Cooler Master MasterLiquid ML120R RGB Cooler Review

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CM ML120R RGB Feature
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Cooler Master CPU coolers have long been a favourite in the Play3r office, and they feature heavily in our huge performance tables. Today we add another variant to those graphs, in the form of the MasterLiquid ML120R RGB.

CM ML120R RGB Box

Cooler Master MasterLiquid ML120R RGB Specifications & Features

Product Name MasterLiquid ML120R RGB
Model MLX-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″)
Quantity 2 PCS
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 83.6 x 71.8 x 52.7 mm (3.3 x 2.8 x 2.1″)
MTTF 70,000 hours
Noise Level < 15 dBA
Connector 3-Pin
Rated Voltage 12 VDC
Warranty 2 Years
EAN Code 4719512064818
UPC Code 884102037481

Cooler Master MasterLiquid ML120R RGB Closer Look

Towards the end of last year, we reviewed the ML120L from Cooler Master, and this new model shares many of the parts and features. This is no bad thing, as the ML120L was a solid performer, and walked away with our Recommended Award.

The same radiator, tubing & pump lies at the heart of the ML120R, with Cooler Master taking the “if it aint broke, don’t fix it” approach. The now familiar copper cooling plate also returns, which has now been featured on numerous AIOs from Cooler Master.

CM ML120R RGB Fans

What certainly isn’t the same, is the light show on offer! The crowning glory of the ML120R is its inclusion of addressable RGB technology. Bundled with the cooler are two MF120R addressable RGB fans, with a further dose of ARGB on the pump block also.

CM ML120R RGB Pump Block

Orchestrating all of these ARGBs on offer is the bundled controller. Whilst the ML120R is 100% compatible with the software from all the major motherboard manufacturers, this nifty little bit of kit will also allow you to control the lights directly from the unit.

The unit is powered using a SATA connection, with a number of ports available to enable the user to add further lighting options if they so wish. A micro USB port connects to the motherboard should you wish to use the Cooler Master software with an ARGB capable board.

Speaking of the software, Cooler Master have provided a very easy to follow guide to get you up & running with the various lighting options available. A PDF can be found HERE.

The Cooler Master MasterLiquid ML120R RGB Review: 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

ML120R RGB 4.2Ghz idle

ML120R RGB 4.2Ghz load

ML120R RGB 4.5Ghz idle

ML120R RGB 4.5Ghz load

The Cooler Master MasterLiquid ML120R RGB Review: The Verdict

Before we drool over the aesthetics of the ML120R (and believe me we will), a word on the cooling performance… it’s superb! Temperatures of our 6700k were kept well in check, even when overclocked. In fact, it is the best performing 120mm AIO cooler we have ever tested, and takes its place towards the top of every chart. The dual fans in push/pull configuration no doubt helps performance, but it is still unrivalled in it’s category.

What’s hot:

  • Superb cooling performance
  • Addressable RGB lighting looks amazing
  • Included controller works with or without an RGB capable motherboard
  • Software is easy to use, and the level of customisation is fantastic

What’s not:

  • It’s not cheap… but the best products normally aren’t

CM ML120R RGB Pump Block LEDs 2

CM ML120R RGB LEDs 2

With the recommended retail price at a shade under £100 in the UK, the MasterLiquid 120R RGB isn’t cheap, but for that price you get one of the best pound for pound coolers on the market, that also offers unrivalled lighting effects. The fact that Cooler Master bundle lots of extension cables in with the cooler means that you can literally light up the whole of your rig, and control it through the great software they have developed.

The ML120R RGB is the best performing 120mm AIO we have ever seen, which makes it the total package, and therefore gets our highest award… Platinum.

Play3r Award Platinum Blue Yeti Nano

Thanks to Cooler Master for sending a sample of the MasterLiquid ML120R RGB in for review.

At the time of writing you can pick up the ML120R RGB for a good saving under RRP from Amazon UK for just £85.98. This makes this a must buy.

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