Introduction to the CM MasterAir Pro 3 & Pro 4 CPU Coolers
Cooler Master is no slouch when it comes to CPU cooling solutions. Today they’re introducing two new products to the MasterAir series, called the MasterAir Pro 3 and MasterAir Pro 4. Previously the MasterAir series was only comprised of the Maker 8, which is a highly decked out air cooler, included dual LED fans, and overall the cooler is pretty pricey. The coolers that we’re looking at today are a quite a bit more budget friendly and include a single non-LED fan – needless to say, they’re not as fancy, but still designed to be a very good general cooler.
The new coolers to the MasterAir series implore Cooler Master’s Continuous Direct Contact Technology 2.0, which basically increases the surface area by 45% by compressing heatpipes together, which helps to dissipate heat more efficiently. Included with the Pro 3 is a single 92mm fan, rated for 28 CFM @ 2.5 mmH2O and a max noise level of 30 dBA. The Pro 4 includes a single 120mm fan, rated for 66.7 CFM @ 2.34 mmH2O and a max noise level of 30 dBA as well. Installation was designed to be made easier with an X-bracket, which you basically slide to your socket’s setting, or you can use the same installation method that the stock Intel cooler uses with the push-pin.
MasterAir Pro 4 is a decently larger cooler compared to the Pro 3. One feature that you will notice is that the Pro 3 has three heatpipes while the Pro 4 has four.
The MSRP price difference between both of the coolers is very minimal, and they’re quite affordable period. You will be able to pick up the MasterAir Pro 3 for $39.99 or less and the MasterAir Pro 4 for $44.99 or less. Both coolers feature a 5-year warranty!
||MasterAir Pro 3
||MasterAir Pro 4
||Intel® LGA 2011-v3 / 2011 / 1151 / 1150 / 1155 / 1156 / 1366 / 775
|AMD AM3+ / AM3 / AM2+ /AM2 / FM2+ / FM2 / FM1
|Heat Sink Dimensions (LxWxH)
|Heat Sink Material
||3 Heat Pipes / CDC 2.0 / Aluminum Fins
||4 Heat Pipes / CDC 2.0 / Aluminum Fins
|Heat Sink Weight
||92 x 92 x 25 mm
||120 x 120 x 25 mm
||650 – 3,000 RPM (PWM) ± 10%
||650 – 2,000 RPM (PWM) ± 10%
|Fan Air Flow
||28 CFM (Max)
||66.7 CFM (Max)
|Fan Air Pressure
||2.5 mmH2O (Max)
||2.34 mmH2O (Max)
|Fan L-10 Life
|Fan Noise Level
||6~30 dBA (Max)
|Fan Rated Current
|Fan Safety Current
|Fan Power Consumption
Both of these coolers look really nice and appear relatively simple to install, but we will find that out in later sections. First, let’s take a look at how these coolers are packaged and take a quick look at them.
MasterAir Pro 3 & Pro 4 Packaging and a Closer Look
The packaging and design of Cooler Master products tends to be relatively clean and descriptive enough. Looking at the packaging for both MasterAir Pro 3 and 4, they’re nearly identical, with exception to the specifications obviously the picture of the cooler.
The front of the packaging shows us the respective cooler and name, while mentioning that is uses “Continuous Direct Contact Technology 2.0.” The rear basically explains the aforementioned in several languages, as well as a couple other features. The one side panel provides all of the specifications that you found on the first page.
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Opening up the box, the coolers were found in formed plastic packaging with all of the accessories inside a small box and the instructions tucked behind the formed plastic. The fans came pre-attached to the cooler. Inside the accessories box we find everything needed to install on years old Intel or AMD computer, or a modern computer.
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Pulling the coolers out of the packaging, we once again see that the fan comes pre-installed. These are nice looking coolers for sure. MasterAir Pro 3 includes a single MasterFan 92 AB, while the MasterAir Pro 4 includes a single MasterFan 120 AB fan. The heatsink is made of aluminum with copper heat pipes running through it. One thing that I noticed is the top plate on the MasterAir Pro 3 was squished by the packaging, while the Pro 4 did not have this issue. You can take note of this and you will see it in a couple pictures.
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You will notice the difference in overall dimensions between the MasterAir Pro 3 and 4, which is 18.5mm on the height, 12mm on the depth, and 6mm on the width. I definitely expect the Pro 4 to cool that much better, and if it does, the $5 difference in price will probably make many choose the Pro 4 over the Pro 3 – unless of course they have space restrictions.
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Looking at the base, which is identical – minus the heat pipes – we see how the copper heat pipes run. They’re sandwiched between the machined aluminum base. Also on the bottom here you will see Cooler Master’s patented X-vents, which allow air to move to areas of the cooler that need it most.
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That’s about all there is to it. These coolers are relatively simplistic, but do appear to be up to the task at hand – cooling.
This wraps up the introduction to the cooler and the packaging, so let’s move on and see how easy these MasterAir coolers!
Installing the MasterAir Pro 3 & Pro 4 Coolers
Since the MasterAir 3 and 4 have completely identical mounting systems, most pictures will only be shown for the installation of the MasterAir 3 cooler.
You will have two options to install this cooler: Push-pin or mounting bracket with back plate. The push-pin fittings are just like what you’d find on the stock Intel cooler. This will likely be best utilized if you want to use one of these coolers as a passive cooler and not an active cooler. My fear is that all of the weight resting on push pins may not be a great thing, so with fans attached, I’d recommend using the brackets and back plate.
I always start with a clean system, cleaning the CPU with rubbing alcohol to remove any contaminants. I also cleaned up the bottom and removed the sticker. Here you can cleanly see how the heat pipes are placed.
Next up you’ll need to remove the fan, as with the fan installed, you’ll for sure have a difficult time installing the cooler.
Should you be interested in doing a passive setup with the push-pins, you will need to attach them to the aluminum base. These were a little annoying to install, considering it is four parts and eight screws, but it went relatively smooth.
The other method is with the back plate, and this is definitely going to be the way to go. In the below photos I did mistakenly place the back plate on upside down, however this didn’t matter because not only did I correct this before I fully installed the cooler, the plate doesn’t touch the socket’s back plate or interfere whatsoever.
I tightened everything down with a screw driver and the included nut socket and a wrench. Honestly, I found this system extremely tedious and more complicated than it needed to be. Cooler Master could have likely refined this mounting system a little more to make it easier on the end user. I then placed a pea-sized dab of the Noctua NT-H1 thermal paste on the CPU.
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You will slide the X-bracket between the cooler and mount away. This again was a little annoying, because there appears to be no way to permanently fix the X-bracket in place so it doesn’t move to the next socket configuration. You’re faced with holding the cooler steady on the CPU, as to not mush around the paste, and get the bracket to screw down. Again, this was more complicated than it needed, however I do like the versatility of this mounting system.
Lastly, I mounted the fan back on and fired it up. From my ears, I can barely hear the fan spin at idle. In the coming pages, we will take a look at exactly how quiet and loud these fans are at idle and under the load of Prime95 respectively.
The Test System
Before we take a look at the performance numbers, let’s take a brief look at the test system that was used. All testing was done using a fresh install of Windows 10 Professional 64-bit and benchmarks were completed on the desktop with no other software programs running.
ALL COOLERS will be using Noctua NT-H1 thermal compound, which requires zero cure time.
Intel Z97/LGA1150 Platform
- Intel Core i7 4770k Quad-Core Haswell CPU
- Cooler Master MasterAir Pro 3 and Pro 4 CPU Coolers
- 16GB Corsair Dominator Platinum 1600MHz Memory
- MSI Z97 Gaming 5 Motherboard
- EVGA GTX 570 Classified Video Card
- Corsair Nepton GTX 240GB SSD
- Corsair AX860i 80 Plus Platinum Power Supply
- Windows 10 Professional Operating System
- Thermaltake Core X71 Chassis
The Intel Z97 platform that we used to test these coolers was running the MSI Z97 Gaming 5 motherboard with BIOS version 1.D that came out on 02/17/2016. We will be sticking with this version of the BIOS between all coolers. The processor used, the Intel Core i7 4770k, will be using the stock frequency of 3.5GHz with turbo boost enabled, which can boost it up to 3.9GHz. Low power state is enabled and the CPU frequency and v-core are set to AUTO, just like they were out of the factory.
When we do our overclocking, the 4770k will be overclocked to 4.4GHz at 1.1850 volts, which is just a hair over the stock 1.1755 volts read from Core Temp. This particular 4770k may have a little more in it, but I had difficulties with going above 4.5GHz while retaining reasonable temperatures, so I settled on 4.4GHz.
MasterAir Pro 3 & Pro 4 Benchmarking & Overclocking
In the benchmarks that will be run, we used an Intel 4770k clocked at 3.5GHz with Turbo Boost and the low power state enabled. Turbo Boost allows the 4770k to hit up to 3.9GHz right out of the box. Stock results will be utilizing auto for the multiplier and v-core, which reads 1.1750v in Core Temp, and overclocking will utilize manually entered multiplier and voltage numbers. In this case, our Intel Core i-7 4770k was able to obtain a 4.4 GHz overclock at 1.185 volts.
To record temperatures, we used Core Temp, logged the temperatures for 15 minutes or while each program was active, and averaged all 4 cores.
Slimming down on the benchmarks from previous reviews, we’ll be strictly using Prime95 to stress the CPU and no games. This will peg all four cores and eight threads to 100% with the In-Place Large FFT test, which will help us to understand exactly how hot this CPU can get with each cooler. The extreme punishment from Prime95 will allow you to be the judge if this cooler can handle your gaming or encoding needs, as you will never see above these load numbers.
Ambient temperature during all testing was 72 degrees Fahrenheit.
Since this is a reset of our cooler reviews, we pulled out a few of the top performing coolers from previous reviews and will have them for comparison against the cooler that we’re reviewing today. You might also notice that numbers are a bit different from the previous review, and the answer is pretty easy. Since this is a brand new computer on a different motherboard, several different components driving it, different operating system, and a different ambient temperature, this all results in completely new and different data.
ALL COOLERS will be using Noctua NT-H1 thermal compound, which requires zero cure time.
Overclock with Prime95
This is a reset of our cooling, and I did not have a stock Intel HSF handy to compare these air coolers to. Instead, we pulled out a few liquid coolers to start. We know that air coolers are nowhere near as efficient as liquid coolers, but some sure can put up a fight.
I was a bit disappointed with the Prime95 test results on the MasterAir Pro 3, as we’re nearly pegging the thermal limits on the stock frequency. When the CPU was overclocked, the CPU did throttle briefly when the MasterAir Pro 3 was installed, but the MasterAir Pro 4 did not. This goes to show that the $5 difference means a lot of performance gain. Overall they both did decent, however.
MasterAir Pro 3 & Pro 4 Noise Testing
Noise testing was a highly requested item by our readers, and with this new system, we have those numbers for you!
To obtain our noise numbers, we’re using an Extech 407736 Dual Range Type 2 Sound Lever Meter with the wind screen on. This meter is placed six inches from the top side of the chassis on a level tripod. (See picture
) It and the PC case are placed in the exact same spot with the side panel off, as to not taint results, because the movement of just one inch can skew results.
All noise readouts are obtained at the end of the 15-minute test (Idle or Prime95) to allow the system sufficient time to get “settled in.” Ambient noise readout was gathered from only the system fans running, not any component in the cooler.
AMBIENT NOISE: 37.5 dBA
These air coolers were whisper quiet at idle – I couldn’t tell the difference between ambient and system powered on. Looking at the numbers when under full load, they were pretty noisy, but not bad.
Cooler Master MasterAir Pro 3 & Pro 4 CPU Cooler - Final Thoughts and Conclusion
We don’t get a chance to check out air coolers these days, as they’re not as big in the enthusiast market anymore – liquid coolers are. We were happy to take a look at the new Cooler Master MasterAir Pro 3 and 4 coolers and add them to our new growing charts.
The MasterAir Pro 3 and 4 are much lesser expensive counterparts to the only other MasterAir sibling, made to give you plenty of performance and not break the bank. They do include several Cooler Master patented features that should increase performance of your cooler. The new feature on these coolers is the Continuous Direct Contact Technology 2.0. This patented technology is designed to increase surface area of the cooler base by 45%, which will improve heat dissipation. Overall, while these coolers look pretty generic, they’re still very nice looking, too.
Installation is a bit interesting. Both coolers feature a push-pin system, like you’d find on your stock Intel HSF, or you can utilize the X-bracket mounting system. Should you choose to go with the push-pin system, I’d recommend only a passive heatsink here, as the added weight of the fan seems like a bit much. Instead, when you use the X-bracket, you will feel more comfortable with all of that weight on the socket.
I found installation of both systems to be annoying, tedious, and over complicated. Cooler Master could have refined this a bit to be a much better user experience. I wish they would have found a way bring on a similar mounting system like you find on their liquid coolers, such as the Nepton 240M.
Performance wise, these coolers did their job, and though I don’t have a stock HSF to compare to, I guarantee you they cooled better than the stock heatsink could. Don’t expect to overclock [much] with these coolers, as you’re pushing high numbers and probably pushing your luck and longevity of your processor.
Should you want to grab your very own MasterAir Pro 3 or 4 cooler, the MSRP on them is $39.99 and $44.99 respectively. These prices are not bad, and I have to admit, if you have the room for the MasterAir Pro 4, spend the extra couple dollars for it. Both coolers do feature a 5-year warranty.
Legit Bottom Line:
Cooler Master has brought in two new budget friendly coolers to the MasterAir line-up, and if you’re on a very strict budget and want better than stock, these coolers are not bad! The mounting system can be tedious, but the performance was decent.