Cooler Master MasterAir Maker 8 Cooler Review
With water based All In One CPU coolers becoming more efficient, quieter, easier to install and less expensive typical air-based heatsinks have started to become less and less alluring to enthusiasts and mainstream consumers alike. It is an interesting situation, one that has led to near extinction level event for air cooler reviews here on HWC. That’s why when Cooler Master approached us to review their new MasterAir Maker 8 (yes, it’s a mouthful) heatsink we stood up and took notice…mostly due to its staggering $130 price tag.
To counteract the growing trend of AIO water cooling domination, manufacturers who design today’s modern –yet traditional- air coolers typically go down one of two routes: they either focus on budget-oriented designs or turn to increasingly more exotic solutions to compete. Cooler Master went down the former path with the Maker 8, a heatsink that represents a great example of these market forces in action. This is not your typical air cooler and instead has been built from the ground up with some rather unusual design goals.
First and foremost is unlike most CPU coolers which rely upon either heatpipes or a solid surface base to transfer the heat from the CPU’s IHS to the fin array, the Cooler Master MasterAir Maker 8 takes a page from the video card cooling industry and uses a large vapor “phase change” chamber. While not the first heatsink to use a vapor chamber design, this one addition places the Maker 8 in rather august and rarefied company.
As video card manufactures quickly realized, this type of design is much, much more efficient at whisking heat away from the core compared to either a solid base or standard heatpipe designs. At the end of the day the faster and more effective the cooler is at removing heat the more room enthusiasts have for further overclocking endeavors.
Now the Maker8 does not just use a standard vapor chamber and instead it uses what Cooler Master calls a '3D Vapor Chamber'. In simplistic terms this means that Cooler Master has connected four vertical heatpipes directly into the chamber, instead of just having heatpipes soldered on top of it, thus lowering the thermal conductivity quotient. This greatly increases the vapor chamber’s surface area and in fact directly connects the ‘3DVC’ to the fin array for drastically improved heat transfer.
In addition to these four vertical 6mm heatpipes Cooler Master has also included an additional four more traditional 6mm heatpipes that are soldered to the top. This has been done to further ensure that this cooler can handle copious amounts of heat without being overloaded, while at the same time guaranteeing the entire fin array is used for cooling the gases in the vapor chamber back to a liquid state.
Basically this configuration is similar to what the older CM V8GTS uses, albeit with a few obvious improvements – namely the ‘3D’ vapor chamber instead of a horizontal-only layout.
It almost goes without saying that the efficiency of this highly advanced design does relies heavily upon how good the base finishing is. As all enthusiasts know, the smoother and perfectly finished the base of the cooler is the better the contact with the IHS – which in turn means better heat transfer.
By flipping over the MasterAir Maker 8 we can see that in this regard Cooler Master has done a fairly decent job. While certainly not a mirror shine, this level of finishing should not prove to be a detriment to heat transfer – especially if a high quality TIM is used.
With such concerns taken care of, the only issue with using vapor chamber technology for this cooler boils down to cost. Not only do these chambers cost more in materials, but they require rather extensive engineering to properly utilize it. This one key feature does explain the high online asking price of $130.
To put this in perspective, this one feature causes the Maker8 to cost nearly fifty dollars more than a Noctua D15 and just as much as Corsair’s H110 Extreme All in One. That is indeed one large price premium.
Backstopping this large vapor chamber is a potent single tower design that offers rather significant amounts of cooling surface. To be precise the Maker 8 weighs in at 785 grams and measures 160.5mm by 144.5 by 78mm. Interestingly enough these dimensions put it between Cooler Master’s V8GTS and the smaller V6GT - both of which proved to be very potent coolers in their day.
Also noteworthy is the fin array’s two very aggressive faces that help focus air inwards and over the exterior fins. This large central channel on each side runs the entire height of the fin array so that no matter what size fan, or what model, the dead zone in front of the controller hub will be eliminated. Brilliant stuff.
Of course to actually see the cooling fins requires the removal of copious amounts of plastic. While they may not look all that impressive, these three pieces of plastic are actually not only there for aesthetic purposes. Instead they have been carefully designed to provide a proper standoff for the fans. Basically the two large side pieces not only focus the fans’ air onto the heatsink’s face, but also allow enough space to reduce static pressure introduced by the somewhat restrictive fin array.
This combination of aggressively cut fin array and proper standoff height allows the full power of the fans to be effectively used by the Maker 8. Of course if you are so inclined you actually do not need to use all three pieces. For instance, if you wish to, you can completely remove the top covering with little to no detriment to the Marker 8’s cooling performance. Single fan configurations can be used as well.
The included accessories are rather impressive in both their completeness and their quality which is as it should be with a $130 cooler. Not only does Cooler Master included the usual accoutrements for mounting this impressive cooler on both Intel and AMD systems they include enough hardware to mount it on basically every system made in recent memory. Everything from ancient Intel 775 systems to 2011 and as well as all major AMD systems are covered. Another interesting addition are 3D printer plans/ instructions so that enthusiasts can easily modify the top fascia to their needs.
Cooler Master also includes additional TIM, and additional hardware to mount 120mm fans on this marvelous model. As an added bonus they even include a secondary solid aluminum top if the clear plastic topper is not to your liking.
This model comes standard with two 140mm Silencio FP 140 fans which are rated for 1800RPM and a maximum pressure envelope of 2.2mm/H2O. For consumers who consider these stock fans to be less than optimal for their needs – as they are a touch loud thanks to their ‘loop dynamic bearing’ (read hybrid rifle and ball bearing design)– the MasterAir Maker 8 can easily accommodate aftermarket 140mm fans as well as more common 120mm fans.
This one two-combination of high efficiency and high performance is sure to satisfy anyone who can look past the asking price. Whether or not these features can indeed justify the Maker 8’s asking price remains to be seen. In either case these are the key selling features that Cooler Master is counting on to persuade consumers away from lower priced dual bay 120mm, and even dual bay 140mm, AIO coolers.
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