Cooler Master MasterAir Maker 8 Cooler Review

Author: AkG
Date: February 11, 2016
Product Name: MasterAir Maker 8
Part Number: MAZ-T8PN-418PR-R1
Warranty: 5 Years
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Setup and Installation Issues

As the MasterAir Maker 8 is capable of being installed on such a wide variety of system it is only fair to actually take them up on their offer. As such we installed this cooler on three different systems. An ASRock Z97 based motherboard, a Gigabyte 2011 motherboard and even a Gigabyte AMD AM3+ motherboard. This is what we found out.

Starting with the Z97 system the installation process basically follows the same path as previous Cooler Master air based cooling solutions. The first thing you need to do is install the multipurpose back plate and then install the top bracket hardware. We have very little issues with the back plate as while it does rely heavily on plastic it is both easy to use on a wide variety of sockets and more than robust enough to get the job done. The top brackets though are not quite as good.

Compared to the hardware used by some alternatives like Noctua’s latest solutions, these thin metal brackets simply do not inspire all that much confidence. Put simply, they may be strong enough to get the job done but they are easily bendable. This is not reassuring to say the least. However, they are more than durable and more than robust enough to handle the couple pounds of force that the Maker 8 will exert on them.

What is not acceptable is the fact that Cooler Master seems to have gone out of their way to find the absolute smallest, most user unfriendly nuts possible. No matter what you do, at least one of these will fall off and under the motherboard heatsink during installation. This is just a given, as they are not only too small to be easily gripped but they have an extremely fine thread pitch.

After removing both fans and then placing the cooler in position you are expected to use two even smaller nuts to secure it to the top brackets. This wouldn’t have been a deal breaker but the Maker 8 has to be precisely aligned so the nuts can fall into their respective holes and then onto the vertical shaft that sticks up from each of the two top brackets. If you are off by even a tenth of a millimeter they will just spin in place… and then fall off.

During the installation process we lost count of the number of times that this happened and had to tip the motherboard up to let the itty bitty nut fall free. There is simply no reason for using such small parts on such a large cooler. They do not inspire confidence, they are not easy to work with, and they get lost awfully damn easy.

These issues would be tolerable if they would be the only ones you had to work past. Sadly, due to the way the fans are attached this is only the beginning of the problems. You see, unlike every other mega cooler on the market, the Maker 8 relies upon plastic grooves and two plastic snaps to hold the fans in place.

While this certainly looks fancy, it means that you cannot simply move the fan up higher on the fin array and have it securely mounted. In testing if you do as Cooler Master suggests the amount of noise from the fans significantly increases. This is because the fans vibrate more if not locked into place.

Cooler Master also made the mistake of starting the fin array off very, very low to the motherboard. In fact, on our Z87, Z97 and Z170 systems (yes we tried multiple motherboards) the amount of room between the bottom of the fan and the two nearest DIMM slots was extremely limited to say the least.

Having to first install the ram before the CPU cooler is par for the course, but having to use only standard height ram is not since many enthusiast modules have higher heatsinks these days. As you can see even standard height ram will touch the bottom of the fan, causing additional vibration. So much so that out of all the DDR3 RAM modules we had on hand only the Mushkin Stiletto model would work with the fan locked firmly into position. Various G.Skill lines would not, and even Corsair’s Vengeance ‘LP’ series was not low profile enough. This means that the nearest one to two RAM sockets – depending on the particular motherboard - are nearly unusable.

While you can somewhat alleviate this issue by using smaller 120mm fans, that is not an optimal solution. In fact, all the main options are less than optimal. Consumers are basically left in the unenviable position of choosing to either use smaller fans on the Maker 8, not fully securing the fans in place, or severely limiting their RAM selection. None of these options acceptable solutions when dealing with such an expensive CPU cooling solution.

To be blunt this issue alone makes this cooler a sub-optimal choice for Z87 to Z170 based systems. The only exception would be anyone with access to a 3D printer and thus the ability to modify the height of the fan brackets. Though Cooler Master does not include the schematics for these parts so even dedicated enthusiasts will have to first recreate them, then modify them. What a damn shame, and one that could have been easily avoided by the inclusion of ten cents worth of wire mounting brackets or a slightly modified design.

Thankfully when we turned our attention to Socket 2011 / X99 based systems things were a bit more confidence inspiring. Put simply the installation process is easier as it uses the integrated Intel 2011 backplate, and the standoff height is slightly greater. With that being said the amount of height between the bottom of the fans and the DDR4 RAM modules is still going to be limited.

In this case our Corsair Vengeance DDR4 ‘LPX’ series fit easily. Sadly, our Mushkin DDR4 ram modules were unable to fit in either of the two nearest DIMM slots on either side of the CPU socket.

Meanwhile, our high performance DDR4-3600 G.Skill memory modules were also unable to fit underneath in either of the first two nearest DIMMS. Instead, just as with our Mushkin DDR4 RAM, they were limited to the outer most slots. Sadly, this makes the Maker8 a touch less than optimal for Socket 2011 systems as well.

When we turned to the AMD AM3+ system we must admit to having rather low expectations. Thankfully it appears that the AMD installation team was not the same as the Intel one. In a very uncommon move – for AMD users at least – this cooler can easily be installed in either typical North/South orientation or East/West orientation. That certainly makes the Maker 8 above average for AMD users.

This however was only the tip of the iceberg as the amount of room between the bottom of the fan and the RAM was downright amazing. Obviously the original design team for the Maker 8 are all AMD users….maybe. That to us is a rather odd turn of events, but if you have an AMD based system this cooler is actually a joy to work with and is easily one of the better options for your fire breathing AMD system.

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