Fractal Design Celsius+ S28 Prisma Review

Fractal Design Celsius+ S28 Prisma Review

Important note: FRACTAL DESIGN provided the sample for this review although we are providing our honest and objective product review based on our testings.

Featuring ARGB on both the pump face and on the Prisma AL-series fans, with RGB lighting orchestrated by an on-radiator controller, lighting is well-catered for. The AL-series fans also piggyback off the on-radiator controller, all of which claims to help provide a clutter-free installation with minimal visible wires. RGB control is supported by Gigabyte’s RGB Fusion, ASUS Aura Sync, MSI Mystic Light Sync, ASRock Polychrome Sync and Razer’s Chroma RGB API.

The Celsius+ Prisma range is available with a 240mm, 280mm or a 360mm radiator, all of which are backed by a whopping 5-year warranty. Today we’re examining the 280mm (2x 140mm) version that promises a lot but does it deliver?

Fractal Design on the Celsius+ S28 Prisma:

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.

Technical Specifications

General specifications
Sockets supported (Intel)1200, 1150, 1151, 1155, 1156, 1366, 2011, 2011-3, 2066
Sockets supported (AMD)AM2, AM2+, AM3, AM3+, AM4, FM1, FM2, FM2+, TR4 (via included bracket in AMD Threadripper box)
Coldplate material:Copper
Thermal pastePre-applied
Tube length400 mm
Tube materialLow-permeability rubber with braided nylon sleeve
Fittings, block sideArticulating 90-degree elbow
Fittings, radiator sideStraight rotary
Fan controlDual mode (Auto/PWM)
Fan specifications
Fan typePrisma AL-14 PWM ARGB
Rotational speed500 – 1700 RPM
BearingLLS
PWM controlYES
Acoustical noise (full speed)34.1 dBA
Maximum air flow103.9 CFM
Maximum static pressure2.38 mm H2O
Input voltage12V DC
Maximum input current0.18A
MTBF100,000 hours
Pump specifications
Rotational speed800-2800 RPM in normal use, 3500 RPM during thermal protection mode that activates if liquid temperature is over 60°C
Bearing typeCeramic bearing and shaft
PWM controlYES
Acoustical noise (full speed)20 dBA
Maximum pressure, 50°C 1.46 mm H2O
Maximum air flow103.9 CFM
Maximum static pressure2.38 mm H2O
Input voltage12V DC
Input current (without fans): 0.36A0.36A
MTTF50,000 hours
Block height45 mm
Block measurements (with fittings)86 x 75 mm
Block diameter (main block body)62 mm
Radiator specifications
Dimensions143 x 30 x 324 mm
Housing materialAluminum
Fin materialAluminum
Fan screw threads6-32

Packaging & Bundle

In a suitably sized box lives the Celsius+ S28 Prisma, though a photo and the title is about all you’ll get on the front.

The other 3 main faces of the box give more details and dimensions to give a solid idea as to what you’re dealing with.

Chucked in with the AIO loop is a large user guide, all the mounting hardware that you need for AMD and Intel and a couple of 140mm Prisma AL-14 cooling fans.

Closer Look

In a matte-plastic housing with a soft rubber coating, the pump enclosure is particularly small for a device of this type. RGB lighting is emitted from the outer edge of the face, which we’ll demonstrate later.
The outside can be clicked between PWM or AUTO which adjusts the fan and pump speeds.

The underside of the pump, as is the case with all ASETEK-design AIOs, features a smooth copper coldplate with pre-applied thermal paste.

At 30mm thick, the radiator is a little thicker than your typical 25mm rads, with the increase in thickness theoretically providing additional cooling capacity.

Something that we’ve not seen before is the radiator-mounted fan/RGB controller. This runs the cabling through the sleeved pump tubes to the pump enclosure to help tidy up the system.

Providing the airflow is a pair of Fractal Design Prisma AL-14 ARGB fans, boasting a maximum static pressure of 2.38mm H2O with an operating range of between 500 and 1700 RPM.

Bolting the fans onto the radiator is super easy, with pre-tapped holes that accommodate the screws very well.

Fractal have fitted each side of their AL-14 fans with rubber sections to provide vibration damping.

 

Installation

Pushing the backplate through from the reverse side of the motherboard is the first step, then screwing in four standoffs to secure it into place.
We then clean off the factory-applied thermal paste and apply Noctua’s NT-H1 paste to equalize the playing field within our testing.

Next up is installing the radiator into the top of the case. At this point we’ve already installed the fans so the cables point towards the rear, for neatness. Due to the 30mm thick radiator, installation was incredibly tight but it just about fit into our CORSAIR 680X chassis. The additional thickness on the radiator should aid cooling capacity so it’s a trade off that we’re happy with, up to a point.

Time to install the pump enclosure. Thanks to the radiator-mounted fan and RGB controller, the cabling is very simple; there’s a single PWM and RGB connection to connect to your motherboard. You then adjust the housing to either PWM (where your motherboard will control the fan/pump speed) or AUTO (where the AIO controls everything).

Considering the 30mm radiator, we had a slightly more difficult time to get this installed than we usually do, but it’s in and just about fits. Hopefully the thicker radiator translates to better thermal performance.

Test Setup & Methodology

Due to popular demand, we have retired the long-standing cooling rig that we once used and replaced it with a shiny new system with an Intel Core i7 9700K at its heart. This should benefit you, the reader, in a couple of ways. The first being it can provide you with results on a CPU that is currently available to buy and secondly, the mounting instructions on our installation page will be far more relevant than the outgoing LGA 2066 was, with its pre-installed backplate.

We perform two individual testing routines with each CPU cooler that we receive – temperatures and acoustics. The system used is as follows and all tests are performed at stock frequencies.

Processor – Intel Core i7 9700K
Motherboard – GIGABYTE Z390 AORUS MASTER
Memory – Corsair Vengeance RGB PRO 16GB – 2666MHz – C16
Video Card – XFX AMD Radeon RX560
Power Supply – Corsair RM650x
Storage Drive – Western Digital Black SN750 1TB NVMe SSD
Case – Corsair Crystal Series 280X RGB
Monitor ASUS ROG SWIFT PG278Q

To keep our tests consistent, we always review CPU coolers as they come out of the box – with their factory cooling fans, as the manufacturer intended and as the consumer expects. It should, however, be noted that we do not use supplied thermal paste but instead, Noctua NT-H1 paste to, again, ensure consistency. The paste is applied and the CPU allowed to run for a couple of hours, at idle, to ensure any and all updates or processes are completed to give a true idle reading.

In the first test we record the idle and load temperatures across a 60 second period, with the results logged to file. This way we can provide you with an accurate average temperature over a longer period, instead of, for example, a maximum or minimum temperature. We believe this is the fairest possible method and most representative of what is going on as temperatures will fluctuate even with a consistent load on the CPU. We have three case fans on the front of the PC running with the door closed for this test.

We aim to measure acoustics with our second test, this time with the three case fans on the front disabled and all other ambient noise reduced to an absolute minimum. Our testing room measures around 25dB(A) without the system running. We measure the system acoustics for 60 seconds with the microphone in a set and unchanging position with the chassis door removed completely. An average is then taken across the 60 seconds.

Benchmarks

Thermal Results

For thermal results we have all case fans running and only a single 120mm fan on our Corsair H100i Pro RGB radiator. We then measure the thermal results at idle, both at 1000 RPM and maximum RPM:

And then again after a 20 minute Stability Test within AIDA64:

Acoustic Results

For our acoustic results, all other fans in the case are disabled and the Corsair’s H100i Pro RGB’s pump is turned down to quiet (roughly 1100 RPM) and measure the fan noise at 1000 RPM, both as a case fan and as a radiator fan:

And then again at maximum RPM:

Conclusion

It’s been over 2 years since we reviewed an AIO loop from Fractal Design so we had no idea which way this would go. The relatively high price tag definitely influenced what we expected from it though.

Focussing on cosmetics, the loop is super stylish with some really lovely materials used. We particularly liked the feel and appearance of the pump housing with the matte-plastic/rubber and thin light ring with vibrant and vivid colors. Shame that we can’t say the same about the RGB fans which lacked any kind of punch or life, they really let the side down and were miles away from what we expected to see from the product images on Fractal’s website.

Installation was easy with special thanks to Fractal’s cable management efforts, this really helped to tidy up the internals and also made installation faster than competing AIOs.

Performance across the board was very strong, the acoustics were kept incredibly low while thermal levels were impeccable. We couldn’t really ask anything more of the loop if performance is your main consideration; we suspected that the twin 140mm fans and the thicker-than-usual radiator would help with performance and it certainly did. We also loved the ability to flick the pump housing between AUTO or PWM to give you the chance to crank fan/pump curves up if you needed even more cooling.

All things considered, the Fractal Design Celsius+ S28 Prisma is a really good looking, well-performing, quiet cooling kit, but those who are seeking a strong RGB output should look elsewhere.

** Pros:
+ Looks great when unlit
+ Premium materials used
+ Easy installation
+ Very good cable management
+ 5-year warranty
**Cons:
– Pricey
– Poor RGB on the fans

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