Temperatures, Noise, and Conclusion
To provide a more rigorous test of Cooler Master's new design, and all powerful CPU coolers going forward, I moved to a new Intel X99 test platform. The previous few CPU cooler reviews I produced made use of a Core i5-6600K processor, which is a great gaming choice; but with a 91W TDP not the most difficult thermal test. The i7-6800K, on the other hand, is a 140W processor with a 6 core/12 thread configuration.
In these tests the Cooler Master MasterLiquid Pro 240 (and a few other coolers on hand) were run through the usual tests for idle, load, and stress temps. Results were recorded at both stock CPU settings and a modest 4.0 GHz overclock on all cores. For the OC tests a simple +25mV offset was employed on my EVGA X99 Micro2 motherboard, which resulted in stable performance even during the Prime95 torture test (stress results).
Finally, all tests were run using each of the three fan speed positions: S (silent), Q (quiet), and P (performance). These fan modes were separately tested to see what impact the settings had on temps, and (of course) noise.
|Processor||Intel Core i5-6800K|
|Motherboard||EVGA X99 Micro2|
|Memory||HyperX Fury 16GB (4x4GB) 2400 MHz DDR4|
|Graphics Card||XFX AMD Radeon 5450 (Fanless)|
|Storage||OCZ Vertex 460 120GB SSD|
|Power Supply||Corsair TX 650W PSU|
|OS||Windows 8.1 64-bit|
I first tested the coolers with the i7-6800K processor at stock speed and voltage settings. Load temperatures were generated using the x264 benchmark running in 64-bit mode. Stress temps were generated using the 64-bit version of the Prime95 benchmark, with the in-place large FFT torture test to force maximum power consumption.
In their respective performance modes, the MasterLiquid Pro 240 finished behind the Corsair H100i GTX cooler. Subjectively the Cooler Master produces much lower noise, but that will be determined with the noise testing. The same is the case with the "quiet" modes, and here the Noctua NH-D14 matches the MasterLiquid Pro 240 under stress load. The popular Hyper 212 EVO cooler finished behind the larger coolers on test, but had a very good showing for load and stress temps for such an inexpensive option.
For the following tests I increased the i7-6800K from its nominal clocks of 3.40 GHz to 4.0 GHz, forcing this speed on all cores. A +25mV offset was applied to stabilize this overclock, with CPU voltage left at my EVGA motherboard's "adaptive" setting.
Once again the GTX H100i GTX in its performance mode takes the overall lead, though the MasterLiquid Pro 240 takes the next two places. The remaining results are interesting, with the Noctua NH-D14 handling this overclocked CPU load very well and leading both liquid coolers in their most quiet modes.
A major component of these results will be with the measured noise output, which I suspected would test very low with this new Cooler Master design, as the MasterLiquid Pro 240's fans generated very little noise in my subjective assessment during the benchmark runs.
Noise levels were measured from a distance of 18 inches using a digital sound pressure meter, which has an accuracy of +/- 1.5 dBA. Multiple readings were taken to assure the greatest possible accuracy. The noise floor during these tests was 33.8 dBA.
It was close, but the Noctua NH-D14 was on top here by a mere 0.2 dB, though the first five results all fall within the SPL meter's margin of error. At the bottom of the list we see the largest disparity, with the Hyper 212 EVO generating quite a bit of fan noise under the load at 42.8 dBA, and the H100i GTX at 37.8 dBA in its performance mode. Though on paper the gap between these two liquid coolers in their performance modes might seem small at 2.4 dB under load, it is significant. The tone of the Cooler Master fans are also much less noticable, with a softer sound that's mostly air noise.
For the MasterLiquid Pro 240 to produce 35.4 dBA under load in its performance mode is impressive, especially considering how effective the cooler was in this mode.
The MasterLiquid Pro 240 is an all-new design from Cooler Master, and it produced very good results. It did not beat the Corsair H100i GTX cooler, but it was much quieter in its performance mode thanks to some very quiet fans. As to value, the retail price for this new Cooler Master cooler is $119, putting in the same territory as the Corsair H100i GTX, which retails for $129 but can generally be found for the same ~$120 price.
The build quality of this new cooler is top-notch, appearance is attractive with a blue LED in the water block, and overall I found nothing to fault the MasterLiquid cooler. The Cooler Master MasterLiquid Pro 240 offers excellent performance and low noise output, and while it didn't outduel the Corsair H100i GTX it presents an attractive alternative when noise is a priority. Recommended.