Introduction, Specifications, and Pricing
Even though Scythe may not immediately come to mind when it comes to hunting down a new CPU air cooler, but in our tenure at TweakTown, they have kept us very busy, averaging a couple of coolers submitted to us each year. Names like Ninja, Grand Kama Cross, Big Shuriken, and FUMA come to our mind, but we left out the best-selling Scythe lineup. Those would be from the line of Mugen coolers!
We have seen this cooler from the original design, where Scythe packed in five heat pipes into a massive pre-cooler base, then using a single large tower of fins, and with it, Scythe was able to tame CPUs of that era, starting a brand that has yet to end. Along the way have been a few design changes here and there, some visual, and some more hidden features, but all the way through, constantly changing for the times!
None of the earlier designs have had the lifespan of the Mugen 5 coolers, though. While we may even be missing a couple, we know of the original released in late 2015 if our memory serves us correctly, with changes for the Rev. B version. Since then, we have heard of three more versions. There is the Mugen Black RGB, there is a Mugen 5 TUF which is similar to what we have, but in our version, Scythe took a full-on approach to put as much lighting into this design, while still keeping it what makes the Mugen 5 such a big name in the industry.
What we have, is the Mugen 5 ARGB PLUS, which is a bit of a mouthful, but easy to understand none the less. It is a much refined-looking version of the standard Mugen Rev. B, where a top cover has been added to cover exposed pipe tips and potentially bare aluminum, and now you see white and black plastic until it is powered that is. Along with the ARGB addition to the top, we get to the PLUS part of the name, and that is where Scythe sends the cooler with a second fan. Not only that, but both fans are also ARGB, work in sync with the top of the cooler, and can be controlled with motherboard sync methods or with use of the optional remote.
If the previous version of the Mugen coolers were your bag, but the rest of your rig has RGB LED lighting, it may be time to step up to what Scythe has to offer, in their efforts to stay relevant with what customers today demand of their CPU coolers. Sleek, attractive appearances, silence in operation, the ability for complete ARGB control, and a flood of light into the system, and hopefully, with all of that being asked, we still hope for exceptional performance and getting it at a reasonable price. Time will tell if Scythe has made the right move, so let's see what we are dealing with, and get to testing and see where she stacks up in our long list of contenders.
Anything you need to know about the Mugen 5 ARGB PLUS cooler can be gleaned from the chart we borrowed from the product page. At the top of the chart are four, dimensional, renderings, and is also where there is a description of the wiring which supports 5V ARGB, noting it is not 12V RGB! Below the dotted line, we run into the SCMG-5102AR model number, and a quick glance shows socket compatibility with any relevant CPU. The Mugen 5 ARGB PLUS, with its pair of fans, is square, at 136mm front to back, and side to side. The height of the tower is 157.5mm tall, and with concessions made for RAM support, unless your memory is overly tall, they should fit within this same height. All told, with the fans, the Scythe Mugen 5 ARGB comes in at just over a kilogram, at 1060 grams.
Both fans are Kaze Flex 120 ARGB PWM models, which top out at 1500 RPM. These fans are 120mm in size, of course, but they are shown to be 27mm thick, due to thicker rubber anti-vibration pads in each corner. At the lower-end of the PWM curve, these fans can get as slow as 300 RPM, with 1500RPM only seen with manual control methods. At top speed, we are getting 66.47 CFM of airflow from each of the fans as well as 1.67 mmH2O of pressure. With these 4-pin PWM fans, we do see that while lower speed is well below the range that can escape a case, at max, the can get to 29.75 dBA, which means things will likely get noisy! The last thing to know is that each fan has two leads, one 4-pin to power them, and the other leads are for ARGB control with the 3-pin design, and splitters are included to simplify installation!
The only slight problem with the Mugen 5 ARGB PLUS, is that with a bit of digging, we only found one place to grab one. While there is a listing at Amazon, they show as unavailable at the time of writing this, and it appears Newegg shows the TUF variant but has no idea what the SCMG-5102AR is. Where we did find it was at frozencpu.com, where it is listed at $89.99.
Price checking other avenues, with the conversion of different prices we saw to the US dollar, it is slightly more than the $87 our match works out to, but what is a couple of dollars in the grand scheme of things, when it is the only option to be had right now, on this side of the pond, at least until Amazon restocks. Considering a bone stock Mugen 5 Rev. B can be had for around $50, we will have to do some thinking on the $40 price bump, but the fact that a second Kaze Flex 120 RGB fan is at least $17 added cost, that price bump for all of the ARGB goodness does not look so bad!
In typical Scythe fashion, we get a cooler in a black box, with as much information presented as can fit, while still being able to make out the image of the cooler in the middle. At the top, we see that this is a CPU cooler, it is made in Taiwan, and Scythe is the company behind it all. At the bottom, we find the compatibility, a notation of 5V ARGB support, and sync compatibility with motherboard makers. The Mugen 5 ARGB PLUS, SCMG-5102AR name of the cooler, is the last bit to take away from the front panel.
The right side of the box looks very similar to the specifications chart we borrowed from them, although the renderings at the top are jumbled around, and we still see all of the same dimensions and reference to the ARGB portion. The lower half, marked off with the red horizontal stripe, is where the specifications are spelled out in eight languages. The fine print at the bottom tells us that the fans will perform differently based on the motherboard and settings used, followed by legal information.
On the back, we find UPCs for other countries and the US, and company information offered at top-right. We next run into information about the three-year warranty, which only applies to those who have installed and used the product correctly, and Scythe asks that you return the cooler to where you bought it rather than with them directly. The top boxed-off section mentions not to stick the magnets of the ARGB controller to a hard drive; stick it anywhere else! The second boxed-off section is cautionary statements to avoid injury.
The last panel is not short on information either. It is here we see the ARGB controller, the ACT-1000ARL, for those without motherboard support, and it can use the reset button lead from your chassis to change modes! The next bit covers the use of two Kaze Flex ARGB PWM fans, where they bring up top-tier performance and vivid, colorful effects. The last image is to show the memory clearance for sticks inserted on the right of the tower, and that there is room on the left side, under the second fan!
On the inside of the box, we initially have to remove the hardware and fans at the far end, and below that, we found the body of the cooler wrapped on four sides with open-celled foam, and the open sides get an additional layer of cardboard to protect the sides. As for our sample, the packaging worked splendidly, and our Mugen 5 ARGB PLUS is ready for its close-ups without the slightest blemish!
Scythe Mugen 5 ARGB PLUS CPU Cooler
Starting at the top, we can see the plastic cover made of milky white plastic gets clipped onto the top of the tower. In the array of aluminum fins, we see two rows of pipes on either side pressed into each fin. Under the fins, we see the bends some of the pipes take to make the inner rows, but the bends are still smooth with no significant kinks. The base is a bit of a pre-cooler, and we find the cross-bar mounting is attached from the factory.
As we look across the fins at this angle, it is much easier to pick up on the subtleties that we could not see head-on. The fins are tallest at their edges, and the next step is where the fans rest on the fins. The next drop is found across all of the fins and is the widest section, but the center dips yet again. Not only that, but every other fin is also extended, adding that little bit more surface area while creating turbulence for the airflow.
Once installed, this view is of the top of the Mugen 5 ARGB PLUS. We see it is offset to accommodate all mainstream motherboards, and whatever RAM you want to use. We can also see that the bottom five fins are cut short at the back, which allows for greater RAM support on HEDT systems. The lead coming from the top is the ARGB lead and allows cables to daisy-chain for power.
The exhausting end of the tower is shaped the same as we saw when looking at the intake edges and has the ARGB cable not flopped sides, the view of the front and back are very similar.
Covering many of the aspects by now of what we see around the Mugen 5 ARGB PLUS, let's get into some finer detail. The grooves found at the front and back of the sides of the tower are for wire fan clips when attaching the pair of Kaze Flex fans. The tower consists of a stack of 39 aluminum fins, and the top fin is twice as thick. The six 6mm diameter heat pipes are pressed into them as we said, but the pipes and the copper base are plated, not only to fighting corrosion, to match as well.
Covering what used to be a set of pipe tips poking through exposed aluminum, we now have a different look. Using the white plastic cover allows Scythe to add a painted section in the middle of it, and the shape matches the fin design and is kept between the access holes to mount the cooler. If you do find the TUF version, it is similar, but appears only to have lighting of the yellow flavor to match the TUF brand.
The cross-bar is attached to the tall aluminum pre-cooler before the cover goes on the top of the tower, but we see no need to access it. To the left of the aluminum pre-cooler, we do see balls of solder from when the pipes were sandwiched between the aluminum up top and the copper below.
The base of the Scythe Mugen 5 ARGB PLUS is concave, except for the oddly lower center of the base. All of the circular machining marks are visible in the reflective nickel plating that covers the copper.
Accessories and Documentation
The first group of hardware is the top brackets and the universal Intel backplate. The backplate is designed to be installed in only one orientation and uses rubber pads at the mounting points for isolation. As to the chrome top brackets, the inner set is for Intel and some AMD setups. Depending on socket orientation, you may want to opt for the larger brackets for AMD sockets.
More of the mounting hardware is needed, and here it is. There are black plastic spacers for AMD users, a rubber LGA775 preload spacer, and the set of standoffs for LGA 775, 1366, and 115X motherboards. Across the bottom are the AMD socket screws to use with the factory backplate, a set of screws to mount the brackets to the standoffs for Intel, and the LGA 2011 and 2066 standoffs.
Scythe send along enough thermal grease for a few attempts at installation, in a large, easy to use syringe. In front of it are the four fan clips needed to secure the pair of fans to the tower.
Since you need to go through the tower to mount the cooler, Scythe figured why not solve that potential problem, and provides a stubby handled screwdriver! Scythe also includes a PWM splitter for the fans, so that one header can control the fans in unison, and solves an issue for those without a second CPU fan header on the motherboard.
The Kaze Flex ARGB PWM fans we have in the box go by the part number KF1225FD15AR-P, and we see they sip just 0.20 Amps. Eleven opaque blades spin on an opaque hub, with a clear sticker to note that these are Scythe fans, but allowing for the most illumination possible of the blades. The black frames are standard, using big rubber corner isolation pads, and two leads coming from them. Both fans have the daisy-chair ARGB cables, and the 4-pin power cables are sleeved.
For those of you using a motherboard that is pre-RGB or does not have 5V ARGB headers, you still have an option with the ACT-1000ARL. It is the Scythe version of other solutions we have seen, but different in a good way! On the left is the SATA power cable to power the remote and the ARGB, which uses a 2-pin connector, which plugs into the near end of the controller. The 4-pin ARGB daisy-chain cable is what connects to the fans and top of the cooler, and plugs into the far end. On the back of the controller are a pair of magnets to hang it in the chassis, and to easily control, the side has a male 2-pin connection so that the chassis buttons can be used to change the modes and colors!
In the hardware box, you will find two bits of literature. The one on the left unfolds and offers a parts list and full instructions for both camps. Following the manual, you should be able to get this cooler installed in five to ten minutes, tops. The information contained in the installation guide on the right all pertains to the ACT-1000ARL. Everything we said when we last saw it is found here, so if the wiring is confusing, please consult this guide.
Installation and Finished Product
The backplate is drilled for LGA775, 115X, and 1366, and designed to be installed in only one orientation, as we have it on our system. It will have to be held in place with one hand, while you twist it to align the holes and install the standoffs.
To get here, we have the standoffs, and their nylon washer tightened down. Once that is done, set the top brackets on the standoffs, align the holes, and using the supplied short screw set, secure them, so they do not move.
After an application of thermal paste, we set the cooler in place, looking to align the cross-bar with the top brackets, and once close, send the screwdriver down the channels of the cooler. Switch back and forth between the two screws when securing the cooler, and we tightened it until we ran out of threads.
From the front, we can see the tower and the fan sit well above the memory, and would give us no issue if the cooler was over them at all. Mainstream system users will have no problems with RAM height and the Mugen 5 ARGB PLUS.
No problems with RAM to the right of the CPU socket in the slightest! With the offset nature of the tower design, Scythe made sure that the tower and the 27mm thick fan stay out of the way!
The best part is that even though the cooler is offset to the rear IO on the motherboard, the fan at the back rides at a proper height for the average kit of RAM to fit in there. Those using taller RAM have a lot of room until you run into the tower, and the rear fan can be raised or removed in those instances. We also noticed that access to the 8-pin it tougher with this, again, we suggest plugging the 8-pin CPU cable into the motherboard first, if you have that option.
Now that we have it installed, it does take up quite a bit of room, but both the RAM and the motherboard name is still visible for those into a line of sight branding. The top PCI-e slot is not blocked in any way, and we had no issue accessing motherboard screws around the tower. All we have left to do is power it on and unleash the ARGB!
Once up and running, we used the controller setup to power the ARGB and start in this "rainbow" mode. The illumination is top-notch, and we like that the flow of lighting on top matches to the intake fan. Keep in mind, this is one of 14 modes, with various color options and five speed settings, for those modes. These modes are things like fade, pulse, strobe, color-shift, and many others of the same we see from other makers.
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.
Fifty-eight degrees does not look great in the chart, but it is less than seven degrees from the top of the chart. We found it to be two degrees warmer than the original Mugen 5 Rev. B, which is a shame, but adding a heated cap to a CPU cooler will tend to do that.
If we compared the 73.75-degree result we get with the Mugen 5 ARGB with the direct competition, it does fall between the similarly priced DRP4 and falls just behind the H150i PRO in balanced mode, which feels about right to us. However, at the same time, there are a dozen options in the chart for air coolers that can do better, regardless of cost.
With one of the more significant gaps in thermals between the PWM and running the fans at full-send, to the tune of three degrees, while not an OC killing difference, goes to show that with different fans strapped to the tower, more thermal efficiency is there for the taking!
Noise Level Results
When we ran the stock test, we leave the fan under control of PWM, and while our idle speed was 435 RPM, the fans did creep over the 800 mark, to 810 RPM. At this point, the sound is well managed with a reading of 25 dB of noise in the open air, without a chassis helping to deaden things.
With the overclock applied, still, with fans controlled with PWM active, our fans got up to 1075 RPM, leaving roughly 500 RPM unused. Many will appreciate the fact that the fan is still at the lowest end of audibility with a 29 dB noise level at this speed.
Pushing twelve volts through the fans, we did see them top out at 1555 RPM, but we now understand why the PWM curve is what it is. To get that last bit of performance out of the tower, the noise increases a bunch, up to 47 dB. By far, not the worst, and tolerable for us, but not what you want to do if silence is the name of the game.
On its own, without any other considerations, we like what happened to the Mugen, and it certainly is a step into what is expected of CPI air cooling these days. The whole idea makes a lot of sense. Take a well-established line of CPU coolers, embellish the hell out of it without getting gross about it. Scythe makes it as easy as possible to install and operate, no matter what options your motherboard has, you can enjoy all aspects of what the Mugen 5 ARGB PLUS is all about. We thoroughly appreciate the offset design allowing for full access to any RAM on a mainstream motherboard.
Even so, there are concessions afforded to those with HEDT setups as well, so that you can populate all of the slots, and may have to move a fan up a bit to do so, and only if you use taller than average sticks. The mounting of the cooler is easy once the backplate is locked into place, and the provided screwdriver is an integral part of that! The noise level is kept low as the PWM curve is tuned to keep reasonable temperatures while sticking as close to 30 dB as possible. On its own, there is much to appreciate, and while not a groundbreaking product, it is a significant evolution to the Mugen line!
There are other things to consider though. One of the things that sticks out most to us is the performance. While not horrible, better than average, when we compare the Mugen 5 ARGB PLUS to others, the lines get blurred. As we mentioned, the Mugen 5 Rev B is more efficient with a single fan, but the fan did not have to compensate for the wool cap filled with LEDs, creating a bit of its own, and trapping all the heat that makes it to the top of the tower. A few of our unsung heroes in the $50 price range outperform it, but keep in mind, even with the overclock applied, we were within 1.5 degrees of the NH-U12A, and only 2.5 degrees behind the FUMA 2, which is only $60 right now.
And head to head against the new A500, which is similar in most respects, the Mugen 5 ARGB PLUS rides in the shadows. We understand costs involved to turn a $50 Scythe cooler into this attractive option, yet at the same time, we expected more with the extra fan and increased cost.
In no way are we saying that the Scythe Mugen ARGB PLUS is something to be avoided, as it is better than average, it is designed for the user, without any issues or headaches due to them providing any and everything you would ever need. We also loved the idea of using a chassis switch to address the modes and colors for those without motherboard control. The list does keep stacking up. Yet, at the same time, we do have to look at things objectively, and we feel that at $89.99, we will not be the only ones pondering for a long time before buying the Mugen 5 ARGB PLUS CPU cooler. You will have to consider the factors and see where you fall in all of this.
Our thoughts are this. You can get better cooling for less money, but they offer little when it comes to lighting with the higher listed air cooling solution in our chart. Many of the more affordable solutions are not as easy on the user and do not provide everything you could conceivably need either. While we can see the added value in all of this, that $90 sticker price, we fell, potentially will turn many away at first glance. If this is your kind of thing, there is no reason not to get one, as it did what we expected, it will stay quiet under PWM control, and is an attractive addition to any build, ARGB compatible or not!
The Bottom Line
While taking a slight hit in performance to its predecessor, it is a solid solution for CPU air cooling! Dual fans and ARGB for everyone with room for all of your RAM needs are great to have, but we feel the price is a tad high with all things considered.