Steve Burke

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.

NZXT’s Kraken X72 closed-loop liquid cooler is another in the XX2 series, following the 280mm X62 that we previously reviewed. The X72 is a 360mm cooler, putting it in more direct competition with the Corsair H150i Pro (the first to feature a 6th-gen pump) and Fractal S36, and indirect competition – in performance only – with the EVGA CLC 280.

NZXT’s X72 costs $200, making it one of the most expensive CLCs on the market. The Floe 360 lands at around $184, the EK Phoenix 360 – a semi-open solution – is the only one that lands significantly higher. The X72 still uses the same pump design as when we tore-down the X42, running Asetek’s 5th Gen pump and a custom, NZXT-designed PCB for RGB lighting effects. Functionally, 5th Gen has proven to be marginally superior – technically – to its 6th Gen for outright cooling performance. We’re talking nearly margins of error. The newest generation is presently only used on Corsair’s H150i and H115i Pro products, as Corsair largely dictated what went into the 6th generation. Major differences are made-up by the metal impeller, similar to the one used by Dynatron in old Antec Kuhler products, rather than a 3-prong plastic impeller. These don’t perform differently in terms of thermals, but there should be reduced susceptibility to heated liquid, and theoretically reduced hotspots as a result of the new 6th Generation design. That doesn’t manifest in outright performance, but might manifest in endurance. We won’t know for a few years, realistically.

Our primary tests for the NZXT Kraken X72 review and benchmark include the following:

  • 100% fan / 100% pump
  • 100% fan / silent pump
  • 63% fan (40dBA)

We’ve previously tested custom copper integrated heat spreaders (IHS) for Intel, primarily the unit sold by Rockit Cool for LGA115X CPUs. Our findings of the custom copper IHS (sold here) for the i7-8700K were that, generally, it was a fun, worthwhile project at $20, but that the thermal improvement was not game-changing. It was still impressive, though, as we monitored between 4-5 degrees Celsius improvement from the IHS replacement on the 8700K, partly benefiting as a result of the increased surface area over the stock Intel heat spreader. That’s a lot of uplift for something that isn’t a CPU cooler, and if you’re up against hard requirements for noise in your system, it could allow for just enough headroom to slow-down the case fans a bit more.

Ryzen is different, as its heatspreader is one large block, as opposed to a machined block with cut-outs and dips and generally smaller surface area. Rockit Cool improved on Intel IHS performance by increasing surface area, but had little to improve on with AMD’s. Both Intel and AMD use copper IHS units, but all of them are nickel-plated. This shouldn’t impact performance significantly and helps with cleaning.

Today, we’re benchmarking a custom copper IHS for AMD Ryzen CPUs and APUs, using the Rockit Cool copper IHS on an AMD R3 2200G that we previously delidded and benchmarked.

Our Ask GN series was put on hold during the onslaught of Ryzen 2, Hades Canyon, and X470 coverage of late. We're back in force, though, with two back-to-back episodes. The second will go live tomorrow, the first tonight. For this week's episode, we're talking B450 motherboard expectations (and Computex), realistic ways the GPU market might make a comeback, review sampling, HPET benchmarks, and more.

Separately, please note that we are planning a livestream for 5/1 at 7PM EST. The stream will be hosted on our YouTube channel. We will be attempting to overclock Hades Canyon further than our current record of 4.7GHz. We're hoping to push closer to 5GHz, but power may become a limitation at some point. We've already posted preliminary results over here. Be sure to tune in for the livestream! It'll be a fun one.

Some controversy bubbled-up recently when reddit, as it does, found its newest offense at which it could express collective rage. That offense was AMD’s CPU warranty, which had previously indicated that any cooler aside from included stock coolers would violate the warranty – not that they’d be able to prove it, if we’re being honest.

We reached-out to AMD for comment when this story went public, and received a response today that AMD had updated its warranty terms for clarity. The original language was meant to prevent warranty replacements for scenarios where the CPU had been damaged by an out-of-spec cooler (think: something like an LN2 pot, or the jury-rigging we do at GN). It was not meant to block warranty replacements for issues unrelated to coolers.

There’s a new trend in the industry: Heatsinks. Hopefully, anyway.

Gigabyte has listened to our never-ending complaints about VRM heatsinks and VRM thermals, and outfitted their X470 Gaming 7 motherboard with a full, proper fin stack and heatpipe. We’re happy to see it, and we hope that this trend continues, but it’s also not entirely necessary on this board. That doesn’t make us less excited to see an actual heatsink on a motherboard; however, we believe it does potentially point toward a future in higher core-count Ryzen CPUs. This is something that Buildzoid speculated in our recent Gaming 7 X470 VRM & PCB analysis. The amount of “overkill” power delivery capabilities on high-end X470 boards would suggest plans to support higher power consumption components from AMD.

Take the Gigabyte Gaming 7: It’s a 10+2-phase VRM, with the VCore VRM using IR3553s for 40A power stages. That alone is enough to run passive, but a heatsink drags temperature so far below requirements of operating spec that there’s room to spare. Cooler is always better in this instance (insofar as ambient cooling, anyway), so we can’t complain, but we can speculate about why it’s been done this way. ASUS’ Crosshair VII Hero has the same VRM, but with 60A power stages. That board, like Gigabyte’s, could run with no heatsink and be fine.

We tested with thermocouples placed on one top-side MOSFET, located adjacent to the SOC VRM MOSFETs (1.2V SOC), and one left-side MOSFET that’s centrally positioned. Our testing included stock and overclocked testing (4.2GHz/1.41VCore at Extreme LLC), then further tested with the heatsink removed entirely. By design, this test had no active airflow over the VRM components. Ambient was controlled during the test and was logged every second.

We moderate comments on a ~24~48 hour cycle. There will be some delay after submitting a comment.

Advertisement:

  VigLink badge