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Scythe Zipang 14cm fan “blow-down” CPU cooler

According to one web source, Zipang, “meaning land of gold or gods…”, was what the Portuguese first called the country known best to PC cooling fanatics today as the home of Scythe. Zipang, the topic of our review, is what Scythe has decided to call one of their latest big top-down CPU coolers.


June 1, 2008 by Lawrence Lee and Mike Chin

Product
Scythe Zipang
LGA775 & K8 CPU Cooler
Manufacturer
Scythe
Street Price
~$55 USD

Scythe, a favorite of the silent PC community, has a plethora of CPU coolers,
but only a few of their current models are of the top-down variety. Big tower designs have taken over the CPU cooling center stage in recent years.
Reviews show top-down airflow coolers to lag a bit in performance, but neglect to mention their advantage
in cooling electrical components around the CPU socket. Reference motherboard designs from Intel and AMD still assume a certain degree of cooling for the voltage regulation module (VRM) and other hot board components from a top-down airflow cooler.

The Scythe Zipang is a prime candidate for the title of today’s best top-down cooler. Compared to our
current top-down champion, the Scythe Andy Samurai Master, the Zipang has
a more straightforward design, longer heatpipes, and a bigger wingspan. It may or may not have more surface area; the Andy is a big beast, too. However. the Zipang is the
first cooler we’ve tested with a 14cm fan.


The stylish Zipang box.

 


The box contents are familar for Scythe heatsinks.

 

Scythe Zipang: Key Features
(from the product
web page
)
Feature & Brief
Our Comment
Newest UPHC (Uneven Parallel
Heatpipe Construction) is equipped to maximize the heat dissipation from
heatpipe, which eliminates the heat dissipation loss during the heat transfer
process.
We’ll have to take their
word for it.
Large sized 140mm fan to
provide big airflow yet optimization for silent operation!
Bigger fans are usually
more efficient.
With total 6 x 6mm diameter
heatpipe to provide the top cooling performance!
Covers the entire base of the heatsink.
Optimized to get its performance
from low-rpm to high-rpm to meet the demand from silent users to heavy-core
overclockers. All in one solution for your PC system.
We shall see.

 

Scythe Zipang: Specifications
(from the product
web page
)
Model Name ZIPANG CPU Cooler
Model Number SCZP-1000
Manufacturer Scythe Co., Ltd. Japan
Overall Dimensions 145 x 148 x 112 mm
Overall Weight 815g
Fan
Dimensions 139 x 139 x 25 mm
Speed 1000 rpm (±10%)
Air Flow 51.82 CFM
Noise Level 21.00 dBA

PHYSICAL DETAILS

On paper the Scythe Zipang is a brute
force attempt at improving performance. However, some thought to improving key design elements is evident as well.


Both ends of the six heatpipes act as condensors, which means there are 12 heatpipe pathways between the base and the fins.

The Zipang’s heatpipes, for example, have a unique shape. They
are longer than most, and run through both sides of the base, with the shorter
portion curving in toward the longer section. The six heatpipes
have both ends connected to the fins, at the condensor end. The middle section of the heatpipes that run through the base is where the coolant in the pipe gets evaporated to expand and travel to both ends of the heatpipes. This design means that the six heatpipes act like 12, like in the tower heatsinks where the heatpipes are U-shaped, with the evaporator section being the portion at the bottom of the U. It should mean much greater cooling power than the simple C-shape heatpipes employed in previous top-down heatsinks.

One end of the heatpipes runs through friction-fit holes in the fins. The other end curves around and appear to be pressed tightly in grooves on the bottom edge of the fins. Whether solder is present in the grooves is difficult to tell; pressure might be enough to form a strong thermal bond.


One end of the heatpipes run through the fins normally. The other end appears to be press-fitted tightly in grooves on the bottom edge of the fins.

 


At an angle.

The aluminum block sitting above the base is a common element
among Scythe’s heatsinks, most notably the Ninja line. However, this one has
slits on all four sides, exposing more surface area to open air.


From above.

The large 14 cm fan is a fairly typical for Scythe with a design similar
to their Kama line, although the struts have been correctly reversed to make them more perpendicular to the trailing edges of the fan blades. This change should
result in lower turbulence noise, especially of the tonal kind. Aside from that, it’s a typical seven blade sleeve
bearing fan — if you can call a 140 mm fan ‘typical’. Incidentally, this fan also
has 120mm mounting holes if you wish to use it elsewhere. Keep
in mind, it has closed corners, so they can’t be used with rubber fan isolators
without modification.


Fan removed.

The spacing between each 0.23mm fin is quite tight at 1.55mm, which may suggest poor
performance with low airflow. Inexplicably, manufacturers always seem to
make the spacing very narrow on top-down coolers. It seems counter-intuitive
as the denser fin count makes it harder for airflow to reach the components
around the socket. Still, the depth of each fin is just 30mm, which is far for the airflow to pass through.

Note the asymmetry in the photo above. It appears that the heatpipes are deliberately off center. This is probably to ensure that the overhang beyond the top edge of the motherboard is kept small; otherwise, the wide span of heatsink may run foul of the power supply that’s usually the side closest to the CPU in most PC cases.

THE BASE & INSTALLATION

Sycthe heatsink bases are usually very well finisihed. The Zipang’s base is no exception.


The base is smooth and flat with no noticeable defects.


LGA775 mounting frame installed.

Scythe employs three simple mounting frames that attach via
screws — one of their trademarks. Unfortunately, Scythe continues to
use push-pins for LGA775 mounting. We get nervous everytime we see them
on a cooler of the Zipang’s weight.


Installed.

The heatsink installed without any complications. The overhang of the fins is high enough over the base to leave room to reach in and access the pins without too much trouble. Unless you have big hands, it’s not too hard. The end results was a snug, tight fit.

TESTING

Testing was done according to our
unique heatsink testing methodology
, and the reference fan was profiled
using our standard fan testing
methodology
. A quick summary of the components, tools, and procedures
follows below.

Key Components in Heatsink Test Platform:

  • Intel
    Pentium D 950
    Presler core. TDP of 130W; under our test load, it measures
    78W including efficiency losses in the VRMs.
  • ASUS
    P5LD2-VM
    motherboard. A basic microATX board with integrated graphics
    and plenty of room around the CPU socket.
  • Samsung MP0402H
    40GB 2.5″ notebook drive
  • 1
    GB stick of Corsair XMS2
    DDR2 memory.
  • FSP Zen 300W
    fanless power supply.
  • Arctic Silver
    Lumière
    : Special fast-curing thermal interface material, designed
    specifically for test labs.
  • Nexus 120 fan (part of our standard testing
    methodology; used when possible with heatsinks that fit 120x25mm fans)

Test Tools

  • Seasonic
    Power Angel
    for measuring AC power at the wall to ensure that the
    heat output remains consistent.
  • Custom-built, four-channel variable DC power supply,
    used to regulate the fan speed during the test.
  • Bruel & Kjaer (B&K) model 2203 Sound Level
    Meter
    . Used to accurately measure noise down to 20 dBA and below.
  • Various other tools for testing fans, as documented
    in our standard fan testing
    methodology
    .

Software Tools

  • SpeedFan
    4.32
    , used to monitor the on-chip thermal sensor. This sensor is not
    calibrated, so results are not universally applicable.
  • CPUBurn
    P6
    , used to stress the CPU heavily, generating more heat than most
    real applications. Two instances are used to ensure that both cores are stressed.
  • Throttlewatch
    2.01
    , used to monitor the throttling feature of the CPU to determine
    when overheating occurs.

Noise measurements were made with the fan powered from the lab’s variable DC
power supply while the rest of the system was off to ensure that system noise
did not skew the measurements.

Load testing was accomplished using CPUBurn to stress
the processor, and the graph function in SpeedFan was used to make sure that
the load temperature was stable for at least ten minutes. The stock fan was
tested at various voltages to represent a good cross-section of its airflow
and noise performance.

The ambient conditions during testing were 15 dBA and 21°C.

TEST RESULTS

Fan Measurements

Stock Sycthe 140x25mm fan – We
did a basic review of the stock fan’s properties.


Stock fan.

 

Model Number DFS132512L Power Rating 0.12A
Bearing Type Sleeve Airflow Rating 51.82 CFM
Hub Size 1.73″ RPM Rating 1000 rpm (±10%)
Frame Size 139 x 139 x 25 mm Noise Rating 21.00 dBA
Weight 160g Header Type 3-pin

 

Scythe DFS132512L Fan
Voltage
Noise
RPM
12V
23 dBA@1m
970 RPM
9V
18 dBA@1m
770 RPM
7V
16 dBA@1m
640 RPM
5V
<15 dBA@1m
470 RPM

The fan generated 23 dBA@1m at full speed, which is very low for
a stock fan. At lower voltages it seemed so quiet that a special effort was made to measure and record the noise when the ambient was at its lowest in the lab — slightly less than 15 dBA at five o’clock one quiet morning. In many systems, this fan would be the quietest component even at full speed. It spins at
approximately 1000 RPM at 12V down to about 500 RPM at 5V. The audio recording was scrapped for the noise at 5V; it was too close to the ambient, and extremely difficult to distinguish when the fan is turned on. So this fan recording starts at 7V. This fan is one of the quietest, nicest-sounding, stock fan SPCR has encountered in over six years of testing CPU coolers.

We were unable to determine the fan’s starting voltage. When we started the
test from 12V and decreased the voltage incrementally (turning the power
source off and on at each interval), we found it could start up at 5V. When we
started from a low voltage, and worked our way up, it would not start up reliably
until 8V. After testing it on our heatsink testbed motherboard, we found that
it will start up at 7V as long as the fan speed is never decreased to the point
where the fan stops spinning. If this happens, up to 8V is required to get it
going again. Both temperature and sample variance may come into play here.

Nexus 120x25mm reference fan refresh – We also took advantage of the very low ambient at this time to run tests on a newer sample of the Nexus 120 fan that we use as our reference. This is a version with open corner flanges, which makes it more versatile and useful for heatsinks. As expected, lower SPL numbers were obtained, due mostly to the lower ambient. There is a small possibility that this newer fan is a touch quieter due to wear and tear on the older one, and sample variance. The main thing is that the lower ambient gave us more resolution that just “<19 dBA” for <9V readings.
New Nexus 120 fan measurements
Voltage
Noise
RPM
12V
21 dBA@1m
1100 RPM
9V
17 dBA@1m
890RPM
7V
15 dBA@1m
720 RPM
5V
<15 dBA@1m
530 RPM

Cooling Results

Scythe Zipang
Fan Voltage
SPL @1m
Temp
°C Rise
°C/W
12V
23 dBA
40°C
18
0.24
9V
18 dBA
42°C
20
0.27
7V
16 dBA
47°C
25
0.33
5V
<15 dBA
58°C
36
0.47
Load Temp: CPUBurn for ~10 mins.
°C Rise: Temperature rise above ambient (22°C) at load.
°C/W: based on the amount of heat dissipated by the CPU (measured
78W); lower is better.

Fan @ 12V: The fan sounded smooth and very quiet. There was some slight
chuffing evident close up, and a trace of tonality centered mostly around 900 Hz. Thermal rise was 18°C, excellent
for a top-down cooler.

Fan @ 9V: The noise dropped substantially. From very close, there was some low-pitched buzzing and clicking. Overall, it was almost inaudible in our lab. The CPU temperature rose by just 2°C.

Fan @ 7V: It sounded very smooth, with only very minute clicking. At this
point we could not hear the fan over the ambient noise, except from within about a foot distance. The 16 dBA@1m SPL could not have been measured in the lab except at ultra-quiet times… like 5AM. Performance
dropped by a further 5°C, and the °C/W ratio rose just above the 0.3 mark that’s our rough safe limit for cooling. In a real system inside a real case with a similar CPU under heavy long term load, this is probably as low a fan speed as you’d want to use.

Fan @ 5V: The fan sounded the same as at 7V — inaudible. There’s no
reason to drop the fan speed this low. Performance really suffered with an
almost 10°C jump compared to 7V. The tight fin spacing and minimal airflow don’t make a good combination.



Comparables

Compared to other top-down coolers, the Zipang is right up there except at 5V, the slowest fan setting.
The lowest practical speed for all three of these heatsinks is really 7V, and at that level it’s only marginally bested by the Andy Samurai Master. At full speed, the Zipang does not quite match the Andy; it’s likely that the Andy has greater cooling surface area.

Comparison: Scythe Zipang, Scythe Andy, Asus Triton 75
Scythe Zipang
Scythe Andy
Asus Triton 75
SPL@1m
°C Rise
SPL@1m
°C Rise
SPL@1m
°C Rise
23 dBA
18
21 dBA
16
21 dBA
18
18 dBA
20
18 dBA
20
18 dBA
20
16 dBA
25
15 dBA
23
15 dBA
29
<15 dBA
37
<15 dBA
29
<15 dBA
30
Note: Data for Andy and Triton 75 is with a Nexus 120 fan.

The Zipang compares well agains the Ninja Copper
tower heatsink but doesn’t quite reach the performance of the tower king Thermalright Ultra-120 eXtreme.

Comparison: Scythe Zipang, Ninja Copper, Xigmatek HDT-S1283
Scythe Zipang
Ninja Copper
Ultra-120 eXtreme
SPL @1m
°C Rise
SPL @1m
°C Rise
SPL @1m
°C Rise
23 dBA
18
n/a
n/a
21 dBA
12
18 dBA
20
18 dBA
19
18 dBA
14
16 dBA
25
17 dBA
23
15 dBA
17

 

MP3 SOUND RECORDINGS

The recording begins with the ambient noise of the test room. Please set your playback volume so that the ambient noise is almost inaudible, then don’t adjust the volume control again. For best results, save the sound file to your own PC, then listen.

Scythe Zipang with stock DFS132512L 16cm fan at 7V, 9V and 12V at 1m (The fan was not recorded at 5V, because it was too close to the ambient.)

Reference Comparatives (all at 5V, 7V, 9V and 12V at 1m)

Nexus “Real Silent 120mm fan”

Scythe Andy Samurai Master w/stock fan

Xigmatek HDT-D1284 with stock fan

Big Typhoon VX with stock fan

Thermaltake MaxOrb with stock fan

Zalman CNPS8700

FINAL THOUGHTS

The Scythe Zipang is an excellent top-down cooler. It doesn’t quite catch the best of the biggest tower heatsinks, but it comes close. Slightly wider spacing between the fins would probably have helped to maintain better cooling as fan speed was reduced, but for most CPUs today, the Zipang’s performance with its fan at 7~9V is already good enough. The challenge of matching the best tower heatsinks now falls to the impractically large Scythe
Orochi
which we will review at a later date.

The Zipang’s performance is only a tiny step behind the
Scythe Ninja Copper. Like the Ninja Copper, the Zipang ships with a great
fan that remains quiet throughout its range and exhibits excellent acoustics.
This is one of the quietest “stock” heatsink fans. In many systems, the 140mm fan at full speed will be the quietest component.
That means for casual silencers, no fan replacement, control or modding is necessary. Just install and forget! For silent PC fanatics, a slight undervolt will make it
quiet enough to be inaudible without compromising performance.

Our only beef with the Zipang is the mounting system. Scythe continues to equip
their heavier heatsinks with plastic push-pins for LGA775 mounting.
Anything over around 600g, in our opinion, should utilize a more secure installation
method, preferably with metal bolts and a backplate to support the motherboard. The Zipang’s ~$50 price is about what you’d expect to pay for this kind of performance.

Scythe Zipang
PROS

* Excellent performance
* 140mm fan is super quiet
* Top-down cooling

CONS

* Push-pin mounting inappropriate for 800g heatsink
* Expensive?

Our thanks to Scythe
for the Zipang sample.

* * *

Articles of Related Interest
Intel’s HSF for high-end
Core 2 Extreme CPUs

Scythe Andy Samurai Master
Thermaltake MaxOrb Heatpipe
Cooler: Maximum Orbness

Two Big Top-downers: Big
Typhoon VX & Xigmatek HDT-D1284

Asus
Triton 75

Ninja Copper: Scythe’s 5th
Year Celebration

* * *

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