The last time we saw something from Scythe it took an honorable 3rd place in 120mm air cooled coolers. With performance like that out of a typical sized air cooler, I was impressed. It did take some unique designing in the fins and a rather powerful fan to reach 3rd place, but in this game, you have to do what it takes to offer one of the best air coolers. With all the options for you to choose from, if you aren't on top, you are likely to get passed right up as buyers browse the shelf in search of the "next big thing". In steps, advice from people like myself and I may or may not turn you onto a product you may have never even thought to give a second look. Today might just be one of those days.
For those who don't know the history behind the Ninja cooler, let me take you on a little trip. First there was the Ninja or SCNJ-1000, which used six heat pipes. These were arranged in groups of three and installed in a crossing pattern; three above the base and three within the base. The original Ninja was offered as a passive cooler; it worked so well. Then came the Ninja Plus which was essentially the same cooler shipped with a blue LED fan included this time around. Scythe then put the Ninja on steroids and offered the Ninja 2. This was a well liked cooler in its prime, but has since been surpassed.
The latest evolution for Scythe sent them back to the drawing board to work out some kinks found by users; improving the styling of the product, adding more heat pipes, and as you will soon see, it delivers the best performance to date on air cooling. That's right. The newly stylized Ninja 3 with fans in a push-pull configuration will outperform anything I have tested, and as shipped offers the same performance we saw in the Yasya. So not only can you keep things cool and comfortable, add a large dose of "flash" to the interior of your case, you also have found the "next big thing" and I mean big literally and figuratively.
Specifications, Availability and Pricing
When the box is in your hand you quickly get a feeling that the Ninja 3 is a weighty cooling solution and Scythe specifying its 1,024 gram weight proves this thought. Comprising the bulk of that weight is found in the thirty-nine 0.4mm thick fins and the eight, 6mm, copper heat pipes. As if that wasn't enough, there is also the nickel plated, copper pre-cooler that holds four of the pipes to the top of the base, while the other four run through it. My cooler is in fact 120mm square and 158mm tall. I assume the 160mm measurement is to make sure there is clearance so you don't drag your door on the top of it. An added bonus is that it also fits all the latest sockets for both AMD and Intel.
The included fan is a Slip Stream 120mm fan with PWM capabilities, as well as an attached fan controller that fits in an expansion slot. The dial on the controller goes from Low on the one side (Min. Band in the chart) and High (Max. Band). This gives the user more finite control on top of the PWM functionality. This sleeve bearing fan is capable of 1900 RPM and over 110 CFM in Max. Band mode, and is also capable of running as slow as 470 RPM while delivering 23 CFM, and infinite optional speeds in between. Noise from this fan in Low, it is near silent in operation boasting 7 DBA. Cranking the fans up to High, and with the PWM allowing maximum voltage, you will end up in a noisy 37 dBA range. Be aware, the Ninja 3 is about monster cooling potential, not silence. For those who need silence, make sure to grab a pair of fans more to your liking.
What I really love about the Ninja 3 is that it delivers a top three performance out of the box and under the $50 mark that tends to scare buyers away. With a few clicks I was on the net looking at pricing. Since the cooler is new, it is on only 10 e-tailers listings as I type this. I will expect more orders from other retailers to come in shortly after everyone sees the potential that Scythe brought to the over clocking community. So what does near perfection cost? The Ninja 3 is currently getting $42.99 at Newegg.com, and more amazingly, there is no shipping cost involved. To get the award winning performance I got with two fans, you are going to have to chip in an additional $8.99. Not too bad at all to get the best performance to date at less than half of what the Cooler Master V10 released at or sells at today. For just over $50 I think this is money very well spent!
In typical Scythe fashion there is a lot of information to be found on their packaging. Here is an image of the Ninja 3 with compatibility, the passive ability, and the fan and mounting back plate are highlighted all around it.
Three key features are listed on this panel. Starting off is the M.A.P.S. or Multiple Airflow Pass-thru Structure, which maximizes the airflow of the Slip Stream Fan. Then there is the F.M.S.B.2 or the Flip Mount Super Back-Plate 2 for improved ease of installation. Lastly, they cover the Slip Stream 120mm fan, its connector, and its controller.
The rear of the Ninja 3 packaging is where all of the Scythe company and site information can be found. The majority of the panel covers the warranty information, and at the bottom their cautionary statements about the cooler and electric components.
The last panel also holds a bunch of valuable information to the buyer. There are three images at the left of the base and both the AMD and Intel mounting systems. To the right of that you will find a full parts list, minus the fan. At the very bottom you will find a multi-lingual chart with all the specifications.
The Scythe Ninja 3 SCNJ-3000 CPU Cooler
The Ninja 3 absorbs the heat in the nickel plated, copper base and gets transferred into the first set of four, 6mm heat pipes. What heat passes the capabilities of the first group of pipes is absorbed by the second set of perpendicularly arranged pipes. If the heat passes this second set of pipes, there is a large pre-cooler to help out even more. The heat that is taken away by the eight pipes is delivered into thirty-nine uniquely shaped aluminum fins. Scythe finishes it off with the chromed caps we see on other coolers from their lineup.
Spinning the cooler 90° doesn't show much change. Most obvious is the height of the set of heatpipes and that you can now see the fins of the pre-cooler.
I wanted to get closer and show both sets of pipes at once. Now you can really see how the pipes are arranged in the base, and just how massive that pre-cooler really is.
As part of the M.A.P.S. concept, these fins are designed to not only surround sixteen ends of the heat pipes, but are cut into sections to allow more air deeper into this densely packed arrangement of pipes and fins. Adding in stability, there are chevrons in the channels to keep the Ninja 3 solid and square. All that and I haven't even gotten to the flame paint job with little Scythe logos in the middle.
The mating surface is made of copper and finely milled in a half circle pattern. With the nickel plating over the top, the base is almost left with a mirror shine, but more importantly, it smoothed out the base. Adding even more performance, the base is as level and flat against a razor with absolutely no dips or deviations.
The Slip Stream included with the Ninja 3 is the SY1225SL12HPVC. This is the same fan as the L12H, just with a fan controller attached. This nine blade, all black fan is powered with a 4-pin PWM connection for the motherboard and offers the dial fan controller that fits in an expansion slot.
Digging in the hardware box a bit early, I grabbed out the two included wire fan clips and installed the fan so you can see just how well it covers the majority of the fins. Those channels in the fins should also drive more air to the centre of the cooler body, helping to eliminate dead spots.
I randomly picked a side to put the fan on, but to get the best performance I placed the fans so they could blow through the pre-cooler as well. The wire fan clips are tight and a bit tough to install, but it leaves you with a very secure and rattle free operation. I didn't get an image with both fans on the Ninja 3, but once both are on, the cooler goes to a very wide 170mm. This may cause clearance issues with some memory with taller spreaders on them.
Accessories and Documentation
O can't exactly figure out why "flip" is in the naming of this back plate; for AMD and Intel, it mounts with this side facing the board. The center of the plate is isolated with a layer of plastic to keep it from shorting the motherboard. The outside edges have foam installed on both ends to keep it from digging into the motherboard. Flanking both sides of the back plate are the two wire fan clips included in the box.
To mount the cooler on an AMD processor, you must first take four screws and install the middle two "leg assemblies" to the base of the cooler. To install the Ninja 3 on an Intel processor you need to do the same with the outer two components. There are four holes in each piece, but only two align with the holes in the base. It is also easy to tell which side is up by the countersunk holes.
Surrounding the packet of supplied TIM, you will find the hardware needed to finish the installation. The hex nuts with threads at the bottom are used in conjunction with the nuts on the left to hold threads on the Intel mounting legs. The screws up top are sent from the back of the motherboard into those nuts, or the AMD legs in both installations. As for the four screws on the right, those are what are used to mount the leg assemblies to the base of the Ninja 3.
The instructions are in many languages and offer all the information needed to sort out which part goes where and how it all should come together with your motherboard and processor. This side of course describes the Intel mounting instructions.
This side is for AMD, and with very little difference in how it works, the Ninja 3 goes on for these systems just as easily. Unless there is a really large CPU access hole in your case, I strongly advise motherboard removal to apply this heavyweight champion.
Test System & Testing Results
Test System & Test Results
TweakTown uses a different method for testing CPU heatsinks which allows for an even playing field across all product tests. We feel that by using the same ambient temperature and strict lab-like testing procedures we are able to accurately compare one product to another. More information on our testing procedure can be found in the T.E.C.C. article here.
With one fan installed and running the idle version of the testing, the Ninja3 falls right in between the NH-C12P SE14 and the Yasya. Once the second fan was added I was able to bump the Ninja 3 up another three slots and with a loss of almost a full degree at idle.
At load the Ninja starts to show some of that design innovation "magic". Oddly enough it tied with the Yasya with a single fan in third place. Adding the second $9 fan is where the Ninja took the grand prize. With a temperature of 52.6°C, the Ninja proves itself to be the most efficient cooler money can buy.
Out of the box and even with the additional second fan, the noise level plays right in the averages for all the coolers we have tested to date. Testing was run with the fan control in its High setting and PWM voltage applied.
Once things are set into full action, the fans do bring a bit of a hum to the environment. Looking back at coolers I have used on my own rigs for extended periods of time, it isn't all that noisy of a cooler; but if you are used to silence as I am, it will take a bit of getting used to. The same High setting was used with 12V to the fans this time.
To take top spot in the charts here at TweakTown is no easy feat, and for over a year the V10 with its two fans and TEC held top honors of efficiency. Second and third place has been an ongoing battle with many coolers, making that position when they were released. I am glad to see that designs are still improving and we aren't just given a "rebadged" version of an earlier cooler, we are getting a cooler capable of taking down the big dogs with the Ninja 3. Even with its outstanding performance and stunning visual appeal, there are two quick things that need to be addressed.
The height of the Ninja 3 being 160mm tall may make for a very uncomfortable fit in a lot of the mid towers. Along the same lines, as with the D-14, once you have two fans on this cooler it is very wide, and may bring issues with memory clearance. The second thing that needs pointing out is that the edges of this cooler are sharp. The process in which they punch out their fins leaves for a clean line edge, but can cause some damage to your hands if you aren't careful. This is why I recommend removing the motherboard to allow for a much easier installation process. If you have the room and are careful during installation, these are non-issues, but it is something to consider before you take my following advice.
Scythe delivers the most efficient cooler to hit our labs if used with a push-pull fan setup. Sharing third spot with the Yasya is nice, but I would suggest you go at the Ninja 3 with both feet and just buy a fan to go along with it. I guarantee you won't be disappointed with your investment. I am pleased to say that the investment isn't going to hurt you like the recently removed first place holder. In fact, to attain the Ninja 3 and one fan, you only need to spend $42.99 at Newegg and shipping is free! If you are going to grab another fan, match them up and grab this $8.99 solution. That brings the total price to $51.98 US dollars and with free shipping on both the Ninja 3 and the matching fan, how exactly can you lose? I suggest you get them before the deal runs dry!