NZXT Kraken X52, X62, & X42 Review & Benchmarks vs. H100iV2, Predator 280

By Published October 29, 2016 at 12:14 pm
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Additional Info

  • Component: CPU Cooler
  • Awards: Quality Build
  • Original MSRP: 150
  • Manufacturer: NZXT

A new series of Kraken liquid coolers from NZXT marks the first time that Asetek has afforded a customer the responsibility of designing custom electronics, which NZXT deploys for RGB LED control and future firmware revisions. The coolers use Gen5 Asetek pumps with custom-built pump blocks, "infinity mirror" pump plates, and NZXT fans that differentiate the X42, X52, and X62 line-up from Corsair's nearby competition. Corsair most heavily competes in the 240mm market -- that'd go up against the X52 -- where the H100iV2 is priced at ~$105 right now, though the H90 also competes with the X42.

Our disassembly of the Kraken X42 liquid cooler showed the device's internals, explained that the high-quality of design and component selection made for a promising set of tests, but didn't dive into the details. This review looks at the temperature performance and noise performance, along with a noise-temperature curve, of the new NZXT Kraken X62, X52, and X42 liquid coolers, particularly matched against the H100iV2. We've got the EK WB Predator XLC 280 as a high-end alternative, alongside the Be Quiet! Dark Rock 3 as a $50 air cooler, just to provide a baseline.

 

NZXT Kraken X42, X52, & X62 Review [Video]

The video component of this review is below. Continue on with the article for additional depth.

NZXT Kraken X42, X52, & X62 Specs

  Kraken X42 Kraken X52 Kraken X62
Socket Compatibility LGA 115X, 1366, 2011, 2011v3
AMD Socket FM2+, FM2, FM1,
AM3+, AM3, AM2+, AM2
LGA 115X, 1366, 2011, 2011v3
AMD Socket FM2+, FM2, FM1,
AM3+, AM3, AM2+, AM2
LGA 115X, 1366, 2011, 2011v3
AMD Socket FM2+, FM2, FM1, AM3+,
AM3, AM2+, AM2
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 PWMFDB 2x 120mm Aer P120 PWMFDB 2x 140mm Aer P140 PWMFDB
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

NZXT's got three new coolers in its Kraken line-up: The X42, a 140mm unit for $130, the X52 240mm unit at $150, and X62 280mm unit at $160. The price-point is high, with the most comparable competition coming from Corsair's H100iV2 at $105, a 240mm cooler that also uses an Asetek Gen5 pump and an identical radiator core to NZXT's X52. The difference stems from NZXT's custom electrical design, something Asetek hasn't previously allowed, and the LED quality. NZXT also uses different fans, which will produce thermal results at least slightly varied from Corsair's.

nzxt-kraken-x42-4

The 120mm fans spin-up to about 2000RPM with NZXT, while Corsair's spin to around 2500RPM. We'll look at noise later. The 140mm fans on the new Kraken coolers are specified for 1700RPM max, and the pump speed sits around 2600-2800RPM with a variance of +/- 300RPM. This Asetek Gen5 pump is controllable through CAM software, if you'd like to reduce pump speed and fan speed independently for better control over noise output.

Internally, the unit is pretty familiar to most Asetek cooling solutions. There's an in and out valve connected to barbs that have double-elbow bends for posable tubing, rather than tubing that juts out the top of the Corsair unit. The tubes are made of the same permeation-resistant rubber found in the previous Kraken coolers. It's got a braid on it now, though, somewhat similar to the EVGA Hybrid Gen 4.5 coolers.

Internal design uses the usual copper coldplate with microfins to increase surface area, through which propylene glycol flows to bring the heat up to an aluminum core radiator. The only radiator on our bench without an aluminum core is the EK Predator 280, instead using a copper core that we think that probably benefits the EK Predator at the low-end of fan RPMs.

nzxt-kraken-x42-2

Anyway, the biggest focus internally is on that custom PCB, which has about 8 or 9 LEDs, including side flares, that allow the light pipe to illuminate in the bright fashion that it does. The spectrum view of the RGB lighting does show the animation stutter as the LEDs cycle, but given the limited space NZXT has to work with inside of a pump, it's really not bad. CAM is used to control all of the LEDs and runs the usual mix of breathing, wave, spectrum, and custom LED colors split between the logo and light pipe.

nzxt-kraken-x42-3

The cooler connects to the motherboard via USB2.0 cable -- so owners of mini-ITX motherboards may have to buy USB3.0 to 2.0 adapters -- and then connects to power via SATA. These cables are modular, unlike the previous Kraken, which is a nice touch for cleanliness. 

Cooler installation is the same as any other Asetek pump of the last two generations. X99 uses a set of four standoffs and then some cap nuts, which takes less than 5 minutes to install outside of a case, and 115X or AMD sockets use a backplate in addition to the other mounting hardware. Not too bad overall, just make sure you do the installation prior to mounting the board in the case.

NZXT Kraken X42 Tear-Down

View this article for the full tear-down. Here's an excerpt / block-quote from that content:

"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-1

nzxt-kraken-x42-tear-2

nzxt-kraken-x42-tear-3

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-tear-4

nzxt-kraken-x42-tear-5

Continue to the next page for testing methodology.


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Last modified on October 29, 2016 at 12:14 pm
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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