Corsair ML140 Pro RGB - Magnets Get Attractive
As LegitReviews looks forward to the technological developments that 2018 will bring and I assess the year that has passed, it stood out that many of the peripherals that I reviewed over the year featured RGB lighting. I had a talk with a friend of mine the other day and I offered him a replacement keyboard for one of his that recently developed Coca-Cola induced key chatter, but before accepting the keyboard that I offered, he made sure to ask if it has RGB lighting. While some people view RGB lighting for computers as unnecessary and costly, we've arrived to a point where some PC enthusiasts and gamers won't buy, or even let you give them peripherals that don't feature RGB lighting. Given the current trends and landscape of the DIY PC industry, there will be no shortage of development of new RGB components and peripherals for the foreseeable future.
If you've been a PC enthusiast or gamer at any period in time in your life, chances are very strong that you've used a Corsair product of some type. California-based Corsair is one of the premier peripheral and component manufactures in the PC industry and are a leader in producing peripherals featuring RGB lighting, with competitors like NZXT and Razer also constantly releasing high end products within their own RGB ecosystems. Over a decade ago, Corsair developed the first DDR memory modules with an LCD display and activity bars built into the heat spreader, the XMS Xpert Series, which was quite the technological achievement and something we haven't seen, since. Today, Corsair is still a premier manufacturer of high performance system memory and are currently producing their Vengeance series DDR4 modules with integrated RGB lighting
, but they have expanded their focus to just about every computer peripheral imaginable. Today, you can find Corsair headsets, mice, keyboards
, fans and more outfitted with RGB lighting. There is an ongoing meme within PC enthusiast circles that questions "What will Corsair RGB next?" Well, I actually have the answer for that. Corsair is going to bring RGB to some of the best computer fans on the market, next.
When I reviewed the Corsair LL RGB
series of fans, I came away thoroughly impressed, as they offered great looking RGB effects and moved a good amount of air while remaining very quiet. The Corsair LL RGB series of fans would go on to earn the Legit Reviews Recommended Award, but I did fathom when Corsair would take the next step and bring RGB lighting to their incredible series of ML Pro fans, which feature magnetic levitation bearings and custom designed rotors to allow for low-noise, high airflow operation. Corsair ML (Magnetic Levitation) Pro fans are considered some of the best case fans on the market by enthusiasts, with Corsair touting them as being the fans NASA would develop for PC. While the Corsair ML series of fans have been available with single-color LED options for some time, it was only natural that Corsair would take their best fans and add programmable RGB lighting, allowing them to now fit into the Corsair LINK ecosystem. Now, PC enthusiasts who have been waiting for Corsair to bring RGB lighting to their ML Pro fans can fork over their money for some low-noise, high airflow RGB goodness.
Corsair ML140 Pro RGB Technical Specifications
- Dimensions: 140 mm x 140 mm x 25 mm
- Rated Voltage – Fan: 12V
- Rated Voltage – RGB LED’s: 5V
- Fan Operating Voltage: (10.8V-13.2V)
- Fan Startup Voltage: 5V
- Rated Current – Fan: .0069 A
- Rated Current – RGB LED’S: .2 A
- Speed: 400-1200 RPM +/- 10%
- Airflow (at 12V): 55.4 CFM
- Static Pressure (at 12V): 1.27 mm-H2O
- Sound Level (at 12): 20.4 dBA
- Connection Cable: 4-pin
- Pulse Width Modulation (PWM): Yes
- Bearing Type: Magnetic Levitation
- Cable Length – Fan: 600 mm/23.62 inches
- Cable Length – RGB LED’s: 600 mm/23.62 inches
The Corsair ML Pro RGB fans are available in either 120 or 140 mm editions, with the ML120 Pro RGB running $34.99 a fan, while the ML140 Pro RGB runs $39.99 a fan. I've received the $99.99 ML140 Pro RGB Twin Pack (Corsair Part Number CO-9050078-WW) for review. When I heard that the ML Pro fan would be getting an RGB makeover, I figured they would carry quite a price premium over the ML Pro LED fans, but the RGB editions carry just a five dollar MSRP price premium over their single-color LED brethren. Unlike the Corsair LL RGB fans that I recently reviewed, which have an outer lighting ring, the Corsair ML RGB fans only have a center ring with four lighting zones. The emphasis on the Corsair ML Pro RGB fans isn't as much on the RGB lighting, but rather on that the actual airflow, low noise operation and build quality of the fan, which are tops in the Corsair lineup. With that said, I am very interested in seeing how the ML Pro RGB fans stack up next to the LL RGB fans, since those were already very quiet and capable of moving a decent amount of air.
I am not quite sure why Corsair has toned down the specs on their ML140 Pro RGB from the Corsair ML140 Pro LED fans, which are capable of running at a higher RPM (2000) and delivering more static pressure (3.0 mmH20) and airflow (97 CFM). The ability to run at a wider RPM range with the ML140 Pro RGB would have been nice and I just can't fathom why this RPM limitation was put into play. Perhaps it was brought about due to the RGB LED components taking up more room in the hub than the single-LED design and thus limiting the ability of the ML bearings, but I am just not sure. I've reached out to Corsair for comment on why the ML140 Pro RGB has a lower maximum RPM than the other ML Pro fans and will update this article if and when I get a response.
The Corsair Lighting Node Pro and LINK compatibility is limited to Windows 7, Windows 8 and Windows 10, so users of other operating systems will be left in the dark. The Corsair Lighting Node Pro and Corsair Fan Hub each require their own SATA power connection and a free 9-Pin USB port is required to connect the Lighting Node Pro.
Users who are wondering about what seems to be a price discrepancy, with the ML140 Pro RGB Twin Pack and ML120 Pro RGB Triple Pack actually costing more than it would be to buy individual fans, keep in mind that the multi-fan kits include the Corsair Lighting Node Pro and Corsair Fan Hub, which explains the added $15-20 cost. It is odd that the Lighting Node Pro and Fan Hub add $20 to the cost when it is factored into the price of the ML140 Pro RGB Twin Pack, but it adds $15 to the cost as part of the ML120 Pro RGB Triple Pack.
IMessing with RGB effects is fun, but I tend to end up setting my system to a couple of static colors rather than going full blown unicorn mode.
With competitors like NZXT and Thermaltake making RGB fans of their own, Corsair is really pulling out all of the stops and doing their best to win the fan race. The best part of this is that the competition is only getting started and we will continue to see development in this arena, with manufacturers hopefully continuing to put emphasis on improving performance and noise levels of the fans, in addition to making the RGB effects as uniform as possible. RGB fans have great aesthetic potential, but Corsair is also making sure to bring along the performance and build quality with their ML Pro RGB fans.
Let's take a look at the Corsair ML140 Pro RGB Twin Pack and what is included in the retail package, next.
Corsair ML140 Pro RGB - What's In The Box?
Corsair packages the ML140 Pro RGB in their trademark black and yellow packaging with an RGB accent lining the bottom, which Corsair has been using for years, now. Corsair has done a solid job of branding, as I can totally tell their products apart on store shelves and they stand out now when I browse the aisles of Best Buy or Fry's.
The packaging of the does a great job of showing off the diffused lighting effects of the ML140 Pro RGB, with a high resolution image of the fans in action printed across the center.
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When you're selling a package of premium fans that ring in between $35 and $40 each, presentation is certainly key. While Corsair has done a decent job of packaging their ML Pro RGB fans, I do wish that they did a little better at packaging the accessories, as they were sitting loose together in a box, with nothing really securing them except for the closed flap of the box. I doubt anything is going to come out, but everything just kind of fell out of the box with an anticlimactic clunk of plastic and paper.
Besides the fans, inside the packaging of the Corsair ML140 Pro RGB Twin Pack we find an installation guide, Lighting Node Pro, Fan Hub, USB cable and some fan screws. Unfortunately, Corsair hasn't included any stickers or other swag with the ML Pro RGB fans, which isn't a big deal, but something I always like to see with premium products. Overall, the packaging and presentation of the Corsair ML Pro RGB fans is satisfactory and everything arrived unscathed and in good, working condition. I would like to see Corsair take better care in packaging things in the future, but they aren't guilty of poor packaging, the presentation just wasn't all that great on the accessories side.
Corsair includes 3M mounting kits for the Lighting Node Pro and Corsair Fan Hub so that they can be mounted in various locations throughout the case.
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The Lighting Node Pro features the Corsair sails logo on the top side and has a solid build quality , with a solid USB connection that doesn't have any play and connectors that offer a firm, reassuring connection to the LED cables, which click into place. The Lighting Node Pro is capable of connecting to two different LED channels, which allows it to control up to twelve fans, or six fans and a group of four LED strips. Without the Lighting Node Pro or Corsair Commander Pro
, there will be no way for Corsair Link to communicate with RGB channels. The USB cable that connects the Lighting Node Pro to the PC is under one foot long, so you will have to be considerate of your placement in the case. Since Corsair isn't using a proprietary cable for the Lighting Node Pro, replacement cables can be sourced and users without internal USB ports could even rig a PCI-E port pass-thru and use a regular USB cable if their system configuration warrants it. With so many motherboards offering multiple internal USB ports these days, we doubt there will be many users who have connectivity concerns with the Lighting Node Pro.
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The Corsair Fan Hub connects to the Lighting Node Pro via a single cable that is included with the kit. There are six LED channels on the Corsair Fan Hub and it is strictly used for lighting control, it cannot provide PWM control to the motor of any fans. Connections to the Corsair Fan Hub must be done in serial, as skipping a connection will break the chain and cause the lighting to cease functioning.
Corsair packages each ML140 Pro RGB fan in a yellow box within the retail package, with a small area in the box devoted to storing the fan cable. The box protects the fan well during shipment, as it has thick sides and grabs the fan pretty snugly. Corsair ships the fan with the wires folded and tucked cleanly into the frame, with twist ties keeping the cables from unraveling.
Speaking of the ML140 Pro RGB fan cables, look at how long they are. There is a PWM connector, which powers the fan rotor, while a separate 4-Pin connector goes to the Corsair Fan Hub for lighting control. Thankfully, the cables are thin and very easy to fold, bend and otherwise manage into a neat little bundle, provided you are patient. If you lack patience, the thin nature and easy bending of the Corsair ML140 Pro RGB fan cables means they should tuck nicely and hide behind whichever corner you shove them in.
The Corsair ML Pro 140 RGB fans each feature the touted Magnetic Levitation bearing system, which is a unique design that uses mythical magnets to do some magical, gravity defying stuff. The Magnetic Levitation bearings in the hub of the Corsair ML Pro RGB fan work by elevating the fan rotor over the hub as it spins, which greatly reduces friction and allows the fan to operate at a lower noise and amp draw than standard fans, while also providing longer bearing life than standard ball or sleeve bearing designs. Corsair has designed the seven fan blade rotor of the ML Pro RGB to provide low noise and high airflow. The Corsair Magnetic Levitation fans draw about a third of the power of a typical ball bearing fan, such as the Corsair HD140, if you want an idea of how impressive the Magnetic Levitation bearings are.
Each of the four corners has rubber bumpers that sit between the plastic frame of the fan where the screw inserts. These bumpers are integrated properly into the frame and add to the overall build quality of the ML Pro RGB fans. The screw insert of the ML140 Pro RGB has an indentation so that screws can set into the fan without pushing in on the plastic and deforming the corners, which can happen when the screws are tightened too much.
The side of the fan from of the ML140 Pro RGB has the same type of pattern from the other ML Pro series of fans. This pattern gives the ML Pro RGB fans a unique look, while also adding to the rigidity of the plastic, making the fan frames more durable than your typical affair. Corsair made sure to cover their bases and ensure proper quality through these ML Pro RGB fans.
Corsair routes the cable of the ML140 Pro through the frame and there is a slide machined out of the frame for the cable to run through. I will also note that unlike my LL RGB fan sample, the Corsair ML140 Pro RGB don't have any issues with the Corsair sticker on the back of the hub peeling up where the cable exits. Corsair have zip-tied the two cable together at the exit point for cable-management and everything was done well in this regard. On the rear of the fan on each corner there are rubber stops that will sit between the fan and case or radiator when it is in an intake or exhaust position with the rear of the fan sitting against the case or radiator. However, if the fan is used in a pull configuration on a radiator, or similar situation, there is no rubber isolation extended to the other side, which is a bit of an annoyance if you are trying to do a specific installation and want optimal vibration prevention.
Here, we can see the PCB-mounted LED that sits between the PCB and rotor of the ML140 Pro RGB fan. Corsair has embedded an LED evenly on all four sides of the fan PCB and it faces outward, with the light that is emitted spreading out beautiful against the semi-translucent diffuse material.
The Corsair ML140 Pro RGB have a great build quality and look at carries over from the previous ML Pro series fans, while adding some visual flair. The lower top end RPM of the ML140 Pro is a bit of a letdown, but overall, these are some well-made fans that have some solid specs. Next let's see how the ML140 Pro RGB look installed in my case and see how they interact with the Corsair Link software.
Corsair ML140 Pro RGB - Installation and Corsair Link
For testing of the ML140 Pro RGB, I used a CoolerMaster MasterCase 5 Pro Tempered Glass Edition case and installed one ML140 Pro RGB fans as an intake and two of them as pull-mode fans for my CryoRig A80 AIO cooler. Installation was a breeze and since I had already installed the Lighting Node Pro and Corsair Fan Hub on the rear of my motherboard tray during the installation of the Corsair LL RGB fans, it was really simple to just add the ML Pro fans to the mix by running cables to the hub, which was very simple. The ML140 Pro RGB fan power and lighting cables are twice as long as the cable on the CryoRig QF140 fans that shipped with my AIO, which made installation easy, since I didn't have to worry about the cable run not being long enough.
The Corsair ML Pro RGB fans do present a unique wiring situation, as each fan has to be wired to the Fan Hub, which has a single cable connection to the Lighting Node Pro. The fan power and LED lighting cables on the ML Pro RGB fans are thin and easy to route, with a solid two feet of cable per connection, which should allow for routing pretty much anywhere in a standard ATX case. While not quite the hassle that NZXT presents with their daisy-chain method of connecting each RGB fan to each other, Corsairs solution does require a bit of planning, as it should be placed in a location central to every fan, where it will allow for the fan cables to be routed in a clean, presentable manner. I do like Corsair's solution, as it allows for easy addition of new fans to the chain without having to mess with previously installed fan cables.
When you first power on the system with the ML Pro RGB fans installed, you might be surprised that there is no active lighting mode. Until the fans are toggled on using the Lighting Node Pro, they won't brighten up your day. This is actually something that I wish Corsair would change, but that would just lead to hordes of people complaining that you can't change the lighting mode until you install software, which can take quite some time on a new build. Basically, just like with anything in life, you can't satisfy everybody.
Before I could get to doing any testing, Corsair Link informed me that firmware for my Lighting Node Pro needed to be updated. I clicked okay to the update and everything went through without a hitch, with Corsair Link alerting me that the process had been completed.
Corsair released version 220.127.116.11 of their Link Software on November 15, 2017, just a day prior to this review posting.
The main section of Corsair Link is full of useful system information, including temperature readouts for your CPU, motherboard, system drives and GPU. The ability to see your memory timings is also provided, which is a pretty handy feature and considerate of Corsair's role as a big player in the high performance DDR industry. DRAM support actually goes even further in Corsair Link if you own a set of Corsair Vengeance DDR4 RGB DRAM, as well.
Corsair Link lets users of the Vengeance DDR4 RGB DRAM set their memory to specific colors and lighting effects, including Color Shift, which lets you specify colors to shift between. Rainbow mode is also provided, which flows through the spectrum of RGB, but I typically use RGB lighting to set to a couple of static colors that play well together for a nice, coordinated look once my initial phase of amazement at the spectrum of effects has worn out after a short while. I was disappointed to find out that there is no way to connect the DRAM RGB lighting to the Lighting Node Pro RGB effects in Corsair Link, since some of the effects, like Static, Color Shift and Rainbow Mode are available on both the Vengeance DDR4 RGB DRAM and the ML Pro RGB fans.
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I found out the hard way that the ML Pro RGB and LL RGB fans aren't going to work correctly if they are on the same channel. Once I got the version of Link that officially supports the ML Pro RGB fans, I found that setting the chain the ML Pro RGB would cause most of my fans to stop working, with only the first two LL fans in the chain lighting up. However, things continued to work okay with the chain set to RGB LL if I wanted to use static mode or Rainbow settings, but individual control over the fans wasn't possible and the limitation of mixing fans on Corsair Link really showed its head.
To get true, full RGB lighting functionality from both the LL RGB and ML Pro RGB fans while they were installed in the same system, I would have to run them on separate channels with their own fan hubs, which would eliminate my ability to run LED strips on the secondary channel of the Lighting Node Pro. For now, I really have to recommend against mixing Corsair RGB fans in the same system if you want to utilize all of the Lighting modes with potential issues, which is a shame, because the different models of Corsair RGB fans may have usage scenarios in the same system, such as HD RGB fans on the radiators and ML Pro RGB fans as intake and exhaust. You could install a second Lighting Node Pro, of course, but I feel like there is a better solution to all of this: Corsair needs to allow for different types of fans on the same chain within Corsair Link.
While not quite as effect-rich as the LL series of fans, which have the necessary rings to be fashionable at any RGB party, the ML Pro RGB fans still have a respectable eight lighting effects on their side, including cool ones like Rainbow Wave and Color Shift.
The lighting effects of the ML Pro RGB fans look uniform and clean, with fairly smooth transition effects, which can be limited by just four center-mounted LED's. While there is a minimal amount of hot spotting, the lighting here closely resembles the center ring lighting seen on the LL series fans, but isn't diffused as well because the LED's don't actually sit under a diffused plastic housing as they do on the LL series fans, but rather they are exposed.
The ML140 Pro RGB worked great as radiator fans, despite my initial reservations. Due to where Corsair places the LED's on the ML 140 Pro RGB, the LED's can be seen clearly from the rear if looking from an angle. This isn't a major issue, since most people are going to be looking forward and to the side at their PC and won't be looking at the fans from the rear, but something to keep in mind. Corsair RGB fans are really best seen from the front and most other manufacturers are designing their fans to have the best aesthetics from a front-view, which leaves radiator installations a bit to be desired. I am sure we'll see a solution for this soon from one of the major RGB players, with uniform RGB on both sides of the fan.
The ML140 Pro RGB worked great and I had a lot of fun getting them installed and running. My system is running quieter than ever, without a drop in cooling performance. The Corsair ML140 Pro RGB have helped deliver some great aesthetic and function to my new I7 8700K Coffee Lake system and Corsair has once again delivered some amazing RGB fans to the market. While I still consider the Corsair LL RGB fans to the best looking RGB fans on the market, the Corsair ML Pro RGB fans are the best low-noise, high airflow RGB fans on the market. I only wish that the ML and LL fans could get along together on the same RGB chain, as sacrificing the effects and not having completely accurate control over the lighting was a bit of a bummer.
Let's conclude this review of the Corsair ML140 RGB with my final thoughts on where the fans fit into the current landscape and whether or not they are worth a purchase.
Corsair ML140 Pro RGB - Magnetized To The Light
The Corsair ML140 Pro RGB are capable of moving a lot of air and are barely audible, even when at full blast. Seriously, the ML140 Pro RGB fans are nearly silent, even at full RPM. I could hear the 80 mm CryoRig AIO cooling fan over all three of the ML140 RGB fans from Corsair, and I've never considered the CryoRig fan to be loud. I was a bit concerned about the ML140 Pro RGB having an inability to function properly as radiator fans due to their somewhat low static pressure and RPM rating when compared to other fans, including the stock fans that came with my Cryorig A80 AIO. My concerns were alleviated during testing, as I saw no temperature difference between the ML Pro RGB fans and the Cryorig Performance fans that came with the AIO, despite the Cryorig fans having a higher airflow and static pressure rating. The ML140 Pro RGB fans ran incredibly quiet, even under full load, taking my PC noise levels down by a noticeable amount during heavy workloads.
The build quality on the Corsair ML140 Pro RGB was top notch throughout. Corsair used quality plastic for the frame and the rubber bumpers on each corner do a great job of holding onto screws and keeping the fan from vibrating against the case. Corsair has implemented their excellent Magnetic Levitation technology and the weight of each fan is impressive. When you pick up the Corsair ML Pro RGB fan, you can tell that is is a solid piece of equipment, weighing more than your typical case fan and having a general feeling of quality.
The various lighting modes provided by the ML140 Pro RGB in conjunction with the Lighting Node Pro and Corsair LINK all look great, with smooth transitions between effects. Corsair is using a similar diffuse plastic on the ML Pro RGB fan blades that they used on the LL RGB, so the lighting is spread very nicely across the blades and has a thin mist look to it. The four RGB LED zones in the ML140 Pro RGB were implemented well and there are minimal hot spots, though you can tell where the lighting emanates from. When I used the ML140 Pro RGB fans in sequence with my LL series fans, the center hub matched the output of the LL fans, so things looked pretty cohesive and brilliant. While the ML RGB Pro certainly look best from the front, they emit a nice, fog like glow from the rear that looks great when installed as an intake. The pictures don't do the ML Pro RGB justice, as they pick up the LED focus point.
The ML140 Pro RGB fan emits a nice, even blue glow through the front mesh of the CM MasterCase 5.
Corsair created a unique position for their ML Pro RGB fans by previously releasing the LL RGB fans, which undoubtedly look better than the ML Pro RGB fans in terms of RGB lighting capability, while providing slightly less airflow and slightly higher noise output. If Corsair had included outer lighting on the ML Pro RGB they would have immediately made the LL RGB fans obsolete, so I understand why they may have toned down the RGB to just four zones on the ML Pro RGB fans. I guess the natural progression from here would be for Corsair to release a LLML fan, which is what I was hoping the ML Pro RGB would be after hearing about them, since I had the LL RGB in hand by that point. I can't say I am disappointed in the ML Pro RGB lighting, I just would have loved to be able to replace all of my Corsair LL fans with the ML Pro RGB to get a little more airflow and less noise output, while still being able to pull off the beautiful RGB effects that the LL series are capable of.
Corsair has done a great job of pairing RGB effects with their Magnetic Levitation technology on their new ML Pro RGB fans. If you prefer low noise performance over RGB lighting effects but still want some customization ability, go with the ML Pro RGB series, as they are the quietest RGB fans you can get, while also maintaining an excellent airflow level and delivering diffused lighting effects that look great. The price premium for RGB on the Magnetic Levitation fans isn't as much as I initially thought it would be, so if you're considering Magnetic Levitation fans at all from Corsair, going with the RGB ones might make sense in case you get the customization bug down the road. Users who are willing to sacrifice a little bit of airflow and deal with slightly higher noise in order to get better looking RGB lighting effects should look into the amazing Corsair LL RGB series fans. As it stands, I am going to stick with my mix of Corsair LL and ML fans and hope that Corsair works things out with their LINK software so that I can specify specific fans on the chain, as the current situation of having to use one model fan is very limiting, especially when Corsair has different RGB fans that work better in certain scenarios, such as the HD series
being optimal for radiator placement over the LL series
Legit Bottom Line: If you're into RGB lighting, but low noise performance and build quality are your greater concerns, the Corsair ML Pro RGB are the right fans for you.