Even after eight years of reviews, there are still some categories of hardware that we haven't covered at all. One of these being water cooling, we figured it was finally time to get our feet wet in this area of PC-cooling.
There are multiple ways of starting with water cooling, for example one can buy a very simple, pre-assembled kit that comes pre-filled with coolant and is almost as easy to install as any air cooler. At the other end of the scale is the option to go out and buy the setup as separate components. Both of these methods have their strenghts, the simple kit is usually cheap and indeed easy to install while the separate parts guarantee the best performance and also make it easy to upgrade the setup later on. If neither of the solutions seems like the right one for you then there's also a third option: getting a high performance kit that comes with quality components, but also requires more assembling than the simpliest kits.
The kit that arrived to our test this time is Swiftech H2O-220 Apex Ultima Plus. It's the top-spec kit from Swiftech and comes with some of the company's latest components. The box it all came in is about the size of a large, thick motherboard box and the parts inside were very well packed.
Opening the box reveals the radiator with fans and radbox installed, pump, some 1/2" tubing, anti-kink coil, reservoir with installation brackets, socket1336 mounting bracket for the CPU-block and a couple of bags full of barbs and tube clamps. There's also yet another box that contains all the actual blocks. The packet contains 2,5 meters of hose and a meter of anti-kink spring. These should be enough for the setup, but there isn't much to spare, so you better measure twice and cut once.
The pump in this set is a Swiftech MCP655. At specified maximum power of 24 watts and variable speed it's a fairly serious bit of kit and, should you need a second radiator or extra water blocks in the future, the pump should handle it. The installation bag contains a piece of neoprene for vibration dampening, a couple of screws, grommets and rubber washers. The pump has integrated plastic barbs and the bundle contains also plastic clamps for securing the tubes.
The accurate model of the reservoir is MCRES-Micro rev 2 and the bundle contains mounting brackets that support multiple different installation ways. There are total of four places for barbs on the res, the one on the top being meant to be the fillport and the one on the bottom can be used for drain line or as an output. The kit comes with HydrX extreme duty cooling fluid that both prevents corrosion and is supposed to enhance the cooling power. The bottle is enough for half a litre of distilled water. The fillport in the reservoir and the supplied funnel do their part in making the filling the easier.
The chipset block is the smallest of the three and comes with its own manual and mounting hardware for thee different mounting methods. The block itself is very small and with both hose barbs being next to each other there's good chances that the block can also be installed in atleast some SLI-setups with the northbridge next to the PCI-e slots.
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