NZXT Kraken X53 RGB AIO review: Attractive design and impressive cooling comes at a price

A rock-solid AIO let down a little by its price positioning.

NZXT Kraken X53 RGB
(Image: © Rich Edmonds / Windows Central)

NZXT is a familiar name when it comes to all-in-one (AIO) liquid CPU coolers. The company has an active family of Kraken AIOs split into three series: Z, X, and M. The Z series is the premium line with LCD displays on the CPU blocks and exceptional cooling capacity. The X series is the middle ground, balancing price and performance, while the M series is your go-to AIOs for budget builds.

The Kraken X series has seen a refresh, which includes the new X53 RGB. I'll take you through what's new with this X53 RGB AIO, what makes it a good CPU cooler, and whether you should consider buying one for your next PC build.

NZXT Kraken X53 RGB tech specs

NZXT Kraken X53 RGB

Source: Rich Edmonds / Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Rich Edmonds / Windows Central)

The Kraken X53 is the baby of the Kraken X family. It has the smallest radiator, undercutting the X63 by 40mm. This doesn't sound like much, but it can make or break an AIO when you're looking to pair it up with a processor. While it's not a 120mm AIO, the X53 is better suited on paper to support and handle up to an Intel Core i7 or AMD Ryzen 7 processor.

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CategoryNZXT Kraken X53 RGBNZXT Kraken X63 RGBNZXT Kraken X73 RGB
PumpAsetek Pump (Gen 7)800 - 2800 RPMAsetek Pump (Gen 7)800 - 2800 RPMAsetek Pump (Gen 7)800 - 2800 RPM
Radiator240 mmAluminum280 mmAluminum360 mmAluminum
CPU blockRGB LEDsPlastic, CopperRGB LEDsPlastic, CopperRGB LEDsPlastic, Copper
Fans2x Aer P120 RGB V22x Aer P140 RGB V23x Aer P120 RGB V2
Fan control---

When it comes to choosing a Kraken X RGB AIO cooler, it all depends on what size you need the radiator to be. Even the X53 RGB with the 240mm radiator will be more than adequate for high-end PC builds, though you will want to choose a larger AIO from NZXT if you plan on overclocking a high-tier CPU or choosing an Intel Core i9 or AMD Ryzen 9 and desire cooler temperatures.

NZXT Kraken X53 RGB what I like

NZXT Kraken X53 RGB

Source: Rich Edmonds / Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Rich Edmonds / Windows Central)

NZXT didn't cut any important corners with the Kraken X53 RGB. It may be the more affordable X-series AIO with RGB Aer fans, but you'd be mistaken to think it doesn't pack a punch. Compatible with both Intel Core and AMD Ryzen processors, you get not only the pump and radiator combo package, but also all the mounting brackets you need and two NZXT Aer P120 blowers with RGB lighting.

This may be the most affordable NZXT Kraken X AIO cooler, but it packs a serious punch.

These fans, along with the LED lights on the CPU block, are what drive the RGB effects of the AIO cooler. These can all be managed through NZXT's CAM software, which is now worth installing. The new design of the X53 meant NZXT was able to make the surface area on the CPU block a little larger, resulting in a more prominent mirror lighting effect.

If you've seen an NZXT AIO before, you'll be immediately familiar with the Kraken X563. NZXT nailed the design of its all-in-one CPU coolers and the X53 is no departure. For cables, NZXT includes all the necessary wiring for power, pump control for CAM, as well as to hook up the RGB fans.

When it comes to materials, the pump and CPU block are made from plastic and copper, while the radiator is made of aluminum. Inside the CPU block is Asetek's latest 7th gen pump, which likely won't mean much to the average Joe, but this allows for more efficient cooling without all the noise. Even if you don't plan on using an NZXT PC case, the Kraken X53 will look smart on most PC builds.

If the Kraken X53 didn't perform well then there'd be little use for it as a CPU cooler. So, we took it for a test run to see how it'd cope with a fairly beefy CPU.

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CategoryTest PC
CPUAMD Ryzen 9 3900X
MotherboardASUS ROG Strix X470-E Gaming
RAMG.SKILL Trident Z Royal 4000MHz 16GB
StorageSeagate FireCuda 520

You'd think that this AIO isn't really up to the task of an AMD Ryzen 9 3900X if you want to overclock it or continuously smash through games and video processing, but it's still a good indicator as to how powerful this CPU AIO cooler is. All testing was performed in a room at 22C and on an open testbench.

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CategoryNZXT Kraken X53 RGBNZXT Kraken X63 RGBNZXT Kraken X73 RGB
Stress test70C67C65C

As expected, the X53 sees the Ryzen 9 3900X run a little hotter than the X63 and X73. The Ryzen 9 3900X was set to default settings, pump to 100%, and fans at 50%. The idle temperature of 34C (93F) is impressive, pretty much matching that of the X63. For gaming, we found the CPU to hover around 62C (144F). Lastly, for stress testing, the Ryzen 9 3900X managed to hit 79C (142F) before settling at around 70C (158F).

The X53 can technically handle the Ryzen 9 3900X, but I'd recommend getting the X63 or X73 over this cooler if you plan on using such a CPU. Impressive results nonetheless, but this should be the case with the cooler coming in at more than $150.

NZXT Kraken X53 RGB what I don't like

NZXT Kraken X53 RGB

Source: Rich Edmonds / Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Rich Edmonds / Windows Central)

The X53 is the smallest and most affordable X-series AIO from NZXT with RGB Aer fans, but it still costs a whopping $160 at launch. Now, considering even this AIO can handle an AMD Ryzen 9 3900X, it's still priced way above what's available on the market with a 240mm radiator. It's true, you get what you pay for, but this may put some people off.

Like other X-series AIO coolers, you cannot directly control the fan curves and speeds through CAM. Unfortunately, that luxury is reserved for the more expensive Z-series of coolers. This shouldn't be a deal-breaker if your motherboard has an easy-to-reach CPU fan header and a decent BIOS.

Should you buy the NZXT Kraken X53 RGB?

NZXT Kraken X53 RGB

Source: Rich Edmonds / Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Rich Edmonds / Windows Central)

Who it's for

  • If you want to overclock your low to mid-tier CPU
  • If you want your CPU to run cooler
  • If you want to add some RGB lighting
  • If you have an NZXT PC case

Who it isn't for

  • Anyone with a compact case without 240mm rad support
  • If you already struggle with airflow inside the PC case
  • If you don't wish to use NZXT CAM software
  • If you want direct fan control

There are three new RGB Kraken X-series AIO coolers from NZXT and the entry-level X53 with its small and compact 240mm radiator is able to keep up with an AMD Ryzen 3900X. I was able to run this CPU inside the NZXT H1 case with but a 140mm radiator, so it's certainly incredible what you can do with the CPU and a decent AIO.

For the price, it's a little steep for a 240mm radiator-touting AIO. But N|XT managed to work in some benefits, including a refreshed design, the latest Asetek pump, RGB fans that are very good at pushing air through the fins, and everything results in some solid performance numbers. I had to stress the CPU to get above 70C, which is pretty good.

It's not the best AIO liquid cooler, but if you don't mind some slightly higher numbers than you're possibly used to seeing, the X53 is a very good AIO cooler that will fit in more compact cases.

Rich Edmonds
Senior Editor, PC Build

Rich Edmonds was formerly a Senior Editor of PC hardware at Windows Central, covering everything related to PC components and NAS. He's been involved in technology for more than a decade and knows a thing or two about the magic inside a PC chassis. You can follow him on Twitter at @RichEdmonds.