We applaud NZXT for their drive to get better and for their outlook into ways to distinguish their Kraken series from all of the various competitors! We can see where there are times the RGB environments do not play well with each other, and companies certainly benefit from creating an exclusive environment to control it. It makes sense. We have no issues with any of this, and it is the way it works in the real-world.
The addition of the HUE 2 outgoing lead is the next evolution. We loved the rotatable top, as there have been instances where we have dealt with inverted logos and the like. Installation is simple, and once you have all the connections made, CAM does offer quite a bit to play with, in the RGB lighting department, and you will need it to control the speed of the pump.
However, with the good, comes quite a bit of what we will call oversight, and confusion between the marketing department and the product! The Kraken X53 is in no way what we would call a "high-performance" or associate with "incredible performance" as the box plainly states. At default levels, it fairs OK, but that's it, just OK! Once we overclocked the CPU, the X53 failed to keep up with the performance, and pushing nearly 700 RPM more airflow into the radiator delivers such a small amount of performance it isn't worth the effort of changing fan settings in your BIOS.
That's right; I said in the BIOS because NZXT thought it was a great idea to illuminate fan control.....on a CPU cooler.....a central part of the heart of the system, and NZXT is like nobody wants software control of them anymore. When asked, I was told, there are plenty of headers on the ATX motherboards, use those, or buy a FAN hub from them, so you can get back what was thought to be a standard feature these days. NZXT left our hands tied. When you put RGB ahead of everything else, this is what you get, a novel and innovative product that flounders at doing its primary job, cooling the CPU!
Even without the previous complaints, we still haven't looked into the encroachment on the memory! Again, we feel like NZXT just glossed right over this. In a typical orientation, the cooler hits the memory, which is a deal-breaker as to the rules of what you do with a cooler! Asking why leads to more frustration! We are told to change the orientation, leaving only two options, as the USB cable also causes issues with the memory! For those with all of the memory slots filled, you have two choices of orientation, and you just get to deal with the wiring and make it work and look decent.
In my opinion, this is one instance where they needed fewer hands-on this design, or maybe they needed just one more to point out the obvious. We find there are just too many problems and a couple of them compound as you try to find a solution to what should work out of the box, and it seems the Kraken X53 cannot do what everyone else, including their previous solutions, did and still do! Sometimes change for the sake of change is not the way to go!
If you are the brand loyal type, or those who just want to try out the latest generation of products, we get it, you are likely going to pick one of these up anyways. For the masses, when it comes to what Intel has out now, and how warm they tend to run, even with our old 6700K, well short of these 5GHz options out today, we do not see a bright side to this cooler as an option. Getting your cooler handed back defeated by a five-year-old (maybe more) $50 NiC C5 says it all!
At $129.99, we suggest buying something more affordable with better results, and throw that extra $70 at the PSU or the storage! We wish that AIO makers would what it takes to reclaim the top of the charts with impressive results, and deliver me a cooler that is worth the two to three times the investment needed!
Last updated: Jan 29, 2020 at 06:11 am CST
The Bottom Line
Innovative as it may be, NZXT lost the purpose of a CPU cooler in their pursuit to make the Kraken X53 the next hot thing! Even though there are aspects to appreciate, the lack of performance and issues are what they are, and are reflected in the score.