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Along with Noctua and Arctic Cooling , Scythe are probably the most consistent manufacturer of quiet heatsinks these days. And yet quiet cooling remains a finicky thing that goes beyond mere brandnames. The search for a good low noise cooler is often fraught with compromises; big fans, big footprint, less than stellar performance, the list goes on.
In this review Frostytech is testing out a rather peculiar heatsink from Scythe called the Kama Angle. Traditional parallel fin-to-fan relationships are thrown out the window and what we're left with is a chevron-shaped aluminum fin tower with the fan set at 45 degrees to the leading edge. The Kama Angle stands 158mm tall, weighs 755grams and makes use of four 6mm diameter copper heatpipes. The 120mm PWM fan spins at speeds of between 500-1200RPM, and in our real world measurements creates a moderate 43 dBA noise at most, below 25 dBa at its slowest.
The Scythe Kama Angle heatsink is compatible with Intel socket 775, 478 and AMD socket 754/939/940/AM2+/AM3 processors. At the time of this review, the Kama Angle does not include mounting brackets for Intel socket LGA1366 Core i7 processors, which is disappointing.
The Kama Angle does however, perform very well on both AMD and Intel platforms, as you'll see momentarily when Frostytech compares it directly against 211 other heatsinks.
When it comes to designing low noise CPU coolers there are a couple challenges facing every heatsink. The first is efficiently moving the heat from the CPU to a much larger area where it can be easily transferred to the surrounding environment. The second is making sure air easily, evenly and continuously passes through the part of the heatsink that functions as the heat exchanger, without creating too much noise. Turbulence creates noise, and powerful fans needed to overcome back pressure create noise too.
What Scythe are basically doing with the Kama Angle is increasing the distance between the fan and aluminum fins in proportion to the velocity of the airflow. I suspect this evens things out and has the benefit of making it easier for air to pass though the fin structure. That's because air is impinging on the fans at a 45 angle, rather than coming up against 90 degree 'surface'.
The other interesting thing about the Kama Angle heatsink is the way the copper heatpipes are bent at the bottom of the cooler. Four heatpipes are used, though it does look like eight. The heatpipes that cover the most area of the copper base plate are located closest to the highest velocity airflow, and the heatpipes that touch upon the least surface area are positioned where air pressure is lowest. In other words the design is balanced.
The distance between the fan an aluminum fins is as much as 60mm, and this reduces heatsink noise levels noticeably. If you were to put a fan close up to the fins of a tower heatsink, then move it a few centimeters back you would hear the difference in noise levels yourself. All fans need some degree of plenum to reduce turbulence and improve airflow through cooling fins, the Kama Angle uses its chevron shape to accomplish this.
Mounting Method and Hardware
The Scythe Kama Angle heatsink is compatible with
both Intel and AMD processors, and ships with just three simple brackets that screw onto the base of
The Scythe Kama Angle heatsink is compatible with both Intel and AMD processors, and ships with just three simple brackets that screw onto the base of the heatsink.
Once clip is for socket 775, another for socket 478, and the last for all AMD K8 processors (754/939/AM2/AM3). The clips use tool free retention methods once installed onto the Kama Angle heatsink. For Intel processors, Scythe rely on the standard Intel push-to-click retention mechanism. For older generation Intel CPUs, we even find a set of brackets for socket 478. All four generations of AMDs Athlon64 CPU are serviced by a springy clip that locks onto the central tab in the heatsink retention frame.
This heatsink will be tested on FrostyTech's Intel LGA775 and K8 version of the Mk.II synthetic thermal temperature test platform, and compared against a hundred reference LGA775 and K8 heatsinks. The whole test methodology is outlined in detail here if you'd like to know what equipment is used, and the parameters under which the tests are conducted.
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