The MasterLiquid Pro 280 is a step up in size from the previously reviewed MasterLiquid Pro 240, yet it shares the same design and even ships with a 120x240mm fan damper. The upsized fans even have the same style of bolted-on rubber frame corners. It’s still compatible with all of Intel’s square-ILM LGAs and AMD’s legacy rectangular-pattern mounting holes, but buyers are now eligible for a free AM4 bracket set from Cooler Master.
Despite only being 27mm thick, the radiator here still has loads of surface area through which water is dispersed on account of it being a 280mm model. It also utilises fins which are densely packed, and these use Cooler Master's Square Fin design, which Cooler Master says leaves more room for airflow and ensures greater contact between fins at water channels. The fins bend through right-angles rather than traditional curves, thus meeting the channels along whole edges rather than just the peaks of curves. The radiator has a high quality look and feel to it; even the black paint job strikes us as above average.
Based on our expertise in thermal technology, FlowOp looks at the flow of heat as it is carried and dissipated by an all-in-one (AIO) liquid cooler. Starting with the hot CPU, we reengineered how liquid absorbs and expels that heat. Our holistic approach to the flow of heat puts in your hands a comprehensive cooling machine that lasts longer, performs better and requires virtually no maintenance. Enjoy the wonders of liquid cooling.
The quality construction continues into the tubing, which is thick but still very flexible and highly resistant to kinking. The braided outer coating adds a nice touch, aesthetically speaking, as well.
Brackets on the MasterLiquid Pro 280’s head unit bolt to either a pair of LGA 2011x standoffs or a set of included carriage screws. The screws are keyed to fit the various positions of the included socket support plate.
- Exclusive dual chambers design to improve the performance and lifespan of pump
- Designed for best water flow and takes maximum heat from cold plate to coolant.
- Aluminum folded fins possess bigger contact area with channels to enhance heat dissipation
- MasterFan Pro 120 Air Balance with perfect balance of noise and performance
- The FEP tubing allows maximum, unrestricted waterflow and decreased evaporation rate for greater durability
- Elegant blue LED illumination on the top of water block
Installation isn't too difficult, but it's still more fussy than we expect from all-in-one liquid coolers. After all, the only bit you're installing on top of the CPU is the small pump unit, which gives you much more space to work with than bulky air coolers. Cooler Master supplies separate mounting arms for AMD and Intel sockets that screw into the pump unit. There's also a universal metal backplate through which the mounting screws pass, each being secured by a plastic clip. However, there's nothing to hold this mounting apparatus in place once you've pushed it through the motherboard, so as you attempt to align the mounting arms with the screws you invariably push them out, or they pop out of position as you reach for a nut to secure one of the corners. It's doable after a few attempts but can be frustrating. LGA2011(-v3) socket users needn't worry, at least, as the mounting screws are secured to the socket itself, so you can't dislodge them
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