The Be Quiet! Dark Rock Pro 3

Be Quiet! is a German manufacturer of cooling, case and power PC-related products and one of the few European companies that has managed to push their way into the North American markets. We have checked a few of their power supplies in recent months and most recently saw their new cases and fans at Computex. For this review the company supplied us with the best and largest cooler they currently offer, the Dark Rock Pro 3.

The Dark Rock Pro 3 is supplied into a bizarrely shaped, deep cardboard box, well protected within thick layers of polyethylene foam and cardboard walls. A very basic black and white leaflet with installation instructions and the absolute necessary parts for the mounting of the cooler are supplied, nothing more, with the sole exception of two wire clips for those that want to install a third fan on the cooler.


Much as its name suggests, the Dark Rock Pro 3 is a very large, dark cooler. It is a symmetric dual tower design, meaning that the seven 6 mm heatpipes run through the base and to a separate cooling tower on either side. A metallic black top cover extends across the entire cooling body, covering both towers and the middle cooling fan but leaving the front fan exposed. With the exception of the black top cover, everything else is nickel-plated.

The front of each tower forms a jagged saw tooth design facing the fan that inclines inwards toward the center of the tower, while the rear forms a geometric pattern fashioned from half-octagons. The jagged front is supposed to reduce harsh airflow state transitions and aerodynamic noise, but the rear is most likely shaped for aesthetic purposes only.

The company is using their own SilentWings series fans on the Dark Rock Pro 3. The dimensions of each fan differs, with a 135 mm fan installed between the towers and an 120 mm fan at the front of the cooler. Still, both fans share the same features, such as the decoupling frames, wavy blades and six pole engines with fluid dynamic bearings. They are very high quality and expensive models, yet they are optimized for low noise operation, not high static pressure, which we will see the results of in the testing.

Be Quiet! paid a lot of attention to the base of the Dark Rock Pro 3. It is a very solid construct, forming a small heatsink, possibly to aid the overall performance of the cooler a little bit. The base has been polished to a perfect mirror finish, with no imperfections to be found.

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  • MartenKL - Monday, July 6, 2015 - link

    I would of course like to see the testbed updated to have fan/s controlled by thermals, ie something like ASUS Fan Expert. Set for a target temperature and loads in the more realistic range of 15-150 watts. And of course when reducing voltage it should be via PWM and not simply reducing static voltage. The results should then be presented in temperature variance and noise levels/profile.
  • MrSpadge - Monday, July 6, 2015 - link

    Good suggestions. I hate those charts with "full fan voltage" and "fan voltage reduced to ..". What I really care about is "how silent can the cooler be for a given temperature / cooling performance?" And "which one cools better at similar noise level".

    It doesn't help much to see a strong fan with inbearable noise in those charts. Even if someone is interested in such solutions - wouldn't his question rather be "which heatsink performs best with this high-speed fan"? Which would again be something he couldn't answer from this data.

    I know making noise based comparisons is difficult. But the raw sound pressure could be accompanied by some subjective remarks regarding the noise spectrum.
  • Cookiespy - Monday, July 6, 2015 - link

    It would be interesting to see how the stock coolers compare to this high performance cooler. I wouldn't pay $80-100 just to see 5degrees improvement.
  • Eidigean - Monday, July 6, 2015 - link

    Chips big enough to need these coolers, such as Socket 2011, do not come with stock coolers.
  • meacupla - Monday, July 6, 2015 - link

    The stock heatsink cools great and is pretty silent with stock settings in a case with decent airflow, end of story.

    These kinds of $80 heatsinks are what you want when you overclock, but with the same or lower noise levels.

    If you don't overclock, then a $20~25 heatsink can do a 5~20C improvement and keep the computer quieter at the same time too.
  • Eidigean - Monday, July 6, 2015 - link

    What are you, a shill for Intel? The Intel stock heatsinks are the absolute worst. Check out the graphs from this Anandtech article:

    Dead last in performance AND noise. Stock heatsink was greater than 30 degrees C hotter, and 20 decibels louder.
  • meacupla - Monday, July 6, 2015 - link

    It says right there in the system specs used to test those coolers...
    "Intel Core i7-2700K overclocked to 4.4GHz @ 1.4V"

    I'm surprised the stock intel heatsink was able to complete the tests.
  • meacupla - Monday, July 6, 2015 - link

    no wait, look, it says the stock heatsink and a low profile heatsink failed on an overclocked i7.

    Like I said, stock intel heatsink, especially the one with a copper core, works great at stock speeds.
  • Azurael - Friday, July 17, 2015 - link

    I don't know if the stock HSFs have changed since Sandy Bridge, but my 2500k would hit 98+ degrees and throttle under AVX loads with the pathetic little stock thing whilst sounding like a small tornado had developed inside my case (how is it that a 95w CPU comes with an HSF half the size of the ones they used to ship with 65w C2Ds?!)

    Whichever cheap tower cooler I replaced it with does the job just fine, though. It's been running like a champ at 4.5GHz for near enough 4 years now. (I think it's a Xigmatek SD1283 - I haven't even taken the side off my machine for over a year, those heady days of tinkering and yearly upgrades long since passed.)
  • bug77 - Monday, July 6, 2015 - link

    What, no mention of the weight of each cooler? I think that's a rather important aspect.

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