Innovation in the liquid cooling market is a rather ephemeral thing. Most of these AIO systems use Asetek designs, differing from each other only in small details. Fractal Design Lumen S36 RGB, which went on sale at the end of last year, may be interesting for its versatility (it is compatible with a large number of popular sockets), affordability, and the traditional “proprietary” chip with hidden pump wiring. But let’s talk about everything in order.

Characteristics

Supported sockets Intel: LGA 1150/1151/1155/1156/1200 LGA 1366/2011/2011-3/2066
AMD: AM4/FM2+/FM2/ FM1/AM3+/AM3/AM2+/AM2
Water block base material Copper
Tubing material Nylon braided low permeability rubber
Tube length 400 mm
Fans
Model Aspect 12 RGB PWM on threaded plain bearing
Max airflow 13-56 CFM
Fan speed 500–2000 RPM
Noise level <10–33.2 dBA
Maximum static pressure 0.230–2.34 mm H2O
Service life, h 90 000
water pump
Rotational speed 4000±10%RPM
Pump bearing type Ceramic
Noise level up to 22 dBA
Max pressure 1.8 mm H2O/ 17.6 kPa / 2.5 PSI
Service life, h 50,000
Radiator
Material Aluminum
Dimensions 392 x 120 x 27mm

Design and scope of delivery

The liquid cooling system comes in a large black cardboard box with an image of the Fractal Design Lumen S36 RGB itself and its brief technical specifications. Inside there are illustrated instructions for installing the LSS, a cable for connecting the backlight of the water block, a set of fasteners for different sockets and a traditional warranty card.


The heaviest part of the system is a 360mm aluminum radiator measuring 392 x 120 x 27mm. It provides mounts for three Aspect 12 RGB PWM fans that come with the LSS on a plain bearing with a screw thread and a rotation speed of up to 2000 rpm. They each have PWM and female/male backlight connectors, so you can connect them to the motherboard either in series or independently.


The pump is combined with a water block, while the whole design turned out to be quite compact. For those who are not yet familiar with the Fractal Design LSS, the lack of a pump power cable may surprise you. In fact, of course, there is — it’s just hidden inside the main hoses. Due to this, the system not only looks more neat, but also less interferes with the installation of other components and the care of the system unit.


The water block is connected to the radiator with nylon braided rubber hoses, they are connected through swivel fittings. The illuminated cover can be rotated (for example, to correctly orient the brand logo) or completely removed if its backlight does not match with the rest of the system unit backlight. To power the LEDs on the water block there is a separate connector.


All elements of the system are painted black, so that without backlighting they remain almost invisible. There are LEDs not only in the water block cover, but also in all fans. You can manage it using popular proprietary utilities: Asus AURA, Gigabyte Fusion, MSI Mystic Light, Razer Chroma and ASRock Polychrome.


Installation

At the first stage of assembly, it is necessary to install three fans on the radiator and connect them in series to each other.

Fractal Design Lumen S36 RGB «out of the box» is designed for installation on motherboards with an LGA 1200 socket, and thermal paste has already been applied to the heat-removal pad of its water block. Therefore, owners of computers based on the latest generation Intel Core processors do not need to make any additional gestures — just remove the old cooling system and install a water block in its place. In the case of the AM4 socket, between these steps, you will have to replace the fastener system for AMD processors.


The whole process takes a minimum of time, and does not require any special knowledge. And in case of any difficulties, an illustrated instruction will come to your aid, which describes step by step the entire process of installing the LSS, taking into account different types of sockets.

Testing

To test the Fractal Design Lumen S36 RGB, we used an open bench based on an Intel Core i5-10600K processor with an Asus ROG STRIX Z490-A GAMING motherboard, and we used a Deepcool GAMMAXX 400 V2 cooler to evaluate the effectiveness of the LSS. The measurements were carried out at room temperature 24°C.

The entire test bench is presented in the following configuration:

CPU Intel Core i5-10600K
Motherboard Asus ROG STRIX Z490-A GAMING
Cooling system Fractal Design Lumen S36 RGB
System SSD ADATA XPG SX8200 Pro (512 GB)
Power Supply Super Flower SF-850F14MT

Noise

Lumen S36 RGB can work in two modes. The most rational — using PWM, when the fan speed adjusts to the current temperature (read, load). There is a second option, when the fans simply run at maximum speed (here it is about 2000 rpm). But without the need to drive them at high speed, there is no point: at least this is additional noise. In a direct noise comparison between the Fractal Design Lumen S36 RGB and Deepcool GAMMAXX 400 V2, the latter wins, but only because the maximum fan speed of the air cooler is limited to 1650 rpm.

In PWM mode, the system is much quieter even under moderate load. You can select the appropriate mode in the BIOS.

Cooling efficiency

We gave the load on the processor using the Stress FPU test from the AIDA64 package. With the help of the same AIDA64, its temperature was also controlled. As a result, it turned out that at maximum load on the processor and a fan speed of 2000 rpm, its temperature was stable at 57°C. For comparison, the same GAMMAXX 400 V2 at 1650 rpm showed a result of 64°C.


With a fan speed of 1000 rpm, it increases to 62°C. In idle mode, the Fractal Design Lumen S36 RGB kept the temperature at 31°C (Deepcool’s 34°C).


There are no surprises here. Due to the more efficient heat dissipation of the coolant at the same load, it is possible to achieve a decrease in the operating temperature of the processor by 15-20 °C compared to using an air system. Most likely, if the processor had a higher TDP, the difference would have been of this order.

conclusions

The Fractal Design Lumen S36 RGB liquid cooling system is not only noticeably cheaper than its counterparts from the Celsius + line. The company has managed to achieve this without much damage to its efficiency. The LSS does an excellent job of its direct duties, providing a consistently low processor temperature even under heavy load, and lovers of colorful ARGB backlighting will especially like its appearance. The only remark to the Lumen S36 RGB is that the system is not the quietest at maximum fan speeds.


In general, the Fractal Design Lumen S36 RGB can be called a well-balanced LSS with a quite reasonable price tag of around 130$ even today and support for the most common Intel and AMD sockets.

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