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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  • Narcissist - Tuesday, July 14, 2015 - link

    I fully agree with the Oxford Guy. I've got a NoFan CR-95C cooling my non-OC i7 4790K. This in conjuction with a couple of M.2 SSD-units, a passively cooled PSU and a passively cooled graphics card makes for a 100% quiet and rather powerful computer. To be on the safe side I've added a Noctua D14 which is configured to force air across all components when the motherboard temperature gets over 50 degC. I is almost never active, though. I've run the Prime95 "Torture Test" for prolonged periods but the CPU-temp consistently stays below 70 degC. In my opinion the NoFan unit is doing a splendid job, although at a price.
  • Sivar - Friday, February 5, 2016 - link

    Listen to Oxford Guy. I've used three NoFan models and they all work amazingly long as your CPU's power consumption stays under 100W. If you use a 6- or 8- core i7, or if you overclock enough to hit the 100W envelope, fanless is not for you.
    Note that NoFan coolers benefit only slightly when a fan is used. They are truly built as fanless coolers from the ground up.
  • lagittaja - Monday, July 20, 2015 - link

    My HTPC has a G2120 with NH-U12P, HD5670 with Accelero S1r2, 64GB Samsung 830 + 1TB WD Black along with 80+ Plat 400W fanless PSU. Inside Lian Li A05N.
    Only fans being filtered intake Gentle Typhoon @~600rpm and exhaust Slip Stream ~400rpm.

    Pretty overkill cooling wise. Could drop the fan speeds even further..
    To answer your question, yes it can easily handle it provided there's a teeny weeny bit of airflow in the case.

    Work rig has a HR-02 Macho with 800rpm Slip Stream cooling a 3770K@4.7Ghz/1.336V. Could run it fanless if I'd drop the clocks to say 4.3/1.1 or so..
  • Cvengr - Friday, December 25, 2015 - link

    It would simply be the ratio of surface area of the fins to the surface area of the top of the CPU making contact with the heat collector. The fans merely dissipate the heat more quickly over the same area.

    The advantage of the fans are to transfer the heat by convection to the outer environment more quickly than allowing the heat to build up closer to other components in the system.

    If designed for heat transfer, the other components are likely to have been designed assuming an ambient temperature at a particular max level, say 100-130degF. As the delta Temp between the environment and the part generating the heat will increase, so will the heat flow by conduction.

    Intent is to draw the heat as far away from the components as possible.

    One problem in these designs is to get the heat away from the CPU, as well as the Motherboard components, as well as other components in the case, so the interior case temperatures don't approach the environmental max design temps of those components.

    A disadvantage in building by components, is that the component manufacturers are likely to only design for their particular component or one they support.

    A common problem in Data Centers is how to remove all the heat from the racks and equipment within them. ANSI/TIA 942 stds go a long way to coordinate between disciplines and trades to effect proper HVAC in the server areas, but even within the racks and cabinets, too many designs limit themselves to providing a temperature set point at different areas in the room, but fail to flow adequate air over the equipment to transfer the heat away from the local electronics environments.

    Computer Room Air Conditioners (CRAC) units are notorious for being installed to remove heat, but fail to provide adequate ventilation (air movement) within the computer rooms.

    Since most of the CRAC units use split systems (condensate lines in 1/2" copper tubing running through the wall to a condenser outside the building), The natural trend would be to incorporate a small heat exchanger using a CPU water cooling fluid as the secondary, and the chilled water from the condensate of a HVAC system as the primary chilled water to remove the heat.

    I haven't shopped the Enterprise level systems. I wonder if such systems are commodities.
  • sjakti - Monday, July 6, 2015 - link

    Interesting article, thank you! I especially appreciate the "Quick Conclusions", that's a great table.
  • Shadow7037932 - Monday, July 6, 2015 - link

    I wish you guys had included the Hyper 212+/EVO in the review as the base comparison.
  • zodiacfml - Monday, July 6, 2015 - link

    True. It should be the default heatsink to compare with. Now that majority of Intel's CPUs become low power and efficient, these dual tower designs seem overkill except for the unlocked multiplier overclocker or fanless PCs.
  • Achaios - Monday, July 6, 2015 - link

    Obsession with CM Hyper 212 EVO "Hypertwohundredtwelvetitis" is a disease also prevalent in People go berserk over the 212, almost as if they have been mass brainwashed or mass hypnotized. To my best understanding, this mass hysteria is due to the fact that cheap "enthusiasts" may save up to the hugely important sum of $9.99 if they go with the 212 compared to other coolers for the wondrous performance gain of 0.8 Celsius. In other words, the mass hysteria with the 212 is because if you go with the 212, you will save enough money in the end to buy a pack of cigarettes and a can of beer.
  • Nagorak - Monday, July 6, 2015 - link

    Well every little bit counts, and to be honest I can understand why people would not want to spend $70-$80 on a heatsink. Getting a decent heatsink for $30-$40 makes sense for a lot of people. However, if you consider wasting money buying cigarettes to be reasonable, I can understand why you wouldn't put much stock in saving a few bucks.
  • Achaios - Monday, July 6, 2015 - link

    Given how many overclockers and enthusiasts actually use the CM Hyper Evo 212 in their rigs (as eveidenced at I think that Zodiacfml's suggestion of the CM hyper Evo 212 being used as a baseline cooler is a good one and I recommend the OP to take it.

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