Battle of the Water Cooling Kits
Published: 19th June 2006 | Source: Alphacool | Price: |Packaging & Manual
When the Swiftech kit arrived I was rather shocked by the size of the box. I couldn't believe that Swiftec could fit all of the components specified in such a small space. I was almost certain that they had forgotten to include the radiator or something essential to that effect. The Swiftech package is actually half the size of Alphacool's offering!
The packing material is minimalist, with most components being protected by bubble wrap. This could cause a problem if a courier handled the box roughly, but I'm glad to say that my kit arrived in perfect condition.
Another reason why this kit was so easy to fit into a small box is that it doesn't come with the necessary fluid to fill your water-cooling loop, only some anti-algae/corrosion coolant, which needs to be mixed with de-ionised water.
"The Apex Ultra liquid cooling kit is the first kit in the industry to offer truly extreme dual use: maximum performance and minimum noise in the same package. Thanks to the new Apogee water-block, it benefits from a superior thermal performance and very low restriction characteristics. This makes the Apex Ultra a true high-flow system, capable of cooling multiple high-end CPU's and VGA's with optimum thermal performance and low noise..".
- Swiftech MCR220 Dual 120mm Radiator.
- 2x 120mm Fans + Fan Guards.
- MCB120 Radbox + mounting hardware for mounting radiator externally.
- 2x 12v to 7v fan adapters for reducing fan speed/noise.
- 2x 12v to 5v fan adapters for reducing fan speed/noise.
- Swiftech MCP655 12v Pump + mounting hardware & hose clamps.
- Swiftech MCRES-Micro + mounting hardware & hose clamps.
- 8ft 7/16" flexible PVC tubing.
- 2oz bottle of HydrX concentrated coolant.
- Syringe of Arctic Ceramique compound.
- Swiftech Smartcoils 625 to reduce hose kinking.
Water Block & Accessories
Swiftech are renowned among the water-cooling crowed for their water blocks. Their Storm G4 and Apogee blocks are some of the best blocks on the market at the present time, and no expense is spared during the construction process.
Included in the box is all the necessary hardware for mounting the block on pretty much every socket imaginable as listed below:
- Socket 478 (Intel® Pentium® 4),
- Socket 775 (Pentium® 4 "Prescott"),
- Socket 603/604 (Intel® XeonTM - 400 and 533 FSB)
- Socket 462 (AMD® Athlon®, Duron®, MP, XP)
- Socket 754, 939, 940 (AMD® 64 bit processors)
- Socket AM2 (AMD® 64 bit processors)
The Apogee is a high-flow block as it does not employ any kind of jet impingement design. Instead water passes through a diamond pin matrix cut into the centre of the block. The Apogee is based on Swiftech's older MCW6000 block and has been tweaked for much improved performance, which many would argue is near to (if not better than) that of the Swiftech Storm G4 block.
You may notice that the Apogee doesn't have a mirrored surface like the Alphacool NexXxos block, however I must say that the surface of the Apogee is flawless, and appears very flat.
It's good to see that Swiftech have included a funnel for filling your water loop, as it can be very hard to get the water inside the reservoir without spilling it everywhere (I speak from experience!).
Most of the accessory pack is pretty standard, with hose clamps, sticky mounting pads and fan screws. Also included is a Radbox and PCI bracket which allows you to mount the radiator outside of the case providing your case has a 120mm fan hole at the rear.
One thing that impressed me was the inclusion of some fan extension cables that reduce the fan voltage. By using these extension cables, you can reduce your radiator fans down to 7v or 5v for near silent or totally silent operation. I was slightly confused why Swiftech didn't include a fan rheobus on the on the PCI bracket as this would have allowed users to dynamically adjust the fan speed to suit the situation - but a good idea never less.
Pump & Reservoir
Swiftech are big fans of the Laing pumps, having relabelled both the D4 and D5 models under their own name. This is no surprise really, as the Laing Ecocirc pumps are quite possibly the best performing 12v pumps available - and in comparison with other 12v pumps on the market are also remarkably quiet.
The following specifications have been taken directly from Laing's website:
- Nominal voltage: 12 V DC
- Operating voltage range: 8 to 24 VDC
- Nominal power (@ 12 V): 24 W
- Nominal current (@ 12 V): 2 amps
- Motor type: Brushless, microprocessor controlled
- Maximum head: 10 ft (3.1 m)
- Maximum discharge: ~ 317 GPH (1200 LPH)
- Connection size: ½" barbs
- Maximum pressure: 50 PSI (3.5 BAR)
- Temperature range: 32 °F to 140°F (0 °C to 60 °C)
The Swiftec MCRES-Micro reservoir is different in many ways to its 'BayRes' counterparts. Rather than being mounted in a 5¼" or 3½"drive bay, the MCRES can be mounted in a multitude of locations. Using screws or the included velcro pads, the reservoir is often mounted on the side of drive bays which can be seen here.
Radiator & Fans
Probably the hardest part about installing a water-cooling system is finding a place to install the radiator. Normally you would be forced to sacrafice some drive bays or hard disk cages in order to fit the radiator inside your case. Swiftech have come up with a solution to this problem by allowing the radiator to be installed outside of the PC, and affixed to the case using what they call a Radbox.
The included 120mm fans are Delta WFB1212M's, which push a hefty 86.5cfm at 34dBA when running at 12v. These fans could prove to be too loud for some people, so it's a good job that Swiftech included some extension cables to reduce the fan voltage down to either 7v or 5v.
A nice touch by Swiftech was to include fan grills on the side of the radiator without fans. This may seem strange at first, but it has been done in order to prevent any damage to the radiator fins when it is installed outside of the case.