review cooler masters mastermeal maker reviewed

Cooler Master’s MasterMeal Maker reviewed

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.

The MasterMeal Maker is about the size of eight NUCs.

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.

Hey, The Verge, hold my beer.

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.

The finishing touches.

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…


Now we’re not-cooking

Finally, let’s talk numbers, or at least number collection. For some reason, I continue to find myself reviewing products for which there are not standard performance metrics. I hope you can tolerate my improvised test method, I was unable to find an ASTM test that was suitable, and my makeshift lab is surely short on the necessary equipment anyhow. I did however have an immersion circulator and a cooking pot.

Call it a synthetic benchmark if you wish, but what I’m about to describe minimized variables, was easy to repeat, and produced remarkably consistent results over multiple test runs. I started by using my immersion circulator to bring the temperature of a pot of water up to 180ºF. Then I connected to the immersion circulator via an app on my phone and used the app to set the temperature to 70ºF. That meant the heating element would turn off, but the circulation would continue. From there, I immediately moved the pot of water on to the room temperature MasterMeal Maker and started my timer.

All I had to do after that was sit in my chair and record the temperature as displayed on my phone every minute for 15 minutes. I made sure that the volume of the water in the pot was at the same level before each test and that the ambient temperature of the house and heat sink were consistent as well.

Finally, a legitimate use for Android.

I only snagged photos during my last run of tests, but I tested the MMM in six different configurations. I also did one extra run as a control where the pot of water cooled without being placed on the MMM first. Of all my tests, only two are considered official configurations by Cooler Master, the standalone bare aluminum MMM and the copper-topped Cu Edition with its pair of fans. This is The Tech Report though, so I dove a bit deeper by additionally testing the plain aluminum model with the Cu’s fans as well as the Cu Edition without its fans.

Like I said earlier, you’ll barely even noticed the MMM on your counter.

Fish, you idiot, that only adds up to five different test runs. Yeah, yeah, I’ll get to the last two in a bit. They were a product of an accidental discovery and I want you to see the numbers first before I explain the circumstances that produced them.

Side note: a USB battery pack will run a pair of 60mm fans for a ridiculously long time.

The numbers

My apologies for the non-zero origin of the y-axis in the graph below. I’m not trying to fool anyone, it just makes it easier to visualize the small amount of separation between some of the configurations. Also, yeah, these measurements are in Fahrenheit, not exactly the preferred unit of measure for heat sink testing, or you know, the rest of the planet, sorry about that. It’s all relative anyway.

I can’t confirm that a watched pot never boils, but I can conclusively say that a near-boiling pot always cools.

Surprising no one, our control, the hot pot than never got placed on the heat sink, cooled the least amount during the 15-minute time limit. Its rate of cooling isn’t linear, but it’s as close to linear as we see. This all makes sense, the greater the temperature differential, the more readily energy transfers. The rate of cooling slows as the temperature drops.

Let’s talk about those two lines that start out dropping way faster than the rest. I noticed a strange result in one of my normal tests, before I had added the copper plate to the MMM. The initial drop was extremely quick compared to my previous test and I didn’t believe the fans I’d just added were enough to explain it. Sure enough, I had spilled some water on top of the MMM when I moved the pot over to it. That water filled the tiny air gaps between the pot and the heat sink, vastly improving thermal transfer. I threw out those initial results, but I knew two additional test runs would be required to tell the whole story. That’s what those two lowest lines are.

Yep, water is a better TIM than air.

I’m posting my raw data below to further help with breaking down the graph above. Some of the results are just too close to call without seeing the actual measurements. Check out the race between the MMM and the MMM Cu without fans. They are never more than about a degree apart. I found that pretty surprising given the extra mass of the copper sheet, but it appears that advantage was canceled out by the heat’s need to transfer though the MasterGel and into the main body of the heat sink from there.

With the thermal dissipation of the fans added to the equation, both configurations of the MMM perform better. However, the Cu Edition actually performs slightly worse than the stock MMM. At this point, I couldn’t help but think about the rather poor job I did applying the MasterGel and the impact that might be having on performance. I also started wishing that that copper plate was soldered to the aluminum body. There was nothing I could do about it, though, and it’s likely to be representative of other real-world assemblies, so I didn’t sweat it too much. Technically, the stock MMM isn’t even intended to be used with fans, so the Cu Edition beating the fanless MMM is performing as intended.

Click on this one if you need a bit more precision from your kitchen benchmarks.

The most interesting results are the ones I stumbled upon by accident, though. To formalize that test, I used 5ml of water from the heated-up pot to draw an X on the surface of the MMM Cu before moving the pot over to the heat sink. Obviously, the test that included the fans was the best performer, with the airflow allowing for steady dissipation of the energy building up in the heat sink as it was removed from the water. The test without the fans saturated the heat sink so quickly that at the end of 15 minutes its curve had leveled off enough that the non-Cu MMM with fans actually caught up to it. Physics!


More numbers

I wanted a simpler way to summarize this data. You know, a method that could just glaze over all the pesky details and not worry about how we arrived at them. Since my pot of hot water was kind of an analog for soup anyway, I decided to go by the time it took to cool to the ideal temperature for perfect soup—which I defined as 140ºF.

At an impressive 7 FPS, the MMM Cu handily beats all the other configurations with help from nothing more than a little water on top of the heat sink. This is how I would use the MasterMeal Maker under the most time critical of circumstances. Day to day though, I think the second-place finisher makes the most sense. I’m not sure it’s always worth it to mess with the fans for that extra boost. All the configurations are able to hit 140ºF within 15 minutes, leaving the control as the only “soup” that’s too hot to eat.

If we rejigger the test results a bit, we can view the data in a quasi-derivative form. I think that sheds some interesting light on the MMM’s overall performance. It’s clear from this data that the extreme thermal load of over a gallon of 180ºF water is exposing a bottleneck in the MMM’s ability to shed energy. Call it the 4K-only version of kitchen benchmarking, but less demanding workloads barely warmed the MMM.

Here’s the raw data to go with that graph.

Indeed, when you look at the 15-minute mark, the difference between the configuration that is shedding the most heat and the one that is shedding the least is less than one degree per minute. I’m no expert on thermodynamics, but I assume that Cooler Master has done its research and found this design to be the best compromise of mass to surface area considering the range of uses the MMM will see and the kitchen environment in which it will see them. Still, I’m left wondering if thinner fins, thicker copper, or higher CFM fans will work their way into future versions of this product.

What, you want to know what you can actually do with a giant kitchen heat sink? I suppose I did get a bit distracted by all my charts and graphs. Read on…


The foods

In my experience, foods have an annoying habit of needing to be too hot to eat in order to be safe to eat. Ironically, making them hot enough to be “safe” creates a whole new danger. What a pain. The MasterMeal Maker was primarily created to make hot food safe to eat in less time. However, the nature of its design inherently means it can warm up cold or frozen foods effectively as well. It’s kind of the opposite of a vacuum flask.

Take a look at some unscripted real-world usage of the MMM.

This is what it’s all about.

But wait… There’s more! I haven’t run across any meals that the MMM can’t be applied to. It’s especially useful for cooling our two-year old daughter’s meals. Since people seem to like pictures of food, here’s a small taste of some of the other ways the MMM has been used around our house over the course of this review.

Only chumps wait a minute before consuming fresh-out-of-the-microwave pizza bagel bites.

High-speed peanut brittle cooling with an inverted MMM.

The internal temperature of this pocket sandwich dropped over 20ºF in a couple minutes. Never ate so fast.

Mashed potatoes are no match for the MMM.

Alphabet chicken bites aren’t as good as dinosaur shaped ones, but the MMM don’t care.

This deliciousness was cool enough to eat by the time I got a decent photo.

Cooling boiled sand for an aquarium. Don’t judge me.

Of course, I boiled the rocks too.

Not shown in the images above was one of my favorite uses: cooling the massive cast iron dutch oven we use for braising. That sucker is all about heat retention, but the MasterMeal Maker shows no mercy and zaps the heat right out of it, making it safe to handle again in no time.

I ran out of time to freeze thermometers into steaks and measure how fast they could be thawed, but I did want to show a quick demo of how well the MasterMeal Maker works at thawing food as well. For this demo, we’ll be using identical fresh-from-the-ice-maker “cubes” and simply watching what happens when one is placed on a room temperature plate and the other is placed on a room temperature MMM.

Just imagine how quickly this beast would thaw your deep-frozen meats.

Pretty cool, huh? 


This thing is incredible.


I feel like we’ve just scratched the surface on the utility of the MasterMeal Maker. For one, we barely touched on its thawing prowess. I also didn’t get to test its “overclocking” options, which simply require chilling or heating it before use, depending on the application (anti-griddle anyone?). Furthermore, without a second MMM, I wasn’t able to test it in its Sandwiched Lunch Interlock mode. That’s a shame, but I’m confident that two MMMs in SLI would churn out temperate food incredibly quickly. I was able to use the MMM to rapidly cool down hot burners on my stove so I could clean the stovetop sooner, though. That was quite handy, but it was not an officially supported use. Any way you slice it, it’s a time saver—which is always welcome.

Now I’m just playing, but it’s so much fun!

If you’re not picking up on the vibe I’m laying down, I’m a huge fan of the MasterMeal Maker. It’s a simple and yet innovative offering that takes a Thanksgiving-sized helping of courage for a PC component manufacturer to offer up to the culinary world for judgment. I’m very happy that Cooler Master took a chance with it, though. It both works as advertised and is ripe for all manner of experimentation. It’s the kind of tool that I could see being lauded by Alton Brown and Ron Popeil alike. That’s no mean feat.

Cooler Master has not yet announced the release date or pricing of the MasterMeal Maker, but I was told that it “will not be cheap.” That’s understandable for such a hefty product, though. In the kitchen, as in most arenas, weight often equates with quality, and the MasterMeal Maker has both in spades.

0 responses to “Cooler Master’s MasterMeal Maker reviewed

  1. This type of a head-to-head product shootout wouldn’t provide any beneficial comparative data points. The Nvidia and AMD versions are “skyward heat transference devices”; kind of like your grill or your stovetop burners. Or the heating coils for your bum in your car seats. You folks in Canada have those, yes?

    This is an ENTIRELY NEW product. It’s an “Earthward heat conductance device”. Resembling only superficially your typical oven broiler, but without the oven enclosure, the dangerous bare electic coils, and the spine-crippling slipped discs you can get from bending over to access it.

    The difference is that you put the food on top, not beneath!

  2. I got so busy this last week, I wasn’t able to come here and participate in the grand “go live” release of this great new product on Monday. I’m so into cooking, and I’m very impressed by those performance charts. Y’know, somebody once tested Vegamite (or was it Nutella?) and toothpaste and found that these things are not merely wonderful petroleum byproducts, but they also work as suitable TIM replacements, especially if you like that crispy cookin’ like most of us do.

    Way to go, Fish; this just proves that there’s nothing like an in-depth TechReport review, and no one in-his-depth like a TechReport reviewer. Well done!

  3. I look forward to the follow-up article where the MMM goes head to head with the GTX 480 and R9-290x.

  4. While that’s factually correct, it’s the reverse of the question actually asked. Folks that cannot learn or look up such a simple conversion on their own are unlikely to be able to handle the simple re-arrangement of the formula on their own. Throwing this series at them would also likely meet with a blank stare:
    °R = °F + 459.67
    °K = °R x 5 ÷ 9
    °C = °K – 273.15

  5. Was going to say. I still have a DIY audio hobby going, and recently I’ve built a couple loadbanks for a training demo at the office. I have vivid fantasies about heatink extrusions like that.

  6. I’m afraid the price would be high though… even if its just a block of aluminum its going to cost more than a good deal of exceptionally finely etched silicon.

    Would be a really awesome case though, passive cooled all the way!

  7. The MasterMeal Maker is awesome enough to maybe, kinda, sorta become a real thing? Yes, I think that could work.

  8. Well my caveat was tend not to be. Honestly my work in commercial kitchens mostly used much faster chilling techniques. Many of them did have cold plates, but they were actively cooled not passively. Course a lot of it was more the stuff like custards and the like where rapid cooling was necessary to prevent the chemical changes that occurred from latent heat increasing the temp past the desired threshold. My understanding (since I’m not involved with commercial kitchens anymore) is that a lot of that stuff is handled by things like sous vide or other immersion circulator techniques now so too much thermal energy is rarer. Course the head pastry chef did have that liquid nitrogen for the really special stuff too……

    Edit: Replied to the wrong comment. ack

  9. That’s nowhere near fast enough, and hot food in a fridge increases the temperature of other food in the unit. More like ice baths, using smaller containers (to create more surface area), and metal heat transfer plates.

    At first glance, I thought the MMM was a real thing because I had to know about all this stuff when I worked in a restaurant years ago. 😆

  10. Around here, you can’t keep leftover food in a commercial kitchen unless you have a printed, posted cooling plan somewhere on a wall in the facility.

  11. I want a NUC-like box with that heatsink on top (functional, of course). Or maybe just embed the computer in the base of it. That would be excellent.

  12. Irish Kerrygold from Costco is amazing for making ghee 🙂 I usually use the salted variety for extra taste. My baking recipes usually call for unsalted butter, and I need the milk solids 😀

  13. Are you certain of that?
    [url<][/url<] These defrosting plates are a big chunk of extruded aluminum. The one in my mother's kitchen has modest fins on the underside.

  14. When I saw this article I immediately thought of this: [url<][/url<]

  15. 75% for Alton, 20% for the savage comedy, 5% for the occasionally inspired hacking/rare occasion where the chef’s surprise Alton in a good way.

  16. I keep some in the fridge, and some on the counter.. the problem is that my pastry recipes call for chilled butter (as cold as possible without being frozen), and my normal recipes want room temperature melted butter.

    So to melt it, I’ve got to heat it up and then cool it down.. real pain

  17. Only for Alton, I presume. I get frustrated by that show more because I feel really bad for the chef’s who are super-talented but get hampered to the point where something minor gets messed up and they are out. I missed potential.

  18. [quote<]MasterMeal Maker[/quote<] What a perfect name! The FPS graph was hilarious. Might be interesting how much quicker a pie would cook in a convection oven with assistance from the MasterMeal Maker. I can hardly wait for your review of the Extreme Equilibrium Edition when it comes out.

  19. Why is your butter not room temperature? You’re a fridge person aren’t you? We keep ours on the counter in a butter dish.

  20. I object that the temperature readings on page two aren’t Canadian accessible.


  21. I wish I knew where it came from. You can read the part number in the first video but Google doesn’t turn anything up. I just found it one day in our plant and after a couple years asked to take it home. I used it for various science experiments for a couple more years until I came up with the idea for the MMM and added the copper to dress it up a bit.

  22. Where can I get a couple of these…would make a great heatsink for a DIY Class-A audio amplifier…preferably a design from here: [url<][/url<]

  23. Aww man, that’s brilliant! I wish I’d thought of that. I could have tested the durometer over time.

  24. I totally need one of these to get butter to room temperature fast for baking 🙂

    Also need to get some Frame Rate timings in there to make it a true TR review..

  25. Did you test a 0.5 EPI (eggs per inch) or at 1 EPI? Almost everyone cooks at 0.5 EPI, per the latest Steam data. Most people aren’t into cooking at 1 EPI, or want to pay extra for a 1 EPI MMM. With RGB.

  26. Heatsinks can be used to speed up heating, too: [url<][/url<]

  27. The FPS and SLI references were hilarious!

    I’ve often remarked that we have loads of different ways to quickly heat food but really no way to quickly cool food/drinks other than to stick it in the freezer which still takes time. If I have warm beer or white wine I have to wait 20-30 minutes before they’re drinkable. I realize that’s not what Cooler Master was going for here, but as a follow up perhaps they can some up with a sort of anti-microwave that can cool foods and liquids in a hot minute.

    Maybe the Cooler Master Cold Maker LN2 (CMCMLN2)?

  28. Slap a peltier and a leaf blower to this thing and you could make ice cream by the bucketful.

  29. [i<][u<]Kudos Colton[/u<][/i<] for another completely captivating and quite exhaustive review! [b<]BUT ...[/b<] a question I believe to be of critical importance: In the "Ice Cutting" video at the top of page 5, the first and second ice cubes placed on the inverted MasterMeal Maker demonstrated a pronounced "back-and-forth" gliding movement whilst they traversed the heat sink's fins. Given, the base surface is almost certainly not perfectly level, but to what properties of physics can this pattern of motion be attributed? Does it somehow hinge upon principles at work in Quantum Computing; a synchronization and alignment of polarities; perhaps even entanglement?

  30. Grinned when I saw this and started reading, but using water as a TIM was when I laughed out loud. The only disappointment was that you didn’t try to see how long it would take a cat to jump off as their body heat was sucked out 😉

  31. Great piece fish! Now I’m interested in a phase change model and a camping version–maybe at the barbeque?

  32. I’ve always thought blast chillers were really cool…

    As you said though, it depends on the need. The MMM’s greatness comes from being low-tech and versatile.

  33. I was more thinking the commercial alternatives to ice baths, but fridges work too. Depends on the task and need. 😛

  34. Speaking of companies diving into new product lines. Newegg has released their first CPU, the [url=<]iBrite RGB.[/url<] Pretty sweet price for a 200 thread powerhouse.

  35. Sorry, try [url=<]these[/url<] [url=<]instead[/url<].

  36. Should’ve included a [url=<]tub of thermal paste like this.[/url<] Shame. SHAME.

  37. Ok, I have to say I appreciate the effort put into this. The writing! The charts! Video too?! Even though it’s an an April Fools piece I ended up going through the whole thing.

    Though I think the ice cube video at the end was pretty interesting. Was the heat sink really at room temp when you did that?

  38. kitchen small appliances is such a natural market extension for pc hardware makers. Phanteks is also entering the market, tho a much smaller step.


  39. I kind of want to give this article a thumbs up like you can do in the comments here. It’s kind of a pity that option isn’t available. I hope this comment will do instead. So, (Y).

  40. I enjoyed the article enough to actually read the whole thing. Definitely a delightful read, and much better than most stuff I’ve read today.

    *Shrugs* That said in some commercial kitchen contexts they do have tools to more rapidly cool foods. They do tend not to be giant plates of thermally conductive metal with heat dissipating fins though.

Colton Westrate

I host BBQs, I tell stories, and I strive to keep folks happy.