< BackJan 25, 2021

NZXT Kraken M22 Review



With the Kraken M22, NZXT tried to overwhelm every other Entry-Level AIO Manufacturer by delivering a Stunning and Sleek design, paired with appropriate cooling capabilities and a (still) Entry-Level price tag! With a 120mm Rad and Fan, the Kraken M22 also tried to change the game by repositioning the Pump Placement into the Radiator instead of the Waterblock.


The NZXT Kraken M22 is available on Amazon for around 80$.



  • RGB Mirror Effect
  • Runs quieter than most other 120mm Competitors
  • Supports most relevant Sockets on AMD and Intel
  • Slick Design
  • RGB Controllable
  • RGB Controllable by every Mainboard by internal USB 2.0 Header (CAM Software)


  • Does not use the Standard AMD Mounting
  • Price


What's in the Box



As usual for NZXT, the Kraken M22 comes in a Carton Box with their usual sleek design featuring a brief overview of the different Specifications, a couple of images showing the Consumer what they actually bought, and some Key features.




Already at this point, NZXT’s CAM software is introduced. By connecting a CAM-Capable Device, the User has the possibility to control each of these devices by using a Nice-looking and easy to use Interface.

Because of their CAM Software, NZXT could ditch the support for the Mainboard RGB Controlling Softwares that we usually encounter on the Box. 




The left side of the box is used to summarise a couple of important Information-points about the All-in-One. Below, we summarized the most important parts.


Radiator Dimensions 152x120x32mm
CPU Waterblock Dimensions 65x65x48mm
Tube Length 400mm (Sleeved)
Fan Size 120x120x25mm
Fan Noise 21-36 dBA
RGB Control Method Software with "CAM"

Once we take everything out of the box, we can find each Component wrapped in its own plastic bag. At this point, we noticed that the Fan is not premounted on the Radiator and has to be installed by the user by using the included Screws.

In total, the Box contains the following Items:

  • NZXT Kraken M22 AIO
  • NZXT Aer P120 Fan
  • Intel Brackets
  • AMD Brackets (With screws)
  • AMD Backplate (With Screws)
  • Fan Screws
  • Radiator Screws
  • Mini USB - USB 2.0 Header Cable



Instead of adding a drop of Thermal Paste, NZXT decided to pre-apply some unnamed Thermal Paste on the Waterblock, ready to go - out of the box!



Even if the Kraken M22 AIO is compatible with (probably) every relevant Socket Type on both the AMD and Intel Platform, there are a few Sockets that are missing from their compatibility List, like the LGA775 or LGA1366. But we do think that a Brand-New powerful Watercooler could be a bit too much for 15-Year old Pentium 4.

Below we added a complete list of every compatible Socket.

Intel AMD
LGA2066 AM4
LGA2011-v3 AM3+
LGA2011 AM3
LGA1200 AM2+
LGA1151 AM2
LGA1150 FM2+
FLA1156 FM2
LGA1155 FM1

Individual Components




Looking closely at the Radiator of the NZXT Kraken M22, it is clear that there is something odd. Usually, the complete inner piece of the Radiator is reserved for Heat-Decipating fins. But in this case, NZXT decided to install their pump right in the center of their Rad.

This may raise concerns about a degraded Performance over alternative approaches, but we do have to keep in mind that the Fan also has a Dead-Spot right in the center where it is keeping its Motor and Spinning around. 


So by keeping that No-Air spot in mind, it seems natural that this specific area of the Radiator is not used anyway, meaning that using it as the Pump placement may not affect cooling performance at all.

Furthermore, this placement allows for a smaller form factor for the Waterblock, if that is something that anybody craves.


Despite being interested in advanced benchmarks which may showcase if this installation method results in any better-or-worse cooling performance, an AIO comes as a Whole-Piece, and inter-changing individual Parts will have other effects, which makes this an impossible task. So we will need to believe from here on now that this is a perfectly fine solution, just like the every-so known Pump in the Waterblock alternative.

Water Block



The very heart and Bestselling point of the NZXT Kraken M22 would be the Waterblock. With a stunning Infinity Mirror and NZXT Cutout in the center, NZXT really grew beyond itself and made any other AIO look like a last-gen piece of tech.

The Outer-Ring, as well as the Inner-Text, are lit up by two separate LED Controllers, which means that even more color mixing is possible then we are already used to.


All of this controlling takes place within NZXT’s Cam software, an Install-And-Go easy to use solution, which lets you control both LED’s in various Colors and add different Effects like Breathing, or turning around.

In order to connect the RGB Features, a Mini-USB Cable is provided in the Box, once connected to the MINI USB Port on the upper side of the Waterblock and a USB 2.0 Header, the light show can begin.


On a side-note, because of the usage of a USB 2.0 Header, it is possible that the NZXT Logo and Outer-Infinity-Ring will be permanently lid. This may seem like an installation mistake, but in fact, most Mainboards out there do provide permanent Power to USB Headers, even if the PC is shut off. So do not be afraid, this is normal but may require some time to get used to.




Underneath the Waterblock, we will find a Round Copper Plate with already Pre-applied Thermal Paste.




As a Fan, NZXT included their Aer P120 Fan, which can also be bought separately. This 120mm Fan is capable of pushing 73CFM of Air while spinning at 2000RPM and buzzing at up to 36dBa.


As the Box suggests, the Fan is meant to be “customizable”, which in this case means that the Inner-Ring of the Fan can be removed and replaced with separately sold pieces in Red, Blue, or White.

Besides the Interchangeable Colored Pieces, the Aer P120 does not offer any additional Features or Eye-catching RGB capabilities.




As expected from a premium product, the Tubes are sleeved from start to finish, with a length of 400mm. This Length lets us believe that the Kraken M22 can be installed in (probably) every Consumer-Grade case available to the general public, making it more versatile than we are used to with 120 AIO’s.


Unfortunately, the installation of the Kraken M22 did not go as smoothly as we are used to. NZXT decided or was forced because of some other Build-Related Reason, to not use Original AMD Brackets, which are provided on every AMD-Plattform Mainboard.

Included in the Box, we will find an additional Mainboard Backplate that has to be installed in order to mount the AIO on an AMD CPU.

Usually, this is still an easy task, but in this case, special “holder” Screws have to be installed onto the Backplate, which features multiple holes. And even though this may seem like an easy task according to the manual, it does require you to scroll through the whole Manual a couple of times until you find out that an AM4 Socket needs them to be installed on the most outer holes.


After this little setback, the Installation process was exactly the same as for any other AIO, put the WaterBlock onto the outstanding Screws, attach it with thumbscrews and attach the Radiator.


In this case, the Fan does not come pre-attached to the Rad, so by using the longer Radiator Screws, it has to be attached by the User.




Of course, this is the part in which the NZXT Kraken M22 shines the most. Comparing each of our other AIO, there is just nothing that even remotely gets to the Level of Cleanness- and Eye-Catching Ness that Kraken provides.

The infinity Mirror and the NZXT cut-out will surely be the most outstanding optical feature of any Build.

Even though controlling RGB devices with one of the usual Mainboard Softwares has become an easy task in recent years, NZXT still managed to deliver a user-friendlier experience. Once the CAM software is installed, it is easy to control both RGB lighting effects. Furthermore, the CAM software also offers some additional Monitoring features, such as CPU/GPU load, Speed, Fan Speed, and Temperature, even in-Game.


For the Benchmarking, we will be using our Ryzen 3600x Locked at 4.2 GHz, and a GigaByte B550M DS3H. We will be comparing the NZXT Kraken M22 to our other 120mm AIO Solutions, the Cooler Master ML120L V2 and Cougar Aqua 120.

In order to provide a normalized Testing environment, we will be using a Test-Bench and remove the Pre-applied and use the same one for each AIO.



For our first Test, we are hitting the CPU with our Stress Test of choice, Heavyload, and comparing the CPU Temperature with our other Coolers while letting the Fans spin at 100% of the maximum fan speed. This will show us the overall performance of the Coolers.




Ramping up the fans to 100% lets the Kraken cool the 3600x down to 61°C, while the Aqua 120 comes shortly after with 62°C and the ML120 at 64°C.


This showed that, overall, at 100% Fan speed, the Kraken had the Best cooling performance out of our Testing candidates.




For our second test, we will try to keep the CPU at 70°C or less and try to minimize Fan speed as much as possible to see how efficiently the Kraken M22 can run compared to the other AIO’s.

While keeping the Ryzen 3600x at 70°C we managed to keep the fans spinning at 25% of their maximum rated speed, meaning that the Aer P120 should be spinning at around 500rpm (+-300RPM). 

These results place the Kraken M22 again in the first place, with the Cougar Aqua 120 shortly behind at 26% and ML120L V2 at 28%.


So looking at performance overall, the Kraken M22 does not only look stunning, but its performance is also greater (even if only marginally) than our other contestants.

If you want to have a deeper look into the Kraken M22’s Noise Performance, have a look at our Video at the Top of the Page, there you will find Sound comparisons between each AIO.




Overall, NZXT managed to deliver a hell of a Product. The Kraken M22 does not only look stunning but can also deliver some decent cooling performance.

But not everything is as nice as it seems. Overall there are a few negative things that we would want to mention.


Even if it is nagging on the highest level, having an Airflow orientation arrow on the fan will make it easier for New members of the PCMR community to understand in what orientation they should install the fan.

The installation process, even if not particularly hard in comparison to some of our Air-Coolers, was still a bit annoying when you know how easy it was to install any of our other AIO. We do not know what the reasoning is behind not using the Original AMD Brackets, but we had wished it once we started playing around with that Backplate.


Other than these two little additions, there is nothing negative to say about the Kraken M22. Even with its un-user-friendly installation method, it grew on us and it’s stunning light show and performance made us forget the initial hassle.


When it comes to the Price, the NZXT Kraken M22 is a bit on the higher side. With around 80$ on Amazon US, the Kraken does cost a bit more than our other AIO.

But we do not think that the User is paying a Premium for the NZXT name because the additional RGB Controllers needed for separate lightning of individual Components and Mirror Effect surely raised its price.

We will include the affiliate links to the most known sites right below.



In Summary, the NZXT Kraken M22 delivers a highly interesting Lightning show, but when it comes to Price-to Performance, this is not something worth looking at. 

So if you are looking to find the Price-To-Performance even if the Price Tag, you should take a closer look at the CoolerMaster ML120L V2.


If on the other hand, you are willing to afford a couple of € more for something with great performance & a Stunning look, we can totally recommend the NZXT Kraken M22.


What's in the Box
Individual Components
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