NZXT Kraken Elite 360 RGB review

This monstrous 360mm AIO CPU cooler has loads of features, looks great, and has masses of cooling power but also has an eyebrow-raising price.

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Our Verdict

90%

Powerful, quiet, stunning aesthetics and easy to use software mean you do at least get a lot for the high price tag

Large, premium AIO liquid coolers are the epitome of lavish cooling (outside of custom water cooling), delivering great performance with low noise levels thanks to their large radiators and coolant capacity. The NZXT Kraken Elite 360 RGB sits right at the top of this stack and won’t leave you with much change from $300. You can buy custom water-cooling loops for less, but this AIO liquid cooler is simple to install, less likely to leak and looks fabulous right out of the box.

NZXT Kraken Elite 360 RGB features and fitting

The NZXT Kraken Elite 360 RGB has a few features that make it stand out from the crowd. Firstly, it has a customisable display on its pump that’s sharp and vibrant, by default showing the coolant temperature. You get software control too for the display, fans and RGB lighting courtesy of NZXT’s CAM software and a spare USB 2 header. It also has one of the quietest pumps we’ve had the pleasure of not hearing.

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You’ll need space for its 360mm radiator and three RGB fans, but otherwise the cooler supports both LGA1700 and Socket AM5 out of the box as well as previous generations of these sockets. Installation is simple, with thumb screws locking the pump section to the CPU socket using threaded pins and brackets.

An RGB controller box deals with the fan RGB cables while all three fan cables connect to a cable running off the pump. It’s a little messy, but easily tidied away. You can select from speed presets for the fan and pump, adjusting them according to coolant or CPU temperatures plus you have the ability to create your own speed curves in the CAM software.

NZXT Kraken Elite 360 RGB Intel LGA1700 temperature

A temperature of 81°C in performance mode is the best we’ve seen from any cooler so far dealing with our Core i7-13700K, with this rising to 86°C in the silent mode. What was fairly evident was that by default, the fans responded to liquid temperature and this rises far more slowly than CPU temperature, keeping noise to a minimum and avoiding annoying rapid speed increases. It was also quieter than the Noctua NH-D15 during this fairly extreme stress test, though the NH-D15 is quieter under less load. This was after a 10-minute stress test so gaming will see far lower temperatures.

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NZXT Kraken Elite 360 RGB AMD Socket AM5 temperature

As usual the temperature with our AMD Ryzen 9 7900X rocketed to 95°C under load in both speed modes, but like the Noctua NH-D15, it managed to maintain decent frequencies. One thing we did notice was that in both our tests systems, the fans and pump weren’t rising to maximum levels as they were responding to coolant temperature, which takes a long time to rise. We found switching to CPU temperature and having the fan and pumps hit top speed sooner resulted in better performance in our AMD system, so that’s something to bear in mind if you end up using this cooler.

NZXT Kraken Elite 360 RGB noise level

While the fans and pump responding slowly did result in slightly lower performance in our AMD system, the benefit is that you’re blessed with very low noise levels even after 10 minutes of full CPU load. The pump is practically inaudible below 50 percent speed and only makes a slight whine above 70 percent, while being fairly noticeable at full speed. Thankfully, it’s not unpleasant at any speed, but you won’t want it sat next to you at full speed all the time.

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NZXT Kraken Elite 360 RGB Pros and cons

Pros

  • Looks great
  • Excellent cooling
  • Low noise levels

Cons

  • Fan and pump slow to spin up
  • Lots of cables
  • Expensive

NZXT Kraken Elite 360 RGB specs

The NZXT Kraken Elite 360 RGB specs list is:

Intel sockets supported LGA1xxx
AMD sockets supported AMD Socket AM5, AMD Socket AM4, AMD Socket sTRX4, AMD Socket TR4
Dimensions with fans (mm) 121 x 52 x 394(W x D x H)
Fans 3 x 120mm
Stated noise 34dBA
RGB lighting Yes
Extras Software control, RGB controller, LCD on pump

NZXT Kraken Elite 360 RGB price

This is a huge price to pay for an AIO liquid cooler, but we can’t argue with the fabulous aesthetics, great cooling and low noise

Price: Expect to pay $300 (£260).

NZXT Kraken Elite 360 RGB review conclusion

If you want epic cooling, a snazzy RGB-equipped design and low noise levels even under sustained full CPU load, but don’t want to go with full custom liquid cooling then the NZXT Kraken Elite 360 RGB is a great choice if you can afford it. However, we’d also suggest taking a look at recent models from Lian Li and Corsair that have cable-free fans, which can drastically reduce clutter. We can’t fault NZXT’s CAM software, either, which worked flawlessly and we’d be happy to use this cooler in our own systems to cool high-end CPUs. Just remember to consider swapping to CPU temperature-monitoring mode with AMD Ryzen 7000 CPUs.

Do you own the Kraken Elite 360 RGB? If so, what’s your experience been? Let us know your thoughts on the Custom PC Facebook page, via Twitter, or join our Custom PC and Gaming Setup Facebook group and tap into the knowledge of our 400,000+ members.

We’re still working on our best CPU cooler guide but in the mean time you can check out our choice of the best CPU for gaming.