Air cooling has an inevitable price advantage over liquid, but it just so happens that the NH-D15 is also large enough to provide similar temperatures to most mid-sized liquid cooling systems. NZXT’s Kraken X61 had noticeably lower temperatures at full fan speed but also had far greater noise levels, climbing to second place in the performance-to-value score only at reduced fan speed. Today’s test subject, the H220-X is significantly quieter and fits far more cases than the Kraken X61, but is still slightly noisier than the air cooler. Supposing your case is capable of supporting any of these three coolers, the H220-X achieves third place in value.
That’s not to say we recommend big air to everyone who has room for it. We’ve wrecked a couple complete systems just moving them around with heavy CPU coolers, we’ve received damaged machines from boutique builders for the same reason even after those builders filled the inside of their systems with removable foam bracing. We’ve also been forced to disassemble our own System Builder Marathon machines before shipping them to SBM giveaway winners after seeing damage from mid-sized air coolers breaking free.
That means we see a couple options here for those who must move their systems around, the re-configurable H220-X and the fixed-configuration Kraken X61. Had they provided similar performance, expandability would have given Swiftech the easy win. Had they been the same size, the Kraken X61 would instead get a broader recommendation. We’re instead left questioning whether the H220-X has enough capacity to add something as power-hungry as a high-end graphics card, or whether it might need more-powerful fans to get there.
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