As with most AIOs, the installation of the Cooler Master MasterLiquid ML280 Mirror is quite easy. As DIY PC building seems to be getting more popular each and every day, the option of AIO liquid coolers is sure to entice those wanting to have a more advanced build, and easy installation will go a long way towards not scaring off first-time builders. As we mentioned when we covered the included accessories, Cooler Master has included all of the necessary mounting hardware for a large list of both Intel and AMD processors, but they have also included a physical installation guide and manual. We have seen quite a few companies move to digital versions of their product manuals, and while we appreciate their reduced waste, we still prefer a physical copy of installation instructions, and were happy to have them for this kit.
Our testing is performed with fans in a push configuration, so to get things started, we first needed to secure the fans to the radiator using the supplied screws. This is a very simple process, and as long as you line up the screws with the screw holes, and know how to use a screwdriver, there isn’t much else to it.
One thing to keep in mind however, is the orientation of the fans with regards to their power cables. We mounted the fans to the radiator so that their PWM cables would be between the fan frames and our motherboard tray. That allows us to easily route them behind the motherboard tray for easier cable management.
From the factory, the ML280 Mirror doesn’t have any AMD or Intel mounting hardware installed, so our first step of CPU block installation was to install the AMD mounting hardware for our Ryzen 7 1800X test system. This is a pretty trivial process that involves mounting two brackets to the ends of the pump housing with four included screws.
With the brackets connected to the pump housing, this enables the attached clips and their threaded hardware to secure the AIO to the motherboard’s AM4 mounting brackets.
Placing the cooler onto the CPU, we were able to first line up one side’s clip with the plastic AM4 mounting bracket and tighten it down slightly to remove a bit of slack. Then we simply tilted the cooler to be flat against the CPU and proceeded to latch and tighten the other thumbscrew. Unlike some other mounting methods, there are no Philips-head fittings here – thumbscrews is all that is needed to get the cooler mounted to your CPU.
Next up is attaching the radiator to the top of our case. Just like attaching the fans to the radiator, attaching the radiator to the case is a simple task. Using the eight included screws, simply align them with the appropriate mounting points on your case, and tighten. One thing we would like to make known is the relatively short tubing length between the radiator and pump housing. While adequate to allow the radiator to reach the top of our case, we would have liked a bit more tubing length to allow for a bit more flexibility with regards to mounting options. We also made sure to thread the fan cables through our case’s cable management openings in preparation of wiring everything up.
In order to power the ML280 Mirror’s pump, we needed to connect the 3-pin power connector to our Motherboard’s CPU_Fan header. This will allow us to not only power on the pump, but monitor its speed. Next we connected the pump’s 3-pin ARGB cable to the wiring harness for the included ARGB controller. This wiring harness also has a standard SATA power connector to provide power to the controller and LEDs. Clicking the wiring harness into the controller is as simple as it gets, and placing the controller in a handy spot is made easy due to the internal magnets.
With the cooler fully installed and wired up, we are ready to see how it performs!