Samaroli: water-cooled hackintosh with custom hardline loop, using OpenCore bootloader!

Samaroli: water-cooled hackintosh with custom hardline loop, using OpenCore bootloader!

My first attempt into building a custom hardline water-cooling loop, as well as my first attempt into an OpenCore build! I have been using a Hackintosh as my main machine for over 10 years -- my last major upgrade was back in 2012 on a Gigabyte GA-Z77X-UP5 TH. It had served me well but large Lightroom edits and hires DSD streaming were starting to feel sluggish. This build is therefore intended to be a starting from scratch, major overhaul.

Shorter bends are surprising hard to do

Longer runs also need to be stay in parallel

Main PC Parts

Component Make Part Name
CPU Intel Core i9-9900KS 5GHz Special Edition
Motherboard Gigabyte Z390 Designare, BIOS version F9G
RAM Corsair Vengeance RGB Pro 64 KB (4 x 16 GB) DDR4-3200 CL16 ver 5.32
GPU ASUS ROG Strix RX-5700-XT 8G
Internal Storage Samsung 970 EVO Plus NVMe M.2 SSD 1TB x2
WiFi/BT fenvi FV-T919 Wireless Network Adapter
10G Ethernet LR-LINK 94T0255 PCIe x4 10G SIngle-Port Server Adapter
RAID Card Highpoint RocketRAID 2721 (1xInt/1xExt Mini-SAS ports)
Fans ThermalTake Riing Trio 12 x6
Fan Hub ThermalTake TT Sync Controller
RGB Hub Gamer Storm 5V DRGB to 12V ARGB Convertor/Hub
USB Hub Generic PAN8USB-G01 USB3.0/2.0 x2 PCB Internal Hub
Case Lian Li O11 Dyanmic XL Full Tower Case
Power Supply Seasonic Focus GX-580 850W

Watercooling Parts

Component Make Part Name
Distro Plate/Pump EKWB O11 Dynamic XL Distro Plate G1 D-RGB + DDC 3.1 PWM
CPU Waterblock EKWB EK-Velocity RGB - Full Nickel
GPU Waterblock EKWB EK-Quantum Vector Strix RX 5700 +XT D-RGB - Nickel + Plexi with Nickel Blackplate
Radiators EKWB EK Coolstream Classic PE 360 x2
Fittings EKWB EK-HTC Classic 16mm – Black Nickel
Tubings EKWB 16mm Outer Diameter PETG hard tubings
Coolant EKWB EK Cryofuel Concentrate - Amber Orange

External RAID Array Parts (existing)

Component Make Part Name
Enclosure Stardom 4 HDD eSata enclosure
Storage Toshiba Enterprise Series 10T HDD x4

Build Notes

  • First time getting into watercooling -- planning and bending hardline PETG tubes was hard but a lot of fun!
  • Getting all the RGB wired up was unexpectedly challenging. Gigabyte Z390 Designare motherboard supports only 12V ARGB (analog) but not 5V DRGB (digital). I ended up with mixed ARGB and DRGB devices connected to the analog motherboard using Gamer Storm's DRGB to ARGB converter hub. I was able to synchronize RGB via Gigabyte's AmbientLED app -- very barebone but servicable. Note that some of the lighting effects are not perfect, but good enough for what I want.
  • ThermalTake fans use a proprietary combined fan PWM + RGB connector. I used TT Sync Controller as a fan hub and route its standard 5V DRGB output through the RGB converter hub.
  • Lian Li O11 Dynamic XL case comes with 4x USB 3.0/2.0 ports (plus an USB 3.1 Type C port). I used an internal USB 3.0/2.0 hub PCB connected to F_USB30 (HS05/SS05 and HS06/SS06) to support all 4 physical ports.
  • This is also my first OpenCore build. For my own learning and education, I chose not to take a pre-built EFI package as-is. I followed Dortania's very well-written OpenCore Desktop Guide to customize my own config.plist and SSDT's -- the idea is that I want to understand the exact purpose of every changes to the sample.plist before I add to mine.
  • CaseSJ's incredibly detailed guide on this motherboard also provided a wealth of information to explore (the thread is 2,254 pages long as of this writing!)

Unobvious problems to watch out for...

  • To unlock writing to MSR 0xE2 register for native NVRAM support, initially I went for the latest beta firmware version F9H (as of this writing, the latest official BIOS version is F9B which is locked.) However, while it could boot into the O/S perfectly fine, I could not ESC into the BIOS setup screen -- got a blank screen from both the dGPU and iGPU DisplayPort output. I ended up downgrading into F9G, which is also still in beta as of this writing, and everything worked fine.
  • After a period of flawless burn-in, it suddenly began to fail at POST after switching power off and back on. The BIOS error status LED's on the motherboard was stuck at the red "DRAM" LED in an infinite reboot cycle. BIOS reset pins, holding power button down trick to get into backup BIOS etc. did absolutely nothing. Taking out some/all RAM modules also didn't seem to work. I switched off the power, removed the onboard battery, and let it sit overnight -- same error next morning.
  • After many frustrating hours of trial-and-error, I noticed an important detail which I had missed until now: version numbers printed on the sticker on the RAM modules are different! I bought 2 separate packs of 2 x 16G each, and apparently there is no way to figure out without first opening the packaging -- I got both version 4.31 and 5.32, and only 5.32 is officially supported according to Gigabyte's Memory Support List. Thanks God, I was able to get pass POST once again with 2 sticks of 5.32! Moral of the story: read the fineprints...

Thanks so much for the amazing R&D by the Hackintosh community, in particular Acidanthera, Dortania, osy86, CorpNewt, and CaseSJ!

submitted by /u/cktse
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