MasterLiquid ML280 Mirror Overview
Cooler Master has been building and refining their dual chamber AIO cooler design since 2016 and the ML280 is the 3rd generation of that design. In previous designs the hoses were positioned on either side of the pump with a connector tube between the two chambers. This was very impressive and fully expressed the radical design change. The ML280 Mirror is much more refined with both hoses existing out near the cold plate and on the same side of the AIO.
This helps with installation and gives the AIO a much cleaner appearance.
One of the driving principles behind a dual chamber design is how it can change where fluid is directed over the cold plate. Of course with a DIY watercooling loop you can direct water whereever you want but, with an AIO you have limited space and limited options.
According to an infographic on the Cooler Master website they have positioned the water to enter at the base of the cold plate and then circle around exiting at the top. This will naturally carry heat up and away while naturally spinning. A fluid in a circle is every efficient and affords a very high degree of flow over forcing fluid through a series of 90 degree bends.
The heatsink base is machined flat and comes with a brushed finish. You will see that the copper base is completely flat and shaped to consume the entire base of the AIO. The brushed finish is smooth with an extreme texture.
While many of you will complain saying that polished is best I find that a texture like this offers a more consistent temperature due to less variation in mounting. Yes, polished will offer lower temps but, you may have to remount the cooler several times to attain that goal.
One of the revisions that I prefer is the addition of fully braided FEP tubing. These tubes are somewhat flexible and will resist kinks while dressing up the interior of your builds. There are some other benefits as well including reduced liquid dissipation and longer life expectancy. My only real complaint here is the overall size and scale of the tubes. I know that internal diameter (ID) is most important but when you look at the cooler overall the tubes just seem skinny by comparison.
Cooler Master hasn’t changed their radiator much since the MasterLiquid Pro was launched. The ML280 features the same high density radiator fins and flat water channels. The water channel extends the entire thickness of the radiator to offer more capacity and better cooling. Fin density is also directly related to cooling in that more surface area offers better heat transfer but, only to a certain point. As fin densities increase so does the demand on higher fan pressures to overcome the air resistance.
Of course fan performance is a deciding factor when choosing a cooling solution and the MasterLiquid ML280 Mirror comes with two Sickleflow 140mm fans. Each fan moves about 67 CFM @ 1400 RPM with a noise level of 27dBA (at full tilt). The PWM controller will spin the fans down based on your chosen fan profile.
In terms of pressure the Sickleflow 140mm fans offer 2.2mmH20 of pressure which puts them in the lower end of the scale and I figure this is mostly due to how fast (or slow) the fan spins. Enthusiasts like to argue about the relation of fan speed to pressure and the way I see it each fan is designed for a purpose and these seem to be designed for noise control.