The Bottom Line
Introduction, Specifications, and Pricing
The second of two cooler to release recently is the big brother of the MASTERAIR PRO 3. While Cooler Master offered a compact cooler to fit into many locations, and at the same time staying virtually silent while doing so, they also realize there is a substantial market for 120mm fan based models as well. That being said, outside of their dimensions, these two CPU coolers are nearly identical. The only change outside of the increased size of this latest model is that there is an additional heat pipe offered in this 120mm fan based cooling solution.
A lot of the technologies carry over with this cooler as well. Cooler Master still opted for the CDC 2.0 base assembly. This is where they get the pipes closer to each other, and then mill them all until there is no gap between the heat pipes, offering an increase in its surface area to contact the IHS. It uses a similar fin stack, increasing air flow through the tower while also limiting resistance to it. It also uses the X-Vent and Air-Guide technologies and comes with all of the same mounting hardware as well. Of course, with increased size built into the tower, and much more air flowing from the fan which accompanies this cooler, performance should improve as well.
The CPU cooler we have been discussing is the MASTERAIR PRO 4, the larger of the two Cooler Master CPU coolers to be released. Cooler Master is expanding the MASTERAIR line of coolers, and while this may not be mod friendly or 3D printing friendly as we saw with the MAKER 8 CPU cooler, you will soon see that it also does not cost nearly as much. The premise here is to deliver a cooler which can handle its business, have a bit of aesthetic appeal to attract buyers, but at the same time, it is likely the pricing that will sway your vote in the direction of this cooler. If you liked our review on the MASTERAIR PRO 3 but find the cooler is not up to your demands, stick it out for a bit, and see just how well its larger cohort does as we get up close and personal with the MASTERAIR PRO 4.
Just as we did its little brother, when it came to the chart for this MASTERAIR PRO 4, we copied what we found on the side of the packaging. From what we can see, all of the latest sockets are supported, including many of the aging sockets as well, delivering excellent compatibility across the board. With the fan included, the MASTERAIR PRO 4 is 84mm thick, 129mm wide, and stands 158.5mm tall. Without the fan included, the height remains the same, but its thickness is reduced to 60mm, and without the fan clips, we reduce to 116mm in width. As to what the cooler is comprised of, we find there are four 6mm diameter copper heat pipes. At the base, which its main section is made of aluminum, under that is where the CDC 2.0 comes into play. As for the stack of 57 fins, they are all made of aluminum. As to the weight of the MASTERAIR PRO 4 the cooler is only 472 grams, and raises to only 630 grams once you add the fan and clips into account.
The fan which ships with the cooler is the MasterFan Pro 120 AB which sports the model number FA12025L12LPJ006. Also like where the 92mm fan came with a micro switch on the back of it, this model does as well, but along with Silent and Quiet settings, this time there is a Performance option as well. This fan can spin in a range of 650 to 2000 RPM, and at the maximum speed, it can deliver 66.7 CFM of airflow and 2.34 mmH2O of pressure. If left at the mercy of the PWM circuitry, the lifespan is huge at 490,000 hours. Cooler Master also mentions that if the fan is run at its full speed for the entirety, the lifetime shrinks drastically to 70,000 hours. Noise can be minimal, as it is rated to start at only 6dBA, but at full speed, these fans can get loud as the noise increases to 30 dBA. This 120mm fan uses a 4-pin connection and sips power over its 12V line. Also, just like the MASTERAIR PRO 3, the MASTERAIR PRO 4 is also backed by a five-year warranty.
What may shock you, as it did us, is that to jump from the compact design to this much larger version, you only need an additional five bucks. Since we are writing this before the actual release of the cooler, we were unable to find them in retail locations, which is no surprise. In various emails back and forth with Cooler Master, they were sure to inform us that this MASTERAIR PRO 4 comes with the MSRP set to just $44.99. It is near nostalgic to see this again, where you get a cooler with excellent specifications, and it still can be had for less than $50.
Cooler Master is proving, quality, performance, and affordability that can all be had on the cheap, and if you are in the market for a new 120mm fan based tower CPU cooler, the MASTERAIR PRO 4 hits all the marks so far and is worthy of the asking price.
The Cooler Master logo and their motto flanks the top of this gray packaging, followed below with a large image of the cooler found inside. We also see the product name, and there is also a mention of the CDC 2.0 technology used, running along the bottom.
Twisting the packaging to the left, we can see the right side of the box and what it contains. Here we find the product name and logo at the top, and the cooler has been inverted for this image, to show off the CDC 2.0 base design.
Along with the product name at the top and the dimensional renderings found at the bottom, this back panel also covers some of the features. A mention of the CDC 2.0 tops the list and is followed by the combination of air flow and limited resistance in this design, along with the intuitive hardware design and its simplicity to install.
Since this is the panel from which we copied our specifications chart, you will find no variations between this and what we presented earlier. However, there is an asterisk at the bottom of the chart noting that compatibility may change and that you should check their site for the latest information on it.
Removing the MASTERAIR PRO 4 from the box, we see that the fan comes attached to the tower, and both are pressed into a plastic tray. Once that is done, the cooler and its protective tray are both wrapped in a plastic bag, which has saved this cooler from some damage. On top of the cooler, there is a white box with the Cooler Master logo on it, which contains all of your hardware and extras.
Cooler Master MASTERAIR PRO 4 CPU Cooler
Nine translucent black blades are surrounded by a black round frame, and both have rubber coated corners added on to isolate the 120mm fan. This fan also covers a lot of the tower behind it; we can see the braided lead coming from it, as well as a glimpse of the 4-pin connector.
The fan clips wrap around the side of the cooler and can attach into a groove that runs along both edges of the fin stack. This also means that you can add a second fan to help cool the 57 fins and the four copper heat pipes.
From the back, we see that the heat pipes are not all lined up as they are in the smaller model, taking better advantage of the air flow in our opinion. We also see there was a slight bit of damage in transit, as our tower leans slightly to the left, and is not visible with the fan blocking the view.
This last side of the cooler allows us to cover two other things about this design. The sides of the fins are left open, and no effort is made to capture this air flow, however, at the same time, it adds air flow to the surrounding components. To keep the fin spacing correct, it is the bits of aluminum around the pipes which deliver this.
The top of the MASTERAIR PRO 4 is anodized black and has the pipe tips exposed above it. We can see the X-Vent design around all of the heat pipes, and if you look closely, you can make out the Cooler Master logo found in the middle of the top fin.
We removed the fan to get a look at the leading edge design. Every other fin is designed slightly different to help disturb the airflow across them. The fins all have a lowered center section too, which allows the fan to build more pressure than if it were flat.
Not only can we see the stagger of the pipes as they enter the bottom of the fin stack in this image, but we can also see that this cooler has the find pressed over these pipes.
The large aluminum top plate of the base can be used in two ways. Intel push-pins can be mounted to the holes on either side, or you can go another route. The hole in the center and the pin standing next to it, allows an X-bracket to lock onto the base, and this hardware is more typical of what we expect in a CPU cooler.
We are looking at Cooler Master's CDC 2.0 technology offered in this base. The aluminum is holding the four pipes tightly together, yet the main feature is that all the pipes have been milled, without gaps between them. This raises the surface area which makes contact, and should also, in turn, increase the efficiency.
Accessories and Documentation
The MASTERAIR PRO 4 comes with the same primary hardware kit shipped inside of the plastic snap together packaging. It includes the TIM, fan screws, standoffs, nuts, a socket, extra fan pads, and a set of LGA2100 standoffs. What is new with this cooler, is that it also ships with a wrench, where the PRO 3 did not.
The universal backplate is made of steel and is isolated with small pads on this side for Intel mounting, while the entire center section is covered on the reverse for AMD. Be mindful to align the bracket properly for Intel mounting, as the socket screw clearance holes are drilled allowing it to function properly in only one way.
This image shows us both the X-bracket in the center, and the push-pin mounting option on the sides. The push-pins are a quick way to get this cooler mounted for any Intel socket except LGA2011, using the group of screws at the bottom.
If you desire the addition of a second 120mm fan to this tower, Cooler Master is sure to have you covered there. The MASTERAIR PRO 4 comes with a pair of plastic fan brackets, and with the fan screws in the snap together hardware case, you can quickly add that second fan (purchased separately).
The manual is mostly done with renderings, but even so, with any compatible socket the instructions are thorough. The insert to the right explains what Cooler Master will and will not cover within their five-year warranty period.
Installation and Finished Product
If you are using the smaller Intel sockets, anything not LGA2011, you have the option to use this hardware. The push-pins work just like an Intel stock cooler, and by offering three holes where they screw to the base of the cooler, this fits LGA775, LGA115X, and LGA1366 sockets with ease.
We opted for the serious hardware which includes the use of this backplate. Making sure it is aligned correctly, we slid the standoffs through the plate and locked it all to the motherboard via the four nuts.
A plastic washer under the standoff protects the motherboard when the nuts are tightened from behind. What you see now is the four standoffs, ready for the cooler to be mounted onto them.
The X-bracket is collapsed and passed through the heat pipes, and expanded and aligned with the hole and pin on the base. Once that was done, we tightened the spring loaded screws into the standoffs until we ran out of threads.
With a 120mm fan cooling this tower, we can see it spreads side to side, nearly even with the RAM sticks. You may also notice that the fan is sitting a little higher than it was previously, but still covers the majority of the tower behind it.
The reason the fan has to sit so high is that it touches the RAM stick nearest the socket. We could have removed the top on that stick, but the few millimeters of height gained would not matter much in the long run. If you plan to populate all of the DIMM slots, this is something to consider.
Looking at the room around the cooler, we see that there is plenty of room to add a second fan. While this cooler is not offset like the MASTERAIR PRO 3, an extra fan will not block access to the 8-pin EPS lead.
With the motherboard installed into the chassis, we can get a look at things from a different angle. It is easy to access the motherboard screws around the cooler, and even with its increased size, this single tower cooler still leaves room to populate the first PCI-E slot.
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.
With the CPU set at stock settings, the 57.75-degree result here is respectable. Considering it is less than two degrees behind the Thermaltake cooler with two fans, and less than four degrees away from an AIO with two fans, we are impressed with what the MASTERAIR PRO 4 can do so far.
Nearly ten degrees cooler than the MASTERAIR PRO 3 in this test, and comparing to the other coolers as well, the 73.75-degree result here is decent as well. The gap has widened slightly between it and the Thermaltake and Corsair coolers, but that gap did not increase much.
Allowing the fan to do all it can be when it comes to removing heat from this tower, we see that it is an accomplished design yet again. Nearly even with the NiC C5 cooler, and less than three degrees from the lead - not too shabby.
Noise Level Results
The PWM circuit is in control for this test, and at this time, the highest fan speed we saw was 1200 RPM. Grabbing the meter and holding it a foot away, we found the noise level was at 24 dB, which is quiet.
Just tiptoeing into the audible range, again with PWM signaling in control, we found the fan spinning at 1769 RPM for this round of testing. While it may not be Noctua quiet with this result, it is far better than where the Thermaltake and Performance mode of the Corsair left us.
In this test, we allow the fans to run at their maximum speed and velocity. The noise level jumps quite a bit to 59 dB here, but the fan was spinning at 2523 RPM and is over the specifications and their margin of error. There is no way to hide the fact, that, at this point, the fan is quite loud.
Even though our sample was slightly askew due to some rough shipping to our door, it did not make any difference once the cooler was mounted, in appearance, or in performance. The MASTERAIR PRO 4 is a solid cooler with a well thought out design, and it is easy to see by our results, you do not need to spend $100 to get good results. Being based on a 120mm fan brings added size, and better performance comes along with it, but when it comes down to brass tacks, the mounting hardware helps in what makes for an all-around good cooler.
Cooler Master has picked some simple to use bits, and with this cooler, as long as you have a screwdriver handy, it installs easily. Also, even though you do not have to break the bank to obtain this cooler, we do have to give it credit for looking as good as it does. In this price range, we expect plain aluminum top fins, and a basic fan with no style, and some wire fan mounting clips. Cooler Master is sure to raise the bar, as the MASTERAIR Pro 4 is not some basic plain Jane offering we would typically see at this price level.
While the MASTERAIR Pro 4 may not be as fancy as other coolers, even those from its series, but that does not mean we have to suffer in the "OMG, look at that cooler" category. Thermal performance is great, and obviously, this cooler takes advantage of the CDC 2.0 technology, the fin design and the X-Vent technology used around the staggered heat pipe layout. Considering the 120mm fan delivers less than 70 CFM to cool this tower, there is a lot of transfer for the flow. It wasn't until we disabled the PWM control of the fan that we found any real noise coming from it worthy of discussion.
At 34 dB in our initial overclocked run, anyone can deal with this limited amount of noise without much issue at all. If you do plan to run the fan at full speed, keep in mind the lifetime of the fan is drastically reduced, and you will be dealing with a loud hum coming from inside of your case.
As you read this, the stock of this cooler should be on the shelves so that you can leave here and start looking for the best deal to be had. Requiring just $44.99 for a cooler which performs this well, looks as good as it does, and is even able to stay near silent even under heavy loads, is the trifecta in CPU coolers. As long as the MSRP holds and retailers stick to what Cooler Master thinks this cooler is worth, you are in for a serious deal in single tower 120mm fan cooled options.
The MASTERAIR PRO 4 can keep up with better-equipped solutions, and in our mind, is a cooler that should be on your list of affordable go-to alternatives, as the Cooler Master MASTERAIR PRO 4 proves you do not have to sell a kidney to get great CPU cooling results.
|Quality including Design and Build||97%|
|Bundle and Packaging||99%|
|Value for Money||97%|
The Bottom Line: Cooler Master proves to the world that you don't have to spend a fortune to get an excellent CPU cooler! It is near silent at all times when using PWM to control the fans, the performance is better than average, it looks good, and best of all, it can be had for less than $50.
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