Scythe Ninja 4 CPU Cooler

Scythe Company Logo Founded in 2002 within the Akihibara district of Tokyo, Japan, Scythe is a global distributor and manufacturer of high quality computer parts.  With offices in the USA and Germany, in addition to R&D facilities in Taiwan in China, Sycthe has grown from their humble beginnings and today are well known with PC enthusiasts around the world.   While known for producing excellent heatsinks with an emphasis on quiet operation, Scythe perhaps is best known for their amazing Gentle Typhoon series of fans.  With the Ninja 4 CPU cooler that we are reviewing today, Scythe is attempting to remind enthusiasts that they can provide excellent CPU cooling solutions at an amazing value. While Intel continues to make strides in reducing the heat output of their CPU's, the popularity of aftermarket CPU cooling applications are at an all time high.  Since Intel has never chosen to remedy the poor stock cooler included with their processor, any user who wants to overclock or run a stock CPU comfortably in high performance scenarios is going to be looking towards an aftermarket cooling solution.  While AIO units have become popular, there is still an appreciable amount of users who refuse to liquid cool their CPU's, leaving a market for high performance air coolers. Scythe Ninja 4 with Glide Stream 120mm fan Today, we will be looking at the Scythe Ninja 4, a stylish and somewhat uniquely designed cooler with large aluminum cooling towers and a high quality Scythe GlideStream fan that reaches a maximum of 29.5 dBA at 1500 RPM.  The Ninja 4 should be more than adequate for cooling overclocked I7 CPU's a respectable amount and we will be testing its capability on the Intel I7 4790K  Let's take a look at the packaging for the Ninja 4 before we dig into the heatsink, though.
Scythe Ninja 4 CPU Cooler Specifications
Model Number Scythe Ninja 4 (SCNJ-4000)
SOCKET SUPPORT: Intel: LGA775, LGA1150, LGA1155, LGA1156, LGA1366, LGA2011, LGA2011v3 (square ILM) AMD: AM2, AM2+, AM3, AM3+, FM1, FM2, FM2+
HEATSINK: Material: Aluminum (Fins) Copper (Heatpipes & Base) Dimensions: 130 mm x 155 mm x 153 mm Heatpipes: Ø6 mm - 6pcs Weight: 900 g (w/fan)
FANS: Model: GlideStream 120 PWM (SY1225HB1212H-PS) Dimensions: 120 x 120 x 25 mm Noise Level: L: 4,0 ~ 12,5 dBA M: 4,0 ~ 23,5 dBA H: 4,0 ~ 29,5 dBA Air Flow: L:  21,97 ~ 73,90 m³/h | 12.93 ~ 43.50 CFM M: 21,97 ~ 73,90 m³/h | 12.93 ~ 63.73 CFM H: 21,97 ~ 73,90 m³/h | 12.93 ~ 84.64 CFM Fan Speed: L:  300 upm (±300) ~ 800 upm (±10% M: 300 upm (±300) ~ 1150 upm (±10%) H: 300 upm (±300) ~ 1500 upm (±10%)
FEATURES Three-dimensional Multiple Airflow Pass-through Structure Glide Stream 120 mm PWM Fan Flexible Fan Mounting User-friendly Installation System
WARRANTY: Two Years
MSRP: $55.99
Scythe Ninja 4 Retail Packaging Scythe ships the Ninja 4 in an attractive, well-made black box that features a hooded ninja on the front, standing in front of the moon.  The image of the ninja standing in front of the moon is more pronounced than the image of the heatsink itself, which is below the ninja moon imagery.  The only technical information or text on the front of the Ninja 4 box besides the model name is a list of compatible CPU sockets.  We are happy to see that support goes back to Intel LGA775 and AMD Socket AM2, both of which are a decade old at this point, while support for the latest sockets from Intel and AMD is also present.  Scythe has done a great job of providing support for multiple generations of CPU with the Ninja 4.  Unfortunately, recent news regarding Skylake CPU's being damaged when certain aftermarket heatsinks are used has caused concern from consumers. Bent Intel Skylake Processor Intel LGA1151 Skylake CPU's are subject to being damaged when heatsinks with aftermarket mounting mechanisms that provide too much pressure are used.  Intel kept the mounting weight specification the same between Haswell/Devils Canyon and Skylake (50 Pounds of static load with a 500 Gram maximum for the heatsink unit), meaning that Haswell/Devils Canyon compatible heatsinks should have worked without issue, but a thinner substrate being used on the newer processors appears to not be able to handle the weight presented by the mounts used with certain aftermarket heatsinks.  This issue does affect specific coolers from Scythe, notably the Mugen 4, Mugen 4 PCGH-Edition & Mugen Maxbut the Ninja 4 doesn't seem to be on their list of affected products.  Scythe released this official statement regarding the issue with Skylake CPU's being bent by their heatsinks:
Japanese cooling expert Scythe announces a change of the mounting system for Skylake / Socket 1151 on several coolers of its portfolio. All coolers are compatible with Skylake sockets in general, but bear the possibility of damage to CPU and motherboard in some cases where the PC is exposed to strong shocks (e.g. during shipping or relocation). This problem particularly involves only coolers which will mounted with the H.P.M.S. mounting system. To prevent this, the mounting pressure has been reduced by an adjustment of the screw set. Of course, Scythe is going to ship a the new set of screws to every customer completely free of charge! 
It is good to see Scythe stand behind their products and I am sure if the Ninja 4 were to be found later to suffer from this issue, Scythe would be fast to remedy it.  We did not have access to a Skylake-based system for this review to test functionality, but we've been assured that the Ninja 4 is compatible with Skylake with the existing mounting hardware shipped with the unit and that users who buy the cooler won't need to contact Scythe for replacement mounting hardware.  Scythe backs the Ninja 4 with a two year warranty covering defects, though there is very little that I could foresee happening to this unit that would cause a user to warranty it, it's nice to have peace of mind and know you can get support for your products, should you need it. Scythe Ninja 4 Marketing Information The right side of the box provides specifications and descriptions of the various features of the Ninja 4, including their latest evolution, the awkwardly-named Three-dimensional Multiple Airflow Pass-through Structure, or the much easier to remember T.M.A.P.S.  Simply put, T.M.A.P.S. is a feature on the Ninja 4 that allows airflow to move through the heatsinks channels and escape from each side of the heatsinks, which Scythe says helps improve performance. Ninja 4 specifications on the retail packaging Scythe chose to use the opposite side of the box in order to provide illustrations of the unit itself, including full dimension information, which can come in very handy when planning system builds out.  In addition, Scythe includes the specifications for the 120mm Glide Stream fan that is included with the Scythe 4 in various languages. Rear of Scythe Ninja 4 box On the rear of the box, we have warranty information for the Ninja 4.  Scythe has two different URL's printed on the rear of the box that end users can visit for support, one for customers in Japan and one for customers here in the states and other non-Japan regions. The inside of the Ninja 4 box is very basic The Ninja 4 packaging does leave a bit to be desired, as the only protection for the heatsink is the box and Styrofoam insert that the heatsink sits in, along with a thin piece of cardboard on top of the heatsink.  The included documentation has full, well-written, illustrative instructions on how to install the Ninja 4 on your motherboard, so there's no problems there.   I do have worries that the unit could be damaged in transit, which would be a shame, as the Ninja 4 is truly a great looking heatsink and I am a bit bothered that Scythe didn't take just a bit more pride in the packaging materials on this product. Scythe Ninja 4 accessory kit The Ninja 4 comes with all of the necessary mounting hardware and the tools needed to mount the heatsink to your motherboard.  Thermal compound is also included with the Ninja 4, though it is a basic Scythe-branded thermal paste that we aren't sure of the quality of.  For our testing, we will be using our own thermal paste, for consistency purposes.  The inclusion of tools was really nice, as they are standard tools that can be reused for other purposes.  The long Phillips head screwdriver included is especially handy for system builds, so I definitely appreciate that being included.  The included mounting hardware is really solid and Scythe has even included an extra set of clips to mount an additional fan on the Ninja 4, though the performance benefit of these types of setups is typically very negligible vs. the single fan setup. Overall, the packaging and included accessories for the Ninja 4 are solid, though I did mention the concern about the box not providing enough protection for the unit.  The mounting hardware, clips, tools and screw kit were all high quality pieces that look like they will last through multiple installations, should you decide to go that route.  Now, we'll take a closer look at the Scythe Ninja 4 and the included Glide Stream 120mm fan.

Scythe Ninja 4 CPU Cooler - A Closer Look

Scythe Ninja 4 without a fan installed Scythe was able to include more fins (36) in the design of the Ninja 4 versus its predecessor while dropping the weight of the unit, as the Ninja 3 weighed in at slightly over 1000 grams with a fan, while the Ninja 4 weighs in at 900 grams with the fan installed and 780 grams without it.  The low resistance provided by the open design of the towers should lend this cooler well to low noise performance, which is a staple of Scythe products.  The Scythe Ninja 4 is definitely not a svelte unit, as said before, it does weigh in at 900 grams once a fan has been installed, which is just shy of two pounds. Scythe Ninja 4 view with air slots The Ninja 4 is composed of two separate aluminum fin cooling towers that cross each other diagonally, with six nickel-plated copper heatpipes each running across the towers.  Each set of heatpipes connects to the opposite side of the two-piece tower design.  You will notice there are spaces between the fin stacks on each side, which allow for air channeling, along with screwdriver access to secure the heatsink to the mount.  This is a very clean looking, functional design from Scythe and it certainly improves upon the design of the Ninja 3, offering a much cleaner look and improved performance.  Unfortunately, the sheer size of the heatsink will limit its use in certain applications. Top of Scythe Ninja 4 heatsink There is a shuriken (ninja star) stamped across the top layer of fins on the Ninja 4 and in my opinion, it looks really awesome and pictures do not do this cooler justice.  On the top layer of fins, you can see the ends of each heatpipe, which have been nicely nickel plated, along with the rest of the unit. Scythe Ninja 4 cooler polished base The heatpipes on the Ninja 4 do not directly contact the CPU, rather they are connected to a copper base that is nickel plated.  The bottom of the base has a very clean, nicely polished surface. Scythe Ninja 4 polished base from a different angle While you could certainly attempt to lap the surface on the Ninja 4, the surface is just fine as shipped and you can definitely tell that Scythe put good care into their manufacturing and QC process with the Ninja 4 from top to bottom. Ninja 4 base with groove for crossbar The Ninja 4 attaches to the mounting hardware by using a crossbar that goes through the groove in the base.  As you can see, the groove has been nicely cut out and machined on the Ninja 4, provided a nice, large, stable surface for the cooler to be secured to the socket. Scythe Ninja 4 GlideStream 120mm fan Scythe is known for producing a quality fan and the fan included with the Ninja 4 is no exception.  The 120mm Glide Stream fan is rated to provide 55.5 CFM of air at 31dBA, which while not silent, is a good airflow to noise ratio.  The individual fins on the Glide Stream fans have grooves in them that reduce wind turbulence and noise, in theory.  The four pin cable for the fan is sleeved with a braided cord that gives it a nice aesthetic appeal over bare fan wires, for sure. Scythe GlideStream 120mm fan speed switch There is a small switch on the fan that will allow users to select between 1500, 1150 and 800 RPM operation, with only the highest speed being audible when sitting a couple of feet from the case.  The open nature of the Ninja 4 means that the heatsink provides low airflow resistance, which helps reduce noise output. Scythe Ninja 4 with Glide Stream fan installed Once we've mounted the fan, the  Ninja 4 certainly looks great.  The Glide Stream 120mm fan had no trouble installing with the included clips and the fan looks great on the Ninja 4, providing a nice contrast to the nickel plating of the heatsink itself. Scythe Ninja 4 with GlideStream 120mm fan The Ninja 4 is a large, beautiful looking heatsink that is very well made.  Every aspect of the unit feels solid and well-built, from the base, to the well-designed heatpipes, to the open fins that have a great polished look to them, there isn't anything about this heatsink that doesn't say 'quality.'  Now that we've taken a look at the Ninja 4, we're going to install it on our I7 4790K test bed and compare it to the high Noctua NH-D15, Corsair H100I GTX and CryoRig R1 Ultimate.  Also included in our testing results is the budget champion, the CoolerMaster Hyper 212 Evo.

Scythe Ninja 4 CPU Cooler - Installation

Intel Z97 Test Bench

Intel LGA 2011v3 Test Platform
Component Brand/Model Live Pricing

Processor

Core i7-4790K

Motherboard

MSI Z97 Gaming 5

Memory

Corsair Vengeance LP DDR3 1600MHz 16GB (2x8GB)

OS Drive

Samsung EVO 850 250GB

Power Supply

Corsair RM750

Operating System

Windows 10 64-Bit
Idle results recorded using RealTemp after sitting idle at desktop for 15 minutes.  Load temperatures were recorded after running 30 minutes of Prime 95.  All testing was done outside of the case with an ambient room temperature for 72 degrees.  We used Antec Formula 7 Nano Diamond thermal compound for all testing to ensure results were as accurate and apple-to-apples as possible, as the thermal interface material included varies from manufacturer to manufacturer and will even be changed on the same product between batches, as many heatsink manufacturers choose to not invest a lot in this particular area. Ninja 4 mounting bracket installed Installation of the Ninja 4 was simple and the cooler uses the Hyper Precision Mounting System (H.P.M.S) from Scythe that installs in just minutes.  After reading the instruction, we installed the backplate on our motherboard.  Once we positioned the backplate, the washers were positioned and the studs were screwed into the backplate.  After installing the backplate and mounting studs, we installed the mounting plates onto the mounting studs.  The mounting plates are well built and the mounting system feels very secure and sturdy, leaving me no worries that it will properly support the Ninja 4 for years to come, despite the weight of the heatsink.  The whole process of installing the backplate and mounting plates took just a couple of minutes and is the last preparation you will do before placing your thermal compound and positioning the cooler. Ninja 4 mounted using the included hardware Once we placed our thermal compound, we placed the Ninja 4 on our CPU and lined it up properly.  The Crossbar was then set across the base of the CPU and we used the screwdriver that was included with the Ninja 4 to secure the crossbar to the mounting plates.  This process was very simple and took just minutes, though installation inside of a case will be more cramped and take longer, naturally. Scythe Ninja 4 installed on motherboard, complete For our testing, we set the fan to blow through the heatsink and towards the IO ports of the motherboard.  This is how it will be set up in most situations, but the the Ninja 4 will allow the fan(s) to be installed in various orientations, depending on the end users configuration and personal choice. The Ninja 4 sits over the RAM The fins of the Ninja 4 extend to the second slot on our MSI Z97 Gaming 5 motherboard and the fan sits right over the rest of the memory slots, so users with tall heatspreaders won't be able to use the Ninja 4 in its default configuration. The Scythe Ninja 4 clears the VRM's on the MSI Z97 Gaming 5 motherboard The Ninja 4 is able to clear the VRM heatsinks on the Z97 Gaming 5 without issue.  Users with motherboards that have large VRM heatsinks will definitely want to research possible clearance issues before purchasing the Ninja 4.  Our first PCI-E slot is also able to still be used without interfering with the heatsink, which is known to be a problem with larger heatsinks. Let's take a look at temperature testing!

Scythe Ninja 4 CPU Cooler - Prime 95 Temperature Tests

Let's take a look at our temperature testing results under stock and overclocked conditions.  All heatsinks are tested with fans at 100%. stock temperature results Here, we see positive results, with the Ninja 4 matching up with the Hyper 212 Evo on the idle temperature reading. When running at stock settings, Prime 95 is still able to put quite a bit of stress on the CPU, causing the stock cooler to reach its thermal limitation.  The Ninja 4 was able to keep the CPU at 84 degrees maximum when running at stock speeds, which put our voltage to 1.224v with the CPU reaching the 4.4GHZ Turbo frequency specification of the I7 4790K when under full load. Overclocked Temperatures Our idle temps are in line with what we expected, besting out the stock solution and the Hyper 212 Evo, while trailing behind the more expensive CryoRig R1 Ultimate and Corsair H100I GTX units. We were very happy with the overclocked temperature results achieved by the Scythe Ninja 4.  It was able to handle our I7 4790K running at 1.265v, topping out at 91 degrees with the Glide Stream fan running at 100%, which is a bit high, but still under the 100C throttle limit.  The Glide Stream fan coupled with the design of the Ninja 4 really lends itself to low noise output, as you can barely hear the fan running.  Compare this the H100I GTX, which topped out at 85 degrees, but with the fans running at 100% to achieve these results, noise levels were unbearable.  Lowering the fan speed on the H100I GTX to Quiet gave it only a one degree performance benefit over the Ninja 4 running at 100%, but even at the Quiet setting, the Corsair H100I GTX was a louder unit, partly thanks to the pump noise provided by the unit. Keep in mind that the load temperatures we recorded under Prime 95 are a worse case scenario, as a system will never really reach the levels of stress put on by Prime 95 under normal usage.  For example, after an hour of playing Rainbow Six Siege at our overclocked settings, we found our CPU topped out at 67 degrees with the Ninja 4 installed and fan running at 100%.

Scythe Ninja 4 CPU Cooler - Conclusion

Scythe Ninja 4 installed on motherboard, angled shot Scythe has a longstanding reputation among PC enthusiasts for making high quality components that offer excellent performance at low noise levels.  The Ninja 4 continues this tradition and does so wonderfully, leaving us truly impressed with its performance and styling, along with ease of installation.  The style of the Ninja 4, while not over the top or particularly eye-catching, is aesthetically pleasing and gives the user an immediate indication that the Ninja 4 is a high quality product.  The towers are machined well and the unique design that has two towers crossing diagonally certainly seems to lend itself well to performance.  Including their 120mm Glide Stream PWM fan was a wise decision by Scythe, as the sound signature of the Ninja 4, even with the fan running at full RPM, is barely noticeable, while the airflow provided by the fan is more than adequate. The mounting mechanism included with the Ninja 4 was a pleasure to use, as it is simple, well-built and doesn't have any issues to note.  Installation on our LGA1150 based Z97 Gaming 5 from MSI took just a few minutes to complete, though we suspect it will take longer for users installing the Ninja 4 while the motherboard is already mounted in a case. The versatility and ability of the Ninja 4 to run on multiple platforms is also impressive, as Scythe has included support for every modern consumer CPU, stretching all the way back to LGA775 and AMD Socket AM2 support.  The fact that the Ninja 4 isn't going to cause damage to brand new Skylake processors is refreshing, while we also applaud Scythe for quickly addressing the issue with their older units that are affected.  The only issue we find is that due to the size of the Ninja 4, most motherboards will lose the ability to run RAM with tall heatspreaders, such as Corsair Dominator Series, so users should plan their memory purchase accordingly.  Also, given the size of the Ninja 4, you'd expect slightly better performance from the unit, but it's obvious that Scythe was leaning towards a low noise factor here, as they really opened up the fins on the Ninja 4 to make them non-restrictive.  In the end, I think they struck a great balance of performance and low noise. The only major thing holding back the Scythe Ninja 4 at this point seems to be availability.  The MSRP of $55.99 is spot-on, as while there are cheaper coolers that can perform on-par with the Ninja 4, they don't offer the blend of low noise performance the Ninja 4 is capable of.  The Ninja 4 performed well against our CryoRig R1 Ultimate and Corsair H100I GTX, both of which retail for at least $30 more than the Ninja 4.  The Ninja 4 is not going to break any performance records for cooling, but it runs damn quiet and would be perfect for a midrange system where quiet factor is paramount.  Our only hope is that Scythe can increase availability so that users craving a high performance, low noise heatsink from a reputable brand can get their hands on the Ninja 4 this holiday season, as it is truly a legit unit that will be welcome in the rigs of many enthusiasts. LR_Recommended Legit Bottom Line:  Scythe has produced a true winner with the stylish, low noise performance of the Ninja 4 heatsink and it improves upon the Ninja 3 in every way possible.  We only hope that stateside availability increases, as it is currently tough to find the Ninja 4 for sale here in the USA.