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.
Cooler Master MasterLiquid ML120R RGB Specifications & Features
|MasterLiquid ML120R 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
|157 x 119.6 x 27mm (6.2 x 4.7 x 1.1″)
|120 x 120 x 25 mm (4.7 x 4.7 x 1″)
|650 ~ 2000 RPM (PWM) ± 10%
|66.7 CFM (Max)
|2.34 mmH2O (Max)
|6 ~ 30 dBA
|83.6 x 71.8 x 52.7 mm (3.3 x 2.8 x 2.1″)
|< 15 dBA
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.
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.
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.
- CPU – Intel Core i7 6700k – (4.2GHz at 1.25v & 4.5GHz at 1.38v)
- Motherboard – Asus ROG Maximus VIII Hero Alpha
- GPU – MSI GTX 1080 Armor 8G OC
- RAM – Crucial Ballistix Elite 16GB DDR4 3000MHz
- PSU – BeQuiet 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.
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.
- 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
- It’s not cheap… but the best products normally aren’t
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.
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.