Swiftech H220 X2 Performance Testing and Review

Swiftech H220 X2 – Performance Testing and Observations


I’ve been recently subjecting the Swiftech H220X2 to thorough testing on the watercooling test bench. This cooler is an expandable unit much like the EK Predator 240 that I tested in that it can be utilized to expand the cooling solution to include a graphics card block or an additional radiator, or both. Swiftech names radiators a bit differently than other vendors - for example, a 220 radiator is a 2x120 radiator, while a 240 rad is actually a 2x140mm (instead of actually being a 2x120), a 320 radiator is a 360 (3x120mm)and so on. While this does create a little bit of difference in convention, it does make sense. The unit being tested is the 220 model (2x120mm radiator)- there also is a version which employs a 240 (2x140mm) radiator as well as a 320 version (3x120mm). This would mean that the 240 version has approximately a 26% larger volume radiator than the 220 version and the 320 has approximately a 33% larger radiator.

The Swiftech H220 X2 would be a direct performance competitor with the EKWB Predator 240, so the content in this article can be used as comparison with the other.


Overview
The Swiftech H220 X2 is packaged as a premium, closed loop cooling solution but has the ability to expand into a larger cooling loop by utilizing standard G1/4 fittings, tubing, water blocks and radiators that would normally be used in a typical watercooling loop. The Swiftech H220 X2 utilizes swivel barbs, Swiftech Apogee XL2 waterblock (Intel and AMD compatibility) and a 6w Laing DDC variant pump, the Swiftech branded MCP30, which is the little brother to the common DDC.


The radiator is a Swiftech brass MCR220 and the unit incorporates a clear reservoir to view and monitor coolant level – Mayhems clear tubing and included color dyes allow for coolant color customization. The Apogee CPU block as well as the clear reservoir has LED lighting that can be adjusted from the PWM control block to accent the user’s color scheme. The only differences between the standard X2 units and the Prestige units is that the standard units use swivel barbs and Helix fans, while the Prestige units utilize black chrome Swiftech compression fittings and Noiseblocker NB-eLoop fans.


The box contents also include an installation pamphlet, Swiftech (Mayhem) dye droppers in red, blue and yellow, the PWM controller switch and AMD AM2, AM3, FM1,FM2, 939 mounting hardware. The Apogee XL2 comes with the Intel 1150/1151/1155/1156 bracket and there are included mounting screws for Intel 2011. Fan mounting screws, a tube of Swiftech TIM-MATE thermal compound and a nifty little Swiftech adhesive logo round out the included goodies.


The radiator itself is integrated with the reservoir and pump unit which also would look to require that the Swiftech H220 X2 can only be mounted horizontally at the top of a PC case. This would allow the observable pump impeller to remain submerged for the pump to continually push coolant. However, I was able to observe that as long as the impeller remains 100% submerged, the unit will operate, which does open the door to vertical mounting. Use care to ensure that whichever mounting orientation you utilize, and like almost all watercooling pumps, ensure the impeller is properly submerged – failure to do so will likely result in pump and impeller failure. There is nothing contained within the Swiftech H220 X2 documentation that ‘suggests’ , ‘recommends’ or otherwise ‘dictates’ a specific mounting orientation.

The 1800 RPM (max) Helix fans come factory installed in Push configuration, meaning that they force air through the radiator over the cooling tubes and fins. The unit is intended to be mounted by utilizing the fan screws to mount the fans to the PC chassis which in turn holds the cooler in place. Both Push and Pull fan airflow direction were configured for the thermal load testing in order to evaluate optimal airflow direction. In order to remove the fans, you’re going to need a very slim Phillips screwdriver to reach the recessed screws that secure the screws to the radiator, similar to the EKWB Preadator.

Fin spacing is right around 15 folds per inch (FPI) which is relatively nominal density for radiators. There appears to be a bit of thin paint on the radiator fins which is evident by the exposed copper when you look into the inner portion of the folds – it looks like ‘rust’ but this is actually exposed copper.

While this might seem like poor craftsmanship, you’re actually getting better performance from exposed copper and brass on a radiator than a radiator that is insulated with a thick coat of paint. Given the previous mention about the fans being factory installed in Push configuration, the lower FPI of the Swiftech radiator means that it requires less force to move air through the less-dense radiator fin array, but it also means that it potentially gives up cooling efficiency, in turn. Lower restriction would also mean that there is a possibility that the difference between Push and Pull fan configuration might be less apparent at tested speeds and loads. In addition to lower FPI, the radiator housing is right at 28 mm thick and the core itself is right around 21-22 mm thick making this a rather thin radiator in terms of watercooling heat exchangers. We’ll see how this turns out, shortly.

The Swiftech H220 X2 unit is completely PWM capable and can utilize a PWM controller for the fans and pump. It also has the LCD control for the reservoir and CPU block color display.

The tubing utilized for the 220 X2 is Mayhem’s 3/8”ID & 5/8” OD (9.5mm ID & 15.9mm OD ) clear and visibly displays the contained coolant. The included dye packs can be added to show off any shade of color that you wish to pump through your cooling loop.

Filling, topping off or adding dye to the cooler can easily be done via a large, chrome fill cap on the reservoir.

The CPU block itself is a chrome plated copper block that utilizes a horizontal set of micro-channels and has a clear, crystal acrylic top with the Swiftech ‘S’ logo centered between the I/O fittings. An LCD is embedded within the block and can be controlled from the PWM controller unit, if desired.


A Look Inside
The Swiftech H220 X2 is considered an expandable cooler that can be used to extend a cooling loop to include a graphics card, for example. The guys at Swiftech designed the unit to use G1/4 fittings which are one of the most standard thread sizes used in the watercooling industry. This allows for easy expansion of an additional radiator or cooling block by incorporating components using 3/8” ID tubing and fittings.

Disassembly of the cooler for expansion is very simple as it utilizes metal clamps over the black chrome swivel barbs on both the CPU block and the pump/radiator. The Swiftech H220 X2 comes pre-filled with approximately 300mL of a bluish, glycol coolant.

The pump used on the H220 X2 is a 6 watt unit, as defined on the Swiftech.com product page. Flow rate that I observed in testing was a little under a 1/2 gallon per minute. This would put it directly in line with the EKWB Predator pump, as it also uses a 6w DDC family variant unit and very similar flow rate.




Thermal Test Setup and Methods
The Swiftech H220 X2 is meant to be a CPU cooler with the ability to expand into a full watercooling loop, if desired. As with previous thermal load tests, I expanded the thermal load tests to include loads that would simulate a single CPU at stock speeds, a single CPU at overclocked speeds and both of these tests including an added graphics card to determine the overall load capability of the H220 X2. My watercooling lab equipment offers me the ability to simulate thermal loads accurately for different points of data to report on.

In this case, we’re testing thermal loads in watts at various intervals:

95w
130w
150w
175w
200w
250w
300w
350w
400w
450w
500w

Each of these load tests is done with the fans set at speeds 1200RPM, 1600RPM and 1800RPM (full speed).

Also, each thermal test and each speed test is done with the fans in both push and pull configuration.

All tests are run for 20 minutes, and a total of 64 individual tests are run. I also utilize a 20 minute thermal ramp-up time between thermal load changes; ex. 200w --> 225w load increase. While I know that the write up seems to be simple and directly to the point, there is a lot of work behind the scenes to collect all the data, in addition to charting and graphing the data, as well. (It's 32 hours just for the load testing; I know you're over there doing the math on those numbers.)

These thermal load tests in watts represent the TDP or thermal design power, of the components being cooled in the system. Whether that is a CPU, or a CPU and a graphics card together in a loop, the total TDP is what needs to be evaluated since you have the potential for hundreds of processors and their clock speeds as well as graphics cards and their clock speeds to be cooled by this cooler.

Cooling performance of watercooling is determined by the difference in coolant temperature against the temperature of the ambient air. This is called the temperature delta. The lower the temperature delta or ?T, the better performing the cooler at that load. In the world of water cooling, a 5C delta is considered excellent, a 10C delta is considered good and a 15C delta is average.

For more information, please see Understanding TDP and Understanding Temperature Delta or DT for more information.

Here is where having all those collected points of data comes in handy – a visible performance graph:


While the groupings on the line graph make it almost a dead heat across all testing loads, it is interesting to see that as the loads get higher , we see pull fan configuration actually nudge out push config, albeit, just barely. Everywhere else on the graph, there really is minimal difference in fan orientation. Given that the Swiftech H220 mounting options would appear to be limited to a top-mount in a case ceiling and since Swiftech ships the H220 X2 with fans in push configuration, the recommended setup is going to pull ambient room air down through the top of the case and pushing it through the Swiftech radiator, into the inside of the PC case. The benefit to this setup is making use of cooler ambient room air rather than utilizing air from within the PC case to cool the radiator. Remember, Push and Pull configuration does not necessarily dictate the airflow into or out of a case; it merely dictates the airflow of the fans over the radiator itself.


The chart makes it pretty easy to see where the cooling delta slides past 10C at 200 watts on both push and pull fan configuration. For reference, the EK Predator 240 had this occur right around 300 watts. This is where I start to make some conclusions on the design differences between these two coolers as the thinner radiator core and lower radiator FPI on the Swiftech H220 X2 cause it to fall behind the EK Predator 240 XLC. While both units are meant to be expandable to include a graphics card (for example), the Swiftech H220 X2 doesn’t really give you the delta leeway in order to do so without also adding an additional radiator to the mix. While you could certainly opt to ditch the second radiator, be aware that your delta is going to take a hit which in turn means your load temperatures will also increase. Since temperature delta is an equation based around coolant flow rate, fan air flow and radiator surface area, if you aren’t changing your pump flow rate or amount of radiator surface area, your only option is to go with a Hail Mary and hope that upping to very high speed fans can help compensate for the increase in thermal load.

Fan Noise Levels at Testing Levels
Fan noise is often a matter of personal perception, but we can measure the sound level output of the fans in a quantitative way: decibels. Measurement of sound using the decibel is a logarithmic factor, so as the value of the measured level increases, it increases as a steady multiplier. This means that every increase of 10dB means a doubling in perceived noise/sound level.
Using my digital decibel meter, I captured the noise levels at 0 RPM, 1200 RPM, 1600 RPM and 1800 RPM at a distance of one foot (30cm):

With the fans completely off and a room ambient sound level of < 30 dB, the meter is unable to register. At 1200rpm the meter reading still results in levels less than 30dB and still does not register any noise level. At 1600rpm, the meter registers 35.4dB and at full speed of 1800 RPM, we see a value of 38.7dB. For comparison, many decibel charts list 30dB as the levels in an audio recording studio (obviously silent) and 40dB would be similar to the sounds in a quiet bedroom. The levels taken on this cooler fall below 30dB and don’t even reach the levels thought to be inclusive of a very quiet room at full fan speeds. Compare this to the Corsair H110i GTX where the lowest fan speeds tested (1200 RPM) were 38.2dB and the highest fan speeds were 64.2dB (2300rpm). EK Predator 240 saw slightly lower fan levels at 70dB is considered sound levels of a passenger car on the highway.

Conclusion and Final Thoughts
Swiftech has been a staple company and manufacturer in the air cooling and watercooling community for over two decades. They have long been one of the premier vendors who have worked to develop compact, performance liquid cooling solutions even before the closed loop cooling solution market boom. The cooler has the unique draw of the pump impeller and clear reservoir to show you that ‘things are working’ inside the cooler, which is a neat feature that gives you both the peace of mind to see coolant levels at all times as well as showing your friends the gizmos and doo-dads that make liquid cooling work. The down side to this is that the performance falls a little short due to the design…to enable you to get the ‘look at me WOW factor’, it creates a very thick footprint – from the bottom of the MCP30DX pump to the top of the fans, a staggering 115mm of cooler must exist in order to provide the reservoir and pump enough area to exist. This in turn means that to try and shave millimeters off of the H220 X2 waistline, Swiftech had to use a very slim radiator core. They could have opted to use a more dense fin arrangement, but oddly did not.

The PWM control board being an ancillary component kind of makes the unit a bit messy. There are wires that have to be run back and forth from the fans, the pump and the CPU motherboard header. Having it integrated somewhere on the unit itself would be a much cleaner design (EKWB Predator) and would eliminate clutter. Also, I’m not a fan of flashing lights and colors, but I feel that Swiftech is looking to swoon buyers with the ability to use colored coolants and LED lights to show off their liquid cooling solution rather than focus more on performance and simplicity. At the end of the day, most users in this price range are going to buy a cooler based on simple math – aesthetics being the numerator and cooling the denominator. My opinion would be to drop the LEDs and bump the radiator FPI.

The H220 X2 does have a very, very good place, though. The simple ability to expand the cooler in the future makes it a good purchase for a buyer who might not want to invest a lot of money into a new hobby, but choosing a closed loop cooler has obvious limitations for them. Too often I see threads about users who dropped over $100 on a closed loop liquid cooler only to find a budding interest in more advanced liquid cooling but find themselves sitting at a dead end. Do closed loop coolers have their place? Sure, as long as you acknowledge that for the same cost (or more) you’re sitting at a 1:1 with good air cooling in both performance and customization.

The Swiftech H220 X2 is a very cost-effective solution that offers the potential for a watercooling newbie to get into liquid cooling at a price competitive to a large closed loop cooler, but with the capability to also expand the unit once they gain confidence or larger budget – or both. Given that the design and functionality is meant to be compared to the EKWB Predator series, Swiftech has a competitive advantage where the almighty dollar is being judged. This is also the case when you compare the H220 X2 against other 2x120mm and 2x140mm closed loop coolers that do not have the ability to be expanded, yet cost within a handful of loose change. In my mind, it is the defining entry level liquid cooling solution that I would recommend, and I do; there is not a place where I can see suggesting a Corsair H100 series (or similar) cooler to anyone when Swiftech has this at the same price point.
18 answers Last reply
More about swiftech h220 performance testing observations
  1. Excellent work! Thank You!
  2. This article like the many others is missing one important part. It has been stated that the LEDs on the prestige units can be controlled by an external source like an LED controller. Not one article even touches on this. There are many comments on this in various forums (like OCN) that have tried and can't figure out how to do this.

    Any possibility an addendum to this article could be done to explain this?
  3. You can change the LEDs on the normal units as well, not just the Prestige. The distribution/controller block does this, as mentioned. There is a small button that you press when the fans are connected.

    See this image:

    The small, silver rectangle with the round black button is the LED cycle button - that literally is about as much information the boxed instructions include.
  4. rubix_1011 said:
    You can change the LEDs on the normal units as well, not just the Prestige. The distribution/controller block does this, as mentioned. There is a small button that you press when the fans are connected.

    See this image:

    The small, silver rectangle with the round black button is the LED cycle button - that literally is about as much information the boxed instructions include.

    Yeah but that does not answer my question. It has been stated that you can use an external controller to cycle through the LEDs. I have seen a few people ask with no answers. I have been wondering if it is just a single set of wires or are they not identified so easily. Here soon and if they are available I will be purchasing one of the Prestige units (probably the 320) and want to make sure I can use the LEDs with an external controller of some sort.

    I do not want to have to open my case up and mess with that tiny button every time I want to change the color or even turn the LEDs off, so an external controller is a must.
  5. Yes, I answered the question.

    The 'controller' is little box that is in the image above. That's how it works - you plug the fans and any LED leads into this and control the color with the button....you'll have to open your case to do so unless you mount it outside the case somehow and run the wiring.
  6. rubix_1011 said:
    Yes, I answered the question.

    The 'controller' is little box that is in the image above. That's how it works - you plug the fans and any LED leads into this and control the color with the button....you'll have to open your case to do so unless you mount it outside the case somehow and run the wiring.


    No you did not answer the question I asked. Maybe you misread but I was not asking how to control the LEDs with the little button. I was asking about using an "external" controller to control the LEDs on the Swiftech AIO, meaning something like the NZXT Hue (not necessarily that but you get the idea). A Swiftech rep made a comment on another forum that you could use an external controller to control the LEDs (not using that little button) and not have to open your case every time you want to change the color.
  7. Madmaxneo said:
    rubix_1011 said:
    Yes, I answered the question.

    The 'controller' is little box that is in the image above. That's how it works - you plug the fans and any LED leads into this and control the color with the button....you'll have to open your case to do so unless you mount it outside the case somehow and run the wiring.


    No you did not answer the question I asked. Maybe you misread but I was not asking how to control the LEDs with the little button. I was asking about using an "external" controller to control the LEDs on the Swiftech AIO, meaning something like the NZXT Hue (not necessarily that but you get the idea). A Swiftech rep made a comment on another forum that you could use an external controller to control the LEDs (not using that little button) and not have to open your case every time you want to change the color.


    An NZHT Hue controller has nothing to do with the original review of the cooler, so it is absolutely not something rubix_1011 would have even thought to cover since it did not come in the Swiftech box the cooler was shipped in.

    Madmaxneo said:
    This article like the many others is missing one important part.


    The review is not missing anything relevant to the cooler, it's capabilities, and cooling performance.
  8. 4Ryan6 said:

    An NZHT Hue controller has nothing to do with the original review of the cooler, so it is absolutely not something rubix_1011 would have even thought to cover since it did not come in the Swiftech box the cooler was shipped in.

    Madmaxneo said:
    This article like the many others is missing one important part.


    The review is not missing anything relevant to the cooler, it's capabilities, and cooling performance.



    This is frustrating, but I will try to explain in the most simple terms. I never said the :NZXT hue had to be covered, in fact my exact comment was "meaning something like the NZXT Hue (not necessarily that but you get the idea)". Something like, meaning any kind of EXTERNAL controller other than the "little" button on the unit itself. As I asked and for some reason have to keep explaining is I was wondering about using an EXTERNAL controller on the new Swiftech AIOs to control the LEDs. Swiftech has mentioned being able to use an EXTERNAL controller to control the LEDs but there has not been one review that even touches on that. I am not the first person to ask that question but have since not seen it yet to be answered. I believe that is relevant question to any review especially when Swiftech makes a claim that the LEDs can be controlled via an external controller.

    I really wish people would read my question all the way through before commenting and making assumptions about what I am asking.
  9. @ rubix_1011

    This is the very reason I locked my threads after posting the information.

    @ Madmaxneo

    I read what you said, it is still irrelevant to the original review, take it up with Swiftech support.
  10. Madmaxneo said:
    4Ryan6 said:

    An NZHT Hue controller has nothing to do with the original review of the cooler, so it is absolutely not something rubix_1011 would have even thought to cover since it did not come in the Swiftech box the cooler was shipped in.

    Madmaxneo said:
    This article like the many others is missing one important part.


    The review is not missing anything relevant to the cooler, it's capabilities, and cooling performance.



    This is frustrating, but I will try to explain in the most simple terms. I never said the :NZXT hue had to be covered, in fact my exact comment was "meaning something like the NZXT Hue (not necessarily that but you get the idea)". Something like, meaning any kind of EXTERNAL controller other than the "little" button on the unit itself. As I asked and for some reason have to keep explaining is I was wondering about using an EXTERNAL controller on the new Swiftech AIOs to control the LEDs. Swiftech has mentioned being able to use an EXTERNAL controller to control the LEDs but there has not been one review that even touches on that. I am not the first person to ask that question but have since not seen it yet to be answered. I believe that is relevant question to any review especially when Swiftech makes a claim that the LEDs can be controlled via an external controller.

    I really wish people would read my question all the way through before commenting and making assumptions about what I am asking.


    This is for 2 main reasons:

    1) Not everyone knows that Swiftech made these claims in order to test scenarios for them...I certainly did not.

    2) Testers and reviewers are not going to go out and purchase additional hardware for the review of a product when the idea is to only review the product in question. What you are asking about is ancillary to the actual Swiftech cooler and more specifically about LEDs in fans, which is irrelevant to functionality of the cooler's performance, noise levels and factory build condition. I am not going to purchase a fan controller to test alternate claimed LED functionality. You might wish to have Swiftech provide more detail on this since they made the claim.
  11. rubix_1011 said:


    This is for 2 main reasons:

    1) Not everyone knows that Swiftech made these claims in order to test scenarios for them...I certainly did not.

    2) Testers and reviewers are not going to go out and purchase additional hardware for the review of a product when the idea is to only review the product in question. What you are asking about is ancillary to the actual Swiftech cooler and more specifically about LEDs in fans, which is irrelevant to functionality of the cooler's performance, noise levels and factory build condition. I am not going to purchase a fan controller to test alternate claimed LED functionality. You might wish to have Swiftech provide more detail on this since they made the claim.



    I agree, this article is not really missing anything. It is after hearing that claim I have not seen it done and a few people are asking about how to do that because they do not understand that much about it. It seems that all the reviews for the new Swfitech AIOs are the same across the board. I keep hoping to see someone at least mention the subject.

    What you said above could've been the perfect reply to my first comment. Please understand that I was not trying to troll or start an argument but it felt like no one was actually reading what I was asking, so I felt a need to explain further.
  12. I think it was that I misunderstood your original question and thought it to be around the LED/distro board that comes with the unit, and not a 3rd party product.
  13. rubix_1011 said:
    I think it was that I misunderstood your original question and thought it to be around the LED/distro board that comes with the unit, and not a 3rd party product.


    No worries, all is good.

    One irrelevant question though. Why is it every time I reply to a post recently on Tom's Hardware I have to actually search for the box to type in my reply after I hit the "reply to" button?
  14. The reply-to button quotes the entire discussion to the post that you're replying to and then lists the rest of the thread below it. I agree, it is sort of a pain. I usually just hit 'post an answer' if I don't need to quote the previous post, or just use boxes around what I actually want to quote.
  15. just a quick question im a noob at liquid cooling. i have a 220x2 prestige. i was wondering if the liquid has to be filled up to the top to a point where no more fits in or if i have to leave a bit of room for air.
  16. droppingbombs said:
    just a quick question im a noob at liquid cooling. i have a 220x2 prestige. i was wondering if the liquid has to be filled up to the top to a point where no more fits in or if i have to leave a bit of room for air.


    It is recommended to leave just a little bit of room. I am talking like a few bubbles worth of room but without the bubbles.....
  17. Madmaxneo said:
    droppingbombs said:
    just a quick question im a noob at liquid cooling. i have a 220x2 prestige. i was wondering if the liquid has to be filled up to the top to a point where no more fits in or if i have to leave a bit of room for air.


    It is recommended to leave just a little bit of room. I am talking like a few bubbles worth of room but without the bubbles.....


    I will fix it then ty for the info!
  18. Madmaxneo said:
    This article like the many others is missing one important part. It has been stated that the LEDs on the prestige units can be controlled by an external source like an LED controller. Not one article even touches on this. There are many comments on this in various forums (like OCN) that have tried and can't figure out how to do this.

    Any possibility an addendum to this article could be done to explain this?


    I recently purchased the Swiftech H240-X2 Prestige. I plugged the reset button on my case into the two vertical prongs on the swiftech fan hub (as opposed to the motherboard). This allows me to control the LEDs on the swiftech cooler through the reset button on the case. Not sure if this is what you are looking for but I assume a specific LED controller would work similarly.
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