Hey guys, It's been a couple years since I've been on the forum, and I wanted to start up a discussion! Recently, I've made the jump from a CM Hyper 212 EVO up to a custom loop. I was very pleasantly surprised at how well my cheap mid tower case was able to handle it! I was able to jam in a 360mm radiator, and I could easily fit a slim 280mm at the front if I ever get a GPU block. For a $50~ case, I'm very impressed by my SPEC-02. It's a case that I feel never got the attention it deserved by tech YouTubers in budget builds. It came with two front 140mm red LED fans, and a rear 120mm red LED fan (which all still run well after 3 years!). The fans are quiet and they move air like any other fan (though they certainly aren't Noctuas or anything fancy). Now that that little bit is out of the way, I'd like to get back on the topic of watercooling support. To get a 360mm to fit, I DID have to do some light modding of the case. I had to remove the rivets to remove the 5.25" drive bay cage, and I can no longer fit a 25mm rear fan, though I'm sure I could find a slim fan to fit back there if I really wanted to. I also decided to cut out a square in the top of the case so the 3rd fan had a vent. 15 minutes with a drill and a dremel (and a lot of help from my brother!) was all I needed to achieve this. Sure it may not look great, but my PC sits on my desk and I can't see the top while sitting.
The radiator was a bit of a pain to mount since I went for push/ pull (my first time mounting a rad; annoying to line up the top of the case, the filters, the fans, and the rad). Thankfully, it's only about 5 screws to completely remove the top panel of the case, making this job much much easier. If you want to do push/ pull in this case, keep in mind RAM clearance is always an issue. My centre fan is right against my GSkill Ripjaws V sticks, so I wouldnt try if you have something like Dominator Platinums or Trident Z RAM. Again, only an issue for push/ pull. No problems with just push or just pull. Next, I had to mount the pump. Originally, I used a screw/ washer/ nut to hold it to the top of my drive cage, but I realized that my pump was opposite of how I wanted it (inlet was on the side, output went straight up). I fixed this by using the same screw/ washer/ nut to hold it to one of the intake fans. Not only did this fix the orientation, but I can swivel it and get to the pump speed controller if I ever need to.
Yes there is a rock on my PSU. Sentimental bit for me
As far as tubing, I had no issues making my runs. The rad output tube is longer than I would like, but I'm an idiot and can't undo the compression fitting on either end, so it just has to stay a little saggy. Also note I am not using a reservoir. This is mainly because I couldn't afford one. I would likely have to mount the res between the PSU and the drive cage if I ever get one though, or I'd have to ditch my push/ pull setup.
If I were to add a GPU block to my loop, I would be able to add a front 280mm without any issues from what I can tell. A 30mm rad would likely fit in the space where the fans are now, though it'd be blowing heat right into my HDDs. The fans could go behind the front plastic cover as well, so it'd be no issue. If I had a shorter PSU, I could add another 120mm rad to the bottom of the case, and an externally mounted 120mm would work on the back thanks to the tubing passthroughs built into the case.
Overall, I love this case, and I'd love to see it get more recognition as a great budget option. My only issue with the case is the side panel window. With it on, I can't see the pump or rad, and it is unfortunately tinted. As I don't have any lighting (besides the fans) in my case, I leave it off. With the lack of a rear exhaust fan, it's probably better for my GPU if I leave it off anyway. Hope you guys found this post helpful, or at the very least enjoyable to read. I'd love to see or hear about your guys' favorite budget cases! I'd also like to hear about your personal favorite budget cases that have great watercooling support!