The Bottom Line
Introduction, Specifications, and Pricing
When it comes to the MASTERAIR series of coolers, up until this point, all we have for reference is the MASTERAIR Maker 8 CPU cooler from Cooler Master. This does not stop them from developing more coolers in this lineup, however, and is why we have you attention here today. However, where the Maker 8 has all of the bells and whistles for a single tower cooler, including dual fans, shrouds, LED lighting, plus the ability to have some of its parts replaced with 3D printed products, what has come forth since, is a bit more mundane.
This is not to say the last two coolers to sport the MASTERAIR naming are in any way sub par; they are just more economically friendly designs. For those who did not want to spend large on the MASTERAIR Maker 8 now have the option to select something which does not require you to dig as deep into your wallet. At the same time, they offer many features that make newer coolers a success in today's market. While these coolers may not be as fancy as the original, they offer things like an offset design to allow clearance around the socket, easy to use mounting hardware, and a clip on fan which makes changing the fans or cleaning them much easier.
Today we start with the smaller of the two options to be released. Cooler Master is setting forth a pair of new options in the MASTERAIR series, and we are covering the MASTERAIR PRO 3 here. This is a 92mm fan based cooler which sports a few new features as well as being capable of being installed in places where the standard 120mm fan cooler solutions will not fit. With our new test system all set and ready to go, we bring forth the first new cooler to be tested with it. Hopefully, by the time we are done with this review, you will have some appreciation for this very affordable air cooler from Cooler Master, and if space is of any concern to you, this may just be a solid solution to suit your needs as well.
We copied this chart from the packaging on the MASTERAIR PRO 3 as it has yet to be released at the time we are writing this review. On the packaging, we see things start off with a full list of compatibility for both Intel and AMD, which covers all of the Intel line and most of the AMD sockets as well. The MASTERAIR PRO 3, all told, stands 140mm tall, it is 117mm wide, and is just 78mm in depth, with the fan incorporated in these measurements. As far as materials are concerned, there are three copper heat pipes which are 6mm in diameter, there is aluminum with exposed copper heat pipes in the CDC 2.0 base design, and of course, this cooler uses aluminum for the 41 fins including the top fin which has been anodized black.
The fan which is included with the MASTERAIR PRO 3 is a 92mm fan sporting the FD09225M12LPC model number, and it includes a switch that can be set to silent or quiet modes. The speed of this fan ranges from 650 to 3000 RPM, and it can deliver 28 CFM of air flow and 2.5 mmH2O of pressure at its maximum speed. With light use of this fan, you can expect a lifetime of 350,000 hours, but if left at its maximum speed, the lifespan is reduced to just 50,000 hours. This 92mm fan is rated to deliver a range of noise from 6 dBA on the low-end to a maximum of 30dBA. It is a 4-pin PWM powered fan which can draw 12V but sips power with just 0.1 A of power draw, using 1.2W. All told, this cooler weighs in at 503.5 grams with the fan included, but what is refreshing is that this MASTERAIR PRO 3 ships with a five-year warranty to cover it.
As we write this review, the MASTERAIR PRO 3 is not yet available at any retail locations. In various emails that came along with our agreement for a launch day review, we have the MSRP information. We are told that to obtain this smaller single tower air cooler, you will only need to come up with $39.99 to get one shipped to your door. It is rare that we run across coolers which cost less than $50, but the MASTERAIR PRO 3 from Cooler Master is such a cooler. With an affordable price point, the newly designed Continuous Direct Contact 2.0 base design offering 45 percent more contact with the CPU, things are looking up for this cooler.
Stick with us as we get a good look at what Cooler Master is offering with the MASTERAIR PRO 3, and as we complete the testing, we will deliver our verdict on whether or not this compact single tower design is something that is worthy of your attention, and something you just cannot live without.
Cooler Master offers the MASTERAIR PRO 3 is a gray box, which provides the company logo and motto at the top. The center of the front panel is used to display an image of the cooler contained inside and is also where we find the product naming. Cooler Master was also sure to mention the newly designed Continuous Direct Contact Technology 2.0, which should improve its ability to keep your processor cool as a cucumber.
The right side of the packaging is still based on the same gray color, and along with the product name and company logo, we are shown an image of the cooler, which has been turned upside down. This way you can glance at the new base design offered on this cooler.
Moving to the back of the box, we find the naming at the top along with the logo again, but the majority of the panel is used to list features. Cooler Master mentions the CDC 2.0, the perfect combination of air flow and fin density, innovative fan bracket design, and the simplicity of the installation process. At the bottom, we are also shown three renderings which show the dimension of this product.
This panel is where we copied out specifications chart from. Since we already covered what this chart contains, the only thing worth mentioning at this point is the asterisk which states compatibility might change, and you should visit their site for the latest compatibility listings.
Inside of the box, the first thing you find is the white cardboard box containing all of the hardware needed to mount the MASTERAIR PRO 3 cooler. Below that, we find the cooler resting in a form fitting plastic container to protect the cooler, and it is also contained inside of a plastic bag. As for this specific unit, it arrived in great shape and was well protected with the inner packaging.
Cooler Master MASTERAIR PRO 3 CPU Cooler
Fresh out of the box, we find that the 92mm fan is already attached to the front of the MASTERAIR PRO 3. The fan is black, sports seven blades, and covers the majority of the fin stack behind it. The fan is powered by a 4-pin fan connection, and the length of the cable is sleeved in a black plastic braid to dress things up a bit.
The right side of the cooler shows us the fan clips which are attached to the fan but simply grab onto the sides in one of the two grooves cut along it. We can also see that the cooler is offset from its base, which makes for RAM clearance, but to do so the last pipes needs to be angled to make it from the base and into the fin array.
From the back, there is not much to see, but we are aware that a second fan can be added for a push/pull arrangement of fans. While the sides of the cooler are open, it is the bits of aluminum around the heat pipes which keep the spacing of the finds equidistant throughout the fin stack.
The left side of the MASTERAIR Pro 3 looks just like the right side. No closed off fins, no supports for the edges, just a stack of 41 fins running from the bottom to the top.
A view of the top of the cooler shows a few things. For one, the pipes are exposed in this design. The second, still dealing with the pipes, is that they are all aligned behind one another, allowing air to pass easily through this design. Along with the top fin being anodized, we can also see that the Cooler Master logo has been embossed into the top fin as well.
Removing the fan from the front of the cooler, and changing the angle of view, we see a lot of detail has gone into the fin edges. Some are set back, while others are left a bit longer, and the deepest sections of the fins align with the strongest airflow from the 92mm fan that covers this.
Along with the X-vents and the Air-guide system in the center, from this angle, we can see that each fin is pressed onto the three heat pipes on either side.
Moving further down the cooler, we take a look at the top of the base. This main aluminum section of the base for the MASTERAIR PRO 3 utilizes a hole in the center to work with the mounting hardware, as well as a pin to keep said hardware in proper alignment, keeping the cooler from twisting when mounted properly.
Here we get our first real view of the CDC 2.0 base design. While aluminum holds the copper pipes in place, what makes contact with the CPU is the trio of milled heat pipes running through the middle. Also, we see there are no gaps between the pipes, which is where Cooler Master obtained 45 percent more contact area with this design.
Accessories and Documentation
In the box of hardware, we found this plastic, snap together container full of goodies. In it there is a tube of Cooler Master branded thermal paste, four fan screws, standoffs for the majority of sockets, four nuts to secure a bracket with, and a socket to secure them just above. At the right end, we found two rubber pads for an additional fan and LGA2011 standoffs below it.
This is the universal backplate that gets used for both AMD and Intel installations. The side facing up is used with AMD boards and has a full cover protective layer applied to keep it from shorting against the motherboard. For Intel mounting, only the legs at each corner are protected but offer the same protection.
If you choose to use the standard mounting hardware, you will need to use this bracket for Intel processors, but all AMD installations require this. The X-bracket it adjustable to get between the pipes, and is then able to be adjusted to fit all of the sockets the MASTERAIR PRO 3 is compatible with. You can also add tension to the adjustments or lock the X with the tensioner screw and spring found in the center.
For those who wish to use something a bit simpler when it comes to installing this cooler on Intel sockets, there are these four legs. Each of them can be screwed to the base of the cooler, and the mounting holes offer three locations for various sockets. These then work just lock an Intel stock cooler, where you press the pins through the motherboard to lock the cooler into place.
Cooler Master also sends an extra set of fan brackets for mounting a second fan to pull air through the MASTERAIR PRO 3. In the large bag at the bottom of this image, we find eight screws which are used with the push-pin mounting legs.
Cooler Master also sends a full manual for all installations. This covers LGA2011 and LGA2011 v3 mounting, it covers all the rest of the Intel sockets, and on the reverse once unfolded, it also covers installations on AMD motherboards as well. There is even a bit in the manual which shows how to install the fan brackets for the secondary fan, and how to mount them to the cooler.
Installation and Finished Product
Just to show how these work, we went ahead and mounted the Intel push-pin mounting to the base of the cooler. We used the center mounting holes to correspond to the LGA1151 processor, but these also work for LGA1366 and LGA775 installations as well. For our testing, we opted to use the more substantial mounting arrangement.
We placed the backplate behind the motherboard and aligned the flat spots in the standoffs with the flat edge running down one side of the mounting holes in the plate. Once they are installed properly, it is then that you can lock them together via the nuts and socket which drives them.
Flipping the motherboard over, we can see the standoffs securely fashioned to the motherboard. At this point, we just need to add some thermal paste, and using the X-bracket that comes in the kit, mount the cooler on top of the CPU.
With the X-bracket aligned in the center of the base, and the pin locking the cooler into place, it is then in which you can start driving the spring loaded screws. We drive these screws down until there were no threads left, to be sure we have the most mounting pressure possible from this hardware.
Looking at the MASTERAIR PRO 3 over the top of the RAM, we can see that both the fan and the fins clear the top of our memory. We can also tell that this is a compact cooler as it does not make it to the ends of the RAM sticks, and does not stand so tall above them either.
With the offset design of the base in the MASTERAIR PRO 3, we ran into no conflict with the memory in any way. Even with the fan mounted to the cooler and all of the slots populated, there is still a considerable gap found between them.
Moving back a bit to see the entire cooler from the top edge of the motherboard, we see there is plenty of room to the right of the MASTERAIR PRO 3 for an additional fan, and it will not play up with the 8-pin EPS connection either. We also have plenty of fan lead to make it to the header cleanly and had to tuck some of the wiring under the cooler, behind the motherboard heat sink.
Once we installed the motherboard into the chassis and added in the video card, we find that the MASTERAIR PRO 3 clears everything around it. Even if you were to populate the first PCI-e slot on the motherboard, the cooler would not interfere. We also had no issues reaching the motherboard screws, or plugging in anything around it.
Test System Setup, Thermal Tests, and Noise Results
Chad's CPU Cooler Test System Specifications
- Motherboard: ASUS ROG Maximus VIII HERO (Intel Z170) - Buy from Amazon / Read our review
- CPU: Intel Core i7 6700K - Buy from Amazon / Read our review
- Memory: Patriot Viper 4 3000MHz 4X4GB - Buy from Amazon / Read our review
- Graphics Card: MSI GeForce GTX 1060 6GB OC - Buy from Amazon / Read our review
- Storage: Corsair Neutron XTi 480GB - Buy from Amazon / Read our review
- Case: INWIN D-Frame - Read our review
- Power Supply: Thermaltake Toughpower DPS 1050W - Buy from Amazon / Read our review
- OS: Microsoft Windows 10 Home 64-bit - Buy from Amazon
- Software: RealTemp 3.70, AIDA64 Engineer 5.75.3900, and CPU-z 1.77.0 x64
To see our testing methodology and to find out what goes into making our charts, please refer to our CPU Cooler Testing and Methodology article (October 2016) for more information.
While 64.5 degrees does end up at the bottom end of the chart, considering the last of surface area and a much smaller and low-powered fan that comes with the Cooler Master MASTERAIR PRO 3, we feel these results in stock testing with the PWM curve used are respectable. Of course, you see better results, but each cooler here costs more, and will not fit in all the places that this Cooler Master cooler will.
With the overclock applied, still using PWM to control the fan, we are surprised that this cooler can make it through testing without throttling the CPU. While 83 degrees is warm by any standards, the MASTERAIR PRO 3 is still able to hold its own and pass out high voltage overclock testing.
To see just how much potential the MASTERAIR PRO 3 has, we forced 12V through the fans for the duration of this test period. We were able to reduce the temperature another 2.25 degrees, leaving us with 80.75 degrees averaged at this point.
Noise Level Results
When it comes to PWM control of fans, of course, there is some fluctuation to the fan speeds. When it comes to this specific cooler, the highest fan speed we saw in testing was 1600 RPM, and the fan delivered 24 dB of noise at this time.
Using the PWM circuit for this round of overclocked testing, we found the fan maxed out at 2284 RPM. What we like about the fan at this point, is that it is barely audible, making this compact cooler a solid contender for HTPC builds, some SFF builds, and anyone who loathes noise coming from their PC since it only got to 33dB at this point.
Looking for the maximum speed and noise level, we pushed the fan to spin with 12V supplied to it full time. Here we saw the 92mm fan spinning at 3300 RPM, slightly over spec, but within the margin of error, and it got more audible as we saw 42 dB on our sound level meter at this time.
The MASTERAIR PRO 3 is a compact cooler and a surprising one at that. While we fully expected our overclock to cripple this cooler, it was able to handle the workload and come out victorious in the end. While there are better options for cooling your CPU, Cooler Master has shown us that we do not need a monster to do the same job. Also, with the limited amount of noise coming from this cooler while under control of the PWM circuitry, the MASTERAIR PRO 3 does the job in near silence. This makes the cooler a great addition to many systems, as most users are looking for silence in operation, and its ability to handle our 6700K with a decent overclock as well, just adds icing to the cake.
The build quality is solid, and offering multiple mounting systems is a plus. For those who do not want to go through the work of installing all of the hardware which we used, you can simply opt to use the Intel push-pin setup and get by with very little effort involved. While we did not test this mounting hardware, previous experience tells us the mounting pressure is nowhere near as high as it is with the full blown kit, and when using the push-pins, thermal results may suffer slightly due to the reduced pressure.
As far as mounting the cooler is concerned, the instructions make it fool-proof, and even when it comes to mounting the fan, life could not get any easier. Then, of course, the biggest feature which makes the MASTERAIR Pro 3 so efficient is the new CDC 2.0 base design, and this is one of the very few coolers with exposed heat pipes which do not have gaps to fill with paste. All told, there is not one thing about this cooler in which we could pick on it for lacking in any form or fashion.
Of course, you could always spend more money and get better results, but considering the limited cost involved in obtaining the MASTERAIR PRO 3, and that fact that this is a 92mm fan based cooling solution, we feel Cooler Master has delivered something worthy. This cooler will fit in more locations than any of the coolers on our charts, it clears everything on the motherboard, has potential to have a second fan added to it to increase performance, and is nearly dead silent when using PWM to control the fans.
For just $39.99, we feel Cooler Master's MASTERAIR PRO 3 may not be for everyone, but it certainly has its benefits, and if you are looking for a cooler on the cheap that won't make your ears bleed, this could very well be the cooler for you.
|Quality including Design and Build||93%|
|Bundle and Packaging||99%|
|Value for Money||97%|
The Bottom Line: Cooler Master's MASTERAIR PRO 3 is an affordable solution for taming your CPU. Even with a hefty overclock, this cooler is able to tame the heat, and is silent while doing so. If you are looking for a compact design with little noise associated with it, this could very well be the cooler you want.
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