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Swiftech H20-8500: In an attempt to make water cooling more accessable to the masses, Swiftech created an easy to install kit that is made up of their latest products. Will performance be equal to the sum of its parts?

Date: September 3, 2003
Written By:

When it comes to air cooling, is one company that ranks right up there as creating some of the best performing CPU coolers. They're also well regarded for their excellent build quality, as well as being extremely innovative in their designs. Whether you're into serious overclocking, or quiet cooling, Swiftech probably has a product for you.

When it comes to water cooling, they aren't slouches in this department either. Their R&D, and quality control meant the same high standards they put into their air cooling were also put into their water cooling products. Swiftech water blocks were very popular among enthusiasts, and their Q-Power Barebones kit was well received with both enthusiasts, and for first timers getting into liquid cooling.

Not one to rest on their laurels, Swiftech has released several new water cooling products, all improving upon past individual products. Today, we're going to look at the summation of their products, packaged as an all-in-one solution for liquid cooling. Before we get started with the , let's take a look at what Swiftech have to say about it...

The H20-8500™ liquid cooling kits are designed to bring the efficiency, and quiet operations of liquid cooling to confined environments with little or no case modifications required. The kits are ideally suited for mid-tower cases, featuring at least one 80mm fan exhaust opening.

Just as their description says, one of the appeals of liquid cooling is that you can do away with the high speed fans normally used on CPU heatsinks. As most enthusiasts will tell you, it's these fans that contribute to most of the noise in their PCs. Although case fans themselves are not usually that loud, 3-5 case fans will raise the PC to above ambient room noise. I have yet to see an acceptable "noiseless" air solution, as even silent fans (which usually spin at lower RPMs) may not be ideal for an overclocked processor.

Another added benefit of liquid cooling is that, with the conjunction of a good radiator, it simply cools better than air (in most cases). We don't usually get terribly excited about air coolers around here because I feel air cooling has pretty much reached its limits. Heatsinks are getting bigger, and a few companies are trying tricks with smaller coolers to improve performance, but the reality is that most decent heatsinks will perform within 2-5C of each other. You'll also have to keep in mind that for most heatsinks, you'll need a fast spinning fan to get the most performance out of it, therefore the noise issue arises again.

The H20-8500™ Liquid Cooling Kit

Liquid cooling kits are nothing new, as several companies make them. A lot of them take several parts from different manufacturers, and slap them together and call it a day. There actually isn't anything wrong with this, as it's possible to make some really good kits, as there are a lot of quality parts out there.

It works a little differently with Swiftech, as although the parts sold in their H20-8500 liquid cooling kit are available separately, their kit as a whole "looks like" it belongs together. Only the radiator is not one of their designs, but I was told they looked long and hard for the right one for this kit. You can bet they tested long into the late hours making sure everything works together though, and even for the 3rd party parts, Swiftech was pretty selective in making sure they are of good quality. I've read a recent review of another manufacturer's kit literally falling apart as the reviewer turned it on. Getting back to the H20-8500 liquid cooling kit, here are the specifications...

Performance features:

1/2" (Tubing OD) combined with 330 GPH pump for optimal flow rate
Extreme performance water-bocks with patent pending Diamond-Pin Matrix© technology
80mm copper-core Radiator ith dual 80mm low profile (15mm) fans rated at 29CFM (32dBA) each

Convenience features:

Pump and fill & leed assembly are pre-installed in a tray to fit into a 5 1/4" bay : no reservoir is needed, resulting in space saving, and uncluttered installation.
80mm form factor radiator fits in any case featuring at least one 80mm opening for a fan exhaust
Quick-connect fittings, for safe and expeditious installation
Plug-and-play water-block installation, doesn't require removing the motherboard
Pump relay switch to couple the pump operations to computer power-supply.

Let's examine each individual component now...

The MCW5000

The first part of the kit we'll be discussing is the MCW5000 CPU water-block. The block ships in Swiftech's standard brown box, and there's plenty of foam to keep the unit from getting damaged. Here's a bit of what Swiftech has to say:

Click to Enlarge

The MCW5000™ water-block is an extreme duty liquid cooling solution for high-end microprocessors. It is designed to be used either in straight liquid cooling configuration, or in conjunction with a thermoelectric cooling element.

The MCW5000™ ships in two versions; the MCW5000-A™ and the MCW5000-P™. Conversion from one version to another is extremely simple, and only requires replacing the retention mechanism.

Click to Enlarge

The housing is constructed with CNC machined aluminum, measuring L2.5"xW2.5"xH1.5". It has been blue anodized, to prevent any corrosion, and has two built-in quick-connect fittings for 1/2" OD tubing. Although the kit can accomadate 3/8" OD tubes (with optional fittings), you will lose a bit of cooling performance by going with smaller tubes. The base is lapped flat to 3/10 of 1/1000", and mirror polished. I was very impressed with the quality of it, and I don't think any additional lapping will need to be done.

Click to Enlarge

Inside the CPU block is not just one big empty space, and some turbulance is required to get the most cooling out of it. The face of the block (what is inside, and is under the water) is CNC machined from billet to form a Patent Pending Diamond-Pin Matrix. Naturally, with the pins, this design will increase the heat dissipation surface, and the resulting flow turbulence enhances the heat transfer to the cooling fluid.

Click to Enlarge

It's important to note that the MCW5000 we had received is the Athlon 462 (MCW5000-A), as well as Pentium 4 attachments. This is not a standard feature (receiving both parts),as retail kits will ship in either AMD or Intel configurations. You'll have a choice to pick either installation kit, and/or purchase both if you plan to migrate to either platform later.

The MCW50

The MCW50 VGA block is not a standard part of the H20-8500 kit, but rather, an option. It ships in a similar, albeit smaller, box as most Swiftech products. Here's what Swiftech has to say about the MCW50:

Click to Enlarge

The MCW50™ water-block is an extreme duty liquid cooling solution for high-end graphics processors. It is designed to be used either in straight liquid cooling configuration, or in conjunction with a thermoelectric (Peltier) cooling element.

Click to Enlarge

Whether you're an ATi fan, or you're a supporter of all things nVidia, Swiftech has you covered.

The MCW50™ ships with a dual retention mechanism composed of spring loaded screws providing compatibility with ATI® Radeon™ 9000 to 9700, and NVidia® GForce™ families of products. The product can also be installed with other graphics processors by using permanent bonding agents, such as thermally conductive epoxies.

Click to Enlarge

Much like the CPU block, the VGA block housing is constructed with CNC machined aluminum, blue anodized. It has has two built-in quick-connect fittings for 1/2" OD tubing, and the base is well machined, again, probably not needing any lapping. The heatspreader is designed to spread the heat out naturally, but for Radeon 9700 owners, the heatspreader will allow the MCW50 to clear the shim ATi uses, and make better contact with the GPU. The inside face of the base also uses the Patent Pending Diamond-Pin Matrix.


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