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Thread: MSI MAG CORELIQUID 360R Reader Review by Spacein_vader

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    MSI MAG CORELIQUID 360R Reader Review by Spacein_vader

    Having never used an AIO or any other kind of liquid cooler I was intrigued when Hexus and MSI sent me one to try. While my Ryzen 3 3600 is only a 65w model I was hoping to see a reduction in temperatures, no increase in noise and to see just how garish the RGB would be when used in conjunction with my MSI B450 Tomahawk MAX motherboard. In the interests of disclosure I made an error when I asked to be considered. I thought I was running the stock AMD cooler but on opening the case remembered that I had in fact swapped it out for a Coolermaster Evo 212 last Christmas. That said, surely a £120 AIO (RRP is £150 but few places seem to sell it for that price,) should be able to beat a £20 air cooler?

    The tl;dr version of the review is: This cooler surprised me in many ways positive and negative while challenging my perceptions of AIO coolers in general. While I don't think this cooler, in this case with these components is a superior choice there are definitely use cases where it would shine (pun intended.)

    First impressions.

    Click to embiggen.

    This is a premium product and it looks and feels like one. The outer box is glossy and full colour printed, the inner packaging is robust and protects the contents well from any knocks it may receive in shipping. The radiator itself is finished in a nice matt black, complimented with the black sleeving on the hoses and the same plastic used on the top of the water block. An interesting feature for those looking to use this with a case window is that the top of the block is decorated with an addressable RGB enabled MSI dragon logo which can be swivelled to ensure it's the correct way up no matter how you have it mounted. The business side of the block is copper and polished to a pretty nice shine.



    The 3 fans are 120mm addressable RGB enabled that run between 500-2000RPM claiming a maximum airflow of 78.73CFM and 2.39 mmH2O pressure. These also look smart, with the MSI dragon on the centre and rubberised pads in each corner to reduce vibration passing from the fan to the radiator it mounts to. These pads are on both sides and there is not an arrow on the fans indicating which direction they operate in which may confuse users unaccustomed to installing their own fans. Both the fans and the block have ARGB connectors that daisy chain neatly, as do the fan power cables meaning you only need 1 ARGB header and 2 fan plugs (one for the pump, one for the 3 fans,) on your motherboard.

    Also included in the box are several plastic bags full of various fixings and brackets for just about every AMD and Intel consumer socket of the past 10 years or more, back to FM1/AM2 on the AMD side and LGA1150 and LGA 1366 on Intel. It also claims to support TR4/TRX4/SP3 for Threadripper. While I don't doubt the bracket will hold the block onto these sockets I wouldn't feel comfortable using it for this. Threadrippers are physically much larger chips and the supplied block just isn't large enough for comfortable coverage. The bag of goodies also includes a "noise reducer cable" which appears to just be an inline resistor but given my preference for quiet computing will definitely be getting a run out. Finally included is a surprisingly small Quick Installation Guide, which appears to follow the Ikea school of diagrams and numbering.

    Installation.

    My current case is a Fractal Design Meshify C. This only has room for a 360mm radiator at the front of the case but it should have plenty of breathing room behind that big mesh. When I built the system my focus was on acceptable temps as quiet as possible as my office is just off the living room and there are likely to be marital repercussions if it makes too much noise. As a result the case had 2 140mm F14 Arctic Silent PWM intake fans mounted in the front, bisected by the GPU. Aside from the fans on the CPU cooler and GPU the only other fan being a PWM 120mm rear exhaust. This has kept the case cool and quiet but it's important to remember that (CPU cooler aside,) they had all been brought at the same time as part of a considered plan for cooling.

    Having removed the 140mm intake fans and the CPU cooler I checked the installation guide and found the relevant bits for my use case. Now if you followed the link above you'll know that the instructions aren't the most descriptive and steps aren't numbered. Assuming you're supposed to work the steps from top to bottom you'd attach the relevant CPU bracket onto the water block (which cleverly has a groove cut into the outside so it slots into the brackets,) apply the included TIM, attach the block to the board, then attach the fans to the radiator and install it. I cannot fathom why you would do it this way around. In my view you should attach the fans to the radiator, attach the CPU socket to the block, then attach the radiator to the case before fixing down the water block. This gives you much more freedom to manoeuvre. Interestingly the instructions did have a QR code, but only for MSIs Dragon Center software page. They do have a how to install video on Youtube but I only know this from searching as even the product page doesn't seem to link to it. Even then there are several third party ones that have more views and give clearer instructions.

    Now I'm aware of Steve at Gamers Nexus promoted the use of vertically mounted AIOs with the reservoir with the pipes at the bottom. This is so the pump/block combination is not the highest point on the loop and thus where the air will congregate leading to noise, wear and lower performance. I hit upon a problem when mounting this way. While 400mm of tubing may seem generous it seemed unable to stretch from the bottom of the case to the CPU socket if a GPU or other full length card was installed.



    Fortunately the Meshify C has adjustable mounting holes and by sliding the radiator to the very highest point I was able to get it mounted this way. It was very tight however so I would be uneasy keeping it this way longer term. Shout out to ik9000 for pointing out at this stage that as the pump is mounted in the radiator and not the waterblock on this unit (to avoid ASETEKs patent on this method,) it's possible it wouldn't have quite the same impact. Testing will show for sure!

    Once it was all screwed in and the TIM applied actually fixing the block to the CPU socket was as easy as attaching the stock cooler. Hook one clip over the socket lug, apply some pressure and do the same the other side, very straightforward. The same is true of attaching the power cables from the fans to each other, tidying them up and plugging them into the motherboard along with the pump. My MSI board has a dedicated PUMP header, but according to their documentation if you don't have one a SYSFAN one will do, I assumed that the PUMP header meant it ignored PWM but I cannot see anything to confirm this so not sure it's accurate. Unlike other reviewers my radiator only had a cut out for routing the pump power cable on one side, this was frustrating when the rad was mounted pump down as then it was the wrong side. Seems some have them both sides while others don't so your mileage may vary.



    At this point I tried to attach the RGB headers. My motherboard has two of them, unfortunately they are 4 pin RGB headers and not 3 pin ARGB headers which I have since discovered operate at 5v rather than 12v. MSI refers to RGB as Mystic Light and the landing page for this does show both this cooler and my motherboard. It's only if you go into the filters and search by RGB 12v or ARGB you'll see they can't work together. This is a shame because if you don't already know what you're doing you could easily buy incompatible products. To add to the frustration they don't sell a separate ARGB controller the way Corsair, Coolermaster and others do which seems like a missed opportunity to me. If I was determined to make my MSI board work with my MSI cooler I'd be forced to buy a competitors product! As a result I cannot review the RGB element of the cooler which is a big shame.
    Last edited by spacein_vader; 17-12-2020 at 11:58 AM.

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    CAT-THE-FIFTH (17-12-2020),Pob255 (17-12-2020),Zak33 (17-12-2020)

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    Senior Member spacein_vader's Avatar
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    Re: MSI MAG CORELIQUID 360R Reader Review by Spacein_vader

    Testing

    I tested 5 configs, my previous air cooled setup, the GPU with pump at the bottom (with and without the noise reducing cable,) and with the pump at the top (with and without the noise reducing cable.) In each test I ran the full 6 scene benchmark set of Blender 2.90 (so yes, it will blend!) with MSI Afterburner logging the temperatures of the CPU, RAM and VRMs using the motherboards built in sensors. In addition as a VERY rough measure of noise I used a db meter app on my phone set on my desk above the PC. This is NOT a scientific method but was the best I could do with the tools available. In each case PWM fan control was enabled and set to auto, no changes were made to fan curves between runs. Ambient temperature was around 19-20c for each run. Results are in the linked table.

    https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets...it?usp=sharing

    My takeaways from this is that all AIO configs resulted in lower CPU temps than my air cooled setup, at the marginal cost of very slight increases to temperatures of the memory and VRMs but not enough to worry about. Similarly they were all slightly louder but not distractingly so. That said the low noise cable doesn't seem worth it, the sound didn't really alter both on my measurements or subjectively but produced worse cooling results for no gain. If the noise was a factor I suspect tweaking the fan curves would give you better results than the included cable. Under load I didn't hear the pump, but at idle I do notice it, probably as it makes a different type of noise to fans. Its like a quiet fridge running in the next room. I didn't get any additional or different noises from mounting the radiator pump up to pump down so in the short term at least this would not appear to be an issue.

    Conclusions & recommendations.

    I'm going to split this into two parts, one for MSI and one for potential purchasers.

    MSI.

    You're so close, the fundamental product is pretty good but not hugely well signposted or explained. The great thing about that is it's easier and cheaper to rectify that than the product itself. Make clearer the differences between 4 pin 12v RGB and 3 pin 5v ARGB devices on your Mystic Light page and compatibility lists, improve your installation instructions by numbering the steps, being clearer which way around to mount the fans for correct airflow and including a QR code to the How To video instead of (or as well as) your Dragon Control Center software. Finally consider selling a separate ARGB controller for those who don't have a compatible motherboard. Make it easy for people to go all in on your products without needing a competitors to make it work!

    Potential buyers.

    Would I spend £130 on this to cool a Ryzen 5 3600 or other 65w class CPU? No, unless I wanted to overclock with big voltages it's just overkill for that task. If I had a higher TDP processor or did want to overclock that far then it's worthy of consideration BUT you need to take a lot of factors into account. A well setup case with consideration put into fan type and placement with a good air cooler will almost always win on noise (if only marginally,) but lose out on overall temps, decide which is your priority. Secondly try to ensure your motherboard is compatible with the ARGB if you want to take advantage of that. Thirdly while the 360R does a very good job of minimising cables put some consideration to how well your cases cable management will allow you to hide them. Finally are you willing to put some time into tweaking the fan curves to get exactly the results you want?

    If you prioritise temperatures over noise, have compatible hardware, are willing to put some time in to tweak on initial setup and love the bling ARGB can provide this is a very good solution. With a little work from MSI it could be a great one. I intend to keep it installed for now and play with fan profiles and overclocks to see if I can match the noise of my air setup while at least equalling the cooling. It'll also help me see if I become accustomed to the pump noise and tune it out the way I do low speed fans from my air cooler. If anyone has any questions or further tests they'd like running let me know and I'll see what I can do.

    Thanks again to Hexus and MSI for providing me the opportunity to play with such an interesting piece of hardware!

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    Zak33 (17-12-2020)

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    Re: MSI MAG CORELIQUID 360R Reader Review by Spacein_vader

    Oh you star, you too have done loads of work

    The Google Docs sheet shows some good temperature readings, and while you're right, it's a bit overkill for your CPU at stock, they do smaller versions. We asked for the big 360's deliberately

    (What I guess it ALSO means is you could consider a CPU upgrade now)

    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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    Senior Member spacein_vader's Avatar
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    Re: MSI MAG CORELIQUID 360R Reader Review by Spacein_vader

    Quote Originally Posted by Zak33 View Post
    Oh you star, you too have done loads of work

    The Google Docs sheet shows some good temperature readings, and while you're right, it's a bit overkill for your CPU at stock, they do smaller versions. We asked for the big 360's deliberately

    (What I guess it ALSO means is you could consider a CPU upgrade now)
    Well I intend to do some OCing and see how it copes with that my main interest now is tweaking the fan curves. The way I see it is it could be useful for me for the same reason funeral directors opt for big 6-8 cylinder engines in a hearse: It's very quiet in operation as it's barely having to tick over.

    I appreciate that's probably not much use as a box quote for MSI!

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    Re: MSI MAG CORELIQUID 360R Reader Review by Spacein_vader

    Quote Originally Posted by spacein_vader View Post
    Well I intend to do some OCing and see how it copes with that my main interest now is tweaking the fan curves. The way I see it is it could be useful for me for the same reason funeral directors opt for big 6-8 cylinder engines in a hearse: It's very quiet in operation as it's barely having to tick over.

    I appreciate that's probably not much use as a box quote for MSI!
    Actually I think they will be very positive about fan curve work for quiet operation. You see, what they want is legit people, not fan boihs, trying these products AND doing their thing with them. I agree fully about the larege engine doing low work too. I'd always get larger.

    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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    Senior Member spacein_vader's Avatar
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      • i5 4460 3.2GHz
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      • Storage:
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      • Corsair HX 520W modular
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    Re: MSI MAG CORELIQUID 360R Reader Review by Spacein_vader

    Quote Originally Posted by Zak33 View Post
    Actually I think they will be very positive about fan curve work for quiet operation. You see, what they want is legit people, not fan boihs, trying these products AND doing their thing with them. I agree fully about the larege engine doing low work too. I'd always get larger.
    Well I've made a first tweak, keeping the pump top orientation but sliding it slightly on the mountings so it blows over the memory more easily and then some minor tweaks to the fan curve. This has given me a CPU max temp under Blender of 64c (previous best 67,) with an average of 49 (previously 48c) while dropping 10c on RAM minimum temp and 6 on RAM maximum. RAM average is unchanged but it's also knocked 3c of the VRM average and 1db off the average noise.

    Results are in the original table (relinked below,) as Tweaked top standard V1. Intend to keep tweaking as at idle it seems to sit just at a fan threshhold so spools up and down constantly which is a bit annoying.

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    Re: MSI MAG CORELIQUID 360R Reader Review by Spacein_vader

    Quote Originally Posted by spacein_vader View Post
    Intend to keep tweaking as at idle it seems to sit just at a fan threshhold so spools up and down constantly which is a bit annoying.
    Perhaps worth checking if your BIOS allows you to set hysteresis on the fan ramp up. At first I added hysteresis which fixed ~90% of the fan boosting. Then I went ahead and just changed which temperature source was being used.

    If you watch Ryzen CCX temps in HWInfo, you get sudden spikes in core temperature with PBO enabled (at least, that's what I saw on my 3700). PBO activity coincided perfectly with the fan ramp up and down.

  11. Received thanks from:

    Zak33 (18-12-2020)

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    Senior Member spacein_vader's Avatar
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    • spacein_vader's system
      • Motherboard:
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      • CPU:
      • i5 4460 3.2GHz
      • Memory:
      • 4x4GB Crucial DDR3 1600
      • Storage:
      • 256GB Crucial MX100, 500GB Crucial MX100, 1TB Crucial MX200
      • Graphics card(s):
      • Asus RX 480 Dual OC 4GB
      • PSU:
      • Corsair HX 520W modular
      • Case:
      • Fractal Design Meshify C
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    Re: MSI MAG CORELIQUID 360R Reader Review by Spacein_vader

    Thanks, I'll have a delve in the bios and report back.

  13. #9
    Senior Member spacein_vader's Avatar
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    • spacein_vader's system
      • Motherboard:
      • Asus B85M-G
      • CPU:
      • i5 4460 3.2GHz
      • Memory:
      • 4x4GB Crucial DDR3 1600
      • Storage:
      • 256GB Crucial MX100, 500GB Crucial MX100, 1TB Crucial MX200
      • Graphics card(s):
      • Asus RX 480 Dual OC 4GB
      • PSU:
      • Corsair HX 520W modular
      • Case:
      • Fractal Design Meshify C
      • Operating System:
      • Pop!_OS 19:10 / Windows 10 Pro
      • Monitor(s):
      • BenQ GW2765, Dell Ultrasharp U2412
      • Internet:
      • Zen Internet

    Re: MSI MAG CORELIQUID 360R Reader Review by Spacein_vader

    Can confirm this has done the trick! Performance under load has changed but now aside from the tiniest amount of pump noise its silent at idle. Can't hear the fans at all.

    Anyone want to recommend a cheap ARGB controller? Seems a shame to review the rest of it but not the blinkenlights.

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    Re: MSI MAG CORELIQUID 360R Reader Review by Spacein_vader

    Gotta be honest.... you boys are goooood at this review work and the team work colab is superb!

    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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