I am really torn with how to approach the end of this Shadow Rock 2 review. On one hand we have a cooler that is a delightful addition to any system at stock levels. In these conditions, this cooler from BeQuiet can easily handle the job at hand, and do it in near silence with the PWM in control of the fan for you. Even if you want to eliminate the PWM control and run this cooler at full blast, the slightly audible noise from the Shadow Rock 2 will easily be drowned out by a VGA cooler or even most case fans. In this respect, the Shadow Rock 2 is a very solid contender for your hard earned dollars.
There is just no way to ignore the performance of the Shadow Rock 2 when we applied the overclocked settings though, and this is where I have to start removing points from BeQuiet. I had really thought that I was running into an anomaly with the fact that I had the cooler oriented so that the fan was blowing across the pipes as they were standing one behind the other. When I spun the cooler 90 degrees, I found that in any of the three chassis orientations, I was still reaching the same average temperature. While anything under 85C is considered the "comfort zone" for air coolers and an overclocked Haswell processor, it is easy to see that you can easily find better performing solutions out there. If look at it in respect to the loudest cooler we tested, it is almost ten degrees better, and this is where you need to make the call of what value silence of the computer means to you. Are you willing to give up that much performance?
In other respects to the cooler, I did have the minor issue of the back plate not fitting, but that is more the fault of ASUS and the limited space that they offer with the Thermal Armor in place. After a bit of trimming to fit my motherboard, I found the hardware a bit funky to use. The way the clips go on the screws is fine by me, and I also didn't mind too much tightening the middle nuts to them. Where I had issue with this design is the fact that you have to hold the motherboard on edge with one hand, hold the cooler on the CPU with the other, and somehow still work your foot in there to be able to tighten it all together with the Phillips screw head of the screws going through the back plate, behind the motherboard. Even though I am not a contortionist, I did eventually find a way to precariously balance the motherboard and cooler on the edge of my desk, and was able to hold the wrench at the top, while spinning the screws from the back.
Even when you consider the pricing that is easily validated on the other side of the pond, and what is found on the internet about US pricing, the near $50 pricing is fair. As I said, BeQuiet seems to be seeing some anomalies in this cooler, so it may be that just the Haswell chips are doing this, while other CPUs are allowing for better results, at this point neither BeQuiet or myself have enough information to nail it down yet. Even though I expected the Shadow Rock 2 to be able to pull a little more weight in the overclocked tests, it still has merit as a great silent cooling solution at stock or slightly overclocked levels, this just isn't the air cooler you want to try and set any records with.
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