Scythe FCS-50 heatsink/fan

Cooling
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VERSUS COMPETITORS

A quick comparison with the Temperature Rise Over Ambient (in °C) of other HS tested on this motherboard and CPU with the Panaflo fan:

PANAFLO 80L
Scythe FCS-50
Thermalright SP97
Thermalright SP900U
Zalman 7000AlCu*
12V
23
24
24
-
9V
29
28
27
27
7V
37
35
36
-
* Because the Zalman uses an integrated 92mm fan, it was matched to the same of similar noise level: At 5V, the Zalman produces ~20 dBA/1m, 1 dBA higher than the Panaflo 80L at 9V

It is a very close race. You might even consider the results within the margin of error of the test system or of manufacturing variances among the products. However, there is one important thing to consider:

A system that incorporates the Scythe FCS-50 (mounted so that its fan is blowing towards the back) will have the added benefit of having much of the hot air from the CPU be evacuated from the case by the case fan directly in line with the heatsink exhaust air. This could make a very sizable difference (probably several degrees at least) in the actual in-system temperatures that can be achieved with the FCS-50 compared to the Thermalrights and the Zalmans, which all blow down and spread the exhaust heat from heatsink all around.

Keep in mind that at max stock fan speed, the FCS-50 is ~15 dBA louder than the Zalman 7000 with its integrated fan at full blast, and achieves only similar cooling (50 dBA / 17°C rise Vs. 37 dBA / 17°C rise).

Here's an interesting thought: The AOpen XC Cube EZ65 has a HS retention bracket that's rotated the right way for this HS and with some hacking to the drive tray, the FCS-50 might just fit. If it does, that'd be one heck of a cooling solution for those who want super quiet with a hot CPU in the AOpen rig.

FINAL CONCLUSIONS

The Scythe FCS-50 is the most effective cooler they have produced thus far. In stock form with its extraordinarily wide-speed fan and controller, the performance of the FCS-50 ranges from extremely powerful cooling and high noise to very quiet but somewhat marginal cooling. Many users will be able to find a position on the speed dial that provides a nice balance between cooling and low noise, even with hot processors and systems.

The potential to exhaust the hot air from the CPU / heatsink straight out the back panel case fan is highly attractive. This setup is definitely worth a try, but to be honest, I have run out of steam to continue testing here. Perhaps in a postscript when the heatwave in Vancouver subsides.

The FCS-50 stands apart from other recent heatsinks of similar tower / flow-through style in that it's much better thought out. The weight is not ridiculously high, and the stock fan is pretty good in its acoustic qualities when kept under the bottom half of the speed control. It's too bad that the HS cannot be rotated 90 degrees by the user, although given the basic structure, this might be a serious challenge.

Pros

* Great basic design
* Highly versatile secure mounting
* Very high cooling performance
* Flexible fan options
* Pretty good versatile stock fan
* Nice fan speed control
* Flow-through fan config can allow for improve system cooling
* Stock fan can be very quiet

Cons

* High weight, although mostly in base
* Cost?
* Cannot be rotated for different socket orientations
* Stock fan too loud at max

Much thanks to Scythe Japan and Scythe-USA for the FCS-50 sample.

* * *

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