Scythe is a well known name in the PC cooling world; offering a complete line of CPU coolers, case fans, fan controllers, and a host of other accessories. Today we will be looking at the latest addition to their Katana line of CPU coolers, the Katana 4. This cooler is the fourth iteration of the Katana series, boasting a compact size as well as a completely redesigned heatsink and fin structure from its predecessors. With a price tag of just over $30, the Katana 4 is aimed squarely at those looking for an inexpensive way to improve CPU temperatures over the stock cooling options.
Specifications and Features
Here are the features and specifications as provided by Scythe:
|Model Name||Katana 4|
|Intel Compatibility||Socket LGA2011|
Socket T / LGA775
|AMD Compatibility||Socket 754|
|Dimensions||100 x 102.5 x 143 mm|
3.94 x 4.04 x 5.63 in
|Weight||480 g / 16.93 oz (including fan)|
|Accessories||2x Metal Assembly Clip (Intel)|
2x Metal Assembly Clip (AMD / 2011)
2x 2011 Retention Brackets
4x Retention Bracket Screws
|Base Plate Material||Nickel-plated copper|
|Fan Dimension||92 x 92 x 25 mm|
3.62 x 3.62 x 0.98 inch
|Fan Noise Level||7.2 – 31.07 dBA|
|Fan Air Flow||12 – 95 m³/h = 6.7 – 55.55 CFM|
|Fan Speed||300 – 2,500 rpm (regulated via PWM)|
|Static Pressure||7.35～22.46 Pa / 0.75～2.29 mmH2O|
Higher cooling performance is one of the characteristics of 4th generation Katana CPU cooler. The combination of 3 heatpipes, large fins and a PWM-controlled Slip Stream 92 mm fan ensures high-scale heat dissipation. A slightly angled fin structure, allows the airstream to hit the surface directly. Overall surface of the heatsink has been increased.
As it is common practice for all Scythe products, Katana 4 provides maximum compatibility. All current sockets are supported. Furthermore, a new generation one-touch clip system is launched with Katana 4 excelling in user friendliness and durability.
To be released in a completely new design, Katana 4 provides a new, modern look. The fan is situated right-angled to the motherboard and fins are tilted downward. Heatsink and Heatpipes are completely redesigned. Optical enhancements go hand in hand with practical improvements. Better cooling performance is one of them.
The bias of the new design originates in one simple question. How to build a new, modern looking Katana-style CPU cooler, without sacrificing the compact dimensions of its predecessor. Katana 4 transports this idea into reality. The measurements are very similar to Katana 3, allowing, as before, the use in limited space environments.
Packaging and Accessories
The Katana 4 comes in a box with a global feel to it, and does a good job explaining the features and specifications in a host of languages.
Once the box is opened you will find the Katana 4 well protected in its surroundings, by use of foam blocks.
Inside the box of accessories you will find a very detailed instruction sheet, thermal paste, the AMD mounting brackets, and mounting hardware for Intel platforms. You will notice by looking at the pictures below, there is a push-pin installation design applied to the Intel mounting brackets (socket 775, 1155, 1156, 1366). The push-pin design is identical to what you find on the stock Intel coolers, and while not the most popular of mounting designs, it certainly makes the installation process quick. To facilitate installation on the Intel socket 2011, the needed bolts and brackets are provided, along with a wrench to tighten the bolts.
Something worth noting for you AMD CPU users out there, the Katana 4 can only be installed in a vertical configuration. This means you will have to have the fan either blowing air towards the top of the case, or downward towards the video card. Obviously, the preferred method here would be to have it blowing air upwards towards the top of the case, and hopefully your case has a fan in the top deck you can use to exhaust the hot air.
Below are pictures showing the Katana 4 from several different angles. If you look closely at the side view, you will notice the aluminum fins are angled slightly downward. Scythe claims this “Aero Tuning Fin Structure” design results in better “air-to-fin” contact, and thus better cooling performance.
The single 92 mm fan included with the Katana 4 has a RPM range of 300 to 2500, and can be controlled by the PWM fan function in the motherboard’s BIOS. The holes needed for attaching a second fan (think push/pull) are there, but unfortunately a second set of fan retaining clips are not.
As we move our way to the nickle plated base of the Katana 4, we find an extremely flat and highly polished surface area. The Katana 4 utilizes three heatpipes which are routed through the base plate and up each side, at which point they are attached to the 42 aluminum fins.
Regardless of the platform you install the Katana 4 on, you begin with the four bracket mounting screws. These four screws are used to attach all the different brackets to the heatsink base. Because I will be installing the cooler on a P67 motherboard, I used the four screws to attach the brackets that match my platform. Attaching the brackets is quick and easy using a Phillips screw driver.
If you have ever installed a stock Intel CPU cooler, you will be quickly reminded why you dislike them. The installation of the Katana 4 on platforms that require the push-pin brackets can be a bit clumsy. This is mostly due to each end of the mounting bracket being slotted, which allows the push-pins to be aligned with the holes in the motherboard. The problem is there is no way to secure the push-pins in a position that matches your motherboard’s hole pattern, and they tend to move around as you try to position the cooler over your CPU. Luckily, if you are using the AMD or Intel’s socket 2011, no push-pin is involved with those installations.
Once the push-pins are seated, it’s good practice to inspect the back of the motherboard to make sure the pins are completely locked. I used memory modules that have tall heat spreaders on them, and while the fit is tight, the cooler did clear the heat spreaders. If all goes well, you should have something that looks like the pictures below.
The following components were used for testing:
- EVGA P67 FTW Motherboard
- G.SKill 2X4 Gb DDR3 1866Mhz Memory
- Kingston 3K SSD 240 Gb Hard Drive
- Intel i7 2600K Processor @ Stock and 4.5 GHz
I tested the Scythe Katana 4 at idle and load, using the stock speed and voltage. Then I overclocked the CPU to 4.5 Ghz @ 1.3v, and retrieved those idle and load temperatures. Fan speed was set to 100% to obtain the best results possible, doing this will allow us to see if there is any headroom to operate the fan at lower speeds. All testing was done in a room at 72° F, and I chose Arctic Silver Ceramique as the thermal interface material. LinX stress test was run for 10 passes and the highest temperature of all cores was recorded. I let the system sit idle for 30 minutes and again recorded the highest temperature reading from all cores. This same method was used on all comparison coolers as well.
Here are the results of the stock CPU speed/voltage test:
As you can see in the above chart, the Katana 4 falls well short of some higher end cooling options, but does manage a substantially better result than the Intel stock cooler. Considering the Katana 4 sells for less than a third the price of some of the comparison coolers, not a bad showing at all.
Next, I ramped up the CPU speed and voltage to 4.5 GHz and 1.3v, and here are those results:
The Katana 4 managed to keep the CPU at 80 °c, which is about as high as you want to take a i7 2600K. As you can see, there is a fair amount of head room to overclock with the Katana 4.
The Scythe Katana 4 is good looking, well-built, and offers an affordable alternative to a stock CPU cooler. Currently Newegg has the Katana 4 listed for $32.99, well below what you will pay for top of the line air cooling solutions. While the performance level of the Katana 4 is not up to par with higher end air coolers or all-in-one LCSs, the price isn’t either. When you consider the price vs. performance aspect, the Katana 4 is a good value. I like the fact you can do a reasonable amount of overclocking, and keep temperatures at an acceptable level, without having to spend twice or three times what this cooler costs.
The Intel style push-pins are not my favorite way of attaching a CPU cooler, but in all honesty they seem to do an adequate job. As mentioned earlier, if you use and AMD CPU or an Intel socket 2011, a better way of attaching the cooler is incorporated for those applications. About the only other thing I would like to see is perhaps including an additional set of fan clips for a second fan, thus allowing the user the option of a push/pull configuration.
Let’s face it, you don’t always need the best performing CPU cooler available for every system build. This is exactly the situation you would want to look at something like the Katana 4. Good performance at a great price is what you get here, and the reason I give it the Overclocker’s Approved rating.
– Dino DeCesari (Lvcoyote)