Ninja Copper: Scythe's 5th Year Celebration

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The Scythe Ninja Copper was intended to be a signature product to help mark Scythe's fith year in the business of DIY aftermarket CPU heatsinks, a most specialized sector of the IT industry. Scythe has been very prolific with high performance heatsinks, and — judging by reviews, by discussions on forum boards all over the web, and by their very wide distribution — quite successful.

The ever-popular Ninja seemed like a decent candidate for an all-copper makeover, but the high >1kg mass of the end result is less than ideal. The high mass and the less than ideal mounting mechanism is not confidence-inspiring. The CU does offer improved performance over the standard Ninja, but the latter is much lighter and has an MSRP of just $54, which includes a good fan (not a Slipstream at this time). The real question for the prospective buyer is whether it offers better performance over other products in the same price range.

The Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MRSP) of $70 for the NinjaCU includes a very nice fan priced separately at $10. The likely competitors from Thermalright, the Ultra 120 and Ultra 120 Extreme, have MRSPs without a fan of $50 and $66, respectively. They are better performers with moderate airflow, and the U120E matches the NinjaCU at the lowest airflow. They both come with superior spring-loaded bolt-through kits for socket 775 and socket AM2 mounting. The main issue with these Thermalright products is that they're actually wider than the Ninja, and the extra width can cause interference with the power supply adjacent to the motherboard or the front-to-back crossbeam used in some popular cases.

Our quibbles about the NinjaCU's mounting system does not mean that it's going to fall off in operation or that it's automatically inferior. We believe its performance can be improved and made more consistent (for different boards and CPUs), and it can made easier to use. Going back to our very first heatsink reviews some six years ago, SPCR has insisted that the mounting system is integral to heatsink performance, and it needs to be judged together with fins, materials and design. This is the primary reason that we haven't moved to a heater block to simulate a CPU, because such test systems cannot precisely replicate the thermal conditions that prevail when a heatsink is mounted with its own hardware on a real CPU and motherboard.

Final words: The NinjaCU is an ambitious "luxury" product with many strengths and some weaknesses. It's a fascinating testament to the challenges of the DIY CPU heatsink marketplace.


* Excellent overall cooling
* Performs well with low airflow
* Looks great
* Packaged with very nice fan

* Mounting systems could be better
* Very heavy, with high cantilever effect
* Other options from competitors

Much thanks to Scythe USA for the Scythe Ninja Copper sample, and to Anitec Computers for the Ninja Scythe Plus Rev B. sample.

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Articles of Related Interest

Recommended Heatsinks
SPCR's unique heatsink testing methodology
SPCR's standard fan testing methodology
Scythe Ninja
Scythe Mugen
Thermalright Ultra 120
Thermalright Ultra 120 Extreme

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