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Swiftech MCX462

Written By:
Date Posted: November 20, 2001

shouldn't need any introduction for most overclockers. The MC462 series has long been regarded as one of the, if not "the", best active air coolers. The MC462 was always one of the most expensive, but money needed to be spent if you wanted the best. The cooler landscape has changed a lot since then, and a lot of heatsink solutions were making serious claims on Swiftech's mantle as performance king. With the introduction of the Alpha 8045, Swiftech has been decisively beaten in the vast majority of benchmarks. Granted, a degree or two may not be so bad, but the fact that the Alpha sold for quite a bit less, the differences become greater. It was time for Swiftech to make some changes to it's flagship heatsink.

The MCX462 is the latest from Swiftech, and although it appears similar to the original MC462, there are quite a few changes made to this model.


Heat sink

CNC machined, C110 copper base, 3"W x 3"L x .375"H, flatness better than 0.001", micro surface finish 8 or better.
371 Pins made of High Thermal Conductivity aluminum alloy (6063)
Overall dimensions with fan 3"x3"x3.2", without fan 3"x3"x1.56"
Weight: 26 oz (730g) with fan, 20 oz (560g) without fan.


Motherboard fittings: 6-32 Female to Male 1/4" aluminum round standoffs with nylon washers and nylons nuts
4 compression springs providing exact specified pressure per chip manufacturers.
For Intel Pentium 4 processors, 2 brackets bolt atop the block to match Intel's mounting specifications


80mm Delta SHE Fan ()
48.5db[A] Noise Rating

Pictures say it all. The MCX462 is HUGE!

Like it's older brother, the MCX462 is a mammoth. With the Delta SHE 68.5cfm fan, it's noticably larger than the MC462, though the heatsinks are fairly similar in size. The copper base on the MCX appears to be slightly thicker, but not by too much.

Rather than fins, the MCX462 uses pins, 371 of them to be exact. The pins are made of a highly thermal conductive aluminum material that Swiftech attaches to the copper base. Unlike Alpha, which forges them, the pins here are soldered on. The fit is quite snug, and I don't think this will be detrimental in performance.

Taking a closer look at the pins, we can see the re-introduction of the helicoid pin design, originally introduced with the MCX370. The pins diameter themselves are slighlty smaller than the original design, 0.093" (2.38mm) as opposed to 0.125" (3.17mm), allowing Swiftech to pack in more pins. According to Swiftech, the combination of more pins, and the helicoid design increases surface area for heat dissipation, and the pins being thinner promote faster thermal transfer. The base has been redesigned to fit on all Socket-A motherboards that follow AMD's specifications. In fact, the heatsink itself should fit any socket motherboard, so long as you get the proper mounting equipment, and the motherboard has the mounting holes available. The heatsink is the same for all the models..., the MCX462, MCX423 and the MCX478.

Although not a mirror finish, Swiftech does an excellent job of smoothing out the base. Their specifications state a flatness of 0.001", which is pretty much flat to the human eye. If your name is Zoltran from Quadar, then maybe you might want to lap it some more. I didn't bother, and thermal paste does a good enough job of bonding the surfaces. Swiftech thankfully doesn't pre-apply a thermal pad, and they include some good thermal paste with the package. It has a nice consistency, and performs on par with Arctic Silver 2, give or take a degree or so.

To tell you the truth, I dreaded the installation of the MCX462 with the included Delta fan. It's close to double the size of most 80mm fans I've used before, and having been through several 60mm Deltas, I was quite nervous. There is a rheostat included, which can slow the fan down from 4900rpm to 3900rpm, knocking about 10dba off the total volume. Without the rheostat attached, I fired it up and yeah, it's loud. It wasn't nearly as bad as I thought it would be though. It's more of a whoosh sound, and not terribly high pitched. With the rheostat attatched, I brought the fan speed down, and it worked quite well, but the amount of noise lowered wasn't worth the loss in performance, in my opinion.



The fan no longer screws in directly into the heatsink, like it did with the MC462A, but rather into standoffs that are premounted into the base. This should actually cut down a bit in vibration as the fan no longer comes into contact with the outer pins. To ease your fears of burning out your fan headers, the Delta is connected to an available 4 pin power supply header, and it includes a separate tachometer to attach to the motherboard to monitor rpms. Because it's a fast spinning Delta, I am pleased to report that a fan guard is included! This was one of my biggest complaints (yes, I'm whiney) in reviewing the MC462, and I'm glad the grill was included this time.


The MCX462 is no 90lb weakling. Weighing in at a hefty 730 grams, 560 grams without the fan, a simple socket clip just isn't going to cut it. Like the MC462, the MCX462 makes use of the mounting holes surrounding your socket. Your motherboard has to have them of course, and most do. They include all the hardware you need, depending on the kit you order. They include a double sided page of instructions, and in case you lose it, you can find it online .

In a nutshell, you will need to remove your motherboard entirely before installation. Swiftech suggests a dab of crazy glue into the nylon nuts if you plan to remove the heatsink occasionally. There are detailed directions of how to mount the standoffs, depending if your motherboard holes are grounded or not. Once you install the mounting screws, you can reinstall the heatsink. I suggest doing it this way, rather than putting the heatsink on the motherboard, before reinstalling the motherboard, for two reasons. First of all, although the mounting screws are enough to hold everything in place, due to the weight of the MCX462, you should use two hands to lift the finished installation up. It wouldn't surprise me if a cheaply manufactured motherboard snapped in half if you only lifted with one hand. Secondly, depending on your motherboard, the heatsink may cover the mounting screw for the motherboard to attach to the case!

Once everything is back where it should be, you use the four mounting screws, nylon washers and springs and attach the heatsink. The springs are set to meet AMD's weight specifications, so it's damn near impossible to crack your CPU core. You only need to tighten the screws until they're thumb tight, meaning, the screw driver stops. Don't over do it, or you just end up stripping the screws. The fan goes on last, no need to elaborate. Just plug it in, and fire it up.


AMD Thunderbird 1.4GHz (1.75v), with
AMD Athlon XP 1800+ (1.75v), again with Nanotherm
Abit KG7-RAID, with socket thermal sensor touching the bottom of the CPU
Antec SX1030B Case, with only the Enermax power supply fans on.
Prime95 is run for 20 minutes, or about 30 tests
Room temperature is maintained at ~23C/74F

I've decided to only test the MCX462 against the MC462-A, since it's the only other heatsink I've tested that's in the same class. To make things fair, I test both heatsinks with the Delta fan, and the Sanyo Denki Fan. I've included the Athlon XP scores here, since a few of you have asked if it runs cooler than the Thunderbird. Now, the scores...

Well, whether we use the Sanyo or Delta fan, performance is close, but the MCX462 is pretty much the clear cut winner. The differences are especially dramatic using the Athlon XP. For you Pentium 3 and 4 owners, you know that if an Athlon stays chilly, so will yours. Since we've used the same fans in the testing for each heatsink, I would have to think that the new changes in the pin design, plus the additional pins have made the difference. I just want to remind you that in order to maintain some form of consistency, all tests are done with side of the case open. I know some of you have blow-holes, some don't. My particular case has side blow-holes that may skew the results, thus my decision to keep the side off altogether. As usual, your actual results may differ. Running the Athlon XP at 1633 clock speed (11.5x142), 1.85v, temperatures remained stable at 40C.

Final Words

I don't think there is any doubt in my mind that this thing rocks! Well, compared to some very good coolers we've tested (and some not so good that I won't even bother mentioning), the MCX462 easily beats the competition. Most of the shortcomings of the MC462A have been addressed. As far as I know, so long as your motherboard follows Intel's or AMD's mechanical specifications, this heatsink will fit. Noise is controled by the optional rheostat, which does lower the noise. At the slowest settings, performance was roughly on par with the Sanyo Denki, though not as loud. My biggest complaint about the MC462, the lack of a fan grill, has been addressed. There's thermal paste included, detailed instructions, and a fan connection that feeds directly off the power supply, saving your motherboard headers from harm. Although installation is a piece of cake, it's going to be a pain in the ass for those of you who rarely remove their motherboards. Chances are, if you're even remotely considering this heatsink, this scenario likely doesn't apply to you. Once the mounting bolts are installed though, installing the heatsink is a piece of cake, and because the mounting screws adhere to AMD's weght specifications, you have little to fear about cracking your core.

The question is, do you need such a monster? If you already have a large heatsink combo, I'd say no. If you're running a CPU at 1.4GHz+, and are still using a vanilla aluminum cooler, I'd say yes. If you simply want the best, this is it. Heat is bad for your proc (duh!), and although you don't need to run under 40C, the lower the temperature, the better your chances of overclocking. Of course, many other factors come into play, but your CPU health is one of the first things you need to address.

Swiftech was on top of the world with the MC462, and with the heated competition pounding away, the MCX462 says "BACK OFF!!" in a big way. It's expensive, but complaining about the price is like complaining that a BMW costs more than a Volvo. Both get the job done, but the Beemer gets you the chicks.



Pros: Great performance, good quality, foolproof, albeit time consuming, installation, fan grill is included!

Cons: Expensive.

I would like to thank for the review sample. You can find a list of resellers on their website, or you can order directly from them.



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