Performance: 38 out of 40
Considering the fact that Cooler Master has crammed in a lot of generational performance improvements the MA824 can be considered the best ‘out of the box’ air-based cooling solution available today. Sadly, the lack of a third fan does somewhat handicap the theoretical performance it can offer enthusiasts. Mix in the fact that Cooler Master is using a proprietary subframe for mounting the middle fan and there is still room for improvement in future generations of this wonderful design.
Ease of Use: 18 out of 20
Unlike the smaller Hyper 622 Halo Black edition, we do have to use the dreaded caveat of ‘for its class’ when talking about how easy it is to work with… as it is a massive chunk of technology to work with. One that will overhang DIMMS and M.2 ports alike. However, for its class the MA824 puts most dual tower cooling solutions to shame. So much so, that the only real annoyance one has to deal with is the fact that the top fascia is not robustly mounted… and will pop off if you “grab n go” during the installation process. Mix in the fact that you only get one shot to install it (as Cooler Master does not include TIM) and there is still room for improvement but the MA824 is extremely easy to work with. For its class.
Build Quality & Warranty: 18 out 20
On the one hand this is an extremely well built and precision engineered cooling solution. Nearly everything about it screams quality – including the five year warranty. Heck, those cutting-edge heat pipes alone raise the bar upon which all future coolers will be judged in the build quality category. Mix in extremely good fans and the only two things that need to be improved upon is the mounting configuration for the middle fan, and the lack of extra TIM. Cooler Master make excellent TIM. They make and include it on the Hyper 622 series. A series that noticeably cheaper than the MasterAir series… and yet they do not include said TIM with their flagship model? That just smacks of lack of faith in the build quality of their TIM.
Value: 15 out of 20
There are two competing ways to judge the overall value of the MA824. On the one hand it is easily justifies its price premium over the Chinese clone competition, while at the same time making the Noctua NH-D15 Chromax.Black look overpriced. On the other hand, the MA622… err the Hyper 622 Halo Black is significantly cheaper, offers excellent cooling, and an easier installation process. As such, the MA824 does lose some of its lustre. So before making your final call on its value carefully consider how much performance you need vs. you want. We have split the difference and called it 15… but most will either consider it a perfect 20 or a mediocre 10. Adjust your final score accordingly.
Final Score: 89 out 100
With its combination of cutting-edge technology, sophisticated design, excellent aesthetics, and relatively trouble-free installation process there is a lot to like about the Cooler Master MasterAir MA824. Sadly, Cooler Master’s Hyper design team have stepped up their game so what once would be considered a slam dunk success now has serious competition. Regardless of what you consider to be the better deal one thing is for certain Cooler Master now offers one of the best dual tower air-based cooling solutions on the market today. So yes, unlike the mostly forgettable MA624, this is a cult classic in the making.