Scythe Co NCU-1000 Heat Sink
Date Posted: July 7th, 2003
Scythe Co. and TS Heatronics have sent us their Heatlane NCU-1000 passive heatsink for review, come find out if this innovative heatpipe-like CPU cooler has the right stuff to keep things cool under pressure in our official review...
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While there are usually no great expectations from passive coolers, I was optimistic
with the NCU-1000 because of its unique technology, huge size and the claims
from its manufacturer: TS Heatronics. As it turns out, Scythe Co. is not the
company that makes the NCU-1000, they merely distribute it.
The manufacturer's claims follow:
These are the system specs and ambient temperatures:
CPU : Intel Pentium 4 2.8GHz
Memory : DDR-SDRAM 512MB
Motherboard : GIGABYTE GA-8GEM667K
OS : Windows ME
Thermometric software : MBM5
Outside Ambient Temperature (OAT) : 20C
In-case temperature : 24C (before bench marking, measured by sensor)
Power Supply : AOpen Strong Power 400W
PC Case fan : Nil
These are my results:
And these are my system specs and ambient temperatures:
CPU : Intel Pentium 4 2.53GHz
Memory : DDR-SDRAM 1024MB
Motherboard : ABIT IT7-MAX2 v2.0
OS : Windows XP Pro
Thermometric software : MBM5
Outside Ambient Temperature (OAT) : 23C
In-case temperature : performed on workbench
Power Supply : Antec TruePower 430W
PC Case fan : Thermaltake case fan, 32CFM (for active test)
As you can see there appears to be some discrepancy. My ambient temperature
is colder (air around their heat sink was 24C, air around mine was 23C) and
my CPU dissipates less thermal
power (6.9W less), but my measure temperatures are significantly higher.
While there are numerous factors that could account for a small degree difference,
such as thermal paste (I used Arctic Silver 3), poor mounting against the CPU
(I checked and there was full contact) and inaccurate thermal sensors, I feel
that none of these could account for the margin between my results and the claimed
results. I believe a possible cause of the discrepancy could be a difference
in airflow through and around the heat sink in our varied testing environments,
because as I show later the NCU-1000 works much better actively cooled.
It was just pointed out to me that I am an idiot. I was not careful in my examination
of the manufacturer's claimed results so I did not notice that the temperatures
on the graph are adjusted to not include the ambient temperature. That
explains the exceptionally low temperatures. I have updated my results graph
to more accurately reflect the relationship between my temperatures and TS Heatronics's
temperatures. I appologize for any undue conclusions I came to and for any confusion
When I first turned on the computer, the initial temperature recorded by Motherboard
Monitor 126.96.36.199 was 45C, as I let the computer sit under 0% CPU load the temperature
gradually began to rise during a 45 minute period up to a steady stopping point
of 55C. I can only assume that the working fluid could not circulate fast enough
to release the heat off into the environment so it became saturated, only finally
reaching equilibrium at 55C. It must be noted that there was negligible airflow
in my testing environment, which could partially explain my higher temperatures.
While under Prime95 load, the temperatures shot up so quickly that I feared
for my P4 and stopped the test at 60C.
After passive tests I decided to give the NCU-1000 a whirl while actively cooled
to see if it performed any better. I used an 80mm Thermaltake case fan that
puts out 32CFM at 2050rpm. The results indicate that it performed better than
while passively cooled, as to be expected. From what I remember, these numbers
seem about on par with how well my P4's retail heat sink performed. With a good
high CFM 120mm fan and some creativity you might have a half decent HSF unit.
With the passive tests not producing favorable results, I can only recommend
the NCU-1000 if you have decent airflow in your computer case. Even then though
I would have to only recommend the NCU-1000 to those who do nothing more than
light computer work.
Perhaps the most interesting thing about the NCU-1000 is that the "working
fluid" actually worked very well. While it did not cool the CPU effectively
while passive, it did transfer heat to the top of the heat sink very well, in
fact the top of the heat sink was hot to the touch. This is not often the case
with regular heat sinks, as the heat does not transfer well radially throughout
I do not doubt that a heat sink fan unit with the Heatlane would work very
well to spread out the heat and cool the processor, so I look forward to such
a product geared for the PC market in the future.
The innovative Heatlane technology was very intriguing and most impressive
in its operation, however its implementation in the NCU-1000 form left something
to be desired. For Scythe Co and TS Heatronics' cool technology but unimpressive
performance I give the NCU-1000 a 6/10.
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