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Swiftech Apex Ultra kit and MCW60 Review
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by Matthew Harris on May 4, 2006 in Water-Cooling

In computing we have many cooling options. Air, water and phase change being the most common in the enthusiast arena. Today we will be looking at a top grade kit from Swiftech and comparing it to a similarly configured kit from the competition and see if there is a clear winner or loser.

Introduction

As today’s computers are getting faster we are starting to see a wider variety of cooling options hitting the store shelves. There are three basic types that enthusiasts normally encounter and those are air which is the cheapest and easiest to configure. Water which adds a degree of difficulty but is far more efficient at removing heat and phase change which is the most expensive and the most difficult to configure. Today we’re focusing on water.

Water cooling is gaining in popularity and we see new kits hitting the scene on a nearly daily basis. The kits are varying in cost and difficulty from the fairly cheap small self-contained kits by the likes of Evercool, Coolermaster, Thermaltake and Kingwin to name a few and going to the more elaborate fully DIY kits by such names as Aqua Computer, Innovatek, Swiftech, Danger Den and Asetek. I know my lists aren’t nearly a complete listing of the major players but it does sample several known players in the low dollar and high-end water cooling niches.

Many DIY makers also offer pre-configured kits that are ready to install in your PC. These usually consist of plumbing, pump, radiator, fans, clamps, mounting hardware and normally a CPU water block. Today I’m looking at the Swiftech 220-H2O Apex Ultra kit and the logical add on of 2 MCW60 GPU blocks for an SLI/Crossfire system.

From Swiftech’s site:

Features and benefits

EXTREME PERFORMANCE
Features

SILENT COMPUTING
Features

Capturing the heat


The extreme performance APOGEE Universal water-block is responsible for absorbing the heat generated by today’s hottest CPU’s with incredible efficiency.

Adjustable fan speed: the kit is delivered with 12V to 7V and 12V to 5V fan adapters, enabling users to reduce the fan speed -and noise, to whisper quiet operations (~25 dBA).

Moving the Heat around


The Extreme performance MCP655™ 12 Volts DC industrial pump pushes the coolant throughout the circuit at high velocity.
Larger 7/16" ID (5/8" OD) tubing is used to maximize the coolant flow rate inside the system.

Adjustable Pump speed: the pump speed can be adjusted to virtually silent operation.

Dissipating the heat into the atmosphere

Minimum toll on performance in "silent" mode


The new MCR-220 copper and brass radiator doubles the surface area available for heat convection into the air compared to a single 120mm radiator, and uses two 72 CFM 120mm fans, at a reasonable* sound noise level of 37 dBA.
The MCB120 "Radbox" Revision 2 optimizes cooling by using fresh air from outside the computer, without adding any thermal load to other components.

The MCR-220 radiator fin density has been optimized to reduce air noise and operate at high efficiency with low-flow fans
At the lowest fan speed settings, the H20-APEX kit still delivers superb performance while allowing substantial overclocking. For example, at 100 Watts, the CPU temperature is only 3°c higher than at the highest fan settings

Convenience and reliability features


Kit noise/performance ratio can be fine-tuned at the user leisure.

12 Volt DC MCP655 pump plugs directly into computer power supply.
High-reliability, no-maintenance industrial pump is rated at 50,000 hour MTBF(Mean Time Between Failure) equivalent to 5 year lifetime.
MCRES-Micro reservoir fits in any small space available in the system without sacrificing a CD-drive bay
MCRES-Micro reservoir provides approximately 18 month of continuous operations without refills.
Universal APOGEE water-block is compatible with all current desktop processors, and ships with all the different mounting systems.
The Patent pending MCR-220 radiator is completely self-bleeding in upright position, or when installed on it’s side.
SmartCoils 625 are included with the kit, to completely eliminate tube kinking for a safe and reliable installation.
The 7/16" ID tubing features the same or better flexibility than 3/8" ID tubing, no distinguishable difference in terms of system flow rate compared to 1/2" ID tubing, but significantly reduces the bulk associated with 1/2" ID thick wall tubing.
The MCB-120 "Radbox" Revision 2 provides a bolt-on mechanism to "hang" the radiator at the back of the case with minimum case modifications.

*For reference, stock cooling solutions for current high-end CPU’s are specified by manufacturers between 34 and 38 dBA.