Water Cooling Performance Tested on a Gaming Machine

We decided on CP water cooling for the first one and measured just how far we’ve come thanks to improvements in design and manufacturing. Through the ages CPU cooling blocks mass drop is now featuring the AK GM 220 semi-open studio headphones check them and other drops out at the link in the video description, so the first step in this undertaking was to gather up CPU blocks from as far back as we possibly could by teaming up with swiftech. We were able to scrape together seven of their nine blocks going all the way back to July of 2005 a span of over 10 years so time to get started testing them right not I would’ve been too easy the intention was to use a modern test bench to eliminate as many variables from our test as possible.

And as the astute among you might have already realized Intel’s latest flagship x99 platform not only didn’t exist yet but Intel wasn’t even the performance King back then so we needed to source modern mounting brackets for many of the blocks. Time for some DIY metal fabrication step one was to glue the hold-down plate drawings that swiftech modified for us onto a piece of sheet steel then we went to work with the aviation shares cutting the outside edges we drilled out the middle.

As much as we could with a step drill finishing off again with the aviation shears and finally we center punch the holes and drilled through them with a titanium bit cleaning things up a little bit with the dremel. This was pretty tedious but we didn’t want to bother our friends over at proto case to make them for us if we didn’t have to. And so the apogee GT said required a specific plate thickness and a pretty precise cut out so they ended up whipping one of those up for us in the shop so much for that but anyway thanks proto case as always you guys are lightning fast and the plate fits perfectly.

Let’s introduce now then the test bench that were using we used an Intel core i7 6850 k 6 core processor with a 240 6 millimeter squared I and a 140 watt rated TDP so it should be noted that according to this Tom’s Hardware article. It closer to a hundred watts in the real world this might be important for later the rest of the components in no particular order RNA 699 deluxe to 32 gigs of Corsair Vengeance DDR4 a random GTX 980 TI that wasn’t connected to the water loop making it somewhat irrelevant and our water cooling gear and alphacool.

Next so sexy 45 triple 120 million rad with not to industrial PPC fans a d5 pump with an KX top and some the three-eighths inch premium flex tubing we used IC diamond for our thermal compound so each block was mounted. Using EM four screws with nylon washers to achieve the desired mounting pressure we were a little bit approximate but as I think you’ll see from the results it likely didn’t matter much idle temps were recorded using either 64th logging tool after 10 minutes.

Then low temps were recorded using a three-minute mean average after allowing the water temps to reach equilibrium room temperature was maintained by our zone control HVACs system at 23 degrees Celsius. This is the legendary swiftech storm designed by calf is he and sold to swiftech for mass production back in year 5. It features an impingement design with a mid plate sporting 35 micro jets that blasted turbulent water into 35 corresponding divots in its thick copper base it was a nightmare to manufacture making it very expensive and its performance while superior on bear small die single core processors fell quickly behind as dual-core and quad-core cpu’s with integrated heat spreaders. It became the norm the story behind 2006 is a pudgy was less about raw performance with one degree Celsius being optimistic and more about optimizing for enthusiasts CPU design trends and ease of manufacturing thanks to the relatively simple uniform diamond pin matrix in its copper base.

It was less restrictive contributing to better liquid flow rates for multi-block loops it handled and continues to handle large CPU dies with heat spreaders better than the storm and thanks to its cheap injection-molded Acetyl top it was one of if not me first legitimately mass-produced CPU water coolers. This exact one was my first block when I got into water cooling about 10 years ago the follow-up the Apple GT looks outwardly identical to the apogee but thanks to manufacturing improvements and an enthusiast inspired tweak to blow out the base with a thicker o-ring.

To compensate for Intel’s less-than-stellar IHS flatness it boasts slightly better performance not Swift x 123 degrees Celsius from our measurement. More on that in a moment the apogee GTX released shortly afterward was basically a hot rod version of the apogee GT with the same copper base plate and then marketing that was focused more on the cool-looking aluminum. I guess that’s probably why I couldn’t find a working one for this video don’t mix your metals kids moving on the apogee GT Zed brought about significant improvements in manufacturing that allowed the small diamond pins of the Apple GGT to be shrunk to only 250 microns for a claimed performance gain of two and a half degrees holy crap too bad on our 6850k.

It really didn’t amount to much but back to my earlier comment about these disparities that are starting to pop up the GT Zed design was as much about optimizing for the dye orientation of Intel’s then flagship qx60 700 quad-core as about anything else a trend that we’re likely to see continued the apogee XT from 2009 was from what we can measure the last big step forward in CP water block performance. Sure it was kind of restrictive but it looked on amazing and thanks to its redesigned upper housing with the inlet centered over a much larger 250 micron pin matrix it crushed its predecessor with our numbers nearly backing Swift exclaimed of a 3-degree improvement as long as you had a whopping 80 dollars to spare apogee HD. Which followed two full years later rocked week 225 micron pins thirty percent lower flow restriction to improve GPU block performance and according to switch 2degrees better.

Thames though I suspect we’d have to pull 3960 ex or something out of our hats to observe the specific optimizations that were done to achieve that result I’m actually still happily running a limited-edition gold-plated apogee HD in my personal rig which leads us then finally sorry we got lazy and skipped the apogee XL. To the apogee XL to the current flagship block that is only available as part of swiftech H220 and H 320×240 chores the same to 25 micron thin / pin base plate as the excel but tweaks the inlet and outlet design of the top cover for improved flow characteristics swiftech claims about a degree and a half of performance over the HD. But we saw a mere half a degree improvement in spite of the five-year-old design of the HD on a modern processor leading me to believe that most of the performance to be gained with future water blocks will come from compensating for the weird idiosyncrasies that Intel introduces with each processor generation rather than pure thermal transfer improvements. Though I will be interested to see if the prototype SKF block that swiftech showed me at CES will change my mind the fins on that sucker are so small that they can only be produced by shaving copper and bending it up into little tiny fins. Maybe there will be another leap forward after all I’ll be sure to update you in another 10 years.

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