The terms Peltier and thermoelectric (TEC) cooling have brightened the eyes of many would-be overclockers over the years, promising sub-ambient cooling under the highest loads. But with these solutions often came the demand for the required liquid cooling systems and a special power supply to operate, knocking them off the list of best CPU coolers for most people. The thermoelectric cooling of yesteryear was certainly interesting and widely used in the most dedicated overclocking and cooling forums on the web.
Enter the Cooler Master ML360 Sub-Zero, a 360mm AIO with a built-in thermoelectric heatsink, powered by an additional 8-pin adapter from a standard PSU. If your power supply has the rating and available power cables, it can support this cooler in your build. Well, your system must also be an Intel 10th Gen Intel CPU that sits in a socket LGA1200 motherboard as the Sub-Zero is limited to a specific list of hardware. Support for Rocket Lake-S will, of course, come once those CPUs arrive.
Ironically, while the cooler is advertised as a Cooler Master and Intel partnership, encouraging use of Intel’s powerful desktop overclocking software suite, Cooler Master advises against overclocking powerful i7s and i9s with this cooler and suggests sticking to single-core overclocking or factory boost speeds. It performs well in some ways, but this isn’t the uber-overclocking device that enthusiasts have dreamed of with Peltier coolers of the past.
The Cooler Master ML360 Sub-Zero looks like an ultra-high-end cooling solution, with its sleek, dark design and a touch of opulence from the chrome Cooler Master silhouette logo on the brushed pump surface. A single LED indicator light illuminates the lower corner of the pump housing and indicates the working status of the cooler’s Peltier cooling system. HAL-9000 would be proud.
|Thickness||1.10″ / 27.9mm (2.25″ / 57.15mm with fans)|
|Width||4.75″ / 120mm|
|Depth||15.5″ / 394mm|
|Pump height:||3.75″ / 95.3mm”|
|fans||(3) 120 x 25mm|
|Connectors||(4) 4-pin PWM,|
|(1) 3-pin tachometer,|
|Intel sockets||LGA1200 (only)|
The box contents for the ML360 Sub-Zero contain just enough mounting hardware for Intel’s LGA1200 platform CPUs, allowing the Peltier unit on top of the CPU socket to integrate the turnbuckles into the case. A motherboard backplate, threaded spacers and SATA power cable are included to keep things mounted and powered on, while a micro USB to 9-pin header links the link to your best motherboard† Currently, software support with Intel’s Cryo Cooling Technology is limited to the following silicon: i5-10600K, i5-10600KF, i7-10700K, i7-10700KF, i9-10850K, i9-10900K, and i9-10900KF.
Cooler Master covers the ML360 Sub-Zero for a warranty period of 5 years.
The ML360 Sub-Zero uses an integrated Peltier or thermoelectric cooler (TEC), a specialized semiconductor that uses direct current to create a temperature difference between specific electrical nodes, using large volumes of current. Basically, one side of a Peltier gets very cold while the other side gets quite hot. The ML360 Sub-Zero relies on the cold side to maintain cooling against the CPU’s Integrated Heat Spreader (IHS), while the hot side is cooled by the rest of the AIO cooler itself.
For example, the cooler can simply reduce idle CPU temperatures to actual freezing temperatures, well below room values. Normal air or liquid cooling can never allow a processor to reach sub-ambient temperatures due to the physics involved, but phase change and thermoelectric cooling make this possible.
The ML360 Sub-Zero requires the use of an 8-pin auxiliary power supply, commonly used to power graphics cards, and uses DC power from your power supply to power the Peltier thermoelectric cooling unit. This also requires a solid power supply, as the cooler alone can draw up to 200W. So consider the total load usage of the system and count on investing in a high-quality, high-wattage power supply.
The base of the ML360 Sub-Zero comes with a pre-applied patch of thermal compound over a copper pyramid base with a spirit level, plateau face. Power cables from the Peltier DC controller extend down the side of the cooler, where they meet the TEC at the base.
The perimeter of the cooler features an integrated rubber sleeve, which is designed to create a barrier or curtain around the CPU socket once the cooler is installed. This is intended to prevent relatively warm ambient air from circulating near the base of the copper cold plate, allowing condensation to collect near the motherboard connector. This has long been the danger of Peltier coolers, because temperature differences that cause water build-up on exposed electrics are clearly very bad. The bent copper base is the area where the greatest threat of condensation or freezing can occur and potentially drip onto the underlying circuitry of the motherboard. Hence the rubber barrier around this area.
Cooler Master uses a new pump design, which is positioned in-line between the Peltier unit and the radiator. The pump itself is quite large, both in size and mass, suggesting that it is much more powerful than what is used in standard, everyday AIOs. When factoring in noise levels, strength of vibration and tube pulses, it even appears to infringe on custom water-cooling pumps, although this claim would require several standalone tests to confirm.
A trio of 120mm PWM fans and an aluminum radiator make up the heat exchanger section of the ML360 Sub-Zero. The cooling fans are devoid of aRGB/RGB lighting effects, instead being stealth themed for discrete sub-environmental operation.
The flattened cooler is expertly machined to rest on top of your favorite Intel LGA1200 socket CPU.
This milled base provides a high-quality attachment for the ML360 Sub-Zero, ensuring an even distribution of the thermal compound when stress is applied during a cooler installation.
With the ML360 Sub-Zero up and running and with Intel’s Cryo Cooling Technology software installed, operating the thermoelectric cooler is relatively easy. Select the service icon in the taskbar and choose whether to run in Cryo or Unregulated mode.
Cryo mode is the default cooling mode when the system is under standard load, outside idle desktop or light web browsing. The Peltier unit enters this mode and shuts down briefly if necessary based on environmental variables to maintain system safety and prevent condensation.
In unregulated mode, the cooler can run at full capacity, triggering a warning window that condensation can collect around the cooler and motherboard, causing permanent damage. In short, clicking the box to acknowledge this warning is the electronic form of signing a waiver and understanding the consequences. The unregulated mode is usually reserved for short cooling sessions where a total assault on thermals is required.
As 360mm coolers go, the Cooler Master ML360 Sub-Zero radiator fits into a regular mounting location like every other AIO we tested. The self-contained pump uses a pair of machine screws to mount into a set of standard chassis eyes. While USB link cables are quite common for many AIOs, an extra power cable to your cooler adds a bit of extra clutter to an otherwise slick setup.