Ninja Copper: Scythe's 5th Year Celebration

Cooling
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TESTING

Testing was done according to our unique heatsink testing methodology, and the reference fan was profiled using our standard fan testing methodology. A quick summary of the components, tools, and procedures follows below.

Key Components in Heatsink Test Platform:

  • Intel Pentium D 950 Presler core. TDP of 130W; under our test load, it measures 78W including efficiency losses in the VRMs.
  • ASUS P5LD2-VM motherboard. A basic microATX board with integrated graphics and plenty of room around the CPU socket.
  • Samsung MP0402H 40GB 2.5" notebook drive
  • 1 GB stick of Corsair XMS2 DDR2 memory.
  • FSP Zen 300W fanless power supply.
  • Arctic Silver Lumière: Special fast-curing thermal interface material, designed specifically for test labs.

The reference fan is a Nexus 120x25mm fan. We've been using this model on heatsinks that fit 120mm fans for a long time.

Nexus 120x25mm fan test results
Voltage
Noise
RPM
CFM
Power
12V
22 dBA@1m
1080 RPM
47 CFM
0.95W
9V
~19 dBA@1m
850 RPM
35 CFM
0.75W
7V
<19 dBA@1m
680 RPM
27 CFM
0.62W
5V
<19 dBA@1m
490 RPM
16 CFM
0.51W
@25 CFM (6.6V)
<19 dBA@1m
640 RPM
25 CFM
0.60W

Test Tools

  • Seasonic Power Angel for measuring AC power at the wall to ensure that the heat output remains consistent.
  • Custom-built, four-channel variable DC power supply, used to regulate the fan speed during the test.
  • Bruel & Kjaer (B&K) model 2203 Sound Level Meter. Used to accurately measure noise down to 20 dBA and below.
  • Various other tools for testing fans, as documented in our standard fan testing methodology.

Software Tools

  • SpeedFan 4.31, used to monitor the on-chip thermal sensor. This sensor is not calibrated, so results are not universally applicable; however,
  • CPUBurn, used to stress the CPU heavily, generating more heat than most real applications. Two instances are used to ensure that both cores are stressed.
  • Throttlewatch 2.01, used to monitor the throttling feature of the CPU to determine when overheating occurs.

Noise measurements were made with the fan powered from the lab variable DC power supply while the rest of the system was off to ensure that system noise did not skew the measurements.

Load testing was accomplished using CPUBurn to stress the processor, and the graph function in SpeedFan was used to make sure that the load temperature was stable for at least ten minutes. The stock fan was tested at four voltages: 5V, 7V, 9V, and 12V, representing a full cross-section of the its airflow and noise performance. It was also tested with our reference 80mm fan, the Nexus 80.

The ambient conditions during testing were 17 dBA and 21°C.

TEST RESULTS

Stock Scythe Fan

The stock fan was tested for noise characteristics. We didn't do a full range of airflow / noise tests, but SPL and RPM measurements were taken at various voltages. The overall noise signature of this nine-bladed fan is very smooth and quiet, mostly broadband turbulence with no tonality at all even at 12V. At 9V, it's already inaudible. Of course, spinning at just 660 RPM, it isn't moving that much air, although Scythe says the nine blades produce greater airflow at the same speed than seven blades. For many users, this fan can probably be run full speed; it's that quiet.

Scythe SY1225SL12L Fan Measurements
12V
760 RPM
18 dBA@1m
9V
660 RPM
17 dBA@1m
7V
560 RPM
<17 dBA@1m

Cooling Results

Scythe Ninja Copper w/ stock Slipstream 800 rpm fan
Fan Voltage
Noise @ 1m
Temp
°C Rise
°C/W
12V
18 dBA
40°C
19
0.24
9V
17 dBA
42°C
21
0.27
7V
<17 dBA
43°C
24
0.31
Scythe Ninja Copper w/ reference Nexus 120 fan
12V
23 dBA
38°C
17
0.22
9V
20 dBA
39°C
18
0.23
7V
<18 dBA
41°C
20
0.26
5V
17 dBA
44°C
23
0.30
Load Temp: CPUBurn for ~20 mins.
°C Rise: Temperature rise above ambient (21°C) at load.
°C/W: based on heat dissipated by CPU (measured 78W); lower is better.

The performance achieved with either fan is very good. The ~20°C temperature rise at essentially inaudible fan operation is nothing to scoff at. Yet, regular visitors to SPCR may be scratching their heads and wondering whether it's really that good. The truth is, the performance is not quite as good as we expected compared to many other large high performance heatsinks.

Here's a quick comparative summary of performance measured on the same test platform.

Scythe NinjaCU vs Competitors: °C Rise
Reference 120mm Fan
12V
9V
7V
5V
NinjaCU
17
18
20
23
Original Ninja
14
16
17
21
Scythe Mugen
18
19
21
n/a
Thermalright Ultra-120
15
17
21
26
Thermalright Ultra-120 EX
12
14
17
24
Asus Triton 75
18
20
23
30

WHAT!?

The first comparison against the original Ninja with its aluminum fins throws up a red flag immediately. The aluminum model bests it by 2~3°C at all fan speeds. Admittedly, we think that our original Ninja sample is something of an exceptional performer, better than a typical sample. Maybe it's somehow assembled a bit more tightly, maybe the heatpipes were from a better batch, maybe the tension of its clips is higher than normal. It's always produced great cooling results in every CPU/motherboard we've installed in on. But for a brand new all-copper version of essentially the same heatsink to be so clearly bested by the nearly three year old sample is just odd. Our expectation was that the copper model might provide 1~2°C better cooling, perhaps more with a hotter CPU than we're running. At the worst, we expected it to perform the same as the aluminum model.



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