I fell in love with the look of the Shift X after browsing cases for a month or more. The combination of the tall, slim form factor and the large tempered glass windows can allow for a striking and cool looking build when done correctly. There are several other great Shift X builds on this site and I used some of them as inspiration for mine.
Due to the form factor power and consequently heat the system would be outputting, I wanted to ensure that I could get as much cooling ability as possible crammed into this case. After pouring over various benchmarks of radiators, I chose to go with a two radiator setup, a 240mm HardWareLabs Nemesis GTS and a 120mm HardWareLabs Nemesis GTS due to their slim form factor and their ability to punch well above their thickness class.
Due to the compact form factor and the 500+ watts the system will be pulling during gaming sessions, heat would be a big factor, so I selected Noctua Industrial PPC 2000 RPM PWM fans to cool the radiators and motherboard. After some research, using the fans in a push out of the case configuration results in a lower temperature than a pull into the case config. The bottom 120mm GTS radiator is cooled with a 140mm Noctua Industrial PPC 2000 RPM fan as well, and the motherboard has another 140mm Noctua fan of the same in the top of the case.
To try and get as much cool air into the case as possible, I modified the case by cutting out the area that was slated to be used as HDD mounts and added an additional 120mm Noctua Slim 15mm width fan. I wound up using a dremel with a cutoff disk to cut through the sheet metal and painted over the bare metal surfaces after the fact using some spray paint. This fan pulls in additional air from the cool side of the case and blows it directly into the top 120mm fan on the 240mm radiator.
An EKWB 140 REVO with integrated D5 pump was chosen for its appearance and the known reliability of the D5 pump. While not entirely necessary, PWM control over the pump allows for ultra quiet operation at near idle speeds while hopefully extending pump life. A 120mm bracket from EKWB attaches the reservoir/pump combo to the 120mm fans.
To cool the CPU I chose the Heatkiller IV waterblock due to its superior performance and appearances. Originally I had done a build using a Be Quiet! 900 Pro, and I hadn't planned to do a water cooled build on the GPU. Finding myself disappointed with the build quality of the Be Quiet! case, I decided to go with the Shift X, which meant that I needed to water cool the GPU. To this end, the EVGA FTW3 Ultra Gaming 2080 Ti has only one available water block, the EVGA Hydro Copper block.
The installation of the EVGA Hydro Copper Waterblock was rather involved and I also took the opportunity to change the PCI bracket from a 3 slot to a 2 slot bracket, ordered from EVGA as well. I used Thermal Grizzly Kryonaut thermal paste on the main CPU processor for best thermal transfer and the Hydro Copper came with TIM pads for the memory and other GPU components. Fortunately I did not run into any issues during the installation other than a few stubborn screws which required a larger screwdriver to unscrew, rather than the jeweler's screw drivers I was using.
Initially I did not like the look of the EVGA Hydro Copper with the smoked acrylic cover on it, and considering that the Shift X tempered glass windows are also tinted, the nickel plated water block of the Hydro Copper gpu block would be difficult to see. I found that the top smoked acrylic cover for the gpu block was removable, and took it off. This resulted in a much nicer looking clear acrylic cover for the nickel plated gpu water block, which also has build in RGB lights.
Having read reviews of the available Z390 ITX motherboards, the Asrock Phantom ITX motherboard was chosen for its superior VRM's and OC ability over the other main choice, the Asus ITX board. Because the VRMs are more stable and efficient, the Asrock board is capable of running a set OC at a lower voltage than the Asus board, while having a much higher efficiency that results in a lower heat output from the Asrock board. The Asrock board also has onboard Intel Lan and Wifi NICs, which I believe the Asus board does as well.
I had chosen the 8086k processor due to it being a pre-binned chip with some novelty. This particular processor is capable of 5GHz on all cores at 1.3 volts without any issues. After delidding the CPU using the Bauer tool and Thermal Grizzly Liquid metal, I saw temps drop almost 20 C at 5.0 GHz.
All hard lines are acrylic Bitspower Crystal link 12mm OD tubes, while all of the fittings are Bitspower shining silver 12mm fittings from the multi-link catalog. The top tubes coming out of the CPU waterblock are bent to ensure structural rigidity. Since the fittings are very heavy, using several of them over long runs results in a tube setup that is not structurally stiff. If the Bitspower fittings were compression fittings for hard line it might be possible, but considering the number of turns and distance the tubing had to travel, I decided to use bent tubing instead. Bending the tubes into their necessary shapes took some time and effort but I believe in the end it was worth it.
Cable routing was another difficultly with this build, and the cables that came with the Corsair SF 750 psu were all too short. Initially I tried using a Corsair premium sleeved cable kit, however the included cables were too long and too bulky. I wound up ordering custom length ribbon style cables from the Moddiy website made to length for both the 24 pin and 8 pin CPU cables. Due to the width of the FTW 3 Ultra GPU, I also ordered some 180 degree slim connectors for the 2x 8 pcie connectors coming out of the GPU.
Speaking of cables, the included Pcie riser cable from Phanteks is of terrible quality, assuming that it works, it seems to limit the pcie speeds to 2.0 at best and has been causing blue screens for many people. After some digging, someone on a forum somewhere mentioned that there was a custom pcie cable built specifically for the Phanteks Shift and Shift X cases available from aliexpress. This cable turns out to be a very high quality unit made by ADT-Link, and you can choose the length as well. Since the Stock Phanteks is actually on the short side, I ordered the 30 cm length one from AliExpress. It took about two weeks to arrive, however the quality is excellent, and I have had no problems whatsoever after replacing it. ADT-Link cables are also used in other high quality cases and they may be an OEM cable manufacturer. I highly recommend to any other Shift owners who are experiencing GPU problems: https://www.aliexpress.com/item/32845509787.html
To combat noise, various silicon inserts were used to reduce vibration from the fans. At idle or during web browsing the case is near silent, while at gaming the noise level is only just noticeable. Wearing headphones the case noise is non-existent.
For perspective on the temperatures the case is achieving, I continuously monitored all temperatures during extended gaming sessions (4+hours) in PUBG at 1440p with ultra settings for textures, view distance, AA. The CPU temperatures were stable around 70 C, while all GPU temperatures never exceeded 65C, both well below any throttling temperatures.
Overall I really enjoyed the build and I think it came out looking fantastic and meeting my performance goals. I may be looking to sell the whole rig as I'd like to try a true ITX case next!