NZXT Kraken X31 CPU Cooler Review
NZXT entered the market in a big way with the X61 and X41, both of which were relatively expensive dual and single bay All In One water cooling units based around the 140mm form factor. While those two products take care of the enthusiast market, the Kraken X31 has slightly more mundane aims: it is supposed to target value-minded buyers who want ease of use and good performance.
Priced at just $73USD, thereís no denying the X31 is inexpensive and quite adaptable since it uses a single 120mm fan but this is a heavily loaded price point. Within it there are competitors like Corsairís H60 2.0, Enermaxís new 120S (more on this in an upcoming review) and when itís on sale, Corsairís very capable H80i. Several higher end air-based solutions are also present in this area and they may offer better overall performance.
While air cooling is certainly a possibility for budget conscious users, AIOís like the X31 provide features like built-in fan control abilities and, perhaps most importantly, wonít cause compatibility hassles with other components like taller memory modules. They also look very clean when viewed through the side window of a case.
We should also mention that NZXT has the longest warranty weíve seen for their All In One water cooling units. At a full six years, buyers will have peace of mind long after their systems are out of date.
As with the X41 and X61, the new Kraken X31 uses the latest Asetek mounting hardware. This means an upgraded backplate, reinforced spacers and an overall much easier installation process. NZXTís CAM software can also be downloaded and it gives full control over fan speeds and cooling performance.
On just a quick glance this new X31 looks a lot like a Kraken X41 that has been accidentally shrunk in the dryer. For the most part that is actually an apt description as the X31 can be accurately seen as a cross between the older X40 and the newer X41, but in a 120mm form factor instead of the 140mm design used by the X4x-series.
The X31ís pump is also shared with the X41 and X61. This is quite significant since it features variable speeds so it can run between 2400RPM and 3600RPM so noise and cooling performance can be finely tuned based on inputs into the CAM software. No other competitor within the sub-$100 price point has this feature so it stands out as a major differentiator for NZXT.
Usually 120mm single bay AIO radiators come in one of two main flavors: standard thickness like Corsairís H60 series (25-27mm), and extra thick (38mm+) such as the one found on Corsairís H80i. Instead NZXT has taken a hybrid approach with a radiator that is 30mm thick which should allow for slightly better cooling performance without drastically increasing installation issues. This certainly is a unique approach and one that may just prove to be an optimal blend of performance versus ease of installation.
The waterblock itself uses Asetek's latest design and is the same one as found on the X41 and features a base that is quite well finished. It uses 90į connectors with swivel barbs which reduce connector pressure and thus increase longevity.
NZXT added a trio of hard-wired cables extending from the waterblock: a USB internal header, a 3 pin power cable and a double headed 4 pin fan controller wire which allows for up to two fans to be powered and connected to the X31.
Just like the rest of the Kraken line-up, the X31 uses 3/8ths OD tubing that is nearly 16 inches in length. This is much more than most single bay 120mm units come equipped with and will make mounting it in even the largest of tower cases a snap, an ability that not all AIOs can boast.
The single included fan is a standard 120mm, 25mm thick unit with a Hydro Dynamic Bearing design that spins from 800RPMs all the way up to 2000RPMs while being rated for a maximum of 34dBA. With a static pressure envelope of 0.44 - 2.76 mmH20 it should be more than sufficient for moving fresh air through the dense radiator.
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