Facebook Pixel

CaseLabs SM8 Merlin Modified

CaseLabs SM8 Merlin Modified

Who wants a Case Labs case? --No, no, calm down....I'm not giving one away (nor would I!); I'm simply asking a rhetorical question!

The goal of this project was to give the Man with The Plan behind PPCs a new, kick-ass rig built with new, kick-ass gear. And the first case that came to mind was Case Labs!

Here's a breakdown of a majority of the gear in the finished rig for easy reference:

Rig itself:

  • • Caselabs Merlin SM8, customized
  • • Asus Republic of Gamers Maximus Hero VIII motherboard
  • • Intel i7 "Skylake" 6700K CPU, delidded
  • • EVGA Nividia GeForce GTX1080 GPUs with SLI HB bridge
  • • Samsung 950 Pro M.2 SSD
  • • Mushkin Reactor SSD
  • • G.Skill DDR3
  • • Corsair AX1500i PSU with custom Allure cables using Allure Pro Combs / Pro SLI Combs
  • • Noctua NF-F12 PWM Linus Tech Tips Edition 120mm Cooling Fans
  • • Custom RGB lighting

Watercooling system in rig:

  • • Hardlined with Monsoon 5/8" OD transparent red tubing
  • • Bitspower BP-BSEML16 fittings, and angle adapters
  • • XSPC black-chrome pass-thru fittings for bulkhead plumbing
  • • Watercool brand Heatkiller IV CPU block
  • • EK Waterblocks brand 1080 GPU blocks
  • • Hardware Labs Black Ice SR2 360 multiport rad in front
  • • Hardware Labs Black Ice SR2 480 multiport rad in top
  • • Custom-built Monsoon MMRS D5-Enabled reservoir
  • • Swiftech MCP-655 PWM D5 pump
  • • Mayhems X1 Clear fluid

Building on/in a Case Labs Merlin SM8 (customized, of course) chassis was an excellent choice for a beefy, clean, strong rig, that was customized by removing the 5.25" bay assemblies and covers, and making a custom bracket to allow solid installation of a rad instead in the front, along with custom plates with hex-mesh that will approx. match up with the stock case's aesthetics for a seamless look. I also removed the stock window material and created a new template of it and designed/etched a themed window graphic to make it feel like the case was 'really cold to the point of it frosting over in the corners'. A matching back window was also created to that matches up the top rad providing a convenient outside filling port for the watercooling loop itself, which leads me to the next subject: The loop. Hank's specific stipulations were that he wanted clean, sparse runs that looked aesthetically-pleasing, so I decided to make the majority of the large loop vertically-run. I was inspired by a muscle-car's engine manifold, and decided to angle the otherwise-vertical runs to go to and from the CPU block, and GPUs, and return to a vertical orientation. I wanted to hide the rest of the runs inside the custom PSU shroud, as well as hiding the PSU itself (although it's a beautiful PSU to behold, hence the little viewing window!).

Hank requested for me to utilize a new custom-built Monsoon reservoir with D5-base and fill a majority of the void with the res itself (and they're freaking AWESOME too), so I did some measurements and came up with a custom res that fit the bill as well as it could. I also flipped the top end-cap to allow the inlet of the res to flow directly from one of the pair of rads in the case, to minimize the tubing runs themselves as well as keeping the aesthetically-pleasing 'exactness' of everything. I ended up making a custom mount-bracket that tied the res in a specific location mounted directly to the front rad, eliminating the need for any stock brackets as well as allowing the use of the end-cap flipped 'backwards' which would otherwise need to be used to mount the res itself due to the drilled/tapped mounting holes located on the caps themselves.

The outlet for the res itself flows directly into the PSU's shroud bulkhead, which leads up the CPU and GPU runs, which in turn run back up to the top rad, with a run that is hidden behind everything flowing to the front rad, and back to the res. It ended up working out really well, because it basically makes it look like the run just disappears into nothing, lending more to the 'clean exactness' look I was trying to achieve with the loop runs.

For cabling, Hank wanted a custom solution; to show off the new ModMyToys brand Allure Sleeving, wiring, and Allure Pro-Combs, and who am I to argue with that? --They're awesome! We decided extensions will work quite well as they are quick, convenient, and clean. Anyone can make these now too; just order the supplies (ready-made wires in specific lengths) along with matching Pro-Combs and connectors you need and you're good to go! Hank decided on a specific color-scheme for the wiring, and our Sleeving expert worked with me to make it a reality. Everything needed to be clean and exact, so we got it as close as we could within reason.

For the cherry on top, Hank wanted to utilize the new RGB LED strips so channels were cut-to-length, drilled and installed where needed to create a full-color 'frame' when viewed inside the case. With the awesome WIFI-enabled controller tucked away behind the mobo tray and an paired app to use, Hank now has convenient control over his lighting with a flick of his index-finger on his smart-phone. Who wouldn't want that kind of thing, you know?

Check out the pics and video to fill in all the blanks and answer all the burning questions about this awesome rig!




Frag on,

Please select a wishlist