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Written by: Dan "Tweak Monkey" Kennedy
Posted: August 15, 2006
Supplied by: Scythe USA
Price: About $45
To determine the effectiveness of the Mine Cooler, I ran the CPU at various speeds and voltages and monitored its temperature using Everest Ultimate Edition. To check stability at those speeds, Everest's Stability Test was used with the emphasis on stressing the system memory, CPU, and FPU (on-chip floating point unit). This test was run for 10 minutes and the temperature was recorded in a graph (shown below in Celsius). Room temperature was about 80 degrees.
1.8 GHz (200 MHz x 9) @1.35 volts [default clock and voltage]
Peak temperatures: 148F @ CPU; 93F @ motherboard
The XP-120, which did not have a fan directly on the heatsink, allowed the Opteron to get awfully hot, even at the default clock speed. Attaching a 120mm fan directly to the heatsink would have offered a huge improvement.
Peak temperatures: 115F @ CPU; 97F @ motherboard
The Mine Cooler is much better equipped for the task with its integrated fan, reducing the temperature by 35 degrees fahrenheit in this test. The motherboard temperature is slightly higher though, which may be attributed to the larger heatsink and fan blocking some airflow to the other components within the PC, but it's nothing to worry about.
2.1 GHz (235 MHz x 9) @1.42 volts [overclocked 17%]
Peak temperatures: 163F @ CPU; 96F @ motherboard
Even though the CPU passed a 10 minute stability test at this temperature, it was not really practical for gaming and intensive use, and actually experienced lock-ups in Ubuntu during normal desktop use a couple times. Again, adding a fan would have given a much better comparison and we may perform this test later.
Peak temperatures: 124F @ CPU; 97F @ motherboard
The Mine Cooler showed only a marginal increase in temperature but did an excellent job cooling the slightly overclocked processor.
2.25 GHz (250 MHz x 9) @1.50 volts [overclocked 25%]
Peak temperatures: 131F @ CPU; 97F @ motherboard
Bumping the clock speed another 135 MHz and the voltage .08 volts only pushed the temperature up 7 degrees at its peak. The system was very stable at this speed.
2.38 GHz (265 MHz x 9) @1.52 volts [overclocked 32.5%]
Peak temperatures: 140F @ CPU; 97F @ motherboard
The stability test would fail if the clock speed was beyond this limit, but the temperature was still within reason, suggesting other factors may have been to blame. It was still very impressive to see the Mine Cooler effectively cool the CPU at this speed with its low speed fan.
After using Scythe's Mine Cooler for a week I can write that it is a fine CPU cooler that deserves some serious consideration when shopping for new components. It has two important characteristics that separate it from the herd: it's quiet and it's very effective. Its low-speed fan and heatpipe design do a great job with a marginally overclocked CPU and at $45, it's a much more affordable solution than some others on the market which it may outperform.
Enthusiasts might want to look around a bit more as they may be disappointed with the performance of the fan on the cooler. It won't allow you to break any air-powered records for overclocking but despite its complex appearance can be easily upgraded to utilize a larger, more powerful fan. This, of course, might ruin the point of buying an ultra quiet cooler in the first place.
If there's one downside of this cooler, it's the massive size. It will take a lot of space inside most cases and may even have trouble fitting in others. It's also not the most attractive or highest quality unit on the market, but it's quite nice for the price and still comes recommended.