NZXT Kraken X31 Reviewred454 - July 29, 2014
Category: CPU Cooling
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NZXT Kraken X31 Introduction:
"Release the Kraken!" OK, I said it. If you are over 40, then you were probably thinking it. That line is from the 1981 movie, Clash of the Titans. First uttered by Sir Lawrence Olivier (Zeus) in the original movie, then again by Liam Neeson (Zeus) in the 2010 remake, it is indeed a catchphrase used today. Wrongfully depicted in that movie as a giant four-armed scaly humanoid creature with a fishtail, the Kraken is actually from Norse mythology and is supposed to resemble more of a giant octopus or giant squid. So much for the history lesson, now back to reality.
What is the first thing that comes to mind when you think of NZXT? It is probably the popular Phantom series of cases, and rightfully so. The Phantom cases are widely available and come in a variety of colors and configurations. NZXT also has a line of case fans, fan controllers, CPU coolers, power supplies, and various accessory cables.
Today's Kraken X31 is, of course, not a sea monster. Instead we have one of the latest CPU coolers from NZXT. From the NZXT website, "The Kraken X31 is one of the first consumer closed loop coolers with an integrated variable speed pump. The state-of-the-art variable speed pump keeps noise to a minimum during use without sacrificing top end pump power." Add to that some cool control software and a six (yes SIX!) year warranty, and NZXT definitely raises the bar.
NZXT Kraken X31 Closer Look:
On the top of the box there is a large photo of the radiator and pump, along with the KRAKEN X31 logo and a statement that this is “THE WORLD’S FIRST VARIABLE SPEED LIQUID COOLER”. The bottom is trimmed in a wide black band with "6 Year Warranty" and the NZXT logo in white text. The front panel lists some of the features and shows a nice picture of the radiator and fan along with the shiny copper pump base, and a screen shot of the CAM Digital Control software. The side panel has the general specifications for the components, while the rear panel has information in seven languages.
The other side panel shows a list of the CPU compatibility and a graph plotting thermal resistance and noise level. The X31 is 16% thicker than standard 1" thick radiators.
Opening the box and on top is the instruction manual. More on that later. The inner packaging consists of a formed fiber board container with pockets where the radiator, pump, and fan neatly nest. They appear to be well-protected from the abuse of normal handling. All of the items easily slide out of the inner packaging. The pump and hose assembly are covered with a clear plastic bag, and the radiator is further protected with a thin cardboard sleeve. The 120mm, 4-pin fan is also protected by a thin cardboard sleeve. The mounting hardware is separated into small zip-top bags.
Opening the main hardware bag and you are greeted by three clear plastic bags with all the mounting hardware you need for the installation - the plastic base mount for the rear of the motherboard and an alternate metal pump mount for AMD applications.
At first glance, the instruction sheet is about as basic as you can get. In fact, I was a bit surprised at the detail - or lack of. A novice would really be thrown to the wolves. But instead of a large, detailed instruction sheet with fancy graphics and multiple languages, you are directed to the NZXT website for an online manual. This consists of (depending on an AMD or Intel install) a series of animated slides that clearly show you each step of the installation process. The clever and detailed animations eliminate the need for text in multiple languages. I really like the way NXZT has approached this. The only disadvantage I can see is that if you are involved in a fresh computer build, you will need access to a second computer to see the instructions. On the back of the paper instruction sheet is information for Service, Support, and Warranty.