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be quiet! Dark Rock 3 CPU Cooler Review

With a number of intelligent cooling optimisations and impressive acoustic levels, the be quiet! Dark Rock 3 is a very good CPU cooler that offers well-balanced performance and positive aesthetics.

Cooling performance of the Dark Rock 3 was strong. At stock and overclocked CPU speeds, the single tower Dark Rock 3 was able to outperform our aging Noctua D14 unit. A respectable fight was also put up against the be quiet! flagship Dark Rock Pro 3 dual tower CPU cooler.

Many of the cooling optimisations made by be quiet! are to thank for the Dark Rock 3’s performance. A pressure-enhancing fin array design and turbulence-inducing dots on each fin are two examples of intelligent heat exchanger engineering.

Noise output was another clear strength for the be quiet! Dark Rock 3. Using the company’s 135mm SilentWings PWM fan, the Dark Rock 3’s measured noise levels were the lowest recorded out of the four comparison coolers. And with PWM operation the acoustic levels can be reduced further when thermal loads are low.

The Dark Rock 3 scores well for aesthetics and clearance. A subtle black theme allows the cooler to fit in with modern components and cases which consistently use black PCBs and interiors. Clearance for tall memory modules can be provided by means of the adjustable fan mounting height.

By far the biggest negative for the be quiet! Dark Rock 3 is its installation procedure. I tackled the mounting process with a motherboard outside of the chassis and it was still frustratingly difficult and more time consuming than that of the Noctua D14, for example. I would not want to mount the be quiet! cooler while the motherboard was housed inside a chassis.

We have criticised the be quiet! mounting procedure a number of times and, while it is getting better with consecutive generations, further work is undoubtedly required to enhance the simplicity of the process. Thankfully for users, the mounting of a CPU cooler is an infrequent procedure.

Available for £55 inc vat from OverclockersUK, the be quiet! Dark Rock 3 is one of the more expensive single tower CPU coolers on the market. It is around £10-15 cheaper than the dual tower be quiet! Dark Rock Pro 3.

With a strong balance between thermal performance and noise output, backed by an elegant appearance, the be quiet! Dark Rock 3 is a worthy choice for users who desire a strong overclock that doesn’t bring with it a noise penalty.

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Pros:

  • Strong cooling performance.
  • Low noise output.
  • PWM fan.
  • Attractive appearance.
  • Height-adjustable fan to avoid RAM interference.

Cons:

  • Difficult mounting procedure.
  • Sizeable investment for a single tower CPU cooler.

KitGuru says: If you’re looking for a high performance, low noise CPU cooler and a dual tower unit does not fit your needs, the be quiet! Dark Rock 3 is a very good choice.

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Rating: 8.5.

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