Pure, raw performance… is not Alpatek’s strong suit. It is just basic math. When you take away a couple percentage point’s worth of surface cooling area… less cooling is going to happen. When dealing with massive 120x360mm radiators this typically does not matter all that much in the real world. Few are going to stress a radiator of this size enough for this potential performance loss to become a noticeable performance loss. As such, it may not be the best of the best at pure cooling, but it is no slouch either. Instead, it is most accurately described as good but with plenty of room for improvement via thicker radiator, faster fans, or any number of other tweaks they need to do to replace Asetek as the de-facto option.
Ease of Use: 95%
This is an area MSI and Alpatek knock things out of the park, but let’s be clear. Working with any 360mm based cooling solution is not going to be as easy as even 280mm models. They are big and awkward. They require big cases. Optimally they require two sets of hands during the process. However, the MSI MAG CoreLiquid 360R has had a lot of thought and effort put into making things as user-friendly as possible. Tweaks like a rotatable block do make for as close to an effortless installation as we have seen in a long, long time. So, if you want as close to smaller form-factor AIO easy installation the MSI MAG CoreLiquid 360R is right up there with the best of the best.
Build Quality: 80%
On the one hand, a lot of time/effort/money has been spent on refining Alpatek’s foundation into one killer option. On the other, there is still plenty of room for improvement. For example, the included fans are good at moving a lot of air with relatively little noise… but the pump is louder than it should be. MSI and Alpatek need to work on improving things as the pitch of noise this AIO makes when running flat out is more noticeable than with most other AIOs… middle of the road dBA results or not. The same is somewhat true of the warranty. Three years is a touch short. If you want to instill confidence in buyers you need to “Do Better” than “industry standard”.
While not the absolute best performer, the MSI MAG CoreLiquid 360R does blend price and performance nicely. Mix in excellent ease of use with darn near every socket mounting option available and MSI does have a winner. A winner that looks as good as it performs.
Final Score: 84%
The MAG CoreLiquid 360R may not be perfect but what it lacks in performance potential it more than makes up for in user-friendliness. Just understand that compromises had to be made in order to get around Asetek patents. As long as those compromises do not matter to you, the CoreLiquid series is an excellent alternative to typical Asetek based models most of the competition are using.