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.
Inside the box we found the cooler, a small bag of gray thermal compound, user manual and the installation hardware.
In Figure 3 you can take a look at the Big Shuriken.
Figure 3: Scythe Big Shuriken.
[nextpage title=”Scythe Big Shuriken”]
[nextpage title=”Scythe Big Shuriken (Cont’d)”]
Removing the wire clips that hold the fan in place we can see the top part of the heatsink.
The cooler base is made of a very smooth nickel-plated copper, as you can see in Figure 9.
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.
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.
Figure 11: Installed into case.
[nextpage title=”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.
- Processor: Core 2 Extreme QX6850
- Motherboard: Gigabyte EP45-UD3L
- Memory: 2 GB Corsair XMS2 DHX TWIN2X2048-6400C4DHX G (DDR2-800/PC2-6400 with timings 4-4-4-12), running at 800 MHz
- Hard drive: 500 GB Seagate Barracuda 7200.11 (ST3500320AS, SATA-300, 7200 rpm, 32 MB buffer)
- Video card: PNY Verto Geforce 9600 GT
- Video resolution: 1680×1050
- Video monitor: Samsung Syncmaster 2232BW Plus
- Power supply required: Seventeam ST-550P-AM
- Case: 3RSystem K100
- Windows XP Professional installed on FAT32 partition
- Service Pack 3
- Intel Inf driver version: 126.96.36.1999
- NVIDIA video driver version: 182.08
We adopted a 2 °C error margin, i.e., temperature differences below 2 °C are considered irrelevant.
[nextpage title=”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.
|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)||17 °C||47 dBA||880 rpm||29 °C||36 °C|
|BigTyp 14Pro (max)||17 °C||59 dBA||1500 rpm||26 °C||34 °C|
|Akasa Nero||18 °C||41 dBA||500 rpm||26 °C||35 °|
|Cooler Master V10||14 °C||44 dBA||1200 rpm||21 °C||26 °C|
|TMG IA1 (max)||16 °C||47 dBA||1500 rpm||22 °C||30 °C|
|TMG IA1 (min)||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)||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|
|Arctic Cooling Alpine 11 Pro||20 °C||43 dBA||1500 rpm||32 °C||39 °C|
|ISGC-300 (min)||18 °C||42 dBA||800 rpm||26 °C||30 °C|
|ISGC-300 (max)||18 °C||46 dBA||1400 rpm||24 °C||26 °C|
|SilverStone NT06-E||21 °C||66 dBA||2600 rpm||30 °C||41 °C|
|Zalman CNPS9700 NT||22 °C||48 dBA||1700 rpm||28 °C||35 °C|
|Scythe Mugen-2||17 °C||41 dBA||700 rpm||25 °C||30 °C|
|ISGC-400 (min)||17 °C||44 dBA||850 rpm||24 °C||30 °C|
|Cooler Master Vortex 752||20 °C||48 dBA||1700 rpm||32 °C||44 °C|
|iCEAGE Prima Boss (min)||22 °C||42 dBA||1000 rpm||29 °C||36 °C|
|Evercool Buffalo||17 °C||51 dBA||1850 rpm||22 °C||29 °C|
|Scythe Big Shuriken||20 °C||42 dBA||900 rpm||31 °C||39 °C|
CPU Fully Loaded
|Cooler||Room Temp.||Noise||Fan Speed||Base Temp.||Core Temp.|
|Intel stock||14 °C||48 dBA||1740 rpm||42 °C||100 °C|
|BigTyp 14Pro (min)||17 °C||47 dBA||880 rpm||43 °C||77 °C|
|BigTyp 14Pro (max)||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)||16 °C||47 dBA||1500 rpm||27 °C||63 °C|
|TMG IA1 (min)||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)||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|
|Arctic Cooling Alpine 11 Pro||20 °C||51 dBA||2300 rpm||49 °C||85 °C|
|ISGC-300 (min)||18 °C||42 dBA||800 rpm||36 °C||64 °C|
|ISGC-300 (max)||18 °C||46 dBA||1400 rpm||31 °C||56 °C|
|SilverStone NT06-E||21 °C||66 dBA||2600 rpm||39 °C||96 °
|Zalman CNPS9700 NT||22 °C||56 dBA||2600 rpm||34 °C||63 °C|
|Scythe Mugen-2||17 °C||46 dBA||1300 rpm||28 °C||54 °C|
|ISGC-400 (max)||17 °C||47 dBA||1400 rpm||36 °C||69 °C|
|Cooler Master Vortex 752||20 °C||55 dBA||2300 rpm||48 °C||92 °C|
|iCEAGE Prima Boss (max)||22 °C||53 dBA||2000 rpm||35 °C||59 °C|
|Evercool Buffalo||17 °C||51 dBA||1850 rpm||32 °C||67 °C|
|Scythe Big Shuriken||20 °C||50 dBA||1500 rpm||51 °C||85 °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.
The next graph will give you an idea on how many degrees Celsius the CPU core was hotter than room temperature during the tests.
[nextpage title=”Main Specifications”]
Scythe Big Shuriken main features are:
- Application: Sockets 1366, 1156, 775, 478, AM3, AM2+, AM2, 939 and 754 processors.
- Fins: Aluminum.
- Base: Copper.
- Heat-pipes: Four copper heat-pipes.
- Fan: 120 mm.
- Nominal fan speed: 650 to 2,200 rpm.
- Fan air flow: 38.5 cfm.
- Maximum power consumption: Not informed.
- Nominal noise level: 28.89 dBA.
- Weight: 0.9 lbs (405 g).
- More information: https://www.scythe-usa.com
- Average price in the US*: USD 34.00
* Researched on www.newegg.com 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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