Introduction

Fractal Design is a leading designer and manufacturer of premium PC hardware including cases, cooling, power supplies and accessories. Fractal Design was established in 2007 and ever since they have come out being among the major manufacturers of high end PC components. They are based in Gothenburg and with offices in the US as well as Taiwan, Fractal Design has gained a global reputation for innovative design, elegant aesthetics and solid build quality. Fractal Design products are available in over 45 countries worldwide, and are still growing. The Define R2 was the turning point for the manufacturer as that chassis gained the reputation and trust that is now a hallmark of the Fractal Design.

We have recently tested Fractal Design Celcius+ S36 Dynamic cooler and found it to be a healthy competitor. This time we are taking a look at Celcius+ S36 Dynamic cooler from Fractal Design. Celcius+ series of AIOs from Fractal Design are based on Asetek 6th generation pump design and some effective features which differentiate the Celcius+ from the competition. These coolers are available in RGB series named Dynamic and non-RGB series named Dynamic. Celsius+ takes AIO water cooling to a new level with an ARGB-accented pump face, a fully redesigned block and an upgraded on-radiator PWM fan hub with ARGB support. The salient features are:

  • Tinted glass pump face with backlit logo and ARGB LED effects
  • Smart auto control mode dynamically adjusts fan and pump speeds for the ideal balance of silence and cooling performance
  • Twist the pump face to change from auto to PWM mode for full user control
  • ARGB-enabled PWM hub places all fan connections directly on the radiator for a clutter-free installation
  • Sleeved tubing with concealed wiring connects power and ARGB for the entire system at the pump
  • Asus AURA, Gigabyte Fusion, MSI Mystic Light, Razer Chroma and ASRock Polychrome support
  • Pre-applied thermal paste guarantees optimal application with even coverage
  • Low-permeability rubber tubing with nylon braided sleeves for extra durability and an added touch of style
  • Articulating elbow fittings make tubes easier to route while reducing tension on the pump
  • High-performance Dynamic X2 PWM fans provide excellent airflow with minimal noise (Dynamic versions only)
  • Optimized fan geometry balances airflow with extra emphasis on static pressure
  • Strategic blade notches diffuse noise from blade/stator interaction (Dynamic versions only)
  • Trip Wire technology reduces blade turbulence
  • LLS (Long Life Sleeve) fan bearings provide silent operation with a long lifespan
  • Backed by a 5-year warranty for extended peace of mind

Item: Celcius+ S36 Dynamic

Manufacturer: Fractal Design

Price: $169.99 MSRP

Amazon UK: CLICK HERE

 

Specifications

Packaging and Unboxing

The cooler is shipped inside a white and black colors cardboard packing box.

The cooler is designed in Sweden. The picture of the cooler is highlighting its RGB design on the block.

The Fractal Design Celcius+ S36 Dynamic carries 5 years warranty which is too good to have on a premium cooling solution and it shows the trust of the manufacturer in their product. The salient highlights of the cooling unit are:

  • Glass top with RGB LED ring
  • Automatic Temperature Control
  • Auto/PWM Control Mode
  • PWM/RGB Hub
  • Dynamic X2 GP-12 PWM Fans

The dimension of the radiator are provided on the block diagram. The socket compatibility information is provided as well. There is no mentioning of compatibility with Intel LGA1200. Since that socket has same mounting spacing as is on the LGA115x, the cooler should be compatible.

The Celcius+ S36 Dynamic is a pre-filled CPU water cooling system.

There is an egged carton inside the main packing box. Contents are placed in that carton.

Contents

Let’s take a look at what is provided in the box.

  • 1x User Manual
  • 1x Brochure on how to contact the manufacturer in case of receiving faulty product.

The user manual is comprehensive and diagrams are provided for ease of understanding.

3x Dynamic X2 GP-12 PWM Fans are enclosed in the white color paper board boxes.

  • 1x Intel Backplate
  • 1x AMD Ring Bracket
  • 1x Intel Ring Bracket [Comes pre-installed on the block]

1x AMD pin is provided for AMD socket installation.

  • 4x Thumb Nuts
  • 4x Intel LGA20xx Standoffs
  • 4x Intel other sockets Standoffs

  • 12x Long Philips Screws
  • 12x Short Philips Screws
  • 12x Washers

2x self-adhesive clips are provided for neat cable routing on the radiator.

1x Cable is provided which connects the block of the cooler with the standard 3-pin A-RGB header (5V) header on the motherboard.

One end of the A-RGB cable has a standard 3-pin A-RGB connector and the other end has a proprietary 3-pin connector which is connected to the block.

 

Closer Look

It is time to take a closer look at the components. Before that here is what Fractal Design is saying about the cooler. “Celsius+ takes AIO water cooling to a new level with an ARGB-accented pump face, a fully redesigned block and an upgraded on-radiator PWM fan hub with ARGB support. Cleverly concealed wiring in the Celsius’ braided sleeve tubing cleanly connects both power and RGB for the entire system at the pump, and selectable auto/PWM modes offer smart, dynamically optimized performance with the choice of full user control for expert fine-tuning. Available sizes include 240 mm, 280 mm, and 360 mm, each with a choice of Dynamic X2 or Dynamic ARGB fans pre-installed.”

The cooler is compatible with Intel LGA20xx/1366/1200/115x sockets and AMD AM4/AM3+/AM3/AM2+/AM2/FM2+/FM2/FM1 sockets. It is also compatible with AMD TR4 socket using the bracket included in AMD Threadripper box.

RADIATOR

The Fractal Design Celcius+ S36 Dynamic is a 360mm CLC cooling solution. It has a 360mm radiator with 3x Dynamic X2 GP-12 PWM fans.

The dimension of the radiator is 403 x 123 x 30mm. The thickness of the radiator is 30mm. With 25mm fans the overall thickness would be 56mm. The radiator has a 20 fins per inch one (FPI). There is a gap of 105mm between any two fan mounting holes on the radiator. The distance between the middle two mounting holes is 15mm and the distance from the outer most mounting hole to the far head is 20mm. Similarly the distance between the uttermost mounting holes to the near head is 36mm. Fin stack is dense and taking into account the left and right side channels, it has total 11 channels for water flow. The fan screw threads rating is 6-32.

Radiator is made of aluminum hence it is light weight. This is an Asetek design based on their 6th generation. The blocks on both ends of the radiator are not rectangular and have rounded edges. There is a sticker pasted on the far head showing the part no and the serial no of the unit. The power rating is printed at 7w using 12VDC.

We have nice and clean fins stack.

I admire the attention to the details from Fractal Design as we have protective plates under every mounting hole on the radiator. This protects the radiator’s fin assembly from getting damaged if the screws are long pressed inside. I have been particularly looking for this aspect on other AIO solutions in the market and this is the second brand which I have found to be that detailed with their design. The first one is Alphacool.

There is no Fractal Design branding on either sides of the frame of the radiator.

The build quality of the cooler is top notch all around. Fractal Design is using straight rotary fittings on the radiator with large size couplings. This large size could increase the overall thickness of the assembled cooler.

The Fractal Design is using Low-Permeability rubber tubes. These tubes run to approximately 400mm in length and have braided nylon sleeve on them. The tubes are thicker as compared to other CLCs from Asetek and there is a good reason for that. This cooler features an integrated hub on the radiator with ARGB cable and a PWM cable coming off the hub. Fractal Design has passed these cables along the tubes inside the sleeves. The result is we have neat and clean look on the cooler with the magic of hidden cables.

There is an integrated hub on the radiator housing. It has a black color PCB. The ports on the hub are:

  • 2x ARGB LED headers (3-pin, 5V)
  • 4x 4-pin PWM headers

Since 1 header of each type is already in use, the user can connect only 1 ARGB device and up to 3x PWM fans to the hub.

Here is the top view of the hub. The PCB is labeled. Fan is written against the 4-pin PWM headers and LED is written against the 2x ARGB headers. Please, note that I have removed the connectors when taking this picture.

PUMP/BLOCK

We have a circular shape dual layered housing on the block. The housing is black color. The top section has a tinted glass pump face with backlit Fractal Design logo and ARGB ring using 6 LEDs. PWM and Auto can be seen on the left side. These are white color LED indicators which remain off and comes on only when the switch is flicked. The Fractal branding remains visible and is backlit. The ring can be seen on the edge of the housing border. The Intel mounting ring/bracket is pre-installed on the housing. The dimension of the block is 86x75x45mm with fittings. The block diameter is 62mm with black body.

There is a 3-pin header on the side of the housing. This is where the ARGB cable is connected to. The housing section below this header protrudes making a dual layer design. The top section is rotatable. Rotating it will switch the thermal performance mode from Auto to PWM and vice versa.

Fractal Design is using articulating 90° elbow fittings on the block. This makes the rotation of the tubes easier and reduces the tension on the pump. The machining and milling is right on the money.

There is a cable coming out from the front side of pump housing. It is braided. I would have loved to see a flat cable but this is my personal preference.

The cable has a 4-pin PWM connector.

This side of the housing has plain surface. The base below the main housing has latches which is Asetek standard design. This is where the Intel/AMD mounting rings are installed.

The Fractal Design Celcius+ S36 Dynamic features a 6th generation pump from Asetek with customized PCB from Fractal Desgin. Here are some technical data of the pump:

Speed800~2800 RPM in Normal Mode. 3500 RPM in Thermal Protection Mode when temperature of the coolant corsses 60°C.
BearingCeramic Bearing and Shaft
Acoustical Noise20 dBA at full speed
Pressure at 50°C14.4 KPa / 1.46 mmH₂O / 2.0 PSI
Input Voltage12VDC
Input Current0.36A
MTTF50,000 hours (permeation life at typical use)
PWM ControlYes

We have a copper base with pre-applied thermal paste. We are not testing the cooling solution on stock paste as our standard thermal paste is Noctua NT-H1.

The above picture shows the copper base of the block with stock paste removed.

FAN

The Dynamic version of the S36 carries the X2 GP-12 PWM Dynamic fans. These are high airflow and static pressure rated fans. Each fan has 7 black color blades with optimized fan geometry balancing the airflow with extra emphasis on static pressure. The blade notches are designed to diffuse noise from blade/stator interaction. There is no Fractal Design branding in the middle. These fans do not have RGB/A-RGB lighting.

One side of the frame has two arrow symbols. These help the user in identifying the direction of airflow and blades’ spin direction.

There is Fractal Design branding on one side.

There are not anti-vibration pads on the mounting corners of the frame.

The backside of the fan shows the 4-arms assembly on the main frame with one arm having an inset. The cables are routed on this arm towards the exterior of the fan. There is a Fractal Design branding on the sticker in the center.

The fans have 4-pin PWM connectors. The power cable is flat in design.

The specification of the fans are:

Dimension120x120x25mm
Type4-pin PWM Connector
Speed500-2000 RPM
Airflow87.6 CFM
Air Pressure2.3 mmH₂O
Noise32.2 dB(A)
Bearing TypeLLS
Lifespan100000 hours
Input Voltage12VDC
Input Current0.20A

 

Installation

We have tested the cooler on our recently upgrade test bench using Intel Z490 chipset with LGA1200 socket. Installation is simple and as under:

Place the Intel backplate on the backside of the motherboard as shown in the picture.

Secure the backplate using Intel standoffs (Don’t use LGA20xx standoffs on this socket).

Install the fans on the radiator.

Place the block on the CPU by aligning the holes on the mounting bracket with the threaded sides of the standoffs. Use the thumb nuts to secure the installation. Please note that Intel mounting ring is pre-installed on the block.

Connect the RGB cable to the header on the pump housing.

Connect the 4-pin connector of the block to the 4-pin AIO/Pump designated header on the motherboard or CPU Fan header. Connect the standard 3-pin A-RGB connector of the block to the 3-pin 5V header on the motherboard. You can connect the fans to the integrated hub on the radiator or connect them directly to the 4-pin PWM fan headers on the motherboard.

Since the Fractal branding is fixed, the user will have to ensure that the Fractal text is facing upfront. This is kind of a limitation as we can’t rotate the text to install the block in any direction. Practically, the block can be installed in any direction but aesthetically it will not look good.

There is no clearance issue with respect to the DIMM slots and first PCIe slot. Make sure your chassis has clearance for 360mm radiator.

RGB Lighting

The A-RGB lighting is provided on the block only. We have tested the A-RGB lighting on the MSI MAG Z490 TOMAHAWK using MSI MYSTIC SYNC LIGHT and it worked flawlessly.

Testing

We have upgraded our Intel test bed recently. A few coolers have been tested on this setup. More will be added after the testing in coming time.

  • Intel i7 10700k
  • MSI MAG Z490 TOMAHWAK
  • T-Force NightHawk RGB 16GB @ 3200MHz
  • Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080 FE
  • addlink S70 256GB NVMe SSD
  • bequiet! Straight Power 11 850W Platinum PSU
  • Open-air test bench

Here is the settings table for testing:

Clock (MHz)3800 All Cores
Voltage (V)1.025
Clock (MHz)4700 All Cores
Voltage (V)1.255
Clock (MHz)5100 All Cores
Voltage (V)1.345
Turbo BoostDisabled
C-StatesDisabled
Speed StepDisabled
Thermal PasteNoctua NT-H1
Thermal Paste ApplicationDot Method in the center.
Test Run Time30 minutes
Idling Time10 minutes
Fan Speed100% PWM Duty Cycle and Auto PWM
Pump SpeedConnected to the AIO Pump header to run at 100% speed
HeaderCPU_Fan header for the fans and Pump_Header for the pump
SoftwareAIDA64 6.3 Extreme [FPU]

 

We are using Noctua NT-H1 thermal paste for coolers testing. Using a same thermal paste for all coolers would ensure the standardization. Delta temperatures are reported on the graphs. The testing is done on an open air bench system. Once inside the chassis, the temperatures are expected to rise and would largely depend upon the optimal airflow inside the chassis.

Not every run of the stress test may yield the same result. This could well be due to many factors like mounting pressure, thermal paste application, varying ambient temperature. Not to mention the silicon differences even among the same category of the chips. Hence, it is pertinent to mention the testing methodology along with the specifics.

Before we take a look at the results, we need to understand the two thermal modes on the Celcius+ S36 Dynamic cooler. As mentioned above, by rotating the top lid of the block the thermal mode will switch from PWM to Auto and vice versa. What does it mean and what are the limitations?

In stock configuration, we have connected the fans to the integrated hub. The pump’s 4-pin cable is connected to the CPU Fan header or any other PWM 4-pin header on the motherboard.

In Auto mode, the firmware of the cooler takes over the charge and control the speed of the fans and the pump making sure that the user is getting quiet or silent operation. In this mode the firmware will keep the pump’s noise at or below the fans’ noise. Remember the maximum noise rating of the pump is 20 dBA. This would mean the pump and the fans would remain at lower noise level no matter what. We literally have silent operations under Auto mode. Any catch? Yes, there is a catch to it. We are severely undermining the thermal performance across the board as the cooler is now operating much below its rated cooling potential. Unless you are a sound freak, you would stay away from the Auto mode.

PWM modes gives the user total flexibility with the condition that the liquid temperature remains within the 60°C threshold. By switching to PWM mode, we are now actually turning to the motherboard’s PWM controller of the header to which the pump’s power cable is connected to. Any catch? Yes, there is a catch to it. Since both fans and the pump are now being controlled using a single motherboard fan header, there is no way you can control the speed of the pump independently of the fans. Since we are testing all the coolers with pump running at full speed it would have been impossible to do our routine testing. For that we took off the fans’ cables from the integrated hub and connected them to the 4-pin PWM headers on the motherboard.

Let’s take a look at the results.

Results

3.8GH All Cores

All top 5 coolers are within the 1°C margin showing their relatively comparable performance with all cores on 3800MHz.

4.7 All Cores

The Fractal Design Celcius+ S36 Dynamic is sitting close to the EK AIO Basic 360.

4.7GHz All Cores – Auto PWM

On PWM Auto settings, the cooler is doing very well.

5.1GHz All Cores

The cooler has performed very well in our extreme thermal performance testing with all cores set to run on 5.1GHz.

Acoustic

The fans are loud under PWM mode and we measured them to making 55 dBA with ambient sound level of 34 dB(A).

Conclusion

The Clecius+ line up of AIO from Fractal Design are based on Asekte 6th generation pump design and is available in two categories. One with maxed out RGB lighting is called PRISMA and the non-RGB one is called Dynamic. Each series has 240mm, 280mm, and 360mm variants. Fractal Design sent us their Celcius+ S36 Dynamic cooler for the review. The cooler is compatible with Intel LGA775/1366/115x/1200/20xx sockets and AMD AM4/AM3+/AM3/AM2+/AM2/FM2+/FM2/FM1 sockets and AMD TR4 socket using the bracket included in AMD Threadripper box.

The unit has an aluminum radiator measuring 403 x 123 x 30mm. The thickness of the radiator is 30mm. The overall thickness would be 56mm after installing the fans. The radiator has 20 FPI. The Fractal Design is using Low-Permeability rubber tubes running to approximately 400mm in length and have braided nylon sleeve on them. I love the attention to the detail in the design of the cooler. The radiator has protective plating under each mounting hole for safety measure. This is the second AIO I am seeing with such details after Alphacool and something we don’t see in other AIOs.

There is an integrated ARGB enabled PWM fan hub on the radiator allowing the user to connect 1x 3-pin 5V ARGB device and up to 3x 4-pin PWM fans to the hub. The cables coming off the hub are routed through the sleeves on the tubes. In other words the cables are hidden. This is why we have relatively thick tubing on these coolers.

The block has a tinted glass pump face with backlit lighting. There is an A-RGB LED ring on the block with 6 ARGB LEDs to glow it and the Fractal branding. This is not all as there are two other LED indicators as well. These are PWM and Auto. The top lid acts as a switch. Flick it to activate either of the two thermal modes. Another brilliance is the thermal sensor in the loop which is continuously monitoring the temperature of the coolant. As soon as the coolant crosses the 60°C the pump will kick the 3500 RPM speed which is otherwise not available at the user’s discretion. Speaking of the pump, it has ceramic shaft and bearing with pressure rating of 2.0 PSI at 50°C and maximum flow rate of 40 l/h at 50°C. It has a life expectancy of 50,000 hours which is permeation dependent.

The Celcius+ S36 Dynamic comes with two Dynamic X2 GP-12 PWM fans. These are high airflow and static pressure optimized fans for optimal cooling performance out of the box. These fans don’t feature A-RGB lighting. They are rated for up to 2000 RPM with airflow rating of 85.71 CFM and 2.3 mmH₂O pressure rating. They have a life expectancy of 100,000 hours using LLS bearings.

Being an Asetek design, the installation is a walk in the park. I have nothing particular to report from the installation department. As mentioned in the testing section, when the switch is set to Auto mode, the firmware of the cooler takes over the charge and controls the thermal aspects making sure that the pump’s noise don’t cross over the fans’ noise ensuring the silent operations. In PWM mode the control is transfer to the motherboard’s PWM controller for the fan header in use. In other words, the user is in control now. We have one caveat here. Since the fans are connected to the hub and the only cable connected to the motherboard’s fan header is the one coming off the pump’s housing, we can’t control the speed of the fans and the pump separately.

The Fractal Design Celcius+ S36 Dynamic is listed at $169.99 MSRP at the time of the review. Fractal Design is offering 5 years warranty. We have a premium price tag for the feature rich cooling solution with good performance written on its face. 5 years warranty is showing the confidence of the manufacture in the product. With top notch build quality, good performance out of the box, feature rich solution, 5 years peace of mind; the Fractal Design Celcius+ S36 Dynamic comes recommended from us.

We are grateful to Fractal Design for giving us the opportunity to review their Celcius+ S36 Dynamic.