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MSI MEG CoreLiquid S360 Review: Pretty and Powerful

Sleek and sophisticated, but backed up with impressive cooling muscle

MSI MEG CoreLiquid S360
Editor's Choice
(Image: © Tom's Hardware)

For our CPU cooling tests, we use the same hardware, overclock and configuration for each and every test to minimize environment variables in testing.  This allows for all results across all coolers tested on the platform to be viable as side-by-side examination for direct compare/contrast.

CPUIntel i9-10850k LGA1200 (Comet Lake), all 10 cores  4.6Ghz @ 1.190v
 (3.60Ghz stock speed, single core boost @ 5.2Ghz)
MotherboardMSI Z490 MEG Godlike (bios vers. 7C70v12)
MemoryCorsair Vengeance LPX, 32GB (4x8GB) DDR4-3000
StorageCorsair MP600 m.2 2280 NVMe, 500GB
GraphicsGigabyte GTX 1050Ti
Power Supplybe quiet! Dark Power Pro11 1200w
ChassisCorsair Graphite 760T
MonitoringCrystalFontz CFA-633-TMI-KU, 4x Dallas One Wire WR-DOW-Y17 sensors
Fan ControlCorsair Commander Pro, 100%/50% PWM Speed profiles (liquid cooling pump always @100%, if applicable)
OSWindows 10 Pro 64bit
Networking Disconnected, not used
Thermal CompoundArctic MX-4

All data reported for this article has been collected on the current Intel i9-10850k platform and will be maintained as like-for-like evaluation of ongoing cooling coverage.  We’ve recently swapped the taller, Corsair Dominator RGB DIMMs with Corsair Vengeance LPX for lower-profile memory allowing for higher cooler compatibility for testing.

Prime95 v29.4b8 (no AVX) is used for two-hour intervals, one managing fans at 50% PWM and the other at 100% PWM, with RPM measurements being taken every 3 seconds and averaged across the duration of each 2-hour capture.  Omitting AVX instruction sets allows for accurate, 100% loads at chosen clock speeds. Allowing AVX instructions would provide higher but unrealistic synthetic CPU loads and excessive heat production, less indicative of real-world use.  

This also allows for a greater range CPU coolers to be tested and compared without the need to configure the system differently for smaller coolers which may not handle the excessive thermal loads being generated during testing, while larger coolers might be better equipped to manage heat output produced by the i9-10850k.  

While the test platform is quite capable of a 10-core overclock at 5.0Ghz and 1.265v, we were seeing 360mm AIOs struggle to keep core temperatures in check at lower fan speeds, providing insight that the enthusiast-grade i9’s need excellent cooling if the goal is overclocking.

HWInfo64 is used for real-time core temperature readout, thermal throttling alerts, motherboard power consumption, CPU speed and logging of data, while a CrystalFontz CFA-633-TMI-KU is used to monitor and later average both ambient room (2 probes) and motherboard voltage regulator heatsink (2 probes).

With these temperature readings collected, CPU Core is defined as an average of all CPU core temperatures reported once per second for the entirety of the testing run from HWInfo64 data. This value is then taken as an offset difference from the reported ambient room temperature collected from the CFA-633-TMI-KU (also once per second and averaged).  CPU PWM is defined by the voltage regulator heatsink direct temperature probe as an offset different from the same reported ambient room temperature reading for the same CPU Core test (100%, 50%). This helps define a working model of how well the evaluated cooler performs, as a process of also cooling nearby hardware also under loads, like our overclocked motherboard voltage regulator heatsink.

  • Phaaze88
    This S SKU and the K one are the only ones that don't have the blasted Pump-In-Radiator setup, and thus are the only ones worth anything, because 'everyone' has to mount their AIO radiators at the top of the chassis for whatever reason.
    But the S and K are stupid expensive, because I guess, "Screw you, give me money."
    To see the NH-D15S still hang in there... AIOs have gone stale.
    Reply
  • Blacksad999
    Phaaze88 said:
    This S SKU and the K one are the only ones that don't have the blasted Pump-In-Radiator setup, and thus are the only ones worth anything, because 'everyone' has to mount their AIO radiators at the top of the chassis for whatever reason.
    But the S and K are stupid expensive, because I guess, "Screw you, give me money."
    To see the NH-D15S still hang in there... AIOs have gone stale.

    I was curious about that, actually. I knew that some of their units had the pump in the radiator, which would allow for bottom mounting without issue. It's unfortunate these apparently don't, from what you're saying. :(
    Reply
  • Phaaze88
    Blacksad999 said:
    I knew that some of their units had the pump in the radiator, which would allow for bottom mounting without issue.
    Not true, actually.
    For Pump-In-Radiator...
    Top mounted rad: hands down the worst of the 5. You can kiss that pump goodbye within a year.
    Front mounted rad, but inlet+outlet are at the top: ok, but will become noisier later on after a few years(+/-), forcing the user to either move it, or replace it, even though the unit still works.
    Front mounted rad, but inlet+outlet are at the bottom: one of the 2 best ways to position these units in part, because the pump is offset and not in the center of the rad. The problem then, is radiator size and chassis compatibility.
    Sideways mounted rad(think NR200P): right there with front mount, but bottom mounted in+out - it's great.
    Bottom mounted rad: the pump is saved, but now the performance goes down the drain, as air begins having a party in the cpu block disrupting the transfer of heat from the cold plate to the medium(fluid)! The party only gets bigger over time.

    For the more traditional Pump-In-Block...
    Top mounted rad: awesome, but you may need to over-provision on size depending on the gpu.
    Front mounted rad, but in+out are at the top: ok, but the noise later on.
    Front mounted rad, but in+out are at the bottom: also great, but radiator size and chassis compatibility.
    Sideways mounted rad: great as well.
    Bottom mounted rad: bad. Air party in the pump.
    Reply
  • Co BIY
    Someone should mount a big downward fan across the hole top of their AIO pump to bathe the power supply circuits in cool air. Would be a great place for a "sweet" RGB ring all the kids love. Should solve that socket area heat bloom.

    Call it the "HybridHydroAir" and watch the money roll in. If you can find workers to build it and people to unload the crates at the port at least.
    Reply