Aftermarket GPU cooling has never really been a huge market. Custom liquid cooling has always had a stronghold with custom GPU cooling but for aftermarket air cooling companies like Arctic Cooling have pretty much dominated this relatively small market. Recently though graphics cards have been getting faster and with this increase in speed comes an increased need for cooling.
Aftermarket GPU cooling has never really been a huge market. Custom liquid cooling has always had a stronghold with custom GPU cooling but for aftermarket air cooling companies like Arctic Cooling have pretty much dominated this relatively small market. Recently though graphics cards have been getting faster and with this increase in speed comes an increased need for cooling. There are a whole host of custom liquid cooling options for today’s GPUs – but not so much on the air cooling end. CPUs however have seen a huge explosion as of late with AiO coolers – but until now there has been no easy way to mount an AiO onto your graphics card. NZXT has long created awesome PC parts and cooling units and have now released the Kraken G10 – an adapter that allows you to mount any Asetek-branded AiO unit to almost any GPU. NZXT was kind enough to send us one to check out to let’s have at it!
A little about NZXT:
“Our People - React, adapt and be fearless - we’re a group of young people who aspire to be better tomorrow than we are today. We are driven by the yearning to explore, create, change, and push boundaries. Our culture revolves around having a passion to walk off the well-beaten path, and turn away from the status quo.
Our Company - Avant-garde and unconventional - NZXT as created because we aspire to make a positive difference for people. We believe that there are companies that ship product, and then there are companies that ship innovation. We routinely re-invest in ourselves, and hope that we can drive a positive influence in the industry.
Our Products - Think like a beginner - because we grew up in the generation of the 25-cent arcade, the 16-bit home gaming console, and star wars Lego collections, the experience is what concerns us. Nothing excites us more than the blank canvas waiting for inspiration. We’re always pushing to learn and reinvent ourselves.” – NZXT
Let’s take a look at the features and specifications for the Kraken G10 now.
Features and Specifications
- With an included 92mm fan to cool the VRM and the high performance abilities of the Kraken cooler, the Kraken G10 offers over 40% cooling increases over stock coolers, a level of performance only previously achievable with a costly custom liquid cooled setup.
- Kraken G10 features wide compatibility for over 24 different reference graphics cards and more than 19 different all-in-one liquid cooling solutions. See spec chart for full compatibility details.
- Universal mounting hardware provides easy installation. Zip-tie points also included to hide tubing for a cleaner installation.
- RL-KRG10-W1 (White)
- RL-KRG10-B1 (Black)
- RL-KRG10-R1 (Red)
Dimensions:177 (W) x 32.5 (H) x 110.6 (D) mm
Fan Bearing: Sleeve
Fan Connector: 3-Pin
Graphics Card Compatibility:
- Nvidia : GTX 780 Ti, 780, 770, 760, Titan, 680, 670, 660Ti, 660, 580, 570, 560Ti, 560, 560SE
- AMD : R9 290X, 290, 280X*, 280*, 270X, 270 HD7970*, 7950*, 7870, 7850, 6970, 6950, 6870, 6850, 6790, 6770, 5870, 5850, 5830
The compatibility list is based on AMD Radeon and NVIDIA's reference board layout, screw spacing and die height only. Please check the height restriction before purchase.
* Some variations in AMD die height may require the use of a shim.
- NZXT : Kraken X60, Kraken X40
- Corsair : H110, H90, H75, H55 , H50
- Antec : KUHLER H2O 920V4, KUHLER H2O 620V4, KUHLER H2O 920, KUHLER H2O 620
- Thermaltake : Water 3.0 Extreme, Water 3.0 Pro, Water 3.0 Performer, Water 2.0 Extreme, Water 2.0 Pro, Water 2.0 Performer
- Zalman : LQ-320, LQ-315, LQ-310
Fan Dimensions: 92 (W) x 92 (H) x 25 (D) mm
Fan Input Power: 2.16W
Fan Current: 0.18A
Fan Speed: 1500 ± 10% R.P.M.
Fan Voltage: 12V DC
Warranty: 2 Years (Removing your stock cooler will potentially void your GPU warranty)
Now that that’s out of the way let’s get to the unit itself and check it out!
Packaging, Unboxing and a Closer Look
The Kraken G10 comes packaged in a full-color box. The front shows an image of the cooler mounted to a video card with an AiO unit installed.
The back shows the assembly installed into a case and gives some features and performance numbers.
The right side of the box lists all of the specifications for the G10.
While the left side shows the three available colors and has a sticker to indicate which color is included in the box.
Upon opening the box the first thing you’ll see is a thick foam tray with a cover.
Under the cover you’ll find a tray that holds the included 92mm fan as well as the installation hardware and instruction sheet.
Under this tray you’ll find the unit itself.
Here we have all of the included components laid out. One thing noticeably missing from the kit is any kind of thermal paste. Make sure you get some or have some on hand before tearing off your stock cooler.
The bracket itself is designed to fit a wide array of GPU’s and will mount any Asetek-braned AiO unit that uses this type of mounting system.
Let’s move along and install and test the Kraken G10!
We will be installing the Kraken G10 on our Gigabyte 7970OC Windforce.
The first step is to remove your card’s stock cooler. This varies by card manufacturer and model so be careful. Once the stock cooler is removed you need to remove the thermal paste from the die and clean it.
Next up you use the four included screws to mount the 92mm fan to the Kraken’s bracket as shown here. You’ll also notice that there are mounting holes for an 80mm fan as well – allowing you a choice for additional cooling.
Next up you need to prepare the back plate. You’ll see that there are three settings for the pins – A, B and C. The instruction sheet tells you which slot the pins should be in for your GPU. Next you slide the Oreo cookie-looking washers over the pins. These help to hold the pins in the back plate.
Next you insert the completed back plate assembly through the back side of your card. It doesn’t matter which orientation you place the back plate in – it’s the same in any direction.
NZXT includes two adhesive foam blocks to apply to the fan side of the Kraken G10 to keep the bracket from coming in contact with the GPU.
Installation here was pretty tricky. First you need to secure your thermal paste of choice as the kit does not include any. Next you need to hold the back plate on the GPU while holding the cooler’s pump/block assembly into the Kraken bracket and then get each screw started. Once the screws are started it’s much easier. Then just snug everything down and you’re good to go! Here we have an NZXT Kraken X40 cooler installed onto our 7970.
Let’s see how it works!
Our test system is as follows:
- Primochill Wet Bench
- Biostar TZ77XE4
- Intel i7-3770k
- 8GB Mushkin Blackline DDR3-1600
- 120GB Kingston HyperX 3K SSD
- 160GB WD Blue
- ASUS DVD-RW
- Gigabyte 7970OC Windforce
- NZXT Kraken G10 with NZXT Kraken X40
- Arctic Silver Alumina thermal paste
To sufficiently load the GPU for both the stock cooler and Kraken G10 tests I decided to do some coin mining. This places a very high load on the GPU and gets it up to temp rather quickly. I chose Arctic Silver’s Alumina paste as it has no break-in time allowing full cooling potential from the start. This is the same paste I use with all of my CPU cooler reviews.
You can see that with the stock Gigabyte cooler the GPU topped out at 47ºC over the ambient temp of 17ºC and idled at 16ºC over ambient. With the Kraken G10 and X40 installed however the idle temp was cut in half and the full load temp was cut by about 45%. The big thing here though is the reduction in sound. The stock cooler’s three fans on full blast was nothing but obnoxious however the noise of the 140mm fan on the X40 and the 92mm fan on the G10 was magnitudes quieter. Keep in mind these temps will more than likely change depending on your choice of AiO cooling system and thermal paste.
One thing I couldn’t check but kept running through my mind was the temps of the chips surrounding the die. The stock cooler has thermal pads to transfer heat from these chips to the stock heat sink. The Kraken G10 however does not include anything except the air from the 92mm fan to cool them. I would think that NZXT would have included at least some stick-on passive heat sinks for these – I’m sure the addition of the G10 made the temps in these chips rise significantly due to the lack of direct cooling.
Let’s wrap up this review with some final thoughts.
Final Thoughts and Conclusion
The NZXT Kraken G10 is a great initial release that fills a void in GPU cooling systems. The fit and finish is everything I’d expect from a company like NZXT – everything worked just as it should. Installation was a bit tricky and would be easier with more than two hands as the pins – even with the rubber retaining spacers – had a tendency to move around from their intended positions. Once installed though the performance was night and day – at least as far as temps on the GPU’s die goes. The surrounding VRMs however I’m sure saw an increase in temps due to the loss of the direct cooling that came with the stock heat sink. I think it would be wise for NZXT to revise the Kraken G10 to include a set of stick-on heat sinks that you get with most aftermarket air cooling solutions and a small tube of thermal paste as well. Overall the Kraken G10 is a great product. It can be found for just $29.99 and carries a 2-year warranty.
I’d give this a great product award.