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Our testing methods
Here are the specifications of our test system:

Processor Intel Core i7-6700K
Motherboard ASRock Z170 Extreme7+
Memory 16GB G.Skill Trident Z DDR4-3000 (2x8GB)
Graphics card None
Storage Kingston HyperX 480GB SSD
Power supply SeaSonic SS-660XP2
CPU cooler Cooler Master MasterLiquid Maker 92
Cooler Master MasterAir Pro 4
OS Windows 10 Pro

Our thanks to ASRock and G.Skill for their contributions to our testing system, and to Cooler Master for providing the heatsinks we used in this review. We'll be using Cooler Master's recently-released MasterAir Pro 4 heatsink as a point of comparison for the MasterLiquid Maker 92.

Our heatsink testing cycle comprises the following phases:

  • 10 minutes idling at the Windows 10 desktop
  • 20 minutes running the Prime95 Small FFTs CPU torture test
  • 10 minutes idling at the Windows 10 desktop

We used the following software in our tests:

Cooling performance
Here are the results of our thermal tests, plotted over time:

And here are the minimum and maximum temperatures reached during each testing phase:

Surprisingly, the Maker 92 doesn't beat out the $40 MasterAir Pro 4—or even the $35 MasterAir Pro 3—in absolute cooling performance. The Pro 4 keeps peak temperatures about five to six degrees C lower than Cooler Master's compact liquid unit. It's still impressive that this heatsink performs as well as it does given its 4.7" (119 mm) height in its horizontal position, though. The 6.3"-tall (159 mm) Pro 4 won't be able to fit into nearly as many cases as the Maker 92. For powerful yet space-constrained Mini-ITX builds where cooling performance is paramount, the Maker 92 could be the perfect fit.

Noise levels
Here are the noise levels we recorded for each of the coolers we tested at idle and under load. We took measurements 18" from each cooler using the Faber Acoustical SoundMeter app running on an iPhone 6S Plus.

At idle, the MasterLiquid Maker 92 produces remarkably low dBA levels. The only sound from the unit is a slight high-frequency whine or buzz from its pump that's more obvious than the 29-dBA figure we measured might suggest. That character might be less obvious in a case. At full load, the Maker 92 produces 41 dBA—not thunderous, but not silent, either. The largely pleasant sound of the twin 95-mm fans is tempered somewhat by a prominent high-midrange tonal quality that won't easily fade into the background.

By comparison, the large 120-mm fan on the MasterAir Pro 4 has a more broad-spectrum noise character whose tonality falls into the more-easily-ignored baritone end of the frequency range, despite its similar dBA readings to the MasterLiquid Maker 92 when cooling a Core i7-6700K at full tilt. The MasterAir Pro 3's gravelly-sounding fan brings up the rear for noise character from this trio.