Fractal Design Celsius S36 12

Fractal Design Celsius S36 Review

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Value and Conclusion

  • The Fractal Design Celsius S36 has an MSRP of $119.99.
  • Top-tier performance
  • Fairly quiet
  • Exceptional clearance
  • Easy to install
  • Very good build quality
  • Unique features
  • Solid warranty
  • AM4 support
  • Case compatibility
  • Pump only has a flow rate of 40 l/h
  • Pump fittings not removable
  • Pump and three fans powered via a CPU header
  • Fan cables a bit short
  • No RGB LEDs?
9.6
Fractal Design has a winner on its hands with the Celsius S36. It offers performance similar to premium expandable liquid coolers, but at a far more affordable cost. At just $119.99, it's priced like a premium closed loop cooler, but can be expanded. Performance is just 2°C behind the EK Predator 280 and 1°C behind the Swiftech H220 X2 Prestige when the CPU is overclocked in the FPU torture test. Meanwhile, it hits that sweet spot of 45 dBA at full speed in terms of noise. So while it is audible, I would say it is not intrusive by any means. Overall, you could say that it is of good value when compared to the competition.

Build quality is also good with Fractal Design having a keen eye for small details. The fan controller keeps cabling neat and tidy, and the wire running to the pump is hidden in the tubing's sleeve. The actual power cable also has a rubber piece to keep it from being put under too much strain near the pump. All of this makes for a clean, attractive design while adding value. It doesn't hurt that the unit is very easy to install. As with most liquid coolers, clearance around the socket and graphics card is exceptional as well. Those planning to build or use AMD Ryzen systems are also in luck as the Celsius S36 supports socket AM4 out of box. Finally, the 5-year warranty, while not industry leading, is still awesome.

I do have a few complaints. Namely, the size of the Fractal Design Celsius S36, which means it won't fit into as many cases as other AIO coolers. The flow rate is also just 40 l/h, which means I myself would not expect it to handle expansion all that well unless it were a very low restriction block. This issue, however, only matters if you actually expand the unit, which the majority will not. The other issue is the three fans and the pump being powered by a single CPU fan header. Their combined 0.75A rating is technically speaking below the maximum 1.0A of CPU fan headers, but that seems, on a personal level, still a bit close to me. I would have rather seen the utilization of SATA power or a second CPU header.

When looking at the fans themselves, the cabling is a bit short considering the S36 features a 360 mm radiator. The furthest fan is at a distance where the cabling will just barely reach. A bit more wiggle room here would have been nice. Finally, while this might be out of order, the fittings on the pump are not removable. The ones on the radiator are standard G 1/4" and can be removed, but that's not the case on the pump, which means you are stuck using the included tubing. This limits customization a bit.

My only other thoughts come down to the lack of RGB lighting. For some, the lack will be a negative, but for others, it will be a positive. It's a nice feature to have when it can be disabled for those who do not need it. That said, Fractal Design leaving RGB by the wayside will be a love-it or hate-it issue for some. However, the lack of RGB helps keep costs down, which, considering its performance, makes it of good value when it comes to liquid coolers.

If you are in the market for an all-in-one liquid cooler that offers amazing features and exceptional performance all around without breaking the bank, do take a good long look at the Fractal Design Celsius S36. That is, if your case can house it.
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