Scythe Mugen-2 CPU Cooler

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 recording starts with 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

Scythe Mugen-2's bolt-thru mounting has been long awaited by PC enthusiasts everywhere. We are not completely enthusiastic about how the bolt-through mounting was implemented — applying a screwdriver to the back side of a motherboard is tedious and possibly dangerous. Still, it is a much better alternative to plastic pushpins, especially for a large cooler like the Mugen-2. Hard mounting ensures good contact between the cooler's base and the CPU, and the heatspreader helps prevent the PCB from bending. It also ensures consistency from one installation to another; if the instructions are followed correctly, every user should achieve the same tight installation.

Shipping the heatsink with a good quality PWM fan is an excellent move. Many users have motherboards with fan controllers that only work with PWM fans, so for them this is a welcome addition. Adding PWM functionality hasn't dulled the shine of the smooth-sounding Slip Stream fan.

The Mugen-2's stock performance was slightly disappointing considering its substantial cooling surface area. It flirted with elite silent cooler status but did not quite break through to the upper echelon.

Where the Mugen-2 really shines is in a two-fan push-pull configuration. The improvement in cooling was especially notable at low fan speeds (read: in silent operation). With two of our reference Nexus fans running at 7V and 5V, the CPU temperature improved by 6°C and 7°C respectively. Better still, at 7V and below, the addition of the second reference fan did not result in any measurable increase in noise level.

The Mugen-2 currently retails for US$35~$40, putting it in competition with direct-touch heatpipe coolers from Xigmatek, Kingwin, and others. It may not perform quite as well as the HDT-S1283, but it does hold several key advantages: It has a more secure mounting system, allows for "proper" orientation on AMD motherboards, and it ships with a superior fan. We're guessing that the stock PWM fan will soon be availble for separate purchase, and hopefully, priced similarly to the $10 for the original Slipstream series. The end price of $50 for silent cooling performance of this caliber would be an absolute steal.

Scythe Mugen-2
PROS

* Excellent single fan performance
* Superb dual fan performance
* Topnotch stock fan
* Secure installation method
* Fan faces the rear when mounted on most AMD boards
CONS

* Iinstallation a bit awkward
* Only one fan clip pair included
* Big


Our thanks to Scythe for the Mugen-2 heatsink sample.



SPCR Editor's Choice Award

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