Scythe Shuriken 2 Low-Profile CPU Cooler – Review (Updated)

Update May 2020:
During our initial test of the Shuriken 2, we noticed that the 25mm upgraded fan option was performing worse than the slim standard fan, and as stated in the results section of this review, I suspected that a big reason for this was because of the case that we were doing that testing in – the Raijintek Ophion. The Ophion features glass panels with a small gap between them and the case. While this looks great, it definitely is not the most optimal configuration for airflow and temps. I suspected that the taller fan performed worse than the slim fan because it was closer to the glass panel and therefore the smaller gap was restricting the amount of airflow making its way into the heatsink. Spoiler alert, our suspicions seemed to be true!

Click here to skip forward to see the updated test results, otherwise feel free to read the entire review including the updated results!


Scythe certainly seems to have set some goals in the past years or so, and it looks 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 a new line of powerful and quiet ‘Kaze Flex’ fans, and seem to have upgraded their entire brand aesthetic as a whole. Well, to add to their current line-up, they are releasing another low-profile CPU cooler to take on the small-form-factor (SFF) market along with it’s bigger brother, the Big Shuriken 3. Available starting April 2020, the Scythe Shuriken 2 is a small cooler with no compromises when it comes to compatibility with other motherboard components, but with its small size and slim fan, will it be enough to win the hearts of SFF PC enthusiasts and their builds? This review will help you figure that out!

The Shuriken 2 stands at 58mm tall including the 92×15 Kaze Flex PWM fan and is almost a square in width and height where it takes up 93mm and 94mm, respectively. The cooler is designed to fit in just about any motherboard configuration, and in most cases. The cooler is upgradable and includes longer fan screws so that users can replace the 15mm tall fan with a 25mm version, the 25mm fan option is not included.

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The Scythe Shuriken 2 retails for $42-$45 depending on the retailer, and at the time of this writing (mid April 2020) Amazon is the only online retailer where it is currently available, to my knowledge.

Scythe Shuriken 2
https://amzn.to/2RB7xXQ

Categories of Review
Reviews are broken up into several categories, feel free to scroll through the entire review or click on the review categories below to jump to the section that you are most interested in, enjoy!

1.Packaging and presentation
2.Specs and function
3.Aesthetics
4.Installation process
5.Temps
6.Noise


Packaging and Presentation

As I mentioned earlier, Scythe seems to have made some efforts to improve their brand’s aesthetics in the past few years, and I believe that the packaging of this cooler is a great example of their efforts. While definitely not super extravagant packaging like what I saw during my previous review of the Noctua NH-L9a-AM4, it really doesn’t need to be. It is clean and clear, and gets the job done well!

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The exterior of the box is clear, and informative. Scythe uses every inch of cardboard effectively, and gives all of the important details necessary to know what you’re getting into with this little cooler.

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Upon opening the box, I was greeted with another box! The small inner box contained everything other than the heatsink and fan, and once you pull it out, sitting comfortably within more cardboard is the cooler itself.

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Inside the inner box is everything you need to get the cooler installed, and because of the simplicity of Scythe’s H.P.M.S III mounting system, it isn’t a whole lot. In fact, if you are using an AM4 motherboard, the only things in the packaging that pertain to you are the 2 mounting plates, the 4 rubber spacers, and 4 screws needed to screw the plates in place. The additional hardware included is necessary as this cooler is equipped to be compatible with all major Intel and AMD sockets.

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A somewhat nice touch that Scythe adds is a small sealed bag filled with their Scythe Thermal Elixer 2 thermal paste, and while it would have been nice for them to include the entire tube/syringe (the picture below shows the tube that was sent separately and is available for purchase), or at least a paste spreader, at the very least it isn’t ‘pre-applied’ thermal paste so that if you chose not to use it, you don’t have to take the extra step of removing it.

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Similar to the Big Shuriken 3, the instruction manual for the Shuriken 2 is short and sweet. Both the drawings and steps are clear and concise, and it does not surprise me, because as I will show during the ‘installation’ section, installing this cooler, especially in an AM4 socket, is extremely simple.

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Overall, the packaging and presentation of this new little cooler is simple and sweet. A minimal and cool aesthetic, much like the cooler itself.


Specs and Function

Heatsink: Material: Aluminium (fins)
Copper (heat pipes and base)
Dimensions: 94 mm x 93 mm x 58 mm (w/fan)
Heat pipes: 4 (copper)
Weight: 350 g (w/fan)

Fan: Kaze Flex Slim 92×15
Dimensions: 92mm x 92mm x 15mm
Fan Speed: 300–2500 RPM (max)
Fan Airflow: 41.3 (max)
Fan Noise: 1.8–23.2 dBA

Sockets: Intel: LGA775, LGA1150, LGA1151, LGA1155, LGA1366
AMD: AM4, AM3+, AM3, AM2+, AM2, FM2+, FM2, FM1

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I imagine that Scythe decided to release this cooler because although the Big Shuriken 3 is great for many builds, its size and height (69mm) make it so that there are probably many cases, most notably SFF cases, that it is simply too tall for, and there are some RAM/motherboard configurations that it cannot work with.

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Simply put, Scythe is covering all of their bases in the SFF market, and at 58mm tall, and only about the width and depth of a 92mm fan, the amount of builds and configurations that this cooler can fit in is most likely three-fold that of the Big Shuriken 3. Notably, this cooler is compatible with one of the currently most popular cases, the Louqe Ghost S1, but is unfortunately about 10mm too tall for one of the other most popular cases, the DAN A4.

Despite its short stature, the cooler features a two part design, with a set of 4 copper heat pipes connecting a copper base to the aluminum heatsink. Unsurprisingly, there was not a single section of the heatsink that did not look of high quality and precision. There was not a single bent fin or anything along those lines.

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Like its bigger brother, the Shuriken 2 features a mirror finish for the base, but only uses 4 heat pipes compared to the 5 in the Big Shuriken 3, understandably so considering the smaller size.

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As mentioned above, the cooler comes with longer screws for those that feel that the 15mm slim fan may not be enough and would prefer to use a 25mm fan. Scythe was gracious enough to send one of their 92×25 Kaze Flex PWM fans so that I can see the differences in height, as well as to test the differences in cooling power between the two fans. The standard issue slim fan features 9 blades, while the thicker 25mm version only uses 7.

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Something interesting to note is that that while both fans are very similar in design in and include the rubber dampeners, the screw holes were manufactured differently. In the picture above of the thicker 25mm fan, you scan see that the screw heads sits on top of the fan once fully screwed in, while the picture below shows that the 15mm slim fan allows for the screw head to sit flush with the fan. This adds a smidgen more of height to the 25mm configuration, which may be important for those that might try to squeeze the 25mm fan into their case.

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Aesthetics

Like I have mentioned in the past, Scythe really seems to have improved their overall brand aesthetic in the past few years, and both their newest cooler designs, as well as their line of fans are proof of this.

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Personally, I am a big fan of the black and grey muted look (no thanks, RGB), and while I’m sure a black heatsink would have looked amazing, the current ‘silver’ finish looks fine and isn’t seen much anyway once the cooler is installed. The colors and look of the fan should pair well with many other PC parts, and add to the aesthetic of your build overall. My only visual gripe is that I feel that the silver screws break the aesthetic a bit and I would have liked to see black screws that would add value to the muted look. However, this may just be me being ‘nit picky’.

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One of my favorite things about this cooler is the attention to details. The cooler features a silver shroud that covers the end of the heat pipes and it includes a subtle and elegant logo on one side. This is very similar to the shroud that is present on the Big Shuriken 3 and I really admire that Scythe decides to spend time and money on the aesthetics of a part of the cooler that quite frankly won’t be very visible once the cooler is installed.

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Installation

I have dealt with some very convoluted CPU cooler installations in the past, so the easiness and simplicity of a CPU cooler’s installation process is quite important to me. Also, considering that custom-building PCs is becoming more and more popular in recent years, being ‘beginner-friendly’ is probably an important feature for a PC brand to try to reach.

This is why I truly appreciate the installation process for the Scythe Shuriken 2. Installing it was extremely simple and I was done in less than 5 minutes. Notably, with the AMD platform, you use the stock backplate and therefore you don’t even have to remove your motherboard from your case in order to upgrade to this cooler, something that I very much appreciate.

Once everything is removed from the previous cooler that you were using (or the AMD brackets that come with the motherboard if you are installing this cooler on a brand new board), three simple steps is all that it takes to complete the installation.

Step one: add the rubber spacers onto the board, and push them on tightly so that they grip the stems of the backplate snugly.

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Step two: Place the mounting plates on top of the spacers, and screw them in (note: if you find that once the cooler is installed, it is a little ‘crooked’, go back and adjust the mounting plates a little).

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Step three: Place the cooler on top of the CPU (don’t forget the thermal paste first) and align the screw holes on the mounting plates with the screws on the heatsink. The cooler is designed so that you can reach the screw heads through the fan blades, however, I recommend removing the fan, installing the heatsink, and then screwing the fan back on. This allows for a slightly less obstructed process of installation, and as a bonus it allows you to place your fan in a way that best works with the length of the cable to the CPU fan port.

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As simple as that, your new cooler is ready to put in work!

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Temps

Because of the height of this cooler (58mm), it sits near the top end of the section of the market that is dominated by low-profile coolers like the Noctua NH-L9a/i (37mm), the Cryorig C7 (47mm), and the Noctua NH-L9x65 (65mm). Unfortunately, I have stripped the screws on my Cryorig C7s mounting kit, so I was not able to test it against this cooler, and I didn’t have immediate access to the NH-L9x65, however, I did test the NH-L9a, which I feel is important to test against this cooler considering that that chromax version of that cooler is currently the ‘go-to’ cooler for SFF (specifically sandwich style) PCs.

Additionally, I tested the Shuriken 2 with the 25mm fan option, and I went ahead and tested the AMD stock cooler as well. I did this because I am generally a ‘budget-oriented’ gamer, and I know that there are many, many other budget orientated PC enthusiasts, so I feel that it is important to see if an aftermarket cooler is even worth the added spending, especially if you are using a low-mid tier CPU, or are only playing low-mid tier power hungry games.

The details and results of testing are below. For this review, I decided to test COD Warzone instead of PUBG as Warzone is definitely the battle royale of the moment at the time of this review.

Test Specs:
CPU: AMD Ryzen 5 3600 (base clock)
RAM: G.Skill Ripjawz V 16gb 3200mhz
Motherboard: Asrock X470 Fatal1ty-ITX/AC
GPU: EVGA GTX 1070 SC – undervolted
Case: Raijintek Ophion with glass panels, two Scythe Kaze Flez fans (top and bottom) set to exhaust for negative air pressure
Thermal Paste: Scythe Thermal Elixer 2

CPU-Z stress test: 100% load – 10 minutes
AIDA64 stress test: 100% load – 10 minutes
Rainbow Six Siege @1080p ultra settings – about 30 minutes
COD Warzone @1080p ultra settings – 30 minutes
Assassin’s Creed Origins @1080p ultra settings – 30 minutes

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Results were mostly right around what I expected, with some surprises. The Shuriken 2 performed almost identically to the NH-L9a, which is interesting considering that the Noctua cooler is significantly shorter (about 20mm), however that cooler carries about 50g more of heatsink weight. and is longer than it is wider, while the Shuriken 2 is pretty much a square, so that may be what causes the similarity in performance.

What was quite shocking to me, was the fact that the 25mm fan performed worse on most, if not all tests, than the 15mm slim option on the Shuriken 2. Because I was confused initially, I even went ahead and re-installed the cooler and tested both fans a second time. These results are quite strange to me as it makes sense that the thicker fan should provide more cooling power, and I noticed that one other reviewer got slightly better temps with the 25mm fan than the 15mm version. The only thing I can think of that may have caused the lack of better performance from the 25mm option is that my case has glass side panels that obviously do not provide a great amount of airflow. My theory is that maybe the added height made the fan sit closer to the glass and therefore was a little choked of air because of the smaller gap between it and the glass, however I am unsure and may do a follow-up test on an open bench or simply with the glass panel taken off of my case.

Unsurprisingly, both aftermarket coolers performed significantly better than the AMD stock cooler, and I feel that the difference in temps is always worth buying an aftermarket cooler when considering preserving and extending the life of your CPU.

Updated Temp Results

We made a simple fix to get a more ‘even’ fighting ground for all of the coolers – we took off the glass panels of the case. With this method the case became more of an ‘open-air’ test bench with no airflow throttling. Other than maybe an Nvidia GeForce driver update, there was nothing else changed between this set of tests and the initial tests. As an added bonus, we threw in some test results of the Shuriken 2’s bigger brother, the Big Shuriken 3.

Test Specs:
CPU: AMD Ryzen 5 3600 (base clock)
RAM: G.Skill Ripjawz V 16gb 3200mhz
Motherboard: Asrock X470 Fatal1ty-ITX/AC
GPU: EVGA GTX 1070 SC – undervolted
Case: Raijintek Ophion without glass panels (open air), two Scythe Kaze Flez fans (top and bottom) set to exhaust
Thermal Paste: Scythe Thermal Elixer 2

CPU-Z stress test: 100% load – 10 minutes
Rainbow Six Siege @1080p ultra settings – 30 minutes
COD Warzone @1080p ultra settings – 30 minutes

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I was not surprised to see the difference in temperature that the lack of glass panels made, however, I was quite intrigued when I saw how each configuration was affected.

It seems as though our suspicions were confirmed as you can see that the Shuriken 2 with the taller 25mm fan performed consistently better than the standard slim fan configuration, which is the complete opposite to how it performed during our initial tests with the glass panels on.

Additionally, the initial test results showed that the Shuriken 2 was neck and neck with the NH-L9a, however with this ‘open-air’ setup the Shuriken 2 (both with standard fan and 25mm upgrade) seemed to leave the Noctua behind and performed with an average of about 3 degrees cooler (standard slim fan). My theory as to why the open-air setup more positively affected the Shuriken 2 is that the Noctua was not as negatively effected by the glass panels as the Shuriken was, simply because of it’s significantly short profile. It had so much space between it and the glass and even sat low enough to pull in air from the ventilation holes on the back of the case.

So what did we learn hear? Well first off, from now on I will be doing my testing in cases that are more optimal for air flow and I may even invest in a test bench..

Otherwise, I was pleasantly surprised to learn that the 25mm fan is an upgrade from the slim option, as it should be. However, I am still not sure that the performance is significantly better enough to warrant the additional price tag of the fan. Something to consider as well is the added height that the fan adds to the cooler, making it almost exactly the same height as the Big Shuriken 3, and as we can see in the test results, the Big Shuriken 3 performs better (I’m sure it is because of the 120mm fan and bigger heatsink). So when both the Shuriken 2 and Big Shuriken 3 are around $43 USD, I can only think of one situation in which you would want to spend an additional $11 for the 25mm fan, instead of choosing the Big Shuriken 3, and that is if the Big Shuriken 3 doesn’t work for your motherboard/RAM configuration, which should not be that common.


Noise

I don’t have much to say about the noise of this cooler, and I think that that is a good thing! The standard configuration with the 15mm slim fan was actually very quiet, which is not surprising as the Kaze Flex fans are definitely quieter than the previous line of Scythe fans, which were already notorious for being rather quiet. I am sure that the lack of noise is because of the fluid dynamic bearings, as well as the rubber vibration/sound dampeners on each corner of the fans. During gaming, I could not hear the CPU fan over the GPU fans (which aren’t very loud as my GPU is undervolted), and during CPU tests, the fan was not annoyingly audible and I feel that I heard the airflow more than the fan itself.

Actually, I noticed that the 25mm fan was noticeably more audible than the 15mm slim version, and was even slightly audible when doing simple tasks on my PC like multi-tasking through documents, web browser, videos, etc.


Conclusion

While it is quite easy to say that this cooler is of high quality and it performs well in all all categories like aesthetics, sound levels, and cooling, I would be lying if I said that it didn’t have stiff competition. This section of the market is currently dominated by a few different Noctua models, and it may be a bit difficult choosing this cooler over one of the other options.

Reasons to choose this cooler: 1) The black and grey looks great which is definitely a good option for those that don’t like the Noctua brown look and don’t want to pay the premium for the chromax alternates, 2) the cooler is quite silent and performs just as well as other similar coolers. 3) Also, the compact shape allows for compatibility with all RAM and motherboard configurations, which is not the case with the Shuriken 2’s bigger brother, the Big Shuriken 3. 4) Additionally, it is about 11mm shorter than the Big Shuriken 3 which means more compatibility with SFF cases (compatible with popular cases like the Louqe Ghost S1 and the Nouvolo Steck). 5) Lastly, this cooler is retailing at about $42-$45 USD which is on the inexpensive end of coolers of this caliber.

Reasons that you may want to look elsewhere: 1) At 58mm, this cooler is unfortunately too tall for many popular SFF cases like the previously mentioned DAN A4 and the Sliger Designs SM 550 and 560. 2) Additionally, it performs right around as well as the Noctua NH-L9a/i which has compatibility with more cases and, if you don’t mind the Noctua brown, is a few bucks cheaper than the Shuriken 2.

While I will be sticking with the Big Shuriken 3 in my main PC, I will be definitely be adding this cooler to my list of PC parts that I recommend to people looking to upgrade or build their SFF PC, and will most likely be adding it to my younger brother’s build once he upgrades to the new Ryzen 3 3300x CPU.

If you are interested in upgrading your PC with this cooler, below is an Amazon affiliate link to the product, I will make sure to update the link if the product page changes. Please consider using this link as it helps support this website!

Scythe Shuriken 2
https://amzn.to/2RB7xXQ

Scythe Kaze Flex PWM 92x25 fan
https://amzn.to/3ehgGyn

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What are your thoughts on this cooler and my review? Is there another product that you would like me to review next? Send me a DM @mitxlove on IG, or e-mail me at mitxlove@yahoo.com for questions/comments/suggestions!

Thanks to Scythe for sending the product that made this review possible. The views expressed in the review are thoroughly my own.

-Hector
@mitxlove

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