There are a few select brands that come to mind for most enthusiasts when it comes to keeping PCs, and more specifically, processors, nice and cool. Well Scythe seems intent on adding itself to that list of names, and with products like the Big Shuriken 3 and accompanying Kaze Flex fans, it’s well on it’s way to getting there.
When Scythe reached out to see if I was interested in taking a look at the Big Shuriken 3, I was quite intrigued. I am actually already a fan of Scythe (pun intended), and in fact, my current build is already sporting both a 120×25 Scythe Slipstream PWM case fan, and a 120×12 ultra slim version of that same Slipstream model (the Raijintek Ophion case requires a slim fan at the bottom).
I became more intrigued at reading that the Big Shuriken 3 is just under 70mm tall, since for the past 5 years or so, ultra slim “sandwich”-style and “console-killer” type PC cases have become quite dominant in the small form factor (SFF) PC space. And in fact, SFF cases in general have become very prominent in the industry as a whole! As parts like storage drives and graphics cards become smaller, while simultaneously becoming more capable and powerful, the SFF market will only continue to grow!
The Big Shuriken 3 retails for around $45 USD. The Kaze Flex fans for about $13-$15 USD depending on model.
Scythe Big Shuriken 3
Scythe 120mm Kaze Flex Slim pwm
Scythe 120mm Kaze Flex standard pwm
Categories of Review
1.Packaging and presentation
2.Specs and function
Packaging and Presentation
Sometimes, seeing a PC part box can be more exciting than seeing the part itself. I looked at the box for my Ryzen 5 3600 processor for a good 15 minutes before even opening it and revealing the power inside. Also, packaging and presentation are increasing in importance in this industry, as PC parts have become stocked in physical stores more and more often over the past few years (just step in to PC gaming section of a Best Buy).
I think Scythe does a decent job here. The graphics are exciting but not tacky, and I really like that the back of the box shows the dimensions and specs of the cooler. Again, very useful for the in-person shopper.
Opening the box, the presentation continues. I was greeted by a bag of goodies, and below that, the beautiful Kaze flex fan that sits atop the cooler.
The Big Shuriken 3 comes with everything necessary to fit the cooler to all major socket types, from both AMD and Intel. A sheet of instructions and Scythe’s own thermal paste are included in the goodie bag as well. Note that there is only one back-plate, as AMD motherboards do not require one. More on that later.
I want to point out that the instruction sheet was clear and concise, with great images to accompany the instructions. I learned what I needed to do to install it, in less than a minute.
Another great detail is the boldness and clarity of the base sticker, so as to prevent people from making the greatest of all “noob” mistakes. Sadly, some people will probably still make this mistake. Well, Scythe can only do so much to prevent it.
Specs and Function
The big Shuriken 3 sits at 69mm of height, this is including the slim Kaze flex (120×15) fan. Because this is a low-profile cooler, the 120mm fan sits on top, and so the heatsink itself takes about 122mm in both width and length at it’s top end, and while that may seem like it can take up too much space for a mini ITX or other SFF motherboard, the asymmetrical design of the cooler allows the user to keep it from fighting with the RAM sticks for space.
I couldn’t try, as my RAM was just barely too tall, but I am quite sure that because of the design of the bottom of the heatsink, in which there is a channel in the metal that allows a significant amount of clearance compared to the rest of the heatsink (see below), you could position it so that it sits over the RAM sticks, as long as they are low-profile. This may come in handy, as many high-end motherboards sport very beefy I/O shrouds nowadays, and trying to position the cooler over the RAM may be a better bet than over the I/O shroud.
At all angles, the cooler screams “precision engineering”, and the five 6mm heat pipes that connect the base to the main body are a perfect example of it. The super flat, mirror finish of the base makes for precise contact with the paste and processor.
Interestingly enough, despite it’s color, Scythe claims that the base is made of copper, and I believe that that allows for the use of liquid metal as a conductive material in lieu of standard thermal paste, if you’re feeling bold. Disclaimer: please do further research before attempting this!
I want to segue into the ‘aesthetics’ section of the review, by featuring the black shroud that surrounds most of the heatsink. The reason for the segue is that, not only does it enhance the look of the cooler, especially with the well-placed Scythe logo, but it seems to serve good function, as the shroud acts as a “guide” for the air, making sure that it doesn’t disperse into the area around the cooler, and instead stays en route through the fins. A very nice touch!
There is not an angle of this cooler that is hard on the eyes, as even the black and grey tones of the Kaze flex fan look great, and the muted colors make for adding value to a ‘stealthy’ build, or should work well as the canvas to some good ‘ol RGB. While I believe that black screws would complete the look, the silver screws aren’t distracting and don’t take too much away.
Everything from the simple and pleasant logo on the fan, to the logo on the shroud, to the high-quality black braided cable tell me that Scythe really paid attention to the details with this cooler.
One of the biggest obstacles that I faced when first learning to build PCs was trying to install cumbersome and tedious heatsinks and brackets. This is why, when asked for CPU cooler recommendations, I tend to lean towards coolers that perform well and are simple to install. The Big Shuriken 3 falls into the list of coolers that I would recommend! For Intel, there may be a tiny bit more to the process, as it requires adding the back-plate to the back of the motherboard, but for AMD (specifically the AM4 socket) the installation process is a breeze! It is literally as simple as 1, 2, 3.
1. Place the plastic spacers over the screw holes.
2. Screw the brackets over the spacers and add the thermal paste (step 2.5)
3. Place the heatsink above the brackets and align the screws on the heatsink with the holes on the bracket, and screw it on!
A cooler that looks this good must also perform well right? Well, you’re not wrong! While I didn’t have any top-of-the-line coolers to compare this one to (don’t worry, there are quite a couple of reviews out there that do this, there is a great one here), I did run a few tests using the CPU-Z stress test, and a few fan-favorite games like PUBG, and Assassin’s Creed Origins, both at ultra settings.
When thinking about building a PC, I am aware that not every user can afford to go all-out, and often times builders are forced to cut corners here and there in order to afford all of the parts that make the PC function. For example, this often comes in the form of buying a 2.5in SSD instead of a M.2 NVMe, choosing a cheaper, more generic case over something as prominent and expensive as the DAN A4 or Louqe Ghost S1, and also, choosing to stick with the stock CPU cooler instead of buying an aftermarket product. At about $45 USD, is the Big Shuriken 3 worth scrapping together a few more dollar bills for? I definitely think so.
CPU: AMD Ryzen 5 3600 (base clock)
RAM: G.Skill Ripjawz V 16gb 3200
Motherboard: Asrock X470-ITX/AC
Thermal Paste: Arctic MX-4
CPU-Z stress test – 10 minutes
PUBG at ultra settings (multiple maps) – 30 minutes
Assassin’s Creed Origins at ultra settings (city of Alexandria) – 30 minutes
To no surprise, the Big Shuriken 3 fared significantly better than the stock cooler, as well as a cooler that is at a slightly lower price point. interestingly, at many points the cooler was around 10 degrees Celsius cooler than the stock cooler. I imagine that those 10 degrees can make a significant difference in the longevity of your processor and accompanying components.
I don’t have a fancy decibel reader, and the decibel reader app on my phone was not working well at all, so I decided to play it by ear (get it) when checking for noise levels. It wasn’t very difficult to hear the difference in noise between the Big Shuriken 3 and the other two coolers.
The main advantage of the Big Shuriken 3 is the 120×15 Kaze Flex fan that tops the cooler. At only 15mm thin, I was expecting it to be somewhat loud, as most slim fans tend to be, and especially at 100% load (1800 rpms), but I was pleasantly surprised at the quiet, low-pitch noise coming from the fan. The fan features a fluid dynamic bearing that definitely shows its quality, and the ‘shock absorber’ rubber pads that line the corners of the fan definitely help in reducing noise and vibration. Additionally, the plastic spacers that I mentioned during the installation process of the cooler have rubber innards, and I am willing to bet that those aid significantly in reducing vibrations and noise as well.
As a plus, Scythe makes this fan in both the 15mm, and standard 25mm height, and the cooler even includes longer screw for those that prefer to use the standard height Kaze Flex fan for additional noise-reduction and slight power improvements. Unfortunately, my case (Raijintek Ophion) was just a smidgen too short to allow for the 25mm fan, but many other cases can fit it.
Scythe sent along a few of their Kaze Flex fans for me to try out, and they were a good improvement over their older models of fans, in just about every single category- noise-reduction, temperatures, and aesthetics (note the ugly cables of the older model). I already enjoyed using their older fans, and I am excited to make a full fan upgrade in my PC using the Kaze Flex fans.
I thoroughly enjoyed checking out the Big Shuriken 3 as well as the Kaze Flex fans. Both pieces of product boast high-brow aesthetics, and the performance to match. Like I mentioned before, I was already a fan of Scythe, and after this review, that feeling has increased! I believe that Scythe has something to prove in the world of high-tier PCs, and the Big Shuriken 3 is definitely one of the tools that they are using to make that happen.
Please consider using the links below if you are interested in purchasing the cooler or fans, as it helps support this website, thanks!
Scythe Big Shuriken 3
Scythe 120mm Kaze Flex Slim pwm
Scythe 120mm Kaze Flex standard pwm
Is there another product that you would like me to review next? Send me a DM @mitxlove on IG, or e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org for suggestions!
Thanks to Scythe for sending the product that made this review possible. The views expressed in the review are thoroughly my own.
One thought on “Scythe Big Shuriken 3 Low-Profile CPU Cooler & Kaze Flex 120mm Fans – Review”
[…] like they are achieving many of them! Along with the release of the Big Shuriken 3, a cooler that I reviewed a few months ago and subsequently chose to keep as my main PCs CPU cooler, they have also released […]