I was just introduced to be quiet! when they sent me the Dark Rock 2 CPU cooler that we just recently tested and might I say it is a strong contender to the already full market of tower CPU coolers. It came with a great design that incorporated great aesthetic appeal, really good performance and most of all it does all that while adding virtually no noise to the environment even with the fans at full speed. In all honesty, what was not to like? The numbers were good, the audio results were terrific and the Dark Rock 2 is all black, the fans, the edges of the fins, the top plate, it all went together to make for a really impressive submission.
With a better idea of what be quiet is capable of with a single tower design, the fact that I now have their dual-tower design makes me all warm and fuzzy inside. Even though the naming is similar, there is no mistaking this latest sample with the Dark Rock 2 we just looked at recently.
While it keeps a lot of the components that made me like the first cooler from be quiet like the all black theme, the SilentWings Fan and this time there are two and they even added another heat pipe to help this cooler do its job more efficiently than the Dark Rock 2.
The dual-tower design that we are going to be testing today is the Dark Rock Pro 2. Now I have tested just about every incarnation of this concept up to this point, so I already know the bar has been set pretty high as far as performance of these types of coolers go. On top of that, most of the dual-tower designs run 140mm fans to aid in dropping noise levels.
I know with a name like be quiet and with the results from the last sample we tested, they have a real handle on the sound levels that their coolers produce. The real question at this point is, are they too quiet to deliver the sort of performance "professional" users have come to expect from these dual-tower designs? Stick around and find out, you may be pleasantly surprised.
Specifications, Availability and Pricing
Let's start at the base of the Dark Rock Pro 2 and work out way up as we discuss what this cooler design is all about. The copper base into which the seven 6mm heat pipes get soldered is CNC machined to a very near mirror polish. Once the base and pipes are assembled they both receive dark nickel plating before assembly. Seven of these 14 pipe ends are press fit with a stack of 44 aluminum fins and then this process is repeated for the second section of fins in this dual-tower concept. To top off the cooler, a thick aluminum plate is screwed to the top fins and then gets anodized black and the company name applied in chromed letters.
More technically, this large cooler weighs in at 1.25 kilograms with both fans included in this measurement. Speaking of the fans, this cooler is shipped with Silent Wings fans. There is a 120mm version attached to the front that can spin at 1700 RPM delivering 57.2 CFM and 2.1mmH20 of static pressure to start the heat removal. Once the air has passed through the first tower it is then greeted by a 135mm fan that delivers a little less as far as rated speed, CFM and pressure. Both fans are PWM controlled and the 120mm fan has a daisy chain connector on it to allow the 135mm to use that connection as they both use the 120mm connection from the header on the motherboard to receive power and PWM controls.
As for the pricing and availability, well you still need to be on the other side of the pond from me to be able to appreciate or obtain a be quiet product. The MSRP of this Dark Rock Pro 2 was slated at £73, but I located it at Scan for £65 including VAT. For these who use the US dollar let me add some perspective; that is roughly $101.50 at the current exchange rate.
With that little bit of information explained, this is the most expensive dual-tower design I have yet to see or test. I had the original and just about every dual-tower design since. The bar is already set pretty high for this type of cooler; I just hope for the higher price, we are truly getting what we pay for here with the Dark Rock Pro 2.
The image of the Dark Rock Pro 2 takes center stage with information found on all sides. At the left are the notations of the inclusion of SilentWings fans and the LGA2011 hardware. At top right is the company name and at the bottom is information on this 220W TDP capable cooler.
Here be quiet covers where this cooler should be used, the silence, the high efficiency, the use of high-grade materials and that fact that this carries a three year warranty. At the bottom of this panel are a few awards that this series of coolers has won.
The top of the rear panel starts off with a statement from be quiet as to what makes them do what they do. Then you have drawings of the cooler from the front and the side with features pointed out. Then at the bottom is the list of specs for the Dark Rock Pro 2 and the included fans.
This side of the box offers the same information as did the opposite side, this time it is translated into French, Spanish and Polish.
When you first open the box, you have to poke in the two finger holds to remove the hardware box before we can slide out the cooler.
Although it is a little larger, the same high density foam is used to surround the cooler as we saw before with the Dark Rock 2, as well as the hardware box acting as the top padding in case anything was to poke through the box. This packaging was sufficient enough to make the journey from Germany to here and not have any damage whatsoever.
be quiet! Dark Rock Pro 2 CPU Cooler
From the front it seems the 120mm SilentWings fan selected to act as the main intake is a bit undersized. Compared to the 135mm on the Dark Rock 2, this doesn't seem to cover the fins near as well.
Looking from the side I see it was used to leave more room for the memory since the dual-tower design will use up a lot of room around the CPU socket region. After the first tower and before the second, a 135mm SilentWings fan is used to give air an extra push as it makes its way through both stacks of fins.
The exit side of the Dark Rock Pro 2 is flat and pretty plain. So instead I would rather point out that without a bit of creativity, you can't add a third fan; and did you get a look at all of those heat pipes?
The top has a similar cover to the Dark Rock 2, just this time it is slightly larger and has a different offset for the caps that cover where the seven heat pipes pass through each tower. As you can see they help keep the air in the middle of the cooler with the chevron pattern of the pipe layout.
The safety sticker is blocking the view a bit to actually see the solder bits as the pipes leave the base, but you can see that each fin uses a pressed on fit to secure the fins to the pipes.
The base is very flat and so smooth that I couldn't pick up on any milling marks. In fact the base on the Dark Rock Pro 2 seen here is much more level across the entire surface with very minimal deviation towards the extreme edge of this base. We saw a little deviation with the Dark Rock 2, but not here.
There is definitely some more hardware available to use with this cooler, but for my purposes I went ahead and installed the LGA1155/1156 brackets so that I am ready for the next stages of installation. Everything but the screwdriver is provided in the hardware kit to fit even some very old sockets right on up to the latest FM1 and LGA2011 motherboards.
With the fan removed you can see that the saw-toothed pattern isn't lost in this design. While the cut into the fins may not be as deep in the middle as we saw with the Dark Rock 2, both towers have this cut and any bit helps to disturb the air and make the air passing through pick up more heat.
Accessories and Documentation
The box we first saw when we opened the top of the packaging has a full assortment of hardware included. Also note that the box isn't all that full, so if the cooler was to get dropped, the hardware isn't going to be slamming into the cooler either.
In one bag you get the universal backplate that sits one way for Intel mounting and rotates 90 degrees to accommodate AMD boards. There is a syringe of thermal paste and a set of four screws for mounting the specific socket brackets to the cooler base.
In another bag comes all of the LGA2011 mounting hardware you will need with the Dark Rock Pro 2. On the left are four screws that secure into the socket. Then surrounding the wrench there are the brackets for this socket with the four nuts to secure the cooler shown on the right.
In the last bag found in the hardware box are the brackets for LGA775/1366 at the left, then the LGA 1155/1156 brackets, leaving the AMD brackets on the right. Above the AMD brackets are the black plastic spacers, while under them are the bolts used for all mounting other than LGA2011.
When you unfold the paper work you find the front will show a brief congratulations and that be quiet is ready for any questions or any support you may need with this cooler. Then it shows an image of the cooler and all the parts included with a checklist at the left to verify what each piece is for the later instructions. This is also a good time to check that you have all the pieces you need to continue.
On the back there are illustrations of the installation process for each socket type to get things started. At the bottom are more specific instructions that show how the backplate should be oriented and which holes to use for each socket.
Installation and Finished Product
Starting the installation you insert the long screws through the backplate and secure them temporarily in place with the spacers. The center of them is tight enough to "grab" the screws in order for them to stay put as you set the cooler down on top of them.
Behind the motherboard you have the backplate rotated to match the screws in the socket for my LGA1155 test motherboard. The screws have Phillip's heads and are secured to the cooler brackets by tightening these screws until they stop.
As you can see the Dark Rock Pro 2 CPU cooler is a big boy. It pretty much takes over the top of the motherboard from this angle, even though most of it is the perspective of this angle. I would think the name plate would look better rotated 90 degrees clockwise on this cooler, personally.
Using naked memory is not an issue at all with this cooler, I even was able to fit Ripjaws with no issue, but RAM with taller heat spreaders may cause issues depending on the layout of the motherboard you're using or if you have an LGA2011 with memory so close on both sides.
This is what I really liked about this design. Even though they had to go to a smaller 120mm fan on the front, it offers a lot more room to populate all four slots, even though my first slot is well under the fins of the cooler. The fan can also go up a little bit from where it is now to help out those with taller memory.
Here is one last look at the Dark Rock Pro 2 as I prepare to bring on the torture of the 2600K and see how well this cooler performs.
Test System Setup and Thermal Results
I would first like to thank HIS, GIGABYTE and InWin for supplying products for me to test with.
Testing for the CPU coolers is done with the use of RealTemp to ascertain temperatures, Intel Burn Test to deliver the load to the CPU and CPU-Z to verify the CPU speed and the voltage being used in Windows.
For the "stock" runs, it's more of a plug and play setup where the PWM of the motherboard is in control of the fans speeds for both the idle and load results. For the overclocked runs, I load the CPU at 4.5GHz and idle results are obtained with 7.5V to the fans while the load run is set to deliver 12V to the fans.
For the sound testing results, I obtain those while I am controlling the voltage at 7.5V and 12V as well. Sorry for the change in the charts again, but I got the full effect of AVX support and 104 G-flops now, so the older results don't directly apply to the results I get now.
The Dark Rock Pro 2 delivered really good results with both the stock clocks and the overclock applied to the processor. The added voltage made little difference to this cooler as the results show both of them were at 26 degrees while testing.
Look at that, it's a dead heat tie between this cooler and the Thermalright dual-tower concept. There are a couple of differences yet to cover, though. The Dark Rock Pro 2 is quieter, looks better on more builds in my opinion, but cost a bit more as well. Take a look at the audio results and I will work out the rest in the final thoughts.
Noise Level Results
With 7.5V passing through both the 135mm and the 120mm SilentWings fans, the noise levels were just slightly higher than what we saw in the Dark Rock 2. Considering there is more disturbance going on inside the cooler and the use of a 120mm fan in the mix, I say the 30 dB result is still very admirable and much better than most of the other dual-tower designs.
Once we turned it up to 12, volts that is, the fans still did their job without much intrusion to your ears. The 40 db rating only gets bested by the NZXT HAVIK 140 that beat it last round in the audio results. Once again, if you haven't looked at silent cooler offerings before, the levels here, or rather the lack of them is something that once you get used to; you will never understand why you dealt with all that noise in the first place.
There is no denying from anyone that this is one of the most silent coolers of this size to be tested by TweakTown, only the NZXT HAVIK 140 did better and just slightly. While we are on the subject, I may have first thought that the use of a 120MM fan on the front of the Dark Rock Pro 2 was a bit of a downgrade. In reality it was a well thought out design that allows for plenty of room for the memory and their heat spreaders under the fan. For such a large cooler, the room left under the Dark Rock Pro 2 is better than most dual-tower offerings as well. It's like everything I see is a one up on the rest of the competition. The easy to use hardware, the slick looking black aesthetics and the thermal and audio results are right on the money for what I personally want in an air cooler for my CPU.
The one aspect that this cooler looses hands down in is the pricing. I am basing this off of the converted rate and the US availability and against all of the other dual-tower offerings on the market currently. Not one of the solutions is currently demanding anything near $110; most notably, the Silver Arrow this cooler ran dead even with, you get the exact same thermal results and darn close audio results for about $23 cheaper, even the Phanteks that may completely match your theme better than just black can be had for the same difference. In the UK market, things are a bit closer though, so I would have to expect that if this cooler would come to the US, it would have to sell for considerably less than its current exchange rate to be effective in our market. In reality price is my only complaint and it is based on a guess of what it would sell for, not that it will sell for that if it were to come to the US market.
Throughout my entire time with this cooler, there wasn't anything that stands out as an obvious fault or oversight in this design. The Dark Rock Pro 2 is in fact a dual-tower design that can run with the big dogs and do it with very little noise being heard unless you like to game with your head in the chassis. In the UK market and priced at £65 at Scan currently, it's a great deal for what you receive. With almost all ATX motherboards being black in some major form, the all black choice of aesthetics and the use of aluminum top piece makes this cooler more elegant than any other solution I have seen.
Yet again, I am left wishing these were sent to the US market, as I really would love to tell all my friends to get one, but at this point it is more of a tease as I am one of the only ones state side who actually gets to enjoy the benefits of owning a be quite Dark Rock Pro 2 CPU cooler. For those of you on the right side of the Atlantic, I would seriously consider this cooler on any of my next builds, if you desire great performance with little to no noise to have to deal with.