Introduction: Rethinking the Stock Cooler
AMD's Wraith cooler was introduced at CES this January, and has been available with select processors from AMD for a few months. We've now had a chance to put one of these impressive-looking CPU coolers through its paces on the test bench to see how much it improves on the previous model, and see if aftermarket cooling is necessary with AMD's flagship parts anymore.
While a switch in the bundled stock cooler might not seem very compelling, the fact that AMD has put effort into improving this aspect of their retail CPU offering is notable. AMD processors already present a great value relative to Intel's offerings for gaming and desktop productivity, but the stock coolers have to this point warranted a replacement.
Intel went the other direction with the current generation of enthusiast processors, as CPUs such as my Core i5-6600k no longer ship with a cooler of any kind. If AMD has upgraded the stock CPU cooler to the point that it now cools efficiently without significant noise, this will save buyers a little more cash when planning an upgrade, which is always a good thing.
The previous AMD stock cooler (left) and the AMD Wraith cooler (right)
A quick search for "Wraith" on Amazon yields retail-box products like the A10-7890K APU, and the FX-8370 CPU; options which have generally required an aftermarket cooler for the highest performance. In this review we’ll take a close look at the results with the previous cooler and the Wraith, and throw in results from the most popular aftermarket cooler of them all; the Cooler Master Hyper 212 EVO.
Introduction and First Impressions
The Scythe Ninja 4 (SCNJ-4000) is the latest model in the Ninja series, and an imposing air cooler with dimensions similar to Noctua's massive NH-D14. But there's more to the story than size, as this is engineered for silence above all else. Read on to see just how quiet it is, and of course how well it's able to cope with CPU loads.
"The Ninja 4 is the latest model in the Ninja CPU Cooler Series, developed for uncompromising performance. It features the new T-M.A.P.S technology, an optimized alignment of heatpipes, and the back-plate based Hyper Precision Mounting System (H.P.M.S) for firm mounting and easy installation procedure. These improvements and a special, adjustable Glide Stream 120mm PWM fan result in an increased cooling performance while reducing the weight compared to his predecessor. Also the design of the heat-sink allows fan mounting on all four sides. This enables the optimal integration of the Ninja 4 in the air flow of the pc-case and reduces turbulence and the emergence of hotspots."
The Ninja 4 is built around a very large, square heatsink, which allows the single 120 mm fan to be mounted on any side, and this PWM fan offers three speed settings to further control noise. And noise is really what the Ninja is all about, with some really low minimum speeds possible on what is a very quiet Scythe fan to begin with.
Will a single low-speed fan design affect the ability to keep a CPU cool under stress? Will the Ninja 4's fan spin up and become less quiet under full load? These questions will soon be answered.