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

NZXT Kraken X42 All-In-One CPU Liquid Cooler Review

The new NZXT Kraken X42 is its new "entry level" All-In-One CPU liquid cooler. The Kraken series is not new to us, but NZXT makes a lot of claims about this cooler being better in many ways, and of course has all kinds of cool RGB LED lights built into it. But all of this comes a price. Does it keep your CPU cooler while overclocking?

Introduction

To say NZXT has been on a roll lately would be a big understatement. From coolers, to cases, to power supplies, to fans, NZXT doesn’t just make a lot of computer accessories; it makes a lot of good accessories. One of those things is their line of AIOs or hybrid water coolers. Its Kraken series of water coolers has repeatedly impressed and won awards because of it. So when we found out that NZXT has updated their line of Kraken AIOs you could say we were very excited to get our hands on those.

Today we are going to start with the smallest of the bunch, the Kraken X42. We will follow up in the coming days with their larger X52 and X62 coolers so keep an eye out for those.

In the meantime, the X42 is NZXT's entry level All-In-One that provides increased cooling over stock and can fit in most any ATX case. NZXT states the X42 has been redesigned from the tubing to water block and everything in between. So let’s cut this intro short and get to the good stuff.

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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 its 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 its 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 thermal interface material (TIM) 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 its 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.