Liquid-cooled PCs have been around for decades, but closed-loop coolers have burst onto the PC customization scene as a viable cooling method for enthusiasts and overclockers alike over the last several years. Even more recently, enthusiasts have wanted more control and customization over cooling (pump speed, CPU load) and lighting. These coolers offer simple installation, no-touch maintenance, and the end result of wearing that ‘I Liquid Cool!’ badge.
Cooler Master follows the self-contained cooler route with its Master Liquid ML120L RGB, the little brother to the Master Liquid ML240L that was released at the same time. The sleek, matte black unit utilizes a 120mm radiator with moderate FPI (folds per inch) coupled with a 120 AB MasterFan with RGB color capability.
The cooler incorporates a PWM controlled dual-chamber pump that also includes synchronized RGB color control, nylon sleeved tubing, and 4-pin color management that can be directly controlled by RGB certified motherboards or manually from the Molex-powered control wand for those of us still living without 16.7 million color capability. The RGB 4-pin splitter tail connects both the pump housing and fan to the LED color controller or your RGB-compatible motherboard with coordinating light patterns for the cooler.
The Cooler Master ML120L RGB uses an oval-octagonal copper block that features a lateral grain finish, so rather than being mirror-smooth, the intent is to rely on thermal paste application, mounting pressure, and thermal load to optimize the contact with the CPU across the several sockets that are supported. Given that the ML120L RGB supports most current Intel and AMD sockets, the intent is to be as universal as possible. The unit does not come installed with any mounting hardware, but the installation guide provides a simple and straightforward set of steps.
The ML120L RGB comes with the usual assortment of accompanying hardware and installation components. One of the best additions comes in the form of a small tube of Cooler Master thermal paste rather than a pre-applied ‘splotch’ of chalky thermal compound found on most other all-in-one or closed-loop coolers. The Cooler Master 120 AB fan sports rubberized mounts at the corners and includes thumbscrews to make mounting the fan to the radiator a much more enjoyable process. Although this might be a seemingly trivial feature, it makes fan installation incredibly simple—just ask anyone who has dropped a fan screw while attempting to use a screwdriver to affix it into position.
Speaking of screws, if there is one complaint I have about any manufacturer’s packaged hardware, it is typically the lack of options in terms of screws and washers for affixing radiators to most typical case mounting locations. In this instance, Cooler Master includes very short screws that have very narrow heads, which work decently when mounting the 120mm radiator to a normal case with small or normal screw holes, but when used in a case with rubber grommets, such as with our reference Corsair Graphite 760T, they aren't long enough, and they are too narrow. Inclusion of some (read: optional) longer length screws with washers or simply using slightly longer screws with larger heads would allow for more universal installation options.
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