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NZXT Kraken X60 280mm AIO CPU Cooler Review

NZXT Kraken X60 280mm AIO CPU Cooler Review

It's an AIO, has LED lighting, software control, and a 280mm radiator... that's right. The Kraken X60 is here for testing.

@chad_sebring
Published Mon, Apr 8 2013 1:01 AM CDT   |   Updated Tue, Apr 7 2020 12:31 PM CDT
Rating: 99%Manufacturer: NZXT

Introduction

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VIEW GALLERY - 46 IMAGES

Not that long ago now we took a look at the Kraken series and more specifically the X40. What we saw then is that the Kraken series of AIO coolers, while being a bit loud, now shares top honors amongst AIO coolers with the Swiftech H220. Considering the radiator is a bit smaller when we discuss surface area with the Kraken X40 compared to the H220, and that the H220 used two fans to obtain that level of efficiency, there is a lot going for the Kraken coolers. I know we could even improve on the X40 results by adding a pair of fans by at least a couple of degrees, and that takes results right on into the custom kit temperatures. I think the day has finally arrived where a closed loop AIO can really start to take on custom water kits, and with most of the old issues well in the past, there is no reason to shy away from these systems to cool your processor.

As with any AIO that has been released outside of the "big two" companies making all of them, they come in some sort of pairs. Since we looked at the single 140mm radiator, a thin version, there are two routes to take to offer a more efficient version. The first way is to thicken the single 140mm radiator to give you double the surface area of the fins, but with a thicker radiator come issues with finding a fan really capable of getting all the way through with anything left in the tank. This is why they come with a pair of fans in most cases, because with one fan, they don't get the air flow they need. The other way to go is to offer a double radiator, or in the case of NZXT, they offer a 280mm by 140mm radiator in this new release.

With what I have seen from the X40, the Kraken series is already in the top of the game, and with the new larger radiator, I can only think that the Kraken X60 we are looking at today is going to kick some ass and take names as it climbs higher up the chart. To be honest, I am not expecting this unit to go right to the top, but I know the larger design has to be worth a few degrees over the X40, and that is promising enough to make me excited to try it.

Hang tight as I work my way through all the aspects and features that this new X60 has to offer as we then get to the meat and potatoes of the results and see just where the Kraken X60 stands.

Specifications, Availability and Pricing

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Following the chart as it list things, I will try to explain them. First is the water block and NZXT covers the fact that it has a copper base plate, the pump inside of it can spin at 2900 RPM give or take 150 RPMs, and it needs 12V for a power source. Moving back to the pump inside, it can draw 175mA, offers digital fan control, and has hue style LED control that offers a full 16.8 million colors to choose from. At this point NZXT moves onto the fans, and you do get two of them in the X60. They use the same FX-140-PWM fans that came in the X40, and you can see the specifications are the same. It can spin up to 2000 RPM delivering 37 dBA of noise level into the room. With 12V to it, it can deliver 98.3 CFM and 2.2mmH2O of static pressure. Since these 140mm fans are PWM controllable, they are powered by 4-pin connections.

Moving on to the radiator, they first cover its dimensions. This radiator is 138mm wide, 27mm thick, and 312.5mm in length. The entire radiator, including the fittings, micro-tubes, fins, headers, and frame components are all made of aluminum. Speaking of the fins, in this radiator, NZXT uses a 24 FPI wave to their structure between the metal tubes. Connecting the head unit to the radiator of the X60 you will find 400mm of black rubber tubing used to provide plenty of room for installation in side of some of the 8 series cases NZXT has. Aside from the Kraken offering a two year warranty, you can also see that this cooler is compatible with just about every socket in use today except for LGA775 and Socket 939.

Comparing apples to apples here, we already know that the Corsair H110 arrived on shelves at the price of $129.99, but as I addressed, those coolers don't offer what the Kraken's do. On top of that, we know that with the Kraken X40, you can top all of the sealed AIOs on the market for $99. Now while the Kraken X60 is pretty easy to find, I am sort of on the fence about its pricing. I am finding that the average price is set very near $137. That being said, compared to the Corsair, for that extra money, you get the software, better fans, and LED coloration on the head unit, so I think it's fair to ask $10 more for that. Once I look back at the X40 pricing though, it is near $40 to move up, and for that sort of a jump, the temperatures had better be really good with the X60, and until we get to that point I will reserve any final judgment on the pricing.

I will say this much though, if you had plans to grab the H110, don't. Just on paper alone the X60 wins hands down.

Packaging

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Not only is there an image of a larger radiator in the X60, but the box itself is almost double the size, too. Along with the very large image of the Kraken X60, you can see the claim to being the first in the world with 140mm radiators, and that this carries a two year warranty.

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This panel starts with the cooler name, and jumps right into the compatibility list of all the sockets this will fit on. Then there is the image showing how a 280mm radiator looks compared to a 240mm one, and that it is 36% larger. It finishes with a chart for the thermal efficiency versus noise levels.

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Around back you will see an image of the radiator, the bottom of the head unit, and a look at one of the fans. Under this is four features and then NZXT explains the point of the Kraken series of coolers. Five key features above an image of the head unit installed and lit up at the bottom.

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The final panel offers a full on specifications chart that covers almost everything we seen on page two. While they do eliminate a couple of things, the basics and majority of the fine details are left so that you can see why the Kraken should be your choice when set nest to others on a shelf.

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Everything is secured inside of the compartmentalized, recycled, cardboard inner container. The radiator is in the back with a cardboard sleeve to protect the fins, and the paperwork is slid in with it. The fans and hardware are stashed in the middle, with the tubing and head unit being wrapped in plastic and laid around the sides and front of the container.

NZXT Kraken X60 AIO CPU Cooler

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The head unit on the Kraken X60 is round, and on the top plastic cover offers a circle and the NZXT name on it that can later be illuminated.

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From the side of the head unit, there are three black braided leads that come out of the inside of the X60 right next to the pair of plastic swivel fittings that the hose attaches to.

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On the other end of those three braided leads you will find these connections. One lead had four 4-pin male fan clips with a SATA power lead piggy backed into it for additional power. You also have the 3-pin fan connection lying on top of the UBS connection that must be made for software control.

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As do all Asetek coolers, the X60 also ships with a plastic protector on the base that locks over the tabs on the edge of the head unit for transit. They seem to be doing their job as the paste isn't disturbed or full of debris.

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Although I can't figure out why they like a round application of paste, it is large enough to cover the IHS of any processor used today. For our testing this will be replaced with MX-2, so may as well get it out of the way.

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The copper plate the removes the heat from the processor is milled in a circular fashion, and is in no way level or flat. The center of these do sit higher than the rest of the copper and is a very convex shape.

NZXT Kraken X60 Continued

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I did notice the box says that there is 16" of tubing, but on both the X40 and the X60, I measured 15" in total. The four port pan lead is about 10" long, and the SATA lead is on another 6" of cable. The 3-pin fan connection is 7" long, and the USB cable reaches near 22" in length.

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The barbs on the radiator are aluminium, and the 1/4" ID tubing is pressed over them. To keep the tubing from backing off, plastic rings are pressed over the tubing to keep it locked to the barbs.

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Checking a random section near the middle of the radiator, you can count for yourself, but let me save you the trouble. There are 24 Fins per Inch (FPI) between the micro-tubes that the coolant transfers the heat from.

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You are now looking at 280mm of width and 140mm of heat in this radiator. While I noticed that Corsair went with a 20mm spread in the middle, NZXT used 15mm spacing between the pairs of middle screws.

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You can see the fans are a little closer together than on the H110 as well. These fans do cover quite a bit of the surface area, and with them being as powerful as what I saw with the X40, I can only image they will do just fine here, too.

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This image was taken for two reasons. One is that there is a sticker with the name of the cooler, the serial number, and the power requirements. I also wanted to show the radiator in its 27mm profile, but keep in mind there are offsets, so the radiator is much thinner where the fins are.

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The 140mm fans are ever so slightly larger than the width of the radiator. So if you do plan to use a push/pull setup, you still need to consider for 140mm not the 138.5 specified. With a single set of fans the size will almost double, and with four fans on this radiator, we are looking at 77mm in total thickness.

Accessories and Documentation

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In this image you will find the Intel back plate and top ring at the top. Under those are the AMD back plate, the universal lock ring and the AMD top mounting ring at the bottom.

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Separated into six bags, the hardware offers a lot of parts. There are the LGA 2100 screws, the Universal Screws, and the top ring hardware, metal inserts, and foam pads as you scan the top row. At the bottom are 16 washers, eight short screws to hold the radiator to the chassis, and 16 long fan screws, just to make sure if you do plan to use four fans, you have everything you need already.

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You also get a pair of the FX-140-PWM fans with their nine white blades and black frames. Both fans also have braided cables to keep the PC clean and they terminate with 4-pin connections.

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After checking the contents to see that you have everything, follow these seven simple steps and you can have the X60 mounted to any Intel processor.

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Assembling the X60 for AMD uses the same eight steps, but of course you need to swap out the top ring and back plate. NZXT also includes a disc with the Kraken Control software, version 1.1 so that you can have full control of the Kraken series coolers.

Installation and Finished Product

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To get the X60 mounted I went ahead and grabbed the Intel back plate. While these are a composite material that likely won't short out, there are two foam pads that you must apply it the one side to help protect solder points on the motherboard.

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Then you have to flip over the back plate, and in each of the four corners, you need to slide in the metal inserts. You align them with the flat spots, so that they don't twist when used, but make sure you have it in the correct hole, like how I set it in the 1156 holes for my system.

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I find it is a bit easier to take the top plate, apply the hardware to each of the holes, and pass the screws through prior to putting it on the head unit. It is just easier to access and flip around without the weight of the head unit and the tubes getting in your way.

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After looking at the top of the head unit to align the legs so the logo is going the way you want it to, set the tabs from the ring into the notches all around the head unit. Once that is done, click in the lock ring from the bottom to keep the hardware in place as you attempt to screw this to the motherboard.

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At this point you should peel the other side of the foam tape that you applied to the back plate, and stick it to the motherboard with the metal inserts lined up with the holes around the socket.

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Then all you have to do is align the hardware on the head unit, and then screw the four screws in with an X pattern of maybe three to five turns on each screw, then move to the next one in the pattern. You know you are done when the threads bottom out.

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Since with an AIO there aren't any clearance issues, I moved right to the wiring. You can tie up the 3-pin for the pump and tuck it away, and the USB cable will wrap right behind the board. The fan cable I tied to one of the hose, just to keep it in place since I test open air and am not so worried about cable management.

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With the cable going over the top of the motherboard, and here now at the bottom, I had to tie up quite a bit of the cable to look clean here. In a chassis, there will be plenty to use the management holes provided and still easily make this connection.

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I just wanted to step back and take a minute to absorb the Kraken X60 and its size. I know my wiring to the radiator is a bit unsightly, but in a chassis there is plenty of length to make all the fan connection, and the 6" drop of the SATA power connector makes it easier and closer to the PSU.

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When you gain control of the X60 via the software you can change the default white I have shown here. If you don't like white, that is fine too, as the software gives you the full RGB scale to tune in any specific color you want.

Software

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Once installed the Kraken control software opens and exposes the four windows of the control panel. Here you can keep an eye on the internal coolant temperature and the core temperatures of the CPU below it. On the right you have access to a tachometer for both the fan speed at the top as well as the pump speed below it.

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The graph tab allows you to see the fans speed over time with the top graph, and with the bottom graph you get a look at the CPU temperatures.

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For setting the fan curve you have three options. First is to use the Extreme profile with a very aggressive fan curve. The second choice is to use the Silent profile I have shown here. The third is to select Custom and set the curve points wherever they fit best for your needs.

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Setting up the lighting is simple. First check the box to make it active, select a color with the RGB scales, and verify that color with the block just below them. There are also effects you can add like thermally changing the lights, setting the color fade as it heats up, as in which colors, and you can set up a strobe on the lighting as well.

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The last tab allows you to change the temperature scale, start the app minimized, allow it to auto-start with the OS, or enable the statistics. While you can select a language for this software, the last section offered covers the notifications and where they are to beep for a warning.

Test System and Thermal Results

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I would first like to thank HIS, GIGABYTE , InWin and AVADirect for supplying products for me to test with.

Testing for the CPU coolers is done with the use of RealTemp to ascertain temperatures, Intel Burn Test to deliver the load to the CPU and CPU-Z to verify the CPU speed and the voltage being used in Windows. All of the testing is done with an ambient temperature of 24.5-25C and humidity is maintained to 35% sometimes less.

For the "stock" runs, it's more of a plug and play setup where the PWM of the motherboard is in control of the fans speeds for both the idle and load results. Speed Step is active and the processor idles at 1600 MHz and loads at 3500 MHz for the stock settings. I also set the memory to run at 1600 MHz for stock. As for the overclocked runs, I load the CPU at 4.5 GHz and idle results are obtained with 7.5V to the fans while the load run is set to deliver 12V to the fans. This allows me to gauge the lowest and highest fan ratings for my charts.

You will also see that the charts have been slightly adjusted. From now on I will mention the idle temperatures if there is something worth noting other than an average of twenty-five to twenty-seven degrees as the PWM controls and SpeedStep allow for almost ambient results in most instances. What you are now getting is a stock speed loaded temperature chart and an overclocked loaded temperature chart. To clean up the audio results, I also removed all of the fans that aren't on the thermal charts. If you want to compare those results to new coolers, the old chart is still available in the older reviews.

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With the stock settings of the processor tested, I like that there was even a degree to be gained at this level. Of course it should be better than the X40, but as you can see, there isn't very far to go from being the coolest result I have ever had with this processor. A top three result here is very commendable; especially considering this test is run with the Silent profile in control of the fans.

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The X60 was exactly three degrees better than the X40 coming in at 65 degrees. The Kraken X60 is in fact the top dog of all AIO's currently and even slightly bests the impressive H220 from Swiftech. I am not really surprised, as I said in the beginning, this cooler needs to be this efficient to be worth the price over the X40, and they delivered to my expectations.

Noise Level Results

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The fans on the X60 were only capable of spinning near 1000 RPM for the majority of this stock runs, and at this level the fans were pushing 37 dB of noise into the room, and to be honest, it was very tolerable in Silent and the pre-set Custom modes.

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The X60 with two fans is ever so slightly less invasive to your ears than the X40 is for one major reason. While the fans on the X40 were spinning at 1700 RPM, the fans that came with the X60 only top out at 1620 RPM. I'm still not sure why the box says the fan speed is much higher though, as both coolers were not able to get close to specs there.

Final Thoughts

Just when I was thinking the Kraken X40 would be tough to beat, NZXT kicks things up to those that can fit the 280mm radiator of the Kraken X60 in their chassis. Now I completely realize that the custom kits as well as the H220 can take on more components without any re-engineering or voiding the warranty, but as far as sealed AIOs are concerned, there is currently nothing on the market that can compare to the NZXT Kraken X60. While I know a lot of you are going to say that Corsair and others use fans that operate more silently than NZXT does, but for me, I want the best of the best, as long as it is somewhat affordable.

With no real boundaries from prior customer's complaints to cloud their judgment, NZXT released the hounds and came up with the best solution on the market. While it is slightly more expensive than the Corsair Hydro Series H110, I think it is worth every penny. So what if the fans get loud when you want to bench with this cooling solution on your CPU, you don't need that same amount of fan for normal use, and I honestly found silent mode more than sufficient, even if the temperatures were more level with the H110 at that point. Realistically, you are only asked to pay $8 more to gain software control that offers LED lighting control of the head unit, along with real time readouts, charts, and all controls are on the fly. I really don't see any real competition, the Kraken X60 is just that good.

If you do have room for a 140mm AIO cooling solution, I suggest you look no further than NZXT for your next purchase with at least the X40. If you have room for a dual 140mm radiator, like the X60 offers, the three degree drop in temperatures is well worth the roughly $37 increase in price. When compared to the Corsair Hydro Series, it isn't even a competition, there is really no reason to buy them now with the Kraken's on the loose. The best part of the whole thing is that during the testing, I only ran two fans that came with the kit. Imagine the fact that you can get a couple more degrees of thermal gains with two more fans, this could very well take on the custom kits and be able to obtain the best results on our charts.

I strongly suggest if your case is willing, go and grab a Kraken. If your case does not, I suggest you save a bit more and get a new case too, as the Kraken X60 may need a bit more room to do its thing, but it does one hell of a job at what it is designed to do.

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After a year of gaming, Chad caught the OC bug. With overclocking comes the need for better cooling, and Chad has had many air and water setups. With a few years of abusing computer parts, he decided to take his chances and try to get a review job. As an avid overclocker, Chad is always looking for the next leg up in RAM, cooling, as well as peripherals.

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