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Be Quiet! Dark Rock Pro 3 Review

Today’s review is the Be Quiet! Dark Rock Pro 3. Just recently we examined the Shadow rock slim, a compact cooler from the brand, now we switch focus to the flagship product. The Dark Rock Pro 3 is a tower heatsink with dual fans and is styled with a very unique look. Thanks to the dark nickel plating and all black appearance, the sleek lines on the Dark Rock 3 all combine to produce a product is that is one of a kind.
Pricing on the day or review is $80-90  or £60/70 (click to check current) placing it towards to the very top end of the market for such products. We’ve seen many super-sized and aggressive heatsinks in the past, usually there is comprises with compatibility or noise.

Does the Dark Rock Pro 3 suffer from any of these? Let’s find out

Be Quiet! Dark Rock Pro 3 Product Features & Specifications

 

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No Compromise Silence and Performance

Dark Rock™ CPU coolers have long been category leaders, and now the significantly upgraded Dark Rock Pro 3 is even more powerful. This virtually inaudible double-tower CPU cooler puts famous be quiet! SilentWings® technology in your PC where it really counts. They are excellent for overclocked systems and demanding multi-graphics platforms.
Dark Rock Pro 3 offers top performance-to-noise ratio and the highest reliability available. Improved cooling efficiency (250W TDP) and really silent operation (only 26.1dB(A) at maximum speed) mean this cooler strikes the perfect balance between cooling and serenity —truly silence and performance without compromises.

Immensely high cooling efficiency
  • Improved dynamic wave-contour cooling fins with small dots on the surface increase air circulation and contribute to high convection efficiency without raising overall noise
  • Enhanced double-tower layout offers reduced weight and enables high cooling power
  • Support of additional 120mm fan for extreme cooling performance (free fan clips are included in the scope of delivery)
  • Seven high-performance heat pipes with copper lining and aluminum caps carry heat to the optimal location on the cooling fins, maximizing heat conductance
  • The immensely high cooling capacity of 250W TDP offers low temperature even at peak performance
  • New arrangement of heat pipes enhances the cooling capability

 

Virtually inaudible operation
  • Two SilentWings® PWM fans (front: 120mm, inner: 135mm) with advanced copper core fluid dynamic bearing and dynamically-balanced impeller provide optimal cooling with deep serenity
  • Inner 135mm SilentWings® PWM fan features nine airflow-optimized fan blades and an innovative 6-pole motor for smoother operation and less vibration
  • Decoupled fan mount with vibration-isolating elements on the heat sink
  • Noise is at scant 26.1dB(A) even at 100% PWM function

 

Product conception, design and quality control in Germany
  • Winner of the prestigious Red Dot Design Award 2014
  • Compatibility with all current Intel® and AMD™ sockets
  • Completely dark nickel-plated heat sink
  • Brushed aluminum top cover with high-grade diamond cut finish
  • 3-year warranty
  • Quick support is available via our international hotline, Mondays to Fridays from 9:00am to 5:30pm German local time: +49 (0) 40-736 76 86 – 98

Be Quiet Dark Rock Pro 3 Specifications

Closer Look

All of the be quiet! products I’ve worked with to date, share the  same simple but elegant style. An all-black base and white text, which contrasts well. Present is a small silver strip that runs right around then box edge and written here is the word “High End” Be quiet! separate their products into three main groups

  • Essential
  • Premium
  • High End

In the centre we’re given a glimpse of the product and the all-important TDP capability of 250W is listed, below this some of the key features are also present. Both the left and right side document a brief introduction in a range of languages. The reverse side has the more technical data such as fan specifications.

The box opens from the top, after removing the protective padding we can see the fan is already attached to the heatsink. The cooler is packed from edge to edge, ensuring it arrives in good condition during the shipping process. Aside from the cooler, we find a small brown box and user manual.

Inside the smaller box, is the mounting kit. I appreciate how it’s packed, separating the parts into different bags is a bonus when it comes to the install. A welcome addition here is the free tool, something not all brands offer. It’s clear that the kit is universal and the install will be a  case of choosing relevant arms, either AMD or Intel, but we’ll cover this is more detail soon.

Since the fan is already fitted we’ll  do a tour around the products entirety. First impression of the product are brilliant, a real sense of high quality is obvious from the first glimpse. The all black finish is something I really like, generally all we see is silver with a coloured fan, and that’s fine for most consumers. Those of us of that want something more neutral will really appreciate the Dark Rock Pro 3.
The most interesting design element is the bolt on plates, two stacked, which run along to the top of the two fins stack. The bolts they’ve used have covers, producing a clean look. The “be quiet!” branding is placed in the centre

Switching focus now to the base and underside, what we find is 7 copper heatpipes per side, and be quiet! have been sure to keep this area as compact as possible. This should be a benefit for clearance and compatibility. 

Installation Guide

Installation did prove troublesome being such a large product. The backplate and bolts are placed on the underside of the motherboard.

Slide the C shaped spacers over each bolt. They literally slide into the place from any side, and not top down. Then take the Intel mounts and secure them down over the four long bolts. It’s easier to do this with your fingers at first, then flip the board over and tighten with a screwdriver from that side.

The method is to place the cooler arms/legs over the four bolts and secure them down, Be quiet! use a locking nut and spanner system, rather than bolts with screw head because it would impossible to fit a screwdriver…. This means it may difficult to fit the included spanner into some areas, for us the top left mount was obstructed by the MSI heatsink.
The only we could make this work was to do the whole process in reverse, laying the heatsink down with the bolts, and using a screwdriver from the underside to tighten it all up.

Clearance and observations

The Dark Rock Pro 3 does obstruct the first DIMM slot in our test motherboard. However these modules have aftermarket coolers attached. Like similar products you can raise or lower the front 120mm fan (If your RAM is taller than standard) Failing that you could instead remove the fan and fit it to the rear side of the cooler.

Test Setup & Results

Proudly Powered by our Dimastech Mini V1.0 Test Bench

Processor:

Intel® i5 4670K

Cooling:  Several
Memory: Kingston HyperX Beast 2400Mhz 8GB
Motherboard: MSI Z97 GAMING 7
Video Card:  MSI Radeon 270X Gaming
PSU: CoolerMaster  v750
Hard Drives:

SSD – Kingston HyperX 3k 240GB

M.2 -Kingston M.2

OS: Windows 8 Pro 64-Bit

We would like to thank or sponsors for their support with our test system, Kingston,Dismatech,Cooler Master,Noctua and MSI

*Methodology*

CPU coolers and test method is an area that causes much confusion and debate. We should point out that many sites test in different ways, but the majority share the same core idea that a simple math equation should be used. So that a consistent value can be recorded and re-used against other products
This simple equation of [recorded result] [minus] [ambient room temperature] = Delta
This test method simply means no matter how warm or cool the testing room is, the data is comparable. There will always be a degree of error in such testing.  There are so many variables such airflow, testing location and such. So we perform all our testing on the same hardware and in the same location.

  • Our procedure is to fit the cooler and allow a 24 hour period before any testing, allowing the thermal paste to settle. The system is booted and allowed to sit idle for 15 minutes. We take our first recording. Then using a selection of software forcing the CPU to run at 100% load. We then take our load temperatures.
  • This process is repeated 3 times and the results are converted to an average.
  • We provide delta temperature [Load temperatures minus ambient room temperature].
  • This allows us to provide consistent results no matter the room temperature.

Many factors can skew results and to ensure accuracy we repeat all of the above three further times. Including refitting the cooler, this compensates for factors such as burn in time, amount of thermal paste and such.

*Software Used*

To keep things neat and easier to read, we no longer provide idle or ambient numbers, but only load delta results.
We shall start as we always do on a stock setup with our 4670K, keep in mind this is a Haswell CPU and they are known to be a difficult CPU to tame. Before even touching the thermal performance numbers I must comment on noise levels. Much like what we’ve seen in other “be Quiet! Reviews, the noise output is inaudible, sure if you lean in close and concentrate, it’s there. In a day-to-day environment, you won’t hear anything…

Be quiet Dark Rock Pro 3 stock

I must point out that we do not manipulate and force the fan to run at 100%, it is something we had considered in the past and if we had done, most of the products in the chart would appear to have better results.
However what we present is a fair representation of how a product will perform out of the box. With this in mind what we tend to find, in our stock testing is that the fan does not always hit 100%.

Based on what I just said, the fact that the Dark Rock Pro 3 scored so well is a very promising start. With  whisper quiet sound emissions the cooler is able to stand pretty much toe to toe with rivalling products. We have a baseline of 30db and cannot measure anything lower, due to other environment factors. The Dark Rock Pro 3 sat on or below this line.
Also worth noting is that the two fans did not even hit their peak, as we run them in PWM mode. If you wanted to intervene and manually push them harder, you could.

Be quiet Dark Rock Pro 3 OC
Our test CPU is ran at default auto clocks and voltage for stock testing. For overclocking it’s not the best around and requires 1.375 volts to operate at 4.6 GHz. All results shown are at these settings unless otherwise stated*
The test that matters more for Overclockers… we applied a heavy overclock, which requires lots of vcore. The Pro 3 really shines in the thermal numbers department but did lose a little ground when it comes to sound levels. Peaking at 37db. Not the quietest cooler we’ve tested but very close…

Be quiet Dark Rock Pro 3 Sound Levels

Conclusion TL:DR

A very interesting product then, that ticks all the boxes and should be great choice for most. The Dark Rock Pro 3 does have two issues that I want to tackle before we go any further. They both stem from the sheer size of the product and they could be amended. The mounting system is a direct copy of what we saw on the Slim earlier this year. On that product I found the system to be more than adequate, so no concerns when I found it was to be used here again.   The truth is though, after working with as many coolers as I have, I’ve just seen better options. Don’t get me wrong it’s OK, it’s just as good as it could be. Depending on your hardware, you might find the install is fine, others with large neighbouring heatsinks will struggle. I showed a work around earlier, essentially performing the mount in reverse, and that worked for me…
Dimm clearance is right on that fine line between good enough and not…again I must point out that it’s not going to affect everyone. If you have “Standard” sized ram, then skip ahead, you’re fine.  Those using anything more will be limited, yes you can move the fan up and grant yourself some more room, but the actual heatsink needs a little refining, to open up space above the first DIMM slot.

Onwards to the more positive, performance both thermals and acoustic we’re very fair. The cooling ability of the Dark Rock Pro 3 is right up there with the best, and will really open up some extra headroom for overclocking. Noise in the stock portion of the testing was almost none existent, those fans are spectacular. Once pushed to the extreme they do ramp up a little, and just nudge into that “being aware of them” category.  As with any PWM fan, feel free to experiment and adjust the fan curve. I’d be looking to cap them at 90% or so and lose a degree in performance.

The Dark Rock Pro 3 is not for everyone, it’s for a select portion of consumer who want to push their hardware, without taking a massive hit on noise levels. On top of that it’s one of the best coolers out there. Pricing has fluctuated a little of the last few months, right now it’s sat at the £65-70 mark and while that’s not bad, a little drop would surely entice consumers away from similarly priced products.

After much consideration, despite these few niggles it’s well worth of silver

Today's review is the Be Quiet! Dark Rock Pro 3. Just recently we examined the Shadow rock slim, a compact cooler from the brand, now we switch focus to the flagship product. The Dark Rock Pro 3 is a tower heatsink with dual fans and is styled with a very unique look. Thanks to the dark nickel plating and all black appearance, the sleek lines on the Dark Rock 3 all combine to produce a product is that is one of a kind. Pricing on the day or review is $80-90  or £60/70 (click to check current) placing it towards to the very top end of the market for…

Be Quiet! Dark Rock Pro 3 Review

price - 8
Performance - 9.5
Design - 8

8.5

User Rating: 4 ( 2 votes)

We would like to thank be Quiet! for sending the sample out for review. We have more product review for the brand upcoming

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