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Old April 16, 2009, 08:32 PM
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Default Scythe Musashi VGA cooler review

Scythe Musashi VGA Cooler Review
Review by Darryll “stoanee” Johnstone
Date; April 16/09


Manufacturers product page-Scythe Musashi
Product name-MUSASHI VGA Cooler
Model no.-SCVMS-1000
Prices-click here!


Introduction

Here we have a first offering VGA cooler from Scythe that is named after a Japanese swordsman who lived until 1580. Scythe is well known for their cpu coolers, fans and other computer equipment. Miyamoto Musashi is well known in Japan and was renowned for his distinctive style and his excellent swordsmanship. Can his namesake cooler match his reputation? Read on and we will find out.

Features
(from Scythe website)

-This product is compatible for wide variety of graphic cards, for ATI Radeon 9000 to HD4800 class, and for nVIDIA GeForce FX5900 to 9600 class.

-Dual Independent Fan with Controller
-Equipped with dual Scythe original super thin "“Kaze Jyu Slim 100mm" fan, users can independently control each fan speed to fulfill the demand for silent to over-clocking purposes.

-Optional Single Fan Mode
-Single fan mode can be arranged by simply detaching 1 fan and place another fan onto the middle of the VGA cooler to intensively cool the GPU.

-Air-Through Construction
Airflow can be directed to the entire graphic card to ensure the complete cooling of the graphic card.

-Various Memory Heat sinks Included
-In order to maximize the cooling performance, the various memory heatsinks (chips) are included in the package.


Specifications
(from Scythe website)

Model Name: MUSASHI VGA Cooler Model Number: SCVMS-1000

Manufacturer: Scythe Co., Ltd. Japan

Overall Dimension (W x D x Thickness): 104 x 250 x 35 mm 4.09 x 9.84 x 1.38 in Weight: 375 g 12.1 oz

Heatsink Dimension (W x D x Thickness): 104 x 250 x 35 mm 4.09 x 9.84 x 1.38 in Weight: 251 g 8.8 oz

Fan Dimension (W x D x Thickness): 100 x 100 x 12 mm 3.94 x 3.94 x 0.47 in Speed: 800 ~ 2000 rpm

Noise: 12.50 ~ 29.22dBA

Flow: 11.45 ~ 27.60CFM

Bearing Type-Sleeve Bearing

Fitment
(from Scythe website)

Radeon X***
Radeon X1300
Radeon X1600
Radeon X1650
Radeon X1800
Radeon X1900
Radeon X1950

Radeon HD2600
Radeon HD2900 XT

Radeon HD3650
Radeon HD3850
Radeon HD3870

Radeon HD4850
Radeon HD4870

GeForce FX5900

GeForce 6600
GeForce 6800

GeForce 7300
GeForce 7600
GeForce 7800
GeForce 7900

GeForce 8500
GeForce 8600
GeForce 8800 GT
GeForce 8800 GTS

GeForce 9600
GeForce 9800 GTX



Includes

-Cooler complete with attached fans
-Fan controller for both fans
-Back plate and mounting studs
-Various heatsinks
-4 pin to 3 pin adaptor
-TIM

Packaging and Accessories

I purchased this from my local Memory Express retailer and as you can see the box was chock full of pictures and printing, both in English and Japanese. Good pictures of the cooler and all the various graphics cards it is designed for were listed on the box. The contents were all protected by cardboard that enveloped the cooler; first the contents slide out then there is a flap folded over the cooler. Everything was in good shape so the packaging seems to be effective.







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Once out of the box you find the cooler, instructions, a bag of parts containing the mounting hardware, heatsinks and some TIM. Note that the fan controller is permanently wired in to the fans, if you do not want to use it you will have to test out your wiring skills to remove it. This controller allows the fans to run between 800-2000rpm giving 12-28 CFM airflow per fan and mounts in a slot at the back of your case.


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Upon closer inspection, you can see that just about the entire surface of the cooler is covered by the two included fans. One thing I noticed while handling this cooler is the fins are very thin and easily bent. Careful handling and no dropping are the rules of the day when installing this cooler.


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Looking at it from the side you can see that the fans are very thin at 12mm and the two 6mm heatpipes run the length of the cooler. The total thickness of this cooler is 35mm which is 3mm wider than the stock 4870 cooler it is replacing. Depending which motherboard you have you should still be able to run Crossfire if desired.

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Flipping the cooler over, you can see the two heatpipes that run in opposite directions, one with a longer run than the other. The heatpipes terminate with chromed caps that give a nice finished look. Most of the competitions vga coolers have four heatpipes that spread out and then run across the width of the cooler.

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The heatsink surface is nicely finished and is almost flat, dropping off in the four corners to make it slightly convex.

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The next step is to remove the stock cooler from my 4870 and prepare to mount the Musashi in its place.

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Remove the ten screws that hold the cooler/fan body on the card and then the four screws and back plate that hold the gpu cooler in place. Once this is done it all comes off without any issues.

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The pink strips and the white strip are thermal pads that play an important part in cooling the voltage regulators etc. They maintain contact with the red cooler body, various chips and transfer their heat to it to be dissipated by the fan.

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Here is a HIS 4870 in its naked glory, you can see some gunk lodged on various chips; everything must be squeaky clean prior to the Musashi install.

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Next I mocked up the new cooler to the card to check for clearance, I have plenty of room but I still need to mount the heatsinks then recheck the clearances. In this view you can see the side detail of the aluminum heat sink that is directly above the cooler base.

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When you unpack the mounting kit it becomes apparent that you have more heatsinks than you will need as this is a “one size fits all” style of cooler. I surfed around the internet as well as used the instructions to decide where to best apply the heatsinks. The four mounting posts complete with circular nuts can be seen, the backplate, also a copper spacer to be used to gain additional clearance between the cooler and the card if needed. TIM is also supplied.


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I cleaned off the surface of the chips with 99% alcohol, peeled off the thermal tape backing and firmly pressed on the heatsinks. Once in place they all stayed put without any issues.

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I again mocked up the cooler, clearances were fine, and I did not need to use the copper spacer that comes with the kit

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Next you need to flip over the cooler and thread the mounting posts into the corresponding holes that align with you particular card and position your card onto the cooler. In this instance I used Arctic Cooling MX-2 TIM to mount it with.

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One thing you can see here is the clearance around the mounting studs through the holes in the card itself. This unfortunately allows some movement of the cooler on the card; it will wiggle back and forth.

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The back plate goes on with the rubber pad against the PCB, followed by the circular nuts.

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As I mentioned above there was some movement due to the clearance between the card holes and the diameter of the studs, so I put washers under the nuts to hold the cooler on tighter. This did help, but you can still move the cooler on the card.

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Here is a shot with the fans removed to show the fitment on the card. Just a note here, the fan mounting brackets fit into slots on the fins, and due to the thinness of these fins you must be very careful when removing or installing fans. The fins bend very easily and the potential is there to mess these up. Note the aluminum heatsink directly above the base.You can see the cooler is longer than the card by 25mm to the polished cap at the end of the heatpipes. You have to check your case beforehand for clearance.

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Here is a shot of the fans in their stock location, note the gap between the fans and over the heat sinks, this caused cooling problems for me when stress testing this setup, more on that later.

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Testing

Once finished, I put the reconfigured card into my rig and began testing the card. The test rig is as follows;

  • Intel Q9450 Processor
  • Asus P5Q Deluxe Motherboard
  • Mushkin XP PC2-8000 Redline 2 x 2 GB
  • PC Power and Cooling Silencer 750 Quad PSU
  • HIS Radeon 4870 GPU
  • Top Deck Tech Station
  • Arctic Cooling MX-2 High Performance Thermal Compound
I used OCCT version 3.0.1 to give the 4870 a workout for an hour and to record temperatures. The first test was with the stock cooler at an ambient temp of 18C, you can see it idled at 45-46C and topped out at 80-82C. The fan ramped up to about 50% and was noticeably loud.

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After the install of the Musashi I tried to run the same test but the card kept locking up with an ominous red LED glowing on the back of the card. Research proved this to be the D601 LED warning of critical component overheating.
Remember the gap between the fans? I suspected that the heat sinks on the chips were not getting enough air over them but the fans could only be moved slightly sideways which did not help, the card kept locking up under testing. I had both Scythe 100mm fans running at top speed but it was not enough to cool the heat sinks affixed to the components on the card. Unfortunately replacing the included 100mm fans for something more robust would not be very easily done due to the style of the fan clips and the fragility of the fins. A good thing about the Scythe fans is that they are much quieter than the stock fan and can be tailored to your cooling requirements with the fan controller.
In an attempt to isolate the lockup problem I clamped an 80mm Scythe fan to the side of the tech station pointing at the videocard and tried testing again. I ran the same test for an hour without lockups so airflow was definitely the culprit.
Finally after some head scratching I ran my finger on the back of the videocard while under load and made note of any hotspots that I felt. I put more heatsinks on any chips that were associated with these higher temperatures and basically anything else I could stick a heatsink on. I removed the 80mm fan from the tech station and tried testing again. With these added heatsinks on the card would complete the tests underscoring the importance of having lots of heatsinks in the right places.

Here the idle temps are 32-33C for a drop of 13C+- and load temps of 57-58C for a drop of 25C+-.

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Conclusion

The Scythe Musashi, on this 4870, does a good job of cooling the gpu and an adequate job of cooling the card components. I think if you tried to overclock this card you may run into problems with this cooler but it may take something as simple as judicious use of aftermarket copper heatsinks to overcome component overheating. If you are looking for a quieter cooling solution for your graphics card and lower temperatures, then this cooler works well. If you are looking for a heavy duty solution for overclocking you may have some tweaking in store for you.
The GPU cooler itself works very well as you can see by the 25C temperature reduction, but it is unfortunate that the fans cannot be easily upgraded. In my opinion a little more airflow is needed and would really make this cooler shine. Also, one problem with this style of cooler is that all the heated air is no longer exhausted out the back of the card, but will stay inside your case so you will need good case cooling.

Pros
-Easy to mount on a variety of video cards
-Provides better cooling than stock coolers under moderate use
-Quieter than stock coolers
-Competitive pricing
-Fan controller is included
-Extra heatsinks provided

Cons
-Difficult to use any fans other than what is provided.
-Loose fit on video card due to clearances between mounting holes and studs.
-Fins are thin and easily bent.
-Instructions are sketchy concerning heatsink placement
-Heat from the cooler is exhausted into the computer case.


As it stands the Scythe Musashi cooler delivers on its performance and noise reduction promises and I give this my recommendation.
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Last edited by stoanee; May 29, 2009 at 10:49 PM.
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