Scythe Musashi Dual Fan GPU Cooler [Postcript Added]

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 seconds of room ambiance, followed by 10 seconds of the VGA test system without a video card installed, and then the actual product's noise 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 Musashi is a fairly impressive product overall. While it is fairly long, its height and weight are on the smallish side. The fact that it can keep up with the much larger combination of an Accelero S1 and two full-sized fans is nothing short of miraculous. The fan selection and fin design are both optimized for quiet cooling and for the most part, the Musashi delivers just that. It will deliver better temperatures with less noise than the stock solutions on most graphics cards. Installation is also extremely easy, though the final mount is not as secure as we would have liked.

Unfortunately the hottest card it supports, the HD 4870, requires heavy duty VRM cooling, and that's where the Musashi falters. Sure, our test system and methodology is more demanding than actual gaming, but when we see VRM temperatures head north of 150°C and then cause the graphics card to destabilize (as it did with the Musashi's fans set to 7V), we get more than a little uncomfortable. This is unfortunate because the slimness of the Musashi makes it attractive for dual video card configurations for which 4870's are commonly used. The included heatsinks are simply too small, though to be fair, most other third party GPU coolers suffer from the same problem.

Zalman has tried to address the issue by selling stand-alone VRM heatsinks, the ZM-RHS70 and ZM-RHS90, designed to be used in conjunction with their VF1000 VGA cooler. Unfortunately both are too tall to fit under a Musashi or Accelero. Thermalright also has a solution — awkward heatpipe coolers that extend well past the PCB vertically, the VRM-R1/R2. They are rather large and expensive though. A DIY solution may be the most feasible option for some.

Scythe Musashi
PROS

* Easy to install
* Slim
* Very good GPU cooling
* Excellent fans
* Fan controller included
CONS

* VRM heatsinks too small
* Mount could be more secure



Our thanks to Scythe for the Musashi sample used in this review.

POSTSCRIPT, Nov 29, 2009: Scythe Musashi Dual Fan GPU Cooler, Updated (overleaf, on page 8)

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Articles of Related Interest
HIS Radeon HD 4890 Turbo Edition
Asus Radeon HD 4870 Matrix
Thermaltake Duorb VGA Cooler: Are Two Orbs Better Than One?
Xigmatek Battle-Axe: First Direct-Touch Heatpipe VGA Cooler
Arctic Cooling Accelero S2 VGA Cooler + Turbo Module
Arctic Cooling Accelero S1 VGA Cooler

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Discuss this article in the SPCR forums.



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