NZXT has established itself in the PC builder community, and with their latest AIO cooler, the Kraken Elite 280 RGB, they are enhancing an already winning formula. Retaining the features we loved from the Kraken X-3 and Kraken Z-3 series and improving upon them, the Kraken Elite RGB is a striking addition to any PC build.
Available in black or white, the NZXT Kraken Elite 280 RGB AIO Cooler boasts a sleek and stylish design perfect for users looking to add a touch of elegance to their PC. The colour LCD screen brings a splash of colour to any CPU cooling situation. The 640P 2.36″ LCD offers numerous customization options, allowing for personalized images, GIFs, or system information, and the clean lines and classic NZXT styling make the cooler look incredibly sharp.
The 60 FPS screen allows you to express yourself in any way imaginable. With everything from GIFs to the ability to display data from your favourite websites using the new web integration feature. The Kraken Elite 280 RGB is a flexible way to express yourself through your PC build. While not entirely necessary for cooling, it also lets you show system details if you’re so inclined, giving you a window into your PC’s performance.
Beyond its attractive appearance, the NZXT Kraken Elite RGB AIO Cooler is available in three radiator sizes (240mm, 280mm – our version, and 360mm) to suit your cooling needs and features an efficient 7th-generation Asetek pump that keeps the water flowing and your PC cool. The build quality of the Kraken Elite 280 RGB is top-notch, with a high-density fin design radiator for efficient heat dissipation and a 6-year limited warranty for peace of mind.
“The Kraken Elite 280 RGB is a striking addition to any PC build.”
The Kraken Elite 280 also offers the option of High Static Pressure F Series fans or the new F Series Core RGB fans, both providing a striking look depending on your desired case vibrancy. The pump features a durable nylon-braided sleeve on the tubing, which protects it from wear and tear while maintaining a clean and polished appearance.
Kraken Elite 280 RGB Installation and Compatibility
Installing the NZXT Kraken Elite 280 RGB AIO Cooler is a relatively straightforward process, thanks to the included mounting hardware and detailed instruction manual. The cooler is compatible with a wide range of Intel and AMD sockets, ensuring that most users can take advantage of the Kraken Elite 280 RGB’s cooling prowess. The modular design of the mounting system makes it easy to install the cooler on your CPU. At the same time, the flexible tubing allows for hassle-free positioning of the radiator within your PC case.
As with any AIO cooler, choosing a radiator size that your case can accommodate is essential. Thankfully, due to the NZXT Kraken Elite 280 RGB’s design, even for powerful flagship CPUs, you can opt for the 240mm—a size that should fit most cases—without worrying about overheating. We tested our build in the new NZXT H5 Flow RGB case, and the installation was relatively painless. Within around 15 minutes, everything was installed, and the system was ready for testing.
Kraken Elite 280 RGB Performance
The NZXT Kraken Elite 280 RGB AIO delivers exceptional cooling performance thanks to its well-designed components and powerful pump. The 280mm radiator, combined with the F Series Core RGB fans, ensures effective heat dissipation from your CPU, keeping temperatures in check during heavy workloads or intense gaming sessions. The pump’s seven-phase motor provides consistent liquid flow, resulting in efficient and reliable cooling performance.
Regarding noise levels, the NZXT Kraken Elite 280 RGB AIO is impressively quiet, especially considering its high-performance capabilities. The F Series Core RGB fans are designed to minimize noise while still providing adequate airflow, resulting in a cooling solution that won’t distract or irritate during use. The PC is barely audible when idling in Windows, and it’s only when launching a game that you might notice any noise.
In our tests, we paired the NZXT Kraken Elite 280 RGB with an AMD Ryzen 9 7950X, and the system managed to stay cool even under load, never exceeding reasonable levels. It maintained an impressive 37° Celsius idle temperature. During our Nvidia RTX 4070 benchmarking with Cyberpunk 2077 at 4K, it only rose to an average of around 68°—a remarkable feat for a 280mm cooler.
The NZXT CAM Software
To unlock the full potential of the NZXT Kraken Elite 280 RGB AIO Cooler, users will need to install the NZXT CAM software. This software enables you to monitor the cooler’s performance, adjust fan speeds, and customize the pump head’s RGB lighting and LCD display. The CAM software also provides an intuitive interface for monitoring your system’s overall health, displaying important information such as CPU temperature, GPU temperature, and fan speeds.
One potential downside to the CAM software is that it requires an active internet connection for some features, such as firmware updates and cloud saves. While this may not be an issue for most users, those with limited or unreliable internet access may find this requirement somewhat inconvenient. However, the majority of the cooler’s features and customizations can still be accessed without an internet connection.
Alongside the Kraken Elite 280 RGB, an update to the NZXT CAM software introduces new features for added excitement. Users can now enjoy a dual infographic and carousel mode, offering a visually engaging way to showcase system data. CAM is also integrated with GIPHY.
As mentioned, it now offers a web integration mode, enabling users to display data from various websites, such as Google Photos, Spotify, or any other site they choose. This fresh feature unlocks even more customization possibilities, allowing users to tailor their builds to their unique needs and preferences. While many of these features are superfluous to the PC’s operation, they add a welcome sense of style.
Kraken Elite 280 RGB Value and Pricing
The NZXT Kraken Elite 280 RGB AIO Cooler offers a compelling blend of high performance, customization options, and attractive aesthetics. Its superior cooling capabilities, customizable LCD display, and RGB lighting make it an excellent addition to any PC build. The build quality, ease of installation, and compatibility with various CPU sockets further add to its appeal.
“The cooler’s exceptional performance and unique features make it a worthwhile investment for those who prioritize both aesthetics and cooling efficiency.”
It’s worth noting that the NZXT Kraken Elite RGB AIO range, while a great addition to a PC, comes at a premium, costing $259.99 for the 240mm version and topping out at $299.99 for the 360mm. Despite the higher price, the cooler’s exceptional performance and unique features make it a worthwhile investment for those who prioritize both aesthetics and cooling efficiency in their PC builds.
If you’re concerned about cost, the standard Kraken is available at a more manageable $179.99. and includes many of the same features. The Kraken RGB offers a solid 1.54″ LCD screen that can display system temperatures and static images from NZXT CAM while still incorporating the same 7th-gen Asetek pump and F Series or F Series Core RGB fans to keep things cool and stylish, even if the screen is slightly less exciting. Both options are excellent, and while the standard Kraken may not be as vibrant or customizable, it still looks excellent in any PC build.
The NZXT Kraken Elite 280 RGB AIO Cooler is an impressive and well-rounded cooling solution that offers excellent performance, striking visuals, and a high level of customization. While it may not be the most budget-friendly option on the market, its unique features and top-notch cooling capabilities make it a solid choice for anyone looking to enhance their PC’s performance and aesthetics. The Kraken Elite range is a testament to NZXT’s commitment to innovation and quality and will satisfy even the most discerning of PC enthusiasts.