Scythe Ninja 4 Review (Page 2 of 4)

Page 2 - Physical look - Hardware; Installation

Big. The Scythe Ninja 4 is big. The cooler is not as heavy as I expected after I saw how monstrous it was, but it was by no means a light heatsink. Without the fan, it weighs in at 780g, and with the fan at 900g. From the top down, you can see it looks like it has four parts to it. However, on closer inspection, there are only two cooling towers and three heatpipes ending at the top of each of the cooling towers. I really like the shuriken stamped onto the top of the Scythe Ninja 4, as it really drives home the ninja theme of the product. We will find out if it is as deadly and silent as its namesake later on. The symmetrical look from the top down is really nice, making it a good sight to see inside your chassis. The Scythe Ninja 4 has a simple look with its silver finish, with the black and gray of the fan. If you are concerned with the theme of your PC build, these colors are least likely to clash with your build. This is especially true if you have LED lighting; the silver of the heatsink will just reflect the color, and in my case it gives pretty clean and cool look. Between each of the two cooling towers, you can see there is a little circle about midway from the side and the middle of the shuriken. That is not there for any aesthetic reasons, but actually for the extra-long screwdriver they included to attach the heatsink to the mounting hardware.

The Scythe Ninja 4 features what they call T-M.A.P.S technology (Three-dimensional Multiple Airflow Pass-through Structure); the company claims this new design had a 7% increase in performance compared to older models. They also say the new clever arrangement of the fin layout allowed them to add an extra pair of fins without increasing the already heavy weight for lower RPM cooling. Along with the Ninja part in its name, Scythe is emphasizing how quiet this cooler can be. The fan was easy enough to attach with the included mounting clips. The instruction manual does tell you about which orientation the fan should take. Another fan could be attached to the heatsink on the opposite side of the first one. However, Scythe has designed it so you can attach fans to any side of the heatsink.

The included fan is Scythe's Glide Stream 120mm PWM sleeve bearing fan. Sleeve bearings are cheaper than the other common option, which is ball bearing. Sleeve bearings are common in PC fans, but they are not considered to be the most reliable. Sleeve bearings have a large contact surface area, but in hot environments, the viscosity of the lubricant can change, meaning the fan can fail suddenly after a period of time. However, sleeve bearings are quiet and inexpensive. Ball bearings are more reliable, and will not fail suddenly. However, ball bearings are more expensive and louder, but they have a much lower contact with the surface area.

The Scythe fan has three different settings, which is low, medium, and high. To change these settings, there is a small slider bar on the fan itself. These settings cap the top speed, which allows you to keep the fan running at a low RPM to reduce the noise output. I found this option very useful, because it gives you the option of letting the CPU running a little bit warmer at the cost of reducing noise emissions. The low range of the fan runs between 300 to 800 RPM, medium setting 300 to 1150 RPM, and high setting 300 to 1500 RPM. At each of these settings, the noise level changes under load; at low setting it is in a range from 4.0 -to 12.5 dBA, medium setting 4.0 to 23.5 dBA, and high setting 4.0 to 29.5 dBA. The rated airflow also changes, starting at the minimum of 12.93 CFM, then rising to 43.50, 63.73, and 84.64 CFM at the limits from low to medium to high, respectively. However, if you have another favorite fan, you can change them out. This flexibility is a simple thing but it is appreciated, especially since people have different preferences.

Taking a step back, and looking at it from the side, it is easy to see the orientation of the heatpipes, and how they run into the fin stack. Something to take into consideration is the heatpipes are not soldered to the fins of the heatsink. At first, this is not an issue, but should be taken into account in the long term, because you will experience a drop in performance after many cycles of expansion and contraction. The fins are separated by about 2mm. With 36 aluminum fins, the size of the Scythe Ninja 4 really means it has a large surface area to optimize heat dissipation. The gap on top of the base plate is actually for the mounting hardware, which may give you a better idea why they included an extra-long screwdriver. The Scythe Ninja 4 comes in at a width of 130 mm, height of 155 mm, and depth of 153 mm. If you have a smaller chassis, you should make sure there will not be any clearance issues. It would be pretty awkward installing a nice big heatsink only to find that the side panel does not close anymore. The symmetrical design may cause some clearance issues with your memory modules if you have medium to high profile heatspreaders on them. These factors have to be taken into consideration when installing the Scythe Ninja 4. If the fan only interferes with your RAM, it is possible to just offset the fan a bit for additional clearance.

From this angle, it is much easier to see how the fan mounting clips attaches to the ridges of the Scythe Ninja 4. The fan clipped on easily, and will clip off easily as well due to this design. This view from the bottom also helps to see the layout of the nickel-plated copper heatpipes, which are 6mm thick each, with six of them leading out from each side for twelve effective pipes. They are grouped into three segments each into one of the four parts of the heatsink allowing for equal heat transfer to all the sides, instead of the heat getting too concentrated in one area of the radiator. The base plate of the Scythe Ninja 4 is made from copper with nickel plating. The base plate is nice and flat ensuring good contact between it and the CPU, maximizing the heat transfer between the two. Looking closer at the base plate, there are no abnormalities that could cause a loss in performance, and thanks to the nickel-plated copper base plate, the heat transfer should be good.

Copper has a thermal conductivity of 401 W/mK. The fins are made out of aluminum, which has a much lower thermal conductivity at, 237 W/mK, but aluminum is much lighter than copper to reduce the stress put on the motherboard. Nickel has a much lower thermal conductivity than both aluminum and copper, but the nickel plating is a very thin layer ensuring its impact on the heat transferring capabilities of copper is minimal. The reason for the nickel plating is to ensure the copper does not corrode over time. Nickel is better at handling the harsh environment of your computer, while at the same time preventing performance loss over time. The heatpipes are soldered to the base plate ensuring good contact, which will not degrade over time. However, the heatpipes are not soldered to the fins as aforementioned, which means over time the fins and heatpipes will lose contact, greatly reducing performance in the long term. The heatpipes will lose contact because of expansion during times when the heatsink will warm up, and contraction when it cools down. Other than that, the Scythe Ninja 4 is well built, but we will see how it performs on the next page.

Installation was relatively simple with a few hiccups. The installation guide could have been clearer with which parts to use, since there are two screws that are almost identical, but only one will fit through the included backplate. I am still confused of the one set of screws, because they were not needed in the installation on an Intel or AMD processor. The mounting system Scythe employs is the H.P.M.S (Hyper Precision Mounting System), which apparently is supposed to be user friendly. I found some steps of the process a little challenging when I attached the Scythe Ninja 4 to the mounting system; I will elaborate a little more later. The screws used to attach the backplate were actually quite nice, since they were like thumbscrews, making it easy to just properly tighten after with a screwdriver. With AMD sockets, you do not actually use the backplate Scythe sent with, as you can use the one already on your motherboard. Be warned though, if you have an AMD socket, and your backplate is secured with plastic pins, then you will not be able to install the Scythe Ninja 4. You will require the original backplate. Anyway, since most of us are on Intel, after installing the backplate on this Intel setup, we moved on to the next step.

The default position of the Scythe Ninja 4 may force the fan to interfere with your RAM, depending on the motherboard you own. But before we get to actually mounting it, I made sure to put some of Scythe's thermal paste on the CPU. On the heatsink itself, there is a gap that sits just above the base plate, where you place a metal bar with screw holes on each side that will attach it to the rest of the mounting hardware. This process was a little challenging for me, and this is the reason why they included an extra-long magnetic screwdriver. The two screws you use to attach the Scythe Ninja 4 have to be placed on the end of the magnetic screwdriver, and then carefully lowered down two circular holes on the side of the heatsink. Next, I had to align the screws with the rest of the mounting hardware, which was a challenge in itself, because of how hard it was to see under the heatsink to make sure the screw is going where it should and properly secured. The first time I tried it, it screwed me over a bit, but by the second time, it was much easier to do. As I have said earlier, there were RAM clearance issues with this cooler. The symmetrical design makes it so that there is overhang on all sides, and the fan could also interfere with the memory regardless of profile. In our case, we raised the fan just a bit, which got rid of the issue, but you do not want to raise the fan too much, because then you are not getting the best airflow. After installing it, we turned on the computer, and started the tests. Let us head to the next page to find out how the Scythe Ninja 4 performs.

Page Index
1. Introduction, Packaging, Specifications
2. Physical Look - Hardware; Installation
3. Test Results
4. Conclusion