Cooler Master MasterLiquid ML360R RGB Review: The New Cooling Champ

Testing Results & Conclusion

Comparison Coolers

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Result data taken from our overclocked hex-core, Intel Core i7-5930K at 4.2Ghz and 1.20v on our MSI X99S XPower AC motherboard provided plenty of thermal load to push the limits of the CPU cooler.

We stacked the MasterLiquid ML360R RGB against its smaller sibling, the MasterLiquid ML240R RGB, and two heavyweights in the AIO realm: the NZXT Kraken X72 and the Corsair H150i Pro.

The MasterLiquid ML360R RGB turned in the lowest thermal load temperatures over ambient of the comparison group. The Kraken X72 trailed close behind at just over 3 degrees Celsius at full fan speeds, while the H150i Pro and ML240R lagged further behind.

Not surprising, both the ML360R RGB and ML240R RGB aligned nearly perfectly in terms of fan and pump RPM (revolutions per minute) due to the identical hardware in each cooler. Oddly enough, similar comparisons can be made between the Kraken X72 and the H150i Pro as their pumps have historically shared similar lineage.

Faster fan speeds almost always lead to higher registered noise levels, and we saw no surprises on that front here. While the smaller MasterLiquid ML240R RGB shares the same pump and fans as the larger ML360R RGB, the difference of a single fan provided interesting scaling in measured decibel levels.

While it provided the best cooling of the bunch, the MasterLiquid ML360R RGB also has the loudest fans of the quartet. However, relatively speaking, any large 360 AIO wielding three 2000+ RPM fans is doing quite well when staying under the 40-decibel ceiling.

With a retail price of $160, the MasterLiquid ML360R RGB sits exactly at the group average cost, meaning the acoustic efficiency chart almost exactly mirrors our performance value table. The price premium of the Kraken X72 overwhelmed its overall performance, while the H150i Pro is neither here nor there. The smaller MasterLiquid ML240R RGB made a very strong overall value statement when compared with the larger 360 coolers.

Comparing thermal images from our FLIR ONE Pro camera shows two very similar tales for the MasterLiquid ML360R RGB. Slight differences in heat signatures seen in the tubing lines and around the perimeter of the pump housing as well as the radiator are the only indicators between full- and half-speed fan settings. Remember, the cooler pump speed was always maintained at 100 percent, so the only variable here is the RPM of the cooling fans and airflow over the radiator.

Conclusion

Cooler Master’s MasterLiquid ML360R RGB is an impressive attack against the 360 AIO competition, but it shouldn’t be much of a surprise if you’ve read our recent review of the MasterLiquid ML240R RGB. The true shock comes from the thermal load performance delta (and price) between the ML360R RGB and others in the current 360 AIO category. Meanwhile, the addressable RGB lighting provides vivid aesthetics, and the overall design is discreetly handsome.

The only real negative for the ML360R RGB is the number of cables necessary to set up and manage the lighting with the included controller or software. The RGB pin connectors also don’t make very secure contact between the cabling and the control unit, and we actually needed to knot the wires to prevent gravity and the weight of the 5-headed splitter from pulling the connections apart.

There’s just a lot going on with this cabling setup, and if you're a cable management perfectionist, you might get a bit of anxiety just looking at the number of connectors and wiring involved.

Power users, gamers, system builders and overclockers in the market for a new large CPU cooler should take note. The Cooler Master ML360R RGB is our current 360 AIO thermal performance leader. And while $160 isn’t exactly cheap, there are plenty of competing products that cost more while delivering less-impressive performance.

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12 comments
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  • Lucky_SLS
    Damn you NZXT! You still look better than the rest!
  • manleysteele
    But it will work just fine without the RGB junk, right?
  • rubix_1011
    RGB lighting is simply for color. The cooler can be operated without it configured or just turned off with the controls.
  • lpide
    damn 159.99!
  • The Paladin
    yeah, unfortunately the non RGB models are becoming like some of us computer guys.... ancient .. lol
    I refuse to use anything RGB and pay twice the price for a cooler for what it is worth.

    Besides for an 8700 you only need an H110i with 2 fans on the radiator, to keep it cooled properly. you dont need a 3 fan super long radiator. yes I know maniacs out there that cannot live without overclocking everything and want super duper flashy RGB lights on their disco ball computer.

    I rather pay less for hardware with comparable performance minus the " look at meeeeee " statement
  • Lucky_SLS
    For what it's worth, the kraken has rgb only on its cpu block. No rgb fans. Looks minimalistic and perfect, on the rgb-ness thing.
  • rubix_1011
    It is also more expensive and doesn't perform as well, but I do prefer the NZXT infinity mirror pump face and lighting over that of most AIO coolers.

    Besides, you can opt to just turn the RGB lighting 'off', although a non-RGB version that doesn't carry the LED lighting price premium would be a generous option.
  • manleysteele
    Hell. Just don't install any of that mess. Cabling problems solved.
  • GR1M_ZA
    I have an Antec Mercury 360 on my 8700k @ 5Ghz and it keeps nice and cool even at load ( 38C-42C in games) and 70C-80C under extreme stress testing.
  • tyr_antilles
    If I am forced to buy something like this because of the good performance of the product, my first action will be to cut down all the RGB crap and curse the producer for forcing me to pay more money for those idiotic lights for idiotic peasants.
  • MrMuse
    Interesting that your previous "champ", the Thermaltake Floe Riing RGB 360 TT, was not included in these tests. Why is that exactly?
  • Karadjgne
    No offense, but this wasn't a test of the performance offered by a 360mm rad/coolant/pump, but a test of the ability of the 3x CM RGB fans on a 360mm rad.

    Would have been interesting to see the difference if the nzxt fans were also used on the CM rad or maybe the venerable Noctua NF-F12 on all of the rads, eliminating the fans themselves as a variable.

    There's 2 temps you can play with, cpu temp and liquid temp. With as erratic as cpu workloads and resultant instant temps are, that's not going to be reliable for daily testing, it changes second to second. Liquid temps are solid, takes forever for them to change 1°C in either direction, so for me, the same performance at a quieter volume puts the nzxt fans above the CM as king. So far. But thats also dependent on the ability of the rad to effectively dissipate the heat, which is also an unknown, not having been tested against the other rads.

    I'd not even give it the value crown either, not with its $230 current price, vrs $180 for the TT floering or $116 for the Fractal Design Celsius S36. Could buy the FD, 3x RGB fans without the cabling nightmare that would be easily matched with gpus or mobo or case lighting, and still come out cheaper. For similar performance.