In the quest for higher performance and higher overclocks, processors keep heating up our cases, and hardware manufacturers are always looking for new methods to keeping their products cool. And, with motherboard partners helping enthusiasts overclock so easily today, companies like be quiet! have their work seriously cut out for them. Their previous Dark Rock Pro and Pro 2 CPU coolers were very good contenders given their excellent quality. But like the reigning Noctua NH-D14 (and its successor, the NH-D15), their size can be intimidating for both installation and cost. The only evolutionary course of action is to focus completely on engineering better solutions, within the same or smaller spaces.
The be quiet! Dark Rock Pro 3 sheds a couple inches, adds some new curves, and reveals a hidden, polished, sexy side that increases TDP dissipation up to 250 Watts. Is this new cooler just a pretty face or does it really have some dark magic? Our many hours of testing with one of Intel's 6-core processors shall reveal that answer!
Features and Specifications
We originally saw this cooler at CES 2014, and it appears not much has changed since that initial reveal. Let's take this opportunity to recap some of the more notable features of the be quiet! Dark Rock Pro 3.
- Improved PWM Silent Wing fans for better air flow
- New double-tower layout sheds wait and optimizes surface cooling
- Includes fan clips for optional additional 120mm fan
- Seven high-performance heat pipes with copper lining and aluminum caps carry heat to the optimal location on the cooling fins, maximizing heat conductance
- 250W TDP cooling capacity
- New heat pipe design enhances cooling capability
- Compatibility with all current Intel® and AMD™ sockets/processors
- Dark nickel-plated heat sink and heat pipes
- Brushed aluminum top cover with high-grade diamond cut finish
- 3-year warranty
Updated SilentWing fans and heat sink stand offs result in virtually inaudible operation.
- Includes two SilentWings® PWM fans (front-120mm, inner-135mm) featuring copper core fluid dynamic bearing and balanced impeller provide optimal air flow
- Inner 135mm SilentWings® PWM fan features nine optimized fan blades and an innovative 6-pole motor for smoother operation and less vibration
- Rubber fan rails eliminate fan vibration
- Fan noise limited to 26.1dB(A) at 100% PWM function
Overall, we see more of a refinement than an overall redesign of the original, and retains much of what made the original cooler such a premium product. The be quiet! Dark Rock Pro 3 will also carry a high end price of around $99.99 USD at places like NCIX and NewEgg.
What's in the Box?
The Dark Rock Pro 3 bundle includes every screw, bolt, spacer, and nut needed to secure the heat sink properly. The back plate is just over 1/8 thick with insulated padding which keeps things from grounding and helps eliminate vibrations sent through the mounting screws. There are two small fan clips for mounting an optional 120mm fan. Since mixing fans isn't recommended due to varying air pressure and RPM speed, users will want to order one of the SilentWing 2 fans.
The manual is pretty detailed as well as thorough to assist installation. The direction images are a bit small and it wouldn't hurt to if they were increased in size for future prints.
Designed for Efficiency
There are three major upgrades that the be quiet! Dark Rock Pro 3 offers over the Dark Rock Pro 2. First, the top diamond cut cap now sports two contoured edges, with the center being slightly taller than the sides. It's quite possible that it helps to isolate air flow down the center better. Second, the heat pipes change position and are shaped to catch more cool air passing through. The SilentWings 2 fans drive the air through the cooler.
The final third change is the improvement to the contact surface, as it is much larger. The nickle plated base sports a mirror polished finish which increases surface contact area. For many manufacturers, this is often skipped, probably to keep costs down. However, for the very best heat transfer possible, every CPU cooler should have a very smooth base at the minimum. Polishing not only looks great but also provides the best cooling.
As for any additional fan updates like the "dotted" or "textured" fans over the previous versions, I can't see anything different. The fans look identical. If they were different, it would probably not create better air flow. In fact, it might only increase fan noise. Thus, it's great to see simple grooved fan blades that have worked so well for be quiet! continue on in the new cooler.