Final Score: 90 out 100
Thirty years. That is how long Cooler Master has been in the tech industry. Thirty. Years. Honestly it just seems like yesterday that we heard about CM via friend and the waves they were making. The year was 2000, Will Smith was unironically still in the news with a hit (single)… and this little company from the country of Taiwan was offering a PC case that was not just either a basic black or basic beige tin box. Instead, the ‘ATC 100’ was built from brushed aluminum. Boy did that case looked like a million bucks… and boy did we use it in a ton of builds to help cement us as a custom system builder. Then they upgraded it and made it even better via the ATCS 200 series. Then the 201 further refined the blueprint. Then came their “stacker” super-tower, followed by their Centurion 5 / 530 and further reaffirmed CM were here to stay. Yes, it may have taken the little company that could ~7 years to break out of “just” being a premium ODM/OEM company for the ‘big boys’ but when they did… they made major waves.
A big part of their continuing success is the fact that they did not just stick to one area and dominate it. Instead Cooler Master, as they were (and still are) a premier OEM/ODM company at heart, branched out into many corners of the marketplace. Everyone and their dog know about their Hyper 212 series and how it revolutionized ‘budget’ cooling. Few know that NVIDIA, Intel, and AMD have used Cooler Master to build their ‘stock’ coolers for them. Fewer still know that they were one of the first in the sealed ‘All In One’ CPU water cooling solution. Of those that do, they mainly think about the Eisberg (or maybe Seidon) AIOs. Maybe because of the lawsuits or maybe because they ‘suspiciously’ look like more recent “AlphaCool” branded AIO products. However. Almost no one, outside of certain circles, realize that Cooler Master are one of the pioneers of the AIO industry. Yes, Asetek may own a bunch of patents (about to expire in 2025)… but CM are the ones who coined the term “All In One” with their circa 2004 AquaGate series of AIOs.
With such a rich history, and nearly peerless experience backing said history, it should come as no surprise that the 30th Anniversary Edition of their 360mm AIO Master Liquid Flux is one of the best All In Ones on the market today. Everything from the drop-dead gorgeous aesthetics (and that is saying something as we dislike RGB); to the surprisingly high performance yet lowest noise fans we ever tested; to the included USB based RGB controller; to the extremely impressive dual chamber pump… all of it somehow combines in such a unique way to become ever greater than just the sum of its impressive parts. To be blunt the ML PL360 FLUX AE outclasses, outshines, and outperforms 99.9999 percent of Asetek 360mm designs available today. Yes. The Cooler Master MasterLiquid PL360 FLUX 30th A.E. may have one of the longest names in AIO history… but it lives up to it. Lives up to it and then some.
This is quite literally one of the few 360mm class AIOs that can compete with Artic and their best in class Liquid Freezer II 360 A-RGB model. So much so that the only reason the Artic unit can outperform it is due to a noticeably thicker radiator, and VRM heatsink cooling fan. That is it. Two little tweaks and Cooler Master would be without equal. Again.
With all that said, the thinner radiator allows the Master Liquid PL360 Flux A.E. to do what Arctic’s cannot: fit inside cases that are not as big as a house. That is the compromise Cooler Master made and that is what your decision boils down to: do you want slightly better performance or do you want better customizability and better compatibility? Once you know what your main priority is/are the choice becomes clear… and we have a sneaking suspicion that many a new build will be rocking an Anniversary Edition in the near future. Congratulations Cooler Master for once again proving why you have been a leader of the industry for decades.
Cooler Master MasterLiquid PL360 FLUX
To be blunt the ML PL360 FLUX AE outclasses, outshines, and outperforms 99.9999 percent of Asetek 360mm designs available today. Yes. The Cooler Master MasterLiquid PL360 FLUX 30th A.E. may have one of the longest names in AIO history… but it lives up to it. Lives up to it and then some.