Scythe SCNJ-1000 Ninja heatsink

Cooling
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TESTING

Test Platform

  • Intel P4-2.8A The Thermal Design Power of this P4-2.8 (533 MHz bus) is 68.4 or 69.7W depending on the version. As the CPU is a demo model without normal markings, it's not clear which version it is, so we'll round the number off to ~69W. The Maximum Power, as calculated by CPUHeat & CPUMSR, is 79W.
  • AOpen AX4GE Max motherboard - Intel 845GE Chipset; built-in VGA. The on-die CPU thermal diode monitoring system reads 2°C too high, so all readings are compensated up by this amount.
  • OCZ DDRAM PC-3700, 512 MB
  • Seagate Barracuda IV 40G 1-platter drive (in Smart Drive from Silicon Acoustics)
  • Seasonic Super Tornado 300 (Rev. A1)
  • Arctic Silver Ceramique Thermal Compound
  • Nexus 120 fan
  • Two-level plywood platform with foam damping feet. Motherboard on top; most other components below. Eases heatsink changes and setup.

Measurement & Analysis Tools

The ambient temperature during testing was 21°C. Ambient noise level for testing and recording was 18 dBA/1m.

RESULTS

Scythe Ninja w/ Nexus 120 fan
Fan V / CFM
Load Temp
°C Rise
°C/W MP
°C/W TDP
Noise
no fan
>70°C
>49
-
-
-
12V / 42
35°C
14
0.18
0.20
22 dBA/1m
9V / 36
37°C
16
0.20
0.23
<19 dBA/1m
7V / 28
40°C
19
0.24
0.27
<17 dBA/1m?
Load Temp: CPUBurn for ~20 mins.
°C Rise: Temperature rise above ambient at load.
°C/W MP / TDP: Temperature rise per Watt, based on CPU's Maximum Power (79W) or Thermal Design Power (69W) rating
Noise: SPL measured in dBA at 1m distance with high accuracy B & K SLM

No fan: Without a fan, and with the motherboard sitting horizontal on the test bench, the CPU hit >70°C in 20 minutes and the system froze at some point beyond that. This might seem an instant dismissal of Scythe's claims about the Ninja being an effective fanless heatsink, but it really is not. The Ninja will do better with the motherboard oriented vertically so that its fins are running perpendicular to level.

There was no time to repeat the fanless test with the motherboard vertical, as this review process clashed with hectic preparations for the trip to Taipei for Computex 2005.

Inside a real system, there would be nearby airflow from an exhaust case fan and/or a power supply. The assumption of peripheral airflow is the basis of all heatsinks marketed as "fanless". Either that or a <20W CPU, preferably <10W. Given the good experience many users have had in real systems with the smaller NCU-1000 & 2000 from Scythe, I'd say that careful, sophisticated users should have good results with a fanless Ninja . Just how hot a CPU the Ninja can cool without a fan mounted directly on it will depend greatly on airflow around it.

Nexus 120 - 12V / 42 CFM: At full tilt, this fan blows slightly above 40 CFM, which is modest for a 120mm fan. It's also very quiet and smooth, by a small margin, the quietest fan encountered in SPCR testing. The 14°C rise is on par with the performance of the Thermalright XP120 in our review, using fans that blow a bit more air than the Nexus 120. This puts the Ninja at the very top of our current heatsink performance chart.

Nexus 120 - 9V / 36 CFM: The fan is audibly quieter, and the Ninja cooled at almost the same level of performance as when the fan was at 12V. A 16°C rise is great for this low level of noise.

Nexus 120 - 7V / 28 CFM: At this speed, the Nexus fan is inaudible from a meter away even in the very quiet test room. Inside a PC case, it would be inaudible under almost all conditions. The 28 CFM is with very low pressure, yet the cooling performance remains tops; 0.27 °C rise per watt is still excellent even for today's super hot CPUs.

NOISE RECORDINGS

Scythe Ninja HS with Nexus 120 fan:

MP3: Nexus 120 - 8.8V - 35 CFM / 19 dBA @ 1m

MP3: Nexus 120 - 12V - 41 CFM / 22.5 dBA @ 1m

Recordings of Comparable HSF:

MP3: Arctic Cooling Super Silent 4 Ultra TC MP3, 22 dBA/1m

MP3: Zalman 7000 - 5V - 22 dBA/1m

MP3: Panaflo 80L - 7V - 17 dBA/1m -- on most any heatsink

MP3: Coolermaster Hyper 48 - 9V - 21 dBA/1m

HOW TO LISTEN & COMPARE

These recordings were made with a high resolution studio quality digital recording system. The microphone was 3" from the edge of the fan frame at a 45° angle, facing the intake side of the fan to avoid direct wind noise. The ambient noise during all recordings was 18 dBA or lower. It is best to download the sound files to your computer before listening.

To set the volume to a realistic level (similar to the original), try playing this Nexus 92mm case fan @ 5V (17 dBA/1m) recording and set the volume so that it is barely audible. Then don't reset the volume and play the other sound files. Of course, all tone controls and other effects should be turned off or set to neutral. For full details on how to calibrate your sound system playback level to get the most valid listening comparison, please see the yellow text box entitled Listen to the Fans on page four of the article SPCR's Test / Sound Lab: A Short Tour.


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