the case. Three of the four are connected to the mobo's headers, with the exception being the PSU fan.
Whatever its other flaws, the Intel board offers excellent fan speed control via the Extreme Tuning Utility for Windows, which allows precise manipulation of temperature-based speed targets. With this tool, I was able to create a profile that allows my system to operate as quietly as possible most of the time while dynamically ramping up fan speeds as needed to keep temperatures in check.