When Swiftech said it was sending us the most extreme kit it has ever built, the drooling commenced. The kit arrived, and sure enough, it’s extreme—and it performs extremely well, to boot. But while it’s the best-performing kit we’ve ever tested, it’s not perfect.
The Apex Ultra uses Swiftech’s Apogee universal water block, and it feeds that beast via fat, half-inch tubing and a high-flow, five-speed pump, thus bucking the low-flow trend common to most of today’s kits. The kit also includes a transparent reservoir and a dual-12cm radiator that hangs off the back of your PC using Swiftech’s patented Radbox design.
The numbers the Apex Ultra posted in testing are astonishing. On our Athlon FX-55 CPU, it registered an idle temp of a mere 29 C, and a load temp of just 36 C. (The stock air-cooling temps are 40 C at idle, and 54 C under load.) We were able to overclock our processor by 235MHz—the highest overclock we’ve ever achieved on our zero-point platform.
Impressive performance, for sure, but there are a few issues with this kit. First, installation requires you to drill two holes in your case above the I/O shield, to route the tubing from the radiator. Not everyone will want to drill holes in their case, so you can flip the Radbox upside down and route the tubing through an empty PCI slot, but no bracket is provided to do so.
Second, attaching the tubes to the pump is a cast-iron bitch. We had trouble getting the tube over the barb even after we used a ton of hand soap as lubricant. There’s no reason why installation of the tubing has to be this difficult. None. The installation manual is as user-unfriendly as any we’ve seen, which has always been Swiftech’s Achilles’ heel.
While its cooling performance is second-to-none, the installation seems overly difficult. It’s certainly an “extreme” kit, in every sense of the word.
Month Reviewed: April 2006
+ TUBING: Insane cooling, good looks, and an adjustable pump.
- NOOB TUBING: Instructions are unclear, and attaching tubing is difficult.