NZXT Kraken X73 RGB AIO review: Exceptional cooling performance with flashing lights

If you can't quite afford the Kraken Z73, the X73 is a worth runner-up for powerful PC builds.

NZXT Kraken X73 RGB
(Image: © Rich Edmonds / Windows Central)

NZXT's catalog of all-in-one (AIO) coolers has a little something for everyone. The Kraken Z, Kraken X, and Kraken M provide varying performance at different price points, spanning from premium all the way down to budget-friendly. The Kraken X series is the mid-range series with LEDs on the CPU block for a mirror effect and are great for mid to high-tier PC builds.

In this review, I'm going to be looking at the newly launched Kraken X73 RGB, which comes with a new pump, redesigned CPU block, and — you guessed it — RGB fans. Is it worth buying and should you buy one for your PC? Let's find out!

NZXT Kraken X73 RGB tech specs

NZXT Kraken X73 RGB

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

The Kraken X73 RGB is the range-topping X AIO from NZXT. It has a 360mm radiator, which is ample space for the three included Aer RGB blowers. Like other NZXT AIOs released for 2020, we're looking at Asetek's 7th gen pump. On paper, this AIO should have massive amounts of headroom for cooling capacity, allowing you to cool an Intel Core i9 or AMD Ryzen 9 with ease.

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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 V2x Aer P120 RGB V2
Fan control---

Choosing the right Kraken X cooler comes down to size more than anything else. If you have a small compact case, you'll want to pick the X53 or X63, while the X73 is reserved for more high-end PC builds and even enthusiast setups.

NZXT Kraken X73 RGB what I like

NZXT Kraken X73 RGB

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

Designed with AMD and Intel processors in mind, the NZXT Kraken X73 RGB is a refresh that adds RGB lighting in the form of three NZXT Aer fans, an enlarged LED mirror effect light show and an improved Asetek pump. It's an AIO solution, including a pump, radiator, CPU block, and tubing all pre-assembled.

NZXT did a superb job with the Kraken X73, cooling an AMD Ryzen 9 3900X with ease.

The design of this AIO is similar to what we've seen before from NZXT and that's a good thing. These are among the best-looking AIOs out there and the performance has usually been pretty good to match. Everything is included to wire everything up so you can manipulate the pump speed using NZXT's CAM software.

The radiator is a huge 360mm construct, made from aluminum. The CPU block is made from plastic and copper. To pump the liquid around the loop, NZXT is using Asetek's latest 7th gen pump. The tubing is wrapped in a nylon braided sleeve, making it easier to install the AIO inside even the tightest cases.

An AIO is a simple product. It's essentially a CPU cooler. The most important factor is performance. If it's unable to adequately cool a CPU, there's little point to having one installed, regardless of how good it looks. I put the X73 through some tests, recording temperatures for idle, gaming, and stress testing.

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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

The AMD Ryzen 9 3900X isn't the most demanding CPU around, but it's a good benchmark for how a cooler performs. Whether you plan on using a lesser CPU or something a little beefier, you'll be able to gauge just how well the Kraken X73 will perform. 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

In tests, the Kraken X73 performed admirably. The Ryzen 9 3900X was set to its default settings. The pump was set to 100% and fans to 50%. At idle, the processor temperature hovered around 30C (86F). Gaming brought us up to an average of 56C (133F). Finally, a stress test saw temperatures settle at 65C (149F), running for around 15 minutes.

Even with three Aer fans blowing closeby, it's only when they ramp up to near 100% that you notice they're even spinning.

NZXT Kraken X73 RGB what I didn't like

NZXT Kraken X73 RGB

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

Like the X53 and X63, you cannot control the fans through the CPU block and CAM software. This isn't a huge issue since most motherboards released within the last few years come equipped with pretty good controls for connected blowers. This does mean you will need to route the cabling for the fans to a header on your motherboard.

Thankfully, like the X53 or X63, you do get a fan splitter cable with the X73 RGB. It's just a shame you cannot control everything through CAM, but this is clearly a feature reserved for the more expensive Z series of Kraken coolers from NZXT.

Should you buy the NZXT Kraken X73?

NZXT Kraken X73 RGB

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

Who it's for

  • If you want to overclock your 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 360mm rad support
  • If you don't wish to use NZXT CAM software
  • If you want direct fan control

The NZXT range of Kraken AIO coolers have always been well-designed and now NZXT has managed to push the boundaries yet further. The improvements to the CPU block are welcome, allowing for a larger light show for everyone to gaze at, and it's good to see this finish complimented by three RGB Aer fans.

The X73 doesn't just look good either. It's got the performance to match the striking design. You can easily house an Intel Core i9 or AMD Ryzen 9 CPU and use the X73. Sure, it's not quite as fancy as the more premium Kraken Z73, but the performance is almost identical. The only sacrifice is the lack of any direct fan control (and the awesome LCD display).

Looking for a new AIO that'll boost your PC's performance and overall look and feel? The NZXT Kraken X73 is a seriously good choice and one you'll fail to regret. This is one of the best AIO liquid coolers.

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.