Swiftech H20-220 Edge Liquid Cooling Kit Review

Many of the members at the Overclockers.com forums who are watercooling experts will often advise you to stay away from water cooling ‘kits’ for a number of reasons. First, the price vs. performance ratios of most kits are poor compared to aftermarket air cooling, and sometimes such kits even perform worse than aftermarket air coolers. Other concerns are the closed loop and not having the ability to upgrade parts. Swiftech reckon they have changed that with its new “Edge” line of water cooling kits. Today we will be reviewing the Swiftech H20-220 Edge Liquid Cooling Kit which has kindly been provided by CrazyPC.com. The “Edge” line of water cooling kits comes in two flavors: the H20-220 with a radiator cooled by 2x 120 mm fans, and the H20-320 which comes with a radiator cooled by 3x 120 mm fans. Swiftech states on their website that “the H20-X20 “Edge” series liquid cooling kits represent a true revolution in the world of liquid cooling”.  Let’s see if Swiftech’s latest offering can overcome the concerns people may have about buying a water cooling kit!

Swiftech H20-220 Edge (Picture Courtesy of Swiftech)

Swiftech H20-220 Edge (Picture Courtesy of Swiftech)

System Specifications

  • Apogee XTL CPU water block
  • MCR220-DRIVE (Rev.2) – Dual 120 mm radiator, MCP35X pump assembly, 2 fans, fan guards
  • MCB-120 Radbox mounting hardware
  • 6 feet of 1/2″ ID tubing
  • Hydrx Coolant – 2 oz and funnel
  • Fillport hardware
  • Installation guide

    Pump Speed and Fan Specs (Picture Courtesy of Swiftech.com)

    Pump Speed and Fan Specs (Picture Courtesy of Swiftech.com)

    Delta Specifications (Picture Courtesy of Swiftech.com)

    Delta Specifications (Picture Courtesy of Swiftech.com)


Packaging, Contents, and Installation

As you can see from the pictures, the packaging from CrazyPC.com was great. The actual product packaging was in a larger box surrounded by packing peanuts. These peanuts will actually break down under water which is a nice environmentally friendly option, compared to the normal styrofoam packing.

Outside Packaging

Outside Packaging

Outside Packaging

Outside Packaging

Outside Packaging Filler

Outside Packaging Filler

Inner Box

Inner Box

Inner box (2)

Inner box

Inside the smaller package are the parts. Everything inside that box had was snugly fit into its own place.

Package Contents

Package Contents

Installation of the kit was straightforward. The kit comes with printed (not pictured) and video instructions for how to mount the kit. Both the paper and video instructions were quite detailed and will be a help to both novice installers and pros. The kit also comes with the Swiftech rad box (not pictured) so you have internal and external mounting options. Since I already have a PA120.2 mounted on the back of the Corsair Obsidian 800D, I chose to mount it inside up top using the longer screws that were provided. By default the kit comes with Intel CPU monting brackets for LGA socket 775, 1156, and 1366. If you wanted to put a Socket 754, 939, AM2, or AM3 under the Apogee XTL, you can select the relevant option when ordering from CrazyPC.com.

In my case I really had no choice but to fill this unit before I installed it. Some people might want to get the Dremel out and create a fill port through their case. The necessary grommets and cap and are included and the radiator has the side fill port. After one attempt with the supplied 1/2″ ID tubing, I realized with the plastic clamps on one side (but metal screw type clamps on the other), there was no way the tubing was going hold on the barbs with such a short curved run and so much tension on them. So I drained the radiator/reservoir combo and refilled it using my own 7/16″ ID tubing. One should always use clamps with a water cooling system to prevent leaks (do as I say, not as I do!). The unit looks good tucked up inside the 800D.

Swiftech Apogee XTL block

Swiftech Apogee XTL block

Fully installed

Fully installed

Fully installed, radiator

Fully installed, radiator

Top View, fans

Top view, fans

Results

The following system was used for testing (relevant parts):

  • Intel W3570 @ 3.3 GHz, 1.21 V / 4 GHz, 1.27 V / 4.4 GHz, 1.38 V
  • Supertalent 6 GB DDR3 2k @ 1600 MHz 7-7-7-24-1T
  • ATI X850xt (not a typo!)
  • Corsair Obsidian 800D (side panel on, case fans @ 100%)

Testing method

I used Prime95 Small FFT runs for 1 hour in order to make sure the loops are saturated and have hit their maximum temperature. I compared the kit being reviewed against my current setup which consisted of PA120.2 and MCR320 radiators with a MCP655 variable pump set to 3, EK Supreme HF (acetal top, default plate), and 120 mm Yate Loon High fans at 1000 RPM on both radiators. Please note (if you haven’t already) that this is not intended to be a direct apples-to-apples comparison between the other cooling systems as they are all so different. I ran the Swiftech kits fans at ca. 1,200 RPM which is the lowest I could get them to run without them stopping (on my fan controller). The MCP35X pump on the Swiftech Edge kit was run at 40% throughout the testing. I used these datasets just to give readers an idea of what a much more expensive custom loop would provide vs. stock air (i.e. to inform people who would likely be purchasing this unit) vs. this Swiftech kit. Ambient temperatures were up to 2 °C lower when testing the Swiftech edge kit.

This article by Skinee Labs states: “… simply using processor temperature minus ambient temperature is not adequate for Intel’s 65 nm Core 2 processors. However, I have found that ambient and core temps scale perfectly fine (1:1) with i7.With that in mind, the temperature results shown for the H20 220 Edge kit were normalized to 25 °C ambient temperature since it was a bit different than the other tests.

CPU Temperatures 3.3 GHz

CPU Temperatures at 3.3 GHz

Looking at the first graph you can see even at stock speeds and voltage, the stock air cooler doesn’t stand a chance against the Swiftech Edge or a custom loop. Temperatures for the Edge were only a few degrees Celsius more than a much more expensive custom loop with more radiators, which is not bad at all.

CPU Temperatures 3.9 GHz* (See comment on graph)

CPU Temperatures 3.9 GHz* (See comment on graph)

Stepping up to a 3.9 GHz clock speed and 1.27 V VCore, the H20-220 Edge is still holding up quite well with plenty left over to keep pushing. Sadly, the stock air cooler could not handle 3.9 GHz under load and was clocked down to 3.6 GHz to keep temperatures to an acceptable level.

CPU Temperatures 4.4 GHz

CPU Temperatures 4.4 GHz

Last up is the 4.4 GHz clock speed. The custom loop still pulls ahead as it has significantly more radiator surface area and hence the ability to dissipate more heat. Still, this is a great showing for a water cooling ‘kit’ at these speeds and voltages. If the stock air cooler couldn’t make it at 3.9 GHz, it certainly can’t make it at 4.4 GHz so it’s not pictured at all here.

Conclusion

As one can see from the results above, this isn’t your typical water cooling kit that most knowledgeable forum members would tell you to stay away from. This is essentially a kit with custom loop performance with ease of installation in mind. Swiftech has combined the pump and reservoir on the 2x 120 mm radiator making installation a snap. The ability to control the pump speed via 4 pin PWM headers as well as the 3 pin fans on the motherboard is a great feature that saves you buying a fan controller. This unit can run silent, or you can crank it up for performance when benchmarking. With 40% pump and 1,200RPM on the fans the pump was audible, but not loud by any means. At 100% you could easily hear the pump over anything in my case (which, for the record, was made for quiet operation). The fans at 1200RPM were nearly silent compared to the pump.

With this not being a closed loop like many others out there, one has the ability to add other parts as needed such as another radiator and a VGA block. The pump can certainly handle it. One could also change out water blocks when new sockets arrive in the future. You will not be able to do that with closed loop offerings like the Corsair H50/H70 (Editor’s note: muddocktor has tested both the H50 and H70. The former does not perform as well as high-end air coolers, whereas the latter is about on par).

I had minor issues with this unit with the thick 1/2″ ID and 3/4″ OD tubing that was included. The kit came with one set of metal adjustable clamps that worked very well, but the other side only used the plastic clamps. I strongly prefer metal screw type clips over plastic. As you can see, I had some relatively tight turns with my mounting orientation which put a lot of tension on the tubing and started to pull them off the barbs. Even after using pliers to tighten the plastic clamps down I was still a bit nervous about them sliding off. To prevent that I switched to my own 7/16″ ID  tubing which allowed me to make those tight turns and put less tension on the tubing so it held snug on its own (again, please use clamps for long-term use!) on the barbs. The other concern I had was with the noise levels: as I mentioned above, the pump was the loudest item in the kit even at 40% speed. Obviously one man’s loud is another man’s whisper, but just take note the pump at its tested speeds was certainly audible.

Overall this is an impressive kit. The performance should be right up there with a custom loop with a similar sized radiator and fans with similar CFM due to the quality block it uses.  This kit obliterates stock air cooling performance-wise and was actually was within a few degrees of my custom loop which has a lot more radiator surface area and cost nearly twice as much. The Swiftech H20-220 Edge is a good buy at $248.99 at CrazyPC.com to get you diving headfirst into custom water cooling with the ease of a kit for installation. The Edge has the flexibility to upgrade to future blocks for upcoming sockets, great performance for a single heavily overclocked CPU, quiet operation with the pump at 13% (where its PWM curve starts to climb) and fans on low, the ability to crank it up for some benching sessions when every degree Celsius counts, and expandability to put more into the loop (radiator/VGA block) when you are ready. The Swiftech H20-320 Edge ought to perform even better, with a 3x 120 mm radiator and the same quality parts.

Thank you again to CrazyPC.com for providing the review sample.

-Earthdog

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Discussion
  1. m0r7if3r
    yea, the watercooling community is pretty tight-knit, Eddy (the guy who runs EK) posts over at XS and gabe is super regular over there...skinnee of skinneelabs posts here a bit and at XS a lot...there's a whole bunch of people who're active in the community, staying down in the trenches.


    thats pretty awesome, i will have to head over to xs at some point. I am actually considering buying this to play around with watercooling. I am still researching my own loop, but this seems to be pretty effective for the priceand easy to wortk with hehe
    Vortaku
    Wow, it is pretty cool that the ceo posts here.


    yea, the watercooling community is pretty tight-knit, Eddy (the guy who runs EK) posts over at XS and gabe is super regular over there...skinnee of skinneelabs posts here a bit and at XS a lot...there's a whole bunch of people who're active in the community, staying down in the trenches.
    grouchon
    Was just curious if he was still involved here. Joe and I date back 10 years.


    Hey Gabe, Joe is good last I talked with him. His contact info is the same and I can hook you up if you want to see what he's up to lately. He or his business partner post under the JoeC account regularly also.

    Shoot me a PM if you like, and we can also arrange doing a spotlight article on swifttech perhaps.
    grouchon
    @m0r7if3r;6691616 : not sure what you mean by "the pin structure is only half of the block". Do you mean compared to the XT? If so, you are incorrect. The base plate and pin bed for the XT and XTL are exactly the same. So there is no performance difference whatsoever.


    I know you hit on this already, but I wanted to just point out that con hit it on the head, I was talking about the top of the block as being the other half. Thanks for clarifying that though. So, I've got an off topic question: any chance we could get a shot of the internals of the new 580 block you guys are doing for EVGA? Good to see you around here, I've read a ton of your testing over at XS and know how much you do for the community!
    grouchon
    Hi Guys, this is Gabe, CEO at Swiftech.

    @m0r7if3r;6691616 : not sure what you mean by "the pin structure is only half of the block". Do you mean compared to the XT? If so, you are incorrect. The base plate and pin bed for the XT and XTL are exactly the same. So there is no performance difference whatsoever.

    @ EarthDog: Excellent article - I note that you find the pump noise somewhat high at 40%.. did you try it at lower speed?
    Great to see you taking an interest, Gabe! I think he was talking about the shape/size of the "nozzle" in the XTL maybe being different than the cone-shaped nozzle in the XL since it's a different top.

    I, too, am a devoted Swiftech fan but having older rigs, they're older products: several Storms, an MCW-60, 3x655's, a 355, and even an Apogee Drive. The two MCP-655's I bought in May '06 have been running 24/7 crunching SETI since that time without a hitch - over 35,000 hours now and still quiet as a mouse at P3.5. :thup:
    EarthDog
    Yeah that 1300RPM I believe is the minimum and you cant hear it run at all really, especially over case fans, even quiet ones.

    Joe C posts here and there, but I cant say I know him at all outside of his TIM test threads which several members including myself participated in. Best to ask our current active admin, I.M.O.G on that one.

    Again, thanks for chiming in over here on the review, quite a solid product!


    Was just curious if he was still involved here. Joe and I date back 10 years.
    Yeah that 1300RPM I believe is the minimum and you cant hear it run at all really, especially over case fans, even quiet ones.

    Joe C posts here and there, but I cant say I know him at all outside of his TIM test threads which several members including myself participated in. Best to ask our current active admin, I.M.O.G on that one.

    Again, thanks for chiming in over here on the review, quite a solid product!
    Conumdrum
    Hi Gabe, good to cya here once and a while.

    I think Mor means the bottom half is half. He's meaning I think the design of the top is the other half.

    The top is the same flow design etc as the metal top, just doesn't have the movable hole right?


    correct. I quote from the product description:

    "The Apogee™ XTL is a budget friendly version on the Apogee™ XT. It differs from the XT as follows:

    The housing is made of Delrin instead of chrome plated brass;

    The absence of the reversible inlet/outlet top plate which allows use of extra large compression fittings.

    All other features, including but not limited to retention mechanism, optional hold-down plates, dimensions, performance and flow characteristics are identical to the Apogee™ XT.

    "

    EarthDog
    Hey Gabe! Thanks for the Kudos. You guys really did put together a great product here.

    At the base 13% (its minimum I believe) the pump is silent and performance still solid beating out stock air by far. I found the 40% area to be completely acceptable, especially for the performance it yields there. Its only audible :). At 100% its louder than anything I have in my case at its 24/7 speeds (3 120mm Yate Loon High's @ 1k RPM). But its not like a video card fan or something of that sort. And my setup was more or less made for silence so its not a feat to be louder than 3 YLHighs @ 1k and a couple of Corsair 140MM fans at 800RPM. ;)

    Gabe, om reference to M0r7's statement I recall seeing a blurb, and hopefully this was about this block, about if you use the different top there may be an almost negligable 1-2C difference just b/c of where the inlet is located over the pins???? Maybe it was skinee labs? Im not sure, and not confident it was even with that block to be honest.


    I use mine at 1300 rpm, with GTyphoons at 900rpm, also built for silence (Ci7 980X @ 4.5Ghz + 2 x GTX295's, about to be replaced by 2 x FirePro's V5800).

    XT performance: yes, the topic was about perf difference when rotating the inlet plate 180D. Penalty was less than 1C.

    Forgot to ask, how is Joe C ?
    Gabe, thanks for dropping in and visiting with us. :thup: We really appreciate it when companies such as yours visit our little forums and answer questions for their customers. And on a personal note, I have been a Swiftech product user since the original MC462 days and I've always found that you turn out some very well engineered product. I presently own and use an Apogee XT, GTZ, MCP355 (2 of them) and have an Apogee Drive sitting in a box, waiting to be used in a future build with an XSPC res.
    Hey Gabe! Thanks for the Kudos. You guys really did put together a great product here.

    At the base 13% (its minimum I believe) the pump is silent and performance still solid beating out stock air by far. I found the 40% area to be completely acceptable, especially for the performance it yields there. Its only audible :). At 100% its louder than anything I have in my case at its 24/7 speeds (3 120mm Yate Loon High's @ 1k RPM). But its not like a video card fan or something of that sort. And my setup was more or less made for silence so its not a feat to be louder than 3 YLHighs @ 1k and a couple of Corsair 140MM fans at 800RPM. ;)

    Gabe, om reference to M0r7's statement I recall seeing a blurb, and hopefully this was about this block, about if you use the different top there may be an almost negligable 1-2C difference just b/c of where the inlet is located over the pins???? Maybe it was skinee labs? Im not sure, and not confident it was even with that block to be honest.
    Hi Gabe, good to cya here once and a while.

    I think Mor means the bottom half is half. He's meaning I think the design of the top is the other half.

    The top is the same flow design etc as the metal top, just doesn't have the movable hole right?
    m0r7if3r
    the difference is the reversable outlet methinks...so that you CAN use 3/4"od compressions without a 45deg if you want (I think...don't quote me). The pin structure, however, is only half of the block. The other half of the block is the nozzle which pushes the water into the pins and generates the turbulence in the flow. If that is different performance will almost certainly be different since it's an impingement block.


    Hi Guys, this is Gabe, CEO at Swiftech.

    @m0r7if3r;6691616 : not sure what you mean by "the pin structure is only half of the block". Do you mean compared to the XT? If so, you are incorrect. The base plate and pin bed for the XT and XTL are exactly the same. So there is no performance difference whatsoever.

    @ EarthDog: Excellent article - I note that you find the pump noise somewhat high at 40%.. did you try it at lower speed?
    Thats the one thing I didnt do was go push/pull, but like most rads, there will be some improvement with a push/pull setup and/or the fans cranked. What exactly that is, I do not know though.

    I also thought PUSH is better in most cases, however a smart little birdie (mattno5ss) told me to check out a link from skinee labs. Its in the article I believe (or did I remove it, I dont recall).

    Mattno5ss if you have the time can you dig that link up and post it here?

    Thanks Hokie on the "first" switch. It just doesnt look or sound right. And apparently its more apprpriate if there is a secondly as the 'format' should remain the same.
    Great review and looks like water cooling might get more mainstream because of this, but I'm wondering would it get better performance if the fans were on the other side? It looks like the fans are pulling air but nothing is pushing cool air on the heatsink. Do you happen to have push/pull on this kit :clap: Would really wonder what temps you could get if you really pushed this radiators cooling to the max.
    hokiedood
    Do you guys really think this audience cares how it compares to STOCK air? Why this site and other sites don't compare water coolers against the top heatsink w/ fans baffles me. :bang head


    In addition to all of the other replies (which are spot on), this was IMHO even better than comparing to an air cooler. It was compared to a very strong (and expensive) custom water loop, against which it performed admirably. Do you really need the top air comparison considering how it did against that loop? :shrug:

    Excellent write-up as usual EarthDog!

    Also fixed the first/firstly thing for you. :)
    EarthDog
    That is correct, and I dont see it for sale on its own, but there really is no difference as far as performance goes between the two I wouldnt imagine. I *think* about the only difference its the XT can use compression fittings with its native top. Correct me if I am wrong?

    Its still the same micro-pin structure.


    the difference is the reversable outlet methinks...so that you CAN use 3/4"od compressions without a 45deg if you want (I think...don't quote me). The pin structure, however, is only half of the block. The other half of the block is the nozzle which pushes the water into the pins and generates the turbulence in the flow. If that is different performance will almost certainly be different since it's an impingement block.