Cooler Master MasterLiquid Pro 280 Review

February 14, 2017 // 11:39 a.m.

Tags: #aio #all-in-one-liquid-cooler #cooler-master #cooler-master-masterliquid-pro-280-review #liquid-cooling #water-cooling

Cooler Master MasterLiquid Pro 280 Review

Manufacturer: Cooler Master
UK price (as reviewed):
£101.99 (inc VAT)
US price (as reviewed): $129.99 (ex tax)

Cooler Master has refreshed its MasterLiquid Pro range of all-in-one coolers, adding two new models based on 140mm fans and moving to braided tubing. The MasterLiquid Pro 280 has the largest radiator of the range and is thus the flagship model, and it's the one we'll be looking at today.

Cooler Master MasterLiquid Pro 280 Review
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Despite only being 27mm thick, the radiator here still has loads of surface area through which water is dispersed on account of it being a 280mm model. It also utilises fins which are densely packed, and these use Cooler Master's Square Fin design, which Cooler Master says leaves more room for airflow and ensures greater contact between fins at water channels. The fins bend through right-angles rather than traditional curves, thus meeting the channels along whole edges rather than just the peaks of curves. The radiator has a high quality look and feel to it; even the black paint job strikes us as above average.

Cooler Master MasterLiquid Pro 280 Review Cooler Master MasterLiquid Pro 280 Review
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The quality construction continues into the tubing, which is thick but still very flexible and highly resistant to kinking. The braided outer coating adds a nice touch, aesthetically speaking, as well.

Cooler Master MasterLiquid Pro 280 Review Cooler Master MasterLiquid Pro 280 Review
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As before, Cooler Master is using a dual-chamber pump unit. The upper chamber is where cool water enters, and also where vital components like the pump motor are stored, while the lower chamber is the one that gets heated and out of where hot water flows. Storing the important bits in the cool upstairs chamber supposedly helps Cooler Master achieve a greater life expectancy with its pump – over 2.5 times what its competitors manage, at least if Cooler Master is to be believed. Liquid is sprayed directly at the reverse of the copper water block, where a stack of ultra-fine fins ensure there is plenty of surface area to be cooled. Blue LEDs light up the innards of the pump unit, visible through a window on its user-facing side, although these can't be controlled or disabled. Meanwhile, the pump runs off a 4-pin PWM connection; your motherboard might give you some control over this, but Cooler Master isn't using a USB connection to interface with the cooler, so there's no software control solution similar to what NZXT and Corsair have.

Cooler Master MasterLiquid Pro 280 Review Cooler Master MasterLiquid Pro 280 Review
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The fans supplied are Cooler Master's own MasterFan Pro 140 AP models, built specifically for high static pressure, which is generally preferred for fans that sit on radiators. They maintain the all-black aesthetic, and each runs via its own 4-pin PWM cable that's nicely braided. A braided splitter cable is also supplied, so you can control both from the same header. The fans both have rubberised mounting corners, but a rubber bracket that sits between the fans and the radiator adds a further means of isolating the fans from the radiator and containing vibrations. This is a nifty little addition, although you don't get a second one, so if you wanted to install a second row of fans they wouldn't be given the same luxury.

Cooler Master MasterLiquid Pro 280 Review
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Installation isn't too difficult, but it's still more fussy than we expect from all-in-one liquid coolers. After all, the only bit you're installing on top of the CPU is the small pump unit, which gives you much more space to work with than bulky air coolers. Cooler Master supplies separate mounting arms for AMD and Intel sockets that screw into the pump unit. There's also a universal metal backplate through which the mounting screws pass, each being secured by a plastic clip. However, there's nothing to hold this mounting apparatus in place once you've pushed it through the motherboard, so as you attempt to align the mounting arms with the screws you invariably push them out, or they pop out of position as you reach for a nut to secure one of the corners. It's doable after a few attempts but can be frustrating. LGA2011(-v3) socket users needn't worry, at least, as the mounting screws are secured to the socket itself, so you can't dislodge them.

Cooler Master MasterLiquid Pro 280 Review
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Specifications

  • Compatibility LGA775, LGA1366, LGA115x, LGA2011(-v3); AMD: AM4, AM3(+), AM2(+), FM2(+), FM1
  • Radiator size(mm) 311 x 27 x 138 (W x D x H)
  • Fan size (mm) 140 x 25 x 140 (W x D x H)
  • Fan(s) 2 x 140mm MasterFan 140 AP PWM, 650 ~ 2,200 RPM
  • Stated Noise 6-30 dB(A) per fan, <12 dB(A) pump

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