The heatsink-and-fan combo has beenaround for eons, so really creative CPU coolers have become somewhat of an endangered species. Top-down design? Been there, done that. LED fans? Seen ’em, lots of ’em. Materials don’t change much, either—the thing about the laws of thermodynamics is that you can’t really cheat your way around them, so the only way to deliver more performance is bigger, bulkier coolers. Naturally, it takes a lot for an air cooler to surprise us these days. Cooler Master’s new MasterAir Maker 8 cooler is a bona fie surprise, for all the right reasons. In both form and function, the MasterAir Maker 8 gives us innovations we’ve either rarely seen or have never seen at all, which is saying something for a CPU cooler. Aesthetically, the MasterAir Maker 8 does at least partly follow the same playbook as other CPU coolers, but Cooler Master adds a couple of extra pages. Where most manufacturers are content to slap an LED fan on either end of the heatsink and call it a day, Cooler Master goes further, utilizing an interchangeable top cover design and giving makers and modders the blueprint for limitless customizability (and that’s no exaggeration). Cooler Master supplies a 3D printing fie for the MasterAir Maker 8’s top plate, so anyone who’s handy with a 3D printer will understand the possibilities this presents. By supplying such a schematic, Cooler Master has made incorporating the MasterAir Maker 8 into a build theme a delightfully straightforward process for modders. At the same time, Cooler Master also had the presence of mind to give less artistically inclined enthusiasts options to customize their MasterAir Maker 8’s appearance, too. By default, the cooler has a translucent top plate that puts its LEDs on display. Looking something a little sleeker? The MasterAir Maker 8 includes a solid aluminum cover. Or, you can leave the top cover of altogether, since Cooler Master even stylizes the top of the heatsink. We mentioned earlier that most companies improve performance by throwing more metal at the problem. Again, Cooler Master thinks diffrently, as the MasterAir Maker 8 features the company’s proprietary 3DVC vertical vapor chamber. Vapor chambers are exceptional at dissipating heat, but the nature of their design typically limits them to horizontal implementations (which is why they’re usually only used in graphics card heatsinks). Cooler Master’s engineers fiured out how to point a vapor chamber vertically, which helps the MasterAir Maker 8 transfer heat to its aluminum fis far more effctively than conventional designs. Installing the MasterAir Maker 8 is easy, thanks to its fan mounting system. Press down on a tab at either end of the mount, and the whole thing slides off After you’ve installed the heatsink, slide the fans back on; they’ll click into place. Having 140mm fans included by default is great from a performance standpoint, but it did create clearance issues with our PNY Anarchy DDR4, which are by no means towering memory modules. (We swapped them out for a kit of Crucial Ballistix Sport DDR4.) Packaging the MasterAir Maker 8 with 120mm fans instead would’ve made the cooler compatible with a wider range of memory. At the very least, consider the likelihood that you’ll have to make the swap yourself. So yes, the MasterAir Maker 8 is big, but you’ll want to fid a way to squeeze it into your rig. In our test system, our Core i7- 5960X idled at an average temperature of 25.5 degrees Celsius. When we fied up POV-Ray 3.7 for 10 minutes, the cooler flexed its muscles and held the average temp to 45.5 C. It was similar mighty in the face of Prime95, as we recorded an average temp of 53.5 C. An MSRP of $130 puts the MasterAir Maker 8 in the company of 240mm AIO liquid coolers, but it’s easily good enough to hang with the competition.