If we were to base our decision on the way the charts appear to show the Dark Rock 3 in a slightly bad light with their results being near the bottom of the charts, things would not go well for this cooler. The reality of it is, though, being within seven degrees of the best cooler that we have tested on this system is a serious feat. Considering there are much larger solutions, much more surface area in those designs, and also the fact that a high percentage of those coolers gave not one second of consideration for noise level, the Dark Rock 3 looks quite a bit better.
Considering we get very close to silent operation even when the fan is fully spooled, if we were to have used this inside of a closed steel or aluminum chassis, we would not even hear what we did coming from our open air test system. That is not to say the noise changes, but our ears would not perceive it nearly as much as when there is nothing to reflect or bounce that slight noise around first.
There are a lot of things we liked in this design over, say, the DRP3. For one, this Dark Rock 3 does not take up the majority of the top of the motherboard. In fact, it left us plenty of room to screw in the motherboard and did not conflict with the memory configuration we run. We loved that there is very little nose even if the thermal results suffered a bit as a result of making sure silence is first in the line of things this new cooler must be.
On the flip side of things, we feel this cooler should have done a little better with all the offsets in the fins, shaping of the fins, and dimples used to try to get the most out of the airflow. Also, if you plan to populate all of the DIMM slots, this may not be the cooler of choice, but it is more than capable of doing much better than the stock solution. For those not looking to keep their CPU at the bleeding edge of its overclock, the Dark Rock 3 is back in contention for your consideration, as the lack of noise delivered to the office can only be appreciated when you spend many hours next to the PC like we do and do not care for systems that you can hear in another room or that may interrupt your sleeping.
With what was a slightly complicated mounting system, once used with a smaller design such as the Dark Rock 3, we really lost all of the complaints and complications we brought forth with the DRP3. Are there better performing coolers on the market? Sure there are. In reality, only the Noctua NH-U12s on our charts even comes close in both areas, while all others that performed a few degrees better also come with much more noise associated with them to deliver those thermal results.
In the end, we find the pricing to be on point, the Dark Rock 3 to be capable of what it is meant to do, and the lack of noise is something you may just need to experience to appreciate, but we do feel that the Dark Rock 3 should get some very serious consideration for your next build if you are not pushing the CPU for the stars and are just tired of hearing that drone of fans in your office.
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