Swiftech H20-220 Edge HD Liquid Cooling Kit ReviewThu, Feb 09, 2012 - 12:00 AM
The H2O-220 Edge HD kit from Swiftech is solidly built, easy to install, and performs very well. The configurability of the H2O-220 Edge HD kit is nice as it allows the end user the flexibility to make the cooler fit their need, rather than the other way round. To top it all off, everything you need to cool you CPU is in one box.
The Apogee HD waterblock changes things up a bit. It’s Swiftech’s new flagship CPU waterblock, and it was made with Intel LGA2011 and AMD Bulldozer in mind. The new port design turns the CPU block into a manifold of sorts to allow for multiple parallel loops without the need for Y connectors. The parallel loops allow for better flow when compared to traditional serial loops. The H2O-X20 Edge HD kits are set up for Intel out of the box, but Swiftech will give you mounting kits for AMD 754, 939, F, AM2 and AM3 when requested.
The pump is different from those I have used from Swiftech before. The pump can be PWM controlled or run at full speed. This can be handy for allowing variable speed control thru the motherboard from 1300 to 4500 rpm. Overall the pump is quiet; a slight hum is all you hear once all the air is out of the loop.
In the testing the Swiftech H2O-220 Edge HD kit came in at the top our charts, which is where one would expect a $230 cooler to come in at. In the testing the H2O-220 Edge HD kit with the fans running on 7 volts was running neck and neck with the $108 Corsair H100 at full speed and the $90 Noctua NH-D14. The Noctua NH-D14 is a quiet cooler, but blocks most of the RAM slots. The Corsair H100 doesn’t block RAM slots, but is not quiet when running at 100% fan speed. With the Swiftech kit the fans are restricted to run on 7 volts and the performance is still very good and very quiet. At a full 12 volts the fans are just as loud as those on the Corsair H100, but the temperature performance of the Swiftech kit is better by a couple of degrees. The Swiftech fans are rated at 38dBA each when running on 12 volts; that’s pretty loud. With them running on 7 volts they are quiet, in the 25-28dBA rage. They were no louder than the case fans on the Thermaltake Chaser MK-1 case I use. I could make out the hum from the pump when the system was idling; when I started to push the video card it was lost in the fan noise from it.
The H20 Edge HD kits come in two sizes: the dual radiator H2O-220 for $230 and the triple radiator H20-320 for $270. There is also the choice between a black or white top for the Apogee HD water block. The kit we review today is the H2O-220-Edge-HD-BK and costs $229.95 from Swiftech’s website. Some users may not see the extra expense over units like the Corsair H100 worth the performance gain, but to me the extra cost is worth the ability to upgrade components and have installation flexibility. Also unlike the sealed kits like the Corsair H100 the Edge HD kits can grow with the end user’s needs. If you wanted to put a pair of video cards into the loop all you have to do is get the blocks, fittings, and hose and splice them into the system. If you find the unit can’t hold up to the new added heat, you can add a radiator. These are all things that cannot be done with a sealed loop system without killing the warranty. For this I am giving the Swiftech H2O-220 Edge HD kit the Editors’ Choice Award.
Legit Bottom Line: The Swiftech H2O-220 Edge HD kit is well built, well put together, and easy to install. The $230 cost may seem steep to some, but the ability for the kit to be upgraded to grow with the user’s need and installation flexibility make it worth it.