Scythe Kotetsu CPU Cooler: A Compact King

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HEATSINK COMPARISON TABLES

°C Rise Comparison: CPU Coolers with Single Stock Fan (Any Size)
SPL (dBA@1m)
20
19
18
17
16
15
14
13
12
11
Scythe Kotetsu
    38  
41
  42  
Thermalright Archon SB-E
39
         
40
   
43
Thermalright HR-02 Macho
 
39
     
40
41
 
43
 
Scythe Mugen 4
       
40
   
42
 
45
Noctua NH-U14S
 
38
 
40
   
43
   
be quiet! Shadow Rock Slim
 
40
   
41
 
42
   
Scythe Yasya
   
40
       
43
   
Cogage TRUE Spirit 1366
     
41
 
43
 
46
 
Zalman CNPS10X Quiet
40
       
42
 
47
 
Scythe Ashura
 
42
     
44
     
Cooler Master Hyper 212 Plus
   
41
       
44
54
 
Silverstone Argon AR03
   
43
         
48
Scythe Ninja 3
   
44
       
46
   
SilverStone Argon AR01
   
44
         
50

Despite it's modest size, the Kotetsu's performance was top-notch out-of-the-box even against the much larger Thermalright Archon and HR-02 Macho. Compared to other coolers that ship with a single stock fan, the Kotetsu bested them all, though the margin of victory was quite slim.

°C Rise Comparison: CPU Coolers with Single 120 mm Reference Fan
Heatsink
Fan voltage / SPL @1m*
12V
(~17 dBA)
9V
(~14 dBA)
7V
(~12 dBA)
Scythe Kotetsu
37
38
41
Scythe Mugen 4
37
39
41
Thermalright Ultra-120 eXtreme Rev.C
38
40
43
Thermalright Venomous X
38
41
43
Prolimatech Megahalems
38
41
44
SilverStone Argon AR03
38
41
45
Noctua NH-U12P
39
42
44
Scythe Mugen-2
39
42
45
Phanteks PH-TC12DX
40
42
45
Cogage TRUE Spirit 1366
40
42
45
Zalman CNPS10X Quiet
40
43
46
SilverStone Argon AR01
41
43
46
Scythe Yasya
41
43
47
Thermalright Ultra-120 eXtreme
40
43
48
Cooler Master Hyper 212 Plus
41
44
48
*Note: there are minor differences in measured SPL due to the variety of fan orientations and mounting methods offered by the compared coolers.

When we equal things out by using our reference Nexus 120 mm fan, the Kotetsu retains its lead, essentially on par with the Mugen 4, and a step ahead of the Thermalright U120E and Venomous X.

MP3 SOUND RECORDINGS

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.

FINAL THOUGHTS

The Scythe Kotetsu is an amazing heatsink, delivering elite level cooling despite its relatively modest size and lightweight construction. It seems to have managed this by improving on the base design of the Ashura while retaining its superb mounting system. The Ashura's base appears almost perfectly conical with its apex refracting light like a prism. The surface of the Kotetsu's base isn't as severely shaped, with the area around the center forming a sort of plateau indicated by the surrounding discoloration. So while the two coolers have similar compositions, the larger Ashura doesn't make as much contact with the CPU heatspreader, and ends up losing out to its smaller cousin. This reinforces the argument that base shape may be the most important aspect of heatsink construction.

The Kotetsu is a complete package, excelling in every area. The stock fan, typical of Scythe heatsinks, not only performs well but has an excellent sound that rivals any current out-of-the-box cooling solution. The mounting system is easy to put together and very secure; the only thing that could make it better is thumbscrews. It's also a tremendous value as the MSRP is a very low US$35.

Unfortunately, the Kotetsu is currently available only at a handful of retailers in Europe and Asia though we did find it listed at one North American site (out of stock and priced at US$10,000 to dissuade ordering). Given Scythe's recent distribution issues, it's unclear when we'll see it in the wild on this side of the world, but we anxiously await its arrival.

Our thanks to Scythe for the Kotetsu CPU cooler sample.


Scythe Kotetsu receives the SPCR Editor's Choice Award

* * *

SPCR Articles of Related Interest:

Thermalright HR-22 CPU Heatsink
Noctua NH-U14S Slim 140mm Tower Cooler
Scythe Ashura CPU Cooler
SilverStone Tundra TD03 Liquid CPU Cooler
Scythe Mugen 4 CPU Cooler: Scythe Strikes Back
NoFan CR-95C Copper Fanless CPU Cooler

* * *

Discuss this article in the SPCR forums.



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