Swiftech H220 CPU Cooler Review and Benchmarks

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Updated: May 6, 2013
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1. Introduction

Swiftech has been in the cooling industry for a very long time and progressively they have become a primarily liquid cooling business with many fans resembling an almost cult like following due to the quality and superb performance of the product. Also from my years of liquid cooling experience the Swiftech radiators have consistently been able to support very low noise fans for super quiet operation in a high performance PC. As of recent many innovations have come down the pipe from Swiftech and it started with the H20-X20 edge kits which utilized a Swiftech MCRx20 QP res radiator which had an integrated pump to allow for easy mounting and tubing runs for CPU only or additional blocks as needed.

Next up was the HD kit, which was a similar design but included multiple barb ports and an Apogee HD CPU block to allow multiple loops being fed from a single CPU block with 3 available outlets. But Swiftech did not want to sit on their hands so they started with another design which moved the pump away from the reservoir which allows for a much more standard radiator to be used although they do still employ the reservoir on the radiator. The Swiftech H20-X20 Elite as it was named employed the new Apogee Drive II which utilizes a pump onboard the CPU block itself to push water which allows for even better fitment of this kit into more chassis as the pump no longer adds any bulk to the radiator unit.

Well all of that behind us now shortly after the Elite kit was launched we had heard rumors of Swiftech taking a keen look at the AIO market. AIO stands for All In One or basically a kit you can take out of the box and install into the system with mounting hardware without having to fill or maintain the liquid or connect any tubing whatsoever. The units are prefilled from the factory and are a plug and play install. Well regular all in ones are just that and this is where Swiftech had officially announced and also demonstrated the new H220 All in one (And then some) liquid cooler. This is what we are taking a look at today.

 

2. Swiftech H220 Features

The standard ideal of All In One units revolves around the fact of a sealed unit that is prefilled and requires no maintenance for the life of the unit. This is what Swiftech offers and then some but we will get to the advanced features after covering the basics of this All In One unit.

Here you can see what the H220 looks like, and as you can see if bears resemblance in some small way to other AIO coolers such as the Corsair H100 or Thermaltake WATER2.0 Extreme. The similarities are the fact that it is a 240mm length radiator unit, employing dual 120mm fans and is pre-fitted with tubing and prefilled. Also let us not forget that the pump for all of these units if on the CPU block directly on all of these units.

This is pretty much where the similarities end though as the H220 is dressed to impress and when it comes to features this unit definitely delivers.

Looking at the included accessories we can see that this unit starts to veer very far from the standard AIO track so to speak.  The kit includes multiple screw sets to facilitate pretty much any type of mounting scenario you can come up with for the radiator/fan combo, Also a very large multilingual manual which I found to be well translated in English which in some cases with an inexperienced user may need badly. The bracket for full AMD support is included although Intel is installed into the pump by default. Full support for all current sockets is included in the package to cover pretty much every operating platform I could see this unit being put on.  Also another nice item to note is unlike many AIO which have pre applied TIM which many times can dry out due to oxygen exposure Swiftech offers a tube of their TIM Mate so you can apply your TIM when you are ready which also means no oops moments when installing the unit and wiping it on the inside of your case or components by accident.

One really awesome piece which I also saw in the H20-320 Elite kit was a PWM splitter which is really nice as it allows installation of the splitter onto a single PWM motherboard header and the same PWM signal will be given to all 8 outputs on the 8 way block which receives supplemental power from a 4 pin PATA connector to ensure the motherboard will in no way be overloaded by a chassis or large LCS fully loaded with fans. Also as a side benefit I could see this helping with cable management, as now you will have a hub for all of your fan connectors, which can be placed on the rear of the motherboard tray to keep most of the fan cables out of sight.

The mounting on the H220 is similar in quality to what you get from one of Swiftech Uber performance CPU blocks which is nothing to scoff at as in many cases AIO liquid cooler use very thin stamped mounting plates for the pump portion which can make installation a real pain or even breakage an issue. This is not something I could see happening here as the Swiftech unit uses some high quality and simply thicker parts along with a metal backplate unit with hexagonal mounting nuts fitted to the backplate which ensures no issues with stripping out a backplate like you might see on other units. Also the quality of the mounting screws themselves feel of quality while offering Phillips head adjustment or also knurled edges for finger tightening during initial installation as well.

Here you can see the super flat base plate which is very similar to that you would see on the Apogee Drive II unit which has been acclaimed as an amazing performer and a very cool and practical solution to pump mounting for the LCS. The surface on this pump upon multiple re seats proved how flat it is by providing repeated installs with near perfect TIM patches on the IHS/block.

Here we have it, this is what its all about as this may look similar to the Apogee Drive II but in reality there is a lot more going on behind the scenes than meets the eye. First off the Apogee Drive II was fitted with a MCP35X pump which was sourced from an outside provider which of course in the world of manufacturing adds to the cost by quite a lot. The H220’s pump is completely different as Swiftech made a big investment recently in entering the electric motor business in order to ensure they have full control from start to finish on quality and build of all of their pumps going forward. The H220 is one of the first in Swiftech’s lineup to employ a 100% Swiftech built and designed pump assembly. You will also notice that the H220 does not require the large heatsink, which was found on the Apogee Drive II and from what I can tell this pump seems to produce less heat than the MCP35X that makes me very interested to see what this pump in a custom application can do.

Here you see something that truly sets the H220 apart from other AIO’s is that this is not necessarily as much a full AIO as it is a hybrid due to its ability to be user serviced and refilled or even drained, flushed and refilled for whatever purpose including expansion which we will look at next.

Here is where the expandability comes in is that unlike other AIO’s this unit can be opened up should the user choose to and more blocks or radiators can be added to the loop so that this unit can be expanded to a full custom unit should the owner want to upgrade from just CPU cooling another radiator and even chipset or GPU cooling. This is why I consider the H220 an AIO and a custom loop basically you the user decide what it will be when you get it. These clamps are removable and reusable which is nice since they are of good quality and do not stand out very much when applied to the black hosing.

One thing worth noting is that the fittings in the side of the pump fully rotate to necessitate easy mounting and fitment of system, however being that they fully rotate the fittings have a feeling of wobbling slightly which concerned me but upon talking to Swiftech directly they reassured me that the fittings have a solid fit internally but due to the rotational property there may be a small wobble in the fitting which is completely normal, so if you get a kit and the fitting feels like it wobbles a little don’t worry it is not an issue as I saw same thing and no leaks or issues after many hours testing.

Previously mentioned were the PWM controller is included for a reason. This allows very easy PWM control over the fans in the system but more importantly the PWM control of the pump and the fans you see here which are Swiftech’s Custom 120 Helix PWM fans. They are PWM controlled with 9 curved blades which provide very good balanced airflow that are matched to the radiator style and they do this at a very low noise level. This overall is a very good combination as it works well with the radiator included in the kit.

 

3. Swiftech H220 Test Setup

CPU 3770K

Motherboard Maximus V Extreme

NVIDIA GTX 680 GPU

16GB Patriot Viper Extreme 2133 Memory

Swiftech H220 AIO

Corsair H100

Thermaltake WATER2.0 Extreme

Kingston HyperX 240GB SSD

Windows 7 Ultimate X64

 

4. Swiftech H220 Performance Results

Do note that the cooler testing was run with looping multiple heavy load items to create real world thermal loads. I have run some of the strongest loads I can find such as crunching programs, rendering apps and anything else that I could find that would put a full load on the CPU.

As you can see the H220 is definitely a step ahead of the other similar designed AIO’s but some of the really special parts are derived from its ability to concert or expand into a multi block configuration and even expanding to multiple radiators for enhanced cooling is possible. As you can see my standard 4.6GHz clock is nothing for the H220 even on silent mode it kept the CPU at more than safe temps and being silent it really could not be heard over other components in the system.

NOTE: I am aware there are programs such as LINX or CPU Burn test which can all provide a intense heat load on the CPU, however due to the type of strain provided by these tests I do not promote these tests or test with them personally. This is due to the fact that I have yet to see any application which can be used daily that will come close to the stress that these programs can place on sensitive components and on more than one occasion I have seen these apps cause premature component failure. For this reason I test with applications that are used in a real world environment so you can know what to expect when you install it in your system.

 

5. Swiftech H220 Final Thoughts

The Swiftech H220 is a great cooler as every kit I have tested from Swiftech has been. Calling it an AIO is not necessarily fitting as it is so much more, and I would more likely call it a hybrid AIO. This solution operates just like any other AIO but the quality is much higher and the capability to expand later down the road or even immediately is really cool, although if you are looking to expand right away Swiftech has full custom loop kits that would probably serve you better and get you more of the parts you need right out of the gate.

The H220 is simply an amazing unit and to try and compare component for component is impossible but differences such as radiator design where the Swiftech unit is based from a full high performance unit from their custom line means that there is no mixing metals such as Aluminum found in other AIO’s as the Swiftech unit has brass tubes with copper fins which ensures when expanding the unit outward to more blocks or radiators the chances of galvanic corrosion are removed.

However if your looking to start with CPU cooling and want a hassle free installation with minimal work and maintenance, then the H220 is a clear winner and a damn good cooler that just happens to be custom high end level parts and ready to really kick some ass as a full custom loop down the road. At the end of the day this product is ergonomic in the installation process and allows even true blue newbie’s to achieve their installation goal, which in turn allows for their CPU to have superior cooling that needs no maintenance for three years. Swiftech initially had a few issues with getting these parts to market due to earthquakes and problems in China early on, but now stock is available and reviewers from around the globe are choosing the Swiftech H220 for their choice of CPU cooler. The Swiftech H220 deserves an Editor’s Choice Award for excellence in design and performance.

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