Scythe Kabuto CPU Cooler Review
By Rafael Coelho on September 4, 2009
It is time to review Kabuto CPU cooler from Japan-based Scythe. This cooler has six heatpipes and three independent heatsinks, with a 120 mm fan placed horizontally. Will it perform well in our tests?
Kabuto is the Japanese word for the helmet wore by the Samurai. The cooler, however, does not look like a helmet, as we will see below.
The box, in shades of red, brings tons of info about the cooler.
Inside the box we found the cooler with the fan installed, installation hardware, a little bag of metallic thermal grease and the installation manual.
Kabuto has a very peculiar design. In Figure 3 you can have an idea of how it looks like, with a big horizontal heatsink and, over it, a 120 mm fan.
In Figure 5 we can see the six heatpipes. Notice how the upper heatsink is actually made of three independent heatsinks (partially independent, as some fins are interconnected in order to make it a solid structure). Each set of two heatpipes is connected to one of these three heatsinks.
Scythe calls the system used on Kabuto M.A.P.S. (Multiple Pass-Through Airflow Structure). So, the air of the fan is directed to the motherboard, passing through the upper heatsinks and helping to cool the lower heatsink, as well as the components near the CPU, like the voltage regulator, chipset and memory modules.
The 120 mm fan used on Kabuto is attached to the product using two metal clips, with easy removal and installation. There is no vibration absorbing system between the fan and the heatsink. The power plug is a 4-pin miniature type, thus with PWM speed control.
Kabuto installation is quite simple. First, you must screw the required clip (according to your CPU socket) to the cooler base. It comes with three clips. One (shown in Figure 11) supports sockets 775 and 1366 Intel processors, with fastening pegs like the Intel stock cooler system. The second one fits sockets AM3, AM2+, AM2, 939 and 754 AMD processors. A third clip allows the installation of old (and obsolete) socket 478 CPUs.
Installing this cooler on a socket LGA775 motherboard we found some difficulty in "clicking" the peg located near the power supply, because the cooler stays over the clips and in a mid-tower case there is no room to put our hand between the cooler and the power supply. In figure 12 you can see how it looks like after installed in our case: it is lower than tower coolers using 120 mm fans and thus will fit most "common" cases.
We are adopting the following metodology on 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: as we want to measure how efficient is 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 at the same time Prime95 in "In-place Large FFTs" option and three instances of StressCPU program.
We also compared the reviewed cooler to 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 SpeedFan program. For this measurement we used 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 done inside an acoustically insulated room with no other noise sources, what we do not have.
We adopted a 2 °C error margin, i.e., temperature differences below 2 °C are considered irrelevant.
On the tables below you can see our results. We ran the same tests with Intel stock cooler, Thermaltake BigTyp 14Pro, Akasa Nero, Cooler Master V10, Thermaltake TMG IA1, Zalman CNPS10X Extreme, Thermaltake ISGC-100, Noctua NH-U12P Noctua NH-C12P, Thermaltake ISGC-200 and Scythe Kabuto. Each test ran with the CPU idle and the with the CPU fully loaded. On BigTyp 14Pro and TMG IA1 the tests were done with the fan at full speed and at minimum speed. On Noctua NH-U12P we tested using the fan speed reducing device (U.L.N.A.) and then tested again with the fan connected directly to the motherboard (full speed). Noctua NH-C12P was tested connected directly to the motherboard. With the other coolers, the motherboard controls the fan speed based on CPU load level and temperature.
|Cooler||Room Temp.||Noise||Fan Speed||Base Temp.||Core Temp.|
|Intel stock||14 °C||44 dBA||1000 rpm||31 °C||42 °C|
|BigTyp 14Pro (min. speed)||17 °C||47 dBA||880 rpm||29 °C||36 °C|
|BigTyp 14Pro (max. speed)||17 °C||59 dBA||1500 rpm||26 °C||34 °C|
|Akasa Nero||18 °C||41 dBA||500 rpm||26 °C||35 oC|
|Cooler Master V10||14 °C||44 dBA||1200 rpm||21 °C||26 °C|
|TMG IA1 (max. speed)||16 °C||47 dBA||1500 rpm||22 °C||30 °C|
|TMG IA1 (min. speed)||16 °C||57 dBA||2250 rpm||21 °C||30 °C|
|Zalman CNPS10X Extreme||16 °C||44 dBA||1200 rpm||21 °C||29 °C|
|Thermaltake ISGC-100||18 °C||44 dBA||1450 rpm||35 °C||49 °C|
|Noctua NH-U12P (low speed)||15 °C||42 dBA||1000 rpm||20 °C||30 °C|
|Noctua NH-U12P||15 °C||46 dBA||1400 rpm||20 °C||28 °C|
|Noctua NH-C12P||17 °C||46 dBA||1400 rpm||23 °C||28 °C|
|Thermaltake ISGC-200||21 °C||43 dBA||1100 rpm||31 °C||35 °C|
|Schythe Kabuto||22 °C||42 dBA||800 rpm||29 °C||34 °C|
CPU Fully Loaded
|Fan Speed||Base Temp.||Core Temp.|
|Intel stock||14 °C||48 dBA||1740 rpm||42 °C||100 °C|
|BigTyp 14Pro (min. speed)||17 °C||47 dBA||880 rpm||43 °C||77 °C|
|BigTyp 14Pro (max. speed)||17 °C||59 dBA||1500 rpm||35 °C||70 °C|
|Akasa Nero||18 °C||48 dBA||1500 rpm||34 °C||68 °C|
|Cooler Master V10||14 °C||54 dBA||1900 rpm||24 °C||52 °C|
|TMG IA1 (max. speed)||16 °C||47 dBA||1500 rpm||27 °C||63 °C|
|TMG IA1 (min. speed)||16 °C||57 dBA||2250 rpm||25 °C||60 °C|
|Zalman CNPS10X Extreme||16 °C||51 dBA||1900 rpm||24 °C||50 °C|
|Thermaltake ISG-100||18 °C||50 dBA||1800 rpm||58 °C||93 °C|
|Noctua NH-U12P (low speed)||15 °C||42 dBA||1000 rpm||28 °C||59 °C|
|Noctua NH-U12P||15 °C||46 dBA||1400 rpm||25 °C||54 °C|
|Noctua NH-C12P||17 °C||46 dBA||1400 rpm||37 °C||76 °C|
|Thermaltake ISGC-200||21 °C||48 dBA||1900 rpm||42 °C||68 °C|
|Scythe Kabuto||22 °C||47 dBA||1200 rpm||38 °C||63 °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. Values shown are in Celsius degrees. Remember that the lower the number the better is cooling performance.
On the next graph you can have an idea on how many Celsius degrees was CPU core hotter than room temperature during the tests.
Scythe Kabuto main features are:
* Researched at Newegg.com on the day we published this review.
Scythe Kabuto proved to be an excellent cooler. Its performance was similar to the best coolers we tested with this methodology. This, combined with its lower price tag compared to its competitors, turns it into an excellent buying option.
Its three independent heatsinks (four, if we also count the lower heatsink attached to its base) at first seemed to us just like a cosmetic feature, but proved to be very efficient.
Kabuto fan has a very low noise level, so it is also one of the quieter coolers we tested to date.
Its only weak point is its looks, in our opinion. Kabuto is not beautiful nor has an aggressive looks; so, if you are a fanatic casemodder, have a nice acrylic side window and like to enjoy a high-tech look inside your computer, Kabuto will not help. It is even an injustified name, since the ancient samurai kabutos were very adorned, and the most ranked the samurai was, the fancier the helmet. So, this name does not match its Spartan looks.Anyway, if you think performance, silence and low price are more important than looks, you can buy Scythe Kabuto without fear.