Introduction, Specifications, and Pricing
While we do try to get our mitts on just about anything that comes down the pipe, not only to keep our readers more informed of options but because we like to tinker with new stuff all of the time. However, there are times where we happen to miss a product here or there, and sadly, we did miss out on testing the predecessor of what we have in hand today. However, we looked back at the original and studied it to give ourselves a leg up on what is going on, and in doing so, hopefully, we can cover what has changed over the years and show you how it will improve things.
The Shadow Rock Slim name is nothing new, and even though as we type this, we are under NDA, you could have gone to the Be Quiet site and got a sneak peek of what we have. While very similar to the original, this new cooler did change four significant factors in an attempt to present us with an award-worthy solution for the masses. The visual styling of the fins has not changed, but a cleaner version of the top plate is now on offer. The original Shadow Rock Slim cooler came with a two-part base with encased heat pipes, and this time they are exposed. Since it has been a while, Be Quiet has updated its mounting hardware, and we get to take advantage of that. The last change is a new fan but seems similar to the original by speed, and we are interested to see how that pans out.
We know that the Shadow Rock name falls into the middle tier of Be Quiet cooling products just by the name alone. Still, we all know that midrange typically starts somewhere around $50 and can be as expensive as $100, depending on the company in question. The fact that we have in hand the new Shadow Rock Slim 2 CPU cooler from Be Quiet and the fact that it costs less than the price range we see all of the time has us a little more than interested to see what is to come. With less airflow than the original, many will think that looks and hardware are not enough to save this cooler, but we strongly urge you to read this cover to cover, as Be Quiet has a cooler on offer that is well worth the time to get to know.
Going by the specifications chart we found on the product page, we are first shown the 52mm thickness, the 130mm width, and the 161mm height of the tower, but this does not account for the fan. We then see that this tower has 52 fins, but it has to be a typo as our cooler has 53 fins all four times we counted them. These fins are made of aluminum, left in their natural state, and uses copper for the heat pipes, which are also left untouched. The base is also made of aluminum, where the pipes are exposed at the bottom for the heat pipe direct touch mentioned in the chart. There are four of them as to the heat pipes, and each is 6mm in diameter. Color is mentioned, which is silver, and we assume that it is directed at the color of the top plate on the tower, which is made of brushed aluminum. In another section of the product page is a mention of its 0.69 kg weight.
The fan that comes with the Shadow Rock 3 is a SilentWings 3 fan, which is 135mm in size, and sports a round frame and mid-frame positioned mounting holes. The fan is said to spin at 1400 RPM, with its 4-pole motor spinning on a rifle bearing. The 4-pin PWM connector powers this fan over the 12V rail sipping 0.11A at 1.32W. Lastly, we see that the fans cable is 220mm long and said to last for 80,000 hours at 25°C. Through other parts of the product page, we also found that the noise level tops out at 23.7 dB(A)
The last couple of things to note are taken from this chart and the product page. While it shows AMD and Intel support, a more thorough explanation is this. AM3, AM3+, and AM4 users are covered. Intel users can have LGA115x/1200, LGA2011, and LGA2011(-3), as well as LGA2066. For those wondering, even though the fan is rated to spin for nearly a decade, the warranty coverage is almost a third of that, where Be Quiet agrees to warranty this cooler for three years.
When it comes down to it, for most buyers, price is everything, especially for those on a tight budget. That being said, even the coolers mentioned everywhere on the internet, the Ninja 5, the 212 EVO in all forms, and the likes of the Freezer 33 and 34 coolers all have one thing in common. They are affordable by most standards. Mid-range coolers are the segment of this market that makes the world go around, and knowing this, Be Quiet enters with the Shadow Rock Slim 2 carrying an MSRP of just $45.90, competing head to head with all of what we mentioned. It is hard to stand out with a saturated segment like this, but Be Quiet intends to sway your opinion this time around.
Nothing is surprising with the packaging as Be Quiet sticks to the same matte black with a gray stripe we are used to seeing. With their name at the top in white and orange and the CPU cooler center stage, it leaves us with the cooler's name at the bottom and the notation in the gray stripe showing that this is a premium cooling solution.
The right side of the box starts with five lines explaining the Be Quiet mission in life just above the specifications chart, which differs slightly from what is shown online. Dimensions are indicated with the fan and clips taken into account, and the TDP is also displayed. Otherwise, it is the same information. If you missed it in the smaller specs chart, the TDP is again shown in much larger text to send home that 160W figure.
The back of the packaging took some heavy wear, as it was sitting flat against the bottom of the box it was shipped in, but the information is still clear to see. To the left is an image of the cooler, followed by a description of the compact design clearing RAM and fitting in smaller enclosures. On the right, we are much closer to the cooler in this image, and this is where the TDP is shown again and speaks of the 135mm fan that cools it. Across the bottom, we find compliances, a UL number, the address of Be Quiet, as well as the BK032 part number at the right.
On the last panel, the information offered is dialed back. At the top is a code that will take you to the product page on a mobile device, and the middle tells us that this is a CPU cooler in eleven languages.
When we initially opened the top of the box, we found a flap inside surrounding the top of the tower to hold it securely in place so that it did not wobble around and get banged up. Underneath that, we see that the hardware is shipped in a box behind the tower, and in front of the tower is a fan separated by a layer of dense foam. The base is protected with a cardboard insert that raises it off the floor, and a thicker piece of the same foam used with the fan rests under the cardboard, further ensures the base is not damaged. In this example, our cooler is in fine shape for upcoming images.
be quiet! Shadow Rock Slim 2 CPU Cooler
Looking at the face of the Shadow Rock Slim 2 cooler, starting at the base is a thick hunk of aluminum acting as a pre-cooler and cross-bar mounting location, with four copper pipes bent in two ways to enter the stack. It is there that the pipes run through fifty-three fins plus the thicker top plate before being capped with shiny covers.
The view from the side shows how slim this tower is and that it has a symmetrical shape which allows the same amount of clearance to both sides of the tower. The tower offers a saw tooth pattern down the side, with no accommodations to keep fin spacing in check but having a groove down the center for the fan hardware to clip into. Also, notice that the pipes are not running in a single line through the fins, as the bends outward have the pipes in two rows from this view, not from the front view as we typically see.
After checking that both profiles were identical, we laid down the cooler in its face and took a different perspective for this view. Now we can see that the fins are convex, leaving lots of space left, right, and center for the fan to build pressure. Also, with the pipes moved to the sides, the groove in the center can be more profound, allowing more airflow deeper into the tower for the second row of pipes.
Changing the angle for the side view shows off the sawtooth pattern Be Quiet opted for here in the Shadow Rock Slim 2. The center of the tower has a T-shaped groove to allow for the fan clip attachment, and it is the spacing of where the fins wrap the pipes that accounts for fin spacing.
We took this image for two reasons. The first was to show the press-fit of the fins to the heat pipes, which is standard fare for the market. The second reason was to help establish the contour of the fins, where Be Quiet has embossed a square on either half of the fins and even louvered the edge to help direct airflow and stir it up on its way through the tower.
The majority of the base of this tower is made from a hunk of aluminum that has been milled down into something with fourteen fins at the top, which are again milled out to allow for a cross-bar mounting system, which is designed to lock into grooves of the fins via tabs on the bottom of the cross-bar.
As we know, this is a direct touch base design, which like many others, uses the copper pipes as exposed parts of the mating surface of the base. Roughly three-quarters of the width of each heat pipe has minute gaps between the copper and the aluminum, but near the left and right sides, the gaps do widen. After assembly, the copper and aluminum are machined in a semicircular fashion, leaving the marks visible on this near-level base. Keep in mind; this is a departure from the solid base of the original.
Another departure from the original design is the new top plate. The original was dogbone-shaped, had a matte finish, and even had slots cut from it, but here we see a much slicker brushed aluminum top. The plate has been bent this time, while the original was flat, both use the same pipe tip covers, but the screw heads holding on the plate have been swapped from Allen screw to something removed with a tiny socket. Be Quiet also ensures to display their name in the center so that with one look into a system, there is no question of who made the cooler.
Accessories and Documentation
The hardware has changed vastly from the original Shadow Rock Slim, where now the Shadow Rock Slim 2 sports a polished backplate for use with mainstream Intel systems. To the left is a set of standoffs for mainstream Intel sockets, followed by a set of four standoffs for HEDT Intel users. The screws below are intended to be used with the backplate and the O-rings which lock them into it. Last, the standard-looking set of screws to mount the top brackets, seen at the right, to either set of standoffs.
As we found with the Intel hardware, kept in a bag to itself, we also found an AMD bag. In it, we found a pair of brackets that are secured to the motherboard. However, you will need the factory backplate, and by using the black plastic spacers, you take the provided screws and attach them to the motherboard. The thin washers are for AM3 users, where they are placed on the backplate before it is installed behind the motherboard, which is covered in the manual.
In the main bag that housed the Intel and AMD bags, floating freely are the universal bits of hardware. On the left is a tube of white paste that is good for two or three application attempts, and next to it is the cross-bar and the screws used to secure it to the various brackets. On the right are two sets of fan clips, one set more angled and shorter, the other longer and flatter. The instructions use the shorter set, and we can only guess the longer set is for aftermarket fans since the one in the box is only 22mm thick.
The fan we saw much earlier in the unboxing is a Silent Wings 3 fan, which can be gathered with the BQ SIW3-13525-MR-PWM product name. As the specification alluded to, this is a 12V DC fan that sips 0.4A to run at 1400 RPM, powered with a 4-pin PWM connector.
The manual is quite comprehensive, starting things off by thanking the customer and displays the three-year warranty coverage time immediately after. After that, we get a parts list to ensure we have what we need. What follows are three sections with renderings and descriptive text to get the most novice cooler installer through the process for HEDT Intel systems, mainstream Intel systems, or AM3(+) and AM4 users alike. Below the manual is an insert with warranty information, explaining what they cover. In the same eleven languages, we saw used on the packaging.
Installation and Finished Product
When it came to installing the Shadow Rock Slim 2, there were no surprises. We removed the factory top pieces of socket retention as well as the screws. Leaving the backplate in place, we then set the black plastic spacers over the threaded bits of the backplate, held the brackets in place, and secured it all with the provided screws from the box of hardware.
To get here, we did apply some thermal paste, and using the cross-bar and screws, we secured the cooler to the rest of the hardware and then clipped on the fan. At that point, we turned the motherboard to view the front of the Shadow Rock Slim 2, where we see a lot of that 135mm circular-framed SW3 fan, which does a fantastic job of covering the fin stack.
Clearance to our RAM is more than we typically see with coolers marketed to stay in their box if you will. Removing and replacing memory is easy to do with this tower in place, and the same sort of spacing is offered at the back, should you want a dual-fan powered Shadow Rock Slim 2 on your HEDT system.
As we widen the view to take it all in, you can see plenty of room behind the tower for access to the 8-pin, even if you were to opt for a second fan. With that in mind, you can see that even with a second fan, those systems with quad-channel setups can be confident that this cooler will not impose on your RAM choices.
With everything together and ready to be tested, we like the contrast of the brushed aluminum against all of the black components, and the cooler is close to matching the trim of our motherboard. While the cooler is symmetrical in shape and design, we oriented our tower so that one can read it correctly. We are clear to access the CPU power connections, and while close, the fan clips do not impede the first PCI-e slot.
Test System Setup, Thermal Tests, and Noise Results
Chad's CPU Cooler Test System Specifications
- Motherboard: ASUS ROG Crosshair VIII HERO [Wi-Fi] (AMD X570) - Buy from Amazon
- CPU: AMD Ryzen 5 3600X - Buy from Amazon
- Memory: Corsair Vengeance LPX 4000MHz 4X8GB
- Graphics Card: ASUS GeForce RTX 2060 6GB OC - Buy from Amazon
- Storage: Galax HOF Pro M.2 1TB SSD
- Case: Hydra Bench Standard
- Power Supply: ASUS ROG Thor 850W - Buy from Amazon
- OS: Microsoft Windows 10 Home 64-bit - Buy from Amazon
- Software: AMD Ryzen Master, AIDA64 Engineer 6.25.5400, and CPU-z 1.92.0 x64
To see our testing methodology and to find out what goes into making our charts, please refer to our 2020 CPU Cooler Testing and Methodology article for more information.
While closer to the end of the chart than the top of it, the 62-degree average is admirable. It runs with the Thermalright offerings and beats things like the Freezer 34 and the Ninja 5, yet it is not that far from some AIO results.
One degree warmer than smack in the middle of the pack is where the 68.7-degree average package temperature settles. Like the 212 EVO V2, just behind the NH-U12, and is ahead of the Freezer 34 and TA140. Again, for its size and the limits of the fan cooling it, we are kind of shocked it did this well.
Allowing the SW3 135mm fan to do what it can to deliver enough airflow and static pressure to give us our best result with this tower, we see that the average temperature was reduced by 3.4-degrees seeing that 65.3-degree result in this chart. Two quick points to make. We would run it like this all of the time, and we will explain why shortly. Second, it is better than some of the AIO temperatures, and it moves closer to many of the coveted cooling solutions out there.
Noise Level Results
After running the fans for a while, we settled in for testing and found our fan idled at around 550 RPM at 20 dB. However, when it came to the stock testing, the PWM fan curve pushed the SW3 fan to just 833 RPM, and at that point, it delivers just 22 dB of noise, and in most cases, will be, by far, one of the quietest cooling components in there.
Starting from a similar idle speed when the overclock was applied, we ran the test and found that the fan topped out at 1026 RPM, delivering a paltry 25 dB into the chassis. While not chart-topping, we cannot see most potential customer base having much to complain about with these results.
We mentioned in the thermal charts about running this cooler full blast all of the time, and here is why we saw it. The specifications say the fan should top out at 1400 RPM, and our SW3 fan registered 1398 RPM as its fastest. What is fantastic is that even with the fan at full speed, the worst it can do is 33 dB, which again is something ninety-nine percent of people would find not one issue.
To put it simply, while we did not test the predecessor to this cooler, we did go back and read about it and familiarize ourselves with it and its feature set. The TL;DR version is that we have a cooler which, while very similar to the Shadow Rock Slim, the Shadow Rock Slim 2 has a new base and updated style with the new top plate, and we reap the benefits of improved mounting hardware this time.
All of this comes together to deliver results similar to the affordable solutions out there that get thrown around like beads at Mardi Gras when people ask what cooler they need. Still, most of them lack style and grace and take much more fan power to deliver their results. With essentially half the fan of many other coolers, Be Quite can not only compete thermally, but they also do so with some of the lowest noise from any fan tested.
While we cannot say that the Shadow Rock Slim 2 is some thermal chart king, it was never intended for that. Keep in mind that this is a budget-friendly mid-range cooling solution from Be Quiet. That being said, the symmetric design, the thinness of the cooler, the clearance to the RAM in front of and behind the cooler is outstanding, and it was a snap to install.
On the whole, we like what Be Quiet is offering here. Everything you need comes in the box, the cooler is not massive, yet it falls right in the range of average thermally is still able to impress. In our minds, this update to the Shadow Rock Slim series of coolers may not have been "needed," but it is appreciated, and we have a feeling we will not be the only one who thinks this.
Even though we cannot cross-check stock anywhere due to the fresh release of this cooler to the market, at $45.90, we think Be Quiet priced the Shadow Rock Slim 2 right where it should be. With no form of lighting, many of the coolers we mentioned through the charts are direct competition and are all priced similarly in the range of $45 to $50, except for the NH-U12A and the AIOs, which are much more expensive.
All the same, the Shadow Rock Slim 2 can compete and outperform them, all while sticking to what their name insinuates; that they can be quiet! With some of the lowest audio results in our charts, it is nearly impossible not to recommend the Shadow Rock Slim 2 as one of the new go-to coolers that become part of customary advice for air cooling a CPU.
The Bottom Line
Once you figure in the compact symmetrical design of this tower, the fact that it uses one very-near silent fan, and considering it beats quite a few of its direct competitors, how can we not fully recommend the Shadow Rock Slim 2?