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Scythe Mugen Max SCMGD-1000 CPU Cooler Review

Yet another Mugen arrives for testing. Scythe has revamped one of their best selling coolers to offer the Mugen Max. Come take a look at Chad's review.

@chad_sebring
Published Fri, Oct 10 2014 8:10 PM CDT   |   Updated Tue, Nov 3 2020 6:59 PM CST
Rating: 96%Manufacturer: Scythe

Introduction, Specifications, and Pricing

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VIEW GALLERY - 34 IMAGES

Scythe has had a long standing relationship with TweakTown. It seems that ever since Chris took over the cooler reviews, Scythe has been right beside us, sending us many coolers over the years. In that time, we did get our hands-on two out of five versions of the original Mugen cooler that Scythe has had tons of success with. In this time, Scythe has made slight changes to the design with things like plating the copper bits, and changing the aesthetics of the top. In this latest version to hit the market, Scythe has even changed the fans to help bolster efficiency.

This being the fifth version of the Mugen tower cooler, Scythe should really have it perfected now. This newest Mugen features nickel-plating on the pipes and the base, and there is a new top plate on this cooler that also receives nickel-plating. This time, the nickel plating is less about its anti-oxidation quality, and more about the "bling," and ease of cleaning. Scythe has also followed some other trends we have noticed in recent submissions from other manufacturers, while still being a top-tier, high-efficiency offering.

We will be covering every little detail of this cooler soon enough, but first let's get through the formal introductions. Today we will be reviewing the latest cooler from Scythe to hit the market, the Mugen Max CPU cooler. You will soon see for yourself that Scythe proves they can successfully revamp an old design, and stretch more performance from the Mugen Series coolers. Scythe also proves they have a keen eye on the market, and can offer something more 2014, and less lipstick-on-an-old-renamed-pig like we have seen other companies do over the years. So, let's just jump right in with both feet, and find out what the Scythe Mugen Max is all about.

At the top of the chart provided by Scythe, we see that this CPU cooler is in fact the Mugen Max, and carries the SCMGD-1000 model number. The chart notes that compatibility on the Intel side runs from LGA775 through LGA2011, and mentions square ILM, not to be confused with the rectangular ILM that most server style systems require. For AMD, it seems any socket following, and including AM2 is covered, but there is a note that installation requires the stock backplate. The mounting kit contains everything needed for Intel installations, and sans the backplate, on the top of the board, the full kit is provided for you as well. Depending on the AMD motherboard used, orientation can be an issue if you want it installed vertically.

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Then we get into the nitty-gritty of the Mugen Max. This cooler stands 161mm in height, it is 86mm thick without the fan attached, and is it 145mm in its width, weighing in at 760 grams. The design stems from a nickel-plated copper base assembly that surrounds the heat pipes, and offers a solid polished base to evenly distribute the heat. There are six, 6mm diameter heat pipes, three of which make tight turns to run near the center of the cooler in a straight line, while the other three take gentler bends to run near the outer edge, again aligned right behind one another. The heat transfers from the pipes into the 39, 0.4mm thick, natural aluminum fins. On top of the whole assembly, Scythe places a finely polished, one-millimeter thick, top plate that is secured in the four corners. The top plate has the Scythe logo embossed into the center of it, and covers all of the exposed pipes underneath it.

To cool this assembly of copper and aluminum, Scythe chose the GlideStream 140 PWM fan with the model number SY1425HB12M-P. Keep in mind that by adding this fan to the cooler, the overall depth increases to 111mm, and would further increase to 136mm wide if you added a pair of fans to fit the four fan clips provided. At its maximum, this fan boasts a 30.7 dBA noise level rating, it can also push 97.18 CFM, and 1.02 mmH20 of static pressure. The GlideStream fan does of this while only spinning at 1300 RPM on the sleeved bearing, with the four-pin fan connection plugged into the CPU header.

As we search around to find the Scythe Mugen Max on e-tailer's shelves, we are slightly disappointed by the availability. Sadly, inside of the U.S., it seems only two locations are currently offering this cooler. We found a listing on Amazon with a $53.99 price tag, and shipping was another $9. The interesting thing here is that the seller is actually FrozenCPU. If we go directly through FrozenCPU, we find a listing of $52.99, but the minimum transit cost is another $11 on top of that. While it does not make a whole lot of sense, the better deal is to save $2, and buy this cooler from Amazon, even though it all sources from FrozenCPU.com. All told, with shipping included, you are looking at right around $63 on average to obtain the Scythe Mugen Max. When you see our charts today, you will recognize the real value in that price point.

PRICING: You can find the Scythe Mugen Max CPU cooler for sale below. The prices listed are valid at the time of writing, but can change at any time. Click the link to see the very latest pricing for the best deal.

United States: The Scythe Mugen Max retails for $53.99 at Amazon.

Packaging

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With the white backdrop, and the bold orange and bright blue highlights on this packaging, your eyes will immediately stop here as you scan across many cooler packages. On the front panel, we get an upward angled view of the Mugen Max off to the right, with its name written across it. Off on the left side is the company logo, a notation that this is LGA1150 ready, and another notation that this is a CPU cooler with an image of the base and heat pipes.

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Where the image of the Mugen Max spills over to this side panel, we see that Scythe used this area to discuss the features of the cooler. This area covers the H.P.M.S. that hold the cooler securely, the T-M.A.P.S design of the fins for sectioned air flow, the use of the GlideStream 140mm fan, the dual fan capabilities, and its wide range of purposes.

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Around back, there is much more bright orange, and near the top is the discussion of the two-year warranty that comes with the Mugen Max. At the bottom are some precautionary statements to make sure you know what you are doing before you attempt installation.

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Again, Scythe chose orange to highlight the information provided here. We get three renderings of the cooler and two of the fan, both with the dimensions marked out on them. At the bottom, Scythe provides a multilingual specifications chart like the one we just covered.

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Scythe never appeared to worry too much about inner packaging, and as we pop the top of the box, we see that has not changed. The cooler and fan do have a layer of cardboard to keep them apart, and the hardware is slid down one side. So, the outer packaging is also the majority of the inner packaging. While previous Scythe coolers have arrived slightly out of whack at times, our Mugen Max arrived in terrific shape.

Scythe Mugen Max SCMGD-1000 CPU Cooler

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Looking at the Mugen Max head on, it is easy to see the individual fins are spaced exclusively with the bits that surround the heat pipes; there are no tabs to block air flow in this design. Instead, there are four channels cut deep into the fins to help concentrate the air flow in the sections where the heat pipes pass through them.

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Below the fin stack, we find the two-piece copper base assembly that not only transfers heat to the pipes, but also has pre-cooler fins on either side of where the crossbar mounting bracket slides through to hold the cooler to the motherboard.

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Not only does Scythe leave the side of the cooler completely open, again with no support tabs even, but we also see that this cooler has that offset where the cooler is moved away from the memory, and allows access to all for slots.

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From this angle, we can see how the deep cuts section off the fins, but we also see the aggressive saw-toothed pattern on the edges, and even a slight inset of most of the fins from the edges where the fan will rest. At the far end, we see a hole in the center groove, this allows for a screwdriver to slide through, in addition to allowing the mounting of the crossbar bracket.

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From this angle of the Mugen Max, we can see near the top much more clearly. We can see where the grooves are cut to allow the wire fan clips to slide into the sides of the cooler, and not only is it ready for dual fans with grooves at both sides, but there are enough fan clips provided as well.

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The top of the cooler has this thick, one-millimeter plate applied to it. It is held in place with four chromed pins, one at each corner, and the only thing to break up this finely polished finish is the large Scythe logo below the mounting access hole.

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Before we get a look at the base, we wanted to show the layout of the heat pipes as they enter the fins. Hopefully this image helps to explain our earlier comments about their orientation and paths through the Mugen Max to efficiently distribute and remove the heat.

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Of course, against a razor blade, the center of the base is slightly higher, and the edges do taper off a bit, but most of that variance is outside of the contact area. As for the surface treatment, it doesn't get much closer to a perfect mirror finish than this.

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We do have the fan installed slightly higher than we will during testing, but for the purpose of the image, we like to show both the top and bottom of the fin stack to illustrate how well the fan covers. This 140mm fan not only covers the fin stack well, but it will also blow a bunch of air under the cooler to the pre-cooler base, and over the motherboard components.

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With the fan on the cooler in profile view, we now are dealing with 111mm of width. Not too cumbersome to deal with, but space can become an issue if a second fan is added to the back.

Accessories and Documentation

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The Scythe Mugen Max comes with quite a bit of hardware, so we broke it down into much more manageable segments. Here we find the standard set of standoffs for attaching the backplate, with a small set of screws to mount the top brackets. At the bottom is the pair of screws for the cross bracket that holds the cooler down, along with the LGA2011 standoffs. To the right is a wrench that fits into the cross cuts of the standoffs, and it also fits the two hex head screws.

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The backplate is drilled with three holes at each corner to accept the taller standoffs from the last image, and is isolated with a rubber pad at each corner as well. In a separate bag, we find four nylon washers for the top of the motherboard under the standoffs, and we also see the LGA775 preload spacer that has 3M tape on one side to secure it to the plate.

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At the top we have the pair of AMD top brackets that work with the stock backplate, but both are drilled in the middle to accept the cross bracket screws. The ones below are for Intel setups. These have three holes at each end, and are also drilled to accept the cooler's mounting bracket.

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Here we finally see the thick steel cross-bar bracket that holds the cooler in place. To keep the cooler square, there are tabs that lock into the fins on the base, and oval holes at each end for the hex head screws. We also received a packet with two or three applications' worth of thermal compound.

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The manual is written in many languages, so the text explanations are very short and to the point. However, the renderings are on point, and do show in detail how to get through each individual step of the installation and connection of the Mugen Max. Also, off to the right, we get a look at the four wire fan clips.

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We also took a close-up of the GlideStream 140mm fan. This way, we can show off its rounded frame, the four-pin PWM connection at the end of the black braided cable, and the eleven, thin fan blades, all of which have grooves cut into them to help develop those high ratings we saw in the chart.

Installation and Finished Product

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To get to this point, you need to perform a sort of balancing act. You have to hold the backplate with one hand, and in the other, take a standoff and washer, and screw each into the plate loosely. Once you have it aligned properly, and are positively using the correct set of holes, you then can secure it all down.

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On the top side, since the washers and standoffs were already in place, all we had to do was screw down the top brackets while making sure the bump in the middle was on top.

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Mounting the cooler is easy as long as you have a long screwdriver; if you are stuck with just the wrench, prepare to be there a while. Once that is completed, we have the Mugen Max properly installed, allowing us to keep the stylish tops on our memory.

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In fact, with the offset design of the heat pipes, the Mugen Max will easily clear all four slots on this side.

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Let's back up a bit to take those with quad channel systems into consideration. As it sits, the Mugen is likely to encroach upon the first slot, and if you wanted a second fan on the back, be sure the memory in use won't push the fan too high for the chassis it's going into.

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As we put the motherboard into our test chassis, we had no issues getting to the screws in the motherboard around the cooler, but if you populate the first slot on your motherboard, the Mugen Max may cause some issues there. With one fan there should be no issues accessing the eight-pin either, but with a second fan, and another already in the back of the chassis, space gets real tight, real fast.

Test System Setup, Thermal Tests, and Noise Results

Test System Setup

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I would first like to thank ASUS, InWin, Corsair, and Fractal Design for supplying products for me to test with.

To see our testing methodology, and to find out what goes into making our charts, please refer to our CPU Cooler Testing and Methodology article for that information.

Thermal Results

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Seeing how much we liked the Ouranos, we like that the Mugen Max cooler tied the Ouranos' 51.25 degree result. Although this Mugen Max is larger, and the fan is specified to be slightly better, we would have assumed this cooler to do slightly better. This is still an admirable feat nonetheless.

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When we allow the overclock to deliver roughly 110W to the cooler, we see that it falls just slightly behind the Ouranos this time, as the Mugen Max provides an average of 72.08 degrees in our testing. This is where more fins in the stack wins out.

However, in the grand scale of things, considering there is only a slight difference in cost, we feel Scythe has delivered a top-tier cooler, capable of taking on a healthy overclock, and keeping things cool.

Noise Level Results

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With the voltage limited, as we always do for this test, we saw only 870 RPM in AIDA64 for the fan, and recorded a 31 dB noise level at this point.

To add a bit of perspective to that, once the case is closed up and the system is running, it is hard to pick up over chassis and PSU fans.

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While the sound levels do peek at 51 dB with full power to the fan, it really isn't all that bad, and more in the average range for a tower style cooler.

Final Thoughts

The Scythe Mugen Max did very well for itself in our testing. We really like the looks of the simplistic top plate that offers a sleek mirror finish, with just the Scythe logo in the middle to break things up, and add a bit of flavor to the cooler. The offset design gave us full access to the memory on our system, and the H.P.M.S. is indeed solid, and fairly easy to work with. However, we strongly advise you find a long screwdriver for installation; that wrench does work properly, it will just take you forever to tighten the two screws that secure the cooler to the rest of the hardware.

The Mugen Max's performance is very good. Much like the Ouranos, it passes some AIOs, and takes on the big boys of industry almost as well as the Reeven did. The bonus with this Scythe is that while doing pretty darn well at handling the heat we dealt to it, the Mugen Max was able to keep the sound levels down to what most are already used to. You can really take advantage of the performance boost that two fans will offer, as it comes ready to run a dual fan setup out of the box; you just need to grab the second fan.

Since we brought up the Ouranos that just passed our testing with flying colors, let us explain how the scoring will be addressed. The Ouranos was much louder when producing its slightly superior thermal results in our overclocked testing, and we all know the tradeoffs associated with noise versus temperatures alone. In terms of cost, both coolers are within $4 of each other, and that includes shipping, so there is a slight advantage to the Reeven solution there.

The Mugen Max is slightly larger, and by this we mean its depth. With just one fan on the Mugen Max, we are already at 111mm, possibly causing quad channel users some conflict; the Ouranos is slightly thinner, with more clearance. Any way you look at it, sound levels and style are really what it comes down to, it is almost as easy as the flip of a coin. On one side, you have the louder cooler with a brushed aluminum top plate to look at. The other side of the coin offers almost the exact same thing, but this time that coin has a mirror polish, it makes less noise, and you don't have to deal with that bold yellow colored fan.

At near $60, we really don't see how you can go wrong buying the Scythe Mugen Max. It shows that Scythe it staying relevant to current trends in CPU cooling, and they can offer very secure hardware that is pretty easy to manage, all while offering very good performance and average sound levels that just about anyone can tolerate. With all things considered, and if you are on the fence between the Reeven and this Scythe, if your system does not already have any yellow in it, the Scythe is the obvious choice. Again, even for those looking for less noise while getting great results, the point again goes to Scythe.

If not for the timing in which these coolers were sent and reviewed, we would be hooting and hollering about this Scythe as the standalone contender and best bang for your buck in this range. The good thing is that the market needs stiff competition. If you do decide to pass on this latest version, the Mugen Max, just know that there aren't many other coolers as capable as the Mugen Max is at this price range. Plus, the Mugen Max will also fit into any color theme, and handle business. If this cooler falls within your price range, how could you really pass it up?

PRICING: You can find the Scythe Mugen Max CPU cooler for sale below. The prices listed are valid at the time of writing, but can change at any time. Click the link to see the very latest pricing for the best deal.

United States: The Scythe Mugen Max retails for $53.99 at Amazon.

TweakTown award
Performance95%
Quality including Design and Build97%
General Features96%
Bundle and Packaging95%
Value for Money97%
Overall96%

The Bottom Line: The Mugen Max keeps Scythe firmly in contention with a great bang for the buck tower style cooler! It is great to look at, performs very well, and offers a unique polished top that you can't help but stare into.

PRICING: You can find products similar to this one for sale below.

USUnited States: Find other tech and computer products like this over at Amazon.com

UKUnited Kingdom: Find other tech and computer products like this over at Amazon.co.uk

AUAustralia: Find other tech and computer products like this over at Amazon.com.au

CACanada: Find other tech and computer products like this over at Amazon.ca

DEDeutschland: Finde andere Technik- und Computerprodukte wie dieses auf Amazon.de

After a year of gaming, Chad caught the OC bug. With overclocking comes the need for better cooling, and Chad has had many air and water setups. With a few years of abusing computer parts, he decided to take his chances and try to get a review job. As an avid overclocker, Chad is always looking for the next leg up in RAM, cooling, as well as peripherals.

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