While a Microwarpdrive will significantly increase the speed of a ship, the extra speed comes with some significant penalties: First, the MWD will increase the ship's signature radius, making it easier to target and hit; Second, the MWD will reduce the ship's maximum capacitor capacity.
NOTE: Since the release of Quantum Rise, all MWDs now give a velocity bonus of 500%. At Meta Level 1, the MWD will give a 500% bonus to signature radius and a -25% bonus to capacitor capacity. As the Meta Level of the MWD increases, however, the signature radius penalty and capacitor penalty decrease significantly. For the highest Meta Level items (Officer and Deadspace), the signature radius and capacitor penalties decrease from 500% to under 420%, and -25% to under -3%, respectively. The Meta Level for specific MWDs is listed in the Item Database under the entry for that item.
Thrust Factor & Size Classes
The interactions between ship size and MWD size are the same as with Afterburners. MWDs have a thrust factor associated with them, a different multiple of 15 for each size class:
Different classes of ship generally have an associated mass:
The Thrust Factor of the MWD will adjust its speed bonus, depending upon the weight of the ship. If the ship weighs less than the Thrust Factor, you will gain additional speed. If it weighs more, you lose speed.
You must take into account that MWDs increase the mass of the ship when active. Each class of MWD will give a different mass gain appropriate to the class:
The mass increase will offset the fact that you are provided with a roughly equal amount of additional thrust (i.e. 1,500,000 instead of 1,000,000) that the lightest ship would have enjoyed. It also makes the ship turn slower.
If you can somehow fit a Cruiser class MWD onto a Frigate, the speed increase is enhanced by the Thrust Factor/Mass ratio, giving you much more than the intended 500% increase in speed (even after the Mass Gain). The reverse is also true - if you fit a module that is too small for your weight, you will not gain much of anything.
In any case, unlike Afterburners you'll be hard pressed to fit a larger MWD on a smaller ship. Even if you did succeed, your ship would likely not be able to fit anything else.
Microwarpdrive Limits & Disruption
Given that the module supposedly puts your ship into a state of "Microwarp", MWDs follow similar rules to warping in regards to things that can prevent it. However, the rules are not identical.
The Warp Scrambler will deactivate and prevent MWDs from functioning, and even reset the speed of the ship almost instantly to normal velocity. However, Anchorable/Interdictor Bubbles and Warp Disruptors will have no such effect.
Common Statistics amongst all MWDs
Skills, Implants, and Boosters
Overheating a MWD will increase its velocity bonus by 50%, making it one of the most substantial boosts to receive from Overheating. Even using it in small bursts can give you a huge speed advantage over an enemy that doesn't have the Thermodynamics skill.
Microwarpdrives Section of the Items Database
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