The Swiftech H220 has actually caused quite a stir in the enthusiast community. It's the first time one of the big water cooling brands has released an 'all in one' unit. The thing is, this is actually more of a prebuilt kit rather than a sealed all in one because it can be expanded. This has some interesting positives, but we fear a lot of potentially negative points too. Still we are expecting this cooler to be the coolest thing we have ever tested and be the quietest too...... Right? Lets take a look at the specifications and then move swiftly (pun intended) on to the testing.
Intel i7 3930k
Stock@ 1.1v (undervolted)
4.0GHz @ 1.25v
4.4GHz @ 1.35v
4.6GHz @ 1.45v
Gigabyte X79 UD3
Corsair Vengeance LP Memory
Corsair HX850 V2
Corsair Force GT 60GB
Coolermaster Storm Trooper
So we have arranged our tests to gradually get more and more strenuous, with a 2011 system able to put out a huge amount of heat we needed a basic test for basic coolers. Most CPU's at stock don't need stock volts and many people don't realise this. We have managed to get our 3930K running at stock at just 1.1v. This is 100% stable and will be our initial baseline test.
We run all of our tests in the same way, only the fan speeds and the overclocks differ. We use OCCT in Linpack X64, AVX compatible with all logical cores tested and 90% free memory utilised. We have set the test up so its simply a click and run affair, there is a 10minute idle period for the system to settle followed by a 30minute torture test. We have allowed a 5 minute cool down to the end of the test to round the total test time to 45minutes.
We have set an upper limit of 80C as a maximum, OCCT has a feature that it will stop the test if temperatures exceed this limit. During testing we have noticed that it fails if one of the cores hits 82C. Never the less if the program halts the test we consider this a failed run. In all of the H220 tests both the pump and the fans were run @12v.
Moving on to the 4GHz test, this is at 1.25v which is pretty close to what boards run at when left on 'auto'. If you are a regular on our forums you'll know how many times we end up telling beginners auto DOES NOT mean stock when overclocking!!! This does make quite a large difference in temperatures though with over a 10c increasing being seen on most coolers over our stock test. This is a good comparison for a basic overclock.
Our 4.4GHz run has the volts increased again to 1.35v, this does put a lot of demand on the cooler and only good performing heatsinks should make it into this graph with decent temps. You can see the D14 and the H100 both dipping there toes into the 70C averages here showing that they are getting close to the limits of our acceptable maximum.
Finally our 4.6GHz test. Don't be fooled, this is an extreme test and the graph reflects this, you will only see the cream of the crop featured in this graph. The most surprising result here for us was that the H80i passed this test, quite the achievement considering both the 140mm units, the H100 and the NH-D14 all failed.
So normally people skip to the conclusion straight away, well give yourself a good slap and go back and look at the testing page or you wont know what we are going on about here will you! Go on.... I mean it.....
Right so let's make a start, because one of the big watercooling brands has waded into the battle of the AIO's all expecting great things, we were one of them. Its a mixed bag though because some things are good but to us there's a great deal wrong with this also.
We reviewed the older 'H' kit from Swiftech a while back where the pump was mounted in the radiator, how this design got past R&D we'll never know because it just the vibrations from the rad/pump combo were so bad we told everyone to avoid it like the plague.... Unless you were deaf and your case sits on the floor!
Thank lord this time the pump is in the CPU block just like the Apogee Drive II so we had high hopes this one would be quieter. Its not hard to be quieter than the old one but this is the loudest pump of all the AIO's we have tested. Sure you can run the pump from the motherboard and slow it down but all the advice we have ever given with these units is run the pump from a molex to ensure its getting a solid 12v. If you turn the pump down your temps will go up.
The fans that come with this even though we ran them at 12v were not over powering. We were very surprised how much air they moved compared to how much noise they made. Sure if we were to set this up ourselves for a 24/7 rig we would have it quieter but as there is no fan speed reducer in the kit to keep things fair we just ran them at 12v to see what the default scenario was.
Temperature results were not what we expected, we ran this with everything at 12v, compare that with the H100i also running at max and it beats the H220 every time. The Swiftech fans were quieter but the pump was considerably louder. Considering everyone shouting about the stronger pump and proper watercooling radiator the results are very surprising. It also firms up our thoughts on that you shouldn't even think of adding a GPU to this kit. You may well be happy with warmer temps and noisy fans, but we are not. Our standards are higher than that.
So now on to the bit people have been shouting about since this was first seen in Vegas.... expandability. You can indeed take it all apart, add a reservoir, add a GPU block and even add more rads (lets face it it will need it if you add a gpu). This though is where we are likely to take a much different view to pretty much everyone else. What's the point?
We honestly thing this is a step too far towards a custom kit, our advice would be this: buy an all in one unit for your cpu only OR buy an all out custom kit. If you were thinking about getting this and adding a gpu, res, extra rad you would honestly be better off going 100% custom. You can base it on the Apogee 2 if you like the CPU block & Pump idea but we would advise getting a decent block and using the Laing D5. If you go 100% custom you will end up with a better looking, better performing system.
So all in all it performs well at lower clocks but loses out when you really push things. The pump is noisy and the hose is so long it looks untidy. The whole expandability thing completely goes against what an 'all in one' unit is about and is more of a prebuilt water cooling kit. Our advise - buy the H100i or a proper watercooling kit.
Official pricing has now been released and SpecialTech have listed it as £106.99, this is significantly lower than expected and because of this as promised in the video we are changing the award to a Gold award.
Thanks to Swiftech for sending us the sample in, you can discuss your thoughts in the OC3D Forums.