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Fractal Design Kelvin S36 AIO CPU Cooler Review (Page 1)

Fractal Design Kelvin S36 AIO CPU Cooler Review

Recently we looked at the little brother of this CPU water cooler, but today we take a look at the Kelvin S36. Take a look at the 360mm radiator verison.

Chad Sebring | Jan 27, 2015 at 9:12 am CST - 4 mins, 7 secs time to read this page
Rating: 95%Manufacturer: Fractal Design

Introduction, Specifications, and Pricing

Fractal Design Kelvin S36 AIO CPU Cooler Review 99 |

Since we have already had a look at the Kelvin T12 expandable AIO from Fractal Design, we have a very good idea of what to expect with their largest of three offerings, the Kelvin S36. This model keeps the same head unit design, along with the thicker tubing, anti-kink coils, and brass compression fittings. However, this time around, we have a 360mm radiator based AIO, and that means we have three fans this time around.

The biggest kicker for these systems is that they are modular and expandable. Based on what we typically see in any standard AIO as far as all of the basic components go, Fractal Design has raised the bar, and offered thicker tubing to prevent the flow rate of the pump from diminishing. With the use of G1/4 threaded fittings and compression nuts, it allows for users to take what is typically sealed, and provides the option for a video card or motherboard water block to be added into the loop as well. While our testing of the T12 didn't exactly inspire us to connect any additional components to it, the Kelvin S36 and its triple radiator is a candidate that is much more suited for the task.

As we get up close and personal with the largest of the expandable AIOs in the Fractal Design Kelvin series, we know it will do much better than our previous submission. Keep in mind, we do still have the Thermaltake Water 3.0 Ultimate as our top performer in the AIOs we have tested to date. After a few images, and getting the cooler installed, we shall fire up the furnace and see just how well this triple radiator design handles our system. Hopefully it can take on the Thermaltake with a CPU only, so we know it is fully capable of taking on additional heat loads from other components as well.

Fractal Design Kelvin S36 AIO CPU Cooler Review 01 |
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In the provided chart, we find that the Kelvin S36 keeps the same 69mm square shape and 40mm height as the T12. Also like the T12, this model offers 320mm of 11mm OD, and 8mm ID black tubing with color matching anti-kink coils wrapped around them from end to end. The copper radiator in the Kelvin S36 measures in at 30mm in thickness, 124mm in width, and 397mm in length. As for the brass fittings that adorn the radiator and the head unit, they are all G1/4" threaded, and the two on the head unit are ninety degree swivel fittings, all of which use compression nuts to simplify any modifications. The Kelvin series has very solid compatibility. We find three fans this time, and another syringe of Fractal Design Zero thermal paste. All told, this black AIO with hardware and fans weighs in at a hefty 2.2 kg, but keep in mind, the majority of that weight is in the radiator, and is not supported by the motherboard.

The trio of fans that come along with the Kelvin S36 are identical to those found on the T12; they are the Fractal Design Silent Series HP 120mm fans. These fans can spin in a range from 800 to 1700 RPM, are PWM controlled, and can deliver 62.4 CFM each. They do offer decent static pressure with the 2.33 mmH2O rating, and we assume they are silent because of the naming, and the 26.9 dB(A) rating shown.

As for the pump inside of the head unit, as we saw on the T12, it is suspended on a ceramic bearing, and allows the impeller to spin at speeds up to 2400 RPM. It shows voltage control, but that needs to be done with the BIOS, some form of software control, or a fan controller. The pump is capable of pushing 72 liters of coolant per hour - up to one meter higher than the pump. After that, flow and pressure will drop, resulting in less than optimal performance. The last bits covered here are the 25 dB(A) noise rating of the head unit while in operation, and the minimal draw of 0.27A to accomplish this.

Just like when we brought forth the Kelvin T12, this Kelvin S36 will not, I repeat, will not be available in North America due to the pending lawsuit over who can and who cannot produce an AIO as we know it. However, Fractal left us with the MSRP for this cooler in USD (so they must have high hopes and plans for a good outcome with the lawsuit), and that was set to $139.99. This is right along the lines of what the H220X costs, and on par with the Water 3.0 Ultimate. So, the fact that Fractal Design offers their expandable 360mm radiator based solution right in the mix is good planning on their part. For those of you on the other side of this big blue ball we all spin around on, expect pricing to be 99.99 GBP or 119,99 Euros, depending on the markets.

Last updated: Apr 7, 2020 at 12:33 pm CDT

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Chad Sebring


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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