Introduction to the NZXT Kraken Liquid CPU Coolers

It has been a while since we’ve had a chance to take a look at NZXT cooler, but in the past, we’ve been highly impressed with their products.  Quite frankly, there hasn’t been a whole lot of innovation in the CPU cooler market, because it’s just tough to improve on something that’s already awesome.  Instead, we see a lot of manufacturers adding visual improvements to the coolers to help make them stand out, but this really only helps for those who have windowed cases.  Today we’re going to take a look at a trio of NZXT Kraken coolers, called the Kraken X42, X52, and X62.  These coolers are updated version of the already successful X41 and X61 with a little added flare and were released just this past November. NZXT’s all-new Kraken coolers are sealed systems based on Asetek hardware and are the third generation of coolers that Asetek provided to NZXT.  As previously mentioned, the X42 and X62 are updated versions of the X41 and X61, while the X52 is new to the line-up.  The X42 is a 140mm single-fan cooler, the X52 is a 240mm dual-fan cooler, and the X62 is a 280mm dual-fan cooler.  Obviously as we increase in size, we should find that the cooler can handle the load that much better.  NZXT bringing a 240mm cooler to this line-up will help fit the crowd that doesn’t have massive cases. NZXT All-New Kraken In the upgrade between the coolers, we find that the pump, radiator, and fans have all been improved upon.  The pump is Asetek’s fifth generation pump, designed to be both quieter and have the ability to displace more liquid.  The radiator is designed and optimized for NZXT’s Aer P high static pressure fans to provide the absolute best cooling performance.  To top it all off, the pump housing has integrated HUE+ lighting, which will utilize NZXT’s in-house application called CAM.  With this software, users will find the ability to modify the lighting to many different modes and colors, whilst allowing the user to customize fan and pump profiles and monitor temperatures.  The tubing itself is reinforced with fine nylon sleeves to not only provide protection to the rubber tubing, but also to just make the cooler look that much nicer. Sold on the above information?  You can get your very own All-New NZXT Kraken cooler now on Amazon, which each cooler feature a staggering and industry-leading six-year warranty.  That’s absolutely incredible in our eyes! Below is the current pricing as of writing this article.  Note that on Amazon they’re being sold above MSRP and are being shipped and sold by a 3rd party; there we no listings by Amazon directly. NZXT Kraken Liquid CPU Cooler Specifications
Kraken X62 Kraken X52 Kraken X42
Radiator Dimensions 315 x 143 x 30mm 275 x 123 x 30mm 175 x 143 x 30mm
Pump Dimensions 80 x 80 x 52.9mm
Materials Aluminum, copper, plastic, ultra-low evaporation rubber, nylon sleeving
Weight 1.29kg 1.08kg 890g
CPU Socket Support Intel Socket 1151, 1150, 1155, 1156, 1366, 2011, 2011-3
AMD Socket FM2+, FM2, FM1, AM3+, AM3, AM2+, AM2
RAM Height Clearance 35mm
Control Method Software with CAM
Pump Speed 1,000~2,800 +/- 300RPM
Fan Model Aer P140 Aer P120 Aer P140
Number of Fans 2 2 1
Fan Speed 500~1,800 +/- 300RPM 500~2,000 +/- 300RPM 500~1,800 +/- 300RPM
Fan Noise Level 21-38dBA 21-36dBA 21-38dBA
Warranty 6 Years
Model Number RL-KRX62-01 RL-KRX52-01 RL-KRX42-01
  Check out the next page for a look at the packaging, cooler itself, and how it installs.

All-New Kraken Packaging & Quick Look

NZXT’s packaging for the all-new Kraken coolers is plenty vibrant and I feel shows you more than enough to make an informed decision.  On the front we find a picture of the respective cooler, while on the rear we find much of the information that was mentioned on Page 1.  The sides will provide you with specifications, also like what was on Page 1.  Opening up the box we see everything sectioned off and protected quite well.  The fans and radiator are protected by a cardboard sleeve, while the copper block has a formed plastic protector. [gallery columns="4" link="file" ids="190775,190776,190777,190778,190779"] Included with the cooler are accessories to install this on many modern Intel or AMD processors.  The instructions are generic between the coolers, which is fine because nothing changes other than the size of the radiator and fans.  The fans that are included in these kits are NZXT’s own Aer P high static pressure PWM fans.  The X42 and X62 include Aer P140 (140mm), which are capable of pushing up to 98 CFM @ 2.71 mmH2O.  The X52 is a 240mm radiator, so that will include the Aer P120 (120mm), capable of pushing up to 73 CFM @ 2.93mmH2O. NZXT All-New Kraken - Contents Pulling the coolers out, you should be able to tell the difference in size here.  Going left to right we have the X62, X52, and X42 respectively. NZXT All-New Kraken Quick look at all of the coolers individually… [gallery link="file" ids="190782,190783,190784"] All of the coolers have a protective film over the top of the pump and also over the copper base, which also warns you to connect all cables prior to turning your system on. NZXT All-New Kraken - Pump Looking at one side of the pump, we find the connections for power and the USB interface.  This will not only power the pump and fans, which also needs to be hooked up to a single SATA power connector, but the USB cable will allow it to interface with NZXT’s CAM software. NZXT All-New Kraken - Pump On the bottom is a pre-applied thermal compound, but for our application, this is going to be wiped off and a Noctua paste used instead.  If you haven’t noticed, you can also take note that the Intel mounting bracket is pre-installed, and taking it off to install the AMD bracket is as easy as twisting it off. NZXT All-New Kraken - Pump - Cold Plate After we remove the protective plastic on the top of the pump housing, we see an NZXT logo underneath.  The logo will actually light up and the outer perimeter will also light up.  These can be controlled via NZXT’s CAM software as well, and it is a full RGB lighting system. NZXT All-New Kraken - Pump Prior to me installing the coolers, I always install the fans in a push configuration.  Trying to install them while the radiator is mounted in the case is near impossible, otherwise.

All-New Kraken Installation

Even though the new Kraken series features fifth generation Asetek hardware, the installation mechanism is identical to the original Kraken series that we reviewed.  You may be asking yourself if this is a bad or good thing, and in my opinion, I really like the mounting mechanism.  With this original setup, I found it extremely easy to setup and an experienced installer could get this cooler up and running in 10 minutes or less, while a less experienced user may install it in well under 30 minutes. Since installation is identical for all three coolers, I’m only showing you the X62 install. I always start with a clean slate, cleaning off the processor and copper cold plate with a high purity rubbing alcohol to remove any contaminants.  As previously stated, we chose to stick to one type of thermal paste for testing, so the factory compound was removed. NZXT All-New Kraken - Install The very first thing that you’ll do is place the backplate in place and then secure it in place with the standoffs.  This is very easy to do on your own, and once the backplate is in place with the standoffs, you’re already a quarter of the way done. [gallery columns="2" link="file" ids="190769,190792"] Next I went ahead and got the power and USB cables run, just in case I find room tight with getting at the fan headers. NZXT All-New Kraken - Install I followed that up with mounting the radiator to the top of my chassis.  Again, the fans were installed prior to this point to make life easy. NZXT All-New Kraken - Install Clearance was a little tight with the 280mm X62 in my Thermaltake Core X71 chassis, but it worked out just fine. NZXT All-New Kraken - Install I went ahead and placed a generous amount of the Noctua NT-H1 paste on the Intel Core-i7 4770k’s IHS. NZXT All-New Kraken - Install The tubing with the Kraken coolers is extra-long, and to make sure I keep it as free-flowing as possible, I end up mounting the water block upside down with the tubing end of the radiator facing the front of the case.  This does not affect anything other than provide piece of mind to me.  So at this point, I’m gently placing the block on top of the processor and will utilize a crisscross pattern when tightening the thumb screws. All that’s left is to connect the flat power cable to the pump and also the USB cable to integrate with the CAM software. All installed and powered on, this cooler is very quiet.  I did catch a little pump noise from each cooler when powered on the first time, but after the air worked its way out of the system, this noise went away.  I did for grins install one of the coolers – for photos – so the NZXT logo is right-side up and the tubing against the rear fan.  I normally don’t install my coolers in this direction, but so you can catch how gorgeous these coolers really are, I just had to do it for you! [gallery link="file" columns="2" ids="190771,190773"] In order to monitor and tinker with your new Kraken cooler, you will need to install the CAM software, which is developed by NZXT.  You can find a link to it on NZXT’s website or at www.camwebapp.com. Check out the next page for a quick overview of the software and a video on how the lighting system looks.

NZXT CAM Software & Kraken Lighting System

I just wanted to take a quick look at the CAM software for PC and show you how it works with the Kraken coolers.  CAM is a free PC monitoring software created by NZXT not only for your all-new Kraken coolers, but also for anyone that wants to monitor various aspects of their PC.  This software can be downloaded on www.camwebapp.com, or NZXT has a link directly on their website. Starting off with the installation, executing the EXE brings you to a screen to choose the product that you’re looking to install.  I went head and ticked the Kraken box, hit next, followed the basic prompts that you get, and it was installed.  I did get a prompt from Windows to verify that I really wanted to install an Asetek USB driver – click Install and you’re good to go.  In order for everything to start functioning, you will need to reboot your PC. [gallery columns="4" link="file" ids="190747,190748,190749,190750,190751,190752"] After rebooting, the software will launch and prompt you to sign in.  This will be used if you want to monitor your PC from your mobile device, using CAM Mobile, or to view any historical data that it has logged.  I didn’t feel like signing up, so I clicked the ‘Continue as Guest’ button.  You’ll be prompted one more time to create an account, but clicking through it will get you to the software. [gallery columns="2" link="file" ids="190753,190754"] Once in, it will give you a very quick look at some hardware in your PC followed by a little tutorial. [gallery columns="2" link="file" ids="190755,190756"] One thing that I noticed right away was that the Kraken monitoring section is missing.  I went ahead and tried to reinstall it by clicking gear icon on the top right and choosing Install NZXT Drivers.  When I tried to install from here, it just got stuck at 20% and wouldn’t go past that.   Frustrated, I went ahead and rebooted the computer, and this time it finally showed me the Kraken stuff that I wanted to see. For grins, I went ahead and maximized the window and found a ton more data about my system.  I’m not certain why this is all hidden underneath the default small window.  Unfortunately from this maximized window, I could not find a spot to start modifying my Kraken settings; I had to go back to the small window to do this. Back to the normal window, we’re going to look at the cooling and lighting system.  Click the Tuning tab on the top right and you’re defaulted to a Cooling sub-tab.  You can just view information on this tab, but clicking Edit Fans allows you to tune everything.  Everything was defaulted to Silent mode, but I prefer the Performance graph and will be using that for benchmarking.  Here you can modify your cooling based on liquid temp, CPU temp, or GPU temp.  You can also create custom profiles and also modify the graph to your liking. [gallery link="file" ids="190759,190766,190767"] Next we’re going to go to the lighting tab, and with that, I have a video on how the lighting works.  Forewarning, this software is quite glitch and I had problems getting some lighting modes to actually work as NZXT intended.   [gallery columns="4" link="file" ids="190761,190762,190763,190764,190765"] Please watch the below video to see what the HUE+ lighting system looks like on these coolers:   This concludes the overview on the CAM software.  We’re hoping that with updates, NZXT will be able to correct the issues that we were seeing, but otherwise the software is relatively informative.

The Test System

Before we take a look at the performance numbers, let’s take a brief look at the test system that was used.  All testing was done using a fresh install of Windows 10 Professional 64-bit and benchmarks were completed on the desktop with no other software programs running. ALL COOLERS will be using Noctua NT-H1 thermal compound, which requires zero cure time. Intel Z97/LGA1150 Platform The Intel Z97 platform that we used to test these coolers was running the MSI Z97 Gaming 5 motherboard with BIOS version 1.D that came out on 02/17/2016.  We will be sticking with this version of the BIOS between all coolers.  The processor used, the Intel Core i7 4770k, will be using the stock frequency of 3.5GHz with turbo boost enabled, which can boost it up to 3.9GHz.  Low power state is enabled and the CPU frequency and v-core are set to AUTO, just like they were out of the factory. When we do our overclocking, the 4770k will be overclocked to 4.4GHz at 1.1850 volts, which is just a hair over the stock 1.1755 volts read from Core Temp.  This particular 4770k may have a little more in it, but I had difficulties with going above 4.5GHz while retaining reasonable temperatures, so I settled on 4.4GHz.

NZXT Kraken Benchmarking & Overclocking

In the benchmarks that will be run, we used an Intel 4770k clocked at 3.5GHz with Turbo Boost and the low power state enabled.  Turbo Boost allows the 4770k to hit up to 3.9GHz right out of the box.  Stock results will be utilizing auto for the multiplier and v-core, which reads 1.1750v in Core Temp, and overclocking will utilize manually entered multiplier and voltage numbers.  In this case, our Intel Core i-7 4770k was able to obtain a 4.4 GHz overclock at 1.185 volts. To record temperatures, we used Core Temp v1.4 to monitor and record temperatures.  For our idle temperature, we will average the readout across all four cores from Core Temp.  When stress testing, we will use Core Temp’s Max number and average all four cores. Slimming down on the benchmarks from previous reviews, we’ll be strictly using AIDA64 to stress the CPU and no games.  Within AIDA64, we will be running the System Stability Test and choosing the Stress CPU, FPU, Cache, and System Memory tests for thirty minutes.  This will peg all four cores and eight threads to 100%, which will help us to understand exactly how hot this CPU can get with each cooler. Ambient temperature during all testing was 72 degrees Fahrenheit. Since this is an older cooler, we’re just doing a comparison between the NH-D15 and NH-D15S.  We have also decided to switch from Prime95 to AIDA64 going forward, as we feel it will provide even better results.  In the future cooler reviews, we will add a few choice coolers to the charts for comparison, but again, this time it is strictly between the two Noctua coolers. ALL COOLERS will be using Noctua NT-H1 thermal compound, which requires zero cure time. Reminder:  For the results that you see below, we’re publishing the results based on the fans being connected directly to the motherboard’s fan header and not utilizing the connectors off the pump and CAM software.  Further down this page you will find the results utilizing the CAM software, and quite frankly the results between these tests are interesting.   Idle  NZXT All-New Kraken - Idle   AIDA64 @ 3.9GHz  NZXT All-New Kraken - AIDA64 - Stock   AIDA64 @ 4.4GHz  NZXT All-New Kraken - AIDA64 - Overclocked   Overall Results:  One thing that I found interesting is that Corsair’s H105, which uses older Asetek hardware, actually performed better than each of these coolers, though only slightly better than the X62, and it’s only 240mm.  Overall these coolers did a fine job of keeping the system cool and handled the heat well.  We’re hoping to add more data to these charts in future cooler reviews, but chose a couple top dog coolers to go against.   The other interesting part is how well the Noctua air coolers performed compared to these, but mind you those Noctua coolers come at a massive premium, much like these All-New Kraken coolers.   CAM Software Results So, if you recall from the software page, you can actually have the fan and pump speeds ramp either based on Liquid Temp, CPU Temp, or GPU Temp.  This got me wondering how things would be, if you just simply flip the switch from Liquid Temp (default) over to CPU Temp based cooling.  In turn I received some rather interesting results, because I also chose to test out hooking the fans right to the motherboard’s PWM fan header, as seen above.  The first graphs here are just utilizing the CAM software and the final graph is changing the CAM software to cool based on CPU temperature instead of liquid temperature. NZXT All-New Kraken - AIDA64 - Stock - CAM Software NZXT All-New Kraken - AIDA64 - Overclocked - CAM Software   Modifying cooling based on CPU Temperature [caption id="attachment_190806" align="aligncenter" width="773"]NZXT All-New Kraken - AIDA64 - Overclocked - CAM Software - CPU Temperature Modifying cooling based on CPU Temperature rather than Liquid Temperature[/caption] So what caused the dramatic change in going from Liquid Temp to CPU Temp based cooling?  Well, since the graphs have a quite steep / quick incline under Performance mode, we ended up climbing up that graph extremely quick and were basically running the fans at 100%.  Quite frankly, 100% fan speeds is obnoxiously loud and I would not recommend leaving the graphs alone.  My recommendation if you want to use the CAM software to adjust fan speeds, is to play with the graph and make it ramp up appropriate to your taste.  Somewhere in the 50 to 70% fan speed range would work great for me, as it’s near silent at 50%. Don’t forget to check out the noise graph on the next page to understand exactly how loud these coolers can get!

NH-D15S Noise Testing

Noise testing was a highly requested item by our readers, and with this new system, we have those numbers for you! To obtain our noise numbers, we’re using an Extech 407750 Sound Lever Meter with the wind screen on.  This meter is placed six inches from the top side of the chassis on a level tripod. (See picture)  It and the PC case are placed in the exact same spot with the side panel off, as to not taint results, because the movement of just one inch can skew results. All noise readouts are obtained at the end of the test (Idle or AIDA64) to allow the system sufficient time to get “settled in.”  Ambient noise readout was gathered from only the system fans running – not any component in the cooler. AMBIENT NOISE:  39.1 dBA NZXT All-New Kraken - Noise Measurement   Overall Results:  Each cooler was darn near silent at idle, and with load put on from AIDA64 while using the CAM software, you barely noticed a change, if at all.  Even when hooked up to the motherboard’s fan header, the noise level was still very minimal.

NZXT Kraken CPU Cooler Roundup - Final Thoughts and Conclusion

So what do you think of the all-new Kraken coolers?  Overall, we were quite impressed with everything!  These new Kraken coolers feature fifth generation Asetek hardware and it performs very well.  NZXT went ahead had the radiator tuned to use their Aer P fans, which these fans do a great job of keeping under control and keeping it relatively quiet. Liquid CPU Cooler Installation is exactly identical to the Kraken X40 that we reviewed a couple years ago, and this installation method couldn’t be much easier than what it is.  The experienced user could have this installed in 10 minutes or less, while your average person who takes their time could get this installed in well under 30 – Quite frankly, 30 is pushing it really high. Again, performance was right where it was expected, but we found that using the motherboard’s fan header vs. the CAM software provided better results.  This difference in results is basically based on the fact that the ramp-up graph on the motherboard’s end is a bit more aggressive by default.  When we look at the CAM software, it’s actually defaulting to cooling based on the liquid temperature, and you probably won’t ever get to the point that it’ll start ramping up the fan speed based on just that.  You can modify it to cool based on CPU temperature, but you will absolutely need to modify the graph, as it’s far too aggressive and your fan speed will hit near or at 100%. Speaking of the CAM software, we found it to be extremely informative and quite user friendly, but it wasn’t without its quirks.  To control the lighting system on the cooler, you will find that some of the preset lighting profiles don’t work properly or at all.  This is unfortunate as the lighting system on the Kraken cooler is very cool. Staying on the lines of the lighting system, while you can turn it completely off if you are not using a windowed case, I feel it adds a bit of a premium to the cost of the cooler.  For comparison, the X61 had an initial MSRP of $139.99, while the X62 retails for $159.99 MSRP.  If you don’t have a need for the lighting system, this extra dough could be tough to swallow.  Also for comparison, as we benchmarked the Corsair H105, which you can still get that cooler for $103.99, this cooler outperformed the Kraken coolers a bit and doesn’t really have any added flare. Below is the current pricing as of writing this article.  Note that on Amazon they’re being sold above MSRP and are being shipped and sold by a 3rd party; there we no listings by Amazon directly. All NZXT Kraken coolers come with an industry leading 6-year warranty, which is incredible piece of mind on your investment. Legit Bottom Line:  While the added cost of the lighting system puts the all-new Kraken coolers at a higher premium, they still performed very well and have a fantastic feature set that you’d struggle to find elsewhere.