Fractal Design Kelvin T12 Expandable Pre-Filled CPU Water Cooler Review

by - 7 years ago




Fractal Design has won virtually countless awards over the years, many of them from us here at eTeknix. Their chassis products are some of the best made, best looking and best performing in the industry, and they continued that success with their power supplies, and more recently, their coolers. Their latest cooler, the Kelvin T12 looks set to take the AIO market by storm, not only is it perfectly suitable for AIO plug-and-play deployment, but it’s also expandable, much like a custom loop cooler.

The Kelvin T12 is certainly well equipped, with a thick-style 120mm radiator, high-quality Fractal Design branded fans, extensive socket support, a high-quality pump and much more.

General Specifications

  • Block/pump assembly measurements: 69*69*40 mm
  • Tubing Measurements: 320mm long, 11mm outer and 8mm inner diameter
  • Fitted with anti-kink coils for worry-free installation
  • Kelvin T12 Radiator Measurements: 46*132*163 mm
  • Thread class for fill port and all tube fittings: G 1/4″
  • Supported sockets: Intel: 775,1150,1155,1156,1366,2011,2011-v3; AMD: AM2,AM2+,AM3,AM3+,FM1,FM2,FM2+
  • Fans included: 2 pcs
  • Fractal Design Zero™ Thermal Paste ; 1 g syringe, sufficient for multiple mountings
  • Colors Available: Black
  • Net weight – Base unit only, not including mounting or fans: 1.1 kg
  • Net weight – Dynamic GP-12 PWM fan, per fan: 159 g
  • Net weight – Total excluding packaging and manual. Includes fans, mounting kit for all platforms, cooling paste (including packaging for the cooling paste) and adapter cable: 1.7 kg
  • Package dimensions – W x H x D: 350*250*151 mm
  • Package weight: 2.4 kg

Fan Specification

  • Fractal Design Dynamic GP-12 PWM fan
  • 500 – 2000 RPM
  • PWM control
  • Max air flow: 87.6 CFM
  • Max pressure: 2.30 mm H2O
  • Acoustical noise: 32.2 dB(A)
  • DC 12V, 0.20A

Pump Specification

  • Ceramic bearing
  • 2400 RPM
  • Voltage control
  • Maximum water flow: 72 l/h
  • Maximum pressure: 1.0 m H2O
  • Acoustical noise: 25.0 dB(A)
  • DC 12V, 0.27A

The packaging is the usual theme for Fractal and has a nice image of the cooler on the front of the box.


Around the back and the sides of the box, there are plenty of details on the main specifications and features, which we’ll take a closer look at in a moment.


In the box, you’ll find the user guide, a fan adaptor cable and Y-splitter, some high-quality thermal paste, as well as the Intel and AMD mounting brackets.


The fans are both Fractal Design’s own Dynamic GP-12 PWM fans; a very high-quality set of fans that should provide us with great airflow and low noise.


This may be an expandable unit, but it comes pre-built and pre-filled as an AIO unit. I wouldn’t normally look at a solution like this if I wanted a custom loop, but it’s certainly nice to have the option to expand it should you feel the need. The thick radiator looks great and its chunky design looks and feels durable. There’s a large copper base to the pump, which will provide excellent coverage to your CPU of choice.


The radiator is nice and thick, which will help it handle higher cooling loads. Along the base of the built-in reservoir, there’s a small stopper cap that can be removed to top up the coolant levels.


On the other end, we’ve got two G 1/4″ fittings, which are widely compatible with other cooling products, pipes, radiators, etc. The pipes themselves are very flexible and come with a coil that looks great, but also helps with overall durability and prevents kinks.


The pump is nice and compact and quite minimalist in terms of design; the gloss finish on the top is going to look great in any system.


The pump also features the same G 1/4″ fittings, meaning you’ve got more points you can expand the loop from and to.


You don’t have to look hard here to see that the build quality and finish on this cooler are exceptional, it looks stunning and everything looks premium-grade for every angle.




Mounting the fans is an easy enough task, and with a push-pull configuration, airflow will be plentiful to shift heat from that thick radiator design.


The fans look pretty stunning too with their black and white theme, which should add to the overall aesthetics of your build.


The CPU block has a groove around the edge, simply push the two parts of the required mounting kit together and it’ll clip into place; very easy to do.


The mounting screws, springs, and the washers are easy to assemble and are held onto the pump with small bolts; this can be done tool-free and takes about two minutes to complete.


The universal backplate simply drops into place, with minimal adjustments needed.


Then it is simply a case of screwing the pump onto the motherboard. The whole process is very straight forward and beginner friendly and should take no more than five or ten minutes.



Test System and Methodology

We always use the same test system and tests with CPU coolers that we compare against each other. The full specifications of our test system are as follows:

Test system:

  • ASUS P8Z77-V, LGA 1155 socket, Z77 chipset
  • Intel Core i5 3570K with Gelid GC Extreme under the IHS
  • 16GB Kingston 1866Mhz DDR3
  • 128GB Kingston HyperX SSD
  • Antec High Current Gamer 620W
  • Cooler Master Test Bench v1.0

We’d like to say a big thank you to ASUSAntecKingstonCooler Master and Intel for providing components that makes this testing possible.

Testing Methodology:

  • We always use Gelid GC Extreme thermal paste to make sure testing reveals the efficiency of the tested coolers not the efficiency of the bundled thermal paste.
  • Prime 95 is run for 10 minutes and then the average maximum temperatures as recorded by CPUID HWMonitor are noted
  • The average temperature across the four cores is taken on our quad-core processor
  • Fans are mostly left to operate at default PWM profile speeds and with maximum fan speed for reference.If PWM functions are not supported then fixed fan speeds are used and sometimes a low noise adapter if appropriate/provided. If fixed fan speeds or low noise adapters are used it will be clearly pointed out either on the graphs or in the write-up.
  • All default result entries on graphs are for PWM performance unless otherwise specified. A variety of fan speed results are done for a particular product review and then removed from the graphs in future reviews of other products to avoid clutter. If you would like to see more fan speed results for a particular product please check its individual review.
  • For watercooling tests all pumps have been operated at 12 volts directly from the power supply
  • Delta temperatures are always used (Observed temperature minus ambient temperature) and we keep the ambient at 22 (+/- 1) degrees for all testing . Delta temperatures should correct for any marginal ambient differences between 21-23 degrees.
  • Acoustic measurements are taken 10cm horizontally away from the CPU cooler with the VGA fan disabled, hard drive in idle and power supply isolated. These are taken at desktop idle and Prime95 load.
  • The cooling performance tests are run at stock 3.4GHz (with Intel Turbo up to 3.8GHz) and overclocked 4.5GHz (1.35v) settings. Voltages are fixed to prevent inaccuracy between comparisons.
  • All other coolers in the graphs have been tested under identical settings so are fully comparable.
  • Each test is repeated 3 times with 3 remounts for consistency of results
  • There is approximately a 1 degree celsius margin of error in our temperature recording software CPUID HW Monitor
  • There is approximately a 1.5dBA margin of error with our Benetech GM1351 decibel meter

Software Used

In all these graphs we may have a few “reference” results of particular products that do not fit within that category for comparative purposes.



With stock clocks, the T12 excels, offering up some very low temperatures in both idle and load scenarios.

Kelvin t12 stock temps

Putting the heat on our CPU with our overclocks certainly proved tricky for the T12, these are good temperatures, but they’re not as cool as I was hoping for and that may be due to the focus on silent performance.

Kelvin t12 overclocked temps

The fans at stock temps were running nice and quiet and even more so, the pump is quiet as a mouse, something that can’t be said for a lot of AIO coolers these days.

Kelvin t12 stock acoustics

Nothing amazing here, but acoustics are on par with most other dual-fan AIO coolers, and still quiet enough to not hear it once installed in a chassis. If anything, I would say there’s scope to up your fan profile to get more cooling performance at the cost of a little more noise, but that defeats some of the purpose of buying a unit that is designed to be quiet.

kelvin t12 overclocked acoustics


Final Thoughts


The Fractal Design Kelvin T12 available from most major retailers and can be found at Scan in the UK for £85. This is quite expensive, but looking at the features and build quality, it seems fair to me, as it’s only £5 more than the Corsair H80i GT.


From the moment I unboxed it, until the moment I had finished with my testing, there was one aspect of the Kelvin T12 that really stood out to me, its build quality. This cooler is easily one of the best I’ve seen in this respect, and this is especially true of the radiator construction. Everything is precision made, perfectly finished and detailed, with high quality components and materials throughout. The fans are excellent and run super quiet and there’s barely a whisper to be heard from the pump design.

Cooling performance wasn’t as great as I had hoped, but it was far from bad and I’m sure the radiator has more than enough cooling potential to also cool a graphics card on the same loop without putting further strain on the CPU block. The use of standard water cooling fittings means that you can expand if you want, but I just see that as a welcome bonus, whereas most users will still find this a great AIO that simply uses more traditional fittings.

Installing the cooler was nice and easy, but it’s the pipes that I liked the most. The pivot mount on the hoses at the pump end are really easy to move and there’s a lot of flex in the pipe, which will prove beneficial to those installing this cooling in smaller chassis.

Overall, this is a really nice cooler with exceptional build quality and flawless aesthetics that would be a credit to any system build. I’d certainly buy one for my own system, but if your primary goal is very high overclocks, you may want to look for something a little more performance focused.


  • Exceptional build quality
  • Expandable design
  • Thick radiator
  • Two high-quality fans included
  • All black fittings and cables
  • Huge amount of sockets supported
  • Extremely quiet pump
  • Reliable cooling performance


  • None


  • Cooling performance could be better when overclocking. Pushing the fans harder solves this, but does come at the cost of more noise

“Fractal Design has always delivered durable and well-designed products and the Kelvin T12 is no exception. You don’t have to be a Fractal Design fan to appreciate the quality of this cooler and the super-quiet pump and stylish design will be a great addition to any system build.”

Fractal Design Kelvin T12 Expandable Pre-Filled CPU Water Cooler Review

Fractal Design Kelvin T12 Expandable Pre-Filled CPU Water Cooler Review

Thank you Fractal Design for providing us with this sample.

Article Index

  1. Introduction
  2. Installation
  3. Test System and Methodology
  4. Performance
  5. Final Thoughts
  6. View All

Author Bio

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