Scythe Katana 3: Same slant, new version

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Before thermal testing, we took some basic physical measurements.

Scythe Katana 3: Physical Measurements
530 g (with fan and mounting brackets)
Fin thickness
0.31 mm
Fin spacing
1.72 mm
Number of fins
Vertical Clearance
~55 mm (from motherboard PCB to the heatsink's bottom fin)
Horizontal Overhang
-30 mm (that's 3cm in from edge of heatsink to the top edge of our test motherboard)

Comparison: Approximate Fin Thickness & Spacing
Fin Thickness
Fin Spacing
Scythe Ninja 2
0.39 mm
3.68 mm
Thermalright HR-01 Plus
0.45 mm
3.15 mm
Noctua NH-U12P
0.44 mm
2.63 mm
Noctua NH-C12P
0.47 mm
2.54 mm
Prolimatech Megahalems
0.50 mm
2.00 mm
Xigmatek HDT-S1283
0.33 mm
1.96 mm
Cooler Master Hyper N520
0.38 mm
Xigmatek HDT-S963
0.33 mm
1.72 mm
Scythe Katana 3
0.31 mm
Thermalright Ultra-120
0.45 mm
1.42 mm

Testing was done according to our unique heatsink testing methodology, and the included fans were 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, C1 stepping. TDP of 95W; under our test load, it measures 78W including losses in the VRMs.
  • Asus P5Q-EM motherboard. A microATX board with integrated graphics and short solid-state capacitors around the CPU socket, and a diminutive northbridge heatsink for maximum compatibility.
  • Intel X25-M 80GB 2.5" solid-state drive.
  • 1GB of Corsair XMS2 DDR2 memory. 2 x 512MB PC2-8500.
  • FSP Zen 300W fanless power supply.
  • Arctic Silver Lumière: Special fast-curing thermal interface material, designed specifically for test labs.
  • Nexus 92 fan (part of our standard testing methodology; used when possible with heatsinks that fit 92x25mm fans)
Nexus 92 fan measurements*
1240 RPM
980 RPM
770 RPM
* measured mounted on Katana 3

Measurement and Analysis 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.
  • PC-based spectrum analyzer: SpectraPlus with ACO Pacific mic and M-Audio digital audio interfaces.
  • Anechoic chamber with ambient level of 11 dBA or lower
  • Various other tools for testing fans, as documented in our standard fan testing methodology.
  • SpeedFan, used to monitor the on-chip thermal sensor. This sensor is not calibrated, so results are not universally applicable.
  • CPUBurn P6, 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.

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 various voltages to represent a good cross-section of its airflow and noise performance.

*An Aside: Pentium D at 130W TDP?

The low 78W (minus VRM losses) drawn by our Pentium D 950 chip has been a curious oddity since we began using it on our heatsink test platform a few years ago. As far as we knew, it was supposed to have a TDP of 130W; we assumed ours was an exceptionally cool sample. Recently, curiosity followed its inevitable course: Web research after identifying the exact details of our Pentium D — model 4, stepping 4, revision C1, 12+16kB/2048kB L1/L2 cache, 'Presler' FSB200x4, XD, VT, EIST. It turns out there were two main versions of the Pentium D. Ours was the last iteration, not surprisingly, the most energy efficient. The C1 stepping identified it on Intel's Processor Spec Finder database as a Presler core with 95W TDP, not the 130W we'd always thought. At less than 78W at full tilt, it still seems like an exceptionally cool running processor.

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