Testing Results & Conclusion
be quiet! Dark Rock 4
Cooler Master MasterAir MA410M TUF
Using standardized data from our cooling tests on our Core i7 5930k clocked at 4.2Ghz and 1.20v, we can make direct comparisons of coolers with controlled airflow within our Corsair Graphite 760T chassis. We will take a look at how the Cooler Master MasterAir MA620P TUF Gaming Edition stacks up against its’ TUF Gaming Edition sibling, the MasterAir MA410M and its namesake twin, the MasterAir MA620P. The be quiet! Dark Rock 4 will provide some competition from outside the Cooler Master gene pool.
The MasterAir MA620P TUF Gaming Edition's thermal performance aligns closely with its’ non-TUF twin, the MA620P. While the pair of larger, MA620P’s would be expected to cool better than the smaller, MA410M TUF Gaming Edition, this simply isn’t the case. Even though the be quiet! Dark Rock 4 turns in the lowest temperatures at 100% fan speed, the MA410M still outperforms it at 50% speeds.
There are few surprises in fan speeds for all coolers in our testing group. There is some minor variation in 50% speeds between the MA620P non-TUF and TUF Gaming Editions, although it's within manufacturing variance and less than 100 RPM difference. This could account for the slight cooling differences at 50% fan speeds between these near-identical cooling towers.
Both of the Cooler Master TUF Gaming Edition coolers post nearly identical decibel readings. But what's more interesting is that both MA620P coolers are slightly different here. It is possible that small variations in fan production could account for enough change to cause a blip in readings, but it stands to reason that the pair of TUF Gaming Edition coolers shipped with fans that slightly differ to that of the non-TUF MA620P. Meanwhile, the be quiet! Dark Rock 4 is nearly silent with its single, low RPM 135mm fan.
Small differences in close thermal load performances and registered noise levels can really alter how our acoustic efficiency graph pans out. The be quiet! Dark Rock 4 excels in each, and has a strong showing, here. The slight acoustic benefit of the non-TUF MA620P allows it to also stretch its legs at 50% fan speeds.
Bringing unit cost into the equation here begins to shore up some of our comparisons. The standard MasterAir MA620P boasts the lowest price of the group, but it also trails in most performance categories. Meanwhile, the be quiet! Dark Rock 4 is the best-performing of the group, but it's grounded somewhat due higher price. Both of the MasterAir TUF Gaming Edition coolers place similarly, with the MA410M TUF besting the larger MA620P TUF.
Thermal imaging with the FLIR ONE Pro camera shows substantial heat soak in the cooling towers at 50% fan speed, including the center 120mm cooling fan. At half speeds, it seems as if only portions of each tower are adequately cooled along with the front cooling fan.
At 100% fan speeds, we can see more thorough cooling of the front (rightmost) heatpipe tower, with less heat soak within the center cooling fan and rear heatpipe tower. The envelope of heated air is also easily seen being ejected from both top and bottom of the cooler, in what looks like a yellowish ‘fog’ in the infrared spectrum.
From these photos, it would seem that a more focused airflow approach or intermediate cool air induction vent might benefit the MasterAir MA620P TUF Gaming Edition.
Cooler Master had a great opportunity to enhance the MasterAir MA620P TUF Gaming Edition, by introducing some adjustments to improve the cooling performance of their underwhelming MA620P. But, for an extra $5 over the original MasterAir MA620P, the TUF Gaming Edition provides you some yellow accents and partial digital camouflage on the cooling tower top fascia. To use the words of the great (and wise) Bugs Bunny, “That’s all folks!”
To us, this is disappointing. In a sense, all that's going on here is a simple marketing trick: add some brightly colored trim and the sticker of a well-known brand to any normal product and increase the asking price. Just ask anyone who has bought a sports car with “Nürburgring” in the model name.
It’s obvious that Cooler Master know what they’re doing, because they’ve been providing CPU coolers to the overclocking community as long as anyone in the industry, and have turned out a real gem of a cooler with the MasterAir MA410M TUF Gaming Edition. But something doesn’t quite add up when the smaller, 4-heatpipe MA410M cooler of the TUF Alliance coolers seen in this collection outperforms the larger, 6-heatpipe, dual tower MA620P cooler we're looking at here. In short, this was a missed opportunity to reset what the MA620P model line.
But enough negativity. The Cooler Master MasterAir MA620P TUF Gaming Edition does open the door to big air cooling at a relatively budget-friendly price of right around $60 as of this writing. It also performs close on the heels of the Dark Rock 4, which arguably aligns more toward high-end big air cooling, so not all is lost.
We keep asking ourselves the same few questions when it comes to the MA410M and MA620P TUF Gaming Edition coolers. Why would someone choose the MA620P over the MA410M at the same price, when the MA410M performs better? Why would someone opt to wrestle with the more difficult installation of the MA620P when the MA410M is far easier to install? Why buy the MA620P when the MA410M has an integrated thermal sensor and what seems to be the Cooler Master future of RGB lighting integration with an updated control dongle and USB connectivity?
In the end, we couldn't come up with an answer to most of those questions. As a budget entry into large heatpipe air cooling, Cooler Master’s MasterAir MA620P TUF Gaming Edition fits the bill. And at $5 over the cost of the non-TUF-branded version, it adds some visual flair without tacking much onto the price. But that’s about the best we can say about his cooler.
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