A lot of the enclosed “for newbs” water-cooling kits we see at Maximum PC are pretty lame. You get a pump/heatsink combination that’s mildly irritating to install, connected by tubing that’s slightly wider than the veins in your arm. The tubing goes to a radiator that’s often unable to handle the heat output of the processor—even with a noisy 12cm fan pushing more air through it than a jet engine. You spend half an hour installing the device for a whopping cooling difference of three degrees versus what you get from a stock air cooler.
Assembling and installing Swiftech’s new H20-120 water-cooling setup will leave many on the brink of frustration, but if you’re willing to trade an hour of your life for additional cooling relief, this device delivers. It cooled our test rig by an average of 6.5 degrees more than our stock cooler in both our idle and punishment CPU tests, outperforming most of the water-cooling kits we’ve tested.
Setting up the H20-120 is similar to building a DIY water-cooling kit. The pieces don’t come assembled; you must do the grunt work. If you’re running an AMD rig, you need to take apart the Intel-specific waterblock that’s attached to the pumping mechanism by default. Instructions are provided, but the process could be confusing for a liquid-cooling newbie.
In a perfect world, Swiftech would have taken a note from its competitors and preassembled the entire kit. The company could close-loop the system and free everyone from having to double, double toil and trouble up a liter of coolant—of which the cooling kit uses very little. Small details, but absolutely crucial for inexperienced users that want a no-fuss setup.
The H20-120 functions great, but it straddles the line between the newbie and enthusiast markets. It’s mildly complex for the former, and its lack of included water cooling for graphics cards will surely make the latter froth at the mouth. Consider this a practice run for your first piecemeal setup.
Great performance, easier than a DIY setup.
Swift Boat FUD
A bit complicated for newbs; no GPU cooling lines.
100% Load (C)
Best scores are bolded. Idle temperatures were measured after 30 minutes of inactivity, and full-load temps were measured after running CPU Burn-in for one hour.