A quiet and efficient budget CPU cooler: Scythe Kotetsu Mark Three Review

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A quiet and efficient budget CPU cooler: Scythe Kotetsu Mark Three Review

Introducing Scythe, Co.

Today we're going to look at a budget CPU cooler from Scythe, one of the most popular manufacturers in the PC cooling space. If you are not familiar with Scythe, they have over 20 years of experience, founded in 2002 in Tokyo, Japan. They are best known for their high performance, low noise CPU coolers like the FUMA 2 – but they also make PC fans ranging from 92mm to 140mm in size.

Introducing the Kotetsu Mark Three CPU Air Cooler

The cooler we'll be examining with today's review is the Kotetsu Mark Three air cooler, an entry-level product that can be found for $29.99 USD. It features a single tower with 4 heatpipes, along with a 120mm Kaze Flex fan for quiet operation.

What comes in the box

The Kotetsu Mark Three comes in a simple, small box with cardboard and foam to protect the inner contents during shipping.

Included with the Kotetsu Mark Three is

Features of the Scythe Kotetsu Mark Three Air Cooler

The Kotetsu Mark Three offers great value at a budget price of $29.99, and is currently available from retailers such as NewEgg. You won't find many coolers available at a cheaper price.

The Kotetsu Mark Three was designed in such a way that the cooler does not overhang the RAM at all, meaning it is compatible no matter how high your DDR4 or DDR5 is!

The fans that come with a cooler can be just as important as the heat sink, and have a direct impact on performance and noise levels. The Scythe includes the latest Kaze Flex II PWM fan, which has improved anti-vibration rubber pads (compared to previous products) for reduced noise and vibration

The Scythe's cooler has a nickel-plated copper heatsink and four heat pipes to aid in heat dissipation.

AM4/AM5 Installation

The first thing you need to do is remove the standard AM5 mounting brackets. Once done, take the gray spacers that come with the package and place them around the CPU. Take the AMD mounting bar by placing it on top of the gray spacers, then secure it with a screwdriver.

After installing the mounting rods, apply the supplied thermal paste. Take the tower radiator and place it against the mounting bars and then secure it with a screwdriver.

The final step is to attach the fans to the radiator tower using the included clips, and connect the PWM cable to your motherboard.

Test platform configuration and test methodology

Be quiet! Pure rock LP

Be quiet! Shadow Rock 3

Cooler Master Hyper 622 Halo

Cougar Forza 135

DeepCool AG500

DeepCool LT720 WH

EK AIO Elite 280 D-RGB

Fractal Celsius+ S28

Iceberg Thermal IceSLEET G4 Silent

Iceberg Thermal IceSLEET X7 Dual

Borrow Kotetsu Mark Three

Silverstone Hydrogon D120W ARGB

Thermalright Peerless Assassin SE 120 ARGB

I've tested Scythe's Kotetsu Mark Three alongside AMD's Ryzen 7 7700X CPU and ASRock's B650E Taichi motherboard, installed in DeepCool's CK560WH computer case. To test the cooling capacity, I run Cinebench R23's multi-core benchmark in four system configurations.

Observant readers may notice that the noise graphs start at 35 instead of zero. This is because my sound meter cannot measure sound levels lower than 35 dBA. This makes it "null" for testing purposes.

For those concerned that this might distort the results – no worries. If anything, the graphs above will minimize the differences in noise levels because dBA measurements are logarithmic.

For a detailed explanation of how decibel measurements correspond to perceived noise levels, please check out the video below from BeQuiet! which makes it easy to visualize and understand the true impact of increasing dBA levels.

Noise normalized results

Performance scales by an extremely limited amount with stronger coolers on AMD's Ryzen 7 7700X, meaning there isn't much of an advantage to running fans at full speed. It is useful to see how coolers perform when noise is normalized for quiet operation.

Scythe's Kotetsu Mark Three, which cooled an average of 111.2W during Cinebench testing, isn't the strongest contender shown here. However, the competing coolers shown in this graph are typically more expensive than Scythe's offering – which is available for just $29.99 USD.

Maximum cooling performance at standard current limits

With the stock current limits of AMD's Ryzen 7 7700X, any air cooler no matter how strong will cause the CPU to reach its TJMax of 95C. In this configuration, we will evaluate the cooler by how many watts are dissipated by the cooler and the noise level it produces at full speed.

With a maximum noise level of 42.9 dBA, the Scythes Kotetsu Mark Three runs smoothly even at full fan speed. Those who prefer silent operation will enjoy the Kotesu Mark Three, as it runs quieter than most coolers on the market today.

Looking at overall cooling performance, the Kotetsu Mark Three was able to cool 116.5W on average when paired with AMD's Ryzen 7 7700X. This is about 15W away from the best results I've seen with an air cooler, and won't result in any significant impact on performance.

95W thermals and acoustics

It's important to test a cooler under a range of power limits, because most workloads won't push the CPU to use its full power budget. Cooling difficulties are dramatically reduced with lower power loads, and how high the cooler works in these situations is more important.

Most air coolers keep the CPU close to 80C in this scenario, although the best air coolers can keep it closer to 75C. At an average of 58C over a 23C ambient temperature (81C), the Kotetsu Mark Three's thermal performance is adequate but not impressive.

With noise levels of 42.9 dBA, the Kotetsu Mark Three's noise levels are among the quieter results I've seen when testing with AMD's Ryzen 7 7700X.

Observant readers may notice that the noise levels are the same as the previous results at full power. This is because the default fan curve of the ASRock b650E Taichi makes the fans run at full speed when the CPU reaches above 80C.

It is important to note that the noise normalized results shown earlier show that this cooler is more than capable of handling a 95W load when configured for silent operation.

75W thermals and acoustics

Workloads like gaming tend to use around 75 watts, so this test will represent the kind of noise levels and temperatures you'll encounter while gaming on the Ryzen 7 7700X. This is a fairly simple thermal test, and even the weakest of coolers should cope with it without problems.

Although I show thermal results here in the graph above, they are not very important. Acoustics and noise level are much more important. Really, all the results above are good enough and even the worst result is nothing to worry about.

The acoustics of the Kotetsu Mark Three when coupled with the standard fan curve of ASRock's b650E Taichi are superb. At just 38.2 dBA, the noise level is barely audible and won't be noticeable unless your environment is completely quiet.


If you're looking for a decent budget cooler that doesn't run loud, Scythe's Kotetsu Mark Three is a great value for CPUs like AMD's Ryzen 7 7700X. It is currently available from NewEgg for just $29.99 USD.

Products mentioned in this post

Quiet and efficient cooling with a budget price tag of only $29.99 USD

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