NZXT Kraken X61 & X41 Liquid CPU Coolers Review

Author: AkG
Date: December 14, 2014
Product Name: Kraken X61 / X41
Part Number: RL-KRX61-01 / RL-KRX41-01
Warranty: 6 Years
Share |

Setup and Installation (Intel & AMD)

Much like the previous generation Krakens, the new X41 and X61 are OEM’d by Asetek and, like some of Corsair’s latest water coolers, actually use Asetek's latest generation mounting hardware.

Asetek has come a long way in the ease of installation department and both the X41 and X61 are fairly easy to get set up. With that being said they are not as easy as CoolIT-based units and their large 140mm form factors tend to decrease case compatibility. As long as your case can accept either a single or dual 140mm fan design these issues are certainly not deal-breakers by any stretch of the imagination.

Just as with their predecessor's the first step with these two new AIO's is preparing the back plate. Unlike the X40/X60, the new X41/X61 series use a much improved backplate design which we first saw with the Corsair's H75 and H110.

This backplate is and Intel-only affair instead of boasting dual AMD and Intel compatibility. Also, while this backplate is still made of plastic, each corner uses a slider with integrated standoffs for broader Intel socket compatibility instead of the older three-hole design that was highly prone to being stripped out. To use it simply slide each corner inwards for 115x systems and outwards for 1366/2011 socketed systems.

The next steps are self-evident and well detailed in NZXT’s installation booklet. The backplate needs to be moved into position and four standoff screws have to be installed. These screw down through the motherboard's CPU cooler mounting holes and into the hollow tubes in the backplate. This securely attaches the backplate to the motherboard and ensures the proper spacing for the waterblock.

Since NZXT has already applied the Intel retention ring so if you have a compatible system the last few installation steps are much simpler than they were on the X40/X60 series.

Since the X41 is a single 140mm radiator based unit the it only requires a case be equipped with a compatible rear exhaust port, though a top mount can be used in a pinch. Unfortunately, and unlike either the Kraken X40 before it or the newer Corsair H75, the X41 uses a thicker than usual radiator that has a rather deep base. Because of this it would simply not fit into our HAF-X case with the inlet/outlet ports facing downwards despite it boasting 140mm fan mounts. Only by changing the orientation and having them at the top (never a great idea) will it fit.

The X61's larger radiator will make proper case selection key to the success or failure of your installation. Before purchasing it, take a close look at your case’s top exhaust ports and make sure they have 140mm mounting holes which feature the necessary offsets. This does make it a trickier install, but considering how large this device is, it's not any more difficult than most modern AIO models from the various other manufacturers. That extra long tubing helps immensely.

AMD System Installation

Since both the X41 and X61 rely upon the same Asetek hardware, installing them onto AMD AM2, AM3, FM1 and FM2 systems follows the same basic footsteps as the Intel process. The only difference between the two is the hardware components being used and a lot more work as both are preconfigured for Intel systems.

The first step is to remove the stock AMD top bracket, but keep the stock backplate in place to thread four standoff screws onto the motherboard.

With all four standoff screws installed and the backplate once again securely attached to the motherboard the next step is to prep the waterblock. This means first removing the stock Intel mounting hardware by gently prying off the four plastic retention clips from the metal top bracket. These retention clips are integrated into the bottom plastic ring so care will have to be taken to not break any of them since they need to reapplied afterwards. With the bottom black retaining ring removed the Intel top bracket can be changed out.

As with the Intel installation, mounting this setup to an AMD motherboard hinges upon the proper alignment of Asetek’s “tooth” setup. The issue here is just getting everything into place since there’s a chance that during the change-out between the two brackets, something will break.

At this point both the X41 and X61's installation follows exactly the same path as their Intel installation. Mount the waterblock, secure with the four thumb screws, install the radiator and plug in the fans. Overall, this complicated procedure makes the AMD installation seem rather antiquated and outdated compared to what CoolIT units have to offer, but it is still a fairly straightforward process.

Latest Reviews in Cooling
January 11, 2018
CORSAIR has introduced their most powerful power supply yet and some new additions to their always popular line of Hydro Series liquid CPU coolers....
May 10, 2017
All in one water CPU coolers are everywhere these days but Fractal Design's new Celsius S36 dares to do things differently. At 360mm, it may be long but its price to performance is incredible....
August 11, 2016
Prebuilt AIO or a potentially complicated custom loop? Alphacool believes we shouldn't have to choose and their Eisbaer 240 combines both under one roof and could blaze a new trail....