As we did with the Kraken X53 review, we do need to get it out there that we do appreciate what is going on in the newest to enter the lineup. We liked the oversized head unit's appearance and aesthetic fresh out of the box, and the fact that you can do all of the RGB things with the ring and the logo is something many expect to see in some form. Pump control via software is nice as well, and CAM can do many other things as well, but we are keeping it to how it pertains to the Kraken coolers.
The length of tubing is something we have wanted since AIOs became a thing, but up until a year or three ago, never seemed to be a concern, and now NZXT is taking it to a level past many others. We also like the idea of an AIO with a HUE 2 hub built-in, where those without motherboard RGB can still sync their accessories so that fans, the cooler, and LED strips are all doing the same thing.
We did bypass some of the issues, as we knew we would have this time to deliver our thoughts. On the one hand, we get that the HUE 2 hub is essential to NZXT and some users, but to do so means the lack of places to power the fans, and of course, then there is no software control of the fans either! Even if we had seen a Y-splitter or a daisy chain setup to use a single motherboard header would be reasonable, but to power three fans with PWM control, is a severe pain in the rear, on the motherboard we test with. It isn't always a matter of available fan headers, which is something that seemed to go over the designers' heads at NZXT.
Something else that went right past them is the fact that the increased display size also means that the head unit is bigger now when including the fittings into that distance. We may be in the minority, but I see people building PCs with all of the RAM slots full all the time, and the fact that the standard orientation of an AIO is no longer they7 way this is to be installed for those like us, it is odd and disappointing at the same time. Yes, we could have turned the orientation, but again, due to the USB cable, we are left with only two of the four possibilities on a full ATX motherboard. Imagine the issues on something like a Mini-ITX system!
There isn't a good side when VRM coolers are so close, the RAM side is out, and the GPU is just as close. The design limits its uses before you even open the box, and this, to us, defeats the point of developing a product in general. The last thing you want is to limit where it can go!
Even with the performance aspect, the basis of the cooler in the first place, while better than what we saw in the X53, is still hard to justify with the increased cost that comes with it. At stock, the X73 is an admirable solution, but if you are going with liquid cooling, it is typically for the hotter, faster chips, and being that is the reality we expect more from a cooler that nears the $200 mark! As we mentioned in the other review, if you just have to have one to try it out, the X53 is the most affordable option to try at this time, and overall we do not see the need for this much radiator for a degree or two here and there!
At $179.99, with the issues and reasons for doing said things not jiving with me the way it should, we cannot in good conscience lead you to believe that this is a good cooler or a sweet deal. It is innovative with some new tricks, cutting an essential feature in our opinion, and making the customer shell out for the privilege of dealing with how exactly you are going to use it when it complicates things to try to change it. We like the direction, yet, we feel that NZXT went too far too fast and forgot about some of the standards of what customers need from their CPU coolers.
Last updated: Feb 6, 2020 at 06:11 am CST
The Bottom Line
Even though the Kraken X73 performs better than its little brother, the X53, the cost increase is not to near four times that of an air cooler that can outperform it, all while not showing the issues we saw along the way. Innovative or not, we feel they missed the mark!