Scythe Katana 4 And Thermalright TRUE Spirit 90 (Part 3)

5/11/2013 7:20:57 PM

Testbed configuration and testing methodology

We have tested both coolers in a closed system with the following configuration:

·         Mainboard: Intel Siler DX79SI (Intel X79 Express, LGA 2011, BIOS 0537)

·         CPU: Intel Core i7-3960X Extreme Edition, 3.3 GHz, 1.2 V, 6 x 256 KB L2, 15 MB L3 (Sandy Bridge-E, C1, 32 nm)

·         Thermal interface: ARCTIC MX-4

·         Graphics card: Gigabyte GeForce GTX 650 Ti 2 GB (GV-N65TOC-2GI)

·         System memory: DDR3 4 x 4GB Mushkin Redline (Spec: 2133 MHz / 9-11-10-28 / 1.65 V)

·         System drive: Crucial m4 256 GB SSD

·         Drive for programs and games: Western Digital VelociRaptor (300GB, SATA-II, 10000 RPM, 16MB cache, NCQ) inside Scythe Quiet Drive 3.5” HDD silencer and cooler

·         Backup drive: Samsung Ecogreen F4 HD204UI (SATA-II, 2 TB, 5400 RPM, 32 MB, NCQ)

·         System case: Antec Twelve Hundred (front panel: three Noiseblocker NB-Multi-frame S-Series MF12-S2 fans at 1020 RPM; back panel: two Noiseblocker NB-BlackSilent PRO PL-1 fans at 1020 RPM; top panel: standard 200 mm fan at 400 RPM)

·         Control and monitoring panel: Zalman ZM-MFC3

·         Power supply: Seasonic SS-1000XP Active PFC F3 1000 W (with a default 120 mm fan)

For our tests, we overclocked 6 processors with the starting clocking frequency set at 125 MHz, multiplier of 34x and “Load-line calibration” activated up to 4.25 GHz. The nominal processor Vcore was increased to 1.35 V in the BIOS mainboard. After that, we checked the new cooler at even higher the frequency settings and voltage. The Turbo Boost was disabled during the tests, and the Hyper-Threading technology was enabled to increase the heat spreading. The memory voltage was at 1.65 V and its frequency was 2,000 MHz with the time period of 9-11-10-28. All of other parameters are available in the BIOS mainboard and related to the CPU or unchanged memory overclocking.

All of the tests were operated on the Windows 7 Ultimate x64 SP1 OS. We used the following software during our tests.

·         LinX AVX Edition version 0.6.4 – to load the processor (memory - 4500 MB, Problem Size – 24234, two 11-minute cycles)

·         Real Temp GT version 3.70 – to monitor the temperatures of the processor core

·         Intel Extreme Tuning Utility version – to monitor and visually control all system parameters during the overclocking process

Therefore, given is the picture describing the whole test session.

The screenshot

The screenshot

The CPU was loaded by two continuous LinX AVX testing runs with the setting mentioned above. The stable period for the CPU’s temperature between two testing cycles is 8 to 10 minutes. We took the highest temperature recorded to sketch the graph. Moreover, we also provide a table with the recorded temperature for all cores including their average values. The surround temperature was checked beside the system case with an electrical thermometer with the accuracy of 0.1°C, supporting the temperature changing process every 6 hours. The room temperature during the test fluctuated from 21.6 to 22 °C.

The noise level of each cooler was measured between 1:00 to 3:00 pm in a closed room which was 20m2 using an electronic noise level measurement CENTER-321. As the result, the only noise sources were the cooler and its fan. Installed on a tripod was a noise meter, which was kept 150 mm far away from the fan rotor of the cooler. The tested cooler was located at the edge of the table, on the polyurethane foam. The lowest noise recorded by our noise meter was 29.8 dBA and the most comfortable noise level, subjectively, in this testing condition was about 36 dBA (without mixing with the lower noise level). The rotation speed was adjusted within the regulated range, using our controller, by changing the voltage with 0.5°C increment.

We inteded to compared the cooling performance and noise level of Scythe Katana 4 and Thermalright TRUE Spirit 90 with Thermalright TRUE Spirit 120 which has one default fan:

The Thermalright TRUE Spirit 120

The Thermalright TRUE Spirit 120


Cooling performance

Following are the results of our tests, displaying via table and graph. Unlike any of our previous evaluation, they are classified into three temperature categories for easier analysis: below 80°C, from 81°C to 90°C and above 90°C.

Testing results

Testing results

The graph

The graph

It should be kept in mind that such compact coolers with an affordable price from Scythe and Thermalright encounter with a 6-core overclocked CPU, are already an achievement. Of course, $25-30 cooler like Katana or TRUE Spirit 90 is almost not a solution for a $1000 CPU to overclock it, but our testing results suggest that they can cope with any other CPU which spreads less temperature like Intel Core i7-3960X Extreme Edition overclocked up to 4.25 GHz at 1.35 V. That is really an impressive performance.

The differences between Katana 4 and TRUE Spririt 90 are relatively minor. At the peak speed of the fan, the maximum temperatures of both coolers are similar to each other (79°C). At 2,000 RPM, the Katana 4 is 3°C better. The difference is cut down to 2°C at 1600 RPM, but the TRUE Spirit 90 becomes the leader with 1°C better at 1,400 and 1,200 RPM. Therefore, two coolers are almost the same in terms of performance. When their 92 mm operate at the speed below 1,200 RP, the coolers cannot manage the overclocked 6-core CPU.

Compared to the Thermalright TRUE Spirit 120, Katana 4 and TRUE Spirit 90 is $8-10 cheaper, but the maximum CPU temperature is 7-13°C higher, depends on the fan’s speed. It is your decision whether the difference in price offsets the difference in the temperature.


We measured the noise of each cooler throughout the entire speed range of their fans, and here are the results:

Noise measurement

Noise measurement

Opposite to the previous testing performance, Scythe Katana 4 and Thermalright TRUE Spirit 90 are clearly different in terms of noise level. The Katana 4 still keeps its subjectively comfortable feeling when its 92 mm fan rotates at the speed of 1650 RPM while TRUE Spirit 90 just keeps that comfort at the speed of 1,390 RPM. The Katana 4 becomes inaudible at 1,420 RPM or lower and TRUE Spirit 90 at 1,010 RPM only.

The Scythe seems to be better than Theralright from the same subjective standpoint. The Thermalright creates some rattling at the speed of 900-1450 RPM. Thermalright should equip the TRUE Spirit 90 with a better fan, unless it is the only drawback of our particular sample.


It is proven that Scythe Katana 4 and Thermalright TRUE Spirit 90 indeed have high performance, keeping our 6-core overclocked stable with the clocking rate up to 4250 MHz. Therefore, each of them is potentially suitable not only for normal PC desktops but also for overclocking configuration, unless you plan to set some overclocking records. It is quite attractive when considering their compact dimension, weight and affordable price. Both products feature the wide range of compatibility and easy installation. Their availability is also not a big problem. TRUE Spirit 90 is smaller but the Katana 4 is better in noise level. However, any of these two coolers can possibly be an excellent solution for any moderately overclocking PC. Low price but high quality, Scythe Katana 4 and Thermalright TRUE Spirit 90 is really a bargain.

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