A few weeks ago, we shared with you our review of the be quiet! Pure Rock CPU cooler. The product turned out to be a really good option if you have either an Intel or AMD CPU and you want silence, lower temperatures, and the ability to overclock slightly. Today we continue with the Rock trend as we introduce you to a detailed review of another “be quiet!” product – Dark Rock 3. It is important to note there are a few variations (Dark Rock 3, Pro 3, TF, and C1) . We’ll be looking at the first one.
As you might be able to tell from the names of the products, Dark Rock and Pure Rock have more in common than the manufacturer. The first part of the product name represents the “baseline of the quality pyramid” – CPU coolers containing Pure in their names are the low budget ones, the Shadow series is the most popular, or the mainstream, while the Dark series offers the highest quality products of the German outfit. Since we were pleased with the quality/price ratio of Pure Rock , we can’t wait to see how its big brother (Dark Rock) will perform. Let’s roll!
You can check the current price of bequiet! Dark Rock 3 here: http://amzn.to/1V1OzXa
In the box
Dark Rock’s box was considerably bigger than Pure Rock’s, which was to be expected considering the bigger overall size of the former. Nevertheless, the be quiet! style is there. We can once again see the cooler even before we lift the lid as it’s pictured on the front along with an inscription that reads “no compromise silence and performance” and max TDP of 190W (150W with the Pure Rock).
From the side, as with Pure Rock, you can find some more information about using the product, the warranty (again, 3 years) and what changes were made for an even quieter performance, all in several languages. Things look similar at the back: information about the base, what it’s made of, fan information and compatible motherboards. The only significant difference is in the front and top where we find a “Silent wings” inscription.
Once we open the box, we can see a more significant difference. The second lid, which covered the Pure Rock, is missing and is replaced by soft foam material that mostly covers the cooler – leaving visible only the “be quite” inscription in the middle. After you remove that, the whole base and the fan are visible, with the latter mounted to the radiator. There’s also a small box of the parts required for installing the Dark Rock 3 in our system. Also included is a manual, which can be useful if you are installing a CPU cooler for the first time. Two additional brackets are added if you want to install a second fan.
Design, construction and mounting components
The moment the Dark Rock 3 is out of its box, two major differences can be spotted – it is massive in comparison to the Pure Rock and it is almost completely black – it is called Dark after all. It measures at 160mm high, 137mm wide and 97mm long. That doesn’t include the installed fan (the length extends to 119mm with that). This means you can easily install Dark Rock if you have a standard case. The unit weights a ‘measly’ 976g. We’ll look into what the reasons for that are.
The first thing that gets your attention (except for the size and the weight) is the copper tubing responsible for collecting the heat from the CPU.
The unit has six copper tubes (four at the Pure Rock), with a diameter of 6mm, encased with aluminum in their upper section. Apart from these aluminum “caps”, the radiator and the upper matte black portion of the unit are also made out of the same material, which facilitates better heat conductivity and a lightweight construction.
The heat itself is dissipated thanks to the large number of ribs mounted to the 51 heat pipes. They look quite odd, but we will discuss that later. At the front, where the fan is, the CPU cooler is concave in the middle, while at the back the design line is a completely different story. This feature of Dark Rock 3’s construction increases air flow while reducing the noise (turbulence).
Some other interesting engineering thought, easily noticeable at first sight, can be seen in depressions at the bottom of every rib. This lowers the temperature even more without the need for more fans, which would inevitably increase the noise in your system. Removing the fan (which we will cover later) reveals a fantastic addition to Dark Rock 3. In order to reduce vibrations, be quiet! have added two rubber “fittings” in direct contact with the BQ SIW3-13525-MF-PWM fan.
The base itself, which makes contacts with the CPU, is also “reinforced” with ribs very similar to the older CPU coolers we used to have up till recently. The idea basically the same – dissipating heat with along the whole length, directly from the copper base. We can conclude that be quiet! have tried their best to construct the “block” without compromising in design – minimizing the nasty noise while maximizing air flow between the ribs.
As mentioned above, the model number of the fan, which is mounted directly, is SIW3-13525-MF-PWM. Its size is the nonstandard 135mm (120mm with Pure Rock) – we were expecting to see either 140mm or 120mm. Nevertheless, similarly to Pure Rock, its surface is uneven, which increases efficiency while decreasing max-load noise. Another similarity to the former is the simplicity – black matte finish, no lighting or other bells and whistles.
On 100% load, Silent Wings 4 works at 1400rpm and just 21.1 decibels. We can confirm these numbers, because we literally did not hear the fan during our tests. Something that we really loved was the fan power cable. Again, it’s 4 pin and and 220mm long, but the covering material very interesting to look at and touch. It’s stitching only adds to the style.
Moving on to the set of tools in the box – once again we’ve got numerous screws and nuts, used to install your Dark Rock 3 to the following platforms – 775, 115x, 1366, 2011(-3), 754, 939, 940, AM2(+), AM3(+), FM1, FM2(+) – as you can see it is compatible with almost every motherboard. We will take a thorough look at the installation process later on. For now, let’s focus on what is inside the three small plastic bags we found in the small cardboard box.
Of course, we have a back plate for all sockets, not including Intel’s 2011. In order to fix it to the back of the motherboard we have four plastic clips, which hold the four longer screws in place. Additionally, we have two short and two longer planks. The former come into use only if you have an AMD motherboard, while the latter are for Intel motherboards.
The four screws that come with the four nuts are required when installing Dark Rock 3 on Intel motherboards. To make things a bit easier for you, be quiet! have have kindly provided a neat screwdriver. And, of course, there’s also some thermal paste for your CPU.
The screws, which can be screwed in from the both sides, are meant for 2011 socket only. As we mentioned earlier, you get a pair of brackets if you need to add another fan. The smallest screws will come into use when you install the aforementioned planks to the cooler.
Dark Rock 3 specs sheet
|Supported AMD sockets||AMD 754 / 939 / 940 / AM2(+) / AM3(+) / FM1 / FM2(+)|
|Supported Intel sockets||LGA 775 / 115x / 1366 / 2011(-3) Square ILM|
|Average noise level||8.4 / 13.6 / 21.1 dB at 50 / 75 / 100% load|
|Body materials||Copper/Aluminum (base/ribs)|
|Number of heat pipes||6 copper heat pipes (0.6 mm diameter)|
|Speed and connectivity of the fan||1400 rpm/ 4-pin slot|
|Sizes||97 width x 137 length x 160 height (w/o fan)|
|Weight||0.976 kg (with fan)|
Installing Dark Rock 3
The installation process of this CPU cooler slightly deviates from the standard. We recommend starting with the CPU cooler itself and installing it to the motherboard at the end. As we have an ASRock Z170 OC Formula motherboard, we had to use almost all of the included materials, except for the four double-sided screws and the smaller planks, which come in hand when using AMD motherboards. Let’s begin!<
Preparing the planks for mounting to the CPU cooler
The first thing to do after unwrapping Dark Rock 3 and its installation materials is to mount the two planks directly to the CPU cooler. To do so – get the four screws with the nuts, the cooler itself, the planks and the included screwdriver. The first step is to prepare the planks by screwing two by two screws on each plank and tightening them with the nuts and the screwdriver.
Installing the planks to the cooling base
After you have tightened up the screws and the nuts, you can continue installing the planks to the cooler. During the installation, you will need the four smallest screws to fix the planks to the base. Bear in mind that the bent part of the end planks should point towards you, otherwise you will not be able to fix the CPU cooler to the processor. After that, you just have to tighten the screws with a phillips-head screwdriver.
Installing the back plate
Once you’ve completed the first two steps, you should have a base ready to install on the motherboard. Before you reach the finish line, you should prepare the bigger part of the package – the back plate. For this you will need the longest four screws, the back plate itself and the plastic clips, which will fix the screws in place and protect the motherboard from scratches. First, put the four screws into the second slot of the back plate (it is for 115X sockets). After that attach the back plate to the back of the motherboard, where the four screw openings are located, and put one plastic clip on the inner side of every screw.
Installing Dark Rock 3
Finally, it is time to put it all together. The installation process is not hard at all. After the back plate is fixed in place and CPU cooler itself is ready, all that is needed is to just put the two parts together. We would advise that you detach the fan beforehand, as it is secured to aluminum ribs by default. And don’t forget to put on the thermal paste (included in the package).
The second and final step is to carefully place the CPU cooler, so that the screws (the ones you fixed earlier in the installation process of the back plate) fit into into the nuts we used to tighten the shorter screws, while we were preparing the planks. All that is left is to screw together the two parts and Dark Rock 3 is ready. Of course, do not forget the fan in case you have removed it for easier installation.
As we already know, to find out how effective a CPU cooler is, we have to load the CPU at its maximum (we have an Intel Core i7-6700K for the purposes of this review) in order to produce heat and see how well Dark Rock 3 handles it. Again, our configuration includes a GTX 980, which will increase the heat overall during the tests. The photos you can see here were taken immediately after finishing each benchmark. While idling, the CPU temperature was 25°C. Let’s see how this will change in various the various trials we put the processor through.
Cinebench 11 and R15
Software we’re familiar with – they determine the performance of a processing unit by rendering various images. You can see how Dark Rock 3 and Intel Core i7-6700K performed here:
Fritz is a benchmark that measures performance in terms of chess moves. Intel Core i7-6700K managed 16.838 million moves per second. One of the most powerful computers in the world, Deep(er) Blue, was capable of 200 million moves per second in 1997 when is beat the world champion Garry Kasparov with 3.5 to 2.5.
A cross-platform benchmark test that loads the processor with MD5 cashing. It also issues floating point and integer calculation to the processor. Intel Core i7-6700K scored 1015 points.
Prime95 is an application which loads the CPU to 100% and can be left running for hours, as its main purpose is to test the processor for instability. We had no problems overclocking (you will see that later on) – the temperatures in our one hour test held around 77°C, four degrees lower when compared to Pure Rock’s results.
After running Prime95, we determined that the CPU is far from its thermal limit. So, we decided to increase the frequency, which inevitably increases heat. Here are the results:
Overclock results and comparison
|Prime||77 degrees||77 degrees||No difference in the temperatures|
The results Dark Rock 3 achieved, in the CPU tests leave us more than happy, that’s why we added a GPU, as our system is as quiet as possible. We have just one 120 mm fan in the case, which blows the heat out, in order to increase the heat in the case and determine if that affects Dark Rock 3. Test are conducted at base and at oveclocked frequency.
A software package that include several tests, runs for around 50 minutes, intermittently loading both CPU and GPU. That is facilitated by calling on several different tasks such as surfing the Web, video calls, photos processing, as well as gaming.
One of the most challenging GPU benchmark. The application is an extremely good choice if you want to put your graphics solution to the ultimate test. Maxing out the video at 100% for prolonged periods is a sure way of finding out how the heated air in the case influences the Dark Rock 3.
We choose that particular game because we can max out the graphics and find out the FPS we get from the game’s integrated benchmark test, as well as the temperature values it gives for the GPU and CPU.
Dark Rock 3 – an exceptionally good choice, which makes no compromises when cooling high class processors. Even though the frequency was bumped up to 4.4GHz, the temperature did not rise at all and stayed at the 77°C mark. That’s great news for those of you who own an unlocked CPU, high-end motherboards and enough patience for all the stability tests, which are, after all, of extreme importance for this task. Something else that makes an impression is the extreme silence in which the fan operates while cooling the system. Due to the added rubber lining and its construction, if you want to hear Dark Rock 3, you have to be right next to it – no, not the PC case, the cooler itself! Extremely valuable in offices where noise pollution is problematic. The installation process is fairly simple, even though it might seem odd at first. During the installation to the ASRock Z170 OC Formula we did not encounter any difficulties and Dark Rock 3 was fully functional in no time.
We ran into the same RAM problem as we did with Pure Rock – the cooler interferes with the first RAM slot. In order to deal with that you have to put the fan the other way around. If you plan to install it in its original form, you will need to free the first RAM slot. Dark Rock 3 has the option accepting a second 120mm. fan, which is an advantage for users with free slots who want additional fans (apart from Silent Wing 3). We give it a 9.5 out of 10 – we knocked off half a point because of the issues you’ll have when you want to use two fans or all or your RAM slots.
You can check the current price of bequiet! Dark Rock 3 here: http://amzn.to/1V1OzXa