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Review: Cooler Master MasterLiquid ML120R RGB

by Parm Mann on 4 May 2018, 15:00

Tags: Cooler Master

Quick Link: HEXUS.net/qads6r

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Test Methodology and Performance

Comparison Coolers

Category Model HEXUS Review Reviewed Price Warranty Product Page
Air be quiet! Dark Rock Pro 4 April 2018 £80 3 Years bequiet.com
Cooler Master MasterAir MA620P March 2018 £75 2 Years coolermaster.com
Liquid Aerocool Project 7 P7-L240 February 2018 £100 2 Years aerocool.com.tw
Cooler Master MasterLiquid ML120R RGB May 2018 £100 2 Years coolermaster.com
Corsair Hydro Series H150i Pro RGB January 2018 £165 5 Years corsair.com
Fractal Design Celsius S24 May 2017 £105 5 Years fractaldesign.com
NZXT Kraken M22 March 2018 £90 3 Years nzxt.com

HEXUS CPU Cooler Test Bench

Hardware Components Product Page
Processor Intel Core i7-8700K (overclocked to 4.8GHz) intel.com
Motherboard Asus ROG Maximus X Hero asus.com
Graphics Card MSI GeForce GTX 1080 Ti Gaming X Trio msi.com
Memory G.Skill Trident Z 32GB (2x16GB) DDR4-3200 gskill.com
Power Supply be quiet! Dark Power Pro 11 1,000W bequiet.com
Primary Storage 256GB WD Black PCIe SSD wdc.com
Secondary Storage 1TB Crucial MX300 SATA SSD crucial.com
Chassis be quiet! Dark Base 700 bequiet.com
Monitor iiyama ProLite X4071UHSU-B1 iiyama.com
Operating system Windows 10 Pro microsoft.com

Benchmark Process

Our test platform has been refreshed for 2018 and now includes a hexa-core Intel Core i7-8700K processor overclocked using 1.225v to 4.8GHz across all cores. The 12-thread chip is paired to 32GB of dual-channel G.Skill Trident Z DDR4 memory set to run at 3,200MHz using the built-in XMP profile.

To get a feel for how the coolers compare, CPU temperature is logged while a large 4K video clip is encoded in multiple passes using the freeware HandBrake utility. The workload tasks all available threads for a prolonged period and, in order to provide a stabilised reading, we then calculate the average temperature across all cores from the last five minutes of encoding.

Actual CPU temperature is recorded and we also graph the delta temperature - that's CPU temperature minus ambient temperature. Last but not least, to give you an idea of cooler acoustics, we use a PCE-318 noise meter to measure overall system noise in both idle and load states.

Notes

Our be quiet! Dark Base 700 chassis is set to run with its two stock SilentWings 3 PWM fans - a 140mm front intake and a 140mm rear exhaust - both of which are set to low speed (setting 1) via the integrated fan hub. All CPU cooler fans are set to a 'silent' profile from within the Asus BIOS, and when testing liquid coolers the pump is connected to the motherboard's dedicated water-pump header.

When a radiator is used, it is installed in the roof or rear of the chassis and any bundled fans are configured to push air through the radiator and out of the enclosure.

Performance

A Core i7-8700K gets toasty when running at 4.8GHz across all cores, and it's in this sort of overclocking scenario that a high-end cooler makes good sense. Proving that size alone needn't be the determining factor when choosing a radiator, Cooler Master's ML120R does a stellar job with its dual fans operating in a push-pull configuration.

But there is a slight catch. In an effort to keep temperatures as low as possible, the bundled fans are somewhat aggressive and are, in our estimation, a little too eager to spin at higher speeds, at which point they become clearly audible. The pump, however, remains suitably quiet at all times, meaning fan noise can be easily balanced using a custom curve in BIOS.