Corsair, a household name in the world of gaming peripherals, outshines the competition with their ML and LL fan series. High-level performance mingles with dynamic lighting displays to increase your PC’s functionality and aesthetic appeal at the same time.
However, gamers have no need for both fans, which leaves you begging the question: Which one should I buy? There are a variety of differences between the two, which means there is no “one-size-fits-all” answer.
The Corsair ML fans have virtually zero friction and provide faster fan speeds than the LL series. The ML series sports less dynamic RGB setups than the LL series, but provides higher speeds and a longer lifespan than the LL series fans. In short, the ML series has better overall performance, whereas the LL series has more visual appeal.
As of now, the two series have similar pricing on Amazon and on Corsair’s website, so the decision ultimately comes down to whether you prioritize functionality over looks, or vice versa.
In this article, I’ll discuss in detail the features of each fan series, and provide a comparison between the two. Let’s get into it.
In-Depth Summary of Corsair ML
Corsair’s ML fan series is a palpable upgrade from fans with hydraulic bearings. These fans are engineered with magnetic levitation bearings, which keep the friction at a minimum. This results in increased fan speeds and ultimately great functionality on the whole.
Corsair recently introduced RGB lighting to this series, with four independent LEDs set into the center of the fan to provide a visual boost to the fans’ performance. This is controlled by Corsair’s Lighting Node PRO, which you can use to customize the lighting on your fans.
These fans have 7 larger blades, a perfect number for magnetic levitation bearings. Unlike hydraulic bearings, the magnetic levitation bearings exert little force on the blades. Corsair ingeniously designed these fans with fewer blades for easier rotation and made them longer to make up for the difference.
With a five-year warranty and a MTBF (Mean Time Between Failures) of 200,000+ hours, this fan series provides superior performance for years to come.
There is no size difference between the ML and LL fan series, but the ML is a bit heavier, which means you need to be wise in your placement of the fans. You’ll also want to be cautious of which size fan to choose; I’ve compared the two 120mm options here, but there are 140mm options that might be better for your rig.
- Size: 120mm x 25mm
- Weight: .606 lbs
- Speed: 400-1600 RPM
- Bearing Type: Magnetic Levitation
- Lighting: RGB
- Noise: 25 dBA
- Fan Speed: The ML series has a wide range of speeds, with a low of 400 RPM for ultra-quiet performance on small tasks, or a maximum of 1600 RPM for overclocking your CPU while keeping the CPU at an ideal temperature.
- Magnetic Levitation: The magnetic levitation bearings on these fans reduce friction to virtually zero, which makes it easier for the fans to spin. This makes these fans a more durable option than hydraulic bearing fans and provides better performance overall.
In-Depth Summary of Corsair LL
The LL fan series from Corsair is a remarkable improvement from the average lightless, noisy fans you typically see. With a gorgeous RGB setup controlled by Corsair’s Lighting Node PRO, you can customize your game zone to your liking.
With the added style comes impeccable performance, though the hydraulic bearings track a bit more friction than magnetic levitation. This results in only a minor loss of RPM and is hardly noticeable to those not exercising the full range of their fans’ capabilities.
An appreciated bonus of the lighting features for these fans is the iCue software, which syncs all of your Corsair lighting modules to allow you to seamlessly control your setup in one convenient place.
These fans come with only a two-year warranty, but their ingenious design has had relatively few reported issues, making this a great option for builders working on an attractive rig. While not as durable as alternative fan options, they’ll last you long enough with proper care.
These fans sport 9 small blades which blow air easily and quickly, and the hydraulic bearings are engineered well to keep them moving without too much trouble.
Overall, they provide moderate performance and exceptional lighting customization in a reasonably priced package. You get great aesthetic features at the expense of maximum performance, which is a priority to many gamers.
- Size: 120mm x 25mm
- Weight: .49 lbs
- Speed: 600-1500 RPM
- Bearing Type: Hydraulic
- Lighting: RGB
- Noise: 24.8 dBA
- RGB Setup: The LL series prides itself on its lighting setup; with a stunning RGB display of 16 independent LEDs spread across two different light loops, this fan adds an air of functional beauty to your setup.
- Low Noise: With a noise output of 24.8 dBA, this fan series is actually a little quieter than the ML series, on average. Without sacrificing functionality, these fans will keep your CPU from thermal stress in style.
Corsair ML vs. LL Comparison
Now that you know what differentiates the ML series from the LL series, you’ve likely begun to see how they stack up against each other. Let’s discuss how the features that stand out in each of these series compare to each other.
The LL series is ultimately the quieter fan with a sound output of 24.8 dBA. For reference, a standard conversation between two humans speaking normally is around 60 dBA. With that in mind, 24.8 dBA is relatively quiet, which is a necessity for many gamers.
The ML series is rated at 25 dBA and therefore generates a little more sound than the LL series. However, at max speeds, it’s hard to tell the difference between the two unless you’re testing on minimum speeds.
In that case, you’ll be able to hear the ML series slightly, while the LL series will be nearly silent.
The LL series takes the LED cake in terms of lighting features. With four times as many LEDs as the ML series fans, the LL fans produce a brilliant, vibrant display that you can customize with Corsair’s Lighting Node PRO.
The ML fans do have lighting features, but with only four LEDs on the fan, the colors are less dynamic and your customization possibilities are limited. The LL fans also have the LEDs set into both loops, which provides a more appealing display.
Overall, the ML series fans have a better performance than the LL fans due to the magnetic levitation bearings. With the reduced friction, the fans can operate at much higher speeds, making it the ideal fan for gamers that overclock their CPUs frequently.
When it comes to performance-to-aesthetic ratios, however, the LL is the better choice. You get only a slight markdown in performance from the ML series fans, but the additional lighting options make up for the difference.
ML series fans will outlast LL fans in general, and with their prices being so similar right now, the ML fans are a better investment for those seeking maximum performance capabilities.
The ML series fans sport the superior bearing type with magnetic levitation bearings. This type of bearing allows the fans to oscillate without the burden of friction, increasing their lifespan and maximum speed output.
The LL series use hydraulic bearings, which are the most common to find in computer fans. It’s reliable, but it lacks the spunk that magnetic levitation bearings provide. You get lower fan speeds and more friction, which can cause the bearings to wear down faster than magnetic levitation.
Our Final Take
You truly can’t go wrong with either of these fans, but if your priority is performance above all else, the ML series fans are the best. They run smoother, faster, and longer than the LL series fans, with the only drawback being fewer lighting possibilities. There will always be lighting fanatics, however, for which LL series fans are there to welcome with moderate performance and superior customization.
What Does ML Stand For?
ML is Corsair’s shorthand for Magnetic Levitation, a reference to the bearing type used in the fans. Corsair actually pioneered magnetic levitation for their ML series, which was an exciting addition to the saturated market of computer fans.
What Does LL Stand For?
LL doesn’t represent the bearing type on these fans, which is hydraulic, but instead references the dual lighting loops featured in the fans. These are two loops with LEDs built into them, one that covers the outer rim of the fan, and one that surrounds the center of the fan.
Does Lighting Node PRO Control Fans Too?
Lighting Node PRO is explicitly for controlling the RGB display, and thus does not control the fans. You can control both the fan speeds and the RGB using Commander Pro, which means you need PWM headers for your fans.