We've all seen it before: an established company enters a new market, looking to expand their business. It usually works out great for us enthusiasts by affording more options and more competition. Maybe it's your favorite memory manufacturer launching a line of input devices. Or maybe it's a graphics card heavyweight throwing its hat into the laptop ring. Heck, we've even seen the leap from making cases to making motherboards. It should come as no surprise then that Cooler Master has set its sights on the lucrative cooking accessory market by launching the MasterMeal Maker, a gigantic heat sink for your kitchen. Wait, what?
THAT's a heat sink
If you're immediately skeptical, don't be. Our household has been using the MasterMeal Maker (MMM) for over a month and it's no joke. More on that later, though. The MMM actually comes in two versions, a standard 100% aluminum model and a souped-up "Cu Edition" upgrade kit that comes with a 1/4" thick high-purity 101 copper plate and a pair of USB-powered fans to knock performance up a notch. We'll be testing multiple configurations in today's review.
A closer inspection of the MMM's surface reveals an assortment of tapped holes. These holes appear in the copper plate of the Cu Edition as well. Four of the holes are used to secure the copper plate to the rest of the heat sink while the rest are reserved for future modular accessories that will work on both models of the MMM. What exactly those accessories may be is anyone's guess, but Cooler Master clearly has big plans for its big heat sink.
The device itself is very simple. The aluminum piece appears to be a section from a massive extrusion, the only signs of tooling or cutting marks are on the ends of the heat sink. The are no heat pipes or dozens of vanishingly thin fins here, the MMM is a tank, obviously built for a hard life inside of a busy kitchen. Weighing in at over 15 lbs, I don't use the word tank lightly either. Do not drop the MMM, it will definitely damage your floor or your foot—whatever comes first. Thankfully, Cooler Master had the foresight to elevate the sides that you pick it up from so that there's no risk to your fingers as you move it about.
Strangely enough, despite its inherent novelty, the MMM actually blends right in with the rest of the inhabitants of our kitchen counter. Our kitchen is heavy on the stainless steel so the bare copper and aluminum combo of the MMM melds with the overall aesthetic quite naturally. I don't see anything objectionable about leaving the MMM out and at the ready all the time. Far from an eyesore, it looks cool and is sure to be a conversation piece if you casually employ it while entertaining guests.
Before we delve into our performance testing, I want to share a video of the process for attaching the copper plate to the top of the stock MMM. The Cu Edition is a kit after all, so this is something all future owners will need to be familiar with. Let's check it out.
Now, let me stop right there and interject a few things. I'm not proud of the results above but they felt like the best I was going to get. I appreciate the thoughtfulness of Cooler Master including both the extra wide spreader tool and a large syringe of MasterGel with the kit, but they weren't quite up for the task. I never thought I'd say this, but I think this kitchen heat sink needs two syringes of thermal compound and perhaps a slightly beefier spreading tool. That said, I felt obligated to test the performance of the out of the box product. Hardcore food cooling enthusiasts will probably see fit to use their own paste anyway. In fact, given the less than perfect finish, I wouldn't be surprised if some folks lapped this monster for better contact with the bottom of their pots and pans, but I'm getting ahead of myself... Let's watch the rest of the process.
I didn't notice it at the time, but I almost misaligned the holes in the copper plate with the ones in the heat sink itself. Luckily, I noticed a slight overhang after I put the plate down and rotated it before tightening the screws. I'm not sure what future accessories are coming for the MMM, but it would have been a pretty significant bother to flip the plate back around in order to use them. Maybe the primary mounting holes should have a bit of asymmetry, like a CPU socket.
Speaking of improvements, I'm a little disappointed that the Cu Edition doesn't come setup for up a push/pull configuration of the fans. It also would have been nice if the copper plate extended over the edge of the aluminum enough to protect the fans from kitchen accidents. Just food for thought...