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be quiet! Dark Rock Pro 3 CPU Cooler Review

On a scale where noise is also considered alongside thermal performance (as is the case for most buyers today), be quiet!’s Dark Rock Pro 3 offers an excellent balance between the two most desirable parameters for a modern CPU cooler – cooling and noise output.

Mounted on our hot-running 4770K processor, be quiet!’s Dark Rock Pro 3 was able to offer impressive performance numbers which were able to cool the heavily overclocked chip. Our testing showed the Dark Rock Pro 3 to be outperforming Noctua’s NH-D14 by 4-5°C (5-6%), although the latter is showing some signs of its heavy usage.

Low noise operation is arguably the biggest feature of be quiet!’s Dark Rock Pro 3. The unit has the ability to tame hot processors while operating at admirably low noise levels. And our recordings show maximum noise output; the PWM function of each SilentWings fan can help to reduce noise levels by a noticeable amount when low thermal loads are applied.

Another important factor for the Dark Rock Pro 3 is its appearance. be quiet! has made no attempts to hide the fact that aesthetics are important considerations for the company’s design targets. An underlying dark appearance and the black aluminium top plate enhance the DRP 3’s visual appeal and allow it to coincide with black-scheme systems.

Clearance is a difficult point to analyse with the Dark Rock Pro 3. In general, the majority of problems are caused by tall RAM modules, so be quiet!’s decision to make the front fan height-adjustable was a good one. But the cooler’s sheer size and vast quantity of heatpipes create other possible areas of concern. This isn’t strictly an issue for the Dark Rock Pro 3, though; all dual tower CPU coolers produce the same concerns.

Our biggest complaint for be quiet!’s newest flagship is the installation procedure. We understand that the aluminium top plate was deemed to be more important than a straightforward mounting process, but there are still adaptations that could reduce the installation complexity. We hope that be quiet! can adjust its mounting procedure on future models.

Priced at £69.95 from OverclockersUK, the be quiet! Dark Rock Pro 3 is situated in the same market as Noctua’s NH-D14 and Phanteks’s PH-TC14PE. A high performance AIO liquid cooling unit, such as Corsair’s H100i, will cost around £20-30 more. We feel that just under £70 is a fair price to pay for the Dark Rock Pro 3.

The well-rounded performance and smart visuals of the be quiet! Dark Rock Pro 3 prove that the design of computer heat exchangers has, in fact, made progress over the past five years.

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Pros:

  • Good cooling performance.
  • Excellent acoustic performance.
  • Very attractive, all-black unit.
  • PWM fans.
  • Ability to house a third fan.
  • Height-adjustable fan to avoid RAM clearance issues.

Cons:

  • Difficult mounting procedure.

KitGuru says: be quiet! knows that gamers and enthusiasts of today want a quiet, well-cooled, good-looking system. With the company’s Dark Rock Pro 3, users can satisfy all of those requirements in one well-priced CPU cooler.

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Rating: 9.0.

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