Scythe Ninja3 CPU Cooler Review
By Rafael Otto Coelho on September 23, 2010


Introduction

Hardware Secrets Golden Award

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.

Scythe Ninja3
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Figure 1: Packaging

In Figure 2, you can see the accessories that come with the cooler: fan, manual, installation hardware, and a small bag of thermal compound.

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Figure 2: Box contents

In Figure 3, you can see the Ninja3 heatsink.

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Figure 3: The Scythe Ninja3

In the next pages, you will see this cooler in detail.

The Scythe Ninja3

In Figure 4, you see the front of the heatsink. The fins are thick, firm, and well spaced.

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Figure 4: Front view

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.

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Figure 5: Side view

In Figure 6, you see the top of the cooler. The shape of the fins may make you think that the heatsink is divided into four pieces, but this isn't the case, as the fins are not independent. There is a nice tribal decoration on the top fin.

Scythe Ninja3
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Figure 6: Top view

The Scythe Ninja3 (Cont’d)

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.

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Figure 7: Heatpipes

In Figure 8 you see the mirrored finish of the base of the cooler.

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Figure 8: Base

The fan that comes with Ninja3 have PWM automatic control, but it also has a potentiometer, where you can adjust the fan speed.

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Figure 9: Fan

In Figure 10, you can see the fan installed. It is held in place by two wire clips.

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Figure 10: Fan installed

Installation

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.

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Figure 11: Base clips

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.

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Figure 12: Backplate

In Figure 13, you can see the Ninja3 instaled in our case.

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Figure 13: Installed in our case

How We Tested

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.

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 case and video board cooler fans so they wouldn't interfere with the results. This measurement is only for comparison 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

Operating System Configuration

Software Used

Error Margin

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

Our Tests

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.

 

Idle Processor

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.

Scythe Ninja3

Main Specifications

The main features of the Scythe Ninja3 CPU cooler include:

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

Conclusions

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.

Originally at http://www.hardwaresecrets.com/article/Scythe-Ninja3-CPU-Cooler-Review/1090


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