Scythe Big Shuriken CPU Cooler Review
By Rafael Coelho on October 21, 2009


This time we tested a low profile CPU cooler, the Scythe Big Shuriken. Only 58 mm tall, it is made to fit even SFF cases. It has a horizontal design, with four heatpipes and a 120 mm low profile fan. But, can it perform as well as its "big brothers"?

The Scythe coolers name comes from japanese words, most of them referring to the samurai. Shuriken, as any ninja movies addicted knows, is a sort of metal star, thin and with sharp blades, so this name alludes to a thin, but powerful product. There is a smaller version called Shuriken, with a 100 mm fan, but we tested Big Shuriken, with 120 mm fan.

The Big Shuriken box is small and simple, as you can see in Figure 1.

Scythe Big Shuriken
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Figure 1: Box.

Inside the box we found the cooler, a small bag of gray thermal compound, user manual and the installation hardware.

Scythe Big Shuriken
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Figure 2: Box contents.

In Figure 3 you can take a look at the Big Shuriken.

Scythe Big Shuriken
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Figure 3: Scythe Big Shuriken.

Scythe Big Shuriken

From a frontal view we notice how thin its upper heatsink is, as well as the fan. There are four copper heatpipes, the center section of each one contacting the base, while both the tips are connected to the heatsink.

Scythe Big Shuriken
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Figure 4: Front view.

In Figure 5 we can see a smaller heatsink installed directly over the cooler base.

Scythe Big Shuriken
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Figure 5: Side view.
Looking at the cooler from above we can see the fan, with fifteen blades, more than we are used to seeing.

Scythe Big Shuriken
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Figure 6: Top view.

Scythe Big Shuriken (Cont’d)

Removing the wire clips that hold the fan in place we can see the top part of the heatsink.

Scythe Big Shuriken
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Figure 7: Without fan.

The fan, seen in Figure 8, is really slim. It has a four pin connector, so it supports PWM speed control.

Scythe Big Shuriken
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Figure 8: Fan.

The cooler base is made of a very smooth nickel-plated copper, as you can see in Figure 9.

Scythe Big Shuriken
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Figure 9: Base.


The Big Shuriken holding system is simple and complicated at the same time. Simple because the clip installation in to the cooler is extremely easy, with no tool required. You just need to insert on the cooler base one of the three clip sets seen in Figure 10. The left set fits AMD socket AM3, AM2+, AM2, 939 and 754 CPUs. The middle pair is for use with the (obsolete) socket 478. The right one supports, according to the manual and the product website, sockets 775 and 1366, but as socket LGA1156 holes are inbetween those ones, the Big Shuriken can also be used with this socket.

Scythe Big Shuriken
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Figure 10: Clips.

The complicated side is the fact the cooler is big but very low, so pressing the clips is a hard task, because there is no room for your fingers to reach the clips. It may be necessary to remove the motherboard from the case.

In Figure 11, you can see how the cooler looks installed into our case. In our motherboard, as we are using memory modules with tall heatsinks, the cooler obstructed the first memory slot, but with modules with no heatsink there will not be a problem.

Scythe Big Shuriken
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Figure 11: Installed into case.

How We Tested

We are adopting the following methodology for our CPU cooler reviews.

First, we chose the CPU with the highest TDP (Thermal Design Power) we had available, a Core 2 Extreme QX6850, which has a 130 W TDP. The choice for a CPU with a high TDP is obvious. To measure the efficiency of the tested cooler, we need a processor that gets very hot. This CPU works by default at 3.0 GHz, but we overclocked it to 3.33 GHz, in order to heat it as much as possible.

We took noise and temperature measurements with the CPU idle and under full load. In order to achieve 100% CPU load on the four processing cores we ran Prime95 with the "In-place Large FFTs" option, and three instances of the StressCPU program, all at the same time.

We also compared the reviewed cooler to the Intel stock cooler (with copper base), which comes with the processor we used, and also with some other coolers we have tested using the same methodology.

Temperature measurements were taken with a digital thermometer, with the sensor touching the base of the cooler, and also with the core temperature reading (given by the CPU thermal sensor) from the from the SpeedFan program, using an arithmetic average of the four core temperature readings.

The sound pressure level (SPL) was measured with a digital noise meter, with its sensor placed 4" (10 cm) from the fan. We turned off the video board cooler so it wouldn't interfere with the results, but this measurement is only for comparative purposes, because a precise SPL measurement needs to be made inside an acoustically insulated room with no other noise sources, which is not the case here.

Hardware Configuration

Software Configuration

Software Used

Error Margin

We adopted a 2 °C error margin, i.e., temperature differences below 2 °C are considered irrelevant.

Our Tests

On the tables below you can see our results. We ran the same tests with the coolers shown on below tables. Each test ran with the CPU idle and the with the CPU fully loaded. On BigTyp 14Pro, TMG IA1, NH-U12P and ISGC-300 the tests were done with the fan at full speed and at minimum speed. The other coolers were connected directly to the motherboard and it controls the fan speed based on CPU load level and temperature on PWM models. ISGC-400 and iCEAGE Prima Boss were tested at minimum speed on idle test and at maximum speed on full load test.

CPU Idle

CoolerRoom Temp.NoiseFan SpeedBase Temp.Core Temp.
Intel stock14 °C44 dBA1000 rpm31 °C42 °C
BigTyp 14Pro (min)17 °C47 dBA880 rpm29 °C36 °C
BigTyp 14Pro (max)17 °C59 dBA1500 rpm26 °C34 °C
Akasa Nero18 °C41 dBA500 rpm26 °C35 °
Cooler Master V1014 °C44 dBA1200 rpm21 °C26 °C
TMG IA1 (max)16 °C47 dBA1500 rpm22 °C30 °C
TMG IA1 (min)16 °C57 dBA2250 rpm21 °C30 °C
Zalman CNPS10X Extreme16 °C44 dBA1200 rpm21 °C29 °C
Thermaltake ISGC-10018 °C44 dBA1450 rpm35 °C49 °C
Noctua NH-U12P (low)15 °C42 dBA1000 rpm20 °C30 °C
Noctua NH-U12P15 °C46 dBA1400 rpm20 °C28 °C
Noctua NH-C12P17 °C46 dBA1400 rpm23 °C28 °C
Thermaltake ISGC-20021 °C43 dBA1100 rpm31 °C35 °C
Schythe Kabuto22 °C42 dBA800 rpm29 °C34 °C
Arctic Cooling Alpine 11 Pro20 °C43 dBA1500 rpm32 °C39 °C
ISGC-300 (min)18 °C42 dBA800 rpm26 °C30 °C
ISGC-300 (max)18 °C46 dBA1400 rpm24 °C26 °C
SilverStone NT06-E21 °C66 dBA2600 rpm30 °C41 °C
Zalman CNPS9700 NT22 °C48 dBA1700 rpm28 °C35 °C
Scythe Mugen-2 17 °C41 dBA 700 rpm25 °C30 °C
ISGC-400 (min)17 °C44 dBA850 rpm24 °C30 °C
Cooler Master Vortex 75220 °C48 dBA1700 rpm32 °C44 °C
iCEAGE Prima Boss (min)22 °C42 dBA1000 rpm29 °C36 °C
Evercool Buffalo17 °C51 dBA1850 rpm22 °C29 °C
Scythe Big Shuriken20 °C42 dBA900 rpm31 °C39 °C

CPU Fully Loaded

CoolerRoom Temp.NoiseFan SpeedBase Temp.Core Temp.
Intel stock14 °C48 dBA1740 rpm42 °C100 °C
BigTyp 14Pro (min)17 °C47 dBA880 rpm43 °C77 °C
BigTyp 14Pro (max)17 °C59 dBA1500 rpm35 °C70 °C
Akasa Nero18 °C48 dBA1500 rpm34 °C68 °C
Cooler Master V1014 °C54 dBA1900 rpm24 °C52 °C
TMG IA1 (max)16 °C47 dBA1500 rpm27 °C63 °C
TMG IA1 (min)16 °C57 dBA2250 rpm25 °C60 °C
Zalman CNPS10X Extreme16 °C51 dBA1900 rpm24 °C50 °C
Thermaltake ISG-10018 °C50 dBA1800 rpm58 °C93 °C
Noctua NH-U12P (low)15 °C42 dBA1000 rpm28 °C59 °C
Noctua NH-U12P15 °C46 dBA1400 rpm25 °C54 °C
Noctua NH-C12P17 °C46 dBA1400 rpm37 °C76 °C
Thermaltake ISGC-20021 °C48 dBA1900 rpm42 °C68 °C
Scythe Kabuto22 °C47 dBA1200 rpm38 °C63 °C
Arctic Cooling Alpine 11 Pro20 °C51 dBA2300 rpm49 °C85 °C
ISGC-300 (min)18 °C42 dBA800 rpm36 °C64 °C
ISGC-300 (max)18 °C46 dBA1400 rpm31 °C56 °C
SilverStone NT06-E21 °C66 dBA2600 rpm39 °C96 °C
Zalman CNPS9700 NT22 °C56 dBA2600 rpm34 °C63 °C
Scythe Mugen-2 17 °C46 dBA 1300 rpm 28 °C54 °C
ISGC-400 (max)17 °C47 dBA1400 rpm36 °C69 °C
Cooler Master Vortex 75220 °C55 dBA2300 rpm48 °C92 °C
iCEAGE Prima Boss (max)22 °C53 dBA
2000 rpm35 °C59 °C
Evercool Buffalo17 °C51 dBA1850 rpm32 °C67 °C
Scythe Big Shuriken20 °C50 dBA1500 rpm51 °C85 °C

On the graph below you can see the temperature difference between the cooler base and the room temperature with the CPU idle and fully loaded.  The values shown are in degrees Celsius. Remember that the lower the number the better the cooling performance.

 Scythe Big Shuriken

The next graph will give you an idea on how many degrees Celsius the CPU core was hotter than room temperature during the tests.

 Scythe Big Shuriken

Main Specifications

Scythe Big Shuriken main features are:

* Researched on on the day this reviews was published.


We were curious before we tested the Big Shuriken, as other Scythe coolers we tested before (Kabuto and Mugen-2) had shown excellent performances. But we also knew there is no way a cooler with a thin heatsink like this will achieve high performance. Unfortunately, our second opinion prevaled: its performance was below the top shelf coolers.

But we cannot deny this is a silent cooler with higher performance than the stock copper base Intel cooler (and therefore, far higher than the simpler cooler that comes with most low TDP CPUs) and it is an interesting option for the user that has a low profile or SFF case and wants to replace the stock cooler with another one, with best performance and less noise, and obviously cannot install a big, high performance cooler, into his case.

But if is not your case, there is no reason to reccomend the Big Shuriken for purchase.

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