Scythe Mugen 5 Review (Page 2 of 4)
Page 2 - Physical Look - Hardware; Installation
The overall design of the Scythe Mugen 5 falls into the conventional category. You will not find any radical design on the product itself, at least not from the above picture. The shape of the fins is roughly rectangular, which makes the heatsink practically cubical. In order to secure the fan to the heatsink, the fins are carefully designed for the wire clips. As you can see from the picture, a little notch on one side of the fins' corner is designed to hook the fan installation clip, while the other side of the corner is shaped to hold the fan in position. As long as the fan is in the right position, the fins make sure the fan is secured. After the fan is installed, a gap can be noticed between the fan’s air outlet side and the heatsink. The leading edges of the fin are generally pretty straight on the Mugen 5. If you observe it carefully, you will notice the left and right edges of the fin come slightly inward at the middle section. I am not sure if there are any practical reasons behind this edge design; it may have something to do with aerodynamics. My guess it is just for adding some features to its appearance, since I really doubt how much airflow, or surface area, can be affected by using such a design.
Not all the fins are the same on the Scythe Mugen 5. The fin on the top is thicker than others. There are two reasons. First, the top fin should be protective to other fins below. Second, thicker fins make the whole cooler look stronger. There are six continuous heatpipes on the Mugen 5, hence twelve heads are coming out of the top fin. There are external caps on each of the heatpipes' head. The cap is designed with two grooves. All the caps and the thicker top fin give me the impression the cooler is sturdily built. Comparing with those CPU coolers with bare heatpipe heads, I personally like this design better. The Scythe logo is engraved in the middle of the top fin. Two holes are located at top and bottom sides of the Scythe logo. The one by the top side of the Scythe logo is to allow the long-reach screw driver to go through when installing the cooler. The hole by the bottom side of the Scythe logo is to allow access to the screw of the baseplate mounting bar. Since the baseplate mounting bar has already been screwed on the baseplate from the factory, there is no need to worry about this screw. We can see the design team of the Mugen 5 has put a lot of effort to deliver a sophisticated top view of the cooler. The twelve grooved heatpipe caps definitely elevate the appearance of this product.
When it comes to the measurements, the Mugen 5 is 130 mm in width, 154.5 mm in height, and 110 mm in depth including the fan. It is not a huge CPU cooler, but definitely not small either. From the above picture, you can tell the how big or small the heatsink is compared with a standard 120 mm fan. Due to the relatively smaller size, the overall weight of the Mugen 5 is 890 g, which is slightly lighter than the two-fan cooler, the Scythe Fuma. Light weight is a welcomed feature for a CPU cooler, since it will cause less stress to the motherboard. However, the only concern about the small size is the reduced surface area of the fins, and it may have a negative effect on cooling performance. For an air cooler, whether it is for a combustible motor or for an electronic device, the trade-off between size and cooling performance must always be considered. In this case, the standard Mugen 5 has only one fan, and a medium sized heatsink. How is the cooling performance? We will find out on the next page.
As I have mentioned earlier, there are three kinds of fins on the Mugen 5. The top one is the thickest for better protection of the fins below. In the above photo, since the cooler is laid on the table instead of standing, the top fin is now on the left hand side. The fins in the center section of the heatsink are full size, while the five fins at the right hand side of the picture are smaller in size. If you are really serious about cooling performance, it may not be good news to see any smaller fins. Well, the reason behind using smaller fins at the bottom of the heatsink is to provide enough RAM clearance. Some other CPU coolers, like the Noctua NH-D15S, has the same deal too. The fins are made out of aluminum, not copper. It is true the thermal conductivity of copper, which is 401 W/mK, beats the thermal conductivity of aluminum, which is rated at 237 W/mK. However, using copper for the whole radiator may not be a good idea. This is because the density of copper is much higher than that of aluminum. Think about it -- for the same volume of metal, copper is more than three times as heavy as aluminum. If you make an all copper heatsink using the same size and shape of the Mugen 5, the heat dissipating performance may be improved by less than 50%, while the weight is 300% more. Even I know it is not a good deal.
The material and surface area of a CPU cooler are not the only factors in determining cooling performance. The fan, which is responsible for speeding up the air ventilation, plays another key role. For the Mugen 5, the Kaze Flex 120 PWM from Scythe takes the fan position on the heatsink. As its name implies, the Kaze Flex 120 PWM has adjustable RPM through pulse width modulation. The adjustable spinning speed of a PWM fan allows a lower noise level when the cooling duty is not heavy. On the other hand, PWM can also push the fan to higher RPM whenever it is necessary. The maximum air flow of Kaze Flex 120 PWM is 51.17 CFM, and the maximum air pressure is 1.05 mmH2O. Note CFM stands for cubic feet per minute. I would not say the stock fan of the Mugen 5 has impressive specifications on paper. How about its real life performance? Only tests can help us find out. Regarding the noise level, thanks to the use of Scythe’s Sealed Precision Fluid Dynamic Bearing and rubberized pads, it is specified as 24.9 dBA at the loudest, which I think is not bad. The MTTF of Kaze Flex 120 PWM is rated at 120,000 hours. It means if you let it run 24/7 without stopping, the fan can last at least thirteen years before it breaks down. So how about after thirteen years? My suggestion is to buy a new computer, haha.
As you may have noticed from the above photo, the center of the heatsink is biased with relation to the center of the base. On Scythe’s website, this feature is referred to as “asymmetric design for maximum memory compatibility”. The benefit of using this design is to allow easy access to the RAM slots. Even when the fan is attached to the heatsink, there is still nothing above the RAM section. Good motherboard clearance does not only happen at the fan side of the Mugen 5. On the opposing side, due to the smaller fins at the bottom of the heatsink, enough space is left for other components that may interfere with the CPU cooler. Generally speaking, for the Scythe Mugen 5, there is no need to worry about the clearance between the heatsink and the motherboard.
Let us move on to take a look at the base of the Mugen 5. Scythe made this base out of copper. If you are not seeing the right color of copper on the plate, please do not doubt the quality of the photo. This is just because the base, as well as the heatpipes, of the Mugen 5 are electroplated with nickel to protect them from oxidation. Keep in mind that nickel is highly resistant to corrosion, therefore it can help the copper parts of this cooler in its optimal condition for a long time. The other benefit of having nickel plated base and heatpipes is to match the color of the fins. The quality of the nickel-plated finish on the base is pretty good. The contacting surface looks just like a mirror. With the help of the provided thermal paste, heat can be smoothly transferred from the CPU to the cooler. All six continuous heatpipes are firmly soldered to the base. Also, the fins, which are crucial components for dissipating heat, are firmly attached to the heatpipes. Therefore, the whole cooling system is sturdily built, and it allows the Mugen 5 to cycle through the evaporation-condensing procedures for years to come.
For the Mugen 5, the orientation of the heatpipes are in parallel with the fan mounting surface of the heatsink. This feature makes the alignment of heatpipes different from that of other CPU coolers such as the Scythe Fuma and Noctua NH-D15S. In this case, the heatpipes are aligned in four rows into the radiator fins, while for the Scythe Fuma and the Noctua NH-D15S, there are two rows -- just like the difference between a V6 engine and I6 engine. The layout of the heatpipes of the Mugen 5 allows the heat to be evenly distributed to the fins. From the above picture, it can be seen the fan is attached to the heatsink's fins by using wire clips. There are two hooks on the wire clip for the fan, and a tab in the middle of the wire clip for easy attachment to the heatsink. It is a brilliant idea to use such a mechanism for fan attachment, since comparatively with using screws, wire clips are easy to use and pretty solid; also it saves weight.
Installation of the Mugen 5 was definitely a pleasant journey for me. Before I put everything in my computer, I took a while to look into the so-called Hyper Precision Mounting System II provided in the Mugen 5 package. As an Intel LGA 1151 user, a backplate was needed to mount the pair of mounting plates. On top of the mounting plates, the mounting bar can be attached using screws. It is worth noting all the parts for the Intel sockets LGA 775/115X/1366 are made out of metal. Therefore, they are strong enough to support the CPU cooler. On the other hand, there are also rubber pads at the contact surfaces of the motherboard and mounting system. Users do not need to worry about over tightening screws. The metal backplate of the Hyper Precision Mounting System II is painted in black. From the above picture, we can see the backplate merges well into the motherboard and motherboard tray. Of course, it only happens if you have a black motherboard and computer case, haha.
After the backplate is in position, the pair of mounting plates can be screwed on. Similar to the installation of the backplate, there are also three positions to screw the mounting plates. If you are confused by those screw positions, just take a look at the installation manual. In my case, I just used the screw position in the middle, which is for Intel LGA 115X. Scythe called this mounting system "Hyper Precision", therefore everything should fit like a glove. According to my installation experience, all components truly fit precisely. Thanks to the asymmetric design of the heatsink, all my RAM are not covered by any part of the Mugen 5; not even the fan. This feature allows me to upgrade or troubleshoot my memory without the hassle of removing the fan or CPU cooler. By the way, you do need to install the fan after the heatsink is mounted, since one of the screws for mounting the heatsink is right below the fan.
Generally speaking, the Scythe Mugen 5 is well designed. The thicker top fin, grooved heatpipe caps, and the heatpipes' arrangement are all welcomed features of this product. Regarding the installation procedure, the Mugen 5 delivers a positive installation experience. As for the actual cooling performance, let us turn to next page and find out.
1. Introduction, Packaging, Specifications
2. Physical Look - Hardware; Installation
3. Test Results