NZXT Kraken X42, X52, X62 Build Quality Analysis & Tear-Down

By Published October 18, 2016 at 10:00 am
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NZXT's new Kraken X42, X52, and X62 liquid coolers were announced today, all using the new Asetek Gen5 pump with substantial custom modifications. The most direct Gen5 competition would be from Corsair, makers of the H115i and H100iV2, each priced to compete with the Kraken X42 ($130) and X52. The Corsair units, however, are using an unmodified Asetek platform from top-to-bottom, aside from a couple of Corsair fans. NZXT's newest endeavor had its components dictated by NZXT, including a custom (and fairly complex) PCB for fan speed, pump speed, and RGB control, planted under a custom pump plate with infinity mirror finish. The unit has gone so far as to demand a double-elbow barb for pose-able tubes, rather than the out-the-top setup of the Asetek stock platform – that's some fastidious design.

As for how we know all of this, it's because we've already disassembled a unit. We decided to dismantle one of our test-complete models to learn about its internals, since we're still waiting for the X52 and X62 models to be review-ready. We've got a few more tests to run.

Before getting to the tear-down, let's run through the specs, price, and availability of NZXT's new Kraken X42, X52, and X62 closed-loop liquid coolers. 

NZXT Kraken X42, X52, & X62 Specs

  Kraken X42 Kraken X52 Kraken X62
Socket Compatibility LGA 115X, 1366, 2011, 2011v3 LGA 115X, 1366, 2011, 2011v3 LGA 115X, 1366, 2011, 2011v3
Radiator Size 175 x 143 x 30mm 275 x 123 x 30mm 315 x 143 x 30mm
Pump Speed ~1000-2800RPM ~1000-2800RPM ~1000-2800RPM
Fan Spec 1x 140mm Aer P140 PWM

FDB
2x 120mm Aer P120 PWM

FDB
2x 140mm Aer P140 PWM

FDB
Fan Speed ~500~1800RPM ~500~2000RPM ~500~1800RPM
Flow 27.27-98.17CFM 18.28-73.11CFM 27.27-98.17CFM
Pressure 0.21-2.71mm-H20 0.18-2.93mm-H20 0.21-2.71mm-H20
Coldplate Material Copper Copper Copper
Tube Material Low Evaporation Rubber
(Nylon sleeve)
Low Evaporation Rubber
(Nylon sleeve)
Low Evaporation Rubber
(Nylon sleeve)
Tube Length 400mm 400mm 400mm
Advertised Noise ~21-38dBA ~21~36dBA ~21~38dBA
Warranty 6 Years 6 Years 6 Years
Price $130 $150 $160

Exterior

nzxt-kraken-x42-2

The Kraken X42, X52, and X62 coolers all use an 80x80x52.9mm pump block, which makes it one of the larger models on the market (though still well within any fitment requirements). This extra size is necessary, as the pump plate has been replaced with a mirrored finish top, followed by an NZXT logo + light pipe, followed by another mirrored finish surface. The assortment of parts allows for an infinity effect on the single light pipe, creating what appears to be a tunnel of RGB LED rings. There's also a sizeable gap (a few millimeters) between this top portion of the pump plate and the lower pump block, necessary to cool the complex set of LEDs and control logic on the custom PCB.

Lower down, we reach the coldplate and its housing, which includes the impeller (internally). Modular cable connections on the pump include mini-USB and SATA power. SATA power is used for the pump and other necessary power; mini-USB is used for the RGB LED control and CAM software communication.

As for the tubes and their double-elbow barbs, that allows tube posing in tighter spaces, but mostly (1) removes the tubes from the top of the pump plate, which would ruin the aesthetic, and (2) reduces unnecessary height. Corsair's competing Gen5 units use Asetek's stock platform, which routes the tubes out the top of the pump block, rather than hanging off the sides of the unit.

Tear-Down

nzxt-kraken-x42-tear-1

Removing the pump plate reveals two sets of PCBs: The base PCB from Asetek (green) and the custom PCB designed by NZXT (black). The black PCB is wafer-like in size, and on it dwells a set of eight total LEDs that operate at 3W each – fairly powerful, given the tight space (note: we're told there are nine LEDs in total, but only counted eight in the main ring of LEDs). Side flare LEDs and a light guide are used to “pull” light out of the CLC for viewing. NZXT is using an ST Microelectronics ARM Cortex M3 MCU, specifically the STM32 (32-bit) F103C8T6. As far as we know, this is the first consumer-ready, Asetek-supplied cooler that has been made with partner input on the electronics.

nzxt-kraken-x42-tear-2

nzxt-kraken-x42-tear-3

nzxt-kraken-x42-tear-4

nzxt-kraken-x42-tear-5

Off of this PCB protrudes a thermocouple coated in thick thermal compound, which then extends down and into the pump block for coolant temperature measurements. CAM should display this measurement, though the diode is also useful as the pump allows for independent fan speed and pump speed control.

The impeller itself is housed internally this time, and no longer rests visible within an exposed socket. The rest of the functions are identical to every CLC we've ever taken apart: A coldplate uses densely packed copper microfins to expand surface area, through which flows liquid to whisk heat up-and-out to the radiator. You can learn more about that process in this EVGA Hybrid cooler tear-down.

nzxt-kraken-x42-3

Our NZXT Kraken X42, X52, and X62 reviews will include thermal benchmarks. We did not receive the units until too late for day-one publication, but should have an update this week (along with a GTX 1050/1050 Ti update).

Editorial: Steve “Lelldorianx” Burke
Video: Andrew “ColossalCake” Coleman

Last modified on October 18, 2016 at 10:00 am
Steve Burke

Steve started GamersNexus back when it was just a cool name, and now it's grown into an expansive website with an overwhelming amount of features. He recalls his first difficult decision with GN's direction: "I didn't know whether or not I wanted 'Gamers' to have a possessive apostrophe -- I mean, grammatically it should, but I didn't like it in the name. It was ugly. I also had people who were typing apostrophes into the address bar - sigh. It made sense to just leave it as 'Gamers.'"

First world problems, Steve. First world problems.

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