In this review I will be testing out the CPU cooler provided to me by NZXT – Kraken X41. It features a compact pump design, 140mm water filled radiator and a 140mm fan. Respectively it falls in the performance segment coolers, however there are certain features making it a product that deserves attention. Backed up by a long 6 year warranty, Kraken X41 is a cooler worth checking out.
Before I begin with the article I will share some brief information about the other CPU coolers in NXZT line up, all of them offering reliability and excellent build quality:
- Kraken X31 – 120mm water cooling radiator with physical dimensions of 155 x 120 x 30 mm, featuring a variable speed pump, longer than usual rubber tubing and high compatibility. Noise level is between 18-34 dBA and is both Intel and AMD compatible.
- Kraken X41 – 140mm thick water cooling radiator with physical dimensions of 140 x 172.5 x 36mm, featuring a variable speed pump, longer than usual flexible rubber tubing and high compatibility. Noise level is between 20-37 dBA and is both Intel and AMD compatible.
- Kraken X61 – 280mm water cooling radiator with physical dimension of 140 (W) x 280 (H) x 27mm (D), featuring a variable speed pump, 2 x 140mm fans, longer than usual flexible rubber tubing and offers high compatibility with both Intel and AMD platforms.
All of the above products come with 6 year warranty and a downloadable software from NZXT website, allowing for customization options and live monitoring of the system.
Let me have a look at the Kraken X41…
|Front section of the box
||Back of the box|
The packaging it came with was a relatively small box for a CPU cooler, in red/black and white accents, predominately black and red. No damage was done to it, so it was a relief to see it intact, having in mind the fragile pieces. In my opinion the box looks quite nice and is very informative, even for non-experienced users as it comes printed with a lot of information regarding the cooler.
Definitely it’s a lovely designed packaging and I do appreciate all of the details mentioned on the box.
Features, technical details and specifications are printed all over the sides of the box, along with the socket compatibility which in fact is:
- Intel LGA 2011-3, 1366, 1156, 1155, 1150 socket
- AMD FM2, FM1, AM3+, AM3, AM2+, AM2 socket
Okay, that’s enough as far as packaging goes. Let’s open the box and check out what the cooler looks like “in the flesh”.
After I opened the box, the first thing I saw, lying on top of everything, was a small carton leaflet with instructions on how to install the cooler. It was a good thing to see that Intel mounting was supplied there, as for the AMD installation guide – there is a link to the NZXT website.
There was no soft styrofoam piece, which in most coolers is supplied for additional protection, however that did not have any negative effect on the contents. Under the leaflet there was the Kraken X41, wrapped in nylon, carton to protect the radiator fins and molded compartments for every other piece inside the box. All in pristine condition.
NZXT KRAKEN X41 ADDITIONAL ACCESSORIES
It took me no more than a minute to unwrap everything carefully out of the carton and nylons and take a photo of the included goodies that come with the cooler.
The standard NZXT Kraken X41 package offers:
- Installation manual
- Radiator with attached tubes and water block, including the water pump
- Universal Intel bracket, made of plastic and painted in black
- AMD bracket, made of metal and painted in black
- Metal stand offs for Intel 2011 socket – x 4
- Metal stand offs for AMD – x 4
- Metal stand offs for Intel bracket installation – x 4
- Black metal washers – x 8
- Black metal short screws – x 4
- Black metal long screws – x 8
I believe the time has arrived to check out the AIO water cooling system itself.
What this lovely piece of cooling prowess offers is a standard in design, but nicely looking 140mm aluminum radiator, filled with liquid out of the factory, water pump attached to that same radiator via long tubes made from flexible and highly durable rubber. Last but not least, as this is an essential part of any water cooling solution be it custom or AIO – a fan, in this case a 140mm PWM fan provided by NZXT.
In this review I will be describing all of the parts one by one in detail and then conduct several tests to check out the performance it offers.
Let’s waste no more time…
NZXT KRAKEN X41 STRUCTURE
First thing that caught my attention was the water block itself. In Kraken X41’s case we have a circular water block that holds inside the water pump, under a what looks to be a plastic cover with a very nice NZXT logo. Looking a bit transparent here on the photos, but that logo is actually fully customizable via the Kraken software so you can put whatever light you want on it to match the color scheme of the hardware you have already installed in the system.
In regard to the protection of the copper plate below, there is a solid piece of transparent plastic, covering the bottom and it seems to me that the water block has been pre-fitted with an Intel bracket. The bracket itself is made of metal, painted in black and has internal knobs where it connects to the water block.
|Protective cap and Warning sign||Water block|
Design-wise the water pump/copper contact plate is very minimalist and looks quite well. The top cap looks to be made of plastic, but that doesn’t mean it is not well built, otherwise metal is used throughout. Quality seems to be on a very high level and there were no factory issues, at least on the outside.
The copper plate is again a circle, attached to the water block via 8 screws. There are many other screws present in the block assembly, however they serve a different purpose and are not connected to the copper plate. It looks very well polished, but I really wanted to see what the performance would be with the stock thermal compound, which is pre-applied for the user in a perfect circle.
In terms of power delivery the water block is has a single 3-pin fan connector with a sleeved cable, responsible for the 12 volts. What makes this pump special is the fact that it is the world’s first variable speed pump. What is this supposed to mean? – Lower noise when system is not stressed much, due to lowered RPM of the pump as well as less work for the motor, increasing its lifespan. When necessary the pump ramps up the revolutions so greater performance is achieved, leading to cooler temperatures. The revolutions range is in the range of 2400-3600 ± 150 RPM with motor current of 325mA. NZXT have not announced how much the pump consumes, but somewhere in the range of 3.9 Watts when working on maximum revolutions.
Couple of other cables go out of it and their purpose is to connect the fan or fans, as well as a USB connector to the motherboard to allow control over the unit and monitoring. These cables are also sleeved in black, where the sleeve is of the nylon type, not the best quality but it is dense so no cables are visible under it. I’d really like if that sleeve is at a later point replaced with cloth sleeve in different color options to match the color schemes of more systems.
Two 4-pin fan connectors are present and the one is actually a 3-pin as the PWM is done by the controller inside the water block. It is really important to connect the 140mm fan to the connector with all 4 pins, otherwise you will not be able to check the RPM levels – this is also stressed in the manual. It is of great importance also to connect the USB cable to the USB connector on your motherboard!
Connection between the water block and radiator is achieved by two tubes, made of flexible rubber. Black in color they are made longer than the usual rubber tubing or actually 400mm in length. This allows for more motion of the tubes if the cooler is installed in restricted spaces. The rubber is quite durable to the touch but at the same time it is easily bent so no restriction to the water flow should be present when installation is completed.
Tubing is attached to the water block and radiator via plastic fittings, and by mentioning the radiator let’s have a more detailed look in its structure as well.
|Kraken X41 radiator fins
||Kraken X41 radiator thickness
Kraken X41 is equipped with a thicker than most radiators 140mm radiator, allowing two 140mm fans to be installed in a push/pull configuration. It is made of aluminum and the physical dimensions are 140 x 172.5 x 36mm with no fan installed. The are no fancy features or distinct characteristics on it, just a plain old, matte black, simple, but effective radiator filled with liquid. All of the fins were in perfect condition, with not even one being bent.
|Side of the radiator
This 140mm radiator is 24% thicker than usual and is optimized to be cooled by one fan with no loss of performance. Compared to a 120mm radiator this one has 36% more surface area to be cooled that will allow for better heat distribution throughout and overall better performance. I would say that the fins are more on the dense side so definitely if you plan to replace the fan included in the package, be sure to get a static pressure optimized fan, otherwise you risk a great deal of performance loss.
Speaking of fans, let’s take a deeper look at the included one…
Included in the package is one NZXT FX V2 140mm Performance PWM Fan with a standard frame size of 140 x 140 x 25mm. Frame color is black and the propeller is white, which I find it to be a bit on the down side as a black propeller would have been more suitable. Not only that, but when you want to change the color of the LED to match the system color scheme you might find yourself in a pool of colors – e.g red/black theme…and…a white fan. Of course, fan is replaceable, but NZXT should consider a black fan next time.
|NZXT FX V2 140mm front
||NZXT FX V2 140mm back
The propeller features 7 wide blades to allow more static pressure in the air passing behind the fan as well as lower RPM to achieve a balance between noise output and performance. Another excellent feature is the rubber padding on all of the mounting holes in the fan frame, so the vibrations from the fan motor are not passed to the radiator’s metal structure.
Noise level of the fan measured between 20-37 dBA in the labs of NZXT, so at lowest RPM the fan should be barely audible in my opinion. Power is coming through a 4-pin fan connector, with black, nylon sleeve and the maximum operating voltage is 12 Volts. PWM is responsible for the different speeds the fan is capable of and it regulates in the range of 800~2000 RPM ± 10%, allowing for airflow level between 42.4-106.1 CFM. Air pressure comes in at 0.36-1.97mmH2O and the fan uses a Nano Bearing for improved durability and silent operation.
Attaching the fan to the radiator is a simple process of alignment and using four of the total eight included long bolts as well as four metal washers, so the rubber pads are not squashed by the pressure.
|Long bolts and washers
||Kraken X41 assembly
The completed structure looks very well, or excellent, I should say. Sometimes simple looks is all you need in a given piece of hardware. I can’t wait to install the cooler and change the LED to red. Black/white color schemed systems have the advantage here as the white fan is definitely a high contrast piece.
To use the AIO I will have to install it using the mounting kit provided in the package and compatibility is mentioned at the beginning of the article.
Since I own an Intel system I will be needing the Intel mounting kit and I have to say that a part of the job is already done as the water block comes with pre-installed Intel metal bracket around it. AMD users will need to remove it and replace it with the AMD metal bracket, included in the mounting kit package, as well as the other AMD mounting kit parts.
Both brackets are present here in this photo. On the very right there is the AMD bracket. Mounting kit for both Intel and AMD seems to be very well optimized and easy to install. I read the manual, then went on with the installation process.
I’ve seen many mounting kits that just have too many parts and at one point you might get a little lost in them and what comes first. NZXT have simplified the process so you can test the cooler as fast as possible. Here is the Intel mounting kit, ready to be installed. Necessary parts are the plastic bracket, 4 stand offs, 4 nuts and the Intel bracket, already installed on the water block.
The bracket is made of black plastic, very flexible, but durable at the same time and easy to operate with. Looking closely at the four corners there are sliders that allow you to choose the correct socket type. In this case the socket is 1150 so all of them should be aligned to the inner slot. Next thing to install is the stand off, which is then accompanied by the nut that will hold the metal bracket on the water block into place, locking and securing it firmly.
Here is what the plastic bracket looks like when installed on the socket:
|Plastic bracket, s.1150
||With stand offs installed
This process is very easy to perform and takes no more than 2 minutes to install all of the parts. Since NZXT was kind enough to include thermal compound on the copper contact plate I will be using Kraken X41 with it just to check out the performance straight out of the box.
Attaching the water block is also very, very easy – just align the holes in the Intel metal bracket, push firmly on the top of the plastic cap to hold the water block into place, install the nuts and tighten them in a cross pattern, as you would with any other cooler having 4 nuts that need to be tightened.
And here is the end result with water block fully installed and cables routed near the first DIMM slot for a tidier look. Although my RAM has higher heat sinks there seems to be no interference between the tubing and memory modules.
Now that the cooler is mounted on the motherboard this is what it looks like inside the case ready to be tested and reviewed. For the purpose of efficient cooling I will install the cooler as an exhaust in the rear of the case, although other options to mount are also possible.
Black fan? Yes, should have been a black fan… nevertheless it looks amazing as it provides better view over the motherboard heat sinks and doesn’t obstruct any of the memory slots or GPU. I am quite pleased with what the system looks like…or maybe a red fan? 🙂
I wanted to mount the cooler on the top portion of the case, however the RAM heat sinks interfere with the fan frame and the installation was not possible. Lower modules will work just fine, or a bigger case also.
NZXT KRAKEN X41 TESTS
With the AIO installed, the time to check my testing rig has arrived and I continue the article with the tests…
- CPU: Intel i5-4670K
- At standard frequency 3.400 MHz (Voltage set to Auto when not OC-ing)
- At low overclock frequency of 3.900 MHz (at 1.24V)
- At medium overclock frequency of 4.300 MHz (at 1.25V)
- Motherboard: ASUS Maximus VII HERO Z97
- Video card: MSI AMD R9 280X GAMING 3G
- Memory: A-Data XPG 8 GB Dual channel, 1600 MHz
- Solid State Drive: Intel 530 Series, 120 GB
- Hard drive: Western Digital 640 GB Black Series
- Case: NZXT H440
- Power supply: Corsair RM750 W
- Cooler: Fractal Design Kelvin S24
- Thermal paste: NZXT pre-applied
For the test I will be using the supplied 1 x 140mm fan and will test the cooler at maximum RPM.
The tests were conducted in a closed system with:
- Three NZXT 120mm case fans, installed as intake, rotating at ~1200 RPM
- One NZXT 140mm case fan, installed as exhaust at the top of the case, rotating at ~1200 RPM
Room temperature of about 24-25 degrees Celsius.
And here I want to describe my testing method.
I will install NZXT Kraken X41 and do stress tests using Prime95 AVX software with constant load on the cooler 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 3.4 GHz (Voltage set to Auto when not OC-ing), at low overclock frequency of 3.9 GHz (at 1.24V) and at medium overclock frequency of 4.3 GHz (at 1.25V) using the supplied fans installed on the radiator.
Now let’s check out the test results:
|Kraken X41 @ 3.4 GHz, Idle
||Kraken X41 @ 3.4 GHz, Load
|Kraken X41 @ 3.9 GHz, Load
||Kraken X41 @ 4.3 GHz, Load
All of the test results have been summed up in the following charts:
And the fan/pump speed during the tests:
I believe the time for conclusions has arrived.
NZXT KRAKEN X41 CONCLUSIONS
1. NZXT Kraken X41 performance:
Well, given the fact that the ambient temperatures were a little higher than usual and I don’t have any A/C unit in the house, the performance this X41 cooler puts to the table is quite an amazing one. Compared to several other coolers I have tested, both 140mm and 240mm, Kraken X41 sits at the top, in my opinion. And not because I want to flatter NZXT, but because X41 provides a very well-balanced performance and noise output.
Build quality is amazing, there is nothing that bothered me during installation or when reviewing the unit. The least strong piece here is the socket bracket, made of plastic, but it is so flexible and durable at the same time that I believe some people may break/bend the metal parts, before damaging the bracket.
At silent profile you get an almost dead silent machine which is actually cooled by water. This feat is achieved by both the low fan RPM and its ability to push good amount of air and the variable speed of the pump.
Installation is absolutely a child’s play. You can’t go wrong with it, and even if you stumble upon any difficulty – NZXT website has a lovely online guide on how to install X41 on all types of sockets.
When at maximum speed this 140mm AIO unit is one of the quietest I have ever heard. Both pump and fan rotating at maximum RPM is not something that will make you deaf. Very, very low output of noise. Outstanding for people who want to get better temperatures with water cooling solutions without compromising the silence too much.
2. NZXT Kraken X41 appearance:
Lovely black matte finish on the components. Used materials are very high quality ones and even the plastic on top of the water block doesn’t leave even the slightest bit of disappointment. One thing that I mentioned in the article also was the use of a white fan propeller, not because it’s ugly, but NZXT went with a LED on the water block and having a white fan when you seek less colors in the system is rather limiting in terms of system appearance.
Nevertheless this cooler is gorgeous, especially the water block itself. It is one of those coolers I would strongly recommend.
3. CAM – I want to share my thoughts on this excellent piece of software. You can download it from here. This monitoring software is powerful enough to track almost every piece of sensor you have in the system. You can see the clock levels, RAM speed, HDD/SSD and so on. It consumes somewhat more system memory and CPU utilization that it should be if I have to be honest, but updates are present on a regular basis. Changing the background as well as the frame and button colors is very easily done, so you can have a great color scheme on the desktop to match the one in the system, or in this case to put the DVTests wallpaper as a background.
According to my review, I think that NZXT Kraken X41 deserves the following reward:
Official price (MSRP) for NZXT Kraken X41: $109
Official warranty: 72 months
I thank NZXT for the test sample.