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NZXT Kraken X41 140mm AIO CPU Cooler Review

Today Chad takes us on a full and complete tour of one of NZXT's newest CPU liquid coolers, the Kraken X41 140mm AIO. Take a look at our full review here.

@chad_sebring
Published Wed, Nov 12 2014 9:10 AM CST   |   Updated Tue, Nov 3 2020 6:59 PM CST
Rating: 98%Manufacturer: NZXT

Introduction, Specifications and Pricing

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VIEW GALLERY - 33 IMAGES

Since we already looked at the big boy on the block from NZXT, the Kraken X61, we are now moving to the mid-level contender in their sealed all-in-one water loops. The cooler we are going to see today is more for the average Joes out there, and there are two main selling points to this cooler. First, of course, is the size, as not everyone has room for a 240mm or 280mm option, but almost any chassis built-in the last two years has the option for a single 140mm fan mounting location that could be used for a smaller AIO. The second reason to opt for this NZXT cooler over coolers from other manufacturers is due in large part to the awesome CAM software package, which we discussed in a previous review, which works with all of the latest Kraken series coolers.

Opting to only release three options out of the various solutions of radiators to choose from at Asetek, NZXT chose to fit this design with a thicker 140mm radiator to eliminate the heat from the coolant. So, what does that mean to the consumer? To begin with, this radiator is twenty-four percent thicker than the standard 120mm radiator offerings. On top of that, moving from a 120mm radiator into a 140mm version offers thirty-six percent more surface area, and even considering thicker 120mm versions, this solution should win out over those designs, hands down.

Today we are going to look at the Kraken X41 from NZXT. The Kraken X41 is much like its larger brother, the Kraken X61, and it keeps many of the features that made us rate the Kraken X61 so highly in the first place. This model retains things like the software, the vast options in head unit LED coloration, and they even kept smaller things like the sleeves on the cables to help the wiring blend into the chassis. So, for those of you who don't have deep enough pockets to obtain a larger dual radiator solution, or if you simply do not have the room to house something that big, but really liked what we brought forth in the X61, then we feel you are really going to like the Kraken X41.

It seems like all of the Kraken specifications charts were made at the same time, and they are still a bit confusing in our opinion. As we follow the list of specs, we start out with the RL-KRX41-01 model number. As for the fans, they start off at the top with their CFM range of 42.4 to 106.1, and show that they can push from 0.36 to 1.97 mmH2O of pressure. These fans spin on a nano-bearing. Next thing we know, we are looking at the pump speed in the head unit, which ranges from 2400 to 3600 RPM. Then, we suddenly return to the fan, and the fact that it uses a four-pin power connector. Then we are taken back to the pump, and shown that it draws from the 12V line, and uses a three-pin power connector.

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As we get to the middle of the chart, we see the compatibility list that covers all of the currently supported CPU sockets for both Intel and AMD. We then find out that the fan shipped in the box is 140mm square, and 25mm thick, and we are guessing the 325 mA rating is again for the pump, and not the fan. Next we see the radiator dimensions, before finding out that the 140mm fan in the box is the same FX V2 PWM fan we got with the X61, and they are rated for a maximum noise level of 37 dBA.

As for the rest of the list, we see what materials are used in this AIO, and we are informed that there is 400mm, or slightly less than sixteen inches of black tubing between the head unit's swivel fittings, and the straight fittings on the radiator. The chart also covers the LED lighting of the head unit before it goes back to the fan's 2000 RMPO maximum, and 12V power draw. Outside of that, we find the EAN and UPC number that we don't need to worry about, and we are told that you gain control with the same software that changes the lighting. Finally, they state that this Kraken X41 also comes with a six-year warranty.

Looking at the NZXT Armory, where you can buy direct from the manufacturer, we find NZXT has this cooler listed at $109.99. If you are purchasing from NZXT, you will also need to pay an additional $9.99 for shipping. However, if you shop around, you will see that the big players in e-tail chains are keeping to the base price of $109.99, and most of them include free shipping. So, take advantage of the deal, and get yourself a tube of thermal paste with the difference, as most of us never remember to buy any with a standard order.

The Kraken X41 is priced competitively with the rest of the AIOs in this class, and we also are getting into extreme air cooling territory. Will the X41 crush most of its direct competition much like its larger brother, the X61? Continue reading to find out what the mid-sized version of the world's first variable speed AIO is capable of.

PRICING: You can find the NZXT Kraken X41 for sale below. The prices listed are valid at the time of writing, but can change at any time. Click the link to see the very latest pricing for the best deal.

United States: The Kraken X41 retails for $109.99 at Amazon.

Packaging

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A large image of Kraken X41 is front and center of the package. Within the white backdrop is the product naming with the red trim line denoting it is a 140mm fan based design, like the X61. NZXT was sure to display the six-year warranty in the black stripe at the bottom.

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This panel offers the compatibility list at the top, so in-store buyers will know if the cooler fits within their system. In the middle, they show how using a thicker radiator increases surface area by twenty-four percent, while at the bottom is a chart comparing the X41 to other AIO cooling options.

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On the back we find icons for size, fan type, speed variability of the pump, controllable lighting, and the CAM software, all listed at the top to the left of the X41 image. Across the bottom is a look into the CAM software and what it offers, while at the right, NZXT covers a few more features.

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NZXT does such a great job of delivering the specifications on the packaging, and this setup would be greatly appreciated on the website, as the information is way less confusing to absorb when presented like it is here.

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If English isn't your best language, and you want to read the features list for the Kraken X41 in your native language, the bottom of the box presents the features list in seven alternate languages.

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As one would expect, the Kraken X41 comes in a compartmentalized cardboard tray that keeps all the parts separate from each other, and in our instance, completely damage free. They are also sure to wrap things in plastic to keep the AIO from rubbing anything, and they also put the radiator in a cardboard sleeve to protect the fins.

NZXT Kraken X41 CPU Cooler

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With the Kraken X41 now out of the box, let's begin our close-up with the head unit. In this version, the circular patterns and NZXT name are now opaque, but this will illuminate with many color options and a few lighting modes. We also see that the Intel mounting hardware comes pre-installed.

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While the rest of the round side of the head unit is flat and matches the top in texture, the right side is where all of the connectivity happens. Whether it is the two rubber tubes to allow coolant to flow, or the trio of braided cables, all of the connectivity is kept on this side of the head unit.

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Where a few companies had issues keeping theirs from allowing in debris or keeping the plastic protector on at all, NZXT figured it out, and our unit leaves us with nothing to complain about.

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Of course, NZXT ships the AIO with a pre-applied patch of thermal paste already on the contact area. While there is nothing wrong with using this, we will be removing it for our testing.

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Removing the paste also allows us to show the base in fine detail. It is easy to see that there are milling marks left in the copper, and some will argue that with more surface to contact, heat transfers better. The plate is higher in the middle, and drops almost 1mm from center point to the edge.

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With the Kraken X41, there is only room for a pair of fans, so this ten inch version sports a dual four-pin fan lead from the head unit, but no need for the SATA backup power source. There is also the three-pin pump power lead that is nine and a half inches long, and the twenty-four inch long USB 2.0 cable for software control.

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While 400mm of tubing technically translates to 15.75 inches, we guess that 15.25" is close enough, as nobody is perfect all the time. Also, even if slightly less than specified in length, there are three inches more in tubing length than the next AIO offers, allowing this AIO to go into more places, more easily.

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The aluminium radiator sports a high density, like the X61 did, and keeps to the 22 FPI design. This is also a dual pass design that shoots water in one side, up the radiator, across the top, and then back down through the other side.

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The sticker on this end denotes this is the Kraken X41, and also shows that it pulls 12V, and will peak at 7.5 watts while doing so. This also happens to be exactly half of the rating on the X61. We also see that they went with a thicker 37mm radiator, which is thicker than the radiators used on the X40, and the X61.

Accessories and Documentation

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Along with the Kraken X41, you will find various bags of hardware inside of the box. This one happens to include the top mounting nuts to secure the head unit, as well as both standoff sets for Intel's LGA2011 to the left, and other Intel socket use the ones to the right.

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In one of the other bags, you will find the universal Intel backplate shown on the left, along with the AMD top bracket for AMD users. In another bag, you will also find standoffs specific to an AMD stock backplate, and that bag is clearly labeled with an AMD sticker.

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There is yet one other bag that you need to find, and it includes all of the screws and washers. There are eight long fan screws included, along with as many washers as needed to mount the one included fan, as well as a second fan you may opt to add later. The shorter screws are for mounting the radiator directly to the chassis, and that is why there are only four here.

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The Kraken X41 also comes with a 140mm RF-FX142-NP PWM fan, which is wrapped in plastic. The white blades and black frame are something most users will like, and even the fan gets the braided treatment to hide the wire between the fan and the four-pin connection.

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Even without a single word to help you along, NZXT does very well with their images. This shows the Intel installation from start to finish, and then addresses the fact that you also need to download the CAM software. For AMD users, skip the first two images, and be sure the stock backplate is there. The rest of the steps are similar enough to carry you through as well.

Installation and Finished Product

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We had to slide all four of the adjustable threaded inserts as close to center of the three positions they offer to get it to drop into the CPU cooler mounting holes for our system, but you can see that it stands proud of the motherboard, and being plastic, it will not short on anything either.

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You can either hold onto the backplate and screw in the standoffs one at a time, or just flip the board over, and the backplate will stay in the holes allowing you to send the standoffs all the way in until you are out of threads. At this point, the assembly will not be rock solid, so don't panic.

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Since the motherboard is ready to go, we went ahead and added the 140mm fan and made the connection to the head unit for fan control via software. Now we just need to get it mounted.

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We now have the head unit of the Kraken X41 secured into place. The nuts used should be tightened until you run out of threads, and at this point, there is enough pressure to solidify the head unit and motherboard, and you should not be able to move it around.

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Also, make certain to plug in the USB 2.0 lead prior to booting the PC. There is plenty of length to easily work with our ATX motherboard, and still some left for even longer runs, but without this connection, there is no way for the CAM software to work.

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For our installation into the chassis, we went with the more typical orientation with the radiator at the top to be sure to trap any air, and the head unit is installed with the logo in the correct orientation, although many tests have proved that it does not matter.

Test System Setup, Thermal Tests and Noise Results

Test System Setup

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I would first like to thank ASUS, InWin, Corsair, and Fractal Design for supplying products for me to test with.

To see our testing methodology, and to find out what goes into making our charts, please refer to our CPU Cooler Testing and Methodology article for that information.

Thermal Results

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Allowing the pump to run at full speed, we saw it range from 3700 to 4000 RPM, and even caught flashes of 4200 RPM at times. At this point, we are only controlling the clocks and the fan speeds.

With the stock clocks applied, we found the Kraken X41 falls into the average range with a 50 degree result here. Not too bad, as it does pass a dual radiator AIO, as well as most of the single 120mm versions on our charts.

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Again, we allow the pump to spin as freely as possible, and received the same speed readings via the CAM software; this time, we let the fans lose as well. We can see where thickness and size come into play with over 100CFM of air flowing through it.

Coming in with a 68.03 degree average takes the X41 from average in the last test into ninth place over all. Considering all of the coolers that scored higher have much more surface area than this NZXT, we cannot complain about its level of performance.

Noise Level Results

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With only one fan spinning this time, and considering it was spinning near 1300 RPM just like on the X61, the noise level drops ever so slightly to 28 dB with this version.

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With the fans at full speed, and the CAM software as well as AIDA64 to confirm it, we saw a speed of 1900 RPM with 12V supplied. The X61 spun much closer to 2000 RPM, and with a slower fan, and only one this time, we saw 56 dB on our meter here.

Final Thoughts

There is one thing we want to address before we get into the likes and dislikes of this product, and that is that we have not forgotten about the CAM software. If you would like to view the CAM software tutorial provided, you can click here to see that, and to learn more about its usability, you can check here for that as well.

Now, on the basic premise of looking at this cooler in just the 140mm radiator classification, there really is nothing on the list that contends there. This Kraken X41 blows single 120mm versions out of the water, as expected. The fact that it is thicker, with just a single radiator, offers those that choose this route the best chance of keeping their processor as cool as possible in just one 140mm fan location.

Looking at the Kraken X41 from a competitive features standpoint, it is illuminated, and so are some others, but this offers longer tubing than any other brand, and software that is very user friendly. The software also offers variability to the pump and fan(s), and works flawlessly from the download, through the setup and tutorial, and on through its usage. NZXT simply fills the feature set.

Dislikes are something we really have nothing for. While we could address the noise levels being a touch high, you have to give something up to gain performance, especially with a fan rated at 2000 RPM and over 100 CFM. So, we sort of expected that. The only other thing to consider is that AMD users will have to do a bit of disassembly to get the installation correct. However, even then, it's only about two more minutes to unhook the lock ring and swap out the metal brackets, the clip the lock ring back on, and proceed. Really, we are just grasping at straws here, but we honestly have not one major complaint about any part of the Kraken X41.

You are definitely getting what you paid for in this design. Let's put some perspective on this for you: The best air cooler costs over $90, and got beat. When looking at other AIOs in front of the Kraken X41, you are looking to spend nearer to $140, and we won't even discuss the costs associated with a custom loop, as all of those we tested are still pricier. With a price point set at $109.99, you not only get a great value just in performance for the cost, but not one of the coolers offers the versatility this sealed AIO brings to the table with the CAM software.

When we first started we raved about just the basic AIO offerings, but as time progresses, we really enjoy the advancements being made to top the next brand in line. We also like that there is no additional cost involved to gain control, and no need for bulky fan controllers that you still have to reach to use. You simply install the cooler, install the software, sit back in your chair, and click away until the Kraken X41 is specifically set to your thermal needs, sound requirements, and matches your color scheme. How can you really go wrong with this purchase?

PRICING: You can find the NZXT Kraken X41 for sale below. The prices listed are valid at the time of writing, but can change at any time. Click the link to see the very latest pricing for the best deal.

United States: The Kraken X41 retails for $109.99 at Amazon.

TweakTown award
Performance99%
Quality including Design and Build96%
General Features99%
Bundle and Packaging96%
Value for Money100%
Overall98%

The Bottom Line: NZXT continues to impress even with a reduction in size! The Kraken X41 took on all coolers its size and smaller and bounds to the top of that list, even strongly competing with much larger offerings. All of that, great software and a price to match makes this an outstanding product.

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

USUnited States: Find other tech and computer products like this over at Amazon.com

UKUnited Kingdom: Find other tech and computer products like this over at Amazon.co.uk

AUAustralia: Find other tech and computer products like this over at Amazon.com.au

CACanada: Find other tech and computer products like this over at Amazon.ca

DEDeutschland: Finde andere Technik- und Computerprodukte wie dieses auf Amazon.de

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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