NZXT Kraken X52 Liquid CPU Cooler Review

Testing
The test rig consists of the following parts:

Processor: Intel Core i7 3770K
Motherboard: Gigabyte Z77X-UD4H
Video Card: Zotac 560 Ti
Memory: Samsung Green MV-3V4G3D/US – 16GB
Power Supply: Enermax Maxrevo 1350W
Storage: Mushkin ECO2 240GB Running Windows 7 64bit
Cooling: Cooler Master MasterLiquid Pro 280
Case: Phanteks Enthoo Luxe

As always testing was done using Intel Burn Test (IBT) with the AVX instruction set. The reason to use this instead of Prime95 with this setup is that it pushes our i7 3770K a whole lot harder. This gives us a better sense of extreme load temps. Most of the testing was done at the max memory setting for a single pass. While admittedly this in no way would qualify the chip as stable while overclocked, it gives us a realistic idea of what temperatures the CPU will be hitting. Additionally we are going to run 3DMARK Fire Strike Extreme to give you a realistic idea of performance while gaming.

Our baseline was established using a bequiet! Dark Rock Pro 2 with the 3770K on stock settings:

Ambient temps: 22.22C/72F
Idle temps: 38.75C/101.75F core average
IBT temps one pass max memory: 63.5C/146.3F core average

Whenever a product comes with companion software we like to use it as it represents the experience that the manufacturer wants you to have. In this case that means using CAM. CAM is NZXT’s catch all hardware monitoring and tweaking software. We’ve used it in the past and have been super impressed as if melds tons of information into a pleasant looking UI that is also very user friendly. To start we left everything at it’s stock setting and got to work.

The first test we did was to test the cooler with stock motherboard/CPU settings:

Ambient temps: 22.22°C/72°F
Idle temps: 32°C/89.6°F core average
IBT temps one pass max memory: 65.5°C/149.9°F core average

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Let’s see, the idle temps really look quite solid. They are a good 6.75°C cooler than our baseline cooler. That’s pretty impressive considering we are testing an AiO. Unfortunately when we move to our first run of IBT we find that the X52 falls behind by a full 2°C. Hard to explain that one but we continue on with our testing nevertheless.

As opposed to going for a max overclock, we are simply going to shoot to hit 4.5ghz pass or fail. If the cooler will allow our 3770K to hit 4.5 ghz we note the temperatures and move on to test it using 3DMARK Firestrike. If not then back down to a more acceptable and stable overclock. Not as extreme as our previous testing, but slightly more consistent and far more analogous to normal use such as gaming.

In consideration of the fact that we are running a hefty overclock we are going to set up CAM to really ramp up our fan and pump speeds as the CPU temperature increases. We pop over to the tuning tab and switch the fan control mode over to Performance and gave it a go.

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Here are our results for our i7 3770K @ 4.5ghz with 1.248V vCore:

Ambient temps: 22.22°C/72°F
IBT temps: 78°C/172.4°F with one core hitting 82°C

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78°C is a pretty fair avg temperature but we noticed that even at it’s hardest point the fans still aren’t ramping up very high only hitting 1229 rpm. So we head back into CAM and set up our own custom fan profile to ensure that we hit the max speed the fans can manage.

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Here are our results for our i7 3770K @ 4.5ghz with 1.248V vCore:

Ambient temps: 22.22°C/72°F
IBT temps: 74.5°C/°F with one core hitting 79°C

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graph

And just like that we cut 3.5°C from our results. That result puts the Kraken X52 at our 2nd best tested 280mm cooler and 6th overall compared with coolers of all sizes. Not only does the X52 have the looks, it turns out that it has the performance as well. At this point we are really confident in the cooling prowess of this unit as such we’ll go ahead and take a run through Firestrike to see how it would do in game:

Ambient temps: 22.22°C/72°F
3DMARK: 58.5°C/°F with one core hitting 59°C

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As you can see we’ve got some attractive gaming temps and really, plenty of overclocking headroom if we decide we would like some more performance.

Now obviously we did have to crank up the speed on our fans. Normally that would mean dealing with a leafblower on the desk or the crushing sound of a Huey taking off every time we start up a game. With these new Aer P 120 fans though it’s really not that bad. We wouldn’t recommend it for 24/7 use but it’s certainly bearable if you feel you need to drop those extra few degrees.

We’ve made a big deal about the size of the pump and that fancy infinity mirror LED lighting. Let’s go ahead and get into that a little bit. The unit will light up no matter what, but if you use CAM to tinker with the Kraken it opens up a whole other world of possibilities. The LEDs in the X52 are RGB and can be changed in basically any way you wish as well as be synced up via CAM with your other case lights. There are many basic presets as well as “Smart” which links color with GPU or CPU or FPS and Audio which changes the display based on sound.

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Here’s a short video displaying the preset color options:

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