Fractal Design Kelvin S24 Review
Published: 9th January 2015 | Source: Fractal Design | Price: TBC |
Hot on the heels of our review of the massively impressive S36 it’s now time to take a look at the middle sized offering from Fractal's new Kelvin range, the 240mm radiator based S24. Owing to its smaller size, and therefore greater case compatibility, it's likely that Fractal will sell more of the S24 than they do the S36. That is of course if it has it where it counts. Like the S36 the S24 has a radiator with fan mounts on both sides. Included are a set of two Silent series fans, fittings for a whole raft of Intel and AMD sockets along with a tube of TIM and a fan splitter cable. The radiator is finished in satin black and like the contact plate/pump assembly sports a low key Fractal Design logo picked out in crisp white. Unlike a good few manufacturers, there's no light up LED element to the contact plate/pump, but for some reason this doesn't bother us. In fact, we'd probably be marking it down if it did light up as an element of bling would somehow cheapen the S24 and detract from the simple elegance of its design. Sometimes less is more as they say.
Fitting the S24 is a piece of piddle, If you've fitted as many coolers as we have you'll be familiar with the sense of impending doom that gathers as you reach the point in the proceedings when you find out just how much time and effort someone has taken to ensure that your experience of fitting a cooler leaves you mentally and sometimes physically scarred. Not so with the S24, the Kelvin series are amongst the easiest AIO systems we've ever fitted.
But of course, the S24, like its brethren in the Kelvin range is not simply just an AIO, for like them it offers future expandability. We accept that some might see this as a gimmick, if that's the case, then fine, just treat the S24 as a simple AIO, but you are doing it a disservice. By ensuring that it has a reasonably decent ceramic pump and that all threads are G1/4" it's entirely possible to supplement the AIO with additional components such as GPU water blocks or additional radiators. Why not go full loop you say? Well not everyone's blessed with the sort of bottomless pockets that will permit them to drop £90 on an AIO only to discard it a year down the line when they've saved up enough money for a GPU and water block. Neither is everyone brave enough to fully grasp the nettle of bespoke custom loops and all the planning it entails. In simple terms you can buy the S24 as it stands, use it and then add to it at a later date. What's not to like.
So what of performance? Well if you've just had a look at the introduction then torture test charts before heading straight over here to the conclusion you're probably expecting us to slate the S24 almost as much as we praised the S36. If that's the case you're going to be disappointed. OK, so the S24 didn't dominate the torture test charts. In fact in pure heat dissipation terms it was at, or near the bottom of the charts for most of the time when compared to other similar systems. We say similar systems, but in truth there's nothing currently in our charts aside from the S36 that possesses the quality the S24 has. So how can we give it a high performance mark when it's scraping its arse at the bottom of the charts? Let's think back to when AIOs first came out, they were noisy buggers weren't they, and to be honest they still are. If it's not the buzz and vibration of the pump then it's the whir of the high RPM fans. Not so with the S24. What really sets the S24 apart from the others is that it can keep its head above water all the way up to the gruelling 4.6GHz test and do so with only the faintest noise to be heard, and even then that's just a little from the fans. It’s also worth remembering that we do all our testing at the full 12v for both pump and fans. The pump on the S24, like the S36 was so quiet had we not just learned a lesson from the S36 we'd have thought it wasn't working. It's this additional quality, this seriously low sonic footprint that earns the S24 its high performance mark. What would you rather have, a few degrees lower temperature for Willy waving or a near silent cooler that will still see you right at the highest levels of overclock? We talked this one through at great lengths here at OC3D towers and came to the conclusion that of all the 240mm based AIOs we've tested, this is the one we'd want to keep . That simple statement should be enough to convince you of how we feel about the S24. Bit of a no brainer really and for that reason it's straight 10s again for Fractal. We can't though quite bring ourselves to give it a Gold simply because it lacks that performance edge in terms of temps. Had it gotten good temps and low noise then of course it would have been Gold. As it is though a well earned Silence award is in the bag.
Ah yes, we nearly forgot the one niggle we have about the Kelvin S24. We can't really mark them down for it, but why couldn't they have made it 1.85mm shorter?