Scythe Ninja Mini CPU heatsink

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We were interested to see how the Ninja Mini would fare in a quiet media PC case; the natural choice was an Antec Fusion. The heatsink testbed was installed into the case without any other peripherals (which were not needed for our thermal/noise testing). Our sample Fusion is a new black version with a 430W version of the SU380 that shipped with the original NSK2400. Antec is transitioning most of the cases with supplied PSUs to the EarthWatts power supplies, so our Fusion sample must be among the last of the older stock. The SU430 has the same acoustics as the SU380, especially at the modest power levels of our test system.

The only fans used during testing were the one inside the power supply (which has no effect on cooling any other components) and one of the Antec Tricool 120mm case fans on the low setting. We chose to jump straight into the deep end of the pool (or more apropos, onto the hot part of the coals): No fan was mounted on the Ninja Mini. A 120mm fan with close proximity to the heatsink may be as good or even better than a 80mm fan mounted directly on it. You can see in the photos that the exhaust case fan is so close to the Ninja Mini that it might as well be mounted directly on it.

Ninja Mini in Fusion
The extra 120mm fan vent was blocked off before testing.

We also wanted to see how well the Ninja Mini would perform with the addition of a video card, so we tested the system with both the onboard video and a fanless Geforce 7600GT (GV-NX76T256D-RH) courtesy of Gigabyte. Note the use of the black plastic baffle just behind the heatsink to direct the intake airflow from the back panel and the top panel of the Fusion over the motherboard VRM and the CPU heatsink before being evacuated by the case fan.

7600GT in Fusion (below)
Fanless Geforce 7600GT graphics card...

7600GT in Fusion (above)
...with cooling fins joined by heatpipes on both sides of the card.

The cooling results were consistently good with just the onboard video or the passive 7600GT.

Test Video Card Temperatures System Power
CPUBurn Onboard
N/A 55°C 36°C 46°C 38°C 137W
3DMark2006 7600GT 68°C 54°C 36°C 46°C 40°C 140~160W
CPUBurn +
7600GT 77°C 55~57°C 36°C 46°C 42°C 172W
Temperatures were taken with SpeedFan and nVidia's temperature display after running the testing application(s) for 30 minutes. Ambient temperature was 24°C.
Testing applications used: CPUBurn, 3DMark2006, RTHDRIBL.

The achieved 54~57°C is very good maximum temperature for an Intel Pentium D950 inside a case, and the other temperatures are perfectly benign. (Note: We are not sure what Speedfan reports as "AUX" and "SYS" temperatures refer to exactly; suffice it to say they are onboard sensors that Asus considers worth keeping track of). Remember, real media PC system would never to be pressed this hard for half an hour, nor would it be powered by a CPU that pulls ~70W on its own. A much cooler mid- to low-end Core 2 Duo or 45W AMD A64X2 are more appropriate CPU choices.

The passively cooled 7600GT also did quite well inside the case, staying under 80°C during testing. Modern GPUs are known to operate nominally in excess of 100°C and nVidia's throttle point is a sizzling 115°C. Somewhat surprisingly, adding the 7600GT only increased CPU temperature by a marginal amount.

The Antec SU430 power supply was actually the loudest component in the system, measuring 24~25 dBA @ 1m. The Antec Tricool fan set to low only produces approximately 19 dBA@1m in free air. The system measured 25 dBA@1m directly in front of the case. From the right side, behind, and directly over it, where the fans and vents are closer, the noise levels were 1-2 dBA higher. With a quieter power supply, a 21-22 dBA system is not out of the question. (Note that the requirements of a media PC are somewhat less demanding than for a home desktop PC, because the sound from TV and movie programming will usually mask any <30 dBA@1m broadband noise from the PC. For more discussion of this issue, see the section ACOUSTICS AROUND A MEDIA PC in Cases: Basics & Recommendations.

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