Scythe Mugen 5 CPU Cooler with Sealed Precision FDB Kaze Flex 120mm PWM Fan (SCMG-5100)
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- Ram modules with large passive heat sinks are no problem for the Mugen 5 Rev. B
- Kaze Flex 120 PWM Fan
- The updated Hyper Precision Mounting System II now features full compatibility to AMDs new AM4 platform
- B package also includes an extra long screwdriver for easy mounting
- Mounting parts for Intel and AMD sockets, fan, fan clips, thermal grease, installation manual
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- Strong performance for a relatively compact and quiet cooler
- Extensive socket compatibility, including AM4
- Easy installation
- Comes with thermal paste, tall screwdriver, and extra fan clip
- No RAM/PCIe clearance issues
- Solid construction
- 154.5 mm height works with most desktop cases
- Great alternative to "slim tower" coolers in some SFF cases
- Fan rated for long life
- Second fan (not included) yields meaningful improvement
- Included thermal paste is fairly viscous
- Some fin edges a little sharp
- Fan has average energy efficiency
- Depth compatibility on mini-ITX boards tough to ascertain
- 2 year warranty
- Only way to get a matched fan is another Mugen 5
- One unit came with tiny nicks on contact surface, QC issue?
- Put the Mugen 5 on your shortlist unless you require a very small, very large, or very budget cooler
The Full Story
I purchased two Scythe Mugen 5 coolers. The first to replace a Cooler Master Hyper 212 EVO when upgrading from an Intel i5-6600k to an i7-6700k on my primary desktop. This system uses an Asus Z170-A motherboard and Corsair Graphite 230T midtower case. The second Mugen 5 went into a new small form factor (SFF) system running the 6600k. It has an ASRock Z170 Gaming-ITX/ac motherboard and Fractal Design Node 304 case. Photos for this review indicate the relevant system.
The Mugen 5 is a solidly constructed heatsink with 6 heat pipes and a nickel-plated copper contact surface, to which 120mm fans can be clipped on either side. A single fan, but two sets of fan clips, are included. The heatsink's dimensions are 130 x 154.5 x 85 mm (WxHxD), and installing the included fan (27mm deep) increases total cooler depth to 110mm due to a 2mm inset. The mass, including fan, is 890 g (1.96 lbs). The Mugen 5's contact surface is a near mirror, but one of the two I received had a dozen tiny nicks that the other did not. A few of these nicks are visible in an included photo, but due to the angle not all of them. I saw no evidence these affected performance, but it may point to a minor QC issue.
The 39 fins, with a thicker top one bearing the Scythe logo, are set relatively far apart compared to other heatsinks, suggesting a a design for lower static pressure fans. Some fin edges are a little sharp, and in a moment of careless handling gave me a small cut. Two fin cutouts for reaching screws run through all layers, and some lower fins are truncated on the rear side for RAM compatibility with LGA-2011 sockets. The heatsink itself is perched asymmetrically behind the CPU socket so that even with the fan installed no part of the cooler overhangs RAM installed in the front, and on the rear there is room for modules up to roughly 60 mm tall. This is essentially perfect RAM compatibility. The modest width of the cooler should also avoid conflicting with a graphics card installed in the nearest PCIe slot on any mainstream motherboard.
The Mugen 5's 154.5 mm height will fit most desktop cases, and many SFF ones. Fortunately, every modern case clearly indicates the maximum safe height so compatibility is easy to determine. Due to the asymmetric design, however, the heatsink extends a fair distance to the rear despite its overall modest depth. On larger motherboards this is no issue, but in my SFF system the case exhaust fan is only a millimeter or two away (see photo). On the one hand that is a near optimal use of space and bodes well for performance, but on the other it is cutting things very close. The major problem is that frustratingly few motherboard makers indicate exact socket locations, so compatibility may be difficult to ascertain with certainty beforehand. I hope Scythe did their motherboard homework. For reference, the distance from the center of the CPU socket to the back of the heatsink on the Mugen 5 is ~65.5 mm, compared to 67.5 mm on the Noctua NH-D15 and 61.5 mm on the Be Quiet! Dark Rock Pro 3, which are far larger coolers overall. Using a "slim tower" cooler obviates depth concerns, of course, but even in many small cases leaves space that could be better utilized.
The Mugen 5 supports the following sockets:
Intel LGA 775/115x/1366/2011(v3)
Initial versions of the Mugen 5 did not include the AM4 bracket (Scythe will send one upon request) but it comes in the current revision's box. Intel's upcoming LGA 2066 is not currently listed by Scythe, but that socket's heatsink mounting is identical to LGA 2011 according to Noctua.
Fortunately, this broad compatibility is paired with an almost effortless installation due to thoughtful mounting design, the inclusion of all necessary accessories, and a sufficient instruction manual. In the course of testing I voluntarily reattached the heatsinks at least a half dozen times (different thermal paste applications, etc.), something I wouldn't dream of doing with the Hyper 212 EVO. The preinstalled crossbar is a nice touch, and including a screwdriver long enough to reach through the cutouts in the heatsink eliminates the need for a frustrating tool hunt. Be aware that, like all high-pressure mounting systems, installing the backplate requires access to the back of the motherboard. A tiny portion of the backplate's rubber side did impinge on the edge of a circuit too close to the mounting holes in the mini-ITX build. I solved this by cutting out about a square millimeter of the rubber.
The included tube of thermal paste has enough for at least several applications. It is a little more viscous than Noctua NT-H1 and much more viscous than the paste included with the 212 EVO, which made it a little more difficult to apply with the "line method" than those. Fortunately, achieving even contact with the CPU heat spreader is easy with only two screws (both spring loaded) to worry about. Alternating screws works, but I also achieved good results by grabbing a second screwdriver and turning both simultaneously at the same rate.
Fan installation uses simple but effective fan clips, and as already noted the Mugen 5 comes with an extra set. The fan can be uninstalled while the heatsink remains in place as long as there is room to apply a little leverage to the clips. The included fan, a 120 mm Scythe Kaze Flex 120 PWM (SU1225FD12M-CHP) with a fluid dynamic bearing rated for an impressive 120,000 hours, is rather interesting. A graph of the fan's PWM response and my subjective appraisal of its noise are included in the review images. In short: very quiet below 1000 RPM, noticeable above that, and even at full speed far quieter than the 212 EVO's 2000 RPM fan that was a big reason I decided to get another cooler in the first place. When designing a fan profile note that it reaches full RPM around 80% duty cycle. The fan has noise-dampening silicone corner mountings and a characteristic sound I'd describe as a pleasant "whoosh." What it doesn't have is availability: at present if you want an identical fan the only way to get one is to buy another Mugen 5.
Now, while its speed of 300-1200 RPM keeps noise under control, the maximum airflow and static pressure of just 51 CFM and ~1 mmH20, respectively, are superficially underpowered compared to typical heatsink fans. It's also not particularly efficient: at full speed it consumes 1.56 W, more than twice as much as the 1500 RPM Noctua NF-F12 (0.6 W) but less than the 212 EVO's fan (2.6 W). However, at max the airflow per unit power is about equal for the Mugen 5 and 212 EVO fans, while the Noctua is nearly 3 times as efficient. Of course, fan power is a rounding error when overclocking, so let's see how well it does when the watts flow like wine.
To test the Mugen 5 I ran Prime95 28.10 (Small FFT, 8 threads) on the 6700k for 15 minutes with VCore (actual delivered voltage) between 1.23-1.39 V and frequencies of 4.3-4.6 GHz, and recorded the maximum core temperature reported by HWMonitor. The ambient temperature remained near 21 C. I tested several configurations:
1) Stock Mugen 5 fan (1200 RPM)
2) Noctua NF-F12 (1500 RPM)
3) Noctua NF-F12 w/ low noise adapter (1300 RPM)
4) Two stock fans (similar to the Mugen 5-PCGH available in Europe)
5) Stock Mugen 5 fan w/ hyper-threading disabled (4 threads only, approximates a 6600k)
Fan speed was fixed to maximum for all tests. The low noise adapter I had on hand lowered the stock fan's max speed to a puny 650 RPM, so I elected not to run those trials. These tests were performed without reapplying the thermal paste. I later repeated a few trials using Noctua NT-H1 thermal paste and saw no evidence of a difference in thermal performance.
In order to truly stress the heatsink some of these trials reach temperatures not recommended for prolonged use: Prime95 28.10 Small FFT is a very intense workload, one that results in temperatures 10-20 C higher than a typical user will ever see at the same voltage and frequency. That makes it a controversial tool for testing CPU stability, but an excellent one for pushing a cooler to its limits. See the included graph for results.
It is generally recognized that, for a voltage lying somewhere between 1.3 V and 1.4 V, nearly all 6700ks are stable at 4.6 GHz, many at 4.7 GHz, and some at 4.8 GHz. The Mugen 5 is able to run Prime95 Small FFT at these voltages without throttling, and on more typical workloads core temps are unlikely to exceed 70 C (nearer 1.3 V) or 80 C (nearer 1.4 V). When run at completely stock settings my 6700k has VCore 1.264-1.280V in Prime95 and max temps in the low 70s, consistent with the graph for those voltages. While I don't have high-end coolers to test against (and thus can't make a definite statement), these results are qualitatively comparable to some mid-tier water coolers, and not far off what the largest air coolers can achieve. Astonishingly, the Mugen 5 does this with a 1200 RPM fan that is a fair bit quieter than the 1500-2000 RPM fans common on tower coolers.
One can see that the popular high static pressure Noctua NF-F12 fan yields slightly better temps than the Mugen 5 fan, but to my ear it is also a little louder at equal RPM, so I consider it a wash. The Mugen 5 seems to do well with a low static pressure fan, but unfortunately I do not have a high-quality one like the Noctua NF-P12 or NF-S12A (both quieter than the NF-F12) around to test. Adding a second fan does yield meaningful cooling headroom, but it is neither necessary nor very easy to obtain.
Finally, we see that with hyper-threading off one could push past 1.4 V with the Mugen 5 on a well-sampled 6600k. Now, the 6600k I actually have isn't golden, with one core running 5-10 C hotter than the others so I didn't push it terribly far. However, I have Prime95 Small FFT (4 threads) results for that exact chip running both the Mugen 5 and the 212 EVO at 1.328 V and 4.4 GHz. In short, the 212 EVO hits 85 C and sounds like a small tornado, while the Mugen 5 with the stock fan hits 77 C at a far more tolerable volume. That is a worthwhile improvement.
As long as everything keeps working, of course! The Mugen 5's warranty is 2 years, in line with the 1-3 common to air coolers, but mildly disappointing given the fan (the part most likely to need service) is rated for over 13 years. Noctua is sector leader here with a standard 6-year warranty.
What is the denouement? The 6700k is running 4.6 GHz at 1.33 V using both Mugen 5 fans on a profile that, for my typical loads, keeps temps below 70 C while rarely exceeding 900 RPM. This is admittedly a niche setup. Meanwhile, the 6600k is running 4.4 GHz at 1.33 V with the Mugen 5 heatsink and Noctua NF-F12 stepping in for fan duties.
In conclusion, I am very pleased with the Mugen 5 and believe it could deservedly become a staple mid-tier cooler. It offers formidable thermal and noise performance in a relatively compact package. The downsides are minimal in comparison, although in small form factor systems be mindful (as always) of dimensions. If you are looking at air-based cooling the Scythe Mugen 5 deserves serious consideration unless you require a cooler that is very small, very large, or very budget. For me it has been a worthwhile investment in peace and quiet whilst meeting overclocking goals.
- Attractive design (especially with the aluminum caps).
- Fan quality is surprisingly good (PWM, attractive, rubber corners, braided cable).
- 100% RAM compatibility.
- Easy installation.
- Intuitive instructions.
- Pre-installed 115x mounting bracket.
- Comes with thermal paste/grease.
- Comes with magnet Phillips screwdriver.
- Extra fan clips if you ever want to add a second fan.
- Honestly? None.
I upgraded my RAM to Klevv Urbane 2800. The heatsink on them are very tall so then I needed a new CPU cooler. I retired my Noctua NH-D14 because it wouldn’t fit the new RAM. I stumbled onto the Scythe Mugen 5 on some tech news. What struck me was two things: the attractive design and its new redesign for 100% RAM compatibility. Too bad it wasn’t sold here in the States until recently. Even emailed Scythe but got no reply.
All I have to say is that I love it. A crucial thing I loved about my Noctua NH-D14 was the easy installation. Re-installed that thing many times because of upgrades to my PC. I’ve worked with the (overrated) Cooler Master Hyper 212 EVO three times and it was a pain every time. Had the Be Quiet! Pure Rock Slim (another attractive cooler) but it used the stock Intel leggings, and that was a pain, too.
But not here. The Mugen 5 was just as easy as the NH-D14. Doesn’t touch my RAM at all even with the fan attached. It even pre-installed the 115x mounting for you (but still comes with AMD and older mountings). It came with a lengthy Phillips head screwdriver. The instructions were a single piece of folded paper with intuitive diagrams.
Another thing that impressed me was the fan. I like the black/grey color scheme. The corners have rubber mountings for that extra sound dampening. Even the cable is tastefully sleeved. The fan is quiet when spinning, and has PWM for speed control.
In my opinion, I think anyone looking to get the most out of their money should get a good air cooler. They compete equally if not better than against all-in-one liquid coolers which are usually pricier. Liquid coolers will beat big air coolers but at a much higher premium.
I’ll update this review in a few months.
- Good clearance for RAM with the offset design of the heat pipes
- Looks pretty nice installed in a windowed case
- Comes with a tube of thermal paste which has enough material for ~3-4 applications depending on technique
- Keeps my i7700k cool. 25 C idle and 65-72 C in the AIDA64 Extreme FPU stress test. Comparable to my previous popular brand 240mm radiator AIO cooler but with fewer points of failure and less noise
- Heavy, but not as heavy as popular dual tower coolers
- Fan is quiet enough for my tastes. YMMV
The fan clips bent some of the cooling fins while trying to clip them on with my huge manhands working inside my case.
Screwing down the heatsink is a bit scary as the resistance of the screws begins to feel very tight relatively quickly, though there is an obvious point of stoppage where you'd need to apply gorilla strength to go any further (that's a good point to stop).