While it has been a long time since we last saw an AIO from Fractal, we do like what we see in this new model. Fractal has taken a step beyond the likes of Corsair and NZXT and upped them when it comes to the aesthetic game. Silence is of significant importance, whether looking at the Prisma Series we tested, or the Dynamic Series, and we do know that many do like a quiet CPU cooler. The 90-degree swivel fittings are something we feel all sealed AIOs should come with, but we have a new appreciation for the rotary fittings at the radiator!
The fact that the sleeve hides wires, and they can still twist without causing a bind is also a nice touch to add into the mix. Within the Prisma Series, like with our S28, ARGB lighting is the other big seller to the masses, and we feel that there are options with more and brighter displays of light, we have seen worse implementations as well, and this falls somewhere slightly above average in that department.
Sadly, though, with the sleek looking design and the long list of features to be found in this CPU cooler, we have to address the elephant in the room, well, two of them! The first thing we find to be lackluster is performance! At $150, we find this to be unacceptable. We get that the market dictates a price for the Asetek AIOs, but even the Kraken X53 and 73 beat this unit, and we railed NZXT about their performance. We are sitting here shaking our head as we write this, so much promise to fall flat on the one thing that is in the name of the product. It needs to be a cooler first, then add fancy stuff to it.
The second elephant has to do with the AUTO option of control, as we see no reason why with the lackluster performance we get with PWM control that we would be at the point to think that worse performance as an option was something to do. We understand the line of thought that they might be able to claim the quietest AIO in the game but to add a feature, then need a backup feature to allow the pump to spin at insane speeds to cool things down in the event of a runaway thermal scenario. Why? We are having such a hard time wrapping our heads around how this was a feature in the first place.
As it stands, at $150, outside of the cool factor of it being someone other than the big players in AIOs using an Asetek cooler, the facts stand as they are, and we have a hard time recommending this CPU cooler. From the onset, they had us, as we sat with high hopes that all of the features and options would come together is some cohesive manner, but after testing, we are left confused as to why much of this happened.
We get that Fractal wanted to be different, and set a trend that would set them apart from Corsair and NZXT, but if we were seriously contemplating a 280mm AIO right now, sadly, the Celsius Plus S28 Prisma would not be it! If you look closer at the charts, you can even see an ARCTIC solution there, whose review will go live later this month, and ARCTIC nailed it with an $80 for their 280mm AIO, just to shed more light on where this Fractal cooler sits in our mind.
The Bottom Line
With a long list of features, the Celsius Plus S28 Prisma may look amazing and be as quiet as it possibly can be, but the thermal performance and price will deter most from considering it.