Dark or Light
logo
Logo

MSI CoreLiquid K360r AIO Review

Cooling with Added Customization

Robert Baddeley Posted:
Category:
Hardware Reviews 0

CPU Coolers are a dime a dozen these days and you can pretty much find exactly what you’re looking for at the exact price point you’re willing to spend be it a basic air cooler or an RGB AIO.  MSI is taking a step further with the CoreLiquid k360 - an RGB AIO with a customizable LCD screen for all your enthusiast or vanity needs.  From CPU frequency and temperatures to custom logos and graphics, your imagination is the limit on what you can display.  Before we dive in further here are the specifications.

Specifications

  • Current Price: $234 (Amazon)
  • Compatibility: 
    • AMD: AM4/FM2+/FM2/FM1/AM3+/AM3/AM2+/AM2 Socket TR4/sTRX4/SP3
    • Intel: LGA 1150/1151/1155/1156/1200 LGA 1366/2011/2011-3/2066
  • Fans
    • Number of Fans: 3
    • Dimensions: 120 x 120 x 25mm
    • Speed: 0 ~ 2500 RPM
    • Lighting: aRGB
    • Air Flow: 77.4 CFM
    • Noise: 39.9 dBA
    • Pressure: 4.29 mmH2O
    • Life Expectancy: 100,000 hours
    • PWM Mode: Yes
    • Cable Length: 550mm (5V aRGB) / 350mm (PWM Cable)
    • ARGB Cable Connector: Yes
  • Radiator
    • Material: Aluminum
    • Dimensions: 394 x 120 x 27mm
    • Cooling Pipe Material: Black Rubber + Mesh
    • Cooling Pipe Length: 400mm
  • Pump/Block
    • Dimensions: 94.66 x 83.36 x 94mm
    • LCD Size: 2.4”
    • Pump Life Expectancy: 50,000 hours
    • Pump Noise: 20 dBA
    • Pump Power Consumption: 4W
    • Pump Speed: PWM controlled; 100% duty cycle w/ 2800 +/- 300 RPM
    • Voltaged: 12DC
    • 4pin Cable Length: 400mm
    • Sata Cable Length: 650mm
    • USB 2.0 Cable Length: 750mm

Build and Aesthetics

MSI is well known in the world of PC building and with good reason - they consistently put out top-tier quality hardware and accessories that not only fill the desired role but do so with a visual flair rarely seen in other brands.  The CoreLiquid is no different in this regard.  Sure it cools just the same as any other cooler out there of it’s grade but it gets the job done while looking absolutely fantastic.  Like most other coolers the CoreLiquid is blacked out from block to radiator with two exceptions: the RGB fans and the 2.4” LCD display.  

The fans shipped with the cooler are second to none.  Extremely sturdy in your hands during installation they also feature rubber cushions at the screw hole points, simultaneously eliminating noise and providing an extra feeling of secureness with the radiator.  Moving down the flexible and meshed tubing will bring you to the pièce de résistance of the entire cooler: a customizable 2.4” LCD display.  Funnily enough, this is where my first hiccup with installation came as the plastic case that covers in the inner wiring of the LCD display and pump is secured rather loosely and rattled around a lot during installation for me, which was rather disappointing though not a deal-breaker.  Once installed it stayed right where it was supposed to but having it flopping around didn’t make the unit feel well put together. What it did reveal, however, is a clever design decision - an additional fan designed to dissipate the collection of warm air under the pump unit - an area that rarely sees any airflow - serving to reduce temperatures of components located on the motherboard itself.

Everything about the cooler is adjustable using the MSI Center software and when it comes to component software MSI is on the right track.  Minimal and non-invasive the control software does exactly what I need it to.  Nothing more, nothing less, and at least for me completely bug-free.  Each of the fans are adjustable in addition to simple presets to do the work for you.  With MSI's Gaming Mode feature the three radiator fans are addressed separately to provide dynamic cooling based on CPU temperature and load - reducing unnecessary noise and power consumption during your gaming sessions.

In addition to fan curves, the MSI Center provides the ability to customize your new fancy in-case LCD screen to your desires.  There are a slew of different preset options to select, allowing you to choose from monitoring your CPU temperatures on the block itself to seeing your CPU frequency in real time - heck you can even just make it a clock if that’s your thing.  I think, however, adding your own graphics to display is where the LCD display will get it’s most use.  Using the software you can upload your own image and give your PC the final nugget of customization to call your build complete.

Benchmarks

Before I get into the charts I want to briefly touch on the methodology used to arrive at the results in the charts below.  Some people prefer to use Prime95 over AIDA64 for their CPU load testing and others prefer the opposite.  I’ve found, at least for me, that AIDA64 gives lower stress temperatures so I opt to use Prime95.  This way I’m providing the worst-case scenario for the coolers and during normal use and gaming you should see lower than what I get during stress.  For idle temperatures, it’s a much easier, though sometimes lengthier, process.  Idle temperatures on the coolers were taken 20 minutes after a cold boot.  This is to allow ample time for everything to settle to a consistent state.  The only program started is the hardware monitor to read the final temperatures after the 20 minutes have elapsed.  Lastly, all temperatures are reported as a delta of ambient temperature since we all keep rooms at a different temperature. It's the best way I’ve found to report results that could be kept consistent across multiple climates.  For reference, in case any are curious, the tests, in this case, are conducted in a room kept at 75 degrees Fahrenheit. 

Temperatures over ambient 

The MSI CoreLiquid sits right where it should be as a 360mm AIO cooling solution.  During my testing, the CoreLiquid performed admirably - keeping up with the ML360r from CoolerMaster despite having the extra hardware attached to the block.  Where I found myself a little surprised was the idle temperatures.  Clearly, the addition of the pump fan is doing something to the area.  Now I can’t say for certain that that is what’s happening.  While I make sure fan speeds are matched we could also simply be seeing the difference in the fans MSI ships versus the fans CoolerMaster ships.  A part of me likes to think, however, that having the fan moving warm air away from the area under the block can lead to a slight reduction of temperature when left idle.

Final Thoughts

The MSI CoreLiquid K360r is a great cooler, there is no question in my mind about that.  What anyone looking to buy a new cooler is going to have to ask themselves, however, is are they going to get use out of the extra feature it brings to the table: a 2.4” on-block LCD screen.  That’s not a question I can answer for anyone - all I can say is if you like the idea of having a little screen to customize MSI has done an outstanding job implementing it: from the hardware to the software.  Personally, I love having a little screen to play with and I enjoy the fact that I don’t have to compromise my CPU temperatures to do so.  Too many times I’ve seen little vanity features like this come at the cost of the original purpose of an accessory so it is quite refreshing to see MSI avoiding that pitfall.  All in all, if you’re looking for an extra bit of customization and cool temperatures to boot the MSI CoreLiquid deserves serious consideration.

The product described in this article was provided by the manufacturer for evaluation purposes.

9.0Amazing
Pros
  • Extra block fan provides additional cooling
  • Software doesn’t seem like an afterthought
  • LCD screen is fully customizable and software rotatable
  • Solid cooling performance
Cons
  • Expensive
  • Block covering seems flimsy


waffleflopper

Robert Baddeley

Robert got his start at gaming with Mech Warrior on MS DOS back in the day and hasn't quit since. He found his love for MMORPGs when a friend introduced him to EverQuest in 2000 and has been playing some form of MMO since then. After getting his first job and building his first PC, he became mildly obsessed with PC hardware and PC building. He started writing for MMORPG as his first writing gig in 2016. He currently serves in the US Military as a Critical Care Respiratory Therapist.