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Cooler Master MasterLiquid PL360 Flux Review: Form, Function and Affordability

Mature cooling elegance

Cooler Master PL360 FLUX
(Image: © Tom's Hardware)

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

Comparing the Cooler Master PL360 Flux with a wide range of high-performance 360mm AIOs and the venerable Noctua NH-D15, our chart shows that it sits comfortably amidst some of the best cooling options on the market in straight thermal load evaluation. Considering large air and liquid cooling is extremely competitive, going toe-to-toe here is important.

Thermals between the Aorus Liquid Cooler 360 very closely align with that of the PL360 Flux, while the MSI CoreLiquid 360 MEG sees the best load temperatures of the test group.

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

We saw the fans on the PL360 Flux reach just beyond their maximum rated speed of 2300 RPM during 100% fan PWM operation, although the blistering speeds of the Aorus Liquid Cooler 360 fans exceeded 2500 RPM.

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

Increased fan RPM often translates into elevated noise level. The higher RPM speeds of the PL360 Flux makes a point that it is not immune to seeing spikes in decibel readings one might expect with a trio of screaming 120mm fans.

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

Combining thermal load temperatures and noise levels, our acoustic efficiency chart provides insight into how well a cooler can perform the work each is designed to do. Higher noise levels or warmer thermals will have a relative negative impact when each is used to represent their respective coolers.

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

Our performance value chart makes use of the acoustic efficiency chart and takes it a step further to include pricing into the comparison. Priced at $190, the Cooler Master PL360 Flux isn’t a budget cooler, but in an age with improved features, digital display screens and integrated management systems, it is by no means boasts an extraordinary asking price when compared to others in the testing group. In terms of pricing and performance, it basically lands in the middle of our comparison pack.

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

Not to be outdone by only showing capability on our Intel platform, the Cooler Master PL360 Flux handles Threadripper as well, so we felt it a requirement to put it through the paces against some of the better performing products for AMD’s HEDT platform. While it doesn’t see the low temperatures provided by the Alphacool Eisbaer Pro Aurora 360, it does run neck-and-neck with the Corsair H170i Elite Capellix at 100% PWM, although the H170i does see slightly milder temps at 50% PWM, perhaps due to the difference in radiator volume.

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

Fan speeds are higher on the Cooler Master PL360 Flux and Alphacool Eisbaer Pro Aurora 360 due to the typical nature of 120mm cooling fans, as opposed to the larger diameter fans seen on the Corsair H170i Elite Capellix and the be quiet! Dark Rock Pro TR4. Naturally, we’re expecting these readings to translate into higher registered noise levels.

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

While we were somewhat correct in our noise assumptions, there’s also evidence in the argument that fan and radiator design play much into how air moves about between these components. The 2300 RPM fans on the PL360 do not make nearly the impact as those on the Eisbaer Pro Aurora 360.

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

Considering thermal load and noise levels, each of the coolers here struggles to break out of the negatives at 100% fan PWM. Either load temps or noise levels make it difficult to overcome the deficits they create.

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

Lower unit price does help the Cooler Master PL360 Flux in overall performance value, but cannot reach the value provided by the Dark Rock Pro TR4 from be quiet!

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

Thermal imaging from our FLIR One PRO shows distinct thermal loads at 50% fan PWM on both Intel and Threadripper platforms, with the entirety of the lateral side of the radiator showing increased heat bloom at lower fan speed than the 100% speed tests. We’re also seeing considerable difference along the coolant tubing between the hot and cold side of the return, as well as some noted warm spots along the face of the pump unit itself.

Cooler Master hasn’t broken through any significant barriers with the PL360 Flux, but it does fill the need for a quality 360 AIO at a moderate price, in a market quickly becoming saturated with digital readout displays which rely on intricate cabling and management components. In essence, it is doing the same work but with less complexity and lower price than some of its closest competitors. There’s something certainly to be said for knowing how to tune a product to a specific target market and ensure it does so well by delivering on those expectations.

If you'd rather keep your screens and readouts outside of the case where they're easier to read, while saving some money in the process to spend elsewhere, the Cooler Master MasterLiquid PL360 Flux is well worth considering, especially if you like its classy style.

Garrett Carver
Garrett Carver

Garrett Carver is a contributor for Tom’s Hardware, primarily covering thermal compound comparisons and CPU cooling reviews; both air and liquid, including multiple variations of each.