be quiet! Dark Rock Pro 2 Review

ccokeman - 2013-02-21 17:13:42 in CPU Cooling
Category: CPU Cooling
Reviewed by: ccokeman   
Reviewed on: June 30, 2013
Price: $98

be quiet! Dark Rock Pro 2 Introduction:

Overclocking your CPU is going to require a robust cooling solution to keep up with the Joneses, especially with the latest processors from Intel and AMD that have made warm the operative word. You can always choose from a good, solid air cooled solution or one of the myriad self contained liquid coolers on the market. If sticking with air cooling, more than likely you will end up with a cooler that is louder than a liquid solution just due to the fact that the larger volume of air needed to deliver excellent thermals is going to be higher. We have looked at low noise solutions from Noctua and Phanteks, and have been duly impressed by both companies' offerings. As a low noise cooling solution the bq quiet! Dark Rock Pro 2 should compare well against its competitors.

Be quiet! is a company well known outside the US but are pushing into the US market with its full line of power supplies and high end air cooling solutions, including the Dark Rock and Shadow Rock product lines. The German engineered Dark Rock Pro 2 is be quiet!'s halo cooling solution, featuring a dark nickel coating and 220 watts of thermal capacity; well above the stock TDP of the latest chips. However stock is not where we like to play at so we will have to see just how well it handles an overclocked load. Using a dual tower, dual cooling fan combination, the Dark Rock Pro 2 should provide excellent thermal characteristic without a noise penalty. Be quiet!, as the name suggests, is going to be a low/no noise cooling solution, so let's see how well it can handle the load.

be quiet! Dark Rock Pro 2 Closer Look:

The packaging for the be quiet! Dark Rock Pro 2 fits the name of the cooler, with a black background showing the cooler front and center on the front panel. At the top left we see that it supports Intel socket 2011 systems and includes fans using be quiet!'s SilentWings technology. Under the image is the name of cooler "Dark Rock Pro 2" and that this cooler can manage a 220W thermal load. The back side of the package has a technical drawing of the cooler, the specifications, and descriptions of the pertinent features, such as the aluminum top plate and SilentWing fans. Inside the box the cooler is secured in open cell foam blocks to prevent damage to the large dual fin arrays.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Once everything is laid out you can see how expansive the accessory bundle is. To start with you get the cooler that presents a stunning image. Then the bundle follows offering support for the latest CPU sockets from Intel and AMD. A large black back plate is used to support the weight of the Dark Rock Pro 2.

 

 

The first look is intriguing so let's dig a little deeper into what be quiet! has put together.

be quiet! Dark Rock Pro 2 Closer Look:

The Dark Rock Pro 2 is a dual tower design cooler built as much for functions as it is looks. A pair of Silent Wings PWM  fans are used to provide the airflow for this high end cooler, one 120mm on the outside and one 135mm riding in between the towers. 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, to ensure the largest possible audience for this design. The Dark Rock Pro 2 gets the "Dark" part of its name from the dark nickel finish that covers all of the exposed surfaces. Measuring 147 x 138 x 166mm in size, it is in no way a small or average sized cooling solution but still should fit into a mid tower chassis. At 2.75 pounds the Dark Rock Pro 2 is no light weight and most likely will not make it into your LAN rig. On the positive side it should have the mass to deliver on that 220W rating.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Stripping out the SilentWIngs PWM fans fans you get to the bare essentials of the Dark Rock Pro 2. It is a large tower-style cooler that uses two equal sized towers connected to seven 6mm heat pipes that pass through the contact plate of the copper base and up through the 44 nickel plated aluminum fins of each tower. Stripping the fans off shrinks the dimensions to 133 x 124 x 166mm and, depending on your processor, running passively might be a reality with the lower TDP parts.

 

 

The top plate on the cooler is decorative but functions to contain the airflow in the fin array as well as cover up the tops of what unquestionably is the worst looking part of any tower design, the tips of the heat pipes. The CNC machined nickel plated base comes covered from the factory with a vinyl warning decal that protects the surface during shipping. Removing this cover before installation is necessary for optimal contact and thermal transfer. Light machining marks are evident on the base but after seeing little to no impact with other competing solutions the base shape is more important than the surface prep. Cramming seven heat pipes into the copper base seems to create a tight fit but be quiet! manages to make it work with what looks like some solder coming out of the junction of the block and pipe interface.

 

 

 

Something not evident in the earlier pictures of the tower is the configuration of the fin array. Each intake side of the fins is sloped inwards with small notches cut into the face of each fin to add surface area for improved cooling. The output side of the array is smooth to keep airflow moving. When you look at the fit and finish, be quiet!'s process to cover the Dark Rock Pro 2 in a dark nickel coating seems to work well with even coverage over the entire heat sink. On each side of the towers are directional notches that run the full height of the cooler to mount the SilentWIngs PWM fans.

 

 

Managing the noise level and airflow through the Dark Rock Pro 2 are a pair of SilentWings PWM fans from be quiet!. Unequal sized fans are used to get the best fit and airflow performance through the fin array. Using a smaller 120mm fan on the intake increases the ability of the end user to use taller memory modules and regain the ability to use all of the DIMM slots. The 120mm fan is part number BQT B12025-MF-PWM and is rated up to 1700RPM using 12v. The 135mm fan used in between the towers carries part number BQT B13525-MF-PWM and is rated up to 1500RPM using 12v. The pressure rating on each of the fans is rated at 0.81mm H2O with each pushing in the neighborhood of 60 CFM. A fluid dynamic bearing assembly is used to help provide stability and improved airflow while keeping the noise levels to a dead silent 15.8 dBA. What you will notice right away is that the fan blades use an airflow optimized design to reduce air turbulence and improve noise characteristics. Around the rim of each fan is a rubber isolator used to reduce noise since quiet cooling is essential for the branding. A built in jumper is used to connect the two fans together for use with one PWM fan header on the installed motherboard.

 

 

 

Putting this beast of a cooler into a chassis and onto a motherboard is much simpler than it looks due to the fixed mounting brackets and interesting mounting system that uses a very robust backing plate using a plastic e-clip to hold the screws onto the mounting screws that slip through the backing plate and motherboard PCB. Once tightened up by bottoming the screws out until they seat fully, it is going nowhere. Here is where a large cooling solution can get interesting. Memory compatibility is going to be tight any way you look at it so modules such as my Mushkin Redline equiped with Ridgeback heat spreaders would not fit but the same modules with Frostbyte heat shield allow all four DIMM slots to be populated. After the testing was completed I wanted to see the contact pattern of the TIM interface and was quite surprised at how well the TIM spread and the contact pattern it delivered.

 

 

 

The Dark Rock Pro 2 is well put together and delivers excellent thermal capacity. Again let's see just how well it handles a load.

be quiet! Dark Rock Pro 2 Specifications:

Overall dimensions without mounting material (L x W x H), (mm)
147 x 138 x 166
Total weight (kg)
1.25
TDP (W)
220
LGA1150 ready
?
Socket compatibility
Intel: LGA 775 / 1150 / 1155 / 1156 / 1366 / 2011
AMD: 754 / 939 / 940 / AM2(+) / AM3 (+) / FM1 / FM2
Backplate Mounting
?
Fan model, number
1 x SilentWings PWM 120mm, 1 x SilentWings PWM 135mm
Anti vibration fan fixing
-
Overall noise level (dB(A)) @ 900/1250/100% (rpm)
13.50 / 19.80 / 26.40

 

be quiet! Dark Rock Pro 2 Features:



 

All information courtesy of be quiet! @ http://www.bequiet.com/en/cpucooler/309

be quiet! Dark Rock Pro 2 Testing:

Testing of be quiet!s enthusiast grade dual tower cooler the Dark Rock Pro 2, will be accomplished installing the cooler into the test system mounted into a case, not a test bench. Most systems are built and mounted into a sealed (relatively) chassis, so this method will be used to generate the load and idle results to give a real world view as to what kind of cooling performance one can expect, based on the test system listed below. Of course, your results may vary, due to case design and ambient air temperature by several degrees. The CPU load is generated by Prime 95 version 27.7 for a period of two hours, with a cool down period of one hour, after the computer has returned to an idle state. Real Temp 3.70 is used to log the temperatures over the time frame with the highest and lowest averages across the four cores of the Core i7 2600K test CPU. Ambient temperatures are kept at 24 °C throughout the testing to minimize the impact of a variable temperature. Each cooler is tested with the manufacturer supplied thermal compound as delivered. Many of us have our own TIM favorites, but for the end-user without a half dozen tubes of thermal paste laying around, the supplied TIM will have to do and is how these coolers will be tested.

Testing Setup:

 

Comparison Coolers:






 

   

 

   

 

The idle temperatures delivered by the Dark Rock Pro 2 were consistent with my expectations at both stock and overclocked settings, keeping the Core i7 2600K at 26 °C. Looking at the load temperatures the Dark Rock Pro 2 performs well keeping temperatures below 50 °C when run at stock speeds and below 70 °C when overclocked, putting it in some elite company. What stands out even more than the cooling is the lack of noise emanating from the chassis. The case fans are noisier than the heat sink and from two to three feet away you do not hear either, delivering the ultimate in cooling and quiet!

be quiet! Dark Rock Pro 2 Conclusion:

Looking at the be quiet! Dark Rock Pro 2, it presents an imposing stance with its massive dual tower design and black out color scheme. Just from a looks standpoint the Dark Rock Pro 2 is as good looking a CPU cooler as you will find on the market. The top of each of the seven heat pipes are capped with a cover to eliminate the crimped and soldered ends of the heat pipes that invariably stick up from the top of most of the current generation heat pipe-equipped cooling solutions. If you have a chassis with a windowed side panel the view is improved drastically.

Looks are one thing, but when you get down to it a heat sink needs to do one thing really well, dissipate the thermal load generated by the processor and discharge it out into the case airflow to be carried out of the chassis by the case fans. This the Dark Rock Pro 2 does well. The current crop of heavy hitter CPUs from AMD are in the 125 to 130 watt TDP range at stock speeds. We all know this tends to skyrocket as additional voltage is added to stabilize the target clock speed on the CPU. Be quiet!'s Dark Rock Pro 2 comes with a massive 220W capacity to deliver a solution that can keep up with today's CPUs. Again it does this without the noise impact of many high end air cooling solutions, keeping temperatures better than just about every heat sink I have tested with cooling performance bordering on the thermals delivered by some high end self-contained liquid cooling solutions.

Installing the be quiet! Dark Rock Pro 2 is fairly simple for a large by huge dual tower heat sink. The robust back plate is insulated and can be used with all the socket types supported, including those from AMD as well as Intel. I have seen a myriad of mounting solutions and this one is a little bit unique in that it uses spacers to clip on the mounting screws to hold them in place during installation. The clips also act as the spacer so that you get a good repeatable solid mount rather than having to guess if you got the tension on the CPU correct. Once installed it is not going anywhere. The two SilentWings PWM fans are staggered with a 120mm on the front with a 135mm fan used between the towers to help with memory compatibility. Unfortunately my Mushkin test memory feature the Ridgeback heat shields that are just tall enough to create a clearance concern. Putting in a set equipped with the lower profile Frostbyte heat shield eliminates the installation concern, allowing the user to populate all of the DIMM slots. You may see different results depending on the motherboard and DRAM modules used depending on the slot and socket placement on the PCB.

Be quiet!'s SilentWings PWM fans feature a unique wave pattern that is said to reduce turbulence and the associated noise signature to deliver superb cooling and a low noise profile. In my testing the fans were inaudible, leading me to verify they were running before throwing a Prime 95 load on the Dark Rock Pro 2. Each fan features a rubber ring around the circumference of the air tunnel that isolates the fan to further reduce the noise signature. All in the name of quiet performance.

Be quiet! provides the user with a three-year warranty to go along with the stunningly good looks and impressive engineering behind the performance. Priced at around $100, it is at the upper end of the spectrum but has the performance and engineering to back it up, much like a few of the other leading dual tower designs on the market. If water cooling is outside your comfort zone the Dark Rock Pro 2 should be able to handle the load.

 

Pros:

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