Introduction & Closer Look
Cooler Master feature heavily in our CPU cooling charts, with both their AIO and air coolers being some of the best performers to date. Today we take a look at a new variant that they have added to their MasterLiquid Lite series… and this time it comes armed with RGB!
Whilst this is the Lite version of the MasterLiquid series, it’s aesthetics and contents are very close to that of it’s bigger brother. The pump block retains the same matt black styling, which encases the low profile dual chamber.
The diameter of the FEP tubing isn’t quite as large as on the MasterLiquid version, but Cooler Master have added the same woven sleeving, which does give it a nice premium look.
The biggest difference with this variant of the ML120L is the inclusion of RGB. The same 120mm Air Balance fan returns, but this is the RGB version, which works seamlessly with all the major motherboard manufacturers lighting software.
However, if your motherboard doesn’t have an RGB header, Cooler Master have included an inline RGB controller, along with a 3-way RGB splitter, and a molex power connector.
|Product Name||MasterLiquid ML120L RGB|
|CPU Socket Compatibility||Intel® LGA 2066 / 2011-v3 / 2011 / 1151 / 1150 / 1155 / 1156 / 1366 / 775 socket|
AMD® AM4 / AM3+ / AM3 / AM2+ / AM2 / FM2+ / FM2 / FM1 socket
|Dimensions||157 x 119.6 x 27mm (6.2 x 4.7 x 1.1″)|
|Fan||Dimensions||120 x 120 x 25 mm (4.7 x 4.7 x 1″)|
|Speed||650 ~ 2000 RPM (PWM) ± 10%|
|Air Flow||66.7 CFM (Max)|
|Air Pressure||2.34 mmH2O (Max)|
|Noise Level||6 ~ 30 dBA|
|Rated Voltage||12 VDC|
|Pump||Dimensions||80.3 x 76 x 42.2 mm (3.2 x 3.0 x 1.7″)|
|Noise Level||< 15 dBA|
|Rated Voltage||12 VDC|
Since our previous cooling reviews prior to November 2016, we have decided to update the method accordingly for better and consistent results. It isn’t ideal running Prime95 for a prolonged period of time and if you get called away to do something, it could be left running for much longer than needed. Our new methodology involves running a very stressful multi-threaded performance benchmark called ROG RealBench.
It should also be noted that the reason we omit acoustic/noise testing is due to an inaccuracy within the readings and method. To provide truly accurate readings, you need a lab setting with the same ambient noise on an hour by hour, day by day and week by week basis. As ambient noise can increase at different times of the day, we believe that it’s pointless providing noise testing if we can’t measure consistent and accurate data due to our office being a busy setting.
- CPU – Intel Core i7 6700k – (4.2GHz at 1.25v & 4.5GHz at 1.38v)
- Motherboard – Asus ROG Maximus VIII Hero Alpha
- GPU – ZOTAC GTX 1060 AMP! Edition
- RAM – Crucial Ballistix Elite 16GB DDR4 3000MHz
- PSU – be quiet! Dark Power Pro 11 1000w
- SSD – Crucial MX300 525GB SSD
- Case – Cooler Master Test Bench V2
- Monitor – Philips P-Line 241P6 4K Ultra HD
In addition to keeping our test setup consistent for all CPU cooling tests, we also always use the same thermal paste rather than any that comes supplied or pre-applied. Our thermal paste of choice is NT-H1 from Noctua.
Idle Testing Methodology
To test each cooler at idle, the minimum temperature is taken after leaving the PC with only start-up programs on Windows 10 being allowed to run for 5 minutes. After this, the minimum temperature with the core temperature being offset against the room temperature; thus achieving delta.
Load Testing Methodology
To load test, we run RealBench while selecting the heavy multitasking benchmark only. We run this a maximum of 3 times concurrently and the maximum temperature recorded is taken. This temperature is deducted from the current room temperature and our final delta temperature is provided.
Given that this is the “Lite” version of the cooler, performance wasn’t that far behind the standard MasterLiquid 120 we tested earlier in the year. Whether this is down to having only one fan here, opposed to the push/pull config of the twin fans, or the thinner tubing is unknown. What I do know is that performance is a strong point, and thermals were well & truly kept in check.
At first glance, the ML120L RGB looks identical to the MasterLiquid series, but adds in RGB, which was one of the only criticisms of the MasterLiquid 120. Looking closer however, you can see where things differ with this lite version. The tubing isn’t as thick, and the quality of the radiator falls a little short of the standard MasterLiquid product.
The addition of a built-in RGB controller means that even if you don’t have an RGB header on your motherboard, you can still tie the colour of the cooler into your build.
The ML120L RGB is stated as having a recommended retail price of £59.99 in the UK. At the time of the review this is an identical price to the MasterLiquid 120… so the choice is dual fans in push/pull config, or the Lite version with RGB!
At the price point of £60 in the UK, it has a fair amount of competition, and it has to be said that you can bag a 240mm AIO from other manufacturers for the same money.
Having said that, there’s very little not to like about the ML120L RGB. It looks good, performs really well… and has RGB! Therefore if you are in the market for a single fan 120mm AIO liquid cooler, I would certainly recommend the ML120L RGB.
Huge thanks to Cooler Master for sending the MasterLiquid ML120L RGB in for review
- Good cooling performance
- Addition of RGB lighting on fan & pump plus in-line controller
- Really easy to fit thanks to its simple mounting kit
- No cheaper than the full fat MasterLiquid cooler (albeit you do get RGB here)