The Bottom Line
Introduction, Specifications, and Pricing
As Cooler Master entered the liquid cooling game, things started off for them with the Seidon series of coolers. A year or so after that, they dropped the Neptune series, and what differentiated them, outside of the size of the units we tested, is that the former used a round head unit, while the latter was square. Another year or two passed, and Cooler Master dove into what they called the MASTERLIQUID coolers. In this series, we have seen them followed with things like Maker, and Pro, even ML, but this time around the moniker merely is MASTERLIQUID followed by the size of the radiator, but it is what comes at the end that makes all the difference.
The most important letter towards the end of the name is an "L." In the terminology that Cooler Master has developed, this letter stands for Lite. What they intend to do with the Lite series, is to dial back the noise, dial back performance, and even dial back the price. The second bit of the end of the name is that this cooler is RGB capable. This can be handled in one of two ways. There is support for various motherboard makers RGB LED Sync systems, or the other option is to use an included controller system, which enables those without Sync capabilities the ability to still have the desired color or pattern of lights displayed.
Getting to the nuts and bolts of why we are here today, it is to introduce to you, the MASTERLIQUID ML240L RGB cooler from Cooler Master. We have addressed the naming, we have discussed what comes in a cooler with this name, and it is about time we dive right in and see how this cooler comes out in the end. While we show off the MASTERLIQUID ML240 L RGB in as fine a detail as we can, put it through our rigorous testing, and present our findings, we do feel that Cooler Master is on a better path. While many companies are using fancy marketing and still digging deep into your pockets, Cooler Master is upfront with their intentions, and have adjusted all aspects accordingly.
The ML240L RGB can also be searched for using the MLW-D24M-A20PC-R1 so that there is no confusion with previously released MASTERLIQUID coolers. It is designed to work with All Intel sockets going back as far as LGA775, and anything AMD since AM2. The radiator is made of aluminum, and is 277mm long, 119,6mm wide, and is 27mm thick. There is no mention of the tubing, but we know it is sleeved, and it is twelve inches in length. The tubing connects the head unit to the rest of the loop and is where the heat removal begins with the help of the built-in pump. The head unit is 76mm in diameter, but due to mounting tabs, in one direction it is 80.3mm wide. It stands 42.2mm in height, can run for 70,000 hours, is quiet, is powered with a 3-pin fan connector, and all of the parts included in the box are covered for two years under warranty.
There is a pair of fans that come in the box to cool the radiator. The 120mm fans of choice in this instance are the MasterFan 120 AB-DF1202512RFMN. These black framed fans with nine clear blades and hub are used not only to remove heat but also as an additional way to deliver RGB LED lighting outside of the Cooler Master logo on the top of the head unit. This fans can top out at 2000 RPM, deliver 66.7 CFM, and can push 2.34 mmH2O of pressure. The life of the fans is over twice what the pump is rated for, they are 30 dB(A) at max volume, and use 4-pin PWM connections for power.
Most 240mm AIOs would release at least $129, and we have seen some examples lately that creep much closer to the $150 mark. However, as we mentioned earlier on, Cooler Master is one company that is willing not to rake the customers over the coals. Cooler Master knows this is not the best performer in the group, and with that knowledge, set the MSRP at $99.99, and remember, this is a 240mm AIO here. What we like even more, is that if you are one to shop around, better deals can be found. At this time, the cooler can be had for just $79.99 at Amazon, which brings more value. If you are looking for the best way to get your money's worth from an AIO, you should look to Newegg for it, because right now it is only $69.99 there. We applaud Cooler Master for not demanding top dollar here, and when it concludes, this will bode well for them.
With the log at the top, an image of the cooler in the middle, and the full name at the bottom, we covered what is on the left side. In the top-right corner, there are mentions of the socket support as well as the inclusion of the RGB-splitter cable and controller. In the bottom-right corner, we find what motherboard Sync systems work with the cooler, and that there are 16.7 million color options to choose from.
While the information on this side panel is limited, we do see that Cooler Master, in fifteen languages, informs the customer that this is the MASTERLIQUID ML240L RGB cooler, and where you should go to read up on them.
The back of the box delivers lists of features in various languages. Cooler Master mentions the quality, the dual-chambered pump design, RGB on both the fans and the head unit, that it is quiet, and that they claim the cooler can be installed in five minutes. In the bottom-right corner, there are small dimensional renderings, to ensure you know what it takes to fit the cooler into your chassis.
While the rest of the panels offer the logo and name of the cooler inside, the last panel to provide something for the customer to base a buying decision off of, we find the specifications chart on this one. Everything we saw in the earlier specs chart is presented here.
On the inside, we are looking at the recycled cardboard inner packaging. Along with its ability to keep all of the components from touching in transit, it also helps in not allowing the box to be crushed. To keep the dust to a minimum, and to protect the finishes, all of the parts are wrapped in plastic. The fans are set off to the left, but we located the hardware near the head unit, along the front edge.
Cooler Master MASTERLIQUID ML240L RGB CPU Cooler
Cooler Master MASTERLIQUID ML240L RGB Cooler
The head unit used on the ML240L RGB is a tad irregular from what we see everyone else doing. It is round and sleek looking at the top, has a CM logo that is backlit, but we do see the mounting brackets, which are part of the head unit, and requires other bits be mounted to it.
The fittings on the side swivel, and the tubing and the sleeve are retained by heat-shrink tube. Near one of the fittings is a small hole in the plastic cover, where two leads come out of it. One is a four wire lead for the 4-pin PWM fan connector to power it, while the other is a three wire lead, which is used for RGB control of the backlight.
We removed a plastic sticker that protects the base of the cooler so that we could get a better look at the cold plate. The copper plate is machined straight across the surface, it is flat, but the edges do curve from the pressure of the screws. Speaking of the screws, six of them use a triangle shaped driver to remove them, but two of the screws cannot be removed once installed.
Moving from the head unit, down along the tubing, we find twelve inches of it on the ML240L RGB. The heat-shrink tube is used at this end to keep the tubing and sleeve on the fittings, and the leads from the head unit are roughly ten inches long.
The radiator is all we expect to see with an AIO. It has screw holes on both sides, one header is thicker than the other, and the FPI count is quite high.
Accessories and Documentation
The left side of this image has the AMD brackets which screw to the head unit and uses the factory socket bracket to mount to. In the middle is the universal Intel backplate. That leaves the Intel mounting brackets to the right.
For LGA20xx users, there is a bag containing the standoffs for those motherboards. The next bag includes eight long and eight short fan screws. To the right, we have the clips to locate the standard Intel studs in the backplate, there are four screws to mount the AMD and Intel brackets to the head unit, and thumbscrews to attach the head unit to the rest of the Intel mounting hardware.
Cooler Master delivered a 4-pin fan Y-splitter cable so you can use one connection for both on the motherboard. There is a 3-to-1 RGB-splitter cable that works with the parts to the right. There is a Molex power plug which connects to the controller at the bottom, and with the four 4-pin adapters, you join the RGB cables together with.
The included fans are 120mm in size, they have round black frames, the corners have rubber on both sides, and the blades are clear. The MasterFan 120 AM fans are also RGB LED backlit. With the clear hub and fins, it allows lights in the center to flood out into the chassis.
If you are not sure how to mount the cooler, lean on the paperwork on the left. There is a parts list, and a full set of instructions for AMD on one side, and on the other is the Intel instructions, once unfolded. The warranty information insert is important too. You see at the bottom it states there is a two-year warranty, but there is much more information on what is covered and how to get help in there too.
Installation and Finished Product
The initial step for Intel mounting is to grab the Intel brackets and mount them to the head unit. To do so, the brackets sit on top of the plastic tabs on the head unit, and the screws go from the bottom, into threads in the brackets. Go ahead and lock these down tight.
We are then told to prep the backplate, which for AMD users would already be on the motherboard. The heads of the studs sit in a groove on the other side, to ensure they will not twist. Once they are in the slots, take the black plastic locks, and clip them onto the studs, and once they are locked together, you can slide them in and out to line up with various socket spread measurements.
Once the backplate is assembled, you align the screws with the holes in the motherboard and drop it in. The way that the plate covers the socket screws is the same on all four sides making orientation irrelevant.
As we get ready to install the head unit, we flipped the board over. There are no spacers or lock nuts of any sort; the backplate sits there until we move to the final steps.
Making sure to apply thermal paste, we can then install the head unit. To do so, set the cold –plate against the CPU, and grab the nuts to mount it. Spinning each a few turns, while moving in an X-pattern is best, and feel free to screw the nuts down until you run out of threads.
In this chassis, the height of the top is exaggerated compared to most mid-tower and full-tower cases. It does prove a point though, and it if can mount in this chassis the way it does, in an ordinary case, there will be no issues reaching. We also see that there is a matching logo on the side of the radiator, to go with the one found on the head unit.
We stuck with the CM purple that they like to show their products with. However, there are plenty of choices with the controller to use one of six modes, and the colors can be cycled through until one you like is on at the time. Connecting the cooler to the motherboard for RGB control will deliver whatever modes are offered, and the same goes for color choices. Only one color is present at a time, and while it may shift and blend into another color, the fans do not have a rainbow mode, where many colors are offered at once.
Test System Setup, Thermal Tests, and Noise Results
Chad's CPU Cooler Test System Specifications
- Motherboard: ASUS ROG Maximus VIII HERO (Intel Z170) - Buy from Amazon / Read our review
- CPU: Intel Core i7 6700K - Buy from Amazon / Read our review
- Memory: Patriot Viper 4 3000MHz 4X4GB - Buy from Amazon / Read our review
- Graphics Card: MSI GeForce GTX 1060 6GB OC - Buy from Amazon / Read our review
- Storage: Corsair Neutron XTi 480GB - Buy from Amazon / Read our review
- Case: INWIN D-Frame - Read our review
- Power Supply: Thermaltake Toughpower DPS 1050W - Buy from Amazon / Read our review
- OS: Microsoft Windows 10 Home 64-bit - Buy from Amazon
- Software: RealTemp 3.70, AIDA64 Engineer 5.75.3900, and CPU-z 1.77.0 x64
To see our testing methodology and to find out what goes into making our charts, please refer to our CPU Cooler Testing and Methodology article (October 2016) for more information.
Stock, at 58.75-degrees, we are not upset with the results. The MA610P cost is similar, and we are close to a $150 AIOs performance in silent mode. The performance here is not the best, unmistakably, yet at the same time, we aren't mad at CM, they explained up front it may not be the best performing option out there.
Temperature jumps up to 76.25-degrees with the overclock applied. Still keeping up with much more expensive AIOs, and is not that far away from all of the $50 coolers that are above and below it on the chart.
Nearly two degrees is all that is left in the tank, moving from PWM control of the fans to a constant supply of 12V. With what you will see in the following charts, Cooler Master does a terrific job of getting the most from the cooler while being silent, as not to have to deal with the noise that comes up during this test.
Noise Level Results
As it stands in the chart, the ML240L RGB appears to be poor in this test. However, there are only a couple we would say have failed, and the 32 dB of noise, while the fans spin at 1194 RPM, is easy to deal with.
As the fans move from around 1200 RPM to 1406 RPM, with just 200 RPM climbed, the noise level does not move that much. At this time, we heard 37 dB of noise, and it is still in the range of not being that big of a deal, and in a closed chassis, it is likely you will not hear much of them at all.
The next 600 RPM jump to 1980 RPM when the fans are powered with 12V, the increase in noise is vast. 52 dB is annoying, and no matter the chassis used, you will hear these droning away. For what little gain there is by doing so, and with the efficiency of the PWM fan curve, you will never need to go here, unless you are clocking the pants off of your processor.
In the end, the MASTERLIQUID ML240L RGB is not the best of much really when you look at the charts. At the same time, there is much more to consider when it comes to this cooler. While we have been on tilt with companies asking the same price for new coolers, while delivering much less cooling, but adding things for fun, that does not affect what the cooler does for temperatures.
Where Cooler Master breaks the mold, is that they are honest about everything. They know what it does, and they added RGB, following the trend of many others. At the same time, they are sure to keep costs appropriate, because they know that the RGB lighting is not much more to add if it had no lights at all. With the trend of silence over everything in an AIO design, Cooler Master is giving us hope, which you don't have to feel ripped off, just for the ease of mounting the cooler and offsetting the heat. The cooler is solid, it is well thought out, and the additional gear for optional RGB control is a massive bonus for those with older systems, or even new ones without RGB supportive motherboards.
Aside from mounting the brackets to the head unit, much of the installation can be done by hand, whether it is the use of the long fan screws, or the knurled nuts to mount eh cooler to the motherboard. When Cooler Master mentioned the five minute install time, of just the cooler mind you, they are not far off the mark. While the RGB implementation is not the best on the market, at this price, it doesn't need to be. We like that as the motherboard and chassis cycle through colors in various modes; our ML240L RGB will match whatever is going on. Even if you are stuck with the optional controls, the modes and color choices there will keep most customers happy.
What is all boils down to in the end is the cost. Being able to obtain the MASTERLIQUID ML240L RGB cooler at $69.99 is outstanding. While it cannot top the chart, it did not cost more than $100 either. It is silent when under control of the PWM circuits in regular use, and the bling factor doesn't cost anything extra to have. It is just there already. Nearly $40 cheaper than some similar coolers we have just seen helps ease the fact that AIOs are not looking to top the charts anymore. We thank you, Cooler Master, for delivering a product as many others do, give us plenty to look at and enjoy, all while putting the price at a point to where customers appreciate what is going on. Not only can we have something to look at through the window, and show it off to friends and family, but we get it all without having to start a GoFundMe page to afford it.
The Bottom Line: The MASTERLIQUID ML240L RGB may not be a chart topper, but what it does offer is great for the end-user! It is quiet, it is easy to install, appeal is up due to RGB LEDs, and best of all, it is priced where it should be! No individual feature is worthy of a special award, but CM is on the right path!
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