Is It Really That Good?
Fractal Design Lumen S36 RGB is one fine and well-balanced liquid cooler that users can buy for their cooling requirements, particularly on new platforms. Its adequate performance, good warranty period, and friendly pricing make it among candidates for your buck.
Build Quality - 9/10
Design - 9/10
Performance - 8.5/10
Features - 9/10
Value - 9/10
- Adequate Thermal Performance
- Duality Design
- Integrated Pump into the radiator
- Digital RGB Lighting
- Easy Cable Management
- AMD AM5 socket support
- Intel LGA1700 socket support [Not out of the box]
- Easy Installation
- Loud Fans at full speed
Fractal Design needs no introduction. They are highly popular among PC enthusiasts and are well known for their PSUs, PC Cases, Coolers, and accessories. Based in Sweden, Fractal Design has good coverage all over the world. Some of their popular PC Case series are Define, Meshify, and Torrent, to name a few. Fractal Design is a symbol of superb build quality with highly practical designs. Their customer support service is equally effective and efficient.
We tested Fractal Design Celcius+ S36 Dynamic liquid cooler the last time. This time, we are spinning their latest AIO named Lumen S36 RGB. This series is available in 3 sizes:
This series also comes in RGB and Non-RGB versions. The Non-RGB versions still have digital RGB lighting on the block. Fractal Design has switched from Asetek to APALTEK as OEM for Lumen series coolers.
This cooler is compatible with Intel LGA115x, 1200, 1366, 1700, 2011, and 2066 sockets. It is compatible with AMD AM5, AM4, AM3+, AM3, AM2+, AM2, FM2+, FM2, and FM1 sockets. Please keep in mind that you would need a backplate for the LGA1700 socket.
Fractal Design has highlighted key features which are:
- Integrated ARGB effects with full motherboard control
- The removable pump face can be turned at 90-degree intervals to maintain a horizontal logotype in
- any mounting orientation
- ASUS AURA, Gigabyte Fusion, MSI Mystic Light, Razer Chroma, and ASRock Polychrome support
- Pre-applied thermal paste for optimal application with even coverage
- Supports the most common sockets for both Intel and AMD
- Durable low-permeability rubber tubing with nylon braided sleeves
- Articulating elbow fittings make tubes easier to route and reduce tension on the pump
- Low turbulence Fractal Design Aspect fans with chainable power and ARGB connectors
- Backed by a 5-year warranty
|Product||Fractal Design Lumen S36 RGB Cooler|
|Sockets supported (Intel)||LGA 1700*/1150/1151/1155/1156/1200 LGA 1366/2011/2011-3/2066|
|Sockets supported (AMD)||AM5 / AM4/FM2+/FM2/ FM1/AM3+/AM3/AM2+/AM2|
|Tube material||Low-permeability rubber with braided nylon sleeve|
|Fittings, block side||Articulating 90-degree Elbow|
|Fittings, radiator side||Barbed fitting|
|Block measurements (with fittings)||79 x 67 mm|
|Block diameter (main block body)||67 mm|
|Fan type||Aspect 12 RGB PWM|
|Fan Rotational speed||500–2000 RPM|
|Fan bearing||Rifle bearings|
|Fan PWM control||Yes|
|Fan acoustical noise||<10–33.2 dBA|
|Fan maximum air flow||13-56 CFM|
|Fan maximum static pressure||0.230–2.34 mm H2O|
|Fan input voltage||12V|
|Fan maximum input current||0.37A|
|Fan MTTF||90,000 hours|
|Rotational speed||4000 ± 10% RPM|
|Acoustical noise (full speed)||22 dBA|
|Maximum pressure||1.8 mm H2O/ 17.6 kPa / 2.5 PSI|
|Input voltage||12V DC|
|Input current (without fans)||0.34 A|
|MTTF||50 000 hours|
|Radiator dimensions||392 x 120 x 27 mm|
|Radiator housing material||Aluminum|
|Radiator fin material||Aluminum|
|Radiator fan screw threads||6-32|
This unit is shipped inside a cardboard box that has a black and white color theme over it. There is no useful data or information about this cooler over the top, but only RGB compatibility information is provided.
There are block diagrams showing the dimensions of this unit which is handy. Fractal Design has highlighted 4x features like pre-applied thermal paste on the base, 6x digital RGB LEDs, Low-permeability tubes, and sockets support.
Fractal Design is providing a 5-year warranty on this unit. This unit has a Duality design, among some other listed features. The cap on top of the block can either be RGB backlit or made to function without RGB lighting. Users can easily go for a stealth mode as well as color-coordinated theme.
The contents of this box are placed in an egged carton. There is a white color Styrofoam pad over the top for further protection.
It is time to take a look at what Fractal Design has provided in accessories.
There is a comprehensive user manual provided with this cooler for ease of installation.
- 1x Intel Backplate
- 1x AMD Mounting Bracket
- 1x Intel Mounting Bracket [Comes pre-installed on the block]
We removed the Intel bracket for this picture.
- 4x Thumb Nuts
- 4x Black Spacers
- 4x Intel LGA20xx Standoffs
- 4x Intel other sockets Standoffs
- 2x AMD Mounting Pins
There are 5x washer-type lockers as well.
- 12x Philips 6-32 Long Screws
- 12x Philips 6-32 Short Screws
Fractal Design has also provided a digital RGB cable. This cable has a proprietary connector at one end and a standard 3-pin, 5V connector at the opposite end. This cable powers the digital RGB LEDs on the block.
Let’s start with checking a statement from Fractal Design about this cooler. “The new Lumen series of AIO CPU coolers from Fractal Design delivers high-end cooling performance and premium ARGB effects at attractive prices. Lumen features Fractal Design’s newly released Aspect PWM fans with daisy-chainable power/ARGB connectors and comes pre-applied with optimal thermal paste coverage, making it an attractive AIO solution for both starting and seasoned builders.
Options for controlling the pump’s integrated ARGB effects include Asus AURA, Gigabyte Fusion, MSI Mystic Light, Razer Chroma, and ASRock Polychrome support. 240mm, 280mm, and 360mm radiator sizes are available with a choice of ARGB or all-black Aspect fans, and all versions include mounting hardware for all the most common AMD and Intel CPUs as well as a 5-year limited warranty.”
As has been the case with the majority of liquid coolers in the market, this unit also employs an aluminum-made radiator. This radiator has a size of 392 x 120 x 27mm. Once again, our focus is on the thickness of this unit, which is 27mm. Adding 25mm standard 120x120mm fans, the overall thickness would be 53mm, including heads of screws. Fractal Design has done a nice job in fins stacking. An FPI count is 20.
This is a dense fin stack for which high-air-pressure fans would be needed. The gap between two mounting holes on opposite sides is 105mm which is standard. The gap between any two adjacent holes is 15mm. This radiator has 12 channels for coolant flow. These mounting holes have 6-32 thread sizes. As you can see, there is another aluminum shell towards the near block of this radiator.
This is actually pump housing since this cooler has an integrated pump into a radiator. This is similar to what we saw on SilverStone VIDA 240 SLIM AIO. Unlike the Celcius+ series, the Lumen series coolers don’t have protective plating under the mounting holes. This is probably due to a change in OEM though a little customization could have been done.
The block on the far end of this radiator has rounded corners and a slim design.
Both sides of the aluminum frame have a Fractal Design branding.
Notice the location of tube ends on the radiator. The majority of AIOs have these tubes almost in the center of the frame. However, this unit has moved the tube ends toward the left side. Fractal Design uses barbed fittings on the radiator with couplings to conceal the connection. There is a sticker pasted here showing the serial no of the unit. There is what seems to be the drain port on this radiator. Don’t open it, as it is reserved for factory use, and opening it may result in the loss of vacuum pressure of the loop. There is another striking difference between Lumen and Celcius+ series coolers. Celcius+ coolers have a Fan hub integrated into the radiator frame. This is not the case with Lumen series coolers which is why the length of this cooler is a bit less than Celcius+ S36 Dynamic.
The Fractal Design uses Low-Permeability rubber tubes. These tubes have a length of approximately 400 mm. They have wrapped inside nice nylon braided sleeves for aesthetics.
The Pump in Lumen series coolers is integrated into the radiator instead. Specifications of this pump include:
|Rotational Speed||4000 ±10% RPM|
|Noise at full speed||22 dBA|
|Maximum pressure, 50°C||2.5 PSI|
|Rated Input Current||0.34A|
|Rated Input Power||4.08W|
|ARGB Cable Length||500mm|
There is a 3-pin cable coming out of the pump. There are cutouts on both sides of the frame through which this cable can be routed. This cable has a length of approximately 775mm. So, routing it properly inside a case should not be an issue.
Since the pump has been moved from the block to the radiator, the block on this cooler is a low-profile design and weighs a little as well. This block has a dimension of 79x67x43mm. 43mm is the height of this unit, a 67mm is the diameter because this is a circular design. The top cover on this unit is translucent, not a solid surface. This cover is removable as well. It has a Fractal Design brand logo.
We removed this top cover and can see that there is a white color PCB with 6x digital RGB LEDs. This PCB is removable as well. I like this modular design. We have already connected the digital RGB cable to the block, as can be seen in the picture.
Take a peek at the inside of the top cover. There is a white color diffuser covering the entire area of this top cover for even lighting.
The above picture shows that a top cover can be installed in 4 orientations. This is a helpful design allowing users to install this cooler in any orientation regardless of the position of the Fractal Design brand logo. The logo can be adjusted in a horizontal logotype after the installation.
We removed the thermal paste from the base. Sticky hands did some marking of that paste on the frame. Need to be more careful! Anyhow, this unit has a black color housing which seems to be made of ABS material. There is an inset above the base. This is where the mounting brackets are installed. There is a 3-pin port on one side. This is where the bundled digital RGB cable is connected.
Fractal Design uses articulating 90° elbow fittings on the block. This makes the rotation of the tubes easier and reduces the tension on the pump. We had to do some cleaning to remove the thermal paste marks.
This unit comes with a pre-applied thermal paste. We removed that paste to take this picture.
The Fractal Design Lumen S36 RGB cooler comes with 3x digital RGB 120mm fans. These are Aspect 12 PWM RGB Fans. This fan has 7 white color frosted or less opaque designs to light them evenly and vividly. The center has a black color sticker with Fractal Design branding over it. We have a circular frame and see a gap between the inner frame and the tips of these blades.
There is no anti-vibration pad on any mounting corner of this fan.
There is Fractal Design branding on one side of the frame. This frame is well-built, and there is a scanning label on the inside corner.
One mounting corner has an arrow marking inside. This shows the direction of airflow through the fan.
We have a 4-arm assembly on the backside. One arm has an inset and catches wires coming from the center. There is a Fractal Design branding on the sticker in the center. This fan has a rated speed of 2000 RPM using 12VDC at 0.37A.
Each fan has a 4-pin PWM connector and a socket. This allows users to daisy-chain all three fans to control their speed from a single source.
Fractal Design has provided a standard 3-pin, 5V RGB connector, and socket on each fan. This design allows users to daisy-chain the fans easily and control RGB lighting from a single source. There is no dedicated controller with this cooler, so you would need a supported motherboard for digital RGB lighting.
The specification of Aspect 12 PWM RGB fans is:
|Type||4-pin PWM Connector|
|Air Pressure||0.23~2.34 mmH₂O|
|Noise||Up to 32.2 dB(A)|
|LED Input Power||1.50W|
|LED Input Current||0.30A|
|LED Input Voltage||5V|
We took some key features from the Fractal Design website. These include:
- Efficient rifle bearings with 90,000-hour MTTF
- 6 individually addressable hub-mounted RGB LEDs (RGB versions)
- Supports ASUS AURA, Gigabytes Fusion, MSI Mystic Light, and ASRock Polychrome (RGB versions)
- Aerodynamic stator with embedded wiring reduces turbulence
- Trip Wire technology introduces a micro-turbulent layer for enhanced blade efficiency
- Daisy chainable power and RGB wires for easy hookup
- PWM control with a wide speed range
- High static pressure is ideal for radiators and airflow-restrictive applications
We have tested the Fractal Design Lumen S36 RGB cooler on the AMD AM5 platform using GIGABYTE X670E AORUS MASTER and AMD Ryzen 7 7700X. Installation on AM5 is straightforward and convenient. Fractal Design has provided two AMD clips. These clips and two thumb nuts are required for installation. Some key steps are:
- Remove Intel Mounting Bracket from the block.
- Install fans on the radiator.
- Install digital RGB Cable to the block.
- Install the AMD Mounting bracket on the block.
- Place clips or pins through holes on AMD Mounting Bracket.
- Use Thumbnuts to hold AMD pins on the mounting bracket.
- Keep these connections loose.
- Clean the CPU surface and apply thermal paste or use pre-applied thermal paste.
- Make sure AMD stock mounting brackets are on the motherboard.
- Carefully place the block on the CPU and pass the cutout area of clips on the catchers of the AMD stock bracket on the motherboard.
- Start torquing thumb nuts till they run out of threads.
- Install the radiator and connect cables. You are good to go.
This cooler has a dimension of 392 x 120 x 27mm without fans. With fans, this size is 392 x 120 x 53mm. We did not observe any clearance issue with this cooler. You would need to check that your PC Case has clearance for this size radiator.
Digital RGB Lighting
This cooler does not have a dedicated RGB controller. Users would need a supporting motherboard. This lighting is compatible with the following:
- ASUS AURA SYNC
- GIGABYTE FUSION 2.0
- MSI MYSTIC LIGHT SYNC
- ASRock POLYCHROME SYNC
- RAZER CHROMA RGB
We have tested the lighting using RGB FUSION 2.0 and found it working flawlessly. Here are a few pictures.
We have used below mentioned configuration to test the performance of this cooler: –
- AMD Ryzen 7 7700X
- GIGABYTE X670E AORUS MASTER
- XPG Lancer RGB 2x16GB @ 6000MHz
- GIGABYTE GeForce RTX 3060 VISION OC Rev.2 [For Display]
- Sabrent Rocket 4 Plus 2TB NVMe SSD [For OS]
- be quiet! Straight Power 11 850W Platinum PSU
- Thermaltake Core P6 TG Snow Edition in an open Frame Layout
Here is the settings table for testing:
|All Cores||5200MHz All Cores|
|Thermal Paste||Alphacool Sub-Zero|
|Test Run Time||30 minutes CINEBENCH R23.2|
|Idle Time||10 minutes|
|Fan/Pump Speed||100% PWM Duty Cycle|
Disclaimer: Every silicon is different; hence no two same SKUs are likely to take the same voltage to yield the same performance at the same thermals per se, but the margin would be close. Not every stress test run may yield the same result, which could be due to various reasons like thermal paste application, ambient temperature variation, the mounting pressure of the cooler, etc. This is very why we have listed our variables and their settings. Variables not mentioned are on the Auto setting.
We are a bit surprised to see that Fractal Design Celcius+ S36 Dynamic is offering a better thermal performance over the Lumen S36 RGB. This difference is 2°C. We repeated the test, but we came to the same conclusion. It is what it is. Another interesting observation is that all these 360mm coolers are in a difference of 1°C against each other.
Fans and pumps at full speed are making a noise of 52dB(A) approximately. This is at an ambient noise level of 32~33dB(A). A custom fan curve would be beneficial for the fans.
In our last take, we tested the Fractal Design Celcius+ S36 Dynamic cooler. Now, we have tested the Lumen S36 RGB cooler from Fractal Design. Both of these coolers are from a different product line, but it would be true to say that the Lumen series of coolers is a new-generation liquid cooling solution taking over the previous release. We are not sure if Celcius+ is EOL or still in production. Anyhow, this is not the topic of discussion. Asetek is the OEM of Celcius+ series coolers, but Fractal Design has made a switch to Lumen series coolers. APALTEK is an OEM of Lumen series coolers.
Like the Celcius+ series, the Lumen series of liquid coolers are available in three sizes; 240mm, 280, and 360mm, with each size in RGB or Non-RGB edition. This cooler uses Aspect 12 series fans which are high-performance fans from Fractal Design. The Fractal Design Lumen S36 RGB is compatible with Intel LGA115x, 1200, 1366, 1700, 2011, and 2066 sockets. It is compatible with AMD AM5, AM4, AM3+, AM3, AM2+, AM2, FM2+, FM2, and FM1 sockets. Please keep in mind that you would need a backplate for the LGA1700 socket.
This cooler has an aluminum-made radiator having a dimension of 392 x 120 x 27mm. Here 27mm is the height of this radiator. Once we install fans on this radiator, the overall thickness of the solution would be 53mm, including the heads of the screws. This is a dense fin stack with an FPI count of 20. This radiator has a standard 12 channels for coolant flow. There is no fan hub on this radiator, unlike Celcius+ S36 Dynamic. The pump is now integrated into this radiator and is powered by a 3-pin flat cable which has a sufficient length for convenient cable management and connection.
This radiator does not have protective plates under mounting holes, unlike the Celcius+ S36 Dynamic cooler. Fractal Design has employed Low-Permeability tuber tubes which have a length of approximately 400mm.
These tubes are wrapped inside a nice sleeve. Speaking of the pump of this unit, it has a ceramic shaft and bearing with a pressure rating of 2.5 PSI at 50°C. It has a life expectancy of 50,000 hours which is permeation dependent. The speed rating is 4000±0% RPM with a maximum noise rating of 22 dB(A). The pump is rated for 4.08W power.
Since the pump is integrated into a radiator, the block is lightweight, and Fractal Design has provided a Duality-Design on top of this block. It has a dimension of 79x67x43mm, where 43mm is in height, and 67mm is in diameter. We have mentioned diameter because this unit is circular in design. The top cover is translucent and removable. It has a Fractal Design logo in horizontal logotype.
The top cover can be removed and installed in a 360° orientation. This makes it easier to install a cooler in any direction regardless of the logo, as it can be easily made in horizontal logotype. There are 6x digital RGB LEDs under the top cover on a removable white color PCB. This PCB has a 3-pin port to which a bundled digital RGB cable is connected. We have a copper base, and the unit comes with pre-applied thermal paste.
The Fractal Design Lumen S36 RGB comes with three Aspect 12 RGB PWM fans. These fans feature digital RGB lighting. Their rated speed is up to 2000 RPM generating a maximum of 56 CFM airflow at an air pressure rating of 2.34 mmH₂O pressure rating. They have a life expectancy of 90,000 hours using Rifle bearings.
We have tested this cooler on the AMD AM5 platform. Installation is convenient and involves a total of 5 items to install the block on the CPU. This cooler uses a pin style mounting and uses AMD stock backplane and AMD stock brackets on the motherboards. We have tested digital RGB Lighting using GIGABYTE RGB FUSION 2.0, and synced lighting elements were working fine.
The Fractal Design Lumen S36 RGB is listed at $129.99 MSRP. Fractal Design is offering a 5-year warranty on this cooler. We appreciate the 5-year warranty period showing trust of the manufacturer in their products. Lately, it was brought to a surface that many of these units have malfunctioned. Fractal Design has professionally handled the situation admitting the fault and offering a solution. Much like how they did with Torrent case’s fan hub. I have been saying for some time that it is customer service that makes or breaks any brand, regardless of how good a product is. Fractal Design is up to the mark.
The performance of the Lumen S36 RGB cooler is fine, but in our testing, it is behind the Celcius+ S36 Dynamic. It is definitely a win for Fractal Design as both coolers are from the same manufacturer, but Lumen being the spearhead of Fractal’s cooling solution, should at least offer a similar performance or better. The fans are loud at full speed, so setting up a custom fan curve is in order.
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