Introduction, Specifications, and Pricing
NZXT and the Kraken series of liquid cooled CPU coolers need no introduction, as they have been in this game nearly as long as it has been played. Over the years we have seen eight variations, today's review being the ninth, in a long run of coolers for NZXT. In that time we have seen the coolers start from infancy, develop into chart-topping performers at one point, and has now moved into coolers that sort the infinity lighting head units, which dress up any rig in a way nobody else is doing. However, with all of the previous coolers in the Kraken series, much of what was going on is the same throughout the line, but not today, as NZXT is trying out something new which is interesting, to say the least.
Using a smaller AIO, being 120mm based, it is an excellent launch platform to introduce a new tactic in design. Where most of the AIO on this planet are built with the pump riding atop the cold plate, as of late, is a resurgence to try to move the pump to different locations. We have seen them built into the end of a radiator, we have seen them strapped to the fans, and we have just seen them in-line, but until now we have never seen it placed right smack in the center of the radiators fin array. NZXT locates the pump in the "dead-zone" of these radiators, which is typically covered with the fan hub. The principle is sound as it removed the head from the head unit that the pump creates, and is not somewhat actively cooled. Also using an area that the fan cannot efficiently cool in the radiator seems legit, but we will soon see how it all plays out.
The cooler we have been alluding to is the Kraken M22 from NZXT. It is a departure from other Kraken coolers in different ways too, but we will be saving that to cover in this review. If you are tired of trying what everyone is sending out to the market when it comes to closed-loop liquid CPU coolers and likes to try new things, the Kraken M22 might be the way to go. At this time, we will hold our tongue and allow you to take it all in, see the testing results, and then discuss how we feel. For now, even if this 120mm AIO might not be up to your cooling requirements, we strongly urge you to have a look at this new direction in AIO design, it is well worth the time.
The list of specifications offered on the Kraken M22 product page is compact, but it still provides much of what needs to be known. Dimensions are first, where we are shown that the radiator is 152mm tall, it is 120mm wide, and is 32mm thick with the side panels, but the fin array is only 27mm in thickness. Aluminum is used for the radiator, copper is used for the transfer plate in the head unit, while plastic is used to encase it. The tubing is 400mm long, made of rubber and designed for ultra-low evaporation. Beyond that, the tubes are covered with nylon sleeving. The weight is set at less than a kilo, and we see Intel support starts with LGA115X and starts with AM2 for AMD.
There is no mention of where the pump is in the designs, but we can tell you that it is in the radiator. That being said, what we do see about the pump, is that it will spin at 3000 RPM, and is powered with a 3-pin fan connection. To cool both the pump and the liquid inside of the radiator, we are sent a single Aer P120 fan. It can be louder, topping out at 36 dB(A) as it potentially ramps up to the range of 1700 to 2300 RPM. There is finite control available, but it has to do with the lighting of the head unit. This can be accomplished with the use of CAM software, but you do not have all of the control ability of other Kraken coolers we have tested.
When it comes time to ponder the decision to buy the Kraken M22, we had no issues finding them out in the wild. You can grab it from NZXT where they have it listed for a $99.99 MSRP. However, if you look at Amazon to attempt a better deal, you will find it listed there at $94.90 with free shipping. However, the best deal we saw from a reputable dealer is at Newegg. It is there that the current price of the M22 is set at just $84.71, and again is noted to offer free shipping too. Saving $15 is enough to also grab a case fan or your favorite tube of thermal paste, and if it were us buying the Kraken M22 right now, the choice of where to go is blatantly obvious. In the range of a top of the line air cooler, NZXT has a touch patch to plow going up against the likes of the D-14 and D-15 coolers.
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