Scythe Heatlane Zen NCU-1000 fanless CPU cooler

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Oct 19, 2003 by Mike Chin

Product Heatlane Zen NCU-1000 CPU Cooler
Manufacturer / Supplier TS Heatronics / Scythe Co., Ltd
Price ~US$60

Heatlane Zen NCU-1000 CPU Cooler is another unusual CPU cooler from Scythe. These are the same people that supplied us with a sample of their unique Kamakaze HSF in the summer. In fact, the Zen is so unusual that the first thing we have to do is show you some pictures:

The base is the same size as the heatsink retention bracket on P4 motherboards.

Looks like the lone skyscraper in an electronic city...

Yup, it is huge. The exact size is W108 x D86 x H143 mm. That's ~4 x 3.5 x 6 inches. Six inches tall. It weighs 615 grams. And it is designed to cool socket 478 CPUs (P4) without a fan. To quote the nicely worded description from Silicon Acoustics, their US retailer,

"The Heatlane Zen NCU-1000 is a true zero dB CPU cooler designed for Pentium 4 Socket 478 CPUs up to 2.8 GHz. The exclusive Heatlane technology is a refinement on the conventional heat pipe which transfers heat through a cycle of vaporization, transportation, and then condensation of a working fluid. The main body of the NCU-1000 is constructed of a very long folded capillary tube, which continually circulates coolant to the furthest fins. The coolant is totally self-contained and maintenance free. There are no moving parts so there is nothing to cause friction or wear. The NCU-1000 is big! It had to be to achieve the surface area necessary to passively cool a modern high performance CPU. The body is an aluminum radiator which interfaces with the CPU through a copper heat spreader."

Yes, it is another heatpipe-derived device. The highly popular article by Fred Mah posted recently was about a fanless homemade heatpipe-based CPU cooling system. The heatpipe in the Heatlane Zen is not obvious; the only sign of this circulating capillary tube, which circulates HFC134 coolant, is right at the top:

Let's go to the description from the manufacturer, TS Heatronics:

"This product is designed with maximum CPU load for P4 up to 2.8GHz as e-mailing, Internet browsing, using word processor, spreadsheet software or equivalent at ambient temperature up to 25C. We assume no liability and provide no warranty for accidents and damages caused by the use of the product at higher CPU load environment than the above. This product does not guarantee performance at high CPU load environment such as data encoding, decoding, benchmark software running, etc."

That's a strong disclaimer, but not unreasonable to state, given that virtually all hardware reviews (including ours) subject heatsinks to the very rigorous test of continuous 100% CPU load, which I've always admitted is the absolute worse case scenario. In real world desktop PC use, few CPUs are subject to that kind of abuse.

Silicon Acoustics adds:

"The NCU-1000 should only be installed in vertically oriented (tower) type system so that convection can be achieved (motherboard up and down, heat sink on its side).

"Recommended configuration: Use the NCU-1000 with a 120 mm fan PSU. The exceptional cooling of the 120 mm fan makes it possible to assemble a virtually silent system with no other cooling fans required. The close proximity of the 120 mm fan intake provides sufficient cooling even under maximum load conditions."

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