Introduction, Specifications, and Pricing
Seemingly, Scythe has been making CPU coolers forever at this point, and it never fails that they can impress the masses, and have many successes in the past. Largest of which has to be the Mugen series of coolers, but they have also made waves with Katana, Shuriken, and Ninja coolers as well. No matter what your needs may be, looking for a huge air cooler, looking for something low-profile for an SFF or HTPC build, or just about everything in between, Scythe has a solution to fit your requirements.
As a company which is ever expanding in their products, Scythe has developed a new line of coolers, with a new name to go along with it. The idea here is to deliver a compact cooler, which will fit in tighter spaces, yet make the cooler as easy to install as possible. At the same time, make sure to keep clear of things around the cooler, mainly by offsetting the base of the cooler, yet develop something that performs well enough that potential customers will want to use it. This is the dream of all CPU cooler makers, but in most instances, you do give up something in the end.
Today we bring you the Scythe Byakko, and the only reference to the name is that it means white tiger to the Eastern countries. It is one of four symbols of the Chinese constellation, which represents the West or the autumn season. This makes some sense as with that; we can correlate the west wind or the cooler temperatures that come with the autumn season. While we are in no way hip to many other cultural traditions, we can see where the wind and cooler temperatures could reference both. Enough of the cultural ramblings and associations from a guy who is only guessing as to why Scythe calls this CPU cooler the Byakko, and get down to business and show you what it is all about.
The Scythe Byakko, also known by the model number SBYK-1000, is a cooler compatible with Intel sockets LGA775, LGA115X, and LGA1366. For AMD, the Byakko will fit on AM2 through AM4 motherboards, as well as FM1, 2, and 2+. Mounting is done in one of two ways. The cooler is shipped with Intel push-pins, or you have the option to use a cross bar, which locks onto AMD socket brackets. Dimensionally, the tower cooler is 102mm wide, 130mm tall, and 83mm thick, and weighs only 415 grams. The stack of fins gets its heat from the three 6mm diameter heat pipes, which get their heat from the nickel-plated copper base. The fins are made of aluminum, and there are forty-four of them in this compact design.
The fan which cools this tower is a Scythe Slip Stream 92 PWM fan which sports the SY9225SL12H-CSP model number. OF course, this fan is 92mm square, but the thickness is normal at 25mm too. Noise levels are rated from just seven to twenty-eight adjusted decibels, and airflow is rated from a measly 6.7CFM at the low-end, up to 46.55CFM at the top end. The fan speed can range from 300 to 2300 RPM while drawing 0.16A on the 12V line. Static pressure is decent too, with a maximum rating of 1.93 mmH2O, and this is done by having the seven blades suspended with a sleeve bearing.
Scythe was sure to mention that this CPU cooler was compact, easy to use, and is still able to perform reasonably, but there was no indication of what to expect with its pricing. That leads us to a bit of sticker shock, but not in the way you would expect. Typically, this shock comes from a company which demands a hefty price for their product, but in this instance, it is the lack of money involved that has us stunned. To obtain the Byakko, you can shop through both Amazon and Newegg. Amazon lists the Byakko for only $22.95, which is quite the deal already. For those who wish to save a couple more dollars, look to Newegg, as they list the same Byakko cooler for $19.95 at the time we are writing this.
With such a small investment to consider, in our mind, the Byakko just has to do better than stock coolers to be a success, but you will see soon enough, for such a small cooler, it is more than capable of contending with the competition.
The front of the box is mostly black with a bright blue accent in the bottom-right corner. There is a large image of the Byakko, both names to the right of it, even an image of the white tiger we spoke of earlier.
Along with the tiger and product name, this side is used to deliver the specifications. There are five renderings of the cooler and the fan, all of them with dimensions found around them. The bottom is used for a multi-lingual chart explaining the overall dimensions as well as covering all aspects of the fan.
Around not to the back of the box, we find company information at the top along with websites to visit. The bright blue section explains the warranty outside of Japan, while the lower section is used for cautionary statements to read before installing or using this product.
On the last panel, we find mentions of MAPS, or the Multiple Airflow Pass-through System, the 130mm height, the narrow fin design, we are shown the mounting hardware, and lastly, has them addressed as ECMS or Easy Clip Mounting System.
Inside of the box, Scythe first drops in a layer of dense foam, and it is then that the cooler with the fan attached is set on top of it. To keep the cooler sandwiched in place, a cardboard insert is added, which also provides a place for the packet of TIM as well as the AMD mounting bar. Since this cooler is compact and light, it does not require much support. Just with what we see here, our Byakko arrived in perfect condition from halfway around the world.
Scythe Byakko CPU Cooler
Right out of the box, staring the white tiger dead in the face, we find a black fan covering the majority of the tower, mounted already with wire fan clips. The fan wire is bundled and tucked between the fins and the base, and we can see that the Intel hardware is already mounted to it.
This view of the cooler gives us a few things to point out as well. It is easy to see all three pipes as they run through the fins from the top down, and we also see that the pipes are bent to shift the cooler to the back. We also like that the pipes are nickel plated, something we did not expect for the cost.
The view from the back of the cooler shows the real story with the heat pipes. While they looked evenly placed in the last image, we can see now that two pipes are inset so that all three pipes are offset from each other. This allows each pipe to get a fresh flow of air, which helps to remove heat more efficiently.
Since we covered everything else when we looked at the other side of the Byakko, let us draw your attention to the base. It is there that we find that it is a two-part design, using a copper base rather than opting for exposed pipes.
The fin we see here is identical to each fin in the stack. Not only is the leading and trailing edges cut back to allow for air pressure to build, but the logo in the center also helps to disturb the airflow, and effectively pushes it out to the pipes.
A closer look at the base shows us that Scythe ribbed the top section of aluminum, which acts as a pre-cooler. While the Intel mounting hardware is currently screwed to the base, once removed, the wide section in the middle is where the AMD cross-bar latch will go.
As we mentioned, the copper heat pipes are plated, which helps with the overall appeal, and does continue the "white" theme. As they enter the fin stack, we find the fins to be pressed on.
On either side of the base, we can now see the screws which hold the Intel mounting legs in place. AMD users will need to remove these. We also see the base mating surface has been protected with plastic, which has a warning on it, so it does not get left on when it comes time to install it.
The base of the Byakko is slightly convex, and there is more deflection near the edges then where the IHS will make contact. While the nickel plating does add shine to the base, if you look closely, there are visible circular machining marks left.
Accessories and Documentation
As far as hardware is concerned, this is all you get, which solidifies Scythe's "make it easy to use" campaign. The AMD latch system will slide on the top of the base, while two keys on both sides lock it into place. In case you do not have any TIM around, Scythe supplies enough for a few tries at mounting the Byakko.
We wanted to verify what fan was used, so we took it off the tower to have it here now. We indeed do have the SY9225SL 12H-CSP fan advertised in the specifications. We also find that at the end of the bright wire, there is a 4-pin PWM fan connection.
The instructions are multi-lingual, and it does take some concentration to find the appropriate text that applies to you. However, with the ease of use, the Byakko is built for, we honestly could have gotten by without any instructions at all. It is self-explanatory.
Installation and Finished Product
Anyone who has used an Intel stock cooler should have no issue with the push-pin system. The first thing to do is to make sure the slot on the top lines up with the brackets below, which ensures the locks are in the correct orientation. You then just need to align them with the motherboard holes and push them in until you hear them click.
The click you hear is the center pins locking into the white plastic tabs that are also pushed through the motherboard holes. If you do not see the pins and locks on the back of the motherboard, you need to reassess your mounting of the Byakko.
The Byakko did not appear this small until we installed it on the motherboard, and we perspective kicks in. The cooler is short in height, and even the wire fan clips do not extend past the RAM. The fan sits just above the memory for adequate flow into the fan and is still lower than the tips of the pipes on top.
When it comes to memory selection, there is not a worry to be had. Our memory is taller than some, but not the tallest available, and since the Byakko is offset in design, the fan never comes close to causing conflict here.
As we move back to look at the size of the Byakko and see what other issues may arise, we are left with nothing, again. Even of you desire a second fan, it will not affect mainstream motherboards but is venturing into the territory of HEDT and RAM on both sides of the cooler.
When the motherboard is installed into the chassis, we find that the Byakko looks even smaller than it just did. The aesthetics are not spectacular by any means, but we do get the Scythe logo to look at, as well as pipe tips that blend in with the exposed aluminum fins.
Test System Setup, Thermal Tests, and Noise Results
Chad's CPU Cooler Test System Specifications
- Motherboard: ASUS ROG Maximus VIII HERO (Intel Z170) - Buy from Amazon / Read our review
- CPU: Intel Core i7 6700K - Buy from Amazon / Read our review
- Memory: Patriot Viper 4 3000MHz 4X4GB - Buy from Amazon / Read our review
- Graphics Card: MSI GeForce GTX 1060 6GB OC - Buy from Amazon / Read our review
- Storage: Corsair Neutron XTi 480GB - Buy from Amazon / Read our review
- Case: INWIN D-Frame - Read our review
- Power Supply: Thermaltake Toughpower DPS 1050W - Buy from Amazon / Read our review
- OS: Microsoft Windows 10 Home 64-bit - Buy from Amazon
- Software: RealTemp 3.70, AIDA64 Engineer 5.75.3900, and CPU-z 1.77.0 x64
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 (October 2016) for more information.
At first glance, it does not seem that the Byakko does that well, but let's try to add some perspective. 63.25 degrees is still much better than the stock solution, and it places between and AIO and a similar cooler which is more expensive, taller, and costs more.
78.75 degrees is getting up there a bit, but still a good margin away from the throttle point. The coolers just above it in the chart are either 120mm fan cooler towers or are AIOs, and performs significantly better than the MasterAir Pro 3 it was neck in neck with on the last test.
Surprisingly, once we removed PWM control of the fan and allowed it to do what it can at full speed, we found a fair bit of improvement yet to be had. There is slightly more than five degrees improvement between the last run and this run, and the noise associated to gain it is not horrible either.
Noise Level Results
When we got the 26dB rating for the stock run with PWM control, we saw the fan spinning at just 1125 RPM. While not the best on the chart, this is in the range of needing to have your ears on the back of the cooler to discern it from other noises in the PC.
When we overclocked the CPU, the fan speed increased to 1564RPM, and the noise level rose, but just slightly, to 29dB. This is getting to the point that it can be heard easily at a foot away, and compared to many others, and admirable result.
Even though 36 dB of noise can be heard, through chassis panels and vents, compared to many others, things could have been much worse. To gain another five degrees as the worst-case scenario from the Byakko, we are more than willing to deal with this noise.
Of course, one could argue that the Byakko is not the best performer, nor is it the quietest cooler out there, but that was not the point of this design at all. Scythe puts it out there right up front; the Byakko is designed to be compact, easy to use, and still, have respectable performance. Scythe accomplished everything it has set out to do with the white tiger CPU cooler, and we are left without any complaints in the way we used and tested the Byakko. Noise is also managed well for a cooler with a 92mm fan, as most times, the smaller the fan, the more noise it makes. Scythe also can keep up with coolers that are twice the price on their best day, while many are three times the cost, or even more. That says a lot of this little Byakko cooler.
The Byakko is solid, well put together, and no matter if using an AMD or Intel compatible socket, installation could not be any easier. The reality is, that if we did have one complaint about the Byakko cooler, it would be that of limited compatibility. Although, with larger sockets comes more heat as well, and it could be a move based on TDP as well. What we do know is that for the cost involved and the features the Byakko does offer, it is a strong contender for many smaller systems, would be good in an HTPC environment, and can even be used to give a few benches a go without fear of frying your processor in the process.
When it comes down to brass tacks, many out there do not have the funds to buy an AIO or a top-tier air cooler, and to be honest, as long as companies make coolers like the Byakko, you do not have to. We were able to do anything we can with any other premium cooling solution, but with much less of a dent in our wallet. Since you can find the Byakko for less than $20, and it is more than capable of doing exactly what Scythe billed it to do, what is there not to like?
The Byakko may be compact, it may not be full of bling and all that attractive, but when it comes to getting the job done on a very affordable level, it is hard to beat what Scythe is offering.
The Bottom Line: It may not top the charts, but for almost no money involved to get the Byakko, we feel it is a great solution for budget minded builders, or those with limited options in height! Scythe hit the nail on the head releasing this white tiger into the wild.
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