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 Post subject: Swiftech Apogee Drive II waterblock/pump combo
PostPosted: Wed Oct 31, 2012 11:39 pm 

Joined: Sun Jun 13, 2010 12:44 pm
Posts: 422
Location: Seattle

Swiftech's Apogee Drive II is a modification of their Apogee HD CPU block that doubles as a 'replacement top' for their pumps. I ordered mine directly from Swiftech's online store, which offers the choice of buying the unit with a MCP35X pump pre-installed or you can order one without a pump and install your own.

You can find detailed reviews which measure the pressure and precise noise levels of Swiftech's pumps online, this review is for stating their real-world noise levels and user impressions when installed in an Apogee Drive II.

I define my hearing as 'above average', soft-mounted Scythe Slip-Streams are inaudible at 600 RPM when my ear is 1 foot away.

My home is half a mile away from main roads and surrounded by trees which muffle most noises.  Even when idle, my computer is typically the loudest component of the room.

Setup: Asus P8Z77-I motherboard.
   Intel i5 3570K CPU
   Sapphire HD 6870 GPU
   8GB of memory

Loop: Apogee Drive II pump/CPU block
   Swiftech MCRES Micro V2 Reservoir
   Heatkiller HD 6870 full cover GPU block
   2 Hardware Labs SR-1 140mm Radiators (with Arctic Cooling F14 PWM fans)
   1/2" inner diameter tubing with Koolance compression fittings.

Pump and fan speeds measured with Speedfan, fan speeds set to slowly begin ramping up when CPU or GPU exceed 40c.

Installation: The only difference between the AMD and various Intel versions of the product are the retention mechanism and backplate. The backplate has a piece of sticky foam on each edge and the first step is of installation is to cut away any foam that will come in contact with a raised part of the motherboard then let the tape hold it in place. The second step is to attach the upper part of the mechanism to the pump and apply thermal compound (they include some) followed by tightening the base through the motherboard to the backplate. I found this part easier than ANY heatsink I've used in the past since there are no fins to interfere with the screwdriver.

The fitting 'arms' can be adjusted 30 degrees back or forth to aid in tube routing, but minor disassembly with a miniature screwdriver is required. Use of 1/2" compression fittings will interfere with the Intel mount if tilted away from the block.

If you use the combo with a MCP35X pump as I do, it draws power from your computer's PSU rather than the motherboard, and uses the motherboard header only to report RPM and pick up a PWM signal. The assembly included standard G1/4 barbs and clamps, but I opted to use compression fittings.

Pump noise: If a PWM signal is not detected the motor runs at full speed and sounds like a miniature boat motor, strong fish tank pump, or a higher pitched version of a refrigerator motor when the door has been left open too long.

But once a PWM signal between 0 and 20% is detected it slows to near silence: Speedfan reports that my MC35X's lowest speed is achieved at a 19% PWM signal, and not even setting it to zero will make the pump go any slower. (Verified by bubbles that tend to get trapped in a vertical section of the loop after heavy gaming.)

Unfortunately, making it go any higher than 20% PWM will make the pump audible; The minimum RPM is ~1150, so it sounds distinctly different from any fan running at 'silent' speeds. This problem is further enhanced by the lack of encasement or suspension options: Since the pump is mounted directly to the motherboard, the only way to prevent vibrations from traveling to other hardware is to find another method of cooling the processor.

However, even with a second radiator and a GPU block, I find that the minimum flow rate is plenty fast enough for it to remain at minimum speed in most situations. In my experience, there is no need to increase the speed since the radiator fans can ramp up much more smoothly with less low-range noise than the pump. After 3 months of gaming I haven't found a need to increase the pump's speed at all.

Conclusion: I believe this product is an excellent choice for people who either have limited space in their chassis or those seeking a quiet alternative to a 'closed loop' cooling system with the option for future expansion.

Pros: The minimum PWM speed of the Swiftech's pre-installed pump option offers a 'set it and forget it' method of ensuring the pump will stay sufficiently quiet without the fluid running too slowly or crawling to a stop.
By combining the pump and CPU block into one unit, you can save space and possibly money depending on your preference on fittings and tubing.

Cons: Pump becomes noticeably audible above the lowest speed setting.
No way to prevent the pump's vibrations from transferring to the rest of the system.
Not all motherboards support the 0-20 percent PWM range when booting; I need to put up noisy pump speeds until Windows finishes booting and Speedfan takes over.

My build:

Swiftech MCP35X review:

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