Introduction

When it comes to PC Cooling and Chassis, Cooler Master needs no introduction. Ever since its foundation in 1992, the company rolled out their first CPU Cooler in 1993 with major breakthrough coming in 1999 when their first all-aluminum based handmade chassis was launched. There was no stopping to the continuous innovation that took the company to the new frontiers of introducing liquid cooling solutions, power supply units, gaming peripherals etc. Cooler Master is making strong come back in recent times with their cooling solutions and chassis and they have really upped their game with the gaming peripherals particularly covering high end segment of the market but not forgetting the budget users.

Cooler Master has sent their Master Air G100M Low Profile CPU Cooler for the review. This low profile CPU Cooler is based on heat-column technology. Its overall design resembles that of UFO and is quite unique. Being a low profile, it stands 74.5mm height making it suitable for SFF/HTPC builds. Cooler Master is recommending this cooler for any chip up to 130W. Another feature is the 90mm fan on top of the heatsink. This cooler comes equipped with some stunning RGB lighting on it which does make the overall appearance of the cooler stand out. The heat-column stands at 46.3mm thickness which is a basic difference from the standard copper based heat pipes that have 6 – 8mm thickness. I will be testing it on two platforms to evaluate the thermal performance.

  • Item:               MasterAir G100M
  • Manufacturer:  Cooler Master
  • Category:        CPU Air Cooler
  • Price:              PKR 4900/- [At the time of the review]

Specifications

Packaging and Unboxing

The cooler comes inside a cardboard box in black/purple colors. The top side of the box has Cooler Master brand name and logo printed on the top left. There is a picture of the cooler in action on the right side. MasterAir G100M is printed at the bottom. The right side of the box has Cooler Master brand name and logo printed on the top left followed by the Low Profile cooler text. The specifications are printed in a tabular format. There are diagrams of the cooler showing the dimensions. The left side of the box has Cooler Master brand name and logo printed on the top left followed by Low Profile CPU Cooler text.
There are two pictures on the main section. The left one is showing the heat column technology and the right one is showing the RGB ring on the cooler. The rear side of the box has salient features of the cooler printed in 8 different languages. EAN, UPC, and Serial No stickers are printed at the bottom. The front side is almost identical to the top side layout. The Cooler Master brand name and logo are printed on the top left. There is a picture of the unit in the main section. RGB Controller is included. Cooler is RGB enabled with 16.7M colors and is fully compatible with Asus, Gigabyte, ASRock, and MSI lighting solutions on their motherboards. The bottom side of the box has the company’s contact info and compliance with various regulations. Cooler’s information is printed in 14 different languages at the bottom.

Opening the box will show the top side of the cooler. The cooler is packed inside a thick black color Styrofoam. The cooler is pulled to be taken out. The accessories container is at the bottom for which the Styrofoam needs to be removed for accessibility. I like the overall presentation from Cooler Master.

 

Contents

Following are included:

  • 1x Heatsink
  • 1x Intel/AMD Backplate
  • 1x Spanner/wrench
  • 1x RGB Controller
  • 1x Molex Cable
  • 1x MasterGel Pro Thermal paste
  • 4x Standoffs
  • 4x Intel LGA-20xx Screws
  • 4x Hex Nuts
  • 4x Intel/AMD Screws
  • 4x Intel/AMD clips
  • 2x Intel Mounting Brackets
  • 2x AMD Mounting Brackets
  • 2x Small Screws
  • User Manual and Warranty Guide

Closer Look

The Cooler Master MasterAir G100M is a low profile CPU Cooler having a height of 74.5mm making it suitable for the SFF/HTPC builds. It is based on the Heat-Column technology which Cooler Master is referring to a breakthrough in the heat transfer technology. This cooler is rated for chips up to 130W TDP. This cooler is compatible with Intel LGA20xx/115x/1366/775 sockets and AMD AM4/AM3+/AM3/AM2+/AM2/FM2+/FM2/FM1 sockets. Let’s take a closer look at the design before moving on to the Testing of the cooler.

The dimension of the cooler is 145x145x74.5mm. The dimension of the heatsink only is 143x143x51.7mm. Unlike the traditional heatsink design which is comprising of multiple heat pipes and fins, this cooler is using a copper-based heat-column and aluminum fins that are surrounding the single column for heat dissipation. The top side of the cooler has a black plastic cover covering the heatsink and surrounding the fan. The motor hub of the fan has a bit raised surface with respect to this cover. Keep that in mind if placing the cooler upside down as it could push the fan unnecessary. The fan has 9 blades and it is totally transparent. Even the central hub is transparent. There is a good reason for that. The RGB LED lighting will be diffused through these transparent blades and hub to create one heck of a vivid visual effect on the cooler. The fan is installed on a 4-arms assembly with one arm having more span to pass the cables through it. The fan is installed right on the top of the aluminum fins assembly. The idea here is to push the fresh air through the fins towards the CPU Socket area. This is much like what we have seen on other traditionally design low profile coolers. There is a white color diffuser running around the circular structure of the cooler inside the top black cover. The RGB LEDs are under this diffuser. The reason why the top cover is to create even lighting. Out of the box, the fan of our sample was touching the arm with cables. I had to press that arm a bit so that there was no contact between the blades and the arms/cables.

 

Looking at the side, we can see another diffuser under the top black cover. The aluminum fins assembly is jointed to this diffuser. This side makes this cooler to resemble the UFO in a true sense. The overall design of the cooler makes it hang over towards the surrounding area of the CPU socket and this is where we need to look carefully for clearance issues. As mentioned above, this cooler is using a Heat-Column technology. The idea here is to use two-phase heat transfer which involves liquid-vapor phase change of a liquid that would mean the boiling/evaporation followed by the condensation is happening in a quicker session. The fluid is transferred inside a copper powder filler column creating an anti-gravity heat transfer. The Heat-Column measures 46.3mm thick and it is at the very center of the complete unit with its base making a direct contact with the CPU surface. This is 7X the size of the traditional heat pipes. There is a mounting plate that is pre-installed with the base of the Heat-Column. This plate has a dimension of 76.4×55.9mm. It has two holes on each side. This is where the mounting brackets are placed and secured before installing the cooler. There is a sticker pasted on the base cautioning the user to remove it before the installation. The exposed area of the Heat-Column at the base measures approximately 3mm. There are total 128 aluminum fins on this cooler. These fins are stacked in a circular manner around the Heat-Column and have stepped design. Starting from the base, they are narrow and become wider as they go above towards the top in a circular fashion. The fins assembly is jointed at two places; one at the bottom and one near the top for further strength. The height from the base to the bottom of the hang over part of the cooler is roughly 34.5mm.  The base has a diameter of 45mm. The overall build quality of the cooler is fine though aluminum fins seem a bit flimsy as with a little bit of pressure, they can be seen disjointing.

 

The fan measures 92x92x25mm. Its rated speed is 600~2400 RPM ±10%. Our sample at full speed was operating at 2450 RPM. Fan airflow is 22.63 CFM ± 10%. Air pressure is rated at 1.62mmH₂O ±10%. Noise level is rated at 30 dBA. It has a 4-pin PWM connector. The fan is rated at 12VDC with 0.34A rated current. The safety current rating is 0.37A. The fan’s power consumption is 4.08W. The fan’s MTTF is massive 280,000 hours which roughly equal to 31.96 years. I hope it is really 280,000, not 28000 hrs! There are two cables coming out from the top side of the cooler. One is the 4-pin power connector having a length of 280mm approximately and the other is 4-pin RGB LED cable having a length of 62+270mm approximately.

Cooler Master has bundled an RGB controller to control the lighting effect of the cooler. The RGB LED cable can be attached directly to the motherboard’s RGB enabled header (12V one) or can be connected to the bundled controller. Wise thinking on the Cooler Master’s part as not everyone would have such motherboards, particularly in the microATX/mini-ITX versions. These LEDs are not addressable and operate at 12V.

Following lighting modes are available using the bundled controller: –

  • Static
  • Stars
  • Cycle
  • Breathing
  • Cycle Breathing
  • Mirage

The lighting effects are right on the money and I love the colors. It is not overly done and has even lighting for smooth and better visuals. Users can customize the looks as per the build’s color theme though personally, the purple color looks that good in person on this cooler. The brightness of the lighting can be controlled as well in 4 steps.

Installation

I have tested this cooler on two Intel platforms. One is LGA2011-V3 using i7 6850k and the other is LGA1151 using i7 8700k. The reason why I tested this cooler on HEDT platform is that it has a support for Intel LGA20xx sockets and all other coolers have been tested on the LGA 2011-V3 socket so far so why not. I know the i7 6850k is a 140W TDP chip and this cooler is rated for 130W TDP chips but still it would give us a fair idea of what this cooler is capable of. The more mainstream i7 8700k is a hot chip though rated at 95W TDP. So, these testing would help us determine the actual target user/market of this cooler.

LGA2011-V3

Following are the steps for this socket installation:

  • Install the LGA-2011 screws on the mounting holes around the CPU Socket
  • Install the Intel mounting brackets on to the Cooler’s base using two small screws. Make sure that brackets are pointing outwards. Consult the manual before installation.
  • Take off the warning sticker from the base of the cooler.
  • Apply thermal paste on the CPU Surface.
  • Place the cooler on the CPU by aligning the holes on the mounting brackets’ heads with the screw.
  • Secure the cooler by using the hex nuts. Hand tight them till no further possible and go diagonally for even pressure.
  • Use the supplied spanner/wrench to fully tighten the hex nuts. Patience is a virtue!
  • Connect the 4-pin PWM cable to the CPU fan header or any of your desire fan header.
  • Connect the 4-pin LED cable to the controller or RGB header on the motherboard. Make sure to match the small arrow symbols on the same side. Arrow side is the 12VDC.
  • This would complete the installation.

 

LGA1151

Following are the steps for this socket installation:

  • We have to prepare the backplate for this socket. The included backplate has one side for AMD and the other for Intel. Markings are printed on these sides for reference. For Intel, make sure that side with printed AMD is facing the motherboard’s backside.
  • Each corner of the Intel arms on the backplate has a large cutout with three markings. The middle area is for the Intel LGA115x. Pass the standoff through the middle of these cutouts. Don’t worry about the locations of standoffs at this time.
  • Now, use the small clips and slide them on the mounting side of the Intel arms on the backplate. Once done, pull the standoffs on the extreme outside for Intel LGA-1151x.
  • Now, place the backplate on the backside of the motherboard such as the standoffs go through the mounting holes around the socket.
  • Install the 4x Intel/AMD screws on the standoff. Hand tight them. The backplate will have a flex giving the impression that it is not mounted properly. This is expected behavior as it will be firmly secured once the cooler is installed so don’t worry.
  • Install the Intel mounting brackets on to the Cooler’s base using two small screws. Make sure that brackets are pointing outwards. Consult the manual before installation.
  • Apply the thermal paste on the CPU surface.
  • Take off the warning sticker from the base of the cooler.
  • Place the cooler on the CPU by aligning the holes on the mounting brackets’ heads with the screw.
  • Secure the cooler by using the hex nuts. Hand tight them till no further possible and go diagonally for even pressure.
  • Use the supplied spanner/wrench to fully tighten the hex nuts. Patience is a virtue!
  • Connect the 4-pin PWM cable to the CPU fan header or any of your desire fan header.
  • Connect the 4-pin LED cable to the controller or RGB header on the motherboard. Make sure to match the small arrow symbols on the same side. Arrow side is the 12VDC.
  • This would complete the installation.

 

Clearance and Installation Notes

The installation of this cooler is tricky. Ideally, you would want to install the RAM first before installing this cooler. But then, the provided small wrench/spanner is not convenient to use on the hex nuts when there is less space available to use. The spanner is a straight line design making it more difficult to use in cases with heightened I/O shroud or VRM covers.

As this cooler has a height of 74.5mm hence it would have clearance with the majority of the chassis out there but still check the specifications of the chassis for the cooler’s height clearance. This cooler was tested on Asus B360M-Plus Gaming motherboard which is a microATX form factor PCB. The cooler was almost touching the backside of the graphics card though there was a micro gap between both so I would say it is cleared. Now, coming to the RAM height clearance. I have used the following kits to try with this cooler:

  • Corsair Vengeance RED LED 4x8GB @ 2666MHz
  • Ballistix Elite 4x4GB @ 3000MHz
  • ADATA XPG D41 2x8GB @ 2666MHz

In order to better understand the clearance and compatibility here is a table showing the height of the RAMs.

Kit RAM Height (mm)
Corsair Vengeance LED 49
ADATA XPG D41 45.8
Ballistix Elite 40.75
G.Skill Trident Z 44
G.Skill Ripjaws V 42
G.Skill Ripjaws 4 40

 

Only two modules of the Corsair Vengeance LED were installed on the first and second DIMM slots starting from the right side of the motherboard. Dual channel is not possible with this heighted RAM or above. Same goes for the ADATA XPG D41. I was able to install the Ballistix Elite in first and the third DIMM slots from the right side of the motherboard making a dual channel. As this kit has a height of 40.75, we can easily tell that any RAM of height 40 or less should not have an issue with this cooler but RAM needs to be installed first before the cooler’s installation and this would present another challenge to the user as described above. Also, make a note that even with the Ballistix Elite kit there was no way to install a module in the slot right next to the CPU Socket area. So, if you have to use 4 modules at a time with this cooler, low profile kits would make more sense.

 

Testing

Following test bench was used for testing this cooler: –

  • Asus Rampage V Edition 10
  • Intel i7 6850k
  • Crucial Ballixtics Elite 4x4GB @ 3000MHz
  • Nvidia GTX 1080 FE with Alphacool Eiswolf GPX Pro
  • Samsung 840 EVO 250GB SSD
  • WD Black 6TB
  • Corsair AX1200i

Following software were used for the testing and monitoring.

  • Asus Real Bench v 2.44
  • Real Temp GT v 3.70

The thermal paste being used on the test bench is the Noctua NT-H1 thermal paste. The use of a same thermal paste for all coolers will ensure the standardization and mitigate any performance benefit that may come using the supplied thermal paste. Delta temperatures are reported on the graphs. The cooler is tested on stock clocks i.e 3.6GHz using 1.136V manual VCore. The Asus RealBench 2.44 is used to stress test the cooler’s performance. Each run of the test was of 15 minutes followed by 15-30 minutes break to let the system cool down. Fans were set to run at their 100% RPM. CPU is overclocked to 4.3GHz with 1.350V manual Vcore. Three test runs are made. Average of each test run is calculated. The max temps on each core is summed up and divided by the core count to give the average figure. The max average of three tests is used for reporting. Delta temp are calculated by subtracting the ambient temp from the max average temp.

Let’s take a look at the results starting with Intel i7 6850k. On stock clocks i.e 3.6GHz at 1.13V the cooler was idling at 5.57°C. Under stress test, the cooler was doing delta temperature of 42.23°C. The ambient temperature was 37.1°C. The temperatures crossed 80°C leaving less room for any overclocking. This is expected performance as this cooler is rated to handle the chips at 130W TDP. This was an open-air testing. Expect more temperature inside the chassis.

With overclocked chip at 4.3GHz using 1.350V the cooler could not keep it up and the chip was throttling hence I have shown 0 in the graph. I can’t complain here as cooler is not designed to handle this much thermal heat.

Next up is the testing with Intel i7 8700k. i7 8700k is a hot chip and to be honest, I was not expecting much as per my experience with other low profile coolers tested with this chip. All of them have struggled to keep 8700k calm. All cores were reaching 4.5GHz during testing as I set the core syncing to Sync All Cores in the BIOS. The cooler was doing 79.83°C average under stress test. Package temp was reaching 82°C. Mind you this is with the delided i7 8700k.

I could not measure the sound level of the unit as the summer season here is at peak and ceiling fan plus the noise coming out of the room would invalidate the actual sound level. Based on my experience with the fans and coolers testing so far, this cooler has surprised me for sure as even at full speed of 2400RPM, it was at a pleasant level of hearing. Good job Cooler Master!

Conclusion

The Cooler Master MasterAir G100M is a low profile CPU air cooler with a height of 74.5mm. The dimension of the cooler is 145x145x74.5mm. The dimension of the heatsink is 143x143x51.7mm. This cooler features a 92mm fan. The dimension of the fan is 92x92x25mm. Its rated speed is 600~2400 RPM ±10%. Our sample at full speed was operating at 2450 RPM. Fan airflow is 22.63 CFM ± 10%. Air pressure is rated at 1.62mmH₂O ±10%. Noise level is rated at 30 dBA. It has a 4-pin PWM connector. The fan is rated at 12VDC with 0.34A rated current. The safety current rating is 0.37A. The fan’s power consumption is 4.08W. The fan’s MTTF is massive 280,000 hours which is roughly equals to 31.96 years. There are two cables coming out from the top side of the cooler. One is the 4-pin power connector having a length of 280mm approximately and the other is 4-pin RGB LED cable having a length of 62+270mm approximately. This cooler is compatible with Intel LGA20xx/115x/1366/775 sockets and AMD AM4/AM3+/AM3/AM2+/AM2/FM2+/FM2/FM1 sockets.

The design element of this cooler resembles that of UFO. This cooler is based on Heat-Column technology. The idea here is to use two phase heat transfer which involves liquid-vapor phase change of a liquid that would mean the boiling/evaporation followed by the condensation is happening in a quicker session. The fluid is transferred inside a copper powder filler column creating an anti-gravity heat transfer. The Heat-Column measures 46.3mm thick and it is at the very center of the complete unit with its base making a direct contact with the CPU surface. The base has a diameter of 45mm. This is 7X the size of the traditional heat pipes. There is a mounting plate that is pre-installed with the base of the Heat-Column. This plate has the dimension of 76.4×55.9mm. It has two holes on each side. This is where the mounting brackets are placed and secured before installing the cooler. This cooler has 128 aluminum fins installed in a circular manner around the Heat-Column. The fins assembly is jointed at two points one at the bottom and one on the upper side below the top cover. The height from the base to the bottom of the hang over part of the cooler is roughly 34.5mm. Overall build quality of the cooler is fine though aluminum fins seems a bit flimsy as with a little bit of pressure, they can be seen disjointing.

This cooler has RGB non addressable LED Lighting solution on it which is compatible with Asus AURA Sync, Gigabyte RGB Diffusion, ASRock LED, and MSI Mystic Lighting. Cooler Master has provided a controller in the box for those who don’t have RGB headers on their motherboards. This is too good a thinking on the Cooler Master’s part. There is a diffuser in a circular manner on the inner side of the top cover. Another diffuser is under that cover. I am not sure if there is a single diffuser with such design or two. The top cover is in black cover and hard plastic. Its inner side is coated in black as well to ensure the smooth and even lighting. There are 6 modes using the bundled controller which are Static, Cycle, Breathing, Cycle Breathing, Mirage, and Stars.

The installation of this cooler can be tricky largely due to its overhang design. It is best to install the RAM before the cooler’s installation. But that way has its own challenges. The hex nuts that are used to secure the complete installation are to be tightened using the supplied spanner/wrench. This spanner has a straight line design which makes it difficult to use around the CPU Socket area as the height of the VRM heatsink cover, back IO shroud would add to this challenge. Also, given the hex design, the spanner would fit on the nuts in a particular direction and one needs to be very patient when on this step of the installation. It seems like this cooler may block the first PCIe 3.0 x16 slot but it is not and there will be a micro gap between the cooler and the graphics card. RAM height is of utmost consideration with this cooler. If you have to use 4 modules at a time on Intel LGA115x or AMD platform then the height of the RAM needs to be less than the 40mm. Any height RAM modules can be used on the first two slots starting from the right side of the motherboard’s PCB but going that route will not result in the dual channel.

The Cooler Master MasterAir G100M is rated at PKR 4900/- at the time of the review and is available at Shing, Pakistan. Cooler Master is offering two years of warranty on this cooler. Unfortunately, Shing is not offering any warranty on these coolers. I have tested this cooler on two Intel Platforms; LGA2011-V3 and LGA1151 300 series. Being a low profile cooler, this cooler has no potential for overclocking. This is obvious despite Cooler Master rating it for the chips of up to 130W TDP. So this brings in the question of who this cooler is for. One obvious scenario of its usage is the SFF/HTPC builds. If you are using stock Intel coolers then this is definitely viable option to upgrade to. Since I have no experience with the AMD stock coolers hence  I won’t be commenting on its potential use as an alternative to AMD’s stock cooler. Our testing is showing that this cooler would be adequate for locked Intel chips. This could do for unlocked chips if not overclocking. If you are not into overclocking and wants to have a good looking with an elegant lighting effects cooling solution, the Cooler Master Master Air G100M is among the competitors.

I am thankful to the Cooler Master for giving the opportunity to review their MasterAir G100M.

Tech4Gamers Value Award