Mention the words "CPU cooler," and many readers will conjure an image of some form of copper or aluminum heatsink base, slotted fins, and a fan atop the unit. Before the dawn of all-in-one (AIO) closed-loop liquid cooling, the standard choice for processor cooling was the traditional air cooler. Now, CPU coolers compete against a legion of available cooling options for performance, visual flair, and the almighty dollar while appealing to every facet of customization or niche market.
The Scythe Grand Kama Cross 3 is a large, 4-heatpipe cooler incorporating an 11-blade, 140mm fan above what could best be described as a ‘butterfly’ layout of fin arrays, rather than the traditional vertical tower layout. The cooler base is a solid piece of 1/8" (3.5mm) thick nickel-plated polished material (presumably copper), upon which the four heat pipes sit. This means Scythe has designed the Grand Kama Cross 3 not as a direct heat pipe cooler, as we've seen with many other solutions. Rather, it relies upon thermal conduction to move heat off the CPU's integrated heat spreader surface through a solid slab of metal and then into the heat pipes.
The base is highly polished and arrives devoid of any factory-applied thermal compound, although Scythe does include a small packet of paste.
The collection of four heat pipes runs across the breadth of the base, but they don't have full contact with the mirror-finished base; you can easily see gaps around the heat pipes, because they aren't fully integrated into the base of the cooler or otherwise filled with solder. The heat pipes arc upward and then inward at close to a 45 degree angle, therefore crossing the opposing arms of each pipe before entering into the fin banks on either side, beneath the cooling fan.
The top of the fins and heat pipes terminate under the semi-gloss black-metal fan mount that also acts, somewhat, as a shroud. Airflow for the cooler is focused down and through the fins. One particularly curious thing is how the heat pipes are wrinkled and distressed, presumably from the process and stresses of bending them into the crossing shape for the cooler. Whether or not these imperfections impact cooling is unknown.
Although the shape and size of the cooler is unique and quite large, it does sit centered directly above the CPU socket without any noticeable offset. While installation for most air coolers is somewhat similar from cooler to cooler on any given Intel or AMD socket, the Scythe Grand Kama Cross 3 does require a bit of a balancing act and a special, long screwdriver (included) to affix the final cooler screws securely. The best method of reaching these screws is going directly down and through the fan and the cooler itself, but since the screwdriver is slightly magnetized, it allows for the screw to be placed on the Phillips’ end and guided into place from above, provided your aim is true.
This final mechanical step does take a bit of finesse and almost requires an extra set of hands in order to steady the cooler and align these screws until both sides have their threads started in the mount. It took us a couple of attempts to get this just right and successfully mount the cooler. Once completed, the Scythe Grand Kama Cross 3 covers a great deal of real estate over the processor, system memory, and motherboard power delivery.
The cooler’s fin banks come close to the top-most PCI-e slot, but do not inhibit its use, provided a graphics card or other component does not have a large back plate or any raised connectors.
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