NZXT Kraken X42 – Test and Review

NZXT is a company offering various products including fans, cases, coolers and accessories and all of them have amazing appearance and still the company’s focus is to provide the best possible performance. The same principle is followed by the very well known Kraken All In One water cooling series, which already has two generations of products:

First generation:

The latest arrivals in the series are actually the second generation models:

  • Kraken X42 which is equipped with a radiator with dimensions of 175 x 143 x 30 mm, cooled by a single Aer P140 fan and variable speed pump with dimensions of 80 x 80 x 52.9 mm installed inside a pretty unique looking water block with individually addressable RGB and infinite mirror design.
  • Kraken X52 which is equipped with a radiator with dimensions of 275 x 123 x 30 mm, cooled by a two Aer P120 fans side by side and variable speed pump with dimensions of 80 x 80 x 52.9 mm installed inside a pretty unique looking water block with individually addressable RGB and infinite mirror design.
  • Kraken X62 which is equipped with a radiator with dimensions of 315 x 143 x 30 mm, cooled by a two Aer P140 fans side by side and variable speed pump with dimensions of 80 x 80 x 52.9 mm installed inside a pretty unique looking water block with individually addressable RGB and infinite mirror design.

For this test and review I received NZXT Kraken X42, which is the smallest from the second generation arrivals. Still, I am very curious and excited to check what the new Kraken structure has to offer and most of all its performance while cooling my AMD Vishera FX-8350 processor running at full load for quite some time at default, a bit overclocked and even more overclocked frequencies.

So, let’s proceed with the article and check what is inside the package and after that check the main features of the product, and last but not least perform some tests.

NZXT Kraken X42 arrived to me to perform a thorough test and review inside a pretty tight and very, very colorful carton package, which includes the product name accompanied by a picture of the Kraken X42 on the front panel. On the other hand, all other panels of the carton box are full with tons of technical details, pictures and explanations regarding the product and the additional control and monitoring CAM software.

Back side of the package The AIO packed inside


Typical for all of the AIOs from NZXT, the cooling unit and all of the additional accessories were orderly packed in nylon bags and secured in a carton bed of recycled paper. The fan and the radiator were placed inside additional carton protective package and all together beneath the pretty thick installation manual. There are no additional protective styrofoam sheets but from what I saw and since the AIO arrived in perfect condition, they are not really needed.

Enough about the external package, let’s dig deep inside the molded carton bed, remove all protective materials and check the additional accessories.



From my experience with NZXT products and seeing the current one in front of me I can say that they guys from the company are definitely not saving costs from quality and compatibility options and for that reason the product is provided with a very extensive accessories pack. All of the additional accessories were packed in separate labeled transparent nylon bags to ensure that all of them will be in perfect condition accompanying the AIO on its arrival.

The NZXT Kraken X42 accessories pack includes:

  1. Entirely in black metal Intel retention bracket which is pre-installed on the water block
  2. Entirely in black metal AMD retention bracket
  3. Entirely in black Intel back plate
  4. A set of four 115X/1366 metal entirely in black standoffs
  5. A set of four 2011 metal entirely in black standoffs
  6. A set of four AMD metal entirely in black standoffs
  7. A set of four metal entirely in black thumb nuts
  8. A set of eight metal entirely in black 30 mm UNC 6-32 mm fan screws
  9. A set of four metal entirely in black 5 mm UNC 6-32 mm fan screws
  10. A set of eight washers
  11. A power cable set for two fans
  12. One mini-USB cable
  13. Installation manual

The accessories pack is definitely made to provide the best possible compatibility options and allow the AIO to work with every Intel and AMD socket. Anyway, I find it a bit odd the lack of additional syringe with thermal compound. This is a premium product and 3-5 grams of extra thermal compound will definitely be a nice touch.

Enough about the additional accessories, so let’s put them aside until they are needed and check the AIO structure itself.



To follow the tradition I spent a few minutes examining the structure of the product so I can describe every single feature in the most detailed way. And from what I saw NZXT Kraken X42 offers very high-tech and really interesting water block structure, attached to a high quality 140mm radiator via reinforced tubes cooled by a single Aer P140 fan, especially designed for radiator usage.

So let’s start with checking the water block.

Water block – top view Water block – front view


Before I start describing the new features, I would like to mention that the second generation models in the Kraken series offers much bigger, more sophisticated and better looking water block. The water block itself is with physical dimensions of 80 x 80 x 52.9 mm and is a complex structure of several performance and appearance layers:

  • The first layer on the bottom of the water block is a perfectly milled and overall very solid round copper contact plate attached with 8 screws for secured and reliable leak-proof connection made to absorb the heat from the processor and transfer it to the water inside the loop.
  • Just above the contact plate is located the new performance engineered water pump, which is connected to the tubes via 2 entirely black, 90-degree angled plastic fittings and is capable to operate at 1,600~2,800 +/- 300 revolutions per minute range.
  • Inside the gap between the contact plate and the plastic around the water pump there are designated channels in which the Intel or AMD brackets should be placed and clicked by rotating the brackets.
  • Right above the water pump is the power and control circuit, which has two connectors on the side of the water block. The first one, which is actually bigger is meant for a special cable provided with the AIO. This cable has three functions:
  1.  providing the required power directly from SATA connector on the PSU to power the whole AIO system
  2.  powering and regulation for up to two fans
  3.  connecting the AIO control circuit to the motherboard to report the revolutions per minute via the tachometer cable

The second connector is meant for the mini-USB cable, which should be used to link the AIO circuit with the CAM software for precise control and operation. This cable should be connected to one of the USB 2.0 headers located on the motherboard.

  • Of course, to improve the appearance of the water block all of the components part of the assembly are covered by cylindrical plastic cap, entirely in black. On the top of the plastic cap there is a semi-transparent mirror effect glass in which there are cuts with the shape of the company logo and a ring. Through these cuts we can see the amazing RGB back light which can be controlled from the CAM software. But I will talk about this a bit later.
The connectors The fittings


The water block is pretty high-tech assembly, I should say, and it is connected to the radiator via 2 pretty long and very flexible ultra-low evaporation rubber tubes. To improve the durability, reliability and the overall appearance of the tubes, the guys from NZXT added nylon sleeving as a protective layer to shield the tubes from potential damage during handling

And by mentioning the cooling radiator, let’s check its dimensions and what should be expected from it.

Radiator – side view Radiator – back view


Kraken X42 is equipped with aluminum radiator with dimensions of 175 x 143 x 30mm compatible with up to two 140mm fans installed on both sides in push-pull setup.

And to improve the appearance of the product, the radiator is also entirely in black matte, with just the company logo engraved on the two sides.

The standard Kraken X42 setup offers just one Aer P140 performance focused fan featuring a square black frame and propeller with 7 pretty wide and very sharply angled blades entirely made to provide the best possible airflow and static pressure levels.

According to the official NZXT information the P140 model is especially designed for radiators and generate a high static pressure in order to push cool air through the radiator fins. The fan is manufactured with Fluid Dynamic Bearing (FDB) with overall life span of up to 60,000 hours and is capable to operate at 500~1,800 +/- 300 revolutions per minute range delivering airflow level range of 27.27~98.17 CFM, with static pressure level range of 0.21~2.71mm-H2O at noise level range of 21~38dBA.

And to mount the fan on the front side of the radiator I had to use the four 30 mm UNC 6-32 mm fan screws provided with the cooler.

And this is what the fan looks like mounted on the front side of the radiator.

To power and regulate the fans they should be connected to the special cable provided with the AIO, which should be attached to the water block. The cable can be used with up to two fans.

So far I was talking only about the hardware assembly of the AIO, now let’s pay some attention to the software part needed so this product can work properly and deliver its full performance and visual capabilities.

To enjoy all of the Kraken X42 features it is strongly recommended to be used with the latest CAM software version, which can be downloaded from here, which is a free complete monitoring and control solution for PC usage and delivers the option to:

  • Control the operation of the water pump by choosing from 4 different operational modes: Silent / Performance / Custom / Manual
  • Control the operation of the fan by choosing from 4 different operational modes: Silent / Performance / Custom / Manual
  • Control the operation of the RGB back light of the water block by choosing from a wide range of operational models:
  1. Preset Modes: Fixed, Breathing, Fading, Marquee, Covering Marquee, Pulse, Spectrum Wave, Alternating, Tai Chi, Water Cooler, Loading
  2. Reactive Modes: Smart and Audio
  • Also through the CAM software we can monitor the CPU and GPU temperature, load and much, much more.

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.

Of course, to perform any real test with this product I have to install it using the provided in the package mounting kit and by following the official technical details the product is made to be compatible with:

  1. Intel sockets: LGA1151, 1150, 1155, 1156, 1366, 2011, 2011-3
  2. AMD sockets: AM4 (Package with product number RL-KRX42-02) , FM2+, FM2, FM1, AM3+, AM3, AM2+, AM2

By default the mounting kit added in the package is made to use the original AMD back plate provided with the motherboard, the brackets provided with the AIO, some bolts and nuts as you can see on the picture below.

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 AMD water block brackets attached


The next step was to attach the cables to the water block

Both cables Connected to the water block


And this is what the AIO water block looks like installed on the motherboard.The whole installation was a pure child’s play and everything fits just perfectly. The pressure between the processor and the water block is absolutely fine and I expect to have some serious results.

Don’t forget to remove the sticker on top of the water block !

And this is what the AIO looks like installed back into the case ready for the stress tests.

According to NZXT the AIO has RAM height clearance of only 35 mm but according to my experience it doesn’t block any of the DRAM slots on my motherboard.

I believe am done with the review of the water cooling system and with the AIO fully installed inside the case I believe it is time to check my testing rig 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: NZXT Kraken X42

Thermal paste: Noctua NT-H1 thermal compound

For this test and review I am going to use Aer P140 fan working at full speed of 1800 revolutions per minute, providing maximum airflow level of 98.17 CFM , static level pressure of 2.71 mm/H2O at noise level of 38 dBA installed on the front of the radiator and installed on the top slot of my SilverStone Raven RV03 case.

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 18 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 the AIO 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 fan provided with the AIO system rotating at maximum speed and the water pump running at maximum speed of 2800 revolutions per minute.


Now let’s check out the test results:

NZXT Kraken X42 @4020MHz 1.356V NZXT Kraken X42 @4220MHz 1.380V
NZXT Kraken X42  @4420MHz 1.416V  


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

And the fan speed during the tests:

I believe it is time to express my feelings regarding the product.



1. NZXT Kraken X42 performance:

NZXT Kraken X42 is a piece of equipment in which I’ve invested a lot of time to examine its structure, additional accessories, taking pictures, checking the CAM software, reviewing. Now that I am done testing, I can say that this product really gave me a big smile on my face.

Kraken X42 is totally a sealed AIO system designed and manufactured to be a really high-tech product to provide supreme build quality, and at the same time very serious cooling performance and most of all very futuristic appearance.

According to the test results, which the AIO achieved, I can say that Kraken X42 is a cooling product with pretty tight dimensions made to be cooled by maximum of two 140mm fans and even though it is working with just one fan it proves that it is an outstanding performer. Through the tests the cooler was running very well and was dispersing the heat pretty fast, which was guaranteeing a stable, cool and reliable operation of my processor.

In addition to what I saw through the tests I can say that this product will definitely handle all grade of Intel or AMD processors working at default and pretty high overclocked frequencies with full load for quite some time. Of course, for the extreme overclocking the bigger models in the series will definitely be the better choice.

Regarding the noise, throughout the test both the fan and the pump were running at full speed and I was able to hear them pretty distinctly but after all of the tests finished and setting both the fan and the pump to run at silent mode they were dead quiet. I also tried the performance mode and the noise level around the AIO was still at the comfortable and acceptable level.

Enough about the performance, let’s talk about the appearance of the product

2. NZXT Kraken X42 appearance:

NZXT Kraken X42 is not just a black radiator, water block and tubes! It is definitely something more when combined with the CAM software with the included profiles and millions of colors. I tried all of the profiles and spent a lot of time enjoying the different colors and I was just like WOW! The AIO is capable to satisfy everybody’s needs in matter of appearance and provide amazing backlight inside every case or modding project.

In addition I am pretty curious and I can’t really imagine what will be the result if this AIO working together with NZXT AER RGB fans and HUE+ Extension Kit CAM controlled inside a huge case entirely in black. I expect it to be an amazing sight.

According to my review, I think that Kraken X42 deserves the following award:


Official NZXT Kraken X42 (MSRP) price : 129.99 usd

Official warranty: 72 months

Special thanks to NZXT for providing us with a test sample!

NZXT Kraken X42 – Test and Review
Amazing appearance combined with serious cooling performance.
8.4 Total Score

Amazing appearance combined with serious cooling performance.

Noise Level
Additional accessories
User Rating: 3.5 (2 votes)

Dobrin Krastev is the owner, reviewer and newsman of 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.
1 Comment
  1. Reply Dimcho 29.05.2017 at 12:42

    The cooler looks great (black is always elegant), performance is even better, and the accessories are more than enough.

    Thanks for the great review

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