Swiftech H220 Compact Drive II CPU Water Cooler Review

The H220 water cooled CPU cooler has hit the desk for testing. Take a look at Swiftech's idea of what all AIO's should be.

Published Feb 18, 2013 9:49 AM CST   |   Updated Tue, Nov 3 2020 7:01 PM CST
Manufacturer: Swiftech


Swiftech H220 Compact Drive II CPU Water Cooler Review 99 | TweakTown.com

After a long talk with Gabe from Swiftech at CES, I finally got to get to my own testing of their new AIO coolers. The news of these has been flooding websites and there is no reason at this point to not disclose the product since it is all the rage as of late. The new H220 is an AIO cooler that should make every other AIO builder on the planet stand up and take note as to what Swiftech is now bringing to the table. I for one found that not only are the standard components are much better than the basic AIO, but Gabe and his team at Swiftech have gone over this concept with a fine toothed comb and made sure that this kit not only disassembles to add in blocks, or just so that it can be installed anywhere it can fit, including outside the chassis. This is something no other AIO on the market has while still retaining its warranty.

Most of the parts in this kit are off the shelf components that Swiftech has already had much success with, and some things are new, made specifically for this kit. The head unit is designed off of the Apogee Drive II that we had tested earlier, but this time it is built with an aesthetic that is only found in the H220. The radiator is also something off the shelf, and the major plus to this design is that the radiator is brass and copper, so there is no metal mixing in the Swiftech loop, like every other solution on the planet. Another enhancement to the H220 is that it uses 3/8" black tubing to improve flow inside of the loop and also help to fight any direct sunlight from making bacteria or fungus in the coolant. Lastly, this kit comes completely assembled, right down to the fans on the radiator, and while being a "custom water loop", these units should perform like it, but allow users with limited skills a chance to enjoy what some of us have been using for years.

So in essence, Swiftech is taking on all the major players in the AIO market, and instead of going to Asetek, CoolIT, or just stealing the basic concepts and sticking their name on it, Swiftech takes a major step above the crowd and delivered the H220, which we are about to see in fine detail. Three things that should sell you on a cooler like this versus the competition are the attention to detail in all of the components and accessories, the fact that you can tear this loop apart and add in a block, radiator, pump, flow meter; basically anything you want, and the last thing that should amaze you is the price point at which Swiftech is going to sell these units. With those basic three things, Swiftech may very well shake up the AIO community and raise the bar to a height that most other manufacturers won't be able to reach since their work is all done by someone else. This is where it is nice to be manufacturer that designs the products; you don't have to follow the mold that has been presented.

That in mind, let's have a look together and see why I think Swiftech may just crush the competition and all other AIO offerings on the market today.

Specifications, Availability and Pricing

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Following the chart as my guide, let's start with the radiator. In a typical AIO these are made from aluminum and use a very high FPI. In the H220 kit you are given a dual 120mm radiator that measures in at 269mm long, 127mm wide and 29mm thick. The reason for the extended length is that this radiator also includes a reservoir just like the Edge and Edge HD kits. In the reservoir is the fill port for when you decide to break the loop apart to customize it, you have easy access to do so, and it sports G1/4 threads so that you could easily add a fill line if desired.

Now let's deal with the fans supplied that cool this radiator. These fans are Swiftech's own Helix-120 PWM fans. They are 120mm in size, and the typical 25mm deep. Since they are PWM controlled, you can vary the speed from 800 to 1800 RPM as long as the BIOS is set for it. These fans may only deliver 55 CFM of air flow, but when doing so, can also push 2.29 mmH2O of static pressure to get that 55 CFM through the radiator. Another nice thing about a slower spinning 120mm fan is that the noise levels are rated to only hit 33 dBA or slightly above, but I was told directly from Gabe that the head unit and fans are tuned together so at no time is anything louder than the fans are at any given time during its usage.

The head unit, or pump as it is called in the chart, is basically a refined Apogee Drive II. It offers 1200 to 3000 RPMs in the pump when it draws power through the 4-pin PWM connection. While the top is new, the main body and the block is much the same as we saw in the ADII. You still receive a finely polished copper plate, and the simple to use thumbscrew mounting. This time instead of having to move screws and fittings to make angles work when mounting the ADII, here you get swivel connections that will spin 360 degrees, or until the hose runs into another fitting. Speaking of the tubing, there are a couple things to cover here as well. One is that it is 3/8" ID tubing and that will improve flow inside the loop, much more than the 1/4" tubing used in most others. It is black to reduce effects of sunlight in the coolant, and there are the connections to the fittings. Here Swiftech has developed screw clamps that are tight enough to keep the hoses from leaking or evaporating liquid, but the clamps only tighten so far, as to not allow users to dig into the tubing with the clamps either.

There is only one current listing of the H220, and that is at Swiftech.com. It states there that these units won't hit the market until the end of February, and while that is a slight bummer, there is still some really good news. Considering Swiftech's own H20-220 is selling on their site for $229 at the low-end, and even the Apogee Drive II block alone costs $144 with a pump included, the fact that you can soon buy the H220 kit for the MSRP of $139.95 is astronomically great value. Even going against the typical AIO with a dual 120mm radiator, this pricing is right on point with things like the Thermaltake Water2.0 Extreme. While there are cheaper AIOs on the market, there are none as well equipped as this, nor do any still offers any sort of warranty after modding it or disassembling them.

Another point that sets Swiftech above the rest of the field is that they are confident you can add a GPU block or two and still have good results, what other AIO on the market can do something like that?


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Since this arrived when I was at CES, and it is a pre-retail packaging sample, this is a "white box" version. As far as I am aware, the product inside has nothing left to do or change, but when you buy one of these, it will not arrive in the plain white box like I received.

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Lifting the top of the box you can see the inner packaging made of recycled cardboard, and molded to fit the product so that nothing should move around in transit.

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Removing the inner packaging all together you can see how it is form fitting it is. The lip around the edges keeps the inner packaging spaced in from the sides to help prevent puncture damages, and with a piece of high density foam between the halves, it will also keep the products inside from abusing each other.

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Removing the top half you can now see the radiator, the pair of Helix-120 fans, and you can see that the tubing is already run and connected. The bubble wrap around the radiator is from when they pulled it off the shelf. They then just cut holes for the fittings, so this does require it to be ripped or cut off.

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Flipping the packaging over so I could show the rest of the kit, you can now see the head unit resting on the high density foam to keep it from crushing fins on the radiator. This side of the cardboard offers two compartments, one for the pump, and the other for the hardware that has the Styrofoam cover to keep it all in the compartment for transit.

Swiftech H220 Compact Drive II CPU Cooler

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Here is the sleeker and smaller brother to the Apogee Drive II. The metal heat sink on top has been replaced with this plastic cover that not only offers a white Swiftech logo, but also sports a honeycomb mesh design that will fit in with most chassis themes.

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Looking at the bottom side of the new drive system you can see the four layers. There is the top cover, the pump, the conversion chamber, and the copper base plate. As you can see from the last pair of images this unit also ships with universal Intel mounting hardware already on the kit.

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The left side of the head unit sports a swivel fitting that is very easy to move to get the proper angles needed for a clean installation. You can also see that this side is marked as "IN" for those who will redo the loop and may have forgotten the flow of this block.

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The top side as it will mount on the motherboard has only this 4-pin PWM fan connection emanating from it to supply BIOS controlled power to allow the pump to spin down when not in use, and while gaming it can adjust as the PWM signals for more power.

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The outgoing side of the new unit is not marked as such, but just by moving the radiator to the other side of the block for this image, the fitting spun on its own to this resting position. Also these are the clamps I was speaking of that are pretty much idiot proof.

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Looking at the copper base of the unit, you will see it is shipped with a plastic covering, and it has a green dot sticker on it, signifying a quality control point has been checked and passed.

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The base is lapped very well and has only slight markings left in the copper. As for the shape, it only deviates from level at the edges near the screws. The rest of the plate doesn't allow any light to show under the razors edge.

Swiftech H220 Compact Drive II Continued

Swiftech H220 Compact Drive II Continued

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The last image doesn't really show how well that base is polished, so I thought another angle was in order. Here you can see just how reflective the copper is from the fine polish job that Swiftech has taken the time to provide users.

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Where most AIO coolers are likely to only give you a foot, most times less, the tubing connecting the head unit to the radiator is 15 inches in length. This will make mounting the radiator somewhere other than the top of the chassis much easier.

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As the tubes enter the end of the radiator, here again are swivel fittings. They use the same clamps as the head unit does to install this 3/8" ID, 5/8" OD black tubing. At the suite at CES there were rumours of different colored tube options later on.

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You can't see much currently due to the fact that the Helix fans come pre-installed on the radiator so really all you have to do is mount the kit, no fussing around.

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Opposite end of the fittings, you have the reservoir. Here is where the extra bit of coolant goes, and where any air will be trapped during use. The fill port is capped as the loop is filled with liquid already, and there is a green sticker denoting that his end passed testing as well.

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Unlike many AIO units, Swiftech is using a radiator that uses a 13 FPI count. This allows users to cool the radiator with less air flow since the fan doesn't have to force its way through much smaller gaps - hence why the 55CM Helix fans are a good choice for this kit.

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When installing this above the motherboard in a chassis, there is of course the 29mm of radiator to address, but with just the one side sporting fans, the total is now 54mm, and if you want to try it in push/pull configuration, you are now dealing with 79mm in total thickness.

Accessories and Documentation

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Part of the hardware found in the compartment of the inner packaging is what is here. On the left are screws to mount fans to the chassis for this cooler, and even a set to allow you to use a push/pull configuration. On the right is the LGA2011 mounting goods, and that leaves the long syringe of TIM-MATE at the bottom.

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In the kit, Swiftech also sends along AMD mounting. There are the two brackets on the right of the hardware to mount these brackets to the base of the head unit.

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A handy addition to this kit is a Molex powered fan hub. You do need to have the Molex connected to supply power, but there is a 4-pin PWM connection to be made as well allowing you to control up to eight fans off this hub. A nice addition is the little caps to cover the unused connections, not mandatory, but it does clean things up and protect the pins when not in use.

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Here is the small paperback novel... I mean, the user's manual. There are only like seven or eight pages per language showing the steps needed to mount the cooler and the hardware included, in many various languages.

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Since I have a few of these Helix-120 fans lying around, I figured I would go ahead and do some four fan testing on the H220 as well.

The Build and Finished Product

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The back plate for Intel sockets is pretty straight forward. Slide the nuts until they line up with the board, and with a couple of small foam stickers, you can attach it to the motherboard so it is easier to flip over and install the block onto it.

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This is not how I would typically apply TIM to a CPU, but I am just following the instructions found in the manual. Since MX-2 spreads well under most conditions, I don't see any harm in trying it this way versus a big blob in the center.

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After tightening the four thumbscrews, using an X pattern to do so evenly, you are now left with only one decision... where to install the radiator.

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The head unit does stand quite a bit taller than the typical AIO, but that is of little consequence, since this isn't much taller than a stock cooler and should allow it to be used in any chassis as long as there is proper room for the radiator.

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There is one slight downfall to using this setup. The fitting nearest to the memory will actually block the usage of the slot closest to the cooler. You can combat this by turning the head unit 90 degrees, but you need to be careful of heat sinks above the socket.

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Just plugging in the fans I had handy you can see the hub will cover the needs of four fans to cool this radiator. For the connections you don't use, just leave the covers on them, and store the others someplace you will find them later if needed.

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Above the motherboard, you can see there is plenty of room to get this radiator into the top of a chassis. You can even spin the radiator 180 degrees and still mount it without the tubing causing any issues.

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Even below the motherboard, or in front of it in the HDD bays, the Swiftech H220 is ready to go in most situations, and if it isn't, you can quickly add some longer tubing and do a bit of a refill, and go about your merry way, warranty still intact.

The Test System and Thermal Results

I would first like to thank HIS, GIGABYTE , InWin and AVADirect for supplying products for me to test with.

Testing for the CPU coolers is done with the use of RealTemp to ascertain temperatures, Intel Burn Test to deliver the load to the CPU and CPU-Z to verify the CPU speed and the voltage being used in Windows. All of the testing is done with an ambient temperature of 24.5-25�C and humidity is maintained to 35% sometimes less.

For the "stock" runs, it's more of a plug and play setup where the PWM of the motherboard is in control of the fans speeds for both the idle and load results. Speed Step is active and the processor idles at 1600 MHz and loads at 3500 MHz for the stock settings. I also set the memory to run at 1600 MHz for stock. As for the overclocked runs, I load the CPU at 4.5 GHz and idle results are obtained with 7.5V to the fans while the load run is set to deliver 12V to the fans. This allows me to gauge the lowest and highest fan ratings for my charts.

You will also see that the charts have been slightly adjusted. From now on I will mention the idle temperatures if there is something worth noting other than an average of twenty-five to twenty-seven degrees as the PWM controls and SpeedStep allow for almost ambient results in most instances. What you are now getting is a stock speed loaded temperature chart and an overclocked loaded temperature chart. To clean up the audio results, I also removed all of the fans that aren't on the thermal charts. If you want to compare those results to new coolers, the old chart is still available in the older reviews.

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At stock levels, the H220 has tied the Seidon 240 with a respectable 47 degree result at this level of testing.

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As the kit is shipped to your door, with my overclock applied, the H220 pulled just in front of the Seidon 240, and is just behind loops with triple radiators. When I added the extra pair of fans to see how well the H220 could do, it took performance levels right into the mix of $300 custom water cooling kits.

Noise Level Results

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For the stock testing, the fans were spinning at near 1200 RPM and gave me a 29 dB rating on the meter. At this level, you really have to have your head within six inches of the fans to hear anything at all.

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With 12 volts passing through the fans, and verifying a speed of 1795 RPM, these Helix fans do jump a bit in noise level to 50 dB. I test in open air, so of course I could hear it clear as day. Inside of a chassis and with the fans angled up to the top, you are likely to hear much less when in use.

Final Thoughts

Leaving the H220 as-is, going through the testing, and leaving things pretty much unmolested, Swiftech has really developed a great product. The idea here was to beat other AIO coolers, and keep pricing so close that is it really a no-brainer to move to a kit like this over the closed loop option. This kit looks amazing with everything black and it will be no issue fitting in with any theme you have already started. The flexibility of the unit is also a huge plus, allowing users to have near limitless options of mounting this cooler. On top of all that, the unit comes completely assembled, filled, and tested, so all you have to do is figure out where you want the radiator and use the provided screws to mount it into place.

All of that is going for the H220 and we haven't gotten into the finer details. Things like clamps, offsetting the tubes in the radiator to eliminate any chance of accidental puncture from installing fan screws, everything is PWM controlled and it all works very well, the attention to every detail, and the best thing about the H220, the fact that it is fully customizable and you get to keep the warranty. It doesn't matter if you just want to shorten the tubing, add in a bay reservoir, additional blocks, anything along those lines, even replacing the radiator, it doesn't matter. The H220 is built, designed, and delivers on the idea of taking on the AIO market and showing users there is a better option on the market to suit the needs of everyone from users who have never used water cooling on up to those with dual loops and years of water cooling under their belt. The H220 is just that good in all aspects.

Gabe told me he thought he was sort of cutting his own throat with these new units, and I can finally see why. Not only is he abusing all other manufacturers of AIO coolers bottom lines, with the H220, he has also priced it so well it almost makes the Edge kits obsolete. In my mind, at the $139.95 price Swiftech is currently listing the H220 for, there is no reason any longer to look to the Asetek and CoolIT units unless they plan to copy what Swiftech is offering.

Yes, you can get a cheaper AIO, and you can get them with lights and software, but with the H220 and the fact that I can carry on with this one unit as my cooling needs progress, it just makes way too much sense to look into these units and never look back at the typical AIO units.

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Chad joined the TweakTown team in 2009 and has since reviewed 100s of new techy items. After a year of gaming, Chad caught the OC bug. With overclocking comes the need for better cooling, and Chad has had many air and water setups. With a few years of abusing computer parts, he decided to take his chances and try to get a review job. As an avid overclocker, Chad is always looking for the next leg up in RAM and coolers.

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