Scythe Ninja3 CPU Cooler Review
By Rafael Otto Coelho on September 23, 2010
This time we tested the Ninja3 CPU cooler from Scythe. It has a square heatsink with eight heatpipes and a 120 mm fan. Check it out!
The Ninja3 box is made of cardpaper, with no openings or transparent window.
In Figure 2, you can see the accessories that come with the cooler: fan, manual, installation hardware, and a small bag of thermal compound.
In Figure 3, you can see the Ninja3 heatsink.
In the next pages, you will see this cooler in detail.
In Figure 4, you see the front of the heatsink. The fins are thick, firm, and well spaced.
In Figure 5, you see the side of the cooler. The eight heatpipes are divided into two groups of four heatpipes and each group is installed perpendicular to each other.
In Figure 7 you see how the eight heatpipes are distributed in the base of the cooler. As already explained, the eight heatpipes are divided in two groups with four heatpipes each, and each group is installed perpendicular to each other.
The fan that comes with Ninja3 have PWM automatic control, but it also has a potentiometer, where you can adjust the fan speed.
To install the Ninja3, first you need to attach two clips on the base of the cooler. You will need to install four nuts on those clips according to the socket used by your CPU. In Figure 11, you can see the Intel clips with the nuts installed for socket LGA1156.
The backplate, shown in Figure 12, is very solid in order to hold the weight of the cooler. To install the cooler, just hold it in place, put the backplate on the solder side of the motherboard, and then attach the four screws that hold the cooler in place.
In Figure 13, you can see the Ninja3 instaled in our case.
We tested the cooler with a Core i7-860 CPU (quad-core, 2.8 GHz), which is a socket LGA1156 processor with a 95 W TDP (Thermal Design Power). In order to get higher thermal dissipation, we overclocked it to 3.3 GHz (150 MHz base clock and 22x multiplier), keeping the standard core voltage (Vcore), which was the maximum stable overclock we could make with the stock cooler. Keep in mind that we could have raised the CPU clock more, but to include the stock cooler in our comparison, we needed to use this moderate overclock.
We measured noise and temperature with the CPU idle and under full load. In order to get 100% CPU usage in all threads, we ran Prime 95 25.11 (in this version, the software uses all available threads) with the "In-place Large FFTs" option.
We compared the tested cooler to the Intel stock cooler with a copper base (included with the CPU), as well as with other coolers. Note that in the past, we tested coolers with a socket LGA775 CPU, and we retested some "old" coolers with this new methodology. This means you can find different values in older reviews than the values you will read in the next page.
Room temperature measurements were taken with a digital thermometer. The core temperature was read with the SpeedFan program (available from the CPU thermal sensors), using an arithmetic average of the core temperature readings. During the tests, the left panel of the case was open.
Operating System Configuration
We adopted a 2 °C error margin, meaning temperature differences below 2 °C are considered irrelevant.
The table below presents the results of our measurements. We repeated the same test on all coolers listed below. Each measurement was taken with the CPU at idle and at full load. In the models with a fan supporting PWM, the motherboard controlled the fan speed according to core load and temperature. On coolers with an integrated fan controller, we set the fan at the minumum speed on the idle test and at full speed on the full load test.
Processor at Full Load
|Cooler||Room Temp.||Noise||Speed||Core Temp.||Noise||Speed||Core Temp.|
|Intel stock (socket LGA1156)||14 °C||44 dBA||1700 rpm||46 °C||54 dBA||2500 rpm||90 °C|
|Cooler Master Hyper TX3 G1||14 °C||47 dBA||2050 rpm||33 °C||56 dBA||2900 rpm||62 °C|
|Zalman CNPS10X Extreme||14 °C||45 dBA||1400 rpm||27 °C||53 dBA||1950 rpm||51 °C|
|Thermaltake Silent 1156||14 °C||44 dBA||1200 rpm||38> °C||49 dBA||1750 rpm||69 °C|
|Noctua NH-D14||14 °C||49 dBA||1250 rpm||27 °C||49 dBA||1250 rpm||53 °C|
|Zalman CNPS10X Performa||14 °C||46 dBA||1500 rpm||28 °C||52 dBA||1950 rpm||54 °C|
|Prolimatech Megahalems||14 °C||40 dBA||750 rpm||27 °C||60 dBA||2550 rpm||50 °C|
|Thermaltake Frio||14 °C||46 dBA||1450 rpm||27 °C||60 dBA||2500 rpm||50 °C|
|Prolimatech Samuel 17||14 °C||40 dBA||750 rpm||40 °C||60 dBA||2550 rpm||63 °C|
|Zalman CNPS8000A||18 °C||43 dBA||1400 rpm||39 °C||54 dBA||2500 rpm||70 °C|
|Spire TherMax Eclipse II||14 °C||55 dBA||2200 rpm||28 °C||55 dBA||2200 rpm||53 °C|
|Scythe Ninja3||17 °C||39 dBA||700 rpm||32 °C||55 dBA||1800 rpm||57 °C|
In the graph below, at full load you can see how many degrees Celsius hotter the CPU core is than the air outside the case. The lower this difference, the better is the performance of the cooler.
The main features of the Scythe Ninja3 CPU cooler include:
* Researched at Amazon.com on the day we published this review.
The Scythe Ninja3 is a great CPU cooler. With its huge size and eight 8-mm heatpipes, it was able to present excellent performance in our tests with a relatively low noise level.
The combination of the PWM automatic control with a rear potentiometer was a great idea: you can let your system control the fan speed automatically, but if you need some extra silence you can manually reduce the fan speed.
And, the best part of it: the Ninja3 is not as expensive as competing top-notch CPU coolers.
With great cooling performance, good noise level, great looks, and an attractive price tag, the Scythe Ninja3 CPU cooler is one of the best options if you are looking for a big cooler to chill your CPU, and therefore deserves our Golden Award.