Cooler Master MasterLiquid ML120R RGB Review (Page 2 of 4)

Page 2 - Physical Look - Hardware; Installation

Practically all AIO coolers look the same, at least when you look at the radiator. As for the Cooler Master MasterLiquid ML120R RGB, we have a matte finish with an all-black color around the radiator and tubing. Cooler Master branding can be found on the side of the radiator. The water block looks a bit different, as Cooler Master has implemented their addressable RGB on the pump head. A single cable extends out from the water block to power the pump itself, which is a three pin fan header connection. Otherwise, there is not too much else to really note on an appearance stance, since practically all all-in-one coolers look quite similar to this.

The radiator on the Cooler Master MasterLiquid ML120R RGB features a standard fin layout. The fins are placed so they come into contact with the liquid pipings through its top and bottom. The result is a wavy set of fins. Heat from the liquid is pumped through the radiator and transferred to the fins through the contact points. Fans are attached on the radiator to dissipate the heat on the fins. The liquid is transported from the water block to the radiator via the tubing. The tubing is made from an ultra-low evaporation rubber, measuring 350mm in length. This should fit in most standard cases on the market, though it is possible this may be too short in larger cases. All of this depends on where you place the radiator in relation to the processor on the motherboard though, so your mileage will vary. The tubing is strong but flexible and should not form any kinks, even in extreme bending. The tubes also pivot slightly on the water block, allowing for an easier maneuverability should it be required. The tubes are covered with a braided cover to add a bit of a premium look to the otherwise plain rubber tube.

The radiator measures 157mm in length, 119.6mm in width, and 27mm in thickness. These are all pretty standard dimensions for a 120mm all-in-one liquid cooler. The size of the radiator plays a pretty significant role in cooling, as a larger surface area allows for better heat dissipation. The radiator is composed of aluminum, which is not too bad in terms of heat transfer. However, the benefits of aluminum is the fact this metal is light in weight, ensuring it does not cause too much strain on the case. Overall, the build quality of the Cooler Master MasterLiquid ML120R RGB is average, as I found some defects on the fin layout of the radiator. This is disappointing, as there should not be any sort of blemish on the radiator when you open it up.

Going down the tubing, we get to the water block of the Cooler Master MasterLiquid ML120R RGB. For the most part, it is pretty standard in size with dimensions of 83.6mm in length, 71.8mm in width, and 52.7mm in height. Most of its height comes from the large plastic cover with the twelve RGB lights. Internally, Cooler Master has advertised a dual chamber pump to carry water in and out. Otherwise, the base making contact with the processor is constructed out of copper, which is pretty standard. Copper is often chosen due to its excellent heat transfer properties. Four plastic holes are on each corner to mount the included metal brackets for installation.

The two fans included with the Cooler Master MasterLiquid ML120R RGB are the MasterFan MF120R ARGB fans. These fans are rated to spin at speeds of 650 to 2000 RPM. The rated noise level is 6 to 30 dbA, though we will see what this means when we test for noise levels. However, you can tell these fans are created with a balance between airflow and air pressure, as there is quite a bit of overlap for each consecutive fan blade. In addition, the fan produces an air pressure of 2.34 mm H2O, with an airflow rating of 66.7 CFM. Otherwise, these fans also have installed foam dampeners in each corner to prevent vibration between the fans and the radiator. As you can tell by its name, these fans also have addressable RGB LEDs installed to make for a colorful display. These fans have two connectors with one for controlling fan speed and power, while the other used for the RGB header connection.

Installation of the Cooler Master MasterLiquid ML120R RGB is as simple as any all-in-one cooler, but I will take you through a step by step walkthrough. The first step is to take the correct backplate for your system. Both AMD and Intel backplates are provided with the ML120R RGB. For the Intel backplate, you can see there are two different positions for the pegs, which cover majority of the Intel sockets. If you are using an LGA20xx processor, four screw pillars can be used instead. Slotting it in through the back of the motherboard is painless, as is securing the backplate with the four included screws. Otherwise, the next step continues on the inside of the case.

The next step would be to install the mounting screws on both sides of the water block. From here, you can either install the radiator and fans into the case or mount the CPU cooling block in place. Personally, I mounted the radiator and fans first, as it can be quite unwieldy trying to mount the CPU block with a dangling radiator. Next, I mounted the CPU block in place with the provided thumbscrews. Cooler Master includes a small tube of thermal paste to apply to the processor. The last step is to plug all the connectors in place. I connected the power to a fan header and fans to the motherboard.

One additional step I made was plugging in all of the RGB connectors to the included light controller. You could argue this is the biggest selling point of the Cooler Master MasterLiquid ML120R RGB, but I have to say this controller has some flawed aspects. For one, the connectors on the controller are weak as the RGB pins slide out easily. However, my biggest gripe is the fact the connectors or the buttons are not clearly labeled for their functions or use case. A short video exists on Cooler Master's website, though it is still not very clear. From what I understand though, these buttons cycle through effects, colors, and speeds of the effects. I will say the controller is still a nice addition, but in some ways, it detracts more than it adds with such unclear documentation and some physical flaws.

Page Index
1. Introduction, Packaging, Specifications
2. Physical Look - Hardware; Installation
3. Test Results
4. Conclusion