Cooling Catastrophe: Examining the flaws of MSI’s MAG CoreLiquid D360


  • Solid Build Quality
  • Chart topping performance in common workloads


  • Worse than its predecessor in maximum intensity workloads
  • Fans run too loud
  • You can’t force the fans to run quietly
  • Overpriced

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About Micro-Star International (MSI)

If you’re reading this article, you are already familiar with MSI. Their brand has not been without controversy, but in my personal opinion their products are generally better than the competition (that said, YMMV). When they released the S360 AIO two years ago I was extremely impressed as it was one of the first coolers capable of keeping a CPU like Intel’s i9-12900K or i7-13700K under it’s peak temperature, even in the most stressful loads.

Today’s review will cover MSI’s latest 360mm AIO, the MAG CoreLiquid D360. While traditionally I enjoy testing MSI’s products, this cooler was quite simply a disappointment that MSI’s QA folks should have never approved for public release.

Testing Platform Configuration

Intel LGA1700 13th Generation Raptor Lake

CPUIntel i7-13700K
MotherboardIntel LGA 1700 – MSI Z690 A PRO DDR4
Computer CaseIntel – BeQuiet! Silent Base 802, System fans set to LOW
Comparison CoolersBeQuiet! Dark Rock Pro 4
Cooler Master Master Liquid 240L Core
Cooler Master Hyper 622 Halo
Cooler Master Hyper 212 Black
Cougar Forza 135
DeepCool AK400 Digital

DeepCool AK500 Digital
DeepCool Assassin IV WH
DeepCool LT720
EK Nucleus AIO CR240
Jiushark JF200S
MSI MAG CoreLiquid E240
Noctua NH-D15S
Thermalright Silver Soul 135
Thermalright Peerless Assassin 120 SE
Silverstone PF240
Scythe Kotestu Mark Three

For thermal results I test Intel’s i7-13700K CPU running Cinebench R23 in a few different configurations

  • Maximum Noise Levels and Cooling Performance on both Intel and AMD platforms
  • Noise Normalized Quiet Cooling Performance at 38.2 dBA with Intel’s i7-13700K
  • CPU Temperatures at and noise levels at 175W and 125W with Intel’s i7-13700K

Features of MSI’s D360 AIO

Model MAG CoreLiquid D360
RAM ClearanceUnlimited
Compatible SocketIntel Socket LGA 1700 / 1200 / 115x/ 2066 / 2011(-3)
AMD AM5 / AM4 / TR4 / sTRX4
Display2.4″ 320×240 IPS panel, 500 Nits brightness

CPU Block with 2.4″ IPS Display and VRM fan

The most interesting feature of this cooler is its CPU block, which incorporates a 2.4″ 320×240 IPS display panel with 500 nits brightness. Underneath the display is a capable VRM fan.

The block is covered by a plastic top which adds adds a reflective surface to the top and directs the airflow.

I don’t really like the reflection added by the unit’s cover. I think the display looks cleaner without it installed.

Pre-installed and extra thermal paste

Many cooling manufacturers have been stingy lately and have only included pre-installed thermal paste with their coolers. MSI does include pre-installed thermal paste on the D360, but they also include a small tube of thermal paste which has enough paste for a few extra installations.

Full RAM Compatibility

As with virtually every AIO Liquid Cooler on the market the D360 doesn’t overhang DIMMs in any manner and as such is compatible with RAM of any height, no matter how tall.

27mm thick radiator

The radiator is 27mm thick, which is typical for most AIOs on the market. With the fans installed, total thickness is 52mm.

3x 120mm MSI TORX Fan 4.0

There’s more to a cooler than just it’s heat sink, the fans paired with a cooler have a huge impact both total cooling potential and noise levels. Included with the D360 are three of MSI’s Torx Fan 4.0 120mm fans. These are extremely high quality fans, which sturdy build quality that exceeds almost all of MSI’s competitors. The fan housings don’t bend even with significant pressure applied.

MSI indicates it’s confidence in the quality of these fans with a MTTF rating of over 100,000 hours. The corners of each fan have thick anti-vibration pads to help keep noise levels low. My only complaint with they run loudly unless a custom fan curve is implemented.

Size120 x 120 x 25
SpeedUp to 2500 RPM
AirflowUp to 77.4 CFM
Static Pressure4.29 mm H20
Rated Noise Level44 dBA
BearingTwo Ball Bearing
Connector4-pin PWM

MSI Center Software

To control this unit, you’ll have to download and install MSI Center. This software allows you to customize the display of the device and customize fan settings.

Packaging and included contents

The Hyper 212 Black arrives in a small box just large enough to hold the contents, with molded cardboard and plastic for the protection of the inner contents.

Included with the package are

  • 360mm radiator
  • CPU Block with VRM fan and IPS Display
  • Mounting for Intel & AMD platforms
  • Thermal paste
  • Manual
  • 3x MSI TORX Fan 4.0

Intel i7-13700K Thermal and Acoustic Results

Maximum Cooling Performance

Running Cinebench without power limits enforced is difficult to cool, and most coolers are unable to keep the CPU under it’s peak temperature in this scenario. The strongest AIOs are the exception to this rule – and MSI’s D360 is one of the strongest AIOs I’ve tested.

While MSI’s D360 is amongst the strongest AIOs I have tested, it barely passes this test. For better reference of how it compares to other modern AIOs, please see the results from my latest AIO review of Azza’s Cube 360 at Tom’s Hardware

Maximum Noise Levels

The maximum noise levels of MSI’s D360 is much louder than most other AIOs on the market. However, I would note that the pitch and tone of these fans makes it feel like their noises levels are lower than what is measured by my noisemeter. Unfortunately, I don’t have the knowledge or equipment to properly test or benchmark this aspect of acoustics.

Some of y’all might notice that the graph starts at 35 instead of zero – this is because my sound meter cannot measure noise levels lower than 35 dBA. Since that is the noise floor of this meter’s recording capabilities, 35 dBA is the “zero” for our testing purposes. For those concerned that this might distort results – there’s no worry. If anything, the graphs above will minimize the differences in noise levels because dBA measurements are logarithmic.

For a more detailed explanation of how decibel levels correspond to perceived noise levels, please check out the video below from BeQuiet! which makes it easy to visualize and understand the true impact of of increasing dBA levels.

Noise Normalized Results

While maximum performance testing is nice, a lot of folks prefer run their systems quietly. This can result in some performance loss in the most power intensive workloads like rendering. On my Intel i7-13700K system, I test noise normalized results at 38.2 dBA total system noise.

Unfortunately, I was not able to run this test with MSI’s D360. MSI’s Center software forces you to run the fans at 100% speed if the CPU reaches TJMax. Normally I get around this limitation by plugging the fans directly into the motherboard instead of connected to the CPU block, but when I attempted this the AIO’s LCD did not activate properly and I wasn’t able to control the speed of the VRM fan which made the unit run much louder than 38.2 dBA.

175W Thermal & Acoustic Results

Most loads that common users run won’t use more than 200W, so this is a better analogue for a worst case scenario of what folks might actually see in day to day usage.

With a thermal measurement of 50C over ambient, MSI’s D360 has one of the best thermal results I’ve seen from any liquid cooler.

Noise levels are slightly more important than thermal results in this scenario, and in this aspect the D360 doesn’t really perform well. At 46.9 dBA, it’s one of the loudest results shown above. For better context, I’ve also included the noise results from my latest AIO review at Tom’s Hardware below.

125W Thermal & Acoustic Results

When restricted to 125W, thermal performance really isn’t a concern – though I’ve included that information in the graph below. Really, any cooler should be able to handle this load – even Intel’s stock cooler!

With a temperature of 36C over ambient, MSI’s D360 has one of the best thermal results I’ve seen from any AIO – though there are a couple which do better which are included in my reviews at Tom’s Hardware. But it really doesn’t matter, because the D360 runs rather loudly in it’s default configuration. With a noise measurement of 42.9 dBA, it’s the loudest result of any AIO I’ve tested on this site or on Tom’s Hardware.

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I’m extremely disappointed in MSI’s D360. It’s maximum thermal performance is worse than it’s predecessors, and it runs louder at the same time. While this wouldn’t be such a bad thing if it performed well in noise normalized testing, when the CPU reaches its peak temperature (TJMax) MSI’s software forces the fans to run at 100% – and the cooler doesn’t work properly if you don’t connect the fans to the CPU block, which in turn means you can’t force it to run quietly.

If you’re interested in this cooler, it is currently available from NewEgg for $249.99 USD. But I wouldn’t recommend purchasing it, as there are many other units with better performance and value on the market – even from MSI itself!

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