By: Jonathan Kwan
January 27, 2007
Although the performance of different water cooling systems undoubtedly holds its place on various benchmark and result charts, as well as create a parallel opportunity for relatively more silent cooling, there are many computer users who still prefer air cooling. In the high end air cooling segment, implementations of huge fans and heatsinks with multiple heatpipes have become increasingly popular. The reason and logic behind this trend and the ability for air cooling to keep itself from becoming obsolete technology is quite simple: Air cooling methods require little technical experience to install, and takes no more than a can of compressed air for management. After all, it's about using the computer, not about creating a schedule for when to do what, right? Now about using the computer -- the experience of performance and knowing your processor is properly cooled is equally as important. Let's see what the high end air cooling product, the Scythe Infinity, has to deliver today.
Our review unit came in a surprisingly small cardboard box using UPS Ground last month. I was quite surprised because inside the box there was a total of two Scythe heatsinks -- both with 120mm fans. The other product was the Scythe Andy Samurai Master which we have already reviewed a few weeks ago.
Our unit of the Scythe Infinity arrived in retail packaging. The box includes a picture in the front, as well as several images located in various locations on the cardboard box. It includes some Japanese characters along with majority of English words.
Everything inside was extremely well packed; there's minimal additional packaging because there's absolutely no wasted room inside -- creating virtually no room for the contents to shift places.
Before we move on, let's take a look at the specifications, as obtained from Scythe's site:
Combined Dimensions: 125 x 116 x 160mm
Fan Dimensions: 120 x 120 x 25mm
Noise Level: 23.5dBA
Air Flow: 46.5CFM
Speed: 1,200rpm (±10%)
IIFS - Infinity Interleave Fin Structure
Seeking the better way to efficiently dissipate the heat from total 5 heatpipes to Heatsink fins, this IIFS makes the quick & efficient heat transfer ever!
4 Fan Mounting Choice
Users can choose from 4 possible direction to mount the fan to get the best performance out of Infinity!
Tool Free Easy Installation
Newly developed & "patent pending" mounting mechanism "VTMS (Versatile Toll-Free Multiplatform System) allows user to install the Infinity CPU Cooler without any tool and hassle. Infinity CPU Cooler is compatible for socket 478/754/939/940/AM2 & LGA775. All in one solution for your PC system.
Wide Range Cooling
Infinity CPU Cooler is optimized to get its performance from low-rpm to high-rpm to meet the demand from silent users to heavy-core overclockers.
Out of the box, you will get the Scythe Infinity heatsink itself, a Scythe 120mm fan, a set of two fan mounting hardware, and three pairs of motherboard mounting hardware, as well as a short installation manual. Unlike the company's Andy Samurai Master heatsink, the fan is not pre-installed and you'll need to put it on yourself. It's very easy and virtually effortless; installing the fan takes less than a minute or two.
The fan utilizes a 3-pin connector, and not a 4-pin connector.
Let's cheat a bit and borrow the above photo and following paragraph from my other review. *Ahem* Anyways...
A comparison with other heatsinks. On the left is the Scythe Infinity, center is the stock Intel heatsink that comes along with the Core 2 Duos, and sitting on the right is the Scythe Andy Samurai Master we are examining today. Compared to the Intel stock heatsink, both Scythe products are Godzilla -- and of course, even without relative applications, any active heat dissipation device designed to accommodate a full 120mm fan inside a computer will occupy lots of room.
The difference between the implementation of the fan between both Scythes is that the Infinity, although an older product, is designed on the perpendicular airflow pattern. This means that it brings the air away from the CPU directly instead of blowing air over the fins on top of the CPU. A perpendicular design is usually more efficient in bringing air out with the assist of rear case fan as well as no interruption to natural case airflow.
As you can see in our photo above, the included 120mm fan is attached using the set of fan mounting metal pieces clipped onto the screw holes and the ledge of the heatsink itself.
Each fin is separated pretty much evenly with 5 heatpipes running through them. There are 29 fins (At least to my count anyway haha), and the heatpipes head both directions creating a total of 10 headers at the top. The headers are closed off with a cover over the seal to assist it in terms of looks; and I noticed no badly welded points on the Scythe Infinity itself -- a good indication of excellent build quality.
A shot at the bottom of Scythe's Infinity. The heatpipes are copper heatpipes with heat dissipation through utilization of aluminum fins. The base of the heatsink is also made of copper; because copper is a better heat conductor than aluminum -- but much heavier. The physical size of this heatsink makes it impossible to use copper safely, because even with aluminum fins the Scythe Infinity already weighs almost a full kilogram.
In our photo above, you can see how the heatpipes lead away from the copper base. The elbow area is done very nicely, and done very cleanly through the fin area as well as base attachment. My only complaint here is the base; although done nicely, it is not entirely smooth and I believe that a better job could be done -- especially for a high end air cooling solution.
The motherboard mounting accessories are easy to install -- a quick snap into the preset area of the Scythe Infinity heatsink portion and you are set. It's completely tool free, and at least for Intel's LGA775 -- the Scythe Infinity is designed to work with the stock motherboard mounting holes. There's no need to install or replace a motherboard backplate, nothing at all -- just put it on, and all you need to do is swap your old heatsink out. What conveniences without the requirement to pretty much rebuild your whole computer just to exchange a heatsink.
Comparatively speaking, the Scythe Infinity is by no chance a huge heatsink. In fact, with a perpendicular 120mm fan, it is easy to estimate how tall this product is -- simply place a standard 120mm fan a slight distance away from your motherboard and you can see what kind of heatsink you are looking at. Mini air conditioner for the CPU at work, mmm.
Anyway, handling such a large product is quite hard in terms of installation due to... its physical size. This creates minimal room around the heatsink and it's extremely hard to reach in areas between the Scythe Infinity and the back of the case -- at least with my Thermaltake Aguila. The space between my power supply and the heatsink is very little as well; and during installation I had to pretty much remove everything around the Scythe Infinity in order for me to get the mounting pins down -- power supply at the top, 120mm case fan at the back, video card at the bottom as well as both RAM modules. The good thing is that the Infinity is nice and tall but not very wide, so the pins are much easier to reach than the Scythe Andy Samurai Master.
The Scythe Infinity installs into my Asus P5W64-WS Professional without problems. However, with RAM modules that have large and tall heatsinks such as a Corsair Dominator or OCZ FlexXLC, the 120mm installed on the Infinity might get in the way of DIMM1 on the motherboard.
Tests were conducted on computer with the following specifications:
CPU: Intel Core 2 Duo E6300 @ 2.80GHz (400MHz*7)
Motherboard: Asus P5W64-WS Professional
RAM: OCZ Special Ops Edition Urban Elite PC6400 2x1GB @ 4-4-3-11, 1:1 with CPU
Case: Thermaltake Aguila (1x120mm LED, 1x120mm)
Power: Seasonic M12 500W
Graphics: BFG GeForce 7600GT OC 256MB
Sound: Creative X-Fi XtremeMusic
Optical Drive: NEC AD-7170A 18X DVD+/-RW
Hard Drive: Seagate 7200.10 320GB 16MB SATA2
- Scythe Andy Samurai Master
- Scythe Infinity
- Intel Stock
All tests were run with the computer in an upright position, case door closed, in order to achieve the most accurate and real-life results. The computer remained in the same location in the same room throughout all tests. The room temperature is around 24c. Arctic Silver's Ambrosia HT thermal paste was used for its 30-minute minimum break time; all pastes were given a proper amount of time for them to fully settle. The fan on the heatsink will be directly connected to the motherboard's 3 or 4-pin connector. Computer is turned on and idling for at least 4 hours for the idling tests. High CPU load results were obtained using Prime95's large FFTs Torture Test and SuperPI running at the same time for a minimum of 15 minutes.
Please note that the temperatures were obtained on different days, because we have to allow the paste to be guaranteed fully settled before testing each heatsink. For this reason, there could be a change in our room temperature due to conditions outside. Each test has been run several times at different times of the day to maximize accuracy.
Under idle conditions, the Infinity was a full 7 degrees Celcius lower than the recorded temperature for Intel's stock heatsink, as well as 2 degrees better than the Andy Samurai Master. Notice the fan RPM differences we'll take a look on the next comparison graph.
Under APH's simulated heavy load condition, the Infinity is now 8 degrees Celcius lower than the Intel stock heatsink. Again, Scythe's Infinity beat the Andy Samurai Master by 2 degrees Celcius once more on both cores of our Intel Core 2 Duo E6300 running at 2.80GHz.
Scythe's Infinity fan RPM is spinning at roughly the same speed as the Andy Samurai Master, but both fans on each heatsink is going at approximately half the RPM of Intel's stock. Both Scythes with low RPM fans can be considered quiet; they do generate noise and are not as quiet as the 120mm fan located on the Seasonic M12 500W -- but nevertheless, it's pretty quiet. It's audible, but I know it could be quieter -- still, pretty quiet in relative.
Wow, the Scythe Infinity really rocks. Excellent build quality; the welding job is done very cleanly and the performance is very good. Perpendicular fan design for efficient cooling and fairly quiet, low RPM fan in relative. My several complaints is that the lapping job on the copper base could have just been slightly better, and a quick word is that the large heatsink could be a bit hard to install as you try to slip your hand into those tight corners. The fan could be just slightly quieter, and also regarding the fan, it might actually get in the way of the RAM in your first slot on the motherboard. Otherwise, the Scythe Infinity provides excellent performance, and it's acceptably quiet for pretty much everyone.
Update: Because the heatpipes are not welded to the fins, it will loosen up over time, causing performance degradation. This is a major concern in the long term.
Special thanks to James over at Scythe for making this review possible.
- The rating 6/10 means "A product with its advantages, but drawbacks should not be ignored before purchasing."
- More information of ratings and the "APH Recommended" award in our Review Focus.
The Scythe Infinity is an excellent choice for quality, but will suffer from performance degradation over time.