Scythe Ninja Mini CPU Cooler Page: 1
Introduction

Scythe is a name synonymous with aftermarket cooling hardware. I would like to wager that there aren't too many PC enthusiasts who hadn't at least seen, owned or heard about this well known Japanese based company's products. But who are Scythe, and what do they do?

Scythe Co., Ltd. (Registered & incorporated in Tokyo Japan) originally started in Akihabara Electric Town located in Tokyo Japan, where visitors can find the latest electric products from computer parts and accessories to the world’s most advanced cellular phones with video camera capabilities, small displays and the ability to play movies!

Scythe Co., Ltd., began its operation and business in November, 2002 as a distributor and manufacture of PC parts & gaming devices for “DIY PC Experts!”. Scythe’s first venture was to manufacture a super powerful YET super quiet CPU cooler (Scythe Kamakaze CPU cooler), and with the great success of this Kamakaze CPU cooler, Scythe became recognized as the leading CPU cooler supplier in Japan’s Akihabara Electric Town. Shortly there after, due to popular demand, Scythe began exporting products all over the world.

Scythe has had an impressive run of success with their range of innovative and well-performing CPU heat sinks; plus they've gathered a considerable fan base along the way. From the Scythe Ninja through to the Scythe Mugen, there is a Scythe heat sink for every possible scenario and end-user.

Today, I have been given the opportunity to review the Scythe Ninja Mini CPU Cooler, which is essentially a cut-down version of the Scythe Ninja heat sink, and is marketed as an heat sink for HTPC use. The Scythe Ninja Mini has also been marketed as 'Quad-core ready'; which will certainly be an area that I will be assessing when we arrive at that section of the review.

Scythe Ninja Mini

Let's begin this performance review by looking at the Scythe Ninja Mini's specifications. The specifications were unashamedly taken from Scythe's product page.

Specifications

Model Name: Ninja Mini CPU Cooler

Model #: SCMNJ-1000

Compatibility:
Intel:
Socket 478 All Speeds
Socket T / (LGA)775 All Speeds

AMD:
Socket 754 All Speeds
Socket 939 All Speeds
Socket 940 All Speeds
Socket AM2 All Speeds

Dimension:
110x110x115mm (Overall)
80x80x25mm (Fan)

Fan Speed: 2300rpm (±10%)

Fan Noise: 24.4dBA

Air Flow: 32.2CFM

Weight: 580g

Installation Manual: Ninja Mini Manual (English/French/German)

The universal compatibility that the Scythe Ninja Mini affords from socket 478 though to AMD's socket AM2 is a welcome feature; ensuring that those on older sockets can benefit from a quiet and efficient cooling solution. So too is the reduction in weight. It seems that many cooling hardware manufacturers are bordering on the 'crazy' side when it comes to size. If the Scythe Ninja Mini can cool a quad-core processor efficiently whilst weighing in at just under 600 grams then I'm impressed.

Let's head over the page and have a look at what you get for your money...


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Packaging and A Closer Look

One area that Scythe have always excelled, other than the performance of their heat sinks, is that they always manage to fill every square centimetre of available package real-estate with marketing of their product. Some consumers will appreciate it, others won't. Personally, I always find Scythe's packaging refreshing and enticing, but it does perhaps border on being cluttered. On the box is the usual suspects that you would expect to find: specifications; features and the universal compatibility.

Scythe Ninja mini top of box Scythe Ninja mini box_1
Scythe Ninja mini box_2 Scythe Ninja mini box_3

The Scythe Ninja Mini's packaging is no different, and it does retain the thoughtful design considerations that ensure that the product is going to arrive on your doorstep in one piece. Opening up the box you are greeted by the cooler tightly packed in the top, with a smaller box below containing your mounting hardware. Included in the Scythe Ninja Mini packaging is:

* 1 x Scythe Ninja Mini CPU Cooler
* 1 x Instruction manual
* 1 x sachet of thermal paste
* 4 x screws
* 2 x 80mm fan mounts
* 2 x 92mm fan mounts
* 1 x Intel LGA775 mount
* 1 x Intel socket 478 mount
* 1 x AMD 754/939/940/AM2 mount

 
Scythe Ninja Mini accessories


One thing that I would like to state here is my dislike for Intel's push/lock motherboard mounting mechanism. It has the tendency to be a right royal pain by not locking the heatsink down onto the processor sufficiently, resulting in the need for reseating. Other heat sink manufacturers have moved away from the push/lock mechanism, and perhaps Scythe could look at doing so too. But in Scythe's defence, I guess it does allow the end-user to change heat sinks quite quickly without have to remove their motherboard in the process.

Let's take a closer look at the Scythe Ninja Mini CPU Cooler.

A Closer Look

First impressions are usually lasting ones, and I must say that I really like the look of the Scythe Ninja Mini CPU Cooler. With its Copper heatpipes and Aluminium fins, it certainly looks the goods. The shortened height over the Scythe Ninja will certainly lend itself well to HTPC applications.

Scythe Ninja mini top view Scythe Ninja mini side view
Scythe Ninja mini side view_2 Scythe Ninja mini base

The Scythe Ninja Mini utilises 6 heatpipes and 16 fins to draw excess heat away from your processor. This should help counter the reduction in height over its older brother - the Scythe Ninja.

Scythe included 80mm fan
 

The 80mm fan that the Scythe Ninja Mini comes with is utilised because of its compact size and relatively low noise output. At 32.2 CFM the fan still facilitates some decent airflow. I have included the fans specifications below:

Fan SpeedFan NoiseAir Flow
2300rpm (±10%)24.4 dB(A)32.2 CFM

The supplied 80mm fan comes with a simple 3-pin connector so it will attach straight to a fan header on your motherboard with very little problems. The fan doesn't come with a variable pot for controlling fan speed, and can only be adjusted by lowering the voltage it receives. It's interesting to note that Scythe has not run with a fan that can be controlled via PWM, nor does the fan include fluid bearings, which would have ensured the quietest operation possible.

The Scythe Ninja mini heat sink allows you to run either 80 or 92mm fans depending on whether you prefer near silent operation or a little extra performance. It's also pretty cool (pardon the pun) that you can place the fans anywhere on the sides of the heat sink that you want.


Scythe Ninja mini with fan attached Front view with attached fan
Side view with attached fan

You can also see from the above (right) image that the Ninja Mini has a very well lapped Aluminium base. I'm guessing that Scythe have opted for Aluminium in order to cut down on both weight and overall cost of the product.


Scythe Ninja mini lapped base

Let's head over the page to see how easily the Scythe Ninja Mini is to install...


Scythe Ninja Mini CPU Cooler Page: 3
Installation

Installation of the Scythe Ninja Mini CPU Cooler was a little fiddly due to the cooling fins of the heat sink protruding out past the push/lock mounting on the base. Even with the assistance of a removable motherboard tray I found it awkward to get to the push/lock pins attached properly on the motherboard back-plane side.

You can see from the above images that the Scythe Ninja Mini CPU Cooler had no compatibility issues with my ASUS P5B Deluxe wi-fi/App motherboard. The heat sink provides more than ample clearance from capacitors and the heat-pipe cooling solution around the motherboards voltage regulation area.

Scythe Ninja Mini installed
 
With the fan situated on the left hand side of the heatsink the included 80mm fan comes very close to touching the top of my RAM, but thanks to square shape of the heat sink there are another 3 sides that you can install it on.
 
Scythe Ninja Mini almost touching RAM

Scythe Ninja Mini showing RAM

Other than the included fan and installation clips residing so close to my RAM, there were no other issues to report. The Scythe Ninja Mini looks quite at home in my case.

Scythe Ninja Mini installed

Now that we've had a thorough look at the Scythe Ninja Mini CPU Cooler let's head over the page to see how we're going to test it...


Scythe Ninja Mini CPU Cooler Page: 4
Test Setup and Methodology

In order to test the Scythe Ninja Mini CPU Cooler, I have decided to target the two main areas that should cover our broad spectrum of readers here at Overclock3D. I will be assessing the Scythe Ninja Mini heat sink under the following conditions:

* Cooling performance (Idle and Load)
* Noise

The test setup for todays performance review will be comprised of:

* Intel C2D Q6600 Processor (G0 stepping);
* ASUS P5B Deluxe wi-fi/ App motherboard;
* 2GB's OCZ PC2-6400 Titanium RAM;
* Thermaltake Xaser VI case;
* 80GB Western Digital SATAII HDD;
* Scythe Ninja Mini CPU Cooler and Intel reference heat sink, and
* Arctic Silver 5 thermal paste.

I have explained my testing methodology for each phase of the performance review below:

Cooling performance

I will be testing the Scythe Ninja Mini CPU Cooler on my Q6600 (G0 Stepping) processor to assess the heat sinks ability to handle the heat-load of a quad-core, especially since Scythe state that the Ninja Mini is 'quad-core ready'. Whilst many HTPC enthusiasts would not be using a quad-core CPU as the processor of choice, instead opting for a lower spec'd Intel C2D or AMD X2 dual-core processor, I have decided to test the heatsink with my Q6600. CPU load will be simulated using 2 x instances of Stress Prime 2004.

Ambient temperature will be taken using a standard mercury thermometer and allowing it time to normalise. Processor idle/load and overclocked temperatures will be obtained using Core Temp Beta 0.95.4, and an average taken over the four cores...purely to make plotting the chart a little easier to read. All testing will be conducted 3 times and an average taken to ensure the uniformity of results. Both the Intel reference heat sink and the Scythe Ninja Mini will be tested, removed, and then re-installed a total of three times to ensure the elimination of any poor mounting issues.

Furthermore; all fans present in the Thermaltake Xaser VI case will be turned off to ensure that the additional cooling afforded by them does not effect the results.

Noise

Possibly the hardest part of any CPU Cooler review is summarising the level of noise given out by the fan, should it have one included. The threshold for what is considered 'noisy' varies from person to person and therefore what I may consider quiet, another person may consider extremely loud. For this reason, all reviews from this point forward will be using a dBA meter to measure the level of noise output by the fan.

All noise measurements are taken in a quiet room with the dBA meter located approximately 500mm away from the heat sink

Let's head over the page to see how the Scythe Ninja Mini performed...


Scythe Ninja Mini CPU Cooler Page: 5
Testing

Cooling Performance

You can see from the graph below that the Scythe Ninja Mini provides better temperatures across the board than the Intel reference cooler. Not that this comes as a shock to anyone! I would have no hesitation whatsoever in recommending the Scythe Ninja Mini for use in an HTPC setup, or even in a medium to full-tower for that matter.


Scythe Ninja Mini Cooling performance chart.

(Ambient temperature 23.9 - 24.4 Deg C)

Let's have a look at the noise readings...

Noise

The Scythe Ninja Mini is quiet by my standards when using the default 80mm fan and I would have no qualms about recommending this heat sink to those who prefer silence. In fact, I found the pitch and noise from my Palit 8600 GT graphics card was more noticeable than the fan on the Scythe Ninja Mini.


Noise Level chart

Now that we have thoroughly analysed the Scythe Ninja Mini CPU Cooler let's head over the page to see how it performed as a whole in our performance testing today...


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Final Thoughts and Conclusion

So how did the Scythe Ninja Mini perform today?

First up, the Scythe Ninja Mini comes with everything that you need to get set up and ready to roll. The universal compatibility of the heat sink is a blessing for those who are on older platforms, and yet, still wish to enjoy the benefits afforded by this great little heat sink.

The price-point that Scythe has decided to run with for the Scythe Ninja Mini is impressive. The Scythe Ninja Mini comes in at £27.01 including 17.5% VAT from Scan Computers.

I must admit that I was incredibly impressed by the performance of the Scythe Ninja Mini today. It managed to keep my Q6600 G0 stepping processor sufficiently cool at idle and load. Even more impressive is the fact that it did so with considerably less weight and cooling surface area than its performace orintated siblings.

Whilst I was a little surprised at Scythe's decision to run with a traditional bearing fan instead of of a fluid bearing type, the included fan does well at delivering near silent operation. With the inclusion of additional fan clips means that you can always run with a fan of your own preference...even up to 92mm.

The Scythe Ninja Mini should certainly be on your short list if looking for a viable and extremely efficient cooling solution for your HTPC. The Scythe Ninja Mini should fit in the majority of HTPC cases currently available, but as common sense should dictate, always double check before purchasing.

Let's have a look at the Scythe Ninja Mini CPU Cooler's performance breakdown:

The Good
• Near universal compatibility
• Near silent operation
• Quality
• Price
• Looks
• Weight
• Performance

The Mediocre
• Utilises Intel's twist-lock mounting mechanism
• Fan may become an issue of your RAM has higher than normal heatspreaders
• Can be a little fiddly to install

The Bad
• Nothing to report

Today I have decided to award the Scythe Ninja Mini CPU cooler Overclock3D's "Recommended' award for its performance in todays review.

Overclock3D Recommended Award

Overclock3D would like to thank Scythe-EU for providing the Scythe Ninja Mini for review

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