MasterLiquid ML280 Mirror Overview
Out of the box, the MasterLiquid ML280 Mirror is a pretty basic looking AIO. Aside from the infinity mirror on the pump housing, there isn’t really anything that stands out about this cooler. This can be a good thing or bad thing, depending on your personal preferences, but to us it was a bit underwhelming.
As the name implies, the ML280 Mirror is a 280mm AIO cooler, pairing two of Cooler Master’s new 140mm SickleFlow fans with a 27.2mm thick 280mm radiator. This AIO has very similar looks to some of Cooler Master’s previous AIO units, so lets take a look at some of the individual components of this kit.
First up we have the aforementioned 280mm aluminum radiator. Cooler Master is claiming a 25% size increase in radiator surface area, though they don’t say what that number is compared to. We will say that 27mm thickness is on the thin side of what we have seen from other manufacturers, so we presume they are touting improvements to their own radiators. Needless to say, more radiator surface area typically translates to better cooling, when paired with matching fans.
With 20 fins-per-inch, the tight fin density is able to provide adequate surface area while still confined to a 27.2mm thickness. The 140mm SickleFlow fans included with this AIO have a static pressure rating of 2.25mm-H2O, which is a bit low compared to the 140mm fans we have seen on other AIOs, but static pressure isn’t the only indicator of a fan’s performance, so we will let the testing results make that determination. The entire radiator exterior is outfitted with a slightly rough black paint job, and centered along each of the long sides of the radiator is a white Cooler Master logo. Each braided cooling line exits from one end of the radiator’s end cap, and these lines are connected to the radiator via crimped connectors. We found the cooling lines to be quite flexible during installation, though their length seemed a bit short to us during installation.
Taking a look at the CPU water block and pump combination unit, we can see that is resembles past MasterLiquid AIOs, as well as many other circular-designed units with mirrored tops. This third generation pump block design is engineered with low sound and improved performance in mind. Cooler Master has always touted their dual chamber design, and it seems to be working well for them, as they continue to revise it with improvements along the way. Sitting on top of that CPU block is a low-noise pump that is designed to run at under 10 dBA, an impressive number to say the least. Its 70,000 hour life expectancy translates to just under eight years of continuous operation, and while the AIO’s warranty is only two years long, that should offer some peace of mind.
Taking a look from the top down, we see a circular design with a mirrored top plate that acts as an infinity mirror, hence the ML280 Mirror name. The material surrounding the pump housing is a satin black plastic that provides a sleek, understated look to the unit. Beneath the mirrored finish of the pump housing is an ARGB LED lighting array that can be controlled via the kit’s included controller, or by a compatible motherboard and software. A frosted ring around the illuminated top, as well as a hollow Cooler Master logo, are made more visible once the unit is powered on, which we will cover a bit later.
Making our way around the cooler, exiting from the right side we have the two cooling lines. Each line is paired up with a swiveling fitting to make installation and fitment much easier than with fixed connections. The dual chamber design of this pump is clearly observed here, as one of the output fitting is slightly higher than the inlet.
At the top of the pump housing we have a small opening through which the 3-pin ARGB cable and 3-pin pump power cable exit. Yes, we did say 3-pin, as the pump is not PWM enabled, and will only allow for powering the pump and monitoring its speed.
The left side of the pump housing has a small port cover that is concealed by a sticker that voids the warranty if removed. This type of port is pretty common on AIOs, we just wish we could see manufacturers figure out a better way to conceal it.
Taking a look at the underside of the cooler, we see a copper cold plate, secured to the pump via eight screws. While there is a bit of machining visible on the surface of the water block, these lines were not noticeable to the touch.
Cooler Master has chosen not to pre-apply thermal interface material to the cooler, but has chosen to include a small tube of their own MasterGel Pro material. While we do appreciate the ease of use with pre-applied material, we also appreciate the ability to re-install the cooler on multiple systems and not have to worry about finding thermal paste.
Included with the Master Liquid ML280 Mirror, though not attached, are two of their new 140mm SickleFlow fans. Cooler Master leaves these fans off of the radiator so that you can choose whether to use a push or pull fan configuration. Of course, all of the necessary hardware is included to mount the fans to the radiator, and their installation is as easy as screwing in eight screws.
A far as specifications go, these seven-blade fans have an operating range of 650-1400 RPM, and are capable of pushing up to 67 CFM of airflow.
These PWM fans are also outfitted with rubber dampening pads at each corner, so they are ready to go to work in either a push or pull configuration.
In order to control the lighting found on the pump housing, Cooler Master has included a small ARGB controller that is capable of a few limited lighting modes. And when we say limited, we really mean it. There are just three lighting modes available – Rainbow, Color Cycle, and Static (3 colors only). In order to cycle through the lighting modes, a small button is provided. While we appreciate it’s inclusion, these built-in lighting modes just don’t cut it in a world where ARGB is very common, and controllers typically offer a dozen or more modes. The only real feature of the controller is the internal magnet which makes mounting it in most cases very easy.