When we got contacted about reviewing the new Kraken series liquid coolers, I didn't know how cool these actually are. Yes yes... another RGB LED lit cooler you might think, well true dat! However there is a certain x-factor with the Kraken 62 that is hard to explain and the magic is found in the high tweaked cooling perf, low noise levels and that RGB LED system woth mirror effect of course.
First off, the cooling is perfectly fine, good even with a default clocked CPU. What impressed me the most is that once you start to overclock our processor the stress temperatures remains really okay. I mean the truth as you all know is that a the Core i7 4790K is simply put a nasty processor to cool. In a default setup (clocks) the performance is good. However you are at Guru3D.com and we know you will tweak your PC 5 minutes after you assembled it - so we added 1.30 Volts the temps remained hovering at 70 Degrees C. In fact up-to 1.40 Volts we remain below 80 degrees C. Only once we fired off 1.45 Volts at this processor we passed 80 Degrees C, and even then it will take a while for the processor to get there. So For short bursts I'd be even fine with 1.45 Volts. That voltage level is absurd of course, typically only needed with 5+ GHz tweaks. So from the cooling perspective we have been pleasantly surprised by NZXT Kraken 62 - the cooling performance with the processor in a tweaked state is really nice and on par with high-end cooling, it shines with actual stress and increased voltage cooling capacity. That's the good stuff when overclocking.
Noise is something else we MUST mention, as there isn't any. On previous older model NZXT LCS reviews we often complained about the fairly high noise levels, this has changed with the Kraken 62. the two fans are housed in rubberized inserts, even mounting the screws is done in a rubber socket. The fans offer high airflow at low rotation, with the CAM software at performance mode, you will not pass 50% of the theoretical maximum RPM level. In return you get a solution that is totally in-audible, I mean even at perf mode under full overclocked CPU stress we only reach 34~35 DBa. That is a noise level where you need to place your ear closer then 30 cm away from the product to be able to hear it. So the solution setup in silent or performance mode remains completely silent (with a processor like the 4790K).
Aestethics & Design
The overall looks are very tasteful as far as I am concerned, an all black design with the subtle shades of grey make it an appealing product to the eyes. Even the fans have been logo marked (dark) tastefully. It is an easy to install mounting system, and factory filled with coolant in a closed loop. The black design will make this kit look great in any PC. It simply is a good alternative to heat-pipe coolers with the added benefits of being fairly quiet whilst offering very nice looks. No skills are required other than the need for ten minutes to install the kit.
The bling is all about the RGB LED system embedded on top of the water-block, and yes... I honestly did not expect to like it as much as I do. If you guys have seen the classic movie 2001: A Space Odyssey, you will remember HAL 9000 the talking computer (hello Dave) which was nothing more then a glass and red LED. The Kraken LED system somehow resembles HAL 9000, yet far more sophisticated as the mirror effect makes it feel like you look into the PC. Then the wide combination of RGB functionality, animations or color coded LEDs based on coolant temperature or even your audio is what makes this thing shine. It looks great. We love the fact that you can disable the NZXT LED logo as well.
The CAM Software
If you want to configure the Kraken 62, you are going to need proprietary CAM software from NZXT, you will either love or hate this software, I'm afraid I belong in the latter category. During installation we stumbled into issues. Initially we had no graphics card installed, but used the Intel IGP on the processor for video output. Why on earth mention this you might wonder? Well, apparently with the current public CAM 3.2 build if you do not have a dedicated graphics card installed, the Kraken is not detected and cannot be controlled. After mocking about back and forth with NZXT we learned this the hard way. Once we installed a GeForce GTX 1080 the Kraken all of the sudden was detected and a Kraken firmware update applied. After a restart we had a Kraken detected in software, however we could not configure it as hitting any change and save, it would not apply. NZXT at that point sent a new beta, which made it all work again. As a consumer that just spend 150 bucks, I would have already been on my way to the shop to return the product as stuff like that is just frustrating and simply should not happen with a product in the prize category. So that is my main caveat, the Kraken 62 is HIGHLY dependant on software, and if your CAM software install has issues, you cannot configure you cooling and or LED system. The good news is that once you made an alteration it sticks in memory. So it is not needed to reload the software after a reboot, the preferences stick in the Kraken hardware.
Right, I am not done yet, here's another reason why I dislike CAM. NZXT pretty much made it mandatory for you to login the software with a Facebook or Google account or their own log-on as they want your settings in the cloud, but likely also have acces to and save a lot of other data. You can use the software without logging in, but then you cannot save any profiles and changes made. Seriously NZXT, you make and sell products for the hardware enthusiast community, THEY DO NOT WANT stuff open on the web. Why on earth could a RGB or PUMP profile not be saved on the local HDD/SSD ?!
My last comment about CAM (and then I'll stop) is that NZXT tries to make it way too diverse and it becomes confusing, they want to include overlays, track how often you play certain games, you can even overclock your graphics card with this software. The problem however is it's all beta, shoddy and working poorly. If you make a overclock setting that will crash your GPU, it's reapplied at the next time you start-up CAM. Seriously NZXT, stop making your software more complex, make it more simple as that is the golden rule of proper and good software applications, usability and easy to use for the application and functionality at hand. And that invokes controlling lights, fans, pumps and monitoring temperatures and RPM levels. Stick to that, remove the dumb cloud login through Facebook or Google and your software could be terrific. Look at what Corsair is doing with their latest iterations of the CUE software, that's seriously good. Keep it simple and non obtrusive, that's all I am sayin' :)
The Kraken 62 was introduced at $159.99 and a similar price in EURO. Yes that is a lot of money, but we can see where the money went to, the cooling system is good and the lighting system is magnificent. Combined with extremely low noise levels that makes the Kraken a little gem. That lovely cooling capacity when overclocked at no noise is golden really. Once we got the CAM software working, well that's the money shot right there as we just loved watching near hypnotizing LED system. Turn off that NZXT logo, and let the LED RGB LED rings do the magic, really it is that good. But we also know that a lot of people these days are getting a little tired of the RGB LED trend. Hey it woks out really well with this one, that's the truth. On the CAM software side of things I think I said enough. It is beta software with far too many functions. once you get it running, set your preferred performance level and preferred LED color and animation system, close the software and don't look back. So yes pricy, but I think it's a fair amount of cash as this cooler offers quite a lot. It is silent and at the default settings it just offers really good cooling performance. The extra bonus is found in the RGB lighting system. But make no mistake, the performance and features are good for a 280mm rad based product at this price level. Let me also remind you that you can use this kit on any 1150, 1151, 1155, 1156, 1366, 2011, 2011-3, AM2, AM2+, AM3, AM3+, FM1, FM2, FM2+ based processor.
I have no hesitation recommending you the new Kraken 62 series NZXT offers, it really is a good performing product with some darn nice looks, thick sleeved tubing and the comfort of RGB color selection. If we solely zoom in at tweaked processor performance then for an AIO kit this definitely is one of the better performing ones out there. Also in its default configuration it remains to be a very silent product. The product is very user friendly to install and combined with its good looks and nice performance you can purchase a product that is spot on money wise. You'll have plenty of extra capacity to overclock. If you are wondering about the temperatures you have seen at 1.3 Volts, well remaining at that ~70 Degrees C on a Haswell processor of this class is simply nice. You will likely not need 1.3V for 4400~4600 MHz. Overall the cooler manages really well with the tested Core i7 4790K processor we fired off at it, and even if you need 1.30 Volts; then it will offer enough cooling performance and that remains a tough task for any cooler. One more remark I have to make is that there is a fair amount of wires leading out and into the cooling block. So design wise there is more cable spaghetti clutter to deal with. Overall the final words can be short, we will recommend the NZXT Kraken 62 without any hesitation aside from the CAM software, I simply developed a love/hate relationship with it. The cooling performance is pretty good for a product of this class, combined with the aesthetics, ease of installation and the RGB coloring with CAM functionality we can wholeheartedly recommended this puppy for sure. Unleash the Kraken!
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