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Continuing our CPU cooler review series, this time we tested Mugen-2 from Scythe. It is a huge cooler, with five individual tower heatsinks, each one connected to the base by one U-shape copper heatpipe, with a 120 mm fan blowing air on them.
By the way, Mugen stands for "infinity" in Japanese.
The Mugen-2’s box is big, but the impressive thing is the fact that when we open it, we notice the cooler is pratically the same size of the box, because there are no thick foam paddles that are used by some other coolers.
Inside the box we found the cooler, the fan (not installed), user manual, installation hardware and a small bag of gray thermal compound.
In Figure 3 we show the general look of Mugen-2. Let’s see more details in next pages.
[nextpage title=”Scythe Mugen-2″]
In a front view we notice the five practically independent heatsink design (they are united by some fins in order to give firmness to the piece). Scythe call this system M.A.P.S. (Multiple Airflow Pass-Through Structure).
Viewed from the side we can see that the cooler is very thick, with a big total fin area. Over the base you can see a small auxiliary heatsink.
In Figure 6 we have a top view of the cooler, and we have a better idea of this monster’s size. There are mettalic nut-shaped caps in heatpipes tips, with aesthetics function only.
[nextpage title=”Scythe Mugen-2 (cont´d)”]
The 120 mm fan that accompanies Mugen-2 does not come installed. It is a simple black plastic model, without LEDs, but with PWM speed control as you can see in Figure 7. It must be attached to the heatsink using two wire clips.
The cooler base is nickel-plated copper and its finishing is perfectly mirrored.
In Figure 10 we can see the hardware that comes with Mugen-2. The rubber-covered backplate that must be installed on the solder side of the motherboard is the same for any supported socket, but the mounting clips are different. The clips pair on the left is for use on the (obsolete) socket 478. Second one is for AMD CPUs (sockets AM3, AM2+, AM2, 939 and 754). The pair on the right is intended for use with Intel processors (sockets 775 and 1366). Socket LGA1156 is not supported by this cooler.
In Figure 11, you can see the cooler base with the sockets 775 and 1366 clips installed.
In order to install the cooler you must remove the motherboard from the case, unless it has a window on the motheboard tray to offer access to the solder side of the motherboard. After that, installation is easy, you must only put the screws on the backplate and fasten them to the cooler clips.
Figure 13 gives you an idea of Mugen-2’s size inside the case. It is so big that we could not install our memory modules on the two first sockets of the motherboard, and we lose dual channel feature. But, with shorter memory modules, this installation could be possible. Another solution is to install the fan in another position, moving the face closer to the video card, for example.
[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 achi
eve 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: 22.214.171.1249
- 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 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, Scythe Kabuto, Arctic Cooling Alpine 11 Pro, Thermaltake ISGC-300, SilverStone NT06-E, Zalman CNPS9700 NT and Scythe Mugen-2. 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.
|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 °|
|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|
|Arctic Cooling Alpine 11 Pro||20 °C||43 dBA||1500 rpm||32 °C||39 °C|
|ISGC-300 (min. speed)||18 °C||42 dBA||800 rpm||26 °C||30 °C|
|ISGC-300 (max. speed)||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|
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|
|Arctic Cooling Alpine 11 Pro||20 °C||51 dBA||2300 rpm||49 °C||85 °C|
|ISGC-300 (min. speed)||18 °C||42 dBA||800 rpm||36 °C||64 °C|
|ISGC-300 (max. speed)||18 °C||46 dBA||1400 rpm||31 °C||56 °C|
|SilverStone NT06-E||21 °C||66 dBA||2600 rpm||39 °C||96 °C|
|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|
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 Mugen-2 main features are:
- Application: Socket LGA1366, 775, 478, AM3, AM2+, AM2, 939 and 754 processors.
- Fins: Aluminum.
- Base: Copper.
- Heat-pipes: Five copper heat-pipes.
- Fan: 120 mm.
- Nominal fan speed: 324 to 1,200 rpm.
- Fan air flow: 74.25 cfm.
- Maximum power consumption: 2.16 W.
- Nominal noise level: 26.5 dBA.
- Weight: 1.91 lbs (870 g).
- More information: https://www.scythe-usa.com
- Average price in the US*: USD 37.00
* Researched at Newegg.com on the day we published this review.
Scythe Mugen-2 is a huge, nicely crafted cooler. As soon as we saw it, we imagine it would perform well. Actually, that performance was more than good, it was excellent. It cools our CPU as good as the best coolers we tested with this methodology.
Besides that, it is virtually the most quiet cooler we put our hands. With the CPU idle, we could not hear it, and we believe the noise level we measured came from the hard disk and from the room itself, not from the cooler fan. Even with the CPU under full load, its noise level was low, practically inaudible even with an open case.
It has only two relative flaws: first, we could not use the first two memory sockets, because the modules we use have very tall heatsinks. Second flaw is aesthetics: casemodders may preffer a fancyer cooler, with nice design, LEDs and colorful fans.
Even if it was an expensive cooler, it should be a good option for the user looking for a silent cooler with good preformance. But the best of all is the fact it is a relatively inexpensive cooler. So, Scythe Mugen-2 deserves the Hardware Secrets Golden Award seal.