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Thread: MSI MAG CORELIQUID 360R Reader Review by Spud1 - Dec 2020

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    Theoretical Element Spud1's Avatar
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    MSI MAG CORELIQUID 360R Reader Review by Spud1 - Dec 2020

    Back in January 2019 I decided to watercool my PC, and popped over to Scan to get the parts. This consisted of an EK Evo block, 280x45mm radiator, D5 etc..built in a BeQuiet! Darkbase Pro 900 Rev 2.0. It was my first custom loop and I was happy at the time…



    Roll forward nearly two years, and my mistakes have become apparent. I mounted the radiator incorrectly (thanks Steve @ GN) which was starting to cause some pump whine, I forgot a drain valve, found a “hidden” kink in one of the water lines, and I had not changed the water in nearly 2 years. It was getting a bit yukky and although performant, noise was getting to be an issue and it needed some attention.

    Then Hexus & MSI kindly sent me an MSI MAG Coreliquid 360R AIO cooler to review, and I figured it would be a good reason to strip out what I have in place already and test an AIO out as a comparison. I’ve never been a fan of AIOs before so my expectations were fairly low coming into this. Read on to see how I got on!

    Unboxing/Initial impressions
    I was curious to see how an AIO is packaged given it’s liquid content and how parcels are typically handled by couriers. The packaging is bigger than I expected and everything is well packed with decent protection. Every item is very secure and won’t move around in transit, with most packing materials being recyclable. Plus points there, but that's let down by covering everything in individual plastic bags inside. Still, better than some!
    I quite like the clean & simple branding though.




    Everything unpacked now and on the bench. The kit includes:

    • 360R Cooler itself
    • 3 ARGB MSI Fans
    • Every mounting bracket you could want for modern consumer CPUs
    • Various adaptor cables, inc a fan speed reducer
    • Unknown brand thermal paste
    • A quick start guide




    My initial impressions are fairly positive. The radiator is a lot thinner than I expected (half the width of my old one!) and it seems well built and the tubing seemed pretty well insulated. No major surprises really. It includes12 mounting holes (4 per fan) on both sides, giving you a lot of flexibility in mounting. This is where you’ll also notice the strange squares on the radiator. This is actually the pump, which is how MSI (well, Apalcool/Apaltek) has gotten around that crazy Asetek patent which has crippled innovation in the AIO market. It’s a similar approach to what NZXT used in the M22, but this time in 240 and 360mm sizes rather than just 140.



    The waterblock was also interesting - it has a rotatable top which MSI has made a lot of noise about..in reality, whilst a nice benefit to let you route the aRGB cable to fit your motherboard layout, it’s not a feature that makes this worth buying on it’s own. Very much the gimmick.
    It doesn’t house the pump though, so as a result it’s smaller than most AIO blocks, and has a bit of a cleaner look in my opinion. It’s a round block - something of a “style over function” thing to me and it’s a shame they could not make it a bit larger to cover the bigger CPUs. Then again, if you are running a Threadripper or similar you can likely afford to install a custom loop that will do a better job for that use case, so it would be a bit unfair of me to criticise for this too much!



    The fans are decent for an AIO system, running at 500-2000 RPM (controlled by PWM) and a maximum airflow rating of 78.73 CFM. Not much to say about them at this stage, but they look well made and like they will do the job!

    Of course all three fans + the CPU Block are all ARGB, which can be fully disabled if you are not a fan!

    Last edited by Spud1; 16-12-2020 at 10:43 PM.

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    ik9000 (16-12-2020),Pob255 (17-12-2020),Terbinator (17-12-2020),Zak33 (17-12-2020)

  3. #2
    Theoretical Element Spud1's Avatar
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    • Spud1's system
      • Motherboard:
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      • CPU:
      • 9900k
      • Memory:
      • 16GB GSkill Trident Z
      • Storage:
      • Lots.
      • Graphics card(s):
      • RTX3090
      • PSU:
      • 750w
      • Case:
      • BeQuiet Dark Base Pro rev.2
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      • Windows 10
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      • Asus PG35VQ
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    Re: MSI MAG CORELIQUID 360R Reader Review by Spud1 - Dec 2020

    Installation

    Installation *should* have been fairly painless, but actually took me a few hours..most of which was disassembling my old loop, or redoing the installation due to some mistakes I made along the way.
    The included instructions are very, very basic - almost IKEA level of help - but to be fair to MSI, you don’t really need a whole lot more if you are familiar with water cooling principles.
    If you are a beginner though you really do need more help than they offer in the box, and whilst there are some excellent youtube guides available from MSI, users are not signposted to them. First real negative I have really!

    This is the case ready to have the cooler installed (save for a bit more cleaning). This is going to be a top mount.




    In principle to install this you need to:
    • Install the correct mount for your CPU socket type. This was fairly easy but a little fiddly for the LGA1151 socket on my CPU - the mounting system is rather basic compared to what EKWB provide you with for example.
    • Mount the radiator - how easy this is depends on your case, but for me it was simple to do since the BeQuiet! Case has plenty of room at the top
    • Mount the fans - may be combined with the step above depending on your case
    • Attach the CPU mounting bracket to the waterblock. This is where I made my mistake - you have to align the bracket perfectly and this is not shown in the instructions. I initially put it on backwards, leading to an incorrect mount and very high temps - see below!
    • Apply thermal paste and attach the block
    • Attach the cables to power as needed, and switch on!



    The cabling is worth touching on here as it’s a strength of this AIO. Despite three fans, a pump and a lot of RGB..you only need 3 connections on your motherboard. Each of the fans can be daisy chained for power using an included adaptor (nice touch MSI!) and the same is true for ARGB, although the chaining here is built in and does not need an adaptor. You can still connect things individually if you prefer.

    This allows for a very clean look with minimal visible wiring.

    This is after the first installation, before powering on. Note I used the iGPU for initial tests to avoid the GPU adding to the case heat. I had to change that up for the gaming tests though!




    Personally, I think it looks great in my case and this was a lot easier to route & manage than with my own custom loop. Overall this was easy to install as well, but I think clearer instructions need to be included particularly when it comes to mounting the block.

    And again, all finished save for a bit of cable management & dusting

    Last edited by Spud1; 16-12-2020 at 10:35 PM.

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  5. #3
    Theoretical Element Spud1's Avatar
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      • CPU:
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      • 16GB GSkill Trident Z
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      • Graphics card(s):
      • RTX3090
      • PSU:
      • 750w
      • Case:
      • BeQuiet Dark Base Pro rev.2
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    Re: MSI MAG CORELIQUID 360R Reader Review by Spud1 - Dec 2020

    Testing

    Testing was performed on the following PC configuration

    Intel 9900K running at stock settings for this test
    32GB G-Skill Trident Z DDR3200
    Gigabyte Aurous Master Z390 motherboard
    Gigabyte RTX3090 Gaming OC
    Windows 10 Pro

    Test software - OpenHardwareMonitor, Prime95v303b6, Call of Duty Warzone for gaming workloads

    All noise measured at ear height from my desk chair (approx 50cm from the cooler), using the“Sound Meter” Android App.

    I have done testing showing the before & after on my old loop vs the new AIO for comparisons. The results surprised me a little!



    Temperature tests
    Ambient for all tests: 20 degrees, and all temps were read using openhardwaremonitor. In each case the system was left for an hour to warm up the loop before starting a test. The Prime95 & gaming workloads showed the CPU boosting to 4.9ghz on all cores.

    After 1 hour office use/youtube
    Custom loop - 34 degrees package, 32-34 on cores
    MSI 360R - 39 degrees package, 36-40 on cores


    Load tests using Prime95, 16 workers, mixed run.
    Custom Loop - 65 degrees avg, peak of 75
    MSI 360R - 65 degrees avg, peak of 79

    Call of Duty Warzone
    Custom Loop - 62 degrees avg, peak of 69
    MSI 360R - 64 degrees avg, peak of 69

    These were quite surprising - I really didn’t have high hopes for this cooler after seeing how thin the radiator was, but as you can see the numbers are very, very close to my custom loop, only staying a few degrees higher in Warzone, and remaining a few degrees higher at idle. For a 9900k @4.9ghz that isn’t bad. It’s not amazing and I have achieved 10 degree better with a clean loop before, but for an AIO I think this is pretty impressive.

    Quick note on my failed initial test - the first boot with the cooler showed idle temps of 50 degrees and load tests of over 90 - clearly a problem! After taking a closer look, the CPU block was incorrectly mounted slightly off to the right, as a result of my error fitting the bracket. As stated above, MSI really do need to improve their instructions to help make this more obvious.


    Noise Tests

    Custom loop
    Ambient Room Noise level: 28
    Silent Fan speed: 38
    “Gaming” Fan speed: 42

    MSI 360R
    Ambient Room Noise level: 28
    Silent Fan speed: 34
    “Gaming” Fan speed: 42

    This is where my second surprise came in - when my PC is not doing much (e.g. when i'm just running office/teams etc for work), this setup is quieter than my old custom loop - despite having an extra fan in the system. This is likely due to the way the fan curve is set up by default on my motherboard, and this also explains why the “idle” temperature of my CPU is higher than with my old custom loop.

    When gaming, the noise level ramps up to the same as my old setup and it actually sounds similar - just without the gurgling I was getting from my old pump. It’s audible at this level for sure, however as I have my headphones on whilst gaming, it’s not an issue for me..and if I was happy to settle for higher temperatures, I could adjust the fan curve to keep it near silent. Note I have not tested using the included noise reducer, preferring to use PWM, however this could reduce noise even further at the cost of some performance.
    Last edited by Spud1; 16-12-2020 at 10:46 PM.

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  7. #4
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      • Windows 10
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    Re: MSI MAG CORELIQUID 360R Reader Review by Spud1 - Dec 2020

    Conclusion

    So overall, i’m fairly impressed with the cooler itself. Fitting should be easy enough if you know what you are doing, performance is good for the noise but not spectacular, and I think the pump-in-radiator design works well.

    Despite what else you see in my case, I am not really an RGB fan so I have not played around with it that much - but suffice to say you can control the RGBs with your preferred engine very easily to create the look you want, and the RGBs are bright enough to really shine through - if you are an RGB fan I don't think you'll be too dissapointed.

    I guess the key question is would I have spend £130 of my own money on this? Well…..sorry MSI but no I probably wouldn’t. There are alternatives that offer better performance for the same money & noise envelope, and for me the rotating CPU block & pump-in-radiator isn’t enough of a difference to sway me to this one. It's great to have choice though in the market and something that isn't just another Asetek!

    Will I keep it installed though? Yes, I will. It looks good in my system, performance is good enough for my needs at the moment and I am not sure I want to spend an evening rebuilding my machine just yet

    Pros:
    • Relatively affordable
    • Looks Good
    • Good cable management options
    • Lots of aRGB
    • Good, if not amazing, performance


    Cons:
    • Instructions need a lot of work
    • Stingy on the thermal paste - only enough for one application included
    • Performance could be better for as 360 radiator



    7/10




    Update: 02/01/21

    It's been a few weeks since I installed this and I have a one more thought to share now i've had chance for real world testing (i.e. 3 days off work and nothing to do but play games ).

    All my comments above remain true, but I wanted to add that my GPU performance has actually increased since installing this cooler, which was a bit of a nice brucie bonus! The boost clock on my 3090 is now hitting an stable average of 1975 (peak is about 2010), whereas on my old setup it would top out at 1950.

    This doesn't make a noticeable difference in games, and is likely more to do with the way I have setup the fans in my case now...but it does imply that the overall temperature in my case has dropped as a result of fitting this cooler and replacing my custom loop with an AIO. Also happy to report that i've not had any issues with noise or pump whine either - remains as per above!
    Last edited by Spud1; 02-01-2021 at 01:37 PM.

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    Re: MSI MAG CORELIQUID 360R Reader Review by Spud1 - Dec 2020

    good effort Spud. Again I'm getting the envy pangs. I should have done this and hooked the thing up to plot its noise frequency dB. Did you notice any whine/gurgle etc?

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    Re: MSI MAG CORELIQUID 360R Reader Review by Spud1 - Dec 2020

    So that's what the RGB looks like

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    Re: MSI MAG CORELIQUID 360R Reader Review by Spud1 - Dec 2020

    Nice "ring of fire" setting. I've seen something like that before... oh yeah:



    suddenly Corsair's ICU monika makes sense!

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  14. #8
    Theoretical Element Spud1's Avatar
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    Re: MSI MAG CORELIQUID 360R Reader Review by Spud1 - Dec 2020

    thanks...the "ring of fire" is the out of the box default It's back off now!

    Regards whine - i don't notice any in normal use, if the pump & fans ramp up then yes you can hear some whine - but my case has good noise reducing padding all over it and it makes a big difference (and also means my temps are going to be a bit higher than optimal).

    No gurgling/popping/crackling though at all.


    I might do some overclocking testing on this later in the week....I know my chip can go to 5.2ghz and i'd be interested to see if this thing can keep it under 85 degrees. Not overly useful as I don't need the extra CPU speed but could be interesting.

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    Re: MSI MAG CORELIQUID 360R Reader Review by Spud1 - Dec 2020

    Beautiful work Spud. Excellent in many ways

    Quote Originally Posted by Advice Trinity by Knoxville
    "The second you aren't paying attention to the tool you're using, it will take your fingers from you. It does not know sympathy." |
    "If you don't gaffer it, it will gaffer you" | "Belt and braces"

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  18. #10
    Theoretical Element Spud1's Avatar
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      • CPU:
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      • Graphics card(s):
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      • PSU:
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      • BeQuiet Dark Base Pro rev.2
      • Operating System:
      • Windows 10
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    Re: MSI MAG CORELIQUID 360R Reader Review by Spud1 - Dec 2020

    Update: 02/01/21

    It's been a few weeks since I installed this and I have a one more thought to share now i've had chance for real world testing (i.e. 3 days off work and nothing to do but play games ).

    All my comments above remain true, but I wanted to add that my GPU performance has actually increased since installing this cooler, which was a bit of a nice brucie bonus! The boost clock on my 3090 is now hitting an stable average of 1975 (peak is about 2010), whereas on my old setup it would top out at 1950.

    This doesn't make a noticeable difference in games, and is likely more to do with the way I have setup the fans in my case now...but it does imply that the overall temperature in my case has dropped as a result of fitting this cooler and replacing my custom loop with an AIO. Also happy to report that i've not had any issues with noise or pump whine either - remains as per above!

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    Re: MSI MAG CORELIQUID 360R Reader Review by Spud1 - Dec 2020

    I wonder if a MSI MAG CORELIQUID 360R would outperform a be quiet silent loop 360.

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