Scythe Ninja Plus HSF

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Product: Scythe Ninja Plus CPU Cooler
Provided By: Memory Express
Price: $59.95 ~ Memory Express


Introduction:

When MemoryExpress recently offered by the Scythe Ninja Plus CPU cooler to review, I quickly said yes as I wanted to take a look at this monster for a little while.  This cooler has six massive heatpipes that run the aluminum fins that are cooled by a large 120mm fan.  All of these components spell quiet performance and that's what we wanted to find out.  Granted, this isn't the prettiest cooler around, but it is one of the largest.  Before you get all drooly about having one of these for your own, you need to take a second look at your system and determine if it will actually fit inside your case.

Box o' Ninja
Box o' Ninja

A Little About Scythe:

Scythe Co., Ltd., began its operation and business in November, 2002 as a distributor and manufacture of PC parts & gaming devices for “DIY PC Experts!”. For more information about Scythe Japan HQ, please visit the website at: www.scythe.co.jp (If you read Japanese!). Scythe’s first venture was to manufacture a super powerful YET super quiet CPU cooler (Scythe Kamakaze CPU cooler), and with the great success of this Kamakaze CPU cooler, Scythe became recognized as the leading CPU cooler supplier in Japan’s Akihabara Electric Town. Shortly there after, due to popular demand, Scythe began exporting products all over the world.

In April of 2004 Scythe USA began local operations by establishing an office in Northern California. In October of 2004 Scythe USA moved operations to LA in order to work more closely with manufactures and streamline logistics to better service our US based partners.

Inside The Box:

The box that the Scythe Ninja Ships in is pretty large for a heatsink.  In fact, it's probably the largest HSF box I've ever seen.  The box has a window that shows off the front on the heatsink as well as the included 120mm quiet fan.  Once you open up the box you get your first good look at this heatsink and the goodies that go along with it.

Ninja + Fan
 Ninja + Fan

Ninja Accessories
 Ninja Accessories

At first glance the Ninja Plus looks like it has 12 heatpipes.  In reality there are 6 heatpipes that wrap clear around in a large "U" shape.  This give every side of the fins a fair shot at cooling the pipes.  Down the center of these fins in a hole that goes all the way down to the bottom.  You can see in the picture above and on the left that there are some fins on top of the heatpipes as well.  In the picture above and on the right you get a look at all the goodies that come in the package.  The Scythe Ninja Plus should mount on Socket 478 motherboards without any of the mounting hardware, but if you run an Athlon 64 system, you'll need to use the black plastic bracket using the motherboards backplate.  Finally for LGA775 users, you'll need to use the metal backplate and the two metal brackets pictured in the top middle of the picture above.  Scythe includes enough hardware to make all of these socket installs possible and they throw in a small packet of thermal paste to boot.

Closer Look:

Although this heatsink isn't as shiny as other coolers on the market, it's still a thing of beauty and deserves a closer look.

Scythe Ninja Profile
 Scythe Ninja Profile

Scythe Ninja w/Fan
 Scythe Ninja w/Fan

Ninja Bottom - Close Up
Ninja Bottom - Close Up

Scythe ships the Ninja Plus with a thick protective film on the bottom in order to keep it from getting damaged during shipping.  It seems to have worked pretty well as the bottom finish was free of scratches from shipping.  The fan can be mounted to any side by using the included steel wire clips.  The idea is to mount the fan either so it blows up through the fins and out your PSU exhaust fan, or to mount it so that it blows air through the fins and out the rear exhaust fan on your case.  Scythe also says that this cooler can be used without a fan at all.  That would make it pretty quiet now wouldn't it?  We'll take a look at that later. . . The Ninja's bottom is not perfect but it is better than other bottoms around.  It appears to be flat, but is a little rough.  You can see, hear and feel the machining marks.  If you wanted to improve performance, I'm sure a little lapping could make it happen.

On the next page we'll take a look at installation and run some tests.


Installation:

Like many large after market coolers, you'll need to remove the motherboard in order to install this cooler - unless you are running a Socket 478 system.  In that case, it will clip on and you'll be good to go inside of two minutes.

We an LGA775 system and had to remove the motherboard to remove the existing CPU cooler we were using.  After cleaning up the chip and changing backplates we were ready to bolt on the metal brackets that the cooler clips to.  After we got them tight we went to put on the cooler and ran into our first problem.  I can't blame Scythe for this one though.  We are using the Zalman NBF47 Northbridge cooler on our Intel NF4 SLI chipset and this cooler is rather large.  With the mounting clips mounted vertical there is no room for the cooler to attach without bumping into the chipset heatsink.

Vertical Bracket Trouble
 Vertical Bracket Trouble

I was just about ready to give up and hunt for the original chipset cooler when I thought that perhaps the cooler would mount better if the brackets were pointed horizontal instead of vertical.  I took the brackets off, gave it a try and was met with success.  Everything now fit with room to spare. . . although not much room as you can see in the pictures below.

Horizontal Brackets Work
 Horizontal Brackets Work

Fan To Ram Clearance
 Fan To Ram Clearance

We have about 5mm of clearance between the northbridge and cpu heatsinks.  Although the picture shows very little clearance for the RAM, you could actually slide the fan up the heatsink and give yourself more room if you needed.


 

Test System & Info:

For this review, we used the same test setup that we used to test out the Zalman CNPS9500AT cooler.  Check out the system specs below.

Here's a couple more pictures of this cooler when it is installed in the case.  We installed the fan so it will blow air though the fins and right toward the 120mm exhaust fan.

In The Case
 In The Case

Full o' Ninja
 Full o' Ninja

We chose the Intel Pentium D 805 Dual Core processor for this review because it puts out a bunch of heat and it overclocks well.  This obviously generates even more heat.  Idle temperatures are taken 15 minutes after booting into Windows.  Fan High & Low temperature results are taken 45 minutes after running Folding @ Home 2x, as well as the Prime 95 Torture test.  This keeps the CPU load pinned at 100% on both cores.  After about 30 minutes the temperature seems to stabilize, but we wait another 15 minutes to be sure.  The cooler also supports as fanless mode which we have tested using the same procedure as mentioned above.

Heat Sink Performance:

The first series of tests are taken at stock 2.66GHz on this processor.  We will compare the results of the Scythe Ninja Plus with the Intel Stock Cooler as well as the Zalman CNPS9500 AT.  The Intel stock cooler fan spins at 2500rpm at full speed.  The Zalman spins up at 2800rpm wide open, while the Scythe Ninja Plus spins at a mere 1250 when running at full speed.  Even at full speed, the Scythe Ninja Plus cannot be heard in our test system.  The fans on the graphics card and case make enough noise that you cannot hear a peep out of the Scythe fan - and that's a good thing.

Click For Larger Chart
Click For Larger Chart

At idle, the Scythe Ninja plus outperforms the stock Intel cooler by a couple of degrees, but trails the Zalman cooler by about 4C.  When using the automatic fan speed control, the Scythe Ninja Plus trails behind both the stock cooler and the Zalman CNPS9500 AT.  At maximum fan speed, the Scythe Ninja Plus loses a bit more ground in the performance department, as the other heatsinks keep the processor much cooler, but they do so at the expense of noise.  Throughout these tests, the Scythe Ninja Plus is virtually silent and even though it runs warmer, it keeps our test system stable.

According to the documentation from Scythe, the Ninja Plus is only to be used fanless when "e-mailing, internet browsing, word processing & spreadsheet or an equivalent at an ambient temperature at up to 25C.  Please note that this product is NOT designed for conditions such as data encoding/decoding, using benchmark software, and/or other extraordinary conditions under the fanless environment."  The way we're testing things is actually pushing this HSF past what the manufacturer says it can handle.  The box also states that the Ninja Plus may not perform at "High CPU Frequency" and it needs good ventilation.  With that information in mind, let's take a look at the overclocked performance.

Click For Larger Chart
Click For Larger Chart

There is a couple of things to notice here before we talk numbers.  We used the coolers listed above to reach the computers maximum clock speed.  Both the Stock Cooler and the Scythe Ninja Plus reach a max overclock of 3.66GHz.  Once we clock higher than 3.66GHz, the system becomes unstable.  At 3.66GHz, they can both run Folding @ Home overnight and work great.  The Zalman CNPS9500 AT allows the system to clock up another couple hundred MHz and those temperatures are recorded at 3.9GHz.  We only ran fanless tests at idle to show how well this cooler handles the heat.  We didn't run fanless tests under full load when overclocked because the system would have been unstable due to the higher CPU temperature.

At idle the Scythe Ninja Plus keeps the CPU as cool as the stock cooler when overclocked, and on automatic and high fan speeds, it actually edges out the stock Intel cooler when more heat is applied.  This is different that the results we saw at stock speeds.  The Zalman 9500 cooler still edges it out, but the difference is actually smaller as the heat gets turned up even more.  Also you must keep in mind that both the stock Intel cooler and the 9500AT make quite a bit of noise, while the Scythe Ninja is still silent.

Conclusion:

In some ways, I feel a bit let down by this cooler.  Because of its sheer size I expected it to be a monster cooler that would perform like no other heatsink I've tested.  As it turns out, it is built more for silence than performance.  A Pentium D system is almost too much for this cooler with its stock fan, but if you added a second fan, or a faster fan it would perform much better I'm sure.  The reality is that the cooler does what Scythe claims it can do - it keeps a system running quiet while providing good cooling performance.  I have a feeling that on an Athlon 64 system, this cooler would find a better home and do much better with less heat load.  Also with Core 2 Duo CPU's producing much less heat that the Pentium D series, this cooler would offer good performance and do it silently.

Pros:

  • 6 Heatpipe design.
  • Can be run with a fan or fanless.
  • Doesn't require motherboard removal on Socket 478.
  • Virtually silent with fan, and silent without fan!

Cons:

  • Performance a little lacking for a cooler of this size.

This is how the cooler breaks down in our scoring chart.

 

BCCHardware.com Rating
Quality:
10/10
Performance:
7/10
Software Pack:
n/a
Stability:
8/10
Features:
9/10
Value:
9/10
Total Score 8.6

If you want to run in silence and don't want to make the jump to watercooling, the Scythe Ninja Plus is a great way to get your system quieter.  You won't be able to overclock as high as you may like, but the cooler offers decent performance for stock systems.  It fits every current socket available as it should work on AM2 systems with the included hardware.  Scythe has done a great job with the quality of this product as well.  It looks solid and is ready to go in your rig.

I'd like to thank Memory Express for letting us take a look at this cooler.

If you have any comments, questions or feedback regarding this review, please post it in the forum at the comments link below.