Swiftech MCW50

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GPU Waterblock Test, including TEC version – Joe

SUMMARY: Very good choice for GPU cooling.

MCW50

Size: 2.0″ x 2.0″ x 1.22″ high (50.8 x 50.8 x 31.0 mm)

The good guys at Swiftech were nice enough to send an MCW50 GPU Waterblock to test.

Swiftech MCW50 features

  • Push fittings for 1/2″ OD tubing
  • Pin fin copper base
  • Mounting hardware for a wide range of GPUs, such as ATI ® Radeon ™ 9000 to 9800 and NVidia ® GForce ™ products
  • Designed to be used either in straight liquid cooling configuration or in conjunction with a thermoelectric (Peltier) cooling element

The base is typical Swiftech:

Base

Very flat – do not try lapping this as you will only make it worse.

Parts shipped with the MCW50 should be sufficient for just about any situation:

Parts

Overall, very good build quality.

THE TEST

The Swiftech MCW50 was tested using the CPU Die Simulator and Waterblock Test Rig.

WATERBLOCK TEST RESULTS

Test Conditions: Inlet Water Temp: 28.5 C; Mounting force: 15 pounds; Heat Load: 70 Watts.

Plot

Waterblock

C/W

Pressure Drop – psi

Pressure Drop – inches H2O

Swiftech MCW50

0.18

0.26

7.2

NOTE: These results are NOT comparable to tests done by others.
Unrounded data: 0.178 C/W with 0.0023 std dev.

Test Results indicate that the Swiftech MCW50’s pressure drop (or head loss) across the waterblock is very low; resistance such as this means that Swiftech MCW50 will perform nicely with moderate power waterpumps, especially if other components in the system are not overly restrictive.

I found that performance degraded by about 0.7ºC with at a flow rate of 0.5 gpm and improved by about 0.6ºC at 1.5 gpm – very “even” results.

For a comparison of the Swiftech MCW50’s performance to other waterblocks tested to date, see Overclockers.com Waterblock Test Results.

CONCLUSIONS

Swiftech’s MCW50 Waterblock is a fine choice for GPU cooling. As GPU waterblocks are usually fitted in series with a CPU waterblock, low flow resistance is particularly important for a GPU waterblock. Note that this waterblock is 1.22″ high, so plan accordingly.

Thanks again to Swiftech for sending this our way. The MCW50 is available from the Heatsink Factory.

The TEC version – CONTINUED page 2…

SUMMARY: Very good choice for aggressive GPU cooling, but only for experienced users.

MCW50-T

Size: 2.0″ x 2.0″ x 1.22″ high (50.8 x 50.8 x 31.0 mm)

The good guys at Swiftech were nice enough to send an MCW50-T GPU Waterblock to test.

Swiftech MCW50-T features

  • Push fittings for 1/2″ OD tubing
  • Pin fin copper base
  • Mounting hardware for a wide range of GPUs, such as ATI ® Radeon ™ 9000 to 9800 and NVidia ® GForce ™ products
  • 80 watt thermoelectric (TEC, or Peltier) cooling element
  • Foam insulation for condensation control

The TEC is fitted between the copper base and waterblock; the base is typical Swiftech:

Base

Very flat – do not try lapping this as you will only make it worse. Note that the foam skirt around the base is there to control condensation – this is covered in the accompanying instruction sheet. In addition there is a foam pad to place on the back of the video card.

Parts shipped with the MCW50-T should be sufficient for just about any situation:

Parts

Overall, very good build quality.

{mospagebreak}

Using a TEC

Effectively using a TEC involves more than simply slapping one on and running it. I strongly advise anyone interested in using this product to carefully read all the items HERE. In particular, Swiftech notes that:

  • “The combined amount of heat (TEC + GPU) added to the circuit by the MCW50-T is approximately 115 watts (392 BTU/hr).
  • The thermoeletric module pulls approximately 6A at 12 volts. When connecting the MCW50-T module to an existing power supply, users should verify their power supply current rating for the +12 volts line.
  • [The MCW50-T] will dissipate 53 Watts continuous thermal load to ambient temperature.”

As I tested this unit, I noted that the heat load was considerably higher and I had to cool much more aggressively than for a waterblock without a TEC (no surprise). I also tested with a separate 12 volt power supply – a practice I highly recommend when using a TEC in any system.

I also want to point out that the load you can place on any TEC is limited. If you exceed its capacity, you will find that the TEC will run wild; that is, temps will continue to increase in a destructive heat loop. A safe, conservative operating guidline is to not exceed 50% of the TEC’s rating – in this case, 40 watts. In this instance, once I went over 50 watts, I started to see temps continue to creep up. At 70 watts, it started to get scary.

THE TEST

The Swiftech MCW50-T was tested using the CPU Die Simulator and Waterblock Test Rig. In this case, I will not report a C/W as it has no meaning when using a TEC, but show the delta T I achieved at 40 and 50 watts.

WATERBLOCK TEST RESULTS

Test Conditions: Inlet Water Temp: 28.5 C; Mounting force: 15 pounds.

Waterblock @ watts, gpm

Die Temp Diff to Water

Swiftech MCW50-T @ 40 watts, 1 gpm

-8.1 C

Swiftech MCW50-T @ 50 watts, 1 gpm

1.6 C

Swiftech MCW50-T @ 50 watts, 1.5 gpm

-2.8 C

It was interesting to see the increase in performance by increasing waterflow through the waterblock; high efficiencies are key to extracting maximum performance.

CONCLUSIONS

Swiftech’s MCW50-T Waterblock is a fine choice for very aggressive GPU cooling, but I caution that TECs are tricky animals to tame. As GPU waterblocks are usually fitted in series with a CPU waterblock, in this case low flow resistance is VERY important; maximum performance may require a separate cooling loop.

Thanks again to Swiftech for sending this our way.

Email Joe

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