NZXT Kraken X60 Review: The Best Liquid-Cooling System

Finally! A mass production liquid cooling system with realistic price tag outperformed not only the best air cooler, but also some of the best of its predecessors.

by Sergey Lepilov
05/13/2013 | 02:24 AM

In our recent review of the NZXT Kraken X40 we checked out the special features and performance of that new liquid cooling system and we were very pleased with it. So today we want to show you the senior model of the series which is more expensive and comes under the name of Kraken X60.

 

It differs from its junior cousin not only in price but also in the size of its radiator and the number of fans. That’s why we have higher hopes about it than about the Kraken X40. Let’s see if the NZXT Kraken X60 can live up to our expectations.

Technical Specifications and Recommended Pricing

 

Packaging and Accessories

The NZXT Kraken X60 is packed into a rather large cardboard box that’s embellished with a picture of the product.

Like on the Kraken X40 packaging, there is information about the product’s specifications, key features and compatible platforms on the sides of the box.

  

There’s a cardboard tray with compartments for each system component inside the box. It protects them from damage during transportation well enough.

The fan and the radiator are additionally packed into cardboard wraps. So, the packaging is very good overall.

The accessories we can find inside are typical of ready-made liquid cooling systems and include everything necessary to install the Kraken X60 on any of the supported platforms.

The NZXT Kraken X60 is manufactured in China and costs $139. It is $40 more expensive than the Kraken X40. Its warranty period is 2 years.

Design and Functionality

Like every ready-made liquid cooling system, the Kraken X60 consists of a radiator, two pipes (400 mm long and with an outer diameter of 10 mm), and a waterblock/pump combo:

The only peculiarity we can note about the Kraken X60’s appearance is the bunch of cables that go from its pump.

The key difference from the junior X40 model is the large radiator with dimensions of 314x139x26.5 millimeters.

It is still made of aluminum and consists of 13 flat pipes with coolant. A stretch of corrugated aluminum ribbon is soldered between the pipes. Like with the X40, the radiator’s body is only 16 mm thick.

There is the same sticker on one side of the radiator as we saw on the X40. It shows the product’s model name and power specs (12 V, 7.5 W – these numbers refer to the pump).

Two fittings with press-fitted pipes can be found on the opposite side of the radiator.

The waterblock/pump combo measures Ø72x32 mm. Its top is highlighted. Its fittings can be turned around to make it easier to install it on a CPU.

The pump’s performance is not specified. The speed of its motor (specified at 2900 (±150) RPM) isn’t informative in this respect.

There is a thin layer of high-efficiency thermal interface pre-applied on the waterblock’s base.

This makes it much easier to install the Kraken X60 but you won’t be able to use the same thermal interface for a second installation.

The pressure is the highest at the center of the waterblock. Here is the thermal grease imprint we got on the convex heat-spreader of our CPU.

The NZXT Kraken X60 comes with two 140mm NZXT FX-140 fans.

The fans can be PWM-regulated in a range of 800 to 2000 RPM. Each has a specified air flow of 54 to 98.3 CFM at 21 to 37 dBA of noise and a static pressure of 0.8 to 2.2 mm of water. These parameters are the same as those of the X40’s fan.

One more difference from the X40 is that the Kraken X60 allows to connect as many as four fans using the splitters that go from the pump:

There are additional screws among the accessories. You can use them to secure another pair of fans.

The X60 is installed in exactly the same way as the X40 and the compatibility list is identical, too. You only have to refer to the table cells that contain the number 280. Since our computer case is not compatible with the 240mm Kraken X60 radiator, we put the latter outside. We placed the radiator down next to the computer on a piece of foam rubber.

The testbed and methods are identical to those we used in our Kraken X40 review, so we won’t describe them again here. We can only add that we are going to compare the Kraken X60 with the Kraken X40 (to see the difference between two models from the same series), Corsair H100i Extreme Performance, Swiftech H220 and the super-cooler Phanteks PH-TC14P? with two Corsair AF140 fans. Let’s get right to our testing now.

Performance

Cooling Efficiency

The results of our testing can be seen in the following table and diagram:

The NZXT Kraken X60 boasts impressive performance. Even at the minimum speed of its fans (800 RPM) it is as good as the Corsair H100i Extreme Performance at the maximum speed (2670 RPM) or as the Swiftech H220 at 1200 RPM. And it is a mere 1°C worse than the NZXT Kraken X40 at 1870 RPM. As the speed of the Kraken X60’s fans increases, it becomes unrivalled in performance so that the peak temperature of the hottest core of our overclocked six-core CPU is not higher than 60°C! That’s an outstanding result. At the maximum speed of its fans the Kraken X60 is 6°C better than the X40, 7°C better than the Corsair H100i Extreme Performance, 5°C better than the Swiftech H220 and as many as 9°C better than the best air cooler Phanteks PH-TC14P?.

Then we checked out the NZXT Kraken X60 with our CPU overclocked to 4.5 GHz at a voltage of 1.435 volts. Here's a table with results and a diagram too:

The NZXT Kraken X60 is even more confident with the hotter CPU. The Corsair H100i Extreme Performance manages to get closer by 1°C, yet the gap is still large at 5°C. The difference from the Swiftech H220 hasn’t changed whereas the NZXT Kraken X40 and Phanteks PH-TC14P? lose 9°C to the leader. The coolers are closer to each other at the minimum speed of their fans, but the Kraken X60 is still ahead by 3 to 6°C.

That’s not the best the Kraken X60 can do, actually. We tried to check it out at the highest frequency of our CPU (4.625 GHz at 1.49 volts) and found it capable of keeping the CPU stable at 1000 RPM or 1820 RPM.


NZXT Kraken X60, 2x1020 RPM

NZXT Kraken X60, 2x1820 RPM

The peak CPU temperature was 74°C in the quiet mode and 72°C at the maximum speed of the fans. That’s impressive even though we ran our tests on a semi-open testbed. Now let’s see how noisy the Kraken X60 is.

Noise Level

We measured the noise level of each cooler throughout the entire speed range of its fans. Here are the results:

The two 140mm NZXT Kraken X60 fans are expectedly noisier than the single such fan installed on the Kraken X40 and also louder than the Corsair fans. Only the original Phanteks fans produce more noise, the speed being the same. On the other hand, the two NZXT FX-140 fans aren’t noisy by themselves at 850 RPM. They are not uncomfortable then and, as we learned above, this speed is enough to ensure proper cooling for a six-core CPU with enabled Hyper-Threading at high clock rates and voltages. The pump of the Kraken X60 is virtually silent.

The Swiftech H220 is deservedly the quietest cooler in this test.

Conclusion

We guess the only downside of the NZXT Kraken X60 is that it has limited compatibility with computer cases which cannot generally accommodate its 240mm radiator. Otherwise, the Kraken X60 is the best ready-made liquid cooling system even considering the price factor. It is compatible with all modern CPU platforms and easy to install, so it can be easily deployed even by inexperienced users. And its high performance (for its class and price) is going to satisfy even the most demanding overclockers. The Kraken X60 is extremely quiet at the minimum speed of its fans but retains good performance then, as we made sure in our tests. And you can even attach as many as four fans to it!

The Kraken Control software should also be mentioned as it allows to monitor key system parameters and regulate the speed of its fans and the color of the water block glow. Thus, the NZXT Kraken X60 is the perfect entry-level liquid cooling solution if you can find a computer case to fit it into. It even delivers too high performance to be viewed as just entry-level. That’s why we recommend it for any user who’s interested in coolers of this kind.

In conclusion we are proud to award NZXT Kraken X60 our Editor’s Choice as the best mass production ready-to-go liquid-cooling system: