Scythe Katana

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Two other inexpensive heatsinks were chosen for the comparison: The Arctic Cooling Super Silent 4 Ultra TC, and Scythe's own Kamaboko. These heatsinks can be had for US$30 or less, and they use 92mm fans. The data for the comparison comes from the two reviews linked to above. Note that neither the Super Silent 4 nor the Kamaboko was tested using the Nexus fan, so the comparison is between each of these heatsinks in stock form. To make a fair comparison, data points close to 22 dBA/1m were chosen.

Heatsink Comparison by Noise
°C Rise
Scythe Katana
22 dBA/1m
16 CFM
Scythe Kamaboko
20 dBA/1m
16 CFM
Arctic Cooling Super Silent 4 Ultra TC
22 dBA/1m

The Katana is clearly superior to either of the other two heatsinks at this noise level. However, it is worth noting that the Super Silent 4 Ultra TC is thermally controlled, so it will increase the fan speed — and noise — as necessary to keep the processor cool.

It is also interesting to note that the airflow and fan voltage are the same for the two Scythe heatsinks, suggesting that the two fans are identical. Listening to the recordings of the two heatsinks side by side reveals that they have slightly different noise signatures, however. The stock fan on the Kamaboko may be very slightly quieter at 7V than the Katana.


Scythe Katana with Stock Fan:

MP3: Scythe Katana - 12V - 25 CFM / 33 dBA/1m

MP3: Scythe Katana - 9V - 21 CFM / 26 dBA/1m

MP3: Scythe Katana - 7V - 16 CFM / 22 dBA/1m

MP3: Scythe Katana - 5V - 11 CFM / ~19 dBA/1m

Recordings of Comparable HSF:

MP3: Nexus 92mm Fan - 12V - 23 dBA/1m

MP3: Nexus 92 Fan - 7V - <19 dBA/1m

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

MP3: Scythe Kamaboko - 7V - 20 dBA/1m


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.


The Scythe Katana is a worthy addition to the Scythe line. It does well in comparison to some of the other sub-$30 heatsinks we've tested. Its stock fan is very quiet once it is slowed down, making it a decent choice for a midrange system. For hot high-end processor, however, a bigger, more expensive heatsink is probably required.

Apart from its cooling and noise performance, there are a number of notable features.

  • The light weight of the heatsink makes it totally safe to transport while mounted on a motherboard in a system. The Katana could find a good home in a midrange gaming system for LAN parties, althought it is too tall to fit most SFF systems.
  • It's probably the best heatsink currently made for socket A / 370. Fit could be a problem in some motherboards, but it looks reasonably compatible with a lot of socket A and 370 boards.

As with most Scythe heatsinks, the main problem with the Katana is the complex installation procedure. Installing it on our test system proved to be quite tedious thanks to the awkwardly placed mounting screws and the need to use that tiny supplied wrench to tighten it. In fact, the mounting system (for all the platforms except socket 370 and socket A) could be described as the Katana's Achilles' Heel.

The Katana is a good choice for a silent midrange system, where money is a concern. The only drawback is that a Zalman Fanmate may need to be included in the cost so that the fan can be slowed down.


* Stock fan undervolts well
* Low price
* Universal socket compatibility
* Light weight
* Cooling for voltage regulators
* Heatsink can be installed in most any orientation


* Fiddly installation;
* Possible bad access to mounting screws on many modern motherboards
* Instruction sheet poorly laid out
* Fan clips prone to stretching

Much thanks to Scythe USA for the Katana sample.

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