Cooler Master MasterLiquid ML120L RGB Review

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ML120L RGB feature

Introduction & Closer Look

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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!

ML120L RGB box

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.

ML120L RGB pumpML120L RGB coldplate

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.

ML120L RGB radiator

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.

ML120L RGB fan

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.

ML120L RGB controller

Specifications

Product Name MasterLiquid ML120L RGB
Model MLW-D12M-A20PC-R1
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

Radiator Material Aluminium
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)
MTTF 160,000 hours
Noise Level 6 ~ 30 dBA
Connector 4-Pin (PWM)
Rated Voltage 12 VDC
Pump Dimensions 80.3 x 76 x 42.2 mm (3.2 x 3.0 x 1.7″)
MTTF 70,000 hours
Noise Level < 15 dBA
Connector 3-Pin
Rated Voltage 12 VDC
Warranty 2 Years

 

Thermal Performance

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.

Test Setup

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.

Results

ML120L RGB 4.2Ghz idle

ML120L RGB 4.2Ghz load

ML120L RGB 4.5Ghz idle

ML120L RGB 4.5Ghz load

Conclusion

Performance

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.

Design

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.

ML120L RGB LED

Value

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!

Final Thoughts

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.

Play3r Recommended Award

Huge thanks to Cooler Master for sending the MasterLiquid ML120L RGB in for review

  • Performance
  • Design
  • Value

Summary

Pros:

- Good cooling performance
- Addition of RGB lighting on fan & pump plus in-line controller
- Really easy to fit thanks to its simple mounting kit

Cons:

- No cheaper than the full fat MasterLiquid cooler (albeit you do get RGB here)

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