Scythe Musashi VGA Cooler Review
By Rafael Otto Coelho on July 2, 2010


Introduction

Hardware Secrets Golden Award

Today we tested the Musashi VGA cooler from Scythe, which has a large but thin heatsink, two heatpipes, and two 100-mm slim fans. Check it out!

Scythe named this cooler after Miyamoto Musashi, a famous Samurai warrior from ancient Japan, remarkable for developing a two-sword fighting style.

In Figure 1, you can see the Musashi box.

Scythe Musashi
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Figure 1: Box

In Figure 2, you can see the accessories that come with the cooler: manuals, 16 memory heatsinks, VRM transistor heatsinks, thermal compound bag, installation hardware, backplate, copper spacer, and power adapter.

Scythe Musashi
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Figure 2: Accessories

In Figure 3, you can check the cooler itself. It consists of a large but thin heatsink with aluminum fins, two heatpipes, and two 100-mm slim fans. There is a case bracket, with two potentiometers that allow you to adjust the speed of the fans.

Scythe Musashi
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Figure 3: Scythe Musashi

The Scythe Musashi

As you can see in Figures 4 and 5, the cooler is very slim. The heatpipes come out of the base and carry the heat along the entire heatsink. The fans are just 0.47 " (12 mm) thick.

Scythe Musashi
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Figure 4: Front view

Scythe Musashi
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Figure 5: Front view

In Figure 6, you can see the side of the cooler.

Scythe Musashi
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Figure 6: Side view

In Figure 7, you see the bottom of the cooler, where the shape and lenght of the heatpipes is clear. Note that both the heatpipes are U-shaped, actually working as four heatpipes.

Scythe Musashi
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Figure 7: Bottom view

In Figure 8, you can see the base of the cooler, with a very well polished, mirror-like surface. Note the sets of holes that allow you to install this cooler on virtually any video card.

Scythe Musashi
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Figure 8: Base

Installation on a GeForce GTS 250

In order to test the Musashi, we installed it on our Zotac GeForce GTS 250, which you can check in Figures 9 and 10.

Zalman VF1000 LED
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Figure 9: Geforce GTS 250 with stock cooler

Zalman VF1000 LED
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Figure 10: GeForce GTS 250 without its cooler

In Figure 11, you can see the base of the Musashi with the screws installed in the holes that are compatible with our VGA. Now you just need to apply thermal compound on the GPU, put the cooler in place, put the backplate on, and fasten four thumbnuts to hold the cooler in place.

Scythe Musashi
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Figure 11: Screws installed

In Figure 12, you can see the Scythe Musashi installed on our VGA. We didn't install the heatsinks on the memory chips, nor on the VRM transistors.

Scythe Musashi
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Figure 12: Installed on our VGA

Installation on a GeForce GTS 250 (Cont’d)

In Figure 13, you can see the solder side of the video card, with the backplate, which has a rubber insulating piece at the center in order to not touch the board.

Scythe Musashi
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Figure 13: Backplate

In Figures 14, 15, and 16, you have a general view of the Scythe Musashi installed on our GeForce GTS 250. Note that it occupies the slot next to the one used by the video card, as the stock cooler did. The cooler is a little bigger than our VGA, so it may not fit in every case; the needed room will depend on the position of the holes on your VGA, and the height and length of your case.

Scythe Musashi
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Figure 14: Bottom view

Scythe Musashi
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Figure 15: Side view

Scythe Musashi
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Figure 16: Top view

Our Tests

We ran some simple tests to check the performance of the Scythe Musashi, measuring the GPU core temperature with the aid of the SpeedFan software, and sound pressure level (SPL) with a digital noise meter set 4" (10 cm) from the video card, with the GPU at full load running the folding@Home GPU client. For this measurement, we turned off the CPU cooler, so its noise wouldn't interfere. Please keep in mind that sound pressure level measurement is just for comparative purposes, because a precise measurement would have to be done in an acoustically insulated environment, which we don't have.

We compared the results from the Musashi at minimum and maximum speeds with the Zalman VF1000 LED (also at minimum and maximum speeds) and the VGA stock cooler. You can check the results in the table below.

ProductNoiseRoom Temp.Core Temp.Temp. Diff.Speed
Stock Cooler61 dBA16 °C73 °C57 °C-
VF1000 LED (min.)44 dBA16 °C74 °C58 °C1400 rpm
VF1000 LED (max.)51 dBA16 °C61 °C45 °C2600 rpm
Scythe Musashi (min.)40 dBA16 °C65 °C49 °C850 rpm
Scythe Musashi (max.)47 dBA16 °C 58 °C42 °C1950 rpm

In the graph below, you can compare the temperature differences between the GPU core and the room. Remember that, the lower the value, the better performance is.

Scythe Musashi

As you can see, the Musashi performed better than the Zalman VF1000 LED, while keeping a lower noise level. It is nearly inaudible at minimum speed.

Main features

The Scythe Musashi main features are:

* Researched at Newegg.com on the day we published this review.

Conclusions

Comparing the Scythe Musashi with the Zalman VF1000 LED, the Scythe is always better. It kept our video card GPU colder and quieter at minimum and maximum speeds. The installation is as simple as the Zalman, and the level of compatibility is the same.

The Musashi is also cheaper than the VF1000 LED, and has 16 heatsinks for memory chips and a set of heatsinks for the VRM transistors, all of which is very good, because the fans push air into the board, efficiently cooling all the components on it.

The only way in which the Musashi is not better than the VF1000 LED, in our opinion, is its looks. Actually, the Musashi looks a little clumsy, being too big to have good aesthetics.

It also does not remove the hot air from the case, so you will have to think about case airflow in order to get good overall cooling.

Because of its excellent cooling performance and extremely low noise, the Scythe Musashi VGA cooler receives the Hardware Secrets Golden Award.

Originally at http://www.hardwaresecrets.com/article/Scythe-Musashi-VGA-Cooler-Review/1040


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