The NZXT Kraken Z53 RGB has one feature that really makes it stand out from the crowd – an attractive customizable display on the waterblock/pump unit. You pay a lot of money to get an AIO cooler with a screen, though.
While the Corsair iCUE H100i Elite Capellix 240mm AIO liquid cooler has seen a hefty price cut, the same can’t be said for NZXT’s Kraken Z53 RGB, which is currently the company’s priciest 240mm model. As a result, it will set you back around $250, costing nearly three times as much as the ARCTIC Liquid Freezer II 240 RGB or the EK EK-AIO 240 Basic.
At Custom PC, we’ve been reviewing the latest PC hardware since 2003, and we run a number of tests in order to gauge performance. We use Prime95’s smallest FFT test with AVX instructions disabled to load the CPU and take the temperature reading after ten minutes.
When testing CPU coolers, we use CoreTemp to measure the CPU temperature, before subtracting the ambient air temperature from this figure to give us a delta T result, which enables us to test in a lab that isn’t temperature controlled. For more information, see our How we test page.
NZXT hasn’t just slapped a randomly high price on the box of this cooler, though – it’s an extremely good-looking cooler that’s packed with the latest tech. Its 120mm NZXT AER RGB fans sport amazing RGB lighting arrays and can be software-controlled using NZXT’s CAM software, as can the 7th-gen Asetek-derived pump.
The pump and fans can be controlled separately, either using Silent or Performance profiles, a fixed speed or your own custom curve, using CPU, coolant or even GPU temperatures to control them.
Despite the fans sporting daisy-chained RGB cables, you do still have to contend with a frightening amount of cable spaghetti, though, and at this price, we expect more to be done to limit the excessive cabling, especially as ARCTIC did a great job with its cooler for considerably less money. The pump section is extremely large too, being too big to fit some mini-ITX motherboards, including the Asus ROG Strix Z690-I Gaming WiFi.
The highlight of the cooler, of course, is its 2.36-inch customizable display mounted in the waterblock/pump unit, which can cycle through data inputs, such as GPU, CPU and coolant temperature, as well as clock speed and CPU load. You can also upload GIFs, and customize the display’s text, background and detail sections separately.
Corsair’s latest displays are even better, but they’re not included with the iCUE H100i Elite Capellix and cost an extra $100. However, even adding this option would still make the Corsair cooler significantly cheaper than the Kraken Z53 RGB.
Sadly, the included RGB hardware only features proprietary connectors too, so you can’t connect it to standard 3-pin or 4-pin controllers on your motherboard. Meanwhile, the speed profiles on offer vary the fan and pump speeds, but even the Silent profile will eventually ramp up to maximum speed at around 60°C, sitting at lower noise levels below this temperature.
On the plus side, an extra set of fan screws is included if you want to install a second row of fans on the radiator. What’s more, Intel’s new LGA1700 socket for 12th-gen CPUs is usually supported out of the box too, with all coolers manufactured this year including a new installation kit.
NZXT Kraken Z53 RGB cooling performance
Cooling from the NZXT Kraken Z53 RGB was excellent on both Intel and AMD sockets, even matching the mighty Sapphire Nitro+ S240-A in our AMD system with a CPU delta T of 50°C, while making less noise too. However, both the EK EK-AIO 240 Basic and iCUE H100i Elite Capellix are never far away in terms of temperature, and they both cost significantly less money.
NZXT Kraken Z53 RGB pros and cons
- Excellent cooling
- Brilliant fan and lighting control
- Great-looking display
- Proprietary RGB connectors
- Lots of cables
NZXT Kraken Z53 RGB specs
The NZXT Kraken Z53 RGB specs list is:
|Intel compatibility||LGA1700, LGA115x, LGA1200, LGA2066, LGA2011|
|AMD compatibility||Socket AM4, AM3+, TRX/4|
|Radiator size with fans (mm)||123 x 275 x 55 (W x D x H)|
|Fans||2 x 120mm|
NZXT Kraken Z53 RGB price
Price: Expect to pay $250 (£230).
NZXT Kraken Z53 RGB review conclusion
If it cost $170 instead of $250, we’d be all over the NZXT Kraken Z53 RGB, but the competition in this market segment is fierce and some coolers have even received price drops too. This makes the Kraken less of a lustworthy item and more of a hideously expensive one. It undoubtedly looks great, but there are numerous coolers that are better buys at the moment.
If the price of this fancy cooler and its fancy display is a bit much for your budget, we’ve reviewed plenty of other alternative 240mm AIO liquid cooler models, including the EK Nucleus AIO CR240 Lux D-RGB, as well as the Cooler Master MasterLiquid PL240 Flux. If you’re looking to upgrade your CPU, make sure you also check out our full guide to the best CPU for gaming, where we outline the very best options at a range of prices.
NZXT Kraken Z53 RGB review rating
Great cooling, lighting and software control, but it’s just too expensive.