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Testing Results & Conclusion

Using data compiled from previous cooler testing, we will compare the NZXT Kraken M22 with coolers similar in price. Our Intel i7 5930k mounted atop our MSI X99S XPower AC motherboard and clocked to 4.2Ghz at 1.20v is designed to push coolers to their thermal limits, while our Corsair Graphite 760T chassis provides safe residence and controlled airflow for our testing hardware.

We’ll place the Kraken M22 up against the EK Fluid Gaming A120 kit, Enermax LIQFUSION 240 RGB and be quiet! Dark Rock 4. While it would seem like the M22 is fighting outside its weight class here, we might discover a few surprises lurking about.

The compact NZXT Kraken M22 performs better than EK’s entry-level aluminum watercooling kit, and goes toe-to-toe with the large, be quiet! Dark Rock 4 air cooler. The Enermax LIQFUSION 240 RGB cools slightly better than the rest of the field, but it uses a much larger 240mm radiator to do so.

The Kraken M22's single Aer P120 fan speed lands it smack in the middle of all our liquid coolers here. Pump RPM, reported here, offers little for our test comparisons, as each uses a vastly different pump design.

After looking at our registered fan speeds graph, our noise level chart falls right into place with the ultra-quiet fans on the EK Fluid Gaming A120, with the be quiet! Dark Rock 4 leading the silent charge. However, at only 26.2 adjusted decibels, the Kraken M22 is still very quiet.

Given that each cooler performed within a few degrees Celsius of one another, and our decibel readings were neck-and-neck, our acoustic efficiency chart accents the slight performance differences between each of the coolers of the group.

With a retail price of just a penny under $100, the NZXT Kraken M22 falls just below the median price of the testing group. The be quiet! Dark Rock 4 is overall the budget cooler of this group, at right around $75. The Enermax LIQFUSION 240 RGB cooled the best overall, but posted the highest noise levels. And while the EK Fluid Gaming A120 posted the lowest decibel levels, it holds the highest in unit price of our bunch.

The NZXT Kraken M22 is an incredibly compact, high-performance liquid cooler that delivers sleek styling and vibrant RGB lighting options, while offering support of current AMD and Intel processor sockets. Just don't try to strap one to your Threadripper system, as that platform isn't supported by this cooler.

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Garrett Carver
Garrett Carver

Garrett Carver is a contributor for Tom’s Hardware, primarily covering thermal compound comparisons and CPU cooling reviews; both air and liquid, including multiple variations of each.

  • FD2Raptor
    8/10? For twice the money while offering louder operation noise and lower cooling performance compare to a solid air tower cooler?

    Nope. This cooler is a 4 at best. The only situation where it's worth considering is in ITX build limited in cooler height; and even then it's cooling performance is just on par with other cheaper 120mm AIO solution.
  • zodiacfml
    Yup. As expected. 120mm radiators are just too small, little surface area even if its made of some exotic material. This is also the reason why copper air coolers fail, as they are usually small.

    I'd take the best of Noctua and keep the change. The cooler can also be more appealing aesthetically with that industrial, steel look.
  • 4freedomssake
    Wondering if there is or ever will be a/n AIO for ITX cases. Or if there is even room for one.
  • Tom_207
    Should have compared it to the Coolermaster MasterLiquid 120 for less than 1/2 the price.
  • 1_rick
    You can fit an NXZT Kraken x52 in a Corsair Obsidian 250D, but you'll have to replace the fans it comes with with 15mm-wide ones, or else trim the ones it came with.
  • cryoburner
    21044708 said:
    8/10? For twice the money while offering louder operation noise and lower cooling performance compare to a solid air tower cooler?
    But them infinity RGBs! Those should more than make up for the spyware, the potential for leaks, and the likelihood that the pump motor will fail within a couple years. : D
  • Kirk1975
    I’ve actually installed one of these for a friend. He selected it and purchased it for himself.

    My first impressions of it out of the box were it looks cool... but after installing it and getting it going... It's loud, obnoxiously so. I could even hear the water pump whirring away. I attributed the pump being audible to it being in the rad where it sits right next to the vent on top of his case. Not sure if the exact same pump that’s in this were to be installed in the block would be quiet so audible. Nontheless I put it through its paces, and I would have to say honestly a less expensive air cooler would most likely outperform it under the same circumstances.

    He was happy with it. That's really all that matters in the end I guess.

    Not something I would seek out and purchase though.