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Swiftech Apogee XT CPU Water Block

Holding the ‘New Flagship’ crown, we review Swiftech’s Apogee XT to see how it fairs against its younger brother, the Apogee GTZ.

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Introduction

With quad core processors and dual video cards becoming the norm in hardcore enthusiasts computers, it’s not uncommon to see those components water cooled. Heat removal is a never ending battle with powerful hardware and Swiftech is a company that is well aware of this. Known for their water blocks, water pumps, and radiators, Swiftech is one of the few names you will hear of when looking into water cooling your computer. To accommodate Intel’s quad core Socket 1366 and 1156 processors, Swiftech created the Apogee XT water block.

In comparison to the previous flagship block, the GTZ, the XT is capable of lowering processor temps an additional 2-3C due to a less restrictive design. To confirm these claims by Swiftech, it’s only right that we put the GTZ against the XT and see which one performs the best.

Swiftech Water Cooling Products Price
Swiftech Apogee XT Extreme CPU Water Block $68.95
Swiftech Apogee GTZ Extreme CPU Water Block $59.95
Swiftech H20-220 Ultima XT CPU Liquid Cooling Kit $271.50

Features & Specifications

To properly show the improvement the XT has over the GTZ, pictures are necessary. Below you can see the design and inner workings of both the XT (left) and GTZ (right) .

          

          

From the pictures you can see the pin count on the copper base of the XT has increased greatly in comparison to the GTZ. Not only did the pin count increase, the surface is now entirely made up of pins instead of having portions machined flat like the GTZ. The increased pin count and surface area is what is ultimately improving the temperatures.

 

From the dimensions and pictures above, its easy to notice that the XT is bigger than the GTZ by a fair amount. Thanks to the increased size and rotatable inlet hole, the XT can accommodate many different fitting configurations which makes it easier for water loops with complex routing.

Thermal Design

The Apogee™ XT is optimized for Intel® Core™ i5 and Core i7 processors but it will also yield world-class performance results with all compatible processors from AMD® and/or Intel® server class processors. Thermal design of the cooling engine combines the benefits of direct coolant impingement over the CPU area with a copper base plate characterized by a pin matrix composed of 225 µm (0.009″) micro structures.


Pressure Drop Specification

The above pressure drop vs. flow rate curves show that the XT in factory configuration is slightly less restrictive than the Apogee™ GTZ. This trend reverses however when the inlet is rotated (labeled “Apogee XT Alternate”) to accommodate extra large compression fittings.


Mechanical Design

Mechanical design of the copper base plate is optimized for Intel® socket LGA 771, 775, 1156 and 1366. The topographically mapped mating surface has been considerably enhanced to yield dominating results with Intel® socket LGA 1156 and 1366 processors. Other types of processors such as AMD® socket F, AM2, AM3 and 940 may also benefit from the enhanced contact area.


Retention Mechanism

The Swiftech’s tool free retention system uses springs and limited travel thumb-screws for high quality and repeatable mounts. The waterblock hold-down plate features elongated holes providing compatibility with all Intel® Core™ desktop processors. Motherboard back-plates provide server-class rigidity to the assembly.


Motherboard and CPU Compatibility

The Apogee™ XT is compatible with all Intel® Core™ desktop processors: sockets LGA775, 1156, and 1366.A multi-mount hold-down plate for the following processors is available in option: Intel Server, socket 771, AMD processors, sockets 754, 939, 940, AM2, AM3, and 770.


Fittings and Tubing Compatibility

The Apogee™ XT ships pre-installed with chrome plated high flow 1/4″ BSPP x 1/2″ Eurostyle barbs; 3/8″ barb fittings are available in option.


As you can see, the Apogee XT is a very compatible block. Intel or AMD; there is a retention plate for all mainstream configurations. With the improved pin count and surface area, we are anxious to see how it performs. Before we get to that, let’s check out how the Apogee XT looks.

Pictures & Impressions

           

Click Image For a Larger One

Swiftech’s Apogee XT block comes in the typical Swiftech black cardboard packaging. Right on the front of the box is a label that shows the make, model, and the rest of contents. When opened, the first thing you will see are the retention plates. Swiftech wrapped both the 1366 and 1156 plates in foam sheets. Under the plates is the XT itself. The XT is wrapped in plenty of bubble wrap which we thought was a great thing considering how heavy the block actually is. Like most 1366 copper based blocks, the XT carries some weight.

1366 Retention Plate on the left, 1156 Retention Plate on the right.

Along with the block and plates, Swiftech goes the extra mile giving you two 1/2″ (G 1/4″ standard thread) fittings, Artic Silver Ceramique thermal paste, and two plastic tubing clamps. To make installation simple, you also get a manual that has plenty of pictures and easy to follow instructions.

           

Click Image For a Larger One

The Apogee XT is definitely an attractive water block. Usually a solid color is used for tops but Swiftech took a different approach with the XT and gave it a two tone color scheme which is nice. Like the GTZ, the XT uses the same exact thumb screw design which happens to work very well. Like all the other water blocks, the XT has a machined copper base. The machining job on the XT was very even, had a mirror-like finish, and had no noticeable imperfections. Machined blocks don’t get much flatter than this.

After seeing the block and reviewing the specifications, we were very curious about the XT’s performance. With the increased pin count, flow rate, and surface area, the XT has everything needed to completely outshine the GTZ. The only way to decide who’s #1 is to install the XT and get to business, so let’s get to it.

Installation

Before gathering results, we wanted to see just how flat the Apogee XT surface really is. To test the base of the block we use a very simple method. First, we put a small amount of thermal paste on the center of the processor. Second, we place the water block on the processor and turn the block from left to right, then we turn the block right to left, all while puting slight pressure downward. Using this application method helps spread the thermal paste as even as possible. To complete the process, we tightened the block and then removed it to see how well it spread the thermal paste.

     

     

Click Image For a Larger One

From the images above, you can see that the Apogee XT did a wonderful job spreading the thermal paste across the i5 750 processor. Looking at the base of the XT, you can get an idea of how big the surface area really is.

With the base of the XT Bjorn3D confirmed, we completed the installation process. The Apogee XT was looking right at home with the rest of the water blocks.

Luckily for us, we didn’t even have to remove the motherboard thanks to the NZXT Tempest EVO case, the retention plate fit perfectly. It’s testing time!

Testing Methodology


Before reading over the hardware used during testing, we wanted to make it clear that the Apogee XT CPU water block was used in a water loop consisting of multiple blocks and radiators. This is important to mention because temperatures will vary greatly depending on the hardware used in a loop.

Test Setup “i5_alive”
CPU Intel Core i5 750 2.66GHz @ 4.0GHz (1.368v)
Motherboard ASUS P7P55D Deluxe
Case NZXT Tempest EVO
Memory G.SKILL PIS DDR3 2000MHz (6-9-6-24)
Video Card Sapphire 5850
Hard Drive Seagate Barracuda 320GB 7200RPM SATA
Optical Drive ASUS DRW-24B1ST
Power Supply Corsair HX 650 Watt
Operating System Used Microsoft Windows 7 Professional 64Bit
Video Card Cooling
EK 5850 Water Block
Motherboard Cooling
EK ASUS P7 Series Water Blocks
(VRM/MOSFET, SouthBridge)
CPU Cooling Used
Swiftech Apogee GTZ (Lapped), Swiftech Apogee XT
Radiators Used
Koolance 2 x 140MM / HW Labs 120MM x 55MM
Pump Used
EK DCP 4.0 12v Pump/Reservoir Combo
Software Used
PassMark BurnInTest
Ambient Temperature
22C – 23C

To properly test the Apogee XT water block, we used PassMark’s BurnInTest. BurnInTest puts a tremendous amount of stress on the overall system, especially the processor, which is exactly what is needed when testing for stability and recording stress temperature numbers. Idle temperatures were gathered 15 minutes after the system was booted, and load numbers were gathered after 15 minutes of running PassMark’s BurnInTest. Each core (4 total) temperature is recorded and averaged per test. The chart has both individual core temperatures and average temperatures.

Results

From the results, it’s clear that the Apogee XT is the superior block. Although idle temperatures were nearly the same with a marginal 0.75C improvment, load temperatures were in the XT’s favor. A drop of 2C under load is certainly an improvement over what the GTZ is capable of. One thing worth noting is the GTZ is lapped while the XT is not. Lapping any CPU cooling solutions surface usually results in a 1-2C drop in temperatures due to an even flatter base. Considering the XT is in its 100% stock form, it performed very well and is clearly the winner when compared to the Apogee GTZ.

Conclusion

Without question, the Apogee XT is the new king in Swiftech’s CPU cooling line up. Beating a lapped GTZ by a full 2C during load is no easy feat. Because of the XT’s internal design we can only see temperatures improving with a higher flowing pump, so there is definitely room for improving the temperatures even more.

Taking the whole package into consideration, there isn’t much to not like about the Apogee XT. It performs as advertised, it comes with a great bundle (both 1156 & 1366 retention plates), and is backed by a well known company. At $69 USD, the Apogee XT is basically a steal.

OUR VERDICT: Swiftech Apogee XT CPU Water Block
Performance 9
Value 9.5
Quality 9.5
Features 9
Innovation 9
We are using an addition to our scoring system to provide additional feedback beyond a flat score. Please note that the final score isn’t an aggregate average of the rating system.
Total 9.3/10
Pro Cons

Performs very well

Price is spot on

Simple install method

Comes with both 1156 and 1366 retention plates

Comes with fittings, clamps, and quality thermal paste

Swiftech quality and support

It doesn’t come with a pump, radiator, and tubing for $69 USD :P

 

Summary: Swiftech’s Apogee XT is a strong water cooling enthusiast product without the typical upper tier enthusiast pricing. At $69 USD, the Apogee XT stands out as the “budget” high end CPU water block that should definitely be kept in mind during that next water build.

Swiftech Water Cooling Products Price
Swiftech Apogee XT Extreme CPU Water Block $68.95
Swiftech Apogee GTZ Extreme CPU Water Block $59.95
Swiftech H20-220 Ultima XT CPU Liquid Cooling Kit $271.50

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