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

NZXT Kraken X52 All-In-One CPU Liquid Cooler Review

NZXT has been stepping up its cooling game this year, and the Kraken X52 All-In-One represents its "in between" liquid CPU cooler model for those cases with somewhat limited space for the radiator. The Kraken X52 comes with a healthy feature set that has most of the bells and whistles that are needed to make it competitive.

Introduction

We recently reviewed the refreshed AIO cooler from NZXT, the Kraken X42 and found it performed very well depending on your noise tolerance. Today we review another refreshed All-In-One from NZXT, the Kraken X52 (Model number RL-KRX52-01). The Kraken X52 is a dual length radiator that uses two 120mm fans and software profiles to cool your CPU. It has the same feature upgrades as the X42 but we can’t call it an "upgrade" since there was no X51 before it. That’s right, the X52 is a new addition the NZXT lineup. It is placed squarely between the X42 and the X62 and is designed for enthusiasts who want to overclock their CPU to the limits but may not have the space for a larger 280mm radiator.

There was plenty to like about the X42 we just reviewed. Let’s see if the Kraken X52 can continue this trend.

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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.