Scythe Setsugen GPU Cooler

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The Setsugen managed to cool our HD 4890 test card quietly but just barely with temperatures rising beyond our comfort level. As a result we cannot recommend it for cards with very high power draws, say 125W and above, unless the fan is kept at higher speeds. This unfortunately undermines one of its biggest strengths: its thickness. As the Setsugen only takes up one extra slot, one would immediately believe it would be ideal for a quiet CrossFire or SLI system. If you want to keep the noise level down, you'll need to stick to midrange models, the type of cards that probably aren't worth dualing.

The overall design of the Scythe Setsugen is deficient in several ways. Scythe fans are known for their good acoustics and low noise level but the tight confines of the fan increases turbulence effects, making the cooler much louder than it would have been otherwise. Given its proximity to the GPU core, if the fan were flipped to blow toward it, we believe it would give better results. Unfortunately this isn't an easy change to implement as the back of the fan would press up against the heatsink, preventing it from spinning. While the fan is large, it is simply not wide enough to deliver direct airflow over the VRMs on most graphics cards, and on high-end models in particular, VRM cooling is paramount. We also take issue with the change Scythe implemented in the mounting system, specifically the way the screws on the mounting plate slide around. Unless you are extremely lucky, it is almost guaranteed that the contact between the heatsink base and GPU core will be uneven.

Despite all its problems, it is still probably the best choice we've come across as far as single-fan, dual slot coolers go. If you need a quiet cooler that occupies no more than one extra slot for a card with a moderate power draw, the Setsugen fits the bill rather nicely. If you have more room to spare, a dual fan model is ideal. Its cousin, the Scythe Musashi is the same weight, about half a slot thicker and a much better performer. Best of all, it can be found for as little as $40, which is actually $5 cheaper than the Setsugen.

Scythe Setsugen

* Good high airflow performance
* Wide compatibility
* Fan controller included
* Only takes up one extra slot

* Poor low airflow performance
* Single fan limits VRM cooling
* Undesirable mounting system

Our thanks to Scythe for the Setsugen sample used in this review.

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