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NZXT Kraken X31 Review


NZXT Kraken X31 Closer Look:

The Kraken X31 is the latest version in the Kraken X line that includes the X31, X41, and X61. The X31 uses a 120mm radiator. The slightly larger X41 uses a 140mm radiator, and finally the X61 uses a much larger 280mm radiator. The X41 and X61 both have color changing LEDs in the pump housing. The LED control is part of the CAM software. However, the X31 does not have the LEDs. Socket compatibility includes all of the most recent sockets from AMD: AM2(+) / AM3(+) / FM1 / FM2 and Intel: 1150 / 1155 / 1156 / 1366 / 2011 / 2011-3.

The first thing I notice is that the hoses are not the typical corrugated style; rather they are smooth and long – sixteen inches to be precise – and they are nice and flexible. The next thing I see is that there appears to be an extra cable coming from the pump; one that I do not recognize. Well, I recognize it, but it usually doesn’t come from a water pump. It is a USB plug that will ultimately find its home at one of your USB headers on your motherboard. As you probably figured out, this is part of the CAM Digital Control system for water temperature feedback and pump speed control. The pump base has a protective plastic cover to keep the factory installed thermal paste from being smudged or damaged.







There are screw holes for mounting a standard 120mm fan on both faces of the radiator. The extra thickness of the radiator is noticeable, as it feels heavier than other 120mm radiators I have handled. The tube inlet and outlet are at the bottom of the tank.



There is a bar code label applied to the top tank.


The pump housing is round and compact, and has a sticker warning that you should connect the power to the pump before turning it on. The tube connections can rotate freely in the pump body, which allows for the tubes to be moved to different angles to facilitate a variety of mounting positions in your case. One thing I noticed about the tubes themselves is that while they are very flexible, they are still stiff enough that they don't give you the feeling like they will easily kink.


Here you can see the bottom of the round copper pump base with the thermal paste installed from the factory. The Intel mounting bracket also comes installed from the factory, but it is easy to swap it for the AMD bracket if necessary.  The cables that come from the pump are (from left to right): fan connectors, the USB header, and finally the 3-pin power cable that plugs into the CPU fan header.



So let's talk about the fan. It doesn't matter how great your radiator is if you can't move any air through it. NZXT supplies one 120mm 4-pin PWM fan that uses a Hydro Dynamic Bearing and is rated at 81.32 CFM(max.) with a speed range of 800-2000 RPM ± 10% for airflow.  



Installing this cooler is remarkably easy. The plastic base has four adjustible threaded inserts that you slide into the proper orientation depending on which (Intel for me) socket you are using. Install the four studs from the front of the motherboard and then you are ready to mount the cooler with the four supplied thumbscrews. I noticed that the plastic base seemed a little loose after installing the studs, but when you place the pump base on top of your CPU and draw down the final four thumbscrews, the cooler and base firm right up. After the cooler is mounted, you attach the USB connector to a free USB hearder on your motherboard, and then connect the radiator fan to the fan connector (coming from the pump). Finally there is the 3-pin power cable that connects to the CPU fan header, and you are ready to power your system up.



And here we have the final installation. Being an AIO cooler, there are no concerns with RAM interference, which is often a problem with large capacity air coolers. I really like the 16" long water tubes. The Phanteks Enthoo Primo test case is very large, and I can still mount the radiator above (as shown) or below the graphics card if I wanted to. The entire install took about 10 minutes and that included the removal of the previous cooler. As a side note, the Kraken X31 can be used as a GPU cooler when you purchase the G10 bracket from NZXT. It adapts the X31 to mount to the GPU and attached to the bracket is a supplemental fan to cool the VRM. The G10 offers compatibility for over 24 different reference graphics cards and more than 19 different all-in-one liquid cooling solutions.

  1. NZXT Kraken X31: Introduction & Closer Look
  2. NZXT Kraken X31: Closer Look (Continued)
  3. NZXT Kraken X31: CAM Software
  4. NZXT Kraken X31: Specifications & Features
  5. NZXT Kraken X31: Testing Setup & Results
  6. NZXT Kraken X31: Conclusion
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