The Swiftech Apogee XT Extreme
Swiftech as a company began in 1994 maintaining high end UNIX imaging systems. Around 1997 they made the move to cooling for personal computers. Since then Swiftech has been turning out products for the overclocking community at affordable prices. Water cooling a PC in its early years was almost a dark art of fish tank pumps, heater cores from cars, and homemade CPU blocks. Thanks to companies like Swiftech it’s now as easy as a couple of clicks and you can have a complete water cooling system drop shipped to your front door.
Water is becoming more and more common and not as much of a mystery due to self contained kits like the Corsair H50, but for the user pushing their system for all it's worth there are still folks like Swiftech with their line of waterblocks for chipsets, GPU’s, and CPU’s; as well as their line of Quiet Power radiators and pumps to help users keep their systems cool.
The part we are focusing on today is Swiftech’s new flagship CPU waterblock, the Apogee XT. This time around Swiftech made a single top plate for a universal fit for Intel sockets. So the stock Apogee XT will mount up to LGA 775/1156/1366 sockets without the need of changing out the top plate. What does have to change is the backing plate. The Apogee XT includes the LGA1156 and LGA1366 backing plates, but you can get a LGA775 for free by requesting it from Swiftech. There are currently no mounting plates for the AMD camp yet. Swiftech says on the site that the plates are being made and should be available in the coming weeks.
Swiftech says that the new Apogee XT has an average 3 degree improvement over its predecessor, the Apogee GTZ i7. This has me very excited as a 3 degree jump in performance would be worth the $79.95 MSRP. It is only $20 more than the GTZ i7 and it includes the all the mounts that would be needed to move from LGA775 to 1156 to 1366. In the past each one of those steps would have cost an extra $10. That was a nice change on Swiftech’s end.
We received a retail Apogee XT from our friends at CrazyPC.com for us to give the once over. The Apogee XT comes packed in a cardboard box. The LGA1156 backing plate was taped to the outside of the box.
Inside we can see the Apogee XT wrapped in bubble wrap and the instructions. There was also a note from Swiftech that said the LGA1156 brackets didn’t ship with the initial release. This explains why it was taped to the outside of the box.
Along with the Apogee XT you get 1/2” hose barbs, hose clamps, and a tube of Arctic Ceramique thermal paste.
Looking Closer at the Copper Block
With the Apogee XT free of the packing we can get a better look at it. The top half of the block is CNC machined brass and plated with a black chrome finish. This is a change from the GTZ design that was machined out of Delrin, a durable and strong plastic.
Another change is the inlet port can be moved to allow room for compression fittings to be installed. In its stock location (shown) the inlet and outlet ports are too close for some compression fittings to be installed. More on this when we take the block apart.
The base of the Apogee GTZ i7 is also CNC machined, but out of C110 copper. The base is also lapped and polished to a mirror finish.
Like I had mentioned earlier, the top plate for the Apogee XT is able to be used across all the LGA Intel sockets. This is done with a slot that allows for the pins to adjust to fit each socket.
Inside the Apogee XT
To take the block apart you have to remove the top plate. This is done by removing the 6 allen head screws, 3 either side of the block.
With the bottom removed we can see the inside bottom of the top. The inlet port is in line with the hole you see in the center of the block. This is centered on the CPU. The coolant then flows outward from the center, through the micro pin matrix and eventually out the outlet port.
Flipping the top over, we can take another look at the inlet port.
With the inlet port cover removed we can see the seal and the small water channel that allows for the port orientation to be changed. Doing this, Swiftech says, will affect the flow of the block and ultimately the performance.
However, if you need the space for the fittings then it’s nice to have the option, but you, the end user, will have to decide if the performance hit is worth it.
Here we have the bottom of the Apogee XT. The heart of the Apogee XT is the pin matrix design. The 0.009” micro pin matrix is the heart of the Apogee GTZ i7. For a little scale, normal 20lb copy paper is 0.0038” thick.
Installing the Apogee XT
Swiftech has designed the Apogee XT to be orientated a certain way for best performance. The screws that hold the block together are to be aligned with the CPU locking lever. This puts the center of the block on the center of the CPU.
With this orientation combined with dedicated inlet and outlet ports, the design of the Apogee GTZ XT puts the cool incoming water right at the hottest part of the CPU first, and then it flows outward through the pin matrix and out the outlet.
Installing the Apogee was very easy and straight forward. No issues with clearance on the Intel DX58SO motherboard were discovered.
Legit Reviews Core i7 Test System
Here are the parts that make up the Legit Reviews Core i7 test system:
|Intel Test Platform|
|Processor||Intel Core i7 920||Click Here|
|Motherboard||Intel DX58SO||Click Here|
|Memory||Kingston DDR3 3GB 1333MHz ValueRAM||Click Here|
|Video Card||ATI X1950 XTX||Click Here|
|Hard Drive||Western Digital 250gb SATA||Click Here|
|Power Supply||XFX 850W Black Edition
|Chassis||Cooler Master HAF-922 (altered see build thread in our forums)
|Operating System||Windows Vista Ultimate (64bit)||Click Here|
|Water Cooling Loop
||7/16" ID Masterkleer
|Radiator||Swiftech MRC320 Quiet Power 3x120
|Radiator Fans (3x)
|T-line / Fillport
||Danger Den Fillport/Reservoir
To test the coolers I ran them on our Intel Core i7 test platform, which was then set to run at both default and overclocked settings. As a baseline all coolers will be compared to the retail boxed Intel cooler.
All of the temperatures were obtained by using Core Temp v0.99.3 after the system sat at idle for 30 minutes and then again under 100% load while running Prime95 (64bit) v25.8 for 30 minutes using the blended test. The room temperature was kept a constant 72 degrees Fahrenheit (22c) for all benchmarking. All of the coolers were tested with Arctic Silver Lumiere as the thermal interface material.
To have some sort of basis of comparison I picked a couple of the top air coolers in our air cooler testing and the stock Intel cooler. After looking at the temps it's not fair in the least bit, but it shows fairly well what benefit you get out of going to water cooling.
Now chances are that if you’re running a custom water loop you’re not running stock, but you never know. With the system running at the stock settings the Apogee XT kept our Intel Core i7-920 at a very nice 46*C. That’s 1.75 degrees better then it predecessor the GTZ i7, and a massive 10.25 degrees better than the popular Noctua NH-U12P SE1366 air cooler.
Bumping the system up to 3.5GHz the Apogee XT is still in the lead. Running at 51*C its 1.75 degrees cooler then the GTZ i7 and 13.5 degrees cooler than the Cooler Master V10 hybrid cooler. When compared to the stock Intel box cooler the Apogee XT is running an outstanding 32.5 degrees cooler.
Pushing on up to 3.8GHz the Apogee XT still maintained its lead over the GTZ i7. If nothing else, the results have been very consistent. The XT is still 1.5 degrees better than the GTZ i7. This is a little shy of the 3 degrees that Swiftech claimed on their site. Now every loop is different, but an almost 2 degree jump in performance is still nice; lower is always better.
In all, I’m rather impressed with the Swiftech Apogee XT Extreme Performance CPU Waterblock. Combined with the rest of the cooling system this is the coolest the test bench has run when overclocked. Granted that the cost of the overall cooling loop is way more than some would spend on a typical air cooler, or even a kit H2O cooler like the Corsair Hydro H50 water cooler.
Now the up side to a custom loop like this is most importantly, if I find I need more cooling or I want to add in a video card or chipset, I can. With the closed loop sealed kits there is no real easy way to splice into it. If you did manage to do it, it may not work. This is most definitely one of those “mileage may vary” situations. There are more variables then just ambient temp and a case. The pump used, tubing size, radiator size, and so on all influence the final temperature numbers that you will reach. If you compare my results from the Swiftech Apogee GTZ i7 review I did back in September 2009, you will notice some changes in the results. This time time around, I had different size ID tubing and QD fittings in the loop to help in swapping out water blocks and prevent kinking the lines.
The Apogee XT can be found for $78.99 plus shipping at CrazyPC.com and worth every penny. If you're looking to make the jump to a full on custom water cooling setup, or even upgrade your current setup, the Swiftech Apogee XT should be on your short list of waterblocks.
I want to thank CrazyPC.com for providing us with the Apogee XT to review.
Legit Bottom Line: The Swiftech Apogee XT Extreme Performance CPU Waterblock performs very well and should be on your short list of CPU waterblocks.