Scythe Ninja 5 SCNJ-5000 Tower Air CPU Cooler Review
Is the latest Ninja air cooler a worthy update?
The Ninja 5 is the latest in the line of high performance, low-noise tower air coolers from Scythe, building on the venerable Ninja 4 design (reviewed here back in 2016) with a new dual-fan configuration. The Ninja 5 (SCNJ-5000) ships with a pair of Kaze Flex 120 mm fans, which should provide very low noise output with their 800 RPM max speed. Does the combination of big heatsink and dual low-speed fans translate into high performance? Let's find out!
Let's get right to the specifications from Scythe:
- Model number: SCNJ-5000
- CPU Support:
- Intel 775 / 115x / 1366 / 2011(V3) / 2066
- AMD AM4 / AM3(+) / AM2(+) / FM2(+) / FM1
- Radiator size: (W) 130 x (H) 155 x (D) 130mm
- Fan size: 120 x 120 x 27mm
- Heatpipe: Ø6mm x 6
- Fan speed: 300±200～800 rpm±10% RPM
- Airflow: 16.6～43.03 CFM
- Statics: 0.0762～0.49 mmH2O / 0.75～4.8 Pa
- Noise: 4.0～14.5 dBA
- Weight (fan included): 1190g
Pricing and Availability: $59.99 MSRP (currently unavailable from known retailers in USA)
The Ninja 5 arrives nicely boxed with good protection, and the accessory pack has everything you'll need right down to a full-size screwdriver:
The heatsink is a 130 x 130 mm in width and depth and stands 155 mm high, and this is actually sized identically to the Ninja 4's heatsink.
The six copper heatpipes and base of the Ninja 5 are all nickel plated for an even silver appearance, and the Ninja 5 now has a black top plate. A look from above also shows the simulated quad-tower design we saw with the Ninja 4:
Moving down to the base we find a nicely milled flat surface for solid contact with your CPU:
The Ninja 5 includes a pair of Scythe's Kaze Flex 120 mm PWM fans that spin up to a max 800 RPM, limiting noise output while still providing more than 40 CFM airflow.
The single fan included with the Ninja 4 (SCNJ-4000) was switch-controlled and could spin up to 1500 RPM on the high setting, but with its dual fan configuration the Ninja 5 may well offer similar cooling with its lower fan speeds.
Installing the Ninja 5 is painless, improving on previous mounting hardware thanks to rubber-lined plastic spacers this time, which may not sound like much but do a great job of holding the standoff screws in place nicely during installation of the bracket around the CPU.
Installing the cooler simply requires securing the pair attached retention screws on the heatsink, which supply a lot of pressure and do not need to be tightened all the way down. The Scythe mounting system feels a little less refined than the similar system from Noctua, but the results feel more secure, probably because the pressure against the CPU can be much greater if desired in this system.
Large air coolers like this are always something to behold
If you forget to install memory first (as I did) you just need to temporarily remove the rear fan as the heatsink itself shouldn't cover the DIMM slots. I installed a pair of standard height modules, and the fit is a little tight, but the fan does clear them.
As with many of these larger air coolers, tall memory will require an adjustment to the height of the rear fan to accommodate those snazzy (and possibly RGB lighted) heatsinks.
Here we will see the performance of the Ninja 5 relative to a couple of high-performance liquid coolers to see how an air solution like this stacks up:
Here the Ninja 5 really proved itself, with results only bested by the H100i Pro on its "extreme" setting, and the Ninja 5 is doing this at just ~800 RPM! And yes, as time goes on we will have more air results to show, as results from past reviews were on a different test platform and not relevant for comparison here.
Just how quiet is this dual fan setup?
The Ninja 5 is whisper-quiet at idle, and while it never gets loud thanks to that 800 RPM limit on the fans I was surprised that the liquid coolers more than held their own here. Anything in the 30-33 dBA range is almost inaudible, and even with every electronic thing turned off I still had to contend with a 31.4 dBA noise floor during these most recent tests. It's safe to say that unless you use a passively-cooled GPU this will be inaudible inside an enclosure.
As to the Ninja 4, I was able to quickly run some temperature benchmarks using this newer test setup, and it's almost exactly even with the Ninja 5's performance when the fan is on the "high" setting. The Ninja 5 result of 47.9 C (delta) is almost identical to the 47.7 C delta temp I recorded with the Ninja 4 at the high fan setting, with load temps rising to 52.9 C at the low fan setting. The Ninja 4 is still the quietest cooler I've ever tested at "low", with no sound above ambient being registered, but the two coolers reach an effective parity once the "high" setting is selected.
The Ninja 5 is a fine addition to the Ninja family and as a more modern product it adds AM4 support out of the box. This improved cooler support and additional fan
help justify its higher $79.99 MSRP make it a good value at its $59.99 MSRP, which is about where the Ninja 4 started (the outgoing Ninja 4 is currently selling for just $35 on Newegg until 12/26/18). And while the discounted Ninja 4 is very tempting, that won't last for long. Pricing aside, the Ninja 5 had some very big shoes to fill, with the Ninja 4 simply one of the best cooler designs we've ever tested. It turns out that the change to a dual-fan setup with conservative fan speeds has resulted in a cooler with all of the potential of the Ninja 4, and about the same level of noise under the toughest loads.
I'm a proponent of large air coolers when possible, though they aren't for every build, of course. You are going to need sufficient space in your system before adding a cooler like this, with the added dimensional requirements one of the things that keep very large air coolers from being a universal solution. Still, space limits aside the Ninja 5 will provide better performance than all but the most performant of AiO liquid coolers, and do it with less noise than many of them.
With some of the best cooling performance we've seen from an air solution to date, Scythe's Ninja 5 deserves your consideration if you're in the market for a high-performance cooler – air or liquid – for just about any CPU.