With water cooling being all the rage in computer builds these days, I rarely run across pictures of PC builds with air coolers in it. I myself am guilty of constantly having nothing but AIOs cooling my CPU without ever giving a second thought to an air cooling solution. When the Mugen 5 Rev. B landed on my desk I wasn’t quite sure what to expect - would I lose the overclock I worked so long to tune in just right? Lucky for me the answer was no. As it would turn out, with an air cooler like the Mugen 5, I could have skipped the AIO all together.
- MSRP: $47.99 (Amazon)
- Dimensions (w/o Fan): 130 x 154.5 x 110mm / 5.12 x 6.08 x 4.33 in
- Weight: 890g / 31.4 oz / 1.96lbs
- Intel Compatibility: LGA 776, 1150, 1151, 1155, 1156, 1366, 2011, 2011-v3, 2066
- AMD Compatibility: AM2, AM2+, AM3, AM3+, AM4, FM1, FM2, FM2+
- Accessories: Mounting parts for Intel and AMD sockets, fan, fan clips, thermal grease, installation manual
- Baseplate Material / Heatpipes: Nickel-plated copper
- Model: Kaze Flex 120 PWM
- Dimensions: 120 x 120 x 27mm / 4.72 x 4.72 x 1.06 in
- Noise Level: 4 ~ 24.9 dBA
- Air Flow: 16.6 ~ 15.17 CFM / 28.2 ~ 86.93 m³/h
- Fan Speed: 300 (±200 rpm) ~ 1.200 rpm (±10%) (PWM-controlled)
- Static Pressure: 0,75 ~ 10,3 Pa / 0,076 ~ 1,05 mmH²O
- Bearing Type: Sealed Precision FDB
- Voltage: 12V
- MTTF: 120,000 Hours.
- Asymmetrical Design for Optimal RAM compatibility
Test Setup / Methodology
I’ve done quite a few cooler reviews in the past for MMORPG.com so I’ll stick to what works for my general format. All idle temps shown are recorded 30 minutes after a cold boot with no activity taking place after logging in getting my temperature monitors up and running. The ambient temperature in my house is a rock solid 75 freedom units (I just wanted to say freedom units, its 24 Celsius for the purpose of the review). Over the course of a few reviews I’ve found that Prime 95 delivers the highest temperatures for stress testing (compared to Aida64) so this is my go-to for heat generation and represents that worst case scenario. Unlike AIOs I don’t have a liquids specific heat capacity to take into account over time, as metals like copper and nickel conduct heat incredibly efficiently and reach their heat capacities rapidly.
My test rig is housed in the beastly Cooler Master C700M Cosmos, which is set up in the best possible way as far as airflow goes for an air cooler. Three 140mm fans intake from the front, the cooler push/pulls that airflow back out the exhaust fan in the rear. I removed the top fans for this review considering most people don’t have seven fans in their chassis. Spec wise I’m running:
- CPU: AMD Ryzen 5 2600x 4.3Ghz @ 1.41v (all cores)
- RAM: 32GB HyperX Predator RGB DDR4 3200 RAM (Review)
- GPU: MSI RTX 2080 Duke
- PSU: ThermalTake Riing 800w Modular Power Supply
Unboxing, Installation, and More
Right off the bat, when the cooler was dropped off into my waiting hands I knew I was in for it. The weight is the first thing that struck me. It’s been AGES since I’ve used an air cooler. You expect AIOs to be heavy but after a while, you forget how heavy a good air cooler is to keep a hot and overclocked CPU cool enough to operate. The packaging was quite nice, with the heatsink housed in a foam enclosure, the fan in a box on top of it, with all the accessories in another container as well. The majority of the space, though, really is the heatsink. It is absolutely gigantic in the best possible way.
All the installation hardware for both Intel and AMD was included in the box, though installing on AMD seems like it’s easier than an Intel installation due to the fact it utilizes the backplate that’s included in all AM4 motherboards. So if you’re currently using an aftermarket cooler, hopefully, you didn’t toss that in the garbage as you’re going to need it. Intel’s mounting hardware included a backplate that needed to be installed prior to being able to mount the cooler, so… a lot more screws. That leads me to something I forgot to mention: Scythe includes a magnetic, long-form screwdriver! I was stunned to find it included and simultaneously thrilled; you’ll need to use it to screw in one of the mounting screws because the asymmetrical design has it located below the heatsink and the screwdriver goes in the hole on top to reach the screw underneath. Providing all the tools needed for installation is a major boon for Scythe AND the screwdriver is actually nice to boot.
Initially, I attached the fans to the heatsink before I installed the cooler on the motherboard... Which turned out to be a giant mistake. Though I cleared the RAM just fine, the other fan wasn’t quite high enough and made contact with one of the heatsinks on my board. Installing the heatsink by itself, then attaching the fans proved to be a better idea for making sure they were symmetrical in placement and didn’t come into contact with any other parts in the rig.
The last thing I want to touch on before we get to test results is the use of nickel plating. The reason Scythe gives is due to oxidation changing the color of copper over time, a very real phenomenon (just ask Lady Liberty), and noticing this color change happening between shipment from manufacturing to the customer's door. Nickel doesn’t suffer the same oxidizing fate as copper with air exposure and maintains it’s aesthetics, though it’s not as efficient as copper at dealing with heat. Nickel plated copper gives us the best of both worlds: a heatsink that can pull the heat off our CPU and keep up with the best and an air cooler that looks sleek and sexy without the use of fancy lighting.
As mentioned before, Prime 95 was used to complete load testing on the Mugen 5 Rev. B. I opted to use small FFTs as they are known to produce the most heat. If you’re curious, FFT stands for Fast Fourier transform. It deals with high-level mathematics that are simply beyond my ancient college calculus classes but if you care to brave it there’s a fun wiki you can pursue. Unlike AIOs, which require time to reach full heat load, metal reaches its heat capacity very quickly and doesn’t require as much time at load to reach max temperature. However, due to the previous testing of giving 20 minutes at load, I opted to continue that practice. The only exception is the Wraith cooler, which failed to keep my CPU at a safe temperature and was stopped early. Temperatures were captured using Ryzen’s Master Software and NZXT CAM to ensure consistency between two pieces of software.
At idle, the Mugen 5 does incredibly well - keeping a very close distance off a typical 240mm AIO cooler. Keeping in mind that the CPU is overclocked and being blasted with 1.41v, the idle temperature is quite impressive for an air cooler. You need look no further than the AMD Wraith Spire to see what you’d get without an aftermarket cooler or the Cooler Master Hyper 212 Evo if you were aiming to save 20 bucks on cooler costs.
At load, the gap widens between the AIO and the Mugen 5, but not by that much when you think about the fact that one uses liquid and the other relies solely on air. Compared to the Hyper 212 Evo, the Mugen 5 handles the heat load with ease by almost a full ten degrees Celsius, which beg the question: Why isn't the Mugen 5 the most popular air cooler? It's only $20 more and by comparison it's in a league of it's own. Again I’d like to point out how the poor little Wraith Spire failed to keep up. though try as it might, it’s just not designed to handle anything over the standard precision boosts on Ryzen architecture. It’s a nice little cooler if you aren’t aiming to bleed your CPU in sacrifice to the overclocking gods, however.
Bottom line up front, the Mugen 5 Rev. B is an incredibly solid (literally) cooler that will keep even my ridiculous Ryzen overclock in safe operating range. The nickel plated copper looks absolutely amazing on its own and even more so paired with the Kaze Flex 120mm fans. If you have any RGB in your system to bounce some light off it then you’re in for a real treat as well. The temperatures are great, the fans are quiet, the installation is cake, and I got a free screwdriver. At 50 bucks you can’t really go wrong.
- Incredibly low temperatures for an air cooler
- Nickel-plated copper looks amazing
- Kaze Flex fans are nice and quite
- It’s really heavy
- Size can detract from a clean build
The product discussed in this article was provided by the manufacturer for the purposes of review.