Scythe Mugen 4 CPU Cooler: Scythe Strikes Back

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These recordings were made with a high resolution, lab quality, digital recording system inside SPCR's own 11 dBA ambient anechoic chamber, then converted to LAME 128kbps encoded MP3s. We've listened long and hard to ensure there is no audible degradation from the original WAV files to these MP3s. They represent a quick snapshot of what we heard during the review.

These recordings are intended to give you an idea of how the product sounds in actual use — one meter is a reasonable typical distance between a computer or computer component and your ear. The recording contains stretches of ambient noise that you can use to judge the relative loudness of the subject. Be aware that very quiet subjects may not be audible — if we couldn't hear it from one meter, chances are we couldn't record it either!

The recording starts with 5 second segments of room ambiance, then the fan at various levels. For the most realistic results, set the volume so that the starting ambient level is just barely audible, then don't change the volume setting again.


Over the past five years we've seen multiple elite coolers from Noctua, Thermalright, and Prolimatech trading blows for the high performance heatsink crown. Scythe has for the most part avoided this arms race, focusing on smaller niche products, even though they were one of the manufacturers that really kick-started the big tower cooler market. It's been a long time since one of their heatsinks truly delivered top tier performance — I'm happy to proclaim that now. I thought Scythe might be falling in the footsteps of crestfallen old guard cooling companies like Zalman and Thermaltake, but the latest Mugen is a new hope. The fourth iteration Mugen is a vital modern update that returns Scythe to some much needed relevance in this space.

In our lab, heatsinks with convex bases have repeatedly outperformed their flat or concave base competition, and Scythe has finally followed suit. The new mounting system is also a much needed improvement, generating more pressure/contact while also being easier to install than the Mugen-2. It's not an original design, but has been proven to be highly effective. These factors rank high among the reasons for the new Mugen's exceptional performance. The last bit that ties everything together is the superbly smooth Glide Stream 120 fan. Many heatsinks simply don't ship with a decent sounding stock fan (even premier coolers from Prolimatech and Thermalright) but with Scythe, you can almost count on it.

The Mugen 4 is currently selling for between £35 and £40. The pricing I've quoted is in GBP because Scythe lost its official North American distributor awhile back, thus the bulk of their products are now primarily sold in countries across Europe and Asia. I found a couple of US retailers selling the Mugen 3, so it's possible they might get the latest version in sometime in the future. Availability is the biggest issue facing the Mugen 4; depending on where you live, it might simply not be an option.

One good alternative is the Thermalright HR-02 Macho. Another thick, single fan cooler with bare unplated heatpipes and fins, the HR-02 has a similar price and cooling capabilities. The HR-02 is a more versatile cooler as it benefits more from a second fan, its wider fin spacing is more conducive to passive cooling, and its asymmetrical design alleviates any possible RAM interference issues. The Mugen 4's primary advantage is its splendid fan which is a big step up from the HR-02's muddy-sounding TY-140. The Mugen is also slightly lighter and slimmer. You can't really go wrong with either as both are more cost and size effective alternatives to the beastly £60+ dual fan coolers that currently dominate the top-end of the market.

Our thanks to Scythe for the Mugen 4 CPU cooler sample.

Scythe Mugen 4 receives the SPCR Editor's Choice Award

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SPCR Articles of Related Interest:

SilverStone Argon AR02 CPU Cooler
NoFan CR-95C Copper Fanless CPU Cooler
SilverStone Argon AR01 & AR03 CPU Coolers
Noctua NH-U12S Slim Tower Heatsink
Cooler Master Seidon 240M: Dual Fan Liquid CPU Cooler
Thermalright HR-02 Macho Quiet/Fanless Cooler

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Discuss this article in the SPCR forums.

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