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be quiet! Dark Rock 3 Review

red454    -   June 26, 2014
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be quiet! Dark Rock 3 Closer Look:

The Dark Rock 3 is a single-tower cooler using a single 140mm 4-pin SilentWings® PWM fan to provide the airflow. Socket compatibility includes all of the most recent sockets from AMD: 754 / 939 / 940 / AM2(+) / AM3(+) / FM1 / FM2 and Intel: LGA 775 / 1150 / 1155 / 1156 / 1366 / 2011. Measuring 97 x 137 x 160mm in size, it is more of an average-sized cooling solution, and should easily fit into a mid-tower chassis. At 2.14 pounds, the Dark Rock 3 is no lightweight and probably won't make it into your LAN rig. But on the positive side, it should have the mass to deliver on that 190W rating. On top, you will notice the brushed aluminum top cover with a nice high-grade, diamond-cut finish.

Removing the PWM fan (bottom two pictures), you get to the bare essentials of the Dark Rock 3. It is a large single-tower cooler that uses a rectangular vertical fin stack connected to six 6mm heat pipes that pass through the contact plate of the copper base and up through the 51 dark nickel-plated aluminum fins. Each fin on the front face has sawtooth edges that taper in slightly at the middle. Without the fan, the dimensions shrink to 73 x 132 x 160mm. The rear fin edges depart from the sawtooth style and switch to a series of alternating notches and protrusions.

 

 

 

 

 

  

  

 

The CNC-machined, nickel-plated base comes covered from the factory with a vinyl warning decal that protects the surface during shipping. Of course you need to peel this cover off before installation, as it is necessary for optimal contact and thermal transfer. Another feature to point out is that be quiet! has taken advantage of some available space and added a secondary set of cooling fins extruded from the top of the base. This should certainly assist with directing heat away from your CPU.  You can also see the dimples on each fin that be quiet! claims to "increase air circulation and contribute to high convection efficiency without raising overall noise."

 

 


Before you can mount the cooler to your motherboard, you have to install the side mounting brackets. There is one set for an AMD install and a separate set for an Intel install.  Each bracket has two countersunk holes for the screws. The countersink is only on one side, so you can only install the brackets one way.  There are no machining marks evident on the base. In fact, it is polished to a mirror finish. Bonus points if you can spot the OCC logo!

    

 

So let's talk about the fan. It doesn't matter how great your fin stack is if you can't move any air through it. Be quiet! ensures that there is indeed plenty of air flow by using one of its high-end SilentWings® PWM fans. One thing you will notice right away is that the nine SilentWings® PWM fan blades use an airflow-optimized design to reduce air turbulence and improve noise characteristics. This 140mm PWM fan uses an innovative 6-pole motor, along with a dynamically-balanced impeller, and is rated up to 1400 RPM. The pressure rating on the fan is  2.1 mm H2O and maximum noise is at a low 21.1dB(A), even at 100% PWM function.

The Fluid Dynamic Bearing (FDB) utilizes a copper core and is used to help provide stability and improved airflow. In essence, this is a bearing with a dynamic oil film. The lines on the inside diameter of the FDB feature a v-shaped profile. The oil circulates as the axis rotates, creating sufficiently high oil pressure at the defined points between the bearing and the shaft face so that they do not make any contact. This reduces friction, resulting in less thermal energy generated along with longer-lived and quieter bearings. The bearing that be quiet! uses is patented by Matsushita (Panasonic).

 

 

The fan uses a decoupled fan mount with vibration-isolating elements on the heat sink to control vibration. Here along the right edge you can see the long, narrow, rubber isolator strip that runs along both sides of the fin stack. Clearly be quiet! has put a lot of effort into keeping noise and vibration to a minimum.

 

Installing this cooler into a chassis and onto a motherboard takes a little more effort than it looks due to the fixed mounting brackets and a rather interesting mounting system that uses a very robust backing plate. There are four plastic e-clips that secure the screws that slip through the backing plate and motherboard PCB. After the e-clips are on, there are four internally and externally threaded studs that are installed over the mounting screws. These serve as a base for the cooler to mount. Once tightened up by bottoming the screws out until they seat fully, it is going nowhere. And here is where any large cooling solution can get interesting. It is not surprising that memory clearance may be questionable.

  

 

Finally, you install the four nuts to secure the cooler base to the PCB. If you are starting with a fresh build, then you won't really have any issues. If you are adding this cooler to an existing system, you will likely need to remove all your RAM modules and the GPU for clearance of the little wrench we talked about earlier. You really need the space for access to the fasteners and I highly recommend you lay your system flat during the installation. Here I have the cooler installed without the fan so you can see the clearance, particularly next to the RAM slots. The fin stack easily clears the RAM slots.

  

 

The fan sits right above the first RAM slot. Since I don't use that slot in my test system, I can mount the fan in line with the rest of the cooler - as it comes from the factory. The second slot has my first RAM module and the module does protrude in front of the fan, but just a little. I could easily move the fan up slightly if this bothered me. If you populate all of your slots or use RAM with tall heat spreaders, you will have to move the fan up; and how far up will of couse be determine by the height of your RAM.

  




  1. be quiet! Dark Rock 3: Introduction & Closer Look
  2. be quiet! Dark Rock 3: Closer Look (Continued)
  3. be quiet! Dark Rock 3: Specifications & Features
  4. be quiet! Dark Rock 3 Testing: Setup & Results
  5. be quiet! Dark Rock 3: Conclusion
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