Introduction, Specifications, and Pricing
For those who are not aware, a Kama is a farm implement, sort of like a sickle, which is traditionally Japanese in derivation. A cross is something we are all aware of, and can be anything from a plus sign to an "X" or the current convention of a "t" shape. Put both words together, and we can imagine a pissed off farmer wielding a pair of Kamas crossing each other for a blunt strike or a defensive posture. While this isn't exactly what you are about to see, it does lead into the idea behind a cooler which is now on its third redesign, and in our opinion is the best-looking version to hit the market.
If you hadn't guessed it by now, we are speaking of the Grand Kama Cross coolers from Scythe. In the past, these coolers have held up well, and while using as much area as a traditional dual-tower design, air flows down onto the motherboard, rather than being sent out the back of the cooler.
Along with its girth and downward flow of air to the motherboard, these coolers were able to not only keep the CPU cool but also add airflow to the memory as well as the heat sinks around the socket. All of these are good things, and since the cooler causes no other obstructions around the motherboard, even for the tallest of RAM and use of the first PCI-e slot, a cooler such as this can be the perfect solution to address multiple components at once, not just the CPU temperatures.
Four years after seeing the previous version of this cooler, Scythe has now sent the Grand Kama Cross 3 to our door for testing and evaluation. We mentioned this is the best looking of the bunch, but does it have what it takes to keep up with coolers which have already proven to be top contenders for your hard earned dollar? Stick with us and find out, as we are not only going to show the Grand Kama Cross 3 in fine detail, we will be torturing it like all the rest and showing what sort of results are in your future with the latest of the Grand Kama Cross evolution of CPU coolers.
The Grand Kama Cross 3 cooler, also known by the SCGKC-3000 model number is a fully compatible CPU cooler. By this, we mean that anything produced from Intel since and including LGA775 is covered. On the flip side, AMD support starts at AM2, includes all of the FM sockets, and with a separate purchase, it can also cool AM4 CPUs as well. Dimensionally, the GKC3 cooler is 171mm tall, it is 147mm wide, 140mm deep, and weighs just 780 grams.
The cooler uses a copper base and four copper heat pipes which are 6mm in diameter, both of which are nickel plated. As for the top of the base and the fins, both are made of aluminum, and each of the two angled stacks of fins has thirty-five fins to the stack. Rather than having fancy caps on the tips of the pipes, exposed for the world to see, this time, an anodized aluminum cover plate has been added to the mix.
There is a single fan mounted on the top of the CPU cooler to drive air through it. Scythe has picked the GlideStream 140 PWM in for this version. The noise level is kept to 30.7 dBA as it was in the GKC2, and the airflow is also the same at 97.18CFM. Fan speed ranges from 400 RPM on the low-end on up to 1300 RPM at full speed. Static pressure is not all that high at 1.01 mmH2O, and oddly we see the German word for bearing, as the bearing type. Beyond that, you will also see the power requirements for the fan in this chart.
When it comes time to buy this cooler, we suggest two things right out of the gate. The first bit of advice is to pay attention to the model number in the listing, as we saw some GKC3 listings which were GKC2 coolers. The second piece of advice we have is that you need to shop around. Comparing listings in Google, the Grand Kama Cross 3 is shown to range in price from $52.79 on the low-end, and as much as $98.75 on the high-end, but not many of these locations get much trust and faith from us.
We were able to locate the Grand Kama Cross 3 at Newegg, and it is even sold by Scythe USA. It is here that we found the best price, where the original price is shown at $49.99, which is currently dropped to $44.99, and Premier members get free shipping too. That being said, this cooler with old-school heritage sticks to old-school pricing, and it is excellent for the consumer. No need to climb near $100 for a massive CPU cooler, and it is highly likely that many of the other massive choices to not consider airflow beyond the effectiveness of the CPU itself.
Using flat black on the cardboard, the front panel has an air of mystery, as it shows bright clouds and the silhouette of a Kama armed killer. With a notation to the LGA115X compatibility and the name in gold to the right, there is not much room left, so the image of the cooler is quite small. Compatibility also makes the front panel, where you can quickly check if it suits your needs.
The name and type of the product are shown at the top of this side panel, whereas the rest is used to discuss some of the features. Things like the Hyper Precision Mounting System, the Top-Blow Fan, the X-Structure design, and the use of a GlideStream 140 PWM fan are all covered in some detail.
The back of the packaging is full of information. At the top, we are offered the logo, company addresses, as well as support address, along with the UPC codes for Japan and the US. The yellow section describes the two-year warranty, and at the bottom are safety notices, and cautions to read before using the GKC3.
The last side of the box covers all of the technical aspects of the GKC3 cooler. Four renderings show the dimensions and space required to use it, while a chart at the bottom covers the specifications in full, with six languages presented.
Inside of the box, there is a layering of cardboard under the cooler. First on the table is the hardware box, which has a thin layer of dense foam on top of it. A three-piece support system, also made of cardboard, keep the Grand Kama Cross 3 in place, while the top of it is exposed, and covered only with the lid of the box. However, this GKC3 arrived in perfect condition, ready to be put under the spotlight.
Scythe Grand Kama Cross 3 CPU Cooler
At the top of the tower, we can see the frame of the 140mm fan, and the void in the middle of the cooler for it to build pressure as it blows into the towers. Each stack is at nearly forty-five degrees, each stack has 35 fins, and are both are topped with a cover which squares off the side profile.
From the side, we can also see the fan exposed at the top of the cooler, but this time we spot the Scythe logo, and the slots cut into the covers. Since the fins are angled, it gives an illusion that the fins are very close, and reflects whatever is under the cooler in the edges of these fins.
At this point, we notice that the view from the top and the bottom are the same. Now, we move a bit lower in the cooler and discuss the gently angled heat pipes, and the two-part base design.
Either side view is also identical, so we again move to the bottom half of the GKC3. We can see that the pipes are offset, as they have to cross in the middle of the cooler before they run through the fins. From the side, we can see that the copper plate is solid and is the connecting point to the CPU, while the aluminum top half is milled to allow the pipes to travel through it.
In a standard chassis layout, this is the view you will see the most. From the covers on either side to the matching anodized fan mounting panels, to the black fan frame, to the fans down to the grey blades, even down to the Scythe logo on the sticker, there is not one thing that is unattractive. From this angle, we can also see the sawtooth pattern of all of the fins leading edges in the stack.
The two-part base is much clearer to see from this angle. On the side of the base, we see signs of solder on the heat pipes, both to the lower copper plate, as well as in the grooves of the aluminum section. The top of the cooler is finned to add some cooling capabilities, but is plowed down the middle to accept mounting hardware.
At first glance, the base appears to be shiny, but on closer examination, just the faintest of grooves are still there from the machining process. The base is also convex, which will help when it comes to mounting pressure.
Accessories and Documentation
Inside of the white box of hardware, we first grabbed the major components for mounting the GKC3 to an Intel motherboard. On the left are the pair of top braces, to which the cross-bar on the right is mounted. To add rigidity, there is a thick steel backplate with rubber pads to isolate it from the motherboard.
In the back, we see the standard Intel standoffs which secure the backplate and have the brackets screwed into them with the four screws to the right. The shorter standoffs go into the socket bracket of LGA2011 motherboards and server the same purpose. In the front row, we see the wrench to use with the two mounting screws to the right of it, with the hex-heads on top of them.
We also found things like the LGA775 preload spacer, the packet of thermal paste, and a set of white washers to use with the standard Intel standoffs, to protect the top of the motherboard. Scythe also ships a #2 Phillips screwdriver. It is long enough to use on all of the hardware, even when it comes to mounting the cooler to the rest of the hardware, although it is stubby in the handle department, so it can fit in the box.
Scythe also sent along the AM4 mounting hardware. It is unclear if these are given away to those who can show proof of purchase to Scythe and get these handed out, but we do know they are for sale. We see a set of four screws, some plastic standoffs, and chromed top braces. To mount the cooler to this, you will use the black cross-bar that comes in the box.
The guide starts with precautionary statements and moves right into a list of all the parts and pieces you should have with the purchase. There is a reminder to remove the protective film, an indication of air flow directionality, and then offers step-by-step instructions of how the hardware can be used with various socket types.
Installation and Finished Product
To start off the installation process, you must first align the backplate, so that the socket screws go through the plate in the designated areas. You then have to twist it back and forth to align the holes for each socket type, of which we are using the middle set of four for LGA115X.
Once the plate is aligned with the motherboard holes, you can install the standoffs, and be sure to securely screw them into the backplate, making sure to use the washers under the standoffs. Once they are locked in place, the top brackets can be installed, tabs facing in so that the cross-bar can be screwed in at the top and bottom of the socket.
Even though Scythe provides a wrench for mounting the cross-bar, to be blunt, is a pain in the "you know where to use" and why not use the screwdriver instead. Even with the fan installed, mounting can be achieved, but if you are clumsy, fan blades could be damaged, so it is advised you remove it first.
The Scythe Grand Kama Cross 3 seems large, that is until you add perspective like this. It is slightly wider than the memory, but is shorter than many other 140mm fan cooler tower designs. Many will not see this view much, but it does leave plenty of room for the memory to clear.
The GKC3 stands well above the memory, and even with vastly oversized heat sinks on the RAM, you will still be able to populate all of the slots, and remove sticks without needing the remove the cooler.
Stepping back a bit, we notice right away that the cooler does have a wide stance across the motherboard. Even so, with the angles used in the design, access may appear blocked, but we find plenty of room for 8-pin connectivity, as well as getting to the motherboard screws.
Once installed, it is like the motherboard gets a new top half. The Grand Kama Cross 3 takes up nearly the full width of the motherboard, and with a sleek looking cooler to view, changes the entire look inside of the chassis for the better.
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.
Sixty-one point five degrees does not show well in the chart and appears to be something we would not be happy about. While we did want better performance from the GKC3, we are still nineteen degrees cooler than an Intel stock cooling solution.
Roughly ten degrees from the lead, and slightly less to the worst performing cooler on the chart, keep in mind that the Intel stock solution failed to run this test. The seventy-six point two five degrees is right in the middle of the pack.
We also test to make sure that the PWM control of the fan is up to par, and we do this by pushing 12V to the fan to gather the best result possible. In the Grand Kama Cross 3, Scythe left only two point five degrees on the table, but much noise accompanies this small gain.
Noise Level Results
In the stock thermal test, the PWM circuit only called for a maximum of 550 RPM, which is only 150 RPM beyond the idle speed. The 25 dB result at this time is impressive, as many do favor silence in their cooling options.
Still, under the control of PWM for the first overclocked thermal test, we recorded the fan speed to top out at 1086 RPM. The noise level does move into the audible range at 34 dB, but if more than a foot from the PC or inside of a noise absorbing chassis, the noise will not bother you much at all.
Allowing the fan to run at full speed, 1340RMM in this instance, we can see why Scythe opts for the lower speeds of the fan. The noise level jumps to 52 dB at this time, and is a droning noise that even the best chassis cannot silence.
We still feel that the Scythe Grand Kama Cross 3 is the best looking of the bunch. Nickel plating rather than exposed copper bits, hiding the pipe tips under a metal cover this time, and when bought at the right time from the right place, it is very affordable to boot. The construction is solid, there are no odd vibrations, and with the use of the PWM functionality of the fan, most of its life, the GKC3 will go unheard. Once installed, the cooler will cover most of an ATX motherboard above the PCI-e slots, delivering a look which many other coolers will not offer. Also, with the down-blow fan style of this design, we also saw a reduction in RAM and phase for the CPU three degrees in temperature. This may not be drastic reductions, but it could be the difference between stability and BSODs.
While our hopes for this cooler surpassed the results in the thermal testing, we cannot beat down on the GKC3 too much. It performs much better than the stock Intel cooling options, and on the whole, runs right in the middle of the pack. Considering both of those things, we do feel that this Scythe cooler still has plenty of merit to it. It may not be the best performing cooler on the chart, but it doesn't come close to $100 to obtain, as long as you mind where you shop. One could also say the size of such a cooler could be a downfall too, especially with Micro-ATX or Mini-ITX motherboards. To us, we have the room, and do not mind using it, and having this big, sleek cooler showing through our chassis window.
For evaluation, we will stick to the $49.99 MSRP set by Scythe. That being said, there are better performing $50 coolers out there, but none of them add anything more to the mix. We were able to drop surrounding temperatures which means more stability and even the potential to push an overclock further, parts willing of course. The Grand Kama Cross 3 is a large cooler, but if you have the room for such a design, we have no solid reasons to try to dissuade you from buying the GKC3. The cooler is sufficient for the needs of many; it is affordable, it stays quiet, and looks good too.
The Bottom Line: Due to its size and fan specifications, we did expect a bit more from the Grand Kama Cross 3! Even so, midrange results and low noise make this cooler suitable for anyone who has the room to install it!
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