Fractal Design Kelvin T12 – Test and Review

Almost a year ago, the guys from Fractal Design expanded their company portfolio with the brand new Kelvin AIO water cooling series featuring 3 different models made to deliver easy installation, good and reliable performance while working at average noise level and most of all to satisfy the cooling needs of every user and that includes the enthusiasts and modders, too. The Kelvin series includes:

  • Kelvin T12 – featuring 120mm water cooling radiator with dimensions of 46 x 132 x 163 mm and cooled by two Fractal Design Silent Series HP 120 mm PWM fans in a push-pull setup. The radiator has an innovative construction of copper and nylon, where the nylon is placed on the outer parts where heat transfer doesn’t take place.
  • Kelvin S24 – features a 240mm water cooling radiator, made entirely of copper combined with physical dimensions of 30 x 124 x 275 mm, cooled by two Fractal Design Silent Series HP 120 mm PWM fans installed side by side.
  • Kelvin S36 – the largest of the three models featuring a 360mm water cooling radiator with physical dimensions of 30 x 124 x 397mm, being cooled by three Fractal Design Silent Series HP 120 mm PWM fans installed side by side.

A few weeks ago we were able to test and review Fractal Design Kelvin S24, which showed amazing cooling performance and appearance and now I am planning to check what the smaller brother in the series has to offer.

Fractal Design Kelvin T12 was delivered to me for doing a test and review in a pretty simple but very colorful package, made entirely of carton and painted in black/white blue and white colours.

The front of the box The back of the box
IMG_0159 IMG_0162

 

On the front panel of the package there is the company logo, a big picture of the product itself, and the name of the model. Of course, the full technical specifications and all of the additional details, including pictures and information regarding the structure are explained on all other sides of the box. Actually, the package is pretty solid and I should say very good looking but it is not the main focus of this article. So let’s open the package and check the AIO itself.

And this is the view, which I got after I opened the package.

Installation manual The AIO packed inside
IMG_0163 IMG_0166

 

The first thing to notice after I opened the package, was a very detailed installation manual laying on a Styrofoam sheet protecting the AIO itself. And here I want to say that the manual is just amazing. Apart from the installation details there is tons of information regarding the radiator, the water block, the fans and even pieces of advice how and where to install the radiator and even how to expand the loop. After I removed the manual and the Styrofoam sheet there was the AIO, accompanied by the fans and all of the additional accessories, needed so the cooler can be used with all modern Intel or AMD sockets.

And this is the view, which I got after I took all of the parts out of the carton bed.

IMG_0168

All of the accessories were packed in separate nylon bags according to their socket compatibility and purpose just to ensure that everything will arrive with the AIO and in perfect condition. So let’s pay some attention to the accessories pack before we continue with checking the structure.

 

Fractal Design Kelvin T12 ADDITIONAL ACCESSORIES

Actually it took me some time to take all of the parts out of their nylon bags and arrange them for taking pictures and after I am done this is the view which I got.

IMG_0170

The standard Fractal Design Kelvin T12 package delivers:

  1. Black plastic back plate needed for all Intel sockets
  2. Black metal front plate featuring 2 parts needed for all Intel sockets
  3. Black metal front plate featuring 2 parts needed for all AMD sockets
  4. A set of 4 metal thumbscrews needed to fasten the water block to Intel 2011 socket
  5. A set of 4 metal thumbscrews needed to fasten the water block to all AMD socket
  6. A set of 4 metal thumbscrews needed to fasten the water block to all other Intel sockets
  7. A set of 8 long bolts needed so the fans can be attached to the water block and of course so the radiator can be attached to the case
  8. A set of 8 short bolts needed so the water block can be attached to the case
  9. A set of 4 washers to be a base for the springs
  10. A set of 4 nuts for fastening the the thumbscrews to the front plates
  11. A set of 4 springs
  12. PWM Y-splitter cable for powering and regulating up to two fans
  13. 2 x Fractal Design Silent Series HP 120 mm fans
  14. Fractal Design Zero™ Thermal Paste
  15. A very detailed installation manual

All of the screws, springs and nuts are entirely painted in black to best suit the colour scheme of a modern system build.

Since this is the first product from the Kelvin series, which I am testing and reviewing myself and after I checked the standard accessories pack, I can say good job, Fractal Design. Really good job!

The additional accessories pack will definitely provide the best possible compatibility and allow the AIO to work with every Intel and AMD socket inside every modern case featuring 120mm case fan slot.

I believe the time has arrived to check out the AIO water cooling system itself.

 

Fractal Design Kelvin T12 STRUCTURE

Before I start checking every single part of the product I spent some time examining the structure of the Fractal Design Kelvin T12 which is actually a pretty nice combination of very solid radiator made to work with up to 2 x 120mm fans in a push-pull setup, pretty thick and pretty long tubes and very sleek and stylish water block. All of the parts, entirely painted in black.

To keep the tradition let’s start by checking the water block.

IMG_0182

Fractal Design Kelvin T12 is equipped with a very clean and stylish looking square water block with dimensions of 69 x 69 x 40 mm made of:

  • a very solid and perfectly milled copper contact plate featuring the Jet stream technology which is designed in such a way that water flows through a milled on the inside pin array only in one direction. The contact plate is attached to the copper block with 4 copper screws to deliver secure and reliable connection.
  • a very reliable ceramic bearing pump right on top of the contact plate with custom tuned maximum RPM which should deliver optimal balance between performance and noise level. The pump itself is made to operate at maximum 2400 RPM, providing maximum water flow of 72 l/h with maximum pressure level of 1.0 m H2O at noise level of 25.0 dB(A) and consuming up to 3.2W. The power and the regulation of the pump is done by a not very long, entirely sleeved in black 3 pin cable and connector. Also the same ceramic pump is used for all of the Kelvin models and features “Dry Run Protection” so it can continue to work even if there is no water in the loop without getting damaged.
  • A solid plastic cap with the company logo protecting the whole structure and improving the overall appearance of the water block.

IMG_0185

Apart from that the water block is equipped with a dedicated filling port placed on the left side of the water block which is made to help if someone decided to expand the water system and add VGA water block or additional CPU cooler water block in the loop, replace the original coolant or for regular maintenance of the system.

According to the company, all of the models are capable to handle loop expansion and according to the official guidelines:

  • Kelvin T12 should be able to cool up to 1 CPU and 1 GPU
  • Kelvin S24 should be able to cool 1-2 CPU and 1-2GPU
  • Kelvin S36 should be able to cool up to 1-4 CPU and 1-4 GPU

To be honest, this information is very interesting and promising and will definitely provide a lot of options for modders and enthusiasts all over the world.

Also, the water block is delivered with entirely painted in black G 1/4″ two-part brass fittings, made to provide a secure seal and connect the water block to the radiator via the 320mm long entirely painted black tubes with outer diameter of 11mm and inner diameter of 8mm.

And here I want to mention that both of the tubes are equipped with anti-kink coils which will provide easy and issue-free installation. Also, they definitely deliver a nice finish and add a feeling of reliability of the system.

And by mentioning the cooling radiator, let’s check how big it is and what we can expect from it.

The top of the AIO The side of the AIO
IMG_0175 IMG_0180

 

Fractal Design Kelvin T12 is designed with pretty simple and at the same time very solid, painted in black radiator made entirely of copper with a thick design and dimensions of 46 x 132 x 163 mm. Apart from that it doesn’t feature any additional parts such as smaller heat sinks or rubber dampers to boost the overall performance of the AIO or to decrease the vibrations of the fans or the overall noise of the system. The only aesthetic addition are the two small Fractal Design logos on each side of the radiator.

The front of the radiator The side of the radiator
IMG_0179 IMG_0177

 

All of the radiators used for the models part of the Kelvin series are designed with additional filling port located on one of the sides to ease the refilling process of the loop and are equipped with black G 1/4″ two-part brass fittings to connect with the tubes.

The radiator itself  is compatible to be used with up to two 120 x 25 mm fans installed on both sides of the aluminum fins in push-pull setup and by mentioning the fans, let’s check what they have to offer.

IMG_0188

The standard Fractal Design Kelvin T12 cooler is provided with two Fractal Design Silent Series HP 120 mm fans with dimensions of 120mm x 25mm made of square plastic black frames and a white propellers with seven very wide and very sharply angled blades meant to deliver up to 1700 revolutions per minute and provide stable airflow level of 62.38 CFM with static level pressure of 2.33 mm H2O and noise level range of 26.9 dBA with life span of up to 30 000 hours.

Both of the fans should be attached to the radiator via 4 long bolts for every fan and the bolts which will be needed for the back fan are actually the ones which will hold the radiator to the case on the back or top of every middle or full ATX modern case.

And this is what the fans look like installed on each side of the radiator.

One fan installed The two fans installed
IMG_0191 IMG_0193

 

To power and regulate the fans they should be connected to the PWM Y-spliter and the spliter should be connected to one of the fan headers on the motherboard. Preferable the CPU fan header for the best possible automatic regulation.

After I assembled the water cooling I can say that the AIO is really an eye catcher with its stylish appearance and inspires reliable and very serious performance capabilities. Whether this is true, we will find out a bit later.

To use the AIO I will have to install it using the provided in the package mounting kit and by following the official technical details published on the company web page Kelvin T12 is made to be compatible with:

  1. Intel sockets: LGA 775,1150,1155,1156,1366,2011,2011-v3
  2. AMD sockets: AM2,AM2+,AM3,AM3+,FM1,FM2,FM2+

For doing the tests I will have to use the original AMD back plate provided with the motherboard, the brackets provided with the AIO, some bolts, washers, springs and nuts as you can see on the picture below.

IMG_0173

These are all of the parts which should be assembled so I can install the water block to the processor on my motherboard.

Mounting brackets Mounting brackets assembled
IMG_0195 IMG_0196

 

First thing to do was to prepare the two front metal plates which will hold the water block attached to the processor. Then add the springs and the washers to the bolts and then add the bolts in the holes on each corner of the brackets. Of course, to keep them in place I had to fasten the bolts with the nuts from below the brackets.

IMG_0199

And the next step was to slide the 2 brackets in channels on each side of the water block and push them very hard so they can click and secure in position. Of course, in this process the paint on each side of water block was definitely scratched but not visibly.

IMG_0201

And this is what the AIO water block looks like installed on the motherboard and I can say it was a child’s play to attach the water block to the processor and the connection between them was very tight and rigid.

I believe I am done with the review of the water cooling system and all of its parts and now it is time for testing.

 

Fractal Design Kelvin T12 TESTS

With the AIO installed, the time to check my testing rig has arrived and to continue the article with the tests…

CPU: AMD Vishera FX-8350

  1. At standard frequency 4.020 MHz (at 1.356V)
  2. At low overclock frequency of 4.220 MHz  (at 1.380V)
  3. At medium overclock frequency of 4.420 MHz (at 1.416V)

Motherboard: GigaByte 990FXA-UD3

Video card: 2 x Gigabyte GV-R927XOC-2GD

Memory: 2 x 4GB Geil Black Dragon 1866 MHz

Hard drive: Kingston SSD SV100S264G

Hard drive:  WD Server Edition WD1002F9YZ 1TB

Case: SilverStone Raven RV-03

Power supply: Antec HCP-750W

Cooler: Fractal Design Kelvin T12

Thermal paste: Noctua NT-H1 thermal compound

For this test and review I am going to use the two standard Fractal Design Silent Series HP 120 mm fans working at up to 1700 revolutions per minute, providing maximum airflow level 62.38 CFM, static level pressure of 2.33 mm H2O at noise level of 26.9 dBA in push-pull setup.

The tests will be conducted in a closed system with:

  1. 2 x SilverStone AP181 – 180mm fans on the bottom panel of the case putting fresh air in and spinning at about 1200 rpm
  2. 120mm fan behind the motherboard cooling the socket and spinning at about 1000 rpm.
  3. Room temperature of about 20 degrees.

Both SilverStone AP181 – 180mm fans were connected together to the chassis 1 connector and were rotating at maximum speed.

And here I want to describe my testing method.

I will install Fractal Design Kelvin T12 and do stress tests using Prime95 AVX software with constant load on the AIO for 14:30 minutes with custom settings of minimum FFT size (in K of 128), max FFT size (in K of 128) and Run FFTs in place at standard frequency of 4.020 GHz (at 1.356V), at low overclock frequency of 4.220 GHz (at 1.380V) and at medium overclock frequency of 4.420 GHz (at 1.416V) using the two fans provided with the AIO system rotating at maximum speed of 1700 revolutions per minute.

Now let’s check out the test results:

Fractal Design Kelvin T12 1700@4020MHz 1.356V Fractal Design Kelvin T12 1700@4220MHz 1.380V
Fractal Design Kelvin T12 1700@4020MHz 1.356V Fractal Design Kelvin T12 1700@4220MHz 1.380V
Fractal Design Kelvin T12 1700@4420MHz 1.416V
Fractal Design Kelvin T12 1700@4420MHz 1.416V

 

All of the test results have been summed up in the following charts:

Fractal Design Kelvin T12 Results T

And the fan speed during the tests:

Fractal Design Kelvin T12 Results R

I believe the time for conclusions has arrived.

 

Fractal Design Kelvin T12 CONCLUSIONS

1. Fractal Design Kelvin T12 performance:

I’ve spent some hours unpacking the Fractal Design Kelvin T12 and all of the accessories  which will be needed for normal operation. Later arranging them for taking some pictures, reviewing and installing the AIO system on my motherboard and finally after I am done testing I can say that I am really impressed with the overall performance and appearance of the water cooling system.

Fractal Design Kelvin T12 is actually a very interesting and very sophisticated all-in-one water cooling system and from what I saw through the review everything regarding the product is made to be just perfect. The AIO is made to deliver more than excellent build quality, very elegant design, a lot of cooling capabilities and enhancements and most of all very serious cooling performance. And yes, according to the test result the AIO is working just outstandingly by keeping the power hungry FX8350 working at pretty low temperatures even at full load for extended periods of time. I can say that this AIO will be able to cool every processor working at default or even overclocked frequencies without a problem. Apart from that I am expecting pretty good cooling performance if a VGA waterblock is added to the loop, too.

Throughout the tests when both the fans and the pump were working at full speed the AIO was pretty noisy but for that performance of the processor I wouldn’t expect anything else. After the tests were done and all of the fans and the pump set to auto the Fractal Design Kelvin T12 is pretty quiet but every time there is some load on the processor both the fans and the pump increase their revolutions per minute and can be heard.

 

2. Fractal Design Kelvin T12 appearance:

In addition to the very good cooling performance I can say that Fractal Design Kelvin T12 is made to provide very sleek and stylish design, which when installed inside a black middle or full tower ATX case will stay absolutely neutral and at the same time will be a real eye catcher. Also the anti-kink coils added around the tubes somehow deliver a nice finish and inspire the feeling of reliability and serious build quality. I can say that this product can be a good addition to a gaming rig or modding project entirely in the black colour scheme.

According to my review, I think that Fractal Design Kelvin T12 deserves the following reward:

Best-Perf-Visual

Official price (MSRP) for Fractal Design Kelvin T12: 74.99 euro

Official warranty: 24 months

I thank Fractal Design for the test sample.

Kelvin_500x100_RU

Fractal Design Kelvin T12 – Test and Review
8.7 Total Score
The AIO is made to deliver amazing performance, very neutral appearance and a lot of enhancement options.

Performance
10
Noise Level
9
Compatibility
10
Additional accessories
10
User Rating: 3.8 (7 votes)
Editor's choice

Dobrin Krastev is the owner, reviewer and newsman of www.DVTests.com with more than 15 years' experience in personal computers, server and storage systems, UPS, peripheral devices and software. Passionate about testing and reviewing, AMD overclocking using AM3 990FXA and AMD FM2 A85X test systems and building modding projects.
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