Today's Hard|Forum Post
Today's Hard|Forum Post

NZXT Kraken X41 AIO Liquid CPU Cooler Review

NZXT is again on our test bench today with another new All-In-One a.k.a. AIO CPU liquid cooler system. This time we review the Kraken X41 that provides a single-fan radiator solution. As before we have a variable pump speed which is its new signature feature, but we truly want to know if it will handle a hot overclocked CPU.

Introduction

Recently we look at the NZXT Kraken X61 AIO Liquid CPU Cooler and came away generally pleased with its performance. In fact, except for a couple of hiccups, we liked the new upgrades NZXT brought to the table.

The NZXT Kraken X41 AIO Liquid CPU Cooler is here to hopefully tackle the biggest of those hiccups; price. The Kraken X61 retails for $140 which easily gives us pause considering what competitive models are on the market. Meanwhile, the Kraken X41 costs a more comfortable $110 with Prime Shipping as well as $110 at Newegg, and all without sacrificing any of the X61 upgrades sans radiator size.

Hover Hound price tracking did show Amazon had the X41 as low as $99 a week ago. Hover Hound also now has one-time email price alerts to help you keep an eye on changing prices at Amazon, Newegg, and Tiger Direct.

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Some of these Kraken X41 upgrades include a radiator that’s 24% thicker than the previous Kraken X40, a 36% larger surface area for the radiator, new fans designed for radiator use, extended tubing for larger cases, and the new CAM software. All of this comes with NZXT’s six year warranty which is just out of this world.

So we have an AIO that is heavily upgraded, includes an amazing warranty and costs $30 to $40 less than its bigger sibling. We are excited and we hope you are too!

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System Setup

Today's review takes place on our fourth generation [H]ard platform. The test bed consists of the ASUS Z87-Deluxe motherboard, eight gigabytes of Corsair 1600 MHz DDR3 RAM and the Intel Core i7 4770K.

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Test Methods

CPU

The biggest change you will notice is the removal of hardware testing. In recent years, Intel has shifted their methods of testing to software based and so we find it acceptable to do the same.

GPU

Once again we have an integrated GPU in our processor which alleviates the need for a discrete one. With the removal of a discrete GPU comes the advantage of not having an additional variable to account for.

The iGPU will not create any anomalies in our testing as long as we practice consistent testing methods.

Case

Corsair was kind enough to provide us with their Carbide series chassis. It provides excellent airflow and interior space and is a good reflection on current case design.

Thermal Paste

Noctua's NT-H1 thermal paste was selected as the paste of choice for a few key reasons. The thermal paste has been shown to provide excellent thermal conductivity allowing the heat sinks to better do their job. There is no observed curing time. That is, performance does not get any better over time. Any curing time could have introduced variables into the equation causing at best dubious results and at worst unreliable ones.

Temperatures

Ambient temperature will be kept at 25C for the duration of the tests and measured with a MicroTemp EXP non-contact infrared thermometer and cross referenced with the Sperry Digital 4 Point thermometer. Any variance greater then 0.2C will halt the testing until temperatures return within spec for fifteen minutes.

Idle

Idle temperatures will be recorded after a twenty minute period of inactivity. Any fluctuation during the last sixty seconds will reset the timer for an additional five minutes.

Load

Load temperatures will be recorded after a twenty minute period for air cooled systems, and thirty minutes for liquid cooled systems, at 100% load. To obtain this load we will be using AIDA64 Extreme Edition v3.00.2500. This places an even greater load on the CPU than before and includes some benefits. Because the load is so extreme we see the temperature vary wildly from 72C to 86C in some instances. To get an accurate reading we will utilize AIDA64’s ability to average the temperature over time. Given twenty/thirty minutes at 100% load we arrive at a temperature that accurately represents our heatsink’s performance.

Sound

Sound levels will be measured with a Reliability Direct AR824 sound meter from a distance of four feet away. With everything turned off and the room completely silent the meter registered a sound level of 38dB(A). This is a very quiet room where a simple pin drop could be heard. All sound measurements are recorded in the very late evening to further reduce any ambient noise.