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Fractal Design Kelvin S36 AIO CPU Cooler Review

By: Chad Sebring | CPU Liquid Coolers in Cases, Cooling & PSU | Posted: Jan 27, 2015 3:12 pm
TweakTown Rating: 95%Manufacturer: Fractal Design

Final Thoughts

 

There are a lot of great things to reflect upon with the Kelvin S36. It is huge, the largest offering of AIOs that we have been sent with a 360mm radiator like the Water 3.0 kit had. The system is attractive with its shiny black top plate on the head unit that matches the shine of the tubing and the coils around it. Even when we get to the radiator, it isn't painted with the typical dull black paint; all of it is sleek, yet simple, and the company name on the radiator and the head unit really shows the branding well in a chassis. On top of just being the typical AIO, there is still the option of expandability, and with the Kelvin S36, there is not a better solution to try from Fractal Design. In our opinion, if you are going to try adding extra blocks and other bits into this system, the Kelvin S36 is definitely the unit to start with.

 

However, there are a few downsides. When we look at the charts, we find that the general performance is slightly lacking. While we would typically say that they gave up performance for silence, with the readings we got from our fans, we would rather take the extra 9dB that the Thermaltake unit delivered if we could match its thermal results as well. Also, while it is easy enough to top off the system through one of the two fill ports, we felt the large amount of air in this system was a bit much, and we have never had a unit with such an audible gurgle when the air shifted. The last bit is both a pro and a con in the compression fittings. While it is great that we have the option to break this apart and mod it to suit our specific needs, they are tighter than Siamese twins, and are nearly impossible to get off by hand. Unfortunately, using tools to separate them takes you into the realm of potential damage to the finish.

 

Overall, we really dig what Fractal Design is doing when it comes to the AIO game. Whether you want the basic unit and have no desire to open it up, or you have plans of grandeur, Fractal Design brings out the big guns to slay the competition. Anyone can go to Asetek and find the usual suspect, slap some fans and branding on it, and beg for money from potential AIO customers, but Fractal Design is smarter than that. Fractal sourced a superior product, and even while the choice of fans is not something we would have went with, the overall design is stellar. Offering us a modular AIO along the lines of the original H220 really took advantage of the market trends, and provided a product that many will absolutely have to have in their system.

 

Sad news for those of us on this side of the globe, the northern half at least, is that we will not see these coolers for a while, if at all. However, they will definitely be out in the wild. Considering that this cooler costs the same as the Thermaltake and Swiftech coolers cost when released, we have no bones to pick with the pricing. The Kelvin S36 is a good mix of both devices, and with a change in fans or a push/pull setup, you could really have all the cooling needed to sustain a CPU and GPU, and maybe even two cards if they aren't power hungry monsters. If you find this cooler out there in the wild, it is definitely worth picking up.

Product Summary Breakdown

TweakTown award
Performance94%
Quality including Design and Build93%
General Features98%
Bundle and Packaging97%
Value for Money94%
Overall TweakTown Rating95%

The Bottom Line: While not the coldest 360mm radiator AIO to hit the labs for testing, the Kelvin S36 with its size, efficiency and modularity make it hard to pass up at this price if you have even the slightest inclination to take the next step from a sealed AIO.

    PRICING: You can find products similar to this one for sale below.


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