The MCX159 is Swiftech his latest air-cooled Northbridge cooler. It is available for both AMD and
Intel motherboards and in this review I'm going to test it on the Pentium 4 platform, with a Springdale
motherboard from AOpen. The motherboard has a very simple aluminum heatsink for passive
northbridge cooling, and temperatures were pretty high with it. Read further to see what Swiftech
his MXC159 Northbrigde cooler was able to do.
Like I already mentioned in the introduction the MCX159 is available for both the AMD and Intel
platform. The only difference are the materials included to attach the heatsink to your motherboard. The MCX159-A AMD version works with tru-motherboard bolts and springs while the MCX159-P
for Pentium 4 motherboards works with spring wire-clips. There is also the MCX159-R, which includes both retention mechanisms.
On the above pictures you can see the box in which I got the MCX159-P and on the right you can
see the heatsink ofcourse. The MCX159 has a big copper base to absorb the heat generated by your
Northbridge. On top of the copper base are 96 aluminum pins, helicoid shaped to increase
their surface area, and thus further increase the heat dissipation efficiency. On top of the
aluminum pins is a quiet 40mm fan from Sunon. The weight of the MCX159 is pretty high, 238g.
Here are the specifications of the MCX159 heatsink:
||1.59 x 1.59 x
0.5" - 40.4 x 40.4 x 12.7mm
.001" - 25µ
micro surface finish
||8 or better
pins (patented), made of high conductivity aluminum alloy 1100 (218 W/m-K)
overall dimensions without fan
||1.59 x 1.59 x
1.63" - 40.4 x 40.4 x 42 mm
overall dimensions with fan
||1.59 x 1.59 x
2.47" - 40.4 x 40.4 x 62.8mm
||8.4 oz - 238 g
||40x20mm fan 12V
DC 2 wires (no RPM output - 6 CFM 18dBA)
Here are the specifications of the 40mm Sunon fan:
Closer look on the patented Helicoid pins, which are very typical for Swiftech heatsinks.
Now lets take a look at the copper base. In order to have a perfect heat transfer between the
Northbridge and the heatsink the copper base needs to be flat, not just flat but microscopic flat
to create an optimal heat transfer. Swiftech writes on his website that the copper heatsink base
is lapped in-house, flat to 3/10th of 1/1000" and hand-polished to a near-mirror finish (Grade 8
Micro Surface finish). Just take a look at the right picture to see the result, a real
mirror-like finish, very good job Swiftech! Many heatsink makers can learn something from this.
This is the first time that I have seen a heatsink base finished so well.
Now lets move on the the installation and testing of this cooler
Swiftech is kind enough to provide a bag of quality Artic Alumina thermal compound together with
the heatsink, but for this review we used Artic Ceramique.
CPU : Intel Pentium 4 2.8C (800MHz FSB)
Motherboard: AOpen AX4SG Max motherboard (Springdale 865G chipset)
Memory: 2x Corsair XMS3500C2 256MB RAM
Graphics card: MSI GeForce 4 Ti4200 with 128MB RAM
HDD: Maxtor 120GB SATA Hard Disk (6Y120M0)
Case: Antec PlusView 1000 AMG
PSU: Antec TrueControl 550W PSU
OS : Windows XP with SP1
On the left the original aluminum Northbridge heatsink of the AOpen AX4SG Max motherboard, compared to the MCX159 this is a small little thing. The thing next to it is an old AMD K5 133MHz processor with its heatsink attached. It is funny to see that even normal northbridge coolers nowadays are bigger and better than CPU coolers a few years ago.
The installation did not went without any problem because the wire loops were slightly different positioned on my motherboard, but after a minute of bending the wire-clips this problem was
solved, and few seconds later the MCX159 was installed. The thermal compound used here was the Artic Ceramique one.
And here are two pics with the MCX159 northbridge coooler installed, with and without the fan.
Now lets check out how this baby performs on our test system!
A few small remarks about the testing procedure:
: First are the results with CPU on standard speed, 2.80GHz. Then we overclock the cpu to
: Idle conditions are measured after 10min idle in winXP after bootup, and
load temperatures after 20min stress. With stress we mean Prime95 torture test along with
: The roomtemperature was around 20.4°C, with small fluctuations of 0.1°C.
: The Northbrigde temperature was measured with a temperature probe between the
northbridge core and the heatsink.
I think these results speak for themselves. The stock cooler clearly couldn't managed his job to keep the Northbridge cool. The actively cooled MCX159-P Northbridge cooler performs a lot better.
I tried to break my OC record with this motherboard, but I could not get higher than 3.43GHz just like with the stock Northbridge cooler. It seems that this is the limit for this motherboard, I can still boot, Windows works perfect, but Prime95 Torture tests gives errors after test 2, clearly a sign that the system isn't 100% stable.
The sound of the cooler is with its 18dBA very low, with all the other fans in my case I couldn't even hear any additional noise.
This is the first cooler that I have reviewed from Swiftech and I'm really impressed with this company. The MCX159 is a very good Northbridge cooler, and it is clear that they put a lot of work and care in their products. The mirror-finished copper base is a very good example that they try to deliver their products as good as possible. The test results were also very well, the passive cooling with the stock aluminum heatsink cleary could not compete with the big air-cooled copper/aluminum hybrid force from Swiftech!
The suggested retail prices of the MCX159-A is $35.50, the MCX159-P is priced at $32.75 and the MCX159-R at $39.25. These are the suggested prices, probably you will be able to find them cheaper.
The Good Stuff
- Does its job very well, very good results
- Very good mirror-like finished copper base
- Quality thermal compound included, no cheap goop
- Relatively quiet fan
- It can give better OC results in some cases.
The bad stuff/Things that could be better
- It's very heavy
- The retention systems might not fit on all motherboards.
DV Hardware gives the Swiftech MCX159-P a 9/10!