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Scythe Ninja 5 SCNJ-5000 Tower Air CPU Cooler Review

Manufacturer: Scythe

The Ninja 5 is the latest in the line of high performance, low-noise tower air coolers from Scythe, building on the venerable Ninja 4 design (reviewed here back in 2016) with a new dual-fan configuration. The Ninja 5 (SCNJ-5000) ships with a pair of Kaze Flex 120 mm fans, which should provide very low noise output with their 800 RPM max speed. Does the combination of big heatsink and dual low-speed fans translate into high performance? Let's find out!

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Let's get right to the specifications from Scythe:


  • Model number: SCNJ-5000
  • CPU Support:
  • Intel 775 / 115x  / 1366 / 2011(V3) / 2066
  • AMD AM4 / AM3(+) / AM2(+) / FM2(+) / FM1
  • Radiator size: (W) 130 x (H) 155 x (D) 130mm
  • Fan size: 120 x 120 x 27mm
  • Heatpipe: Ø6mm x 6
  • Fan speed: 300±200~800 rpm±10% RPM
  • Airflow: 16.6~43.03 CFM
  • Statics: 0.0762~0.49 mmH2O / 0.75~4.8 Pa
  • Noise: 4.0~14.5 dBA
  • Weight (fan included):  1190g

Pricing and Availability: $59.99 MSRP (currently unavailable from known retailers in USA)

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The Ninja 5 arrives nicely boxed with good protection, and the accessory pack has everything you'll need right down to a full-size screwdriver:

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Continue reading our review of the Scythe Ninja 5 air cooler!

The heatsink is a 130 x 130 mm in width and depth and stands 155 mm high, and this is actually sized identically to the Ninja 4's heatsink.

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The six copper heatpipes and base of the Ninja 5 are all nickel plated for an even silver appearance, and the Ninja 5 now has a black top plate. A look from above also shows the simulated quad-tower design we saw with the Ninja 4:

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Moving down to the base we find a nicely milled flat surface for solid contact with your CPU:

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The Ninja 5 includes a pair of Scythe's Kaze Flex 120 mm PWM fans that spin up to a max 800 RPM, limiting noise output while still providing more than 40 CFM airflow.

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The single fan included with the Ninja 4 (SCNJ-4000) was switch-controlled and could spin up to 1500 RPM on the high setting, but with its dual fan configuration the Ninja 5 may well offer similar cooling with its lower fan speeds.

Installing the Ninja 5 is painless, improving on previous mounting hardware thanks to rubber-lined plastic spacers this time, which may not sound like much but do a great job of holding the standoff screws in place nicely during installation of the bracket around the CPU.

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Installing the cooler simply requires securing the pair attached retention screws on the heatsink, which supply a lot of pressure and do not need to be tightened all the way down. The Scythe mounting system feels a little less refined than the similar system from Noctua, but the results feel more secure, probably because the pressure against the CPU can be much greater if desired in this system.

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Large air coolers like this are always something to behold

If you forget to install memory first (as I did) you just need to temporarily remove the rear fan as the heatsink itself shouldn't cover the DIMM slots. I installed a pair of standard height modules, and the fit is a little tight, but the fan does clear them.

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As with many of these larger air coolers, tall memory will require an adjustment to the height of the rear fan to accommodate those snazzy (and possibly RGB lighted) heatsinks.

Performance

Here we will see the performance of the Ninja 5 relative to a couple of high-performance liquid coolers to see how an air solution like this stacks up: 

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Here the Ninja 5 really proved itself, with results only bested by the H100i Pro on its "extreme" setting, and the Ninja 5 is doing this at just ~800 RPM! And yes, as time goes on we will have more air results to show, as results from past reviews were on a different test platform and not relevant for comparison here.

Just how quiet is this dual fan setup?

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The Ninja 5 is whisper-quiet at idle, and while it never gets loud thanks to that 800 RPM limit on the fans I was surprised that the liquid coolers more than held their own here. Anything in the 30-33 dBA range is almost inaudible, and even with every electronic thing turned off I still had to contend with a 31.4 dBA noise floor during these most recent tests. It's safe to say that unless you use a passively-cooled GPU this will be inaudible inside an enclosure.

As to the Ninja 4, I was able to quickly run some temperature benchmarks using this newer test setup, and it's almost exactly even with the Ninja 5's performance when the fan is on the "high" setting. The Ninja 5 result of 47.9 C (delta) is almost identical to the 47.7 C delta temp I recorded with the Ninja 4 at the high fan setting, with load temps rising to 52.9 C at the low fan setting. The Ninja 4 is still the quietest cooler I've ever tested at "low", with no sound above ambient being registered, but the two coolers reach an effective parity once the "high" setting is selected.

Conclusion

The Ninja 5 is a fine addition to the Ninja family and as a more modern product it adds AM4 support out of the box. This improved cooler support and additional fan help justify its higher $79.99 MSRP make it a good value at its $59.99 MSRP, which is about where the Ninja 4 started (the outgoing Ninja 4 is currently selling for just $35 on Newegg until 12/26/18). And while the discounted Ninja 4 is very tempting, that won't last for long. Pricing aside, the Ninja 5 had some very big shoes to fill, with the Ninja 4 simply one of the best cooler designs we've ever tested. It turns out that the change to a dual-fan setup with conservative fan speeds has resulted in a cooler with all of the potential of the Ninja 4, and about the same level of noise under the toughest loads.

I'm a proponent of large air coolers when possible, though they aren't for every build, of course. You are going to need sufficient space in your system before adding a cooler like this, with the added dimensional requirements one of the things that keep very large air coolers from being a universal solution. Still, space limits aside the Ninja 5 will provide better performance than all but the most performant of AiO liquid coolers, and do it with less noise than many of them.

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With some of the best cooling performance we've seen from an air solution to date, Scythe's Ninja 5 deserves your consideration if you're in the market for a high-performance cooler - air or liquid - for just about any CPU.

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December 19, 2018 | 02:17 PM - Posted by Lance Ripplinger (not verified)

Nice cooler, Scythe seems to be coming out with a good products for the money. The fact that they include a proper, high quality, magnetized screwdriver is nice. I say this, because if you are a first time computer builder, the screwdriver included with this is all you need to build the computer. Good job Scythe (nice they include it with their other coolers also).

December 19, 2018 | 02:57 PM - Posted by Ireen (not verified)

This is one very big Ninja. I never had any issues with the Ninja coolers. Often very good value with a good build quality.

Price is about 45 euro in NL. Thus way below 80 dollar.

https://www.freezinghardware.nl/product/13571/Scythe-Ninja-5-SCNJ-5000.html

December 19, 2018 | 04:00 PM - Posted by Sebastian Peak

Nice - about $51 USD currently. I hope we get agressive retails like that when it's in stock here in the USA.

December 19, 2018 | 04:33 PM - Posted by Isaac Johnson

I'm also a fan (...) of air coolers. I've never understood why people pay (usually) more to add extra points of failure for (usually) no better, or not much better performance.

December 19, 2018 | 05:02 PM - Posted by Anonymouse (not verified)

Any chance you can measure how deep the cooler+fan is from the centre of the cooler back towards the IO ports? The "more dimensions" link on their site doesn't do anything.

December 19, 2018 | 05:31 PM - Posted by Sebastian Peak

Right on 3.5 inches or about 88 mm from the center of the heatsink out to the outside edge of the fan. It's a symmetrical design so that measurement is identical in both directions.

December 19, 2018 | 07:14 PM - Posted by razor512

How does it compare to the NH-D15?

December 19, 2018 | 09:31 PM - Posted by Sebastian Peak

I don't have the D15 to compare with this test setup unfortunately (we tested that back in the Ivy Bridge era). For a fairly close approximation I last tested the NH-D14 a while back for a review published in July that show it coming out ahead of the Ninja 5 by about 5 °C. With my current setup those results might be a bit off (fan profile, core vs. package temps), but testing was done with the same i7-7700K CPU so it's close.

December 20, 2018 | 01:32 AM - Posted by wujj123456

It would be nice to include D14 or D15 or D15S in the future. Either one will do as they are close enough most of time. I had H100i before, but the pump and fan noise ended up forcing me replacing it with D15S because my PC is in my bedroom.

December 28, 2018 | 04:46 AM - Posted by Aaron Roberts (not verified)

Don't forget BeQuiet and Thermalright.

BeQuiet tends to make air coolers that are competitive with the performance-per-decibel measure and Thermalright tends to make coolers that are good in performance-per-dollar and pretty good in performance-per-decibel. There is more than Noctua and Corsair.

December 20, 2018 | 08:08 AM - Posted by Peter (not verified)

A few things which I am curious about:
- How does this cooler perform compared to the D15 and BQDRP4?
- How is the performance if you put the fan higher? After all, that is a realistic use case scenario, it is not easy to find ‘naked’ RAM modules, unfortunately (those ‘heatsinks’ seem to be mostly decorative).
- What is the sound like? It not only is about dB but also about the pitch of the sound.Does it have a nice breeze kind of sound or a 'metal'kind of sound?

For future reviews. ;)
I myself don't even consider an AIO when I have the room in my case for an aircooler. I understand why you compared it to AIO's. I don't expect you to include 15 more air coolers but it would be interesting to see the best two other aircoolers, based upon other aircooler comparisons we know enough if we have that data.

It is a pity that they didn't make the cooler a bit higher so that any module of RAM can fit under it. 5 cm more shouldn't make the difference, if you choose for an aircooler then you schoulnd’t choose a small midtower case, right? Because I like my system to be silent without compromising performance too much I chose the Fractal S, I’ve got 180 cm. of space, I would love it if that CPU cooler would be at least 5 cm. higher. This little problem makes the cooler a lot less interesting to me, especially because I choose for Ryzen which needs fast RAM.

December 28, 2018 | 04:42 AM - Posted by Aaron Roberts (not verified)

"it is not easy to find ‘naked’ RAM modules"

It is easy. What's not easy is to find them with equivalent performance and price. The best values in RAM always have the spreaders.

December 25, 2018 | 11:09 PM - Posted by Michael.kariv (not verified)

Quote “while the discounted Ninja 4 is very tempting, that won't last for long”
Why? N4 is cheaper and as quiet. Please elaborate

December 26, 2018 | 11:56 AM - Posted by Jeremy Hellstrom

It will be discontinued and slowly disappear.

December 28, 2018 | 04:40 AM - Posted by Aaron Roberts (not verified)

It is not as quiet nor as efficient in terms of cooling per decibel. You can see this by looking at the techpowerup reviews of the 4 and the 5. The price of the 4 is also currently $40, not $35.

The two fan solution is more effective. Adding a second fan to the 4 and reducing the maximum speeds of both to 800 RPM, though, might make the 4 more competitive with the 5. Buying a quality PWM fan, though, might eat up a significant part of the savings.

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