Swiftech Apex Ultra kit and MCW60 Review

by Matthew Harris on May 4, 2006 in 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.

Bundled Goods

As you can see the kit features a lot of extras that can be very helpful when adding a water cooling kit to an existing PC. The tubing is a nice compromise between overall flow and lower bend radii. The Radbox comes in handy for users that don’t have the room inside a case to internally mount a 2 X 120mm radiator (Or for those users that don’t like the idea of cutting up a new high dollar case) and it offers better performance in most cases by getting the radiator out in the ambient room air rather than keeping it inside the case where in most cases (No pun intended) the rad will be acting as an exhaust.

I mention both of these things because they’re not typically in kits. Most kits offer either 5/16" or 3/8" or 1/2" I. D. tubing and none offer the radbox as it’s exclusive to Swiftech. Another addition that’s pretty much exclusive to the Apex kit is SmartCoils. SmartCoils are coiled plastic that resembles springs. In use you wind it around tubing that has a very tight bend radius to prevent that tubing from collapsing. I mention these because I’ve seen people talking about the price of this kit being higher than others but when you offset the fact that you’re getting extras for the price difference it still works out as added value.

After opening the box we see that Swiftech thoughtfully includes a rather sizable instruction manual to help the neophyte user with setting up his or her new water cooling system. The manual weighs in at a hefty 22 pages and includes everything from mounting the Radbox to configuring and bleeding your loop. Not only does the manual cover the basic set up the manual also covers additional water blocks for single and multi-CPU and single and multi-GPU setups. The manual covers configuration of every separate component of the water cooling system along with the configuration of the entire water cooling system as a whole. We also see the Swiftech thoughtfully includes a small funnel and a bottle of HydrX coolant additive.

In the included hardware we find a 5 V four pin to three pin adapter 12 V to 7 V resistive three pin adapters along with a PCI shield that is cut out to allow the fan wires to pass through for rear radiator mounting. Swiftech was also thoughtful enough to include grommets not only for passing the water tubing through but also a grommet for the PCI cut out so that the fan wires don’t chafe and eventually end up shorting out. Unfortunately despite what it appears you cannot pass the tubing through the PCI cut outs. Instead you have to cut a 7/8" hole in the rear of your case with a hole saw (not included) and pass the tubing through those holes.

Looking at the working parts of the Swiftech Apex Ultra kit I’m reminded that Swiftech not only cares about how well the product works but also about how well it looks. Both the Apogee and the MCW60 share of the diamond pin-fin configuration. In fact looking at the base of the MCW60 it appears that the MCW60 and the Apogee share the same base. It looks like the MCW60 just has the outer edges of the base machined down to allow the MCW60 to work as a GPU block. Personally, I feel that this is a good approach given that this allows the GPU block to exchange more heat.