Scythe Big Shuriken3 box - Big Shuriken 3 Review
The first thing you will notice about the Big Shuriken 3’s shipping container is not how pretty it is. Nor will your first impression be concerned with the decent (and in a multitude of languages) specifications. It will not even be the nice image of the Big Shuriken 3 itself on the shipping container. Instead it will be simply how small this box is. Quite honestly, we were impressed when we opened up and peeked inside because we were almost sure that there was no way to fit a 120mm fan inside this wee bit of a box. Fit one they did. In fact, the fan comes pre-attached to the Big Shuriken 3 and is one less thing you will have to worry about after purchasing this bad boy.
Scythe Big Shuriken3 box o - Big Shuriken 3 Review
The downside to such a small box is that, for all intents and purposes, there is no internal layer of protection. The Big Shuriken 3 sits in a thin layer of form-fitting cardboard at the box (so as to keep it from moving too much while transit) and the small accessories box sits on top of the Big Shuriken 3. As such if you have a shipping agent has dreams of being the next Beckham… they may just bend the Big Shuriken 3 while in transit. Overall, we would have liked to have a seen a wee bit bigger box, but there is something to be said for truth in advertising – as once you see this box you will instantly grasp how compact the Big Shuriken 3 really is.
Scythe Big Shuriken3 access - Big Shuriken 3 Review
The accessories included are classic Scythe. That is to say outstanding. Thanks to a timely upgrade the new HIPS 3 system is even easier to use and yet still covers darn near any Intel (socket 775 to the latest HEDTs) and AMD (basically everything but ThreadRipper) socket type known to man. Mix in a good and easy to understand installation pamphlet, longer bolts to install a thicker fan to the Big Shuriken 3, and then dollop in a nicely sized tube of TIM and the end result is pretty much everything you could ask for in an air based CPU cooling solution’s included accessories.
Scythe Big Shuriken3 ang - Big Shuriken 3 Review
Usually the easiest way to describe a new generation is to compare and contrast it with the previous. In this case that would be the Big Shuriken 3 Rev.B. In grand total Scythe’s engineers carried over the following from that design. They included the words “Big” and “Shuriken”. They once again opted for a five 6mm heatpipe design. They decided to keep the 120mm form-factor fan… annnnd we are done. That is the sum total of what the Big Shuriken 2 shares with the new Big Shuriken 3.
Scythe Big Shuriken3 ang1 - Big Shuriken 3 Review
The largest and most noticeable change is the fin array. Put simply the fin array’s shape and design is complete overhaul compared to Big Shuriken 2. The Big Shuriken 2 used 6 double length heatpipes but a thin fin array – about the same as a Noctua L12S. While this fin array efficiency was increased by making the central fin portion (the part above the baseplate and between the double length heatpipes) ‘double’ thick this was the only section of the fin array that actually fully encased in cooling fins! Even here the thickened portion of the fin array does not touch the base. Instead this square fin array hangs in the air via the heatpipes only. Put another way while it did use double length heatpipes it was basically done so as to increase the amount of heatpipe surface area in the fan’s air flow… and thus had more of chances of the heat actually being whisked away in an efficient manner. While this sounds sub-optimal, the Scythe Big Shuriken 2 was actually a pretty decent cooling solution given the fact that it was capable of mounting 120mm fan and yet was only 58mm (with stock 12mm thick fan) tall.
Scythe Big Shuriken3 ang3 - Big Shuriken 3 Review
With the Big Shuriken 3 Scythe has taken a different approach. As Noctua and their NH-L12S proved… not every small form-factor builder needs as small as possible. In fact, a good argument could be (and is) made that with cases with only 60mm of CPU clearance an AIO is a better idea… and the stock fan is probably going to be ‘good enough’. So Instead of focusing in making it as small as possible Scythe has redesigned the Big Shuriken 3 to be as effective as possible. This does not mean they have copied Noctua in any shape nor form. This would be an insult to the hard work the Big Shuriken 3 team put into making this new creation… as it is better than the tried and true Noctua NH-L12S.
Scythe Big Shuriken3 ang2 - Big Shuriken 3 Review
The first noticeable change from the previous Big Shuriken 2 rev.B is the fin array (and why we just spent so much time describing its short comings). Instead of thin fin array that is ‘square’ but ‘hollow’ it is now a relatively honkin’ huge fin array that starts at the top of the base and goes up… and up. To be precise the Big Shuriken 3 without fan attached is 54 tall and with its newer 15mm thick Kaze Flex Slim 120mm fan it is only 69mm tall.
Scythe Big Shuriken3 bracket - Big Shuriken 3 Review
Now obviously where its footprint has to be 120mm (its actually 122mm thanks to metal fascia covering) this would pose a major installation problem – as no mobo has that much clearance area around the CPU socket and RAM! Instead Scythe has gone with an asymmetrical design in both fin depth (3 different depths in 3 different zones) and how this ‘square’ fin array stands over the CPU socket.
As stated previously the Big Shuriken 2 Rev.B was asymmetrical in how the fin array sat in contrast to the CPU but that is about the only thing ‘asymmetrical’ about it. The new Big Shuriken 3 took a lot more engineering and is now asymmetrical in both Z and X axis (with only the overall height being a constant).
Scythe Big Shuriken3 top - Big Shuriken 3 Review
The easiest way to explain this is start at the back side of the Big Shuriken 3’s base. This is the only side with heatpipes sprouting from it and very, very little of the fin array on this ‘half’ of the Z-axis. The rest (aprx 90-95mm) of the fin array ‘overhangs’ the front of the base. This has been done so that even on the tightest board RAM height should not be a problem… as the back will actually be facing toward the DIMMS. Of course as this means the motherboard’s built in VMR heatsink is going to be overhung… a lot by the Big Shuriken 3 this fin array zone has been scaled back significantly at its end. So much so that at the end is basically is only as thick as the Big Shuriken 2 Rev.B. This will not only dramatically increase ease of installation / motherboard compatibility… but enough air that is not super-heated from the Big Shuriken 3’s fin array is going to still hit the mobo’s VRM and keep that heatsink cool. That is a win-win.
In the X Axis it is a 76-46mm split with the 76mm meant to be oriented towards the top edge of the motherboard and the 46mm to be towards the PCIe slot(s). This is done so as to keep video card compatibility to a minimum. In case the motherboard has a secondary heatsink located between the CPU and PCIe slot Scythe has also notched out a section of this zone so that it offer 26mm of ‘ground clearance’. While air exhausting out this zone of the fin array will be warmer, it should keep either the motherboards secondary / tertiary heatsink happy… and if not the waste air will give the GPU’s backplate a bit of extra air flow. Always a good thing with small form-factor builds.
Scythe Big Shuriken3 alt fan - Big Shuriken 3 Review
The next big change is the fan. The Big Shuriken 2 generation used a rather thin and rather mediocre fan. Some of this is because it was only 12mm thick and all 12mm thick fans are mediocre as cooling fans, but a good chunk was because it was sleeve bearing. The new fan which accompanies the Big Shuriken 3 is 15mm thick and is Fluid Dynamic Bearing. This means this bad boy does not only have more static pressure abilities (1.35mm instead of 1.11mm) but is actually quieter than the slower spinning Slip Stream Slim used on the last generation (1800rpm vs the older 1600rpms). This in turn means not only more air movement overall (50.79 vs 38.05 CFM) but more air movement per decibel. The fact that is also will do all this and stay this way for a long, long time… is almost a bonus.
Scythe Big Shuriken3 ang4 - Big Shuriken 3 Review
Also changed is the mounting configuration. The older generation of Big Shuriken’s used wire mounting brackets. This a configuration that works well and is a decent tradeoff between speed of installation vs robustness. The new Big Shuriken 3 uses bolts. This is where the metal fascia we briefly made mention of comes into play. You see this thin fascia is not just there for finishing looks but instead the fan mounts to it and as it is screwed the fin array… nothing is going anywhere unless you want it to. Mix in rubber vibration dampeners built right into the fan and this is a much-needed upgrade to say the least. The only downside is that differently length bolts will be needed for different thickness fans. Scythe includes two sets: one for 15mm thick fans and another for 25mm. We honestly cannot imagine a good enough reason for wanting to stick a 30mm thick fan on this device… nor can we imagine the need for using a thinner fan. If your imagination (or specific needs) exceeds ours, for thinner washers are cheap and easy to source. The same is true of longer bolts. Take along one of the longer ones to a hardware store and fairly quickly you will find what you are looking for. In either case we are talking ‘edge cases’ here. So edge and unlikely that we cannot fault Scythe for not included more bolt lenthgs. Though they could make mention of the bolt thread pitch in the PDF manual so you could pre-pruchase the extra hardware before it arrives. In either case we are glad to see that Scythe has continued to stand behind having even their smaller coolers have the fan push and not try and pull air throught a fin array. Thin fans simply push better than they pull. This is is something we have always found disapoiting with Noctua. Scythe is open and honest about how tall the Big Shuriken 3 is. Noctua still tries and obfusciates the real height by claiming that the fan mounted under the array is the optimal configuration… and they ‘just so happen’ to include a push config out of the goodness of their hearts.
Scythe Big Shuriken3 base - Big Shuriken 3 Review
Flipping it over and zooming in on the base we can see that Scythe has done their usual bang up job at finishing this base. This base is good enough to use as an field expedient shaving mirror… albeit one that is a wee bit small for the job. In either case we have zero worries about how this copper core, nickel plated base will do at its job of moving heat quickly and effeceintly away from the CPU.
As an aside, the included five 6mm heatpipes are now also copper plated. While this does nothing from an effectiveness point of view it does give the Big Shuriken 3 a ‘complete’ or elegantly finished look that the Big Shuriken 2 generation did lack. Obviously the desing team were proud, and rightly so, of their new creation and wanted it to be perfect… even if few will ever see the light of day in a windowed case.
Scythe Big Shuriken3 hpms3 - Big Shuriken 3 Review
Moving on. It should come as no surprise that the Big Shuriken 3 uses Scythe’s HPMS III mounting hardware and that the top mounting bar has been preinstalled for you. This system works very well. It is both easy to use and robust. So robust it pretty much overkill on a lightweight cooler that even when ‘fully loaded’ with its stock fan only tips the scales at a mere 475grams.
Overall this is a great refresh and re-design on what was one of the already better small form-factor CPU cooling solutions available. Let’s see how that new HIPS 3 system works and if it too helps set the bar even higher than where it found it.