PC Components

NZXT KRAKEN 280 RGB in review: Enough power for hot-head CPUs?

The hardware manufacturer NZXT renews its water cooling portfolio. We directly grabbed the new KRAKEN 280 RGB and checked whether the LCD display in combination with the two strong 140 mm fans can stand out from the crowd.

For the price of 210 euros, the AiO water cooling is rather located in the high-end range and meets other well-known manufacturers such as Corsair, Asus or likewise MSI in this price range.

Technical data of the AiO water cooling

Model NZXT KRAKEN 280 RGB
Socket Compatibility Intel: LGA 1700, 1200, 115x
AMD: AM5, AM4, sTRX4, TR4
Cooling block dimensions Diameter: 74.7 mm / Height: 55.97 mm
Cooling block materials (block) Copper
Cooling block materials (housing) Plastic
Radiator Dimensions (L x W x H) 315 x 142 x 30 mm
Radiator Materials Aluminum
Pump Speed 800 – 2800 ± 300 rpm
Hoses 400 mm, nylon coated
Fan model 2 x F140 RGB Core
Fan Dimensions (L x W x H) 140 x 140 x 26 mm
Fan speed 500 – 1,500 ± 150 rpm
Fan volume 34.48 dB(A)
Fan connector PWM 4-pin
Display 1.54 inch LCD display
Display Resolution 240 x 240 pixels
Display Brightness 300 cd/m²
Software NZXT CAM
Warranty 6 years
Price € 168.26 *

Scope of delivery

  • Sufficient mounting accessories included
  • RGB controller with 3 connectors included
  • Assembly instructions include numerous pictures with simple explanations

The KRAKEN 280 RGB from NZXT comes in a rather unobtrusive cardboard box. With enough Styrofoam to protect against damage, the radiator is also included in the package, in addition to the two separately packaged F140 RGB core fans. In addition to the mounting material, an RGB controller with three connectors is also included in the delivery. An instruction manual can be found between the materials to explain the subsequent installation as simple as possible.

Optics & Workmanship

  • Heat conductive paste on copper plate present
  • LCD display is only visible at startup, otherwise hidden behind reflective surface
  • NZXT knows how to convince in this point!

As for the appearance, the NZXT KRAKEN 280 RGB looks very chic. The white paint of the radiator was applied accurately, the tubes are moreover very robust and overall difficult to bend. The nylon coating underlines the very good first impression. The manufacturer’s inscription is on the side of the radiator. All cooling fins on the radiator are flawlessly processed and correspond to the same pattern.

The back of the pump head is mirrored and has a protective film ex works. This must of course be removed before commissioning. Behind the mirror is the 1.54-inch LCD display, which, however, only reveals itself after the water cooler is turned on. There is a layer of thermal paste on the copper plate, so it can be mounted directly on the CPU after unpacking.

To cut a long story short, you will look in vain for qualitative flaws in the NZXT KRAKEN 280 RGB. NZXT has done an excellent job at this point!

Assembly

  • Very easy installation
  • free SATA + USB connection to motherboard required
  • RGB controller adheres magnetically to case

After the initial inspection of the NZXT KRAKEN 280 RGB, we went straight to assembly to put the water cooling through its paces. For the installation, we chose the front side of the case.

Our test system consists of the following components:

The installation of the AiO water cooling is thereby conceivably simple and at the same time very well explained by the enclosed instructions. After the radiator was mounted on the front can be attached to the other side of the two F140 RGB core fans.

An RGB controller is included in the delivery. Up to three fans can be connected to it. For our 280 mm variant, however, only two connections are necessary. During assembly, another cool feature turns out: the RGB controller is magnetic and automatically sticks to the case.

To breathe life into the All-in-One water cooling system, it still needs to be supplied with power. A SATA port and a USB port on the motherboard are needed for this. The latter is used to control the ARGB lighting from the fans.

Control & lighting options

  • NZXT CAM required for control
  • Save separate profiles possible
  • Software is quite low on resources despite large feature set

To fine-tune the water cooling to your own system, it is necessary to install the manufacturer’s own software NZXT CAM. Among other things, the pump and the ARGB lighting of the KRAKEN 280 RGB can be configured here. In addition to WaKü’s own features, the software also offers other functions such as a dashboard for PC monitoring, game tracking or an overview of the installed hardware. The overclocking of the graphics card is also a separate point in the software’s scope. In the background, the software occupies around 120MB of RAM, which we consider to be quite low on resources considering the features.

The control functions for the NZXT KRAKEN 280 RGB can be found under the two menu items Lighting and Cooling. At this point, we can also set the LCD display and control all of the two fans individually in terms of color. By creating profiles, many different settings can be made and automatically loaded with a simple click.

From our point of view, the software is very simply designed and leaves hardly any wish of the users unfulfilled. The scope of NZXT CAM is diverse and yet does not come at the expense of usability.

Loudness & cooling performance

  • Very good cooling performance with low overall volume
  • Pump is barely audible at idle

What is the point of a water cooling system, no matter how nice it looks, if the processor permanently reaches the 100-degree mark? Correct: namely headaches. To save you from this fate, we sent the NZXT KRAKEN 280 RGB into the race with a Corsair Hydro Series H105 and let them compete in separate tests.

For the stress test, the program Prime95 was used for a duration of 30 minutes. Complex calculations put the I7-6700K (overclocked to 4.7 GHz at 1.42V) under maximum load, which is ideal test conditions for us. The volume was measured at a distance of around 15 cm. The room temperature was around 20.5 degrees Celsius during the test.

The following CPU temperature values could be determined via HWiNFO:

Water cooling Pump speed CPU temperature Total volume
NZXT KRAKEN 280 RGB 2000 rpm 67.5 °C approx. 27 db(A)
3030 rpm (Max.) 57.1 °C approx. 39 db(A)
Corsair Hydro Series H105 2000 rpm 73.7 °C approx. 37 db(A)
2700 rpm (Max.) 64.9 °C approx. 51 db(A)

At idle, the processor stays at around 27 degrees Celsius, which is a very good value. The pump operates at around 1150 revolutions per minute in this state, but it is hardly noticeable in terms of noise.

Comparing both performances with each other, a clear winner emerges in this test. NZXT can easily keep the temperatures lower with the KRAKEN 280 RGB than our comparison model with lower noise at the same time. Despite the strong overclocking, both AiO water coolers did not bring our test CPU into the throttling range at any point.

Summary of NZXT KRAKEN 280 RGB review

The NZXT KRAKEN RGB in the 280 mm variant could fully convince from the beginning of the installation to the testing of the component. Particularly noteworthy at this point is the very simple installation, the overall performance of the cooling and likewise also the comparatively low noise. The LCD display makes a high-quality impression visually and gives your own gaming PC another module for personalization. In addition, the water cooling can be very strongly individualized in combination with the NZXT CAM software and adapted to one’s own well-being. On top of that, the manufacturer grants a warranty of 6 years on the KRAKEN, which is quite remarkable in this segment.

The somewhat high price is a bit of a deterrent at the beginning, but NZXT can compensate for this aspect along with the performance. Enthusiasts should take a look at the elite version of the KRAKEN RGB, which can score with an even larger display. All others are still very well advised with this water cooling system.

In summary, we give the NZXT KRAKEN 280 RGB a recommendation and are therefore happy to award it the Platinum Award!

NZXT KRAKEN RGB 280mm Platinum Award

NZXT KRAKEN 280 RGB

Design
Workmanship
Mounting
Cooling
Noise level
Value for money

95/100

NZXT presents with the KRAKEN RGB in the 280 mm version a powerful and yet very quiet water cooling!

Simon Lüthje

I am co-founder of this blog and am very interested in everything that has to do with technology, but I also like to play games. I was born in Hamburg, but now I live in Bad Segeberg.

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The hardware manufacturer NZXT renews its water cooling portfolio. We directly grabbed the new KRAKEN 280 RGB and checked whether the LCD display in combination with the two strong 140 mm fans can stand out from the crowd. For the price of 210 euros, the AiO water cooling is rather located in the high-end range … (Weiterlesen...)

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