During our recent trip to CES in Las Vegas, we had a great meeting with the guys from Swiftech. They had several items on display for us to look over, but their main reason for being at CES was to introduce the new H220 all-in-one water cooling system. You probably noticed the introduction to this cooler that was published on this website right after the conclusion of CES; and as promised by I.M.O.G., we’re going to have a good look at this latest offering from Swiftech. There’s little doubt all-in-one water cooling solutions are becoming increasingly popular among computer enthusiasts, and the competition is fierce. So, what makes the Swiftech H220 stand out against the plethora of other manufacturers’ offerings? Actually, there are a number of things that we’ll explore!
As you look at the specifications table below, it doesn’t take long to notice things the Swiftech H220 offers that most other all-in-one water cooling solutions don’t. Your eyes are not playing tricks on you; this unit indeed has a G1/4 fill port and 3/8″ ID tubing that is removable; and it comes completely PWM capable (fans and pump). The pump draws six watts of power, which is said to be about five times more than similar all-in-one water coolers. Swiftech identified a large gap between the current low cost, re-branded Asetek/CoolIT units offered by many different companies and the high cost of building a custom water cooling system. The H220 All-In-One LCS is Swiftech’s answer to filling that gap.
|Specifications Provided by Swiftech|
|Material||Brass Tubes, Copper Fins|
|Body Dimensions||269mm x 127m x 29mm|
|Dimensions||120mm x 120mm x 25mm|
|Speed||PWM adjustable 800 ~ 1800 RPM|
|Airflow||24 ~ 55 CFM|
|Static Pressure||0.53 ~ 2.29 mmH2O|
|Noise Level||<16 ~ <33 dB/A|
|Speed||PWM adjustable 1200 ~ 3000 RPM|
|Flow Rate||Approx 1 GPM|
|MTBF||60,000 Hours (independent lab certification)|
|Dimensions||5/8″ x 3/8″ (16/10 mm)|
Swiftech was nice enough to send along a set of engineering drawings to help illustrate the layout of of the H220’s radiator. This should help determine if there are any potential fitment issues in your individual application.
I was given this unit for review during our visit with Swiftech at CES Las Vegas. The box the unit came in was void of any pretty graphics, but Swiftech was quick to point out this won’t be the case once the unit is available for the general public to purchase. So, for now the look and design of the packaging will remain a mystery, but I expect the box size and contents to remain identical to what I was given.
Inside the box, you’ll find the H220 well protected with form fitted cardboard on the top and bottom of the unit. The user manual is on top, and the accessories/mounting hardware below. Worth noting here is the detailed installation instructions found in the user manual. It’s refreshing to see instructions that actually make sense and are well written. Nice job!
Once unwrapped, we get a better look at the H220 and the features that set this unit apart from the competition. The first thing I noticed was the use of 3/8″ ID tubing, as most other AIO units use 1/4″. The 240 mm radiator is outfitted with two 120X25 mm fans that operate at a PWM adjustable 800 ~ 1800 RPM. Both fans have a 4-pin power connector, and the wires have been nicely braided.
The radiator is 29 mm thick and features a built-in reservoir with the accompanying G1/4 fill port. Say goodbye to factory sealed units, thank goodness! Having the fill port does not mean you have to fill the unit before using it. As Swiftech described in their press release, “The H220 will ship to consumers already pre-filled for plug-and-play operation.” Another fantastic idea Swiftech put forth was positioning the water channels of the radiator away from the mounting holes. What this does is prevent puncturing of the water channels, should you accidentally use mounting screws that are too long. The worst thing that can happen now is that you bend an aluminum fin or two.
As I mentioned earlier, the tubing is held in place with clamps and can easily be removed to expand the the system. All of the fittings attached to the radiator and pump are swivel type fittings, designed in-house by Swiftech. Go ahead, add additional radiators and cooling blocks at will!
Swiftech designed their own pump for the H220, but did use an impeller with a similar design to the popular Laing pump. The pump top is outfitted with a grill looking design and the Swiftech logo has been applied to one corner. The power cable also features a 4-pin PWM connector, and the wires are again nicely braided. The pump runs at 1200 ~ 3000 RPM, uses a maximum of 6 watts, and carries a 60,000 MTBF (independent lab verified). The copper block portion is highly polished and displays a mirror like finish.
Inside the H220
Swiftech made a big push to make the pump as quiet as possible; and from my point of view, they succeeded. In order to accomplish the desired sound level, Swiftech injected the pump with epoxy at certain locations. The suspense was killing me, so I just had to take a look inside.
First up was to remove the hoses and drain the system. It’s hard to say exactly what was used for the fluid. In the spirit of full disclosure, the sample unit we were given was hand filled in Las Vegas and will not be identical to what is in the final retail product. Whatever the final fluid decision that’s made by Swiftech is, we were told it will be a 90/10 mixture of some sort.
The hose fittings and clamps are completely plastic, except for the screws that pinch the clamps together.
Next, I removed the eight screws that hold the copper block in place. The copper block is designed almost identical to what is found on Swiftech’s high-end Apogee XT CPU water block. I most definitely like what I see here! You can also see by the last picture below how the pump injects the water into the block right at the center point.
Swiftech described the impeller design as being similar to what is found in the most popular Laing pumps. Our senior forum member, Dejo, was kind enough to provide a picture of a dead Laing 350 series pump to compare against. We don’t have a complete view of it, but I think we can see enough of it in the second picture below to confirm it is very similar to the impeller in the H220.
As mentioned earlier, epoxy was used to lessen the noise level of the pump. The last picture below shows the portion of the pump that has been coated with epoxy.
The accessory pack included with the H220 has everything you need to install the unit on any current platform. The AMD mounting brackets utilize the existing back plate on the motherboard, while the Intel socket 775/1155/1156/1366 installations require using the included back plate. Special bolts required to install the H220 on a socket 2011 platform are also included in the kit. On the left side of the picture below you can see an 8-port PWM fan block. By using this block you can control both fans and the pump with the PWM function of your motherboard’s BIOS or from the desktop, using software. Swiftech says to install the pump power lead to the connector with the red cap (CH 1), and all the rest can be populated with any fans you choose. If installed as Swiftech recommends, the RPM reading you see will be from the pump.
The first thing you need to make sure of is that your case has a dual 120 mm fan opening for mounting the radiator portion of the H220. Under the top deck, at the bottom, or in the front area will work fine as long as you have the necessary clearance. Because the tubing is removable and replaceable, I suppose you could mount the radiator external of the case as well. Suffice to say, because of the H220 design, you have lots of options at your disposal.
Because the Intel mounting brackets are permanently attached to the unit, in order to install the AMD brackets, you will need to remove the four Intel hold down screws. You simply remove the washers from the Intel hold down screws, then remove the screw and spring. Once the Intel hold down screws are removed, you attach the AMD brackets using the four included mounting screws. Now all you have to do is align it with the stock AMD back plate and tighten it down. A very simple and no-brainer approach that takes only a few minutes to accomplish. I snagged the last picture below from the Fractal Design Define R4 case review I recently published, so you can see it installed on an AMD platform.
Other than the Intel socket 2011, all other Intel platforms require using the back plate included in the kit. Here are a couple of pictures with the Intel 775/1155/1156/1366 mounting screws attached and the required back plate. The back plate has four small adhesive pads and a thin plastic plate to prevent any potential grounding/shorting issues. You can leave the “peel off” strips on the adhesive pads if you prefer a less permanent method of attaching the back plate.
Our testing method requires using an Intel 3770K CPU, so I’ll be installing the H220 on an ASUS Z77 Maximus V Formula. With any luck, regardless of the Intel socket you install the H220 on, you should end up with something that looks similar to the below pictures.
- ASUS Maximus V Formula Motherboard (Overclockers Approved!)
- Intel i7 3770K CPU (Overclockers Approved!)
- G.Skill F3-2400C10D-16GTX TridentX 2X8 Gb DDR3 2400 Mhz Kit
- Sapphire HD 7770 Video Card (Overclockers Approved!)
- Kingston HyperX 3K SSD 240 Gb SSD (Overclockers Approved!)
- Corsair HX1050 PSU
- Swiftech H220 AIO LCS
- Thermaltake Water 2.0 Extreme AIO Water Cooler
- Corsair H100i AIO Water Cooler
- Cooler Master Seidon 240M AIO Water Cooler (Overclockers Approved)
- Noctua NH-D14 Air Cooler
For comparison data, I recruited the help of BMWBAXTER to provide data on the Noctua NH-D14 and the Corsair H100i. We did our best to ensure testing was performed at identical voltages across the board, including VID, memory, and all the rest that we could match up. Undoubtedly, there will be subtle differences when using two different CPUs for data collection. I think we got both CPUs dialed in almost exactly the same; and we felt it important to bring additional comparison data to the table, even though there might be minor variations. We also both used CoreTemp to monitor temperatures. Thanks for the help Benjamin!
We tested all the comparison coolers a few different ways. Each cooler was tested with the CPU at idle and 100% load. These test were performed with the motherboard at its stock settings, except for adjusting the memory speed and timings to meet manufacturers’ specifications. Then, the tests were run again with the CPU voltage set to 1.3 V and overclocked to 4.5 GHz.
The above settings were run twice: once with the motherboard handling the fan speed through it’s PWM function, and again with the fans running at 100% constantly.
All testing was done in a room at 74 °F (25 °C) and we chose Arctic Silver Ceramique 2 as the thermal interface material. Each comparison cooler was used with the fan that came packaged with it. For the load testing, LinX stress test was run for 10 passes and the average temperature of all cores was recorded. For the idle results, I let the system sit idle for 30 minutes and again recorded the average temperature reading from all cores.
Before we dive into the test results, a word or two about the noise level of the H220 is in order. While Swiftech wanted to provide a AIO water cooler that offered both expandability and great performance, they felt it was just as important to accomplish those goals while keeping noise levels low. I can tell you after spending several hours with the H220, they did a great job in this area. The pump is extremely quiet when it’s being controlled via PWM. Even when the pump runs at full speed, it still maintains a more than acceptable noise level. Keep in mind, I had the H220 on an open air bench station, so if it was loud I’d know it! Once you have it all installed and buttoned up in a traditional chassis, I doubt you would even hear the pump at all. As far as the fans go, they are almost inaudible at lower speeds. When ramped up to 100% speed, they do make some noise; but nothing I’d call annoying or overbearing by any means.
With the CPU at its stock settings and the motherboard’s PWM control handling the fans, we only see a 2° C difference between all the sample coolers when under load. However, at idle we see a larger difference. The H220 beat everything in the list at idle and matched the Cosair H100i under load.
With the CPU still at its stock speed, the fans were ramped up to 100%. Here we see the Swiftech H220 taking the lead on all fronts. What makes this even more impressive is that the H220 has the lowest maximum fan speed of all the comparison AIO coolers. In fact, the Corsair H100i’s fans run 900 RPM faster at 100% speed (1800 RPM vs. 2700 RPM).
Moving along to the overclocked results, here we see the performance gap begin to widen a little. With the fans being controlled by the PWM function, the Swiftech H220 again leads the pack.
Setting the fans to 100% speed and leaving the CPU in its overclocked state, the Swiftech H220 leads the way at idle; but is equaled by the Corsair H100i when under load. The higher speed and CFM fans of the Corsair H100i obviously make their presence known in this test. It makes me wonder how the H220 would do with a set of monster fans on it, or even with a push pull setup….Hmmm. It would certainly be easy enough to do!
There certainly isn’t much to complain about with the above results. Excellent performance with low noise – nice!
Simply put, what we have here is a game changer in the all-in-one water cooling segment. No longer are we throttled by the regurgitation of re-badged Asetek/CoolIT units. The upgrade path the H220 offers is something that should pique the interest of those looking to enter the water cooling world for the first time and those who are more seasoned. If you want to add an additional radiator to your loop or put your video card(s) under water, rest assured the H220 pump can handle the task. We actually saw this scenario working extremely well during our visit with Swiftech at this year’s CES show.
The unit simply screams quality, top to bottom. I love the fact Swiftech implemented a copper block design akin to their most prominent stand alone CPU water blocks. They also managed to make the H220 acoustically pleasing, especially when you control both the fans and pump via PWM. Having the ability to drain and refill the system is another added bonus, especially for those of you who are diligent about cleaning or have a favorite liquid you like to use. Another thing I really like is the increased inside diameter tubing size when compared to most other AIO units (3/8″ vs 1/4″). And, of course, if you don’t like the color of the stock tubing or need to expand it, it’s easily replaced. The list of innovations just goes on and on!
With a suggested retail price of $139.99 (according to Swiftech), the H220 is an absolute bargain. Unfortunately, for those of you chomping at the bit to grab one of these, you have to wait a little longer as it’s scheduled for a late February 2013 release.
Innovation, great performance, expandability, acoustically pleasing, and affordable. Most definitely, Overclockers approved!
-Dino DeCesari (Lvcoyote)