Scythe Kamakaze HSF Review

How many times have we heard some company claiming the ability to give you performance air cooling with little noise? And how many times has it ended up that the cooler was either quiet or cool, but not both? Come join Mike "Darthtanion" Wright as he delves into the Scythe Kamakaze HSF. They make these very same claims but with a difference; they managed to pull it off. Come see for yourself as we look at this new name in cooling!
Mike Wright
Published Fri, Jul 18 2003 11:00 PM CDT   |   Updated Tue, Apr 7 2020 12:25 PM CDT
Rating: 90%Manufacturer: Scythe

Kamakaze - Introduction

IntroductionScythe is a relatively new company having been created in November 2002. While they don't have a lot of products just yet, this will likely change in the near future. But what they do offer shows some promise.Today's contestant will consist of their Kamakaze HSF rig. With an interesting design and the promise of making the system a little quieter, it has some lofty goals of being able to provide adequate cooling with fewer decibels. Since it is still an air-based cooling solution, we'll have to see if they can pull this feat off.So sit back and relax as we take a look at the Kamakaze HSF from Scythe and find out first hand if they can attain such a goal as quiet and effective air cooling.

Kamakaze - The Cooler

What You Get
When you first look at this cooler, you get the impression of large! There would be good reason for this belief as the complete unit measures in at 90mm x 90mm x 85mm. Add to this a total weight of nearly 700 grams (that's 1.5 pounds!) and you can see that we have a cooling solution that is far bigger than most of the ones we get in to play with.
As we tear into the design of this device, we'll start with the heatsink itself. As we look down the pipe, we see that the Kamakaze uses oval shaped shafts instead of fins. This will allow the airflow from the fan to more completely move throughout the design and should help make your overall cooling more effective. Both Alpha and Swiftech have proven this design to be effective in their own coolers, so we'll take a look at results later on and see if the Scythe folks can have similar results.Also of note here is the fan shroud. While the sink measures in at 70mm x 70mm x 57mm in size, it uses a bit larger 80mm fan. The shroud works as a reducer of sorts, but there isn't a sharp decrease in size so the turbulence caused by this is minimal.
Moving down to the base of the sink shows us a dual metal variety. While the sink itself is primarily aluminum, copper has still been used for the entire central portion of the cooler since it has much better thermal dissipation capabilities. And while the base has not been lapped to a mirror finish, there were no irregularities in the surface and it was very smooth.
The clipping/retention system used on this cooler is the first of its type that I have seen so far. It is called Rigid Core Clamping Mechanism (RCCM) and requires the use of a screwdriver when mounting the cooler.The picture above shows the actual clamps that will be placed over the lugs of the socket. It fits easily over all three lugs so you won't have to worry about support of this heavy unit. Once you have seated both of these clamps over the socket lugs, you will need that screwdriver.
The screw seen above has a matched partner on the other side. After the clamps are seated over the lugs, you'll need to screw these down to tighten the clamp. When I first started installing this cooler, I didn't have much faith in its ability to handle the stress of such a large sink. But after tightening the clamps into place, I found that there was no movement at all in the HSF and it was firmly held in place. Just tighten the screws all the way down and it will hold the sink just where it is supposed to be.One note regarding the installation, however, is the fact that it is difficult to install when the mainboard is already mounted within a midsize case. You'll need to be able to get your weak hand in there to keep the clamps squeezed into the side of the socket and this can prove tricky for those with large hands. While not impossible (I managed it after all), it can prove to be a task.

Kamakaze - The Cooler - Part 2

What You Get - Continued
Moving on to the fan shows us a pretty standard looking 80mm x 80mm x 25mm model. Actual airflow numbers were not available through the Scythe webpage, but it is designed as a variable speed model with speeds ranging from 1300 - 3400 RPM. And while they rate the sound of this fan at 37dBA, I would be very surprised if it is even that loud. Running at full speed at all times, it was quieter than the slow spinning case fans that I use in my system. So yes, the claims of being quieter than the competition is very true.Also of note about the fan is that it uses a 4-pin Molex connector power and also has a separate 3-pin connection to allow for fan speed monitoring through your favorite software utility.One downfall in the design that needs to be pointed out is the lack of a fan grill. Even with slower spinning fans, the fact that many mainboards have the primary motherboard power cabling in close proximity to the processor makes it too important to leave out of the design plan.
This little item seems to be getting to be a mainstay in modern coolers of late. What we have is a rheostat that allows you to manually adjust the speeds of the fan. You simply install it into an empty PCI slot and you have full control of the 1300 - 3400 RPM speeds; and control over the resulting noise levels. But as I stated earlier, the fan used is already quiet so you may not have much need of this feature. It is still a nice addition, though.
Finally, we have a quick peek into the realm of versatility. The device shown above is a retention device in case you happen to have a Pentium4 system instead of an AMD based one like I use. The screws that tighten up the clamp bar hook into the holes on the top (metal) portion of this bracket. After the bracket is attached to the P4 mainboard, tightening the screws will work in the same manner as on an AMD based system. But don't worry, there are instructions that come with the cooler to get you through the installation.

Kamakaze - Testing

TestingWell, we have dissected the cooler and made reference to the fact that it is very quiet, but how does it perform? After all, quiet is nice but not at the expense of a system running critically hot. To answer this question, I will put the Kamakaze through our standard heatsink testing gauntlet so that we can try to figure out if this thing is for real or not.Testing conditions will follow my standard guidelines concerning coolers. Ambient temperature is kept at a regulated 21C and the cooling system will be tested in a closed case. Before I jump into system conditions we'll take a look at the test setup.Xoxide modified Lian-Li PC60 Case (provided by Xoxide)Soltek SL-75MRN-L Motherboard (provided by Soltek)AMD Athlon XP 1800+ Processor1024MB Crucial PC2700 DDR MemorySapphire Radeon 9700 Pro "Ultimate Edition" (provided by Sapphire)Western Digital 80GB Hard DriveArctic Silver IIII am using an older based Palomino processor since they tend to put out a bit more heat. And after all, we want to see how it handles this very thing so it suits for testing purposes. The processor voltage was set to 1.8v and memory was set to 2.6v. Temperatures are measured at idle after 15 minutes of no activity, measured again after a rugged Quake III Arena Deathmatch, and a final time after a continuous demo looping of 3DMark2001. After these temperatures have been recorded, we'll boost the FSB to 145MHz and run it through the same series of tests. The moderate overclock of only the FSB will allow the processor to do the work and not share the load across the entire system. We're after heat and we will get it.A final note: Each category will have two screenshots of the temperature results. The top set of results will be at default speeds (1533MHz and 69.8 watts) and the bottom results will be at the overclocked speeds (1668MHz and 73.8 watts). The results should speak for themselves, but I wanted to make sure there wasn't any confusion here.Results - Idle
At idle speeds we see that while not at the top of the food chain, the Kamakaze is seated in the middle of a group of worthy contenders. And remember, this cooler is far quieter than any other sink used in our comparison. But lets move on to a little stress in the life of this cooler. Can it still maintain itself in a respectable manner when we add some stress to the mix?Results - Quake III Arena Deathmatch
Again we see that whether we're running at default speeds or overclocked speeds, the cooler can still maintain a very workable temperature. So far so good.Results - 3DMark2001 Demo Loop
I must say that I'm impressed here. The results in all tests are very impressive considering the low noise levels that this HSF puts out. Very nice!

Kamakaze - Conclusion

ConclusionWhen I first heard (or didn't hear, rather) the noise output of this cooler, I was concerned that it wouldn't be able to handle the stress of the processor and would have me uninstalling it in nothing flat due to poor performance. I've had some coolers in for testing in the past that are quiet, but never have they been able to actually work to my expectations...until now. Yes, there are alternative cooling methods that create very little noise, but we're talking air cooling here folks. In pretty much every cooler that we test, high performance equates to high noise levels.After having used the Scythe Kamakaze for a short time, I can say that their claims for both performance and noise are for real. They have managed to produce an air cooling system that provides you with very acceptable temperatures and a very low level of noise output.Of course, not all is perfect. The most glaring oversight is the lack of the fan grill. As mentioned earlier, this is just too important a component to omit. It isn't uncommon for the main power harness to be positioned directly over or right next to the heatsink. All it takes is one small nudge and you might be hearing the wonderful sound of wires getting caught in a fan.I'm still not sure about the clipping mechanism. While it is nice having a retention system that easily holds this juggernaut in place, the installation can be quite a task. Likely it will get easier with practice, but the initial mounting of the cooler was rather entertaining.Availability of this heatsink is limited right now. Since we have a Japanese company making the product in their home country, it can be tough to come across one. But all accounts point to the fact that they are going to be showing up worldwide as distributorship increases with the new kids on the block. I have been hearing estimated retail prices of around US$35, so cost-wise the cooler also comes in at a reasonable mark.Bottom line...If you are tired of the noise and want something better, then look toward the Scythe Kamakaze. Many folks aren't ready to go into the world of alternative cooling, but that doesn't mean they should have to suffer with an outrageously loud rig. The folks at Scythe have managed to come up with a HSF that not only cools well, but leaves your eardrums intact.- ProsQUIET!Very acceptable cooling prowessComes with PCI rheostatWorks on either AMD or Intel systems- ConsNo fan grillDifficult to mount if motherboard is installed in caseRating 9/10

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