Okay so just about everyone has their own variation on the AIO water cooling kits these days. Most are working with Asetek as well, so most of the designs are about the same. Well Not long ago Fractal joined the fun but they aren’t exactly known to just do what everyone else is doing. Fractal is known for their very specific styling and quiet cases. So when I heard they were bringing out an AIO I was really curious how they would be doing things differently. This past week I dug into the Fractal Celsius S24, today I’m going to talk about it and then see how it performs.

Product Name: Fractal Celsius S24

Review Sample Provided by: Fractal Design

Written by: Wes Compton

Pictures by: Wes Compton

Amazon Affiliate Link: HERE

 

Specifications

Coldplate technology

Fifth generation

Coldplate material

Copper

Additional sound dampening

Integrated

Thermal paste

Pre-applied, high thermal conductivity

Sockets supported (Intel)

1150, 1151, 1155, 1156, 1366, 2011, 2011-v3, 2066 (via included 2011-v3 kit)

Sockets supported (AMD)

AM2, AM2+, AM3, AM3+, AM4, FM1, FM2, FM2+, TR4 (via included bracket in AMD Threadripper box) 

Tube length

400 mm

Tube material

Sleeved low-permability rubber tubes

Fittings, block side

Durable metal fittings, non-removable

Fittings, radiator side

Durable metal fittings, G 1/4" thread

Thermal paste

Pre-applied, high thermal conductivity

Fan control

Integrated dual mode

Warranty

5-year (Upon Expansion of the Celsius unit, only individual components of the Fractal Design Celisus S24 or S36 are covered)

 


Photos and Features

The box for the Celsius S24 is dark black with blue accents. On the front, they have a photo of the kit all together along with the Fractal branding up in the top left corner. The back of the box keeps things extremely simple. There is a photo of the pump/block portion of the cooler and they have lines going to four key features. The other half of the back also talks about the two different modes you can run the Celsius S24 in, the Automatic mode optimises pump and fan speeds for you and PWM lets the motherboard control everything or if you get into your motherboards fan settings you can control everything. Also on the box they did slip in a line drawing of the radiator with dimensions on the end along with a list of compatible sockets, this is important information when shopping for hardware in a retail store.

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Inside the box, everything comes tucked away in one large cardboard tray. It has a place for the pump and radiator. The two fans come uninstalled and in their own packaging, and then down on the end is a bag filled with all of the mounting hardware.

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They include a back bracket for Intel’s mainstream sockets and the pump bracket for AMDs AM3 and AM4 sockets. This kit does support Threadripper, you just have to use the bracket that is included with your CPU. Then the screws in the bags are split up depending on the socket as well. I wish they labeled them. There are new AM4 screws that have a weird guard around them, the bag with two sets of standoffs are for both 2011 and mainstream Intel sockets and the other bag with standoffs are also for AMD but are an older design than the other standoffs. The last bag has the washers and screws needed to install the fans as well as shorter screws for installing the radiator into a case if you mount the fans on the inside. Also inside the box, you get a few documents in a bag. One is the User Guide, another has Ryzen installation guidelines. Then the red paper is just a note about returning faulty kits to Fractal, not your retailer.

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So here is the whole kit without all of the brackets and extra hardware. Like Fractals cases the Celsius S24 is mostly blacked out other than that contrast of the bright white fan blades. The S24 kit is a 240mm kit meaning it comes with two 120mm fans. They do have a larger 3 120mm fan kit as well called the Celsius S36 but there is currently no option for a dual 140mm kit that seems to becoming more popular. Both the S24 and S36 have the same pump and hose layout, it is just the radiator that is longer so you can keep that in mind.

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Unlike EVGA, Fractal didn’t go with a custom shape for their pump housing so they are able to run the different brackets like the bracket included with Threadripper. But beyond the shape and the mount for the bracket, there are a few different things here. There aren’t any special lights or effects and there is no need to hook up to USB. The pump has a glossy black finish with Fractal snowflake embossed into it. The ring around the top has a matt finish and it actually moves, this is how you can flip between a built in auto mode to PWM changing how the pump and fan are controlled. The pump design might be simple and clean but the sleeved tubes with fittings at the end that emulate custom water cooling are a little more flashy. The fittings have Fractal Design logos on them and are knurled just like a custom water cooling fitting would be. Then on the bottom, they do ship the kit with thermal paste already applied but I was more impressed with the finish on the copper base plate. AIO kits aren’t exactly known for the best surface finish and while this isn’t as good as the mirror finish on a custom block, it is an improvement over a lot of the AIO’s.

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Like I said before, they didn’t require a USB connection for this kit like the kits with RGB lighting built in. So what you get is just a short 4-pin PWM fan cable. I like the heavy sleeving on this one as well though I would still always prefer the flexible cabling like what they used on the fans that I will talk about here soon.

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On the radiator end of the kit, we have a mostly standard 2x120mm radiator. The overall thickness of this one is 3cm thick or a little under 1 ¼ inch thick. This is a little thicker than a lot of the AIO kits but not as thick as the average custom loop radiator. I really like that it has a flat black finish, not the normal semi-gloss finish that most AIO radiators have. On this end, we have the same fittings as on the pump end as well as the sleeved hosing but if you look closely it does look like the hoses can be removed on this end, just below the fake fittings is a real one. What Fractal did here that is special though is right in between those two fittings. The slipped in a small PCB that splits up the fan signal and allows you to run your two fans without having to hook them to your motherboard as well. This is especially slick because the cable that powers the PCB is completely hidden. They hid it under the sleeving and it goes all the way into the pump housing without being seen. This allows you to keep your wiring really clean.

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The fans are really what bring the Fractal styling though. Fractal likes to add a touch of white with white fan blades in their cases along with white PCI slot covers and hard drive cages. The two white fan blades here help stick with that style. The fans are of better quality than I expected as well, they have a solid construction and are heavy. The bearings feel smooth and don’t vibrate the fan when hand spun like a cheap fan does. They went with thin flexible cables for the fans like they should have with the pump cable as well. The two cables are the same length so you will have to do a little work to clean up the wiring on it and then for the long cord Fractal does include these tiny stick on clips that will hold the cable up against the fan so it doesn’t stick up like in my picture below.  

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Our Test Rig and Methodology

Our Test Rig

CPU

Intel i7-5960X

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Memory

Kingston HyperX FURY Black 32GB Quad Channel Kit 2666 MHz

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Motherboard

Gigabyte X99-SOC Champion 

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Power Supply

Corsair RX1200

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Storage

Kingston Hyper X Savage 960GB SSD

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Case

Praxis WetBench

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Test Methodology

Fan Noise

Using a decibel meter 6 inches away from the fans or pump we test 25%, 50%, and 100% fan speeds

Fan Speeds

To go with our noise testing we also document the fan speeds when they are running at 25%, 50%, and 100%. This is done using a Protmex PT02 Sound Meter that is rated IEC651 type 2 and ANSI S1.4 type 2. Tests are done set weighted to A and set to a slow response using the max function. The ambient noise level in the testing area is 33.3 decibels using the test settings.

Idle Temperatures

We test the idle temperatures using the included tool from our motherboard.

Load Temperatures

Using the latest version of Prime95 on the Small FFTs setting we put the CPU under load for 30 minutes. This always tested at 100% fan speed and then again with the fan profile set to the stock profile on our motherboard.

Test room temperature

The room is always set to 70 degrees no matter the season

Temperature readings

We use the Intel Extreme Tuning Utility to get package temperatures from the CPU

 


Installation and Performance

The best part about the Celsius S24 using the standard Asetek brackets is that for anyone who has ever installed one before the rest of the installation is normally easy. In the case of our X99 test bench or a new AM4 or Threadripper build, you don’t even have to use a new backplate. You just pick out the correct standoffs, screw them on, then make sure you have the correct bracket and the kit drops on. Then you use the large thumbscrews to hold it in place. The radiator is a little more complicated, you will have to install 8 screws to mount it all. I did all of this but ended up with a problem. I originally thought the new AM4 standoffs with the guards over them were for the 2011 socket and they worked well but they were the wrong height. The instructions didn’t help but I did figure out that the correct standoffs were in the bag with the mainstream Intel standoffs. Labels on the bags would have been huge here, given my experience and I still had an issue you might want to be extra careful not to mix these up. Once swapped out I was completely good to go. If you think you may have them switched, you should be looking out for warmer temps, it did cool for me but the whole setup ran warmer. About 46c-50c for idle temps.

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So with everything installed, I started out my testing with idle testing. I always do this just to make sure that we have a good installation before applying load. These numbers don’t matter much other than that. This did help me catch that our installation was wrong as mentioned above.

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Once comfortable with the installation I jumped right into temperature testing. I tested with the pump set to PWM for consistency with past testing but I will note that idle temps did go up when I had everything set to auto. The Celsius S24 did a lot better than I expected here. It was up against the CLC 280, another quality kit with a large radiator and fans so coming in within one degree on both tests was impressive, especially in the 100% fan speed test that the S24 came in cooler.

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Of course, temperatures are only part of the picture, some people move to water cooling for the noise as well. This tested ended up being interesting because the fan speeds run through the pump. This means I couldn’t control just the fans or just the pump and it also means the RPM readouts are for the pump. In fact, when doing this testing I noticed that at the 25% fan speed setting the two fans were both off. Turning the RPM back up to 1250 RPM turned one fan on and 1300 RPM got both moving again. But it does show that the built in fan splitter might not always be best, especially with motherboards now having both fan and pump fan headers. Anyhow when the fans were working they were your standard Fractal quiet, running much quieter than the loud CLC 280 and at 50% fan speed they were almost as quiet as the Noctua, though to be fair at that setting the fans were actually running closer to 25% fan speed I would imagine given the controller issues. Air cooling with a quality cooler was still quieter though, no matter how you slice it.

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Overall and Final Verdict

At the end of the day, I do like what Fractal has going on with their Celsius S24. I still prefer custom loops when possible but while they are Asetek based, they did manage to add a little Fractal style to the kit. The black and white fans were quality fans and the white really helps with that Fractal look. The sleeving on the tubing is basically a requirement for me now with AIO’s and their fake fittings give a nice touch. It was the clean wiring with the hidden wire under the sleeving and the built in fan header PCB that I liked the most though. But performance came in a close second. Really the only downside was that the fan splitter design does mean you lose control of the fan speeds at the motherboard. RPM readouts only show the pump speeds and turning things down below 1250 RPM turned the two fans off altogether.

The $139.99 MSRP was a little high for an AIO but the kits are selling for $109.99 right now on Amazon. This is higher than most of the basic AIO kits but it is in line with the Corsair H100i v2 and less than the AIO kits that have RGB lighting and other special features or controllers. I would keep the Celsius S24 on my short list when building a PC that needs an AIO. It would really come down to the current price when picking between the Corsair and the Fractal for basic non-RGB AIOs with a clean look and good performance.

fv5recommended

Live Pricing: HERE

Author Bio
garfi3ld
Author: garfi3ldWebsite: https://lanoc.org
Editor-in-chief
You might call him obsessed or just a hardcore geek. Wes's obsession with gaming hardware and gadgets isn't anything new, he could be found taking things apart even as a child. When not poking around in PC's he can be found playing League of Legends, Awesomenauts, or Civilization 5 or watching a wide variety of TV shows and Movies. A car guy at heart, the same things that draw him into tweaking cars apply when building good looking fast computers. If you are interested in writing for Wes here at LanOC you can reach out to him directly using our contact form.

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