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Review: Scythe Infinity vs. Mod'd Zalman 9500

post #1 of 12
Thread Starter 
Side by side review: Mod'd Scythe Infinity vs. Mod'd Zalman 9500

(using identical 110CFM Silverstone fans)


----------------------------------

Test procedure:

1. All test data obtained with ambient temps of 20C +/- .05C
2. System powered down for one hour prior to each test to ensure equality of temps
3. Idle temp obtained after 30 minutes idle time, immediately after boot.
4. Load temp obtained during 30 minute Orthos (large in-place FFT's)
5. Tests run on an E6400 overclocked to 3.6ghz (no stock speed tests!)


data will be gathered at the max fan speed of 2400rpm, as well as a reading at 1600rpm's (for the quiet folks out there).

----------------------------------

but first, a bit of background info ...

...



...

when i modd'd my zalman 9500 with a 120mm fan ... i was sure i had inherited the earth; the diffference in temps and gain in overclock was *that* significant. the stock zalman 9500 is simply *not* a good overclock cooler; yet, with a 110CFM fan strapped on ... it jockey's to the top end of the air cooling options, but even so ... just to the fringe of such top-end-cooler-domains. suffice it to say ... with the modd'd zalman ... i was able to hit 4.0ghz ... but *NOT* 4.1ghz and beyond ...

therefore ... wanting to bench 'higher than the next guy,' i decided to investigate other air coolers, if only on a test basis.

so, enter the scythe infinity.

...



xmas allowed me a gift option, and considering the scythe infinity was available for 40 bucks or so, and with no shipping charge ... i decided to give it a try.

the same day that i purchased it, ... i lapped it:

...



...

as i was lapping, i noticed that despite the very shiney stock surface finish, the heatsink was actually not very flat ... higher on one side than the other; but, after about an hour with 400grit sand paper ... it evened out. i followed the 400 with 1000, 1500, and 3000 to finish.

i did a lot of reading before purchasing the infinity cooler, and the one thing i found was that, unanimously, most serious overclockers found that the infinity's mounting mechanism was lame; the push-pins don't provide enough mounting pressure to ensure good heat transfer. and so, i decided to modify the mounting with the somewhat well known and popular bolt modification.

it was a SERIOUS pain in the ass ... including removal of motherboard ... bloody fingers and all ... but in the end, i got it mounted. i wish i had remembered to take photos ... was so funny. i over-torqued the mounting screws at first and my motherboard was bent into a total U shape! after noticing the warping, i backed the screws off a bit and it evened out. to be honest, i was amazed my system even posted after bending the board as much as i did!

anyway .. i got the thing installed and subsequently set out to bench it against the previously installed modified zalman.

...

like the scythe cooler, the zalman had also been previously lapped and polished:

...



...

furthermore, the E6400 CPU used for testing was also previously lapped:

...



...

And, after a thorough, scientific and truly unbiased test of each heat sink ... this is what I found:

...

Mod'd Zalman 9500 @ 2400RPM:
-------------------------------
cpu idle: 40 | mb idle: 23
cpu load: 61 | mb load: 25


Infinity @ 2400RPM:
-------------------------------
cpu idle: 36 | mb idle: 25
cpu load: 54 | mb load: 26

...

Mod'd Zalman 9500 @ 1600RPM:
-------------------------------
cpu idle: 44 | mb idle: 24
cpu load: 68 | mb load: 25

Infinity @ 1600RPM:
-------------------------------
cpu idle: 37 | mb idle: 24
cpu load: 55 | mb load: 25


...

good grief! i guess surface area really does matter. the scythe infinity smoked the zalman across the board; most notable is how little of a temp difference there was when using the fan at high speed versus low speed. with the infinity, only a 1 degree rise or so ... but with the zalman and it's reduced surface area, a somewhat huge rise of around 7 degrees when moving from 2400RPM to 1600RPM's.

...

anyway, since the scythe infinity so totally dethroned my mod'd zalman ... suffice it to say, it's going to remain mounted. lord knows, it was a pain in the arse getting properly installed!

i will say this, though ... if you have a zalman 9500 and want to hit serious overclocks ... you *must* mount a high output fan, like the silverstone FM121 in order to get there. it's been a great little cooler once modified, but alas ... today has become it's retirement day.

here's the new kid on the block:

...



...

also, as a closing note ... if your going to use the infinity with an armor case that has the side panel fan installed, you'll have to move the fan to the outside of the side panel as illustrated below.

i'm sure the same procedure would be required for any other Fat Ass Air Cooler(tm), like the Tuniq, etc.

...



...



...

here's to bigger overclocks on air!
    
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post #2 of 12
Your camera is great... colors look awesome.


Good review. I think the CNPS9500 is one of the most over-rated coolers of all time...
post #3 of 12
Nice write-up
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post #4 of 12
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Namrac View Post
Your camera is great... colors look awesome.


Good review. I think the CNPS9500 is one of the most over-rated coolers of all time...
camera is a powershot s80; fairly generic i think ... (lighting is everything and i rarely use the flash).

otherwise, i have to agree with you on the overrated reputation of the 9500; it's fine and even exceptional as a stock, lite-overclock heat sink replacement ... but not for big overclocks.

it *is* a beautifully designed thing, however ... which is why i used it for all it was worth over the past year or so; i'll miss those lovely figure-8 heat pipes ... but will enjoy the temp reduction offered by the scythe even more.

this morning i benched at 4.1ghz ... which was impossible with the zalman ...

<shameless plug> also, got the number one spot in the sciencemark 2.0 race over at techpowerup ... </shameless plug>

the mounting mod took some work, but in the end, i'll be glad to have the infinity around ..
    
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post #5 of 12
very nice review....I believe there was a test done to compare the infinity with the 9700. They concluded that two 1200rpm fans is actually better than one 2000rpm fan. Maybe you have an extra fan that you can quickly rubber band to the back of that infinity & post the temp difference? I was also surprised that the base was not flat. Looks like im gona have to do some lapping when she arrives.

ps. Clean up that wiring! Its messing with your temps! I removed all the wiring in front of my heatsink and took off two front bay covers (three gave no improvment) and dropped the temps about 3c lol.
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post #6 of 12
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by enz660 View Post
very nice review....I believe there was a test done to compare the infinity with the 9700. They concluded that two 1200rpm fans is actually better than one 2000rpm fan. Maybe you have an extra fan that you can quickly rubber band to the back of that infinity & post the temp difference? I was also surprised that the base was not flat. Looks like im gona have to do some lapping when she arrives.

ps. Clean up that wiring! Its messing with your temps! I removed all the wiring in front of my heatsink and took off two front bay covers (three gave no improvment) and dropped the temps about 3c lol.
sounds like you have an infinity ordered ...

just a heads up ... be very careful when applying torque to the mounting screws (assuming you do the mount-mod) ... man, it's *so* easy to bend your motherboard out of whack! i think that mount-mod would be much better with the addition of a MB back-plate drilled out to accept the 6-32 screws.

and my wiring?!!!

sheez!!! if so much as ONE more of you 3l1t3 clocker freaks says ONE more thing about my ... MY! wiring ... i think i'm going to puke!

(please detect the humor in my tirade; i get the same thing all the time)

...

actually, and regarding air flow pathways ... my wiring isn't too bad, considering it's a work machine with 6 fans, a 5.1 surround card with 5.25" live drive, a video capture card with yet anohter 5.25" drive bay; for every card that connects to a drive bay ... that means just more wires! sheez ... there's just so many wires!:

...



...

never fear, though. even though it may appear a mess, ... i've tested my system caseless and on a shelf and also within the armor case (wires and all) and temps are the same. that's why i like the armor case ... dusty as it may be ... the whole thing is perforated, ... even the bottom is perforated.

re: your infinity: lap it for sure; mount-mod it for sure; then, post some goods once it's installed!

have fun.





...
    
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post #7 of 12
yeah dude, I have my ac freezer 7 pro screwed on with no backplate and its slightly bent. I was installing a big typhoon once on a socket 939 and by mistake I bend the s**t out of it. Well I freaked out when I saw that but thats another story. I ordered this with my infinity as well as 3 yate loon fans (two of which I will mount on the infinity). It comes with the backplate as well as bolts that will hopefully fit the mod. I will be doing some more things to the Infinity, but you can expect a VERY detailed review at stock speeds, a mild overclock, and the highest my week 28 stepping a e6600 can go.
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post #8 of 12
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by enz660 View Post
I will be doing some more things to the Infinity, but you can expect a VERY detailed review at stock speeds, a mild overclock, and the highest my week 28 stepping a e6600 can go.
right on! will be interesting to see how it turns out.

i wish i had taken photos of the mount-mod, ... i ended up having to use 1/2" sections of hack-sawed bic ball point pen housings in place of the springs because my springs didn't have enough compression; oh man ... you should see it ... my roommate was giving me these strange, "i hope he'll be okay" looks as i was measuring and hack sawing the ball point pen.

i destroyed the original scythe mounting components preparing for the mod and so i had to make the mod work ...

worked like a magic trick in the end, though ...

:-)

(it would almost be worth removing my motherboard simply to photo the hack-saw'd pen tubes ... but i'm not going to now that things are running so well; i've up'd my 24/7 speed to 3.8ghz.)

currently idling at 34C .. (of course, with an ambient around 19C or so)

fun stuff.
    
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post #9 of 12
Thread Starter 
BTW .. i've another silverstone ordered that i'm going to mount on the exhaust side of the cooler ...

i hope to run at 50% reduced fan speed in a push/pull setup ...

will post comparisons once i get the fan installed ..

..
    
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post #10 of 12
I actually had to register here to ask this actually...

I've been looking around online and was thinking about bolting an infinity on my setup, this just further convinces me it's exactly what I'm looking for for my new PC build. The case I was going to use is actually an armor, with the fan just like you have. I haven't ordered anything yet, but I have to ask how tough it was to mount the fan on the outside of the case.

Is it easy, or does it take some effort? I may have to pick another case if it's tough, but that's no biggie, those Silverstone cases are nice...
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