Scythe Katana 3: Same slant, new version

Cooling
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MP3 SOUND RECORDINGS

These recordings were made with a high resolution, lab quality, digital recording system inside SPCR's own 11 dBA ambient anechoic chamber, then converted to LAME 128kbps encoded MP3s. We've listened long and hard to ensure there is no audible degradation from the original WAV files to these MP3s. They represent a quick snapshot of what we heard during the review.

These recordings are intended to give you an idea of how the product sounds in actual use — one meter is a reasonable typical distance between a computer or computer component and your ear. The recording contains stretches of ambient noise that you can use to judge the relative loudness of the subject. Be aware that very quiet subjects may not be audible — if we couldn't hear it from one meter, chances are we couldn't record it either!

The recordings start with 7~10 second segments of room ambiance, then the fan at various levels. For the most realistic results, set the volume so that the starting ambient level is just barely audible, then don't change the volume setting again.

FINAL THOUGHTS

The Scythe Katana 3 delivers cooling performance that's good enough for most mid-power CPUs (~65W TDP). Its stock fan is decently quiet, and with a good on-board PWM fan controller, could provide essentially inaudible cooling for a midrange PC. The dreaded plastic push-pins for socket 775/1366 boards are easy to use here, as access to the pins is good. Its low weight makes the push-pins safe; there's no risk of them popping out or breaking under undue strain. Even though the AMD clip doesn't allow for heatsink or fan rotation, on most AMD boards, the fan will end up blowing in the right direction, toward the back case exhaust fan.

Whether the down-angled fan helps with VRM or northbridge cooling was not possible for us to assess. With mid and lower power CPUs, the need for such cooling is probably not critical, but our basic perspective is that it certainly can't hurt.

The support for socket 1366 is an amusing touch, and made possible because it's just an integral part of the Katana 3 socket 775 mounting bracket. Could the Katana 3 cool a 130W TDP i7 processor effectively? Well, with the fan at or close to full speed, probably, but it would hardly be a quiet solution.

Scythe Katana 3 does not pretend to be a giant killer (or cooler), but does a fine job of quietly cooling a mid-power processor. It is easy to install and use on any current CPU socket. Best of all, its modesty also extends to price: US$26~30.

Scythe Katana 3
PROS

* Good cooling for midpower CPU
* Nice fit and finish
* Quiet PWM fan
* Price
CONS

* No fan controller supplied?

Our thanks to Vanvouver retailer Anitec for the Scythe Katana 3 sample.

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