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Swiftech MCX462+ Heatsink Review

Oct 26, 2003 by Russ Kinder

Product Swiftech MCX462+ Socket-A heatsink
Manufacturer Swiftech
Street Price ~US$45

This review is a perfect example of what happens when you procrastinate. Due to a millions reasons I could cite but won't, this Swiftech cooler languished on the shelves of the SPCR test lab for at least 6 months before I finally put it into a carton of stuff destined for kind Russ, who offered to help me get out from under my workload.

Well, Russ did test the cooler and sent the writeup over to me, but by the time I had it laid out for posting, I discovered this model had just disappeared from the Swiftech website, replaced by the "splayed pin" (for want of a better phrase) versions (MCX462-V) that most people have at least seen pictures of by now. Mind you, the MCX462+ is still sold at many stores, and probably will be for some time.

This is hardly a hot news item; rather, it's a confirmation of the rank we'd already given it in our Recommended HS list. Thanks very much Russ! My apologies to Swiftech.

Please Note: A review of the new MCX462-V on both P4 and AMD platforms is in the works even as I write, this time pronto pronto by the R & R team -- Russ & Ralf. So rest assured, the latest in Swiftech cooling technology will soon be laid out from SPCR unique quiet performance point of view. -- Mike Chin, editor.

One look at the MCX462+ and you just know that it came from the guys at Swiftech. Their copper base with helical pins has become about as close to a universally recognizable design as anything else in the heatsink world.



One look and you just know it is a Swiftech.

But recognition can come at a price. The basic design of Swiftech heatsinks hasn't changed in several years, even though the wattage of processors continues to rise. Essentially the newer Swiftech heatsinks are differentiated from their ancestors by having more pins, shaped differently and placed closer together. This increases efficiency by giving the heatsink more surface area to distribute the heat from. The downside is that more airflow is required to force the air out from the deep recesses of the center of the sink closest to the source of the heat.

Luckily for us here at SPCR, our unique heatsink methodology makes it easy to compare this Swiftech to the earlier (2 generations back) MC462A tested by Mike. Although 2 different processors were used for the testing, they are fairly close in terms of heat production. Mike's XP1600 Palomino produces a max of 62.8W, while my XP2100 T-bred B maxes out at 62.1W. (a difference of only 1%)

SPECIFICATIONS

MC462A:

  • CNC machined, C110 copper base, 3"W x 3"L x .375"H, flatness better than 0.001", micro surface finish 8 or better.
  • 269 Pins made of High Thermal Conductivity aluminum alloy ( 230 W/m-K)
  • Overall dimensions with fan 3"x3"x3", without fan 3"x3"x1.56"
  • Weight: 20oz (560g) without fan.

MCX462+:

  • CNC machined, C110 copper base, 3"W x 3"L x .375"H, flatness better than 0.001", micro surface finish 8 or better.
  • 371 Helicoid Pins made of High Thermal Conductivity Aluminum Alloy, press fitted in the base.
  • Overall heatsink dimensions 3"x3"x1.56"
  • Weight: 20 oz (560g) without fan

THE DESIGN

It's Classic Swiftech, requiring that the motherboard be equipped with 4 mounting holes around the CPU. Anchoring nuts get installed in the mounting holes around the CPU, and then pre-cailbrated springs on captive bolts apply a precise degree of pressure on the processor die. The captive bolts and springs are significant improvements over the all-loose installation parts of the earlier HS, quite easy after the anchor nuts are installed.

After you install a Swiftech heatsink you learn two important things:

1. This is the most PITA way of installing a HS. You absolutely have to pull the motherboard out, there's no other way. Then you have to fiddle with little washers and little standoffs and little nuts. %#^!

2. This is the way all heavyweight heatsinks should be installed. Really. I've never seen a heatsink mounting method that is more secure or more foolproof. You'd have to actually try really hard to damage a CPU core with this system. And once it's one nothing is going to dislodge it. If you're going to hang 2lbs of copper off the side of your motherboard, this is the way to do it.

FIT & FINISH



You can't possibly make the mirror finish any better.

As always, the finish on this swiftech is superb. Looking at it, holding it, you can't help but be impressed. They really take pride in the finish on the mating surface, and it shows like a mirror. I can't imagine that anything would be gained by trying to lap this thing further, you'd probably make it worse.

TESTING

The Test Bed for MCX462+:

* ABIT NF7 motherboard, with latest BIOS revisions. Modified with passively cooled NB.

* XP2100 Thoroughbred B, at stock speed and voltage (1.65v, 62.1 Watts max)

* 1GB of PC2100 RAM.

* ATI 9500 graphics card, passively cooled with Zalman HP-80A heatpipe cooler.

* Seagate Barracuda IV hard drive.

* Enermax 365 PSU, modded with an L1A @7 volts.

* 80mm Panaflo L1A reference fan - at 12, 7 and 5V

* Temperatures are read from the internal thermal diode of the CPU with Motherboard Monitor 5

* Ambient temperature was 21°C

Test Bed for MC462 - see SPCR's Unique Heatsink Testing Methodology

RESULTS

Heatsink
Temp °C - Idle
Temp °C - Load
Delta T in °C
°C/W
12V
7V
5V
12V
7V
5V
12 V
7V
5V
12V
7V
5V
MCX462+
32
41.5
48
43
56
73
22
35
52
0.35
0.55
0.82
MC462*
37
43
50
47
54
69
26
32
48
0.43
0.52
0.78

* Temperatures for the MC462 compensated -1°C for the higher 22°C ambient of prevailing test conditions.

At higher airflow the extra pins and great surface area do help. The MCX462+ with the Panaflo fan at 12V is a significantly better cooler. One would expect that with a more powerful fan than the Panaflo, perhaps with one of those LOUD 50+ CFM fans, the MCX462+ could be many degrees ahead of the older design, especially with a hotter CPU.

With lower airflow, however, the older MC462A is the superior performer. The reduced spacing between the pins of the MCX462+ clearly become a hindrance as the fan speed and airflow is reduced.

As admirable as the workmanship on the MCX462+ is, its cooling efficiency at modest noise levels and airflow is clearly bettered by many less costly models on SPCR's recommended HS pages. The MCX462+ may well remain a top overclocker's choice, but for SPCR readers, there are better options.

NOTE: Swiftech's new MCX462-V adds even more pins while simultaneously creating bigger spaces between them, and is promoted as a low noise high performance solution. Swiftech is out to prove that there is still life left in this design, even in an age of declining noise limits. Look for a review on the new design soon.

Our thanks to Swiftech for the MCX462+ sample and for their saintly patience.

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