First Look: Swiftech MCW462-UT/MCW478-UT

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Nice kit for Pros — Joe

SUMMARY: One for the Pros.

Swiftech MCW462-UT/MCW478-UT

The good guys at Sidewinder Computers were nice enough to send along a sample of the Swiftech MCW462-UT/MCW478-UT. This is a waterblock featuring a 226 watt peltier – a REAL biggy! More on the consequences of bigness later.

The base

Base

is typical Swiftech – polished very flat. Note that the unit is the same for the P4 and Socket A – the only difference between the two models are the extension brackets which bolt onto the base for P4 use. In addition to the P4 adapters, parts include

Parts

spring loaded bolts and foam pads for insulating the CPU from moisture condensation. This is key: Protecting the CPU from moisture must be complete and thorough. Swiftech has instructions on what’s required – a good read before thinking of using a peltier of any kind.

Swiftech includes the following on their site:

“The MCW462 and MCW478-UT are intended for professionals, and/or knowledgeable users, in applications where the processor needs to be kept below ambient temperatures. Since these coolers are only part of an entire cooling solution, including pump, radiator, fans, etc… the temperature of the active cooling assembly will vary greatly depending on: thermal load, components used in the system, and external operating conditions. Swiftech cannot assess or anticipate performance results for individual users projects, and invites prospective users to consult with their Swiftech distributor or a qualified technician.”

I give very high marks to Swiftech for being up-front about who should consider this product and what it entails. Also note that the recommended power supply is a dedicated one of 320 watts. This, coupled with the cost for the block, can push total costs well over $200.

THE TEST

I decided to test it using a system PS, an Enermax 300; the output spec for 12 volts is 180 watts. A peltier’s optimum is at about 70-80% of its rated watts, so this was an OK approach. I went this route to give consumers an idea of how the system would perform using readily available components.

I used a P4 1.6A on a Gigabyte GA-8SRX. The waterblock was cooled with a Danner 1.5 waterpump and my salvage radiator. I had the following results:

P4 1.6A at 140 MHz, 1.75v: Idle 8C, Prime 95 25C, Water temp 37.3C

Idle temps were the same at any speed – no real surprise here. In booting up, I had the pump and radiator fan on a different circuit than the motherboard and peltier power supply. I first turned on the watercooling system, then the peltier, then booted up the system.

Under stress, I noticed a slow temperature climb of the water and CPU temps. This is a feedback loop – CPU temp increases, heat load increases, water temp increases, peltier cools less, CPU temp increases….

Every system will have a different equilibrium point depending on its components. The cooling requirement of this setup is such that only top notch, hefty gear is going to cut it.

CONCLUSIONS

Swiftech makes some great gear – first class construction – well made. The MCW462-UT/MCW478-UT is no exception. However, this IS NOT for novice users. Getting maximum use out of this unit requires careful planning and setup.

I am shipping this gear out to Hoot for a more thorough review – stay tuned! Anyone who is using this unit is welcome to contribute their experience with it.

Thanks again to Sidewinder Computers for sending this our way.

Email Joe

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