Temperatures, Noise, and Conclusion
As I discovered when reviewing the Ninja 4 (SCNJ-4000) cooler a couple of years back, Scythe has the ability to create air coolers that combine nearly silent operation with incredibly effective heat dissipation. The following results, with a newly re-tested Noctua NH-D14 added to the mix for comparison, speak for themselves.
|Processor||Intel Core i7-7700K|
|Memory||Crucial Ballistix Sport 8 GB 2400 MHz DDR4|
|Graphics Card||(CPU Graphics)|
|Storage||Samsung SM961 NVMe SSD|
|Power Supply||Corsair TX650 PSU|
|OS||Windows 8.1 64-bit|
The larger Scythe coolers provide fantastic performance with some taxing CPU loads, besting the venerable Noctua NH-D14 cooler in this group. The small Byakko does a decent job with load temps, but the smaller heatsink and fan are apparent under stress as it hit a delta of over 70 C (a 95 C package before adjusting for ambient temp - though this is under the i7-7700K TJunction of 100 C).
So how were noise levels from the group? Even more impressive than the temps, actually:
First things first: the “30 dBA” value at idle from all four coolers is due to the lower limit of my SPL meter. None of these coolers are loud enough at idle to register anything with my equipment, and inaudible over any ambient noise in the room. At load, things...don’t change all that much! The Grand Kama Cross 3 and Mugen 5 Rev. B are ultra-quiet, registering less noise under load than the stealthy NH-D14 (though this Noctua is at a disadvantage here with its two fans, compared to a single fan from the Scythe designs). Even the little Byakko offers outstanding low noise levels for a 92 mm fan. Scythe continues to impress!
Pricing and Conclusion
We’ve seen very impressive performance with temps and noise, and now we have to consider the third factor: price. Here Scythe again has an edge compared to premium coolers from the likes of Noctua, though availability is mixed here in the U.S.:
- The Mugen 5 Rev. B can be found in the U.S. at Coolerguys for $51.95. Update: now on Amazon for $47.99.
- The massive Grand Kama Cross 3, which provides the best overall performance of the group, is harder to find in the U.S. though listings can be found from 3rd party Amazon sellers. Update: now on Newegg.com for $44.99.
- The small Byakko cooler is easy to find at present, and quite inexpensive at just $22.99 on Amazon.
At just over $50 the Mugen 5 Rev. B is a fantastic deal for a big, quiet cooler that can outperform even the legendary Noctua NH-D14. The Mugen 5 Rev. B and Grand Kama Cross 3 are in a class by themselves - and you really can't go wrong with either one if you have the space.
Scythe's Mugen 5 Rev. B and Grand Kama Cross 3 are two of the finest air coolers we've ever tested, showcasing Scythe's comittment to low noise output along with outstanding thermal performance. I give a slight edge to the Mugen 5 Rev. B even though it was slightly behind the larger Grand Kama Cross 3 in performance due to its smaller footprint and lower cost (update: the Grand Kama Cross 3 can now be found for the same or lower price as the Mugen 5 Rev. B).
Our highest honor goes to both the Mugen 5 Rev. B and Grand Kama Cross 3
Even the Byakko, a budget option without the size to compete with the larger coolers tested, held up better than expected and should be a solid pick for less-demanding builds - and its excellent noise levels put it above some other budget options.
The Byakko offers good performance and low noise from a small and inexpensive cooler
If you're considering an air solution for your next build - regardless of price - then Scythe is worthy of serious consideration.