be quiet! Dark Rock Pro 3 Review

Test Results & Conclusion

Comparison CPU Coolers

We retain the hardware configuration from previous reviews to make all of our results comparable:

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Test Results

All three “Big Air” tower coolers produce similar temperatures at full fan speed, with Noctua’s NH-D15 edging out second-place Dark Rock Pro 3 by only one degree.

The smallest of the tower coolers in this chart, the Dark Rock Pro 3 achieves its second-place cooling capability by having a faster fan. We’ve always included a fan controller evaluation in these tests, but Noctua’s speed-reducing resistor wires didn’t slow its fans by nearly the 50% PWM duty-cycle that the motherboard’s controller achieved — we’re still hoping that Noctua’s optimizations are better than the motherboard’s, though.

The most amazing thing is that the Dark Rock Pro 3 tests quieter than most of its rivals, in spite of the higher RPM of its “SilentWings” fans.

Readers should feel free to ignore the “low fans” comparison to Noctua’s NH-D15, since its resistor wires don’t appear to produce the optimum fan speed for this specific processor. Everything else has been tested at 100% and 50% duty-cycle, and the Dark Rock Pro 3 has a better cooling-to-noise ratio at any tested fan setting.

The Dark Rock Pro 3 even edges out DeepCool’s cheaper Assassin II in performance-per-price at full fan speed. The Assassin II’s price is more beneficial when comparing the two at 50% duty cycle, negating any comprehensive value leadership claims.

Because the best value in today’s comparison depends on how much cooling your CPU actually needs (that is, how fast the fans must run), it’s difficult to give the Dark Rock Pro 3 an award over the DeepCool Assassin II. On the other hand, the Assassin II already achieved an award, which makes equally difficult the withholding of any recommendation for the Dark Rock Pro 3.

Let’s not forget that the Dark Rock Pro 3 is six ounces lighter than the Assassin II, which makes it easier to recommend to people who move their machines around, even though it’s still too heavy to ship pre-installed in a complete system. I recommend it to anyone who’s willing to pay an extra $10 for a slightly quieter cooler, is able to move their machine gently, and has space for a cooler this height. Better still, that recommendation becomes firm when the cooler is on sale (unfortunately, an $18 discount has recently expired).

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Thomas Soderstrom is a Senior Staff Editor at Tom's Hardware, covering Cases, Cooling, Memory and Motherboards. Follow him onTwitter.

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  • Eggz
    Sleek! This is basically a black D-14 with a better look.
    3
  • M for Moartea
    Good and concise article, a Dark Rock Pro 3 review is something I was looking forward to.

    For convenience, would you please consider adding in the future the metric system equivalents for your readers who are unfamiliar with the imperial system?
    4
  • thor220
    I have one of these and they do indeed get very good temps.
    1
  • Crashman
    Anonymous said:
    Sleek! This is basically a black D-14 with a better look.
    Yeh, it does look pretty good doesn't it?
    Anonymous said:
    Good and concise article, a Dark Rock Pro 3 review is something I was looking forward to.

    For convenience, would you please consider adding in the future the metric system equivalents for your readers who are unfamiliar with the imperial system?
    I'll take that under advisement. Some readers are demanding "only metric" measurements while builders in USA continue to use inch-based tape measures to figure out clearence, so your suggestion makes sense.
    4
  • Tim_13
    It would be nice to see close loop liquid coolers added to the charts. I think a lot of people cross shop those with big air coolers b/c the price is so close.
    2
  • 10tacle
    Quote:
    Sleek! This is basically a black D-14 with a better look.


    I solved that problem years ago with "flat black" Testor's model paint on the fan cowling and blades on mine.

    In any event, it is nice to see more alternatives in the top-tier air cooling market. However, I will state that when you cross over the $100 price tag, you are really getting into better-performing high end "all in the box" closed loop water cooling territory from the likes of Corsair's H100i GTX for just a few more bones.
    2
  • Crashman
    Anonymous said:
    I will state that when you cross over the $100 price tag, you are really getting into better-performing high end "all in the box" closed loop water cooling territory from the likes of Corsair's H100i GTX for just a few more bones.
    Amazon prices are screwy, this is an $80-$90 cooler at most high-volume sellers.
    1
  • 10tacle
    Yeah I just checked other outlets like my usual suspects like NewEgg. That's more like it. Good alternative. Noctua needs to watch out!
    1
  • synphul
    I've had this cooler on my i5 for about a year now and I love it. Matches the enthoo pro very well in the black minimalist type style with the subtle silver logo similar to phanteks uses on their case.

    Granted I'm not running the 5930k, just a 4690k but oc'd even under load the cooler doesn't ever ramp up. I got curious one day and wondered about the max fan speed noise levels and had to literally oc my cpu, run p95 and turn off every other fan in my case leaving only the cpu fan operational before it became audible.

    My biggest issue is with the price as well, it's quite expensive most of the time. I lucked out and got it from ncixus during a sale where it was marked down to $55. Solid cooler, very well built and construction is high end. It may not be a noctua killer but it's definitely not lagging far behind and looks much nicer in a black/gray build. Great article.
    0
  • envy14tpe
    Quote:
    Quote:
    Sleek! This is basically a black D-14 with a better look.


    However, I will state that when you cross over the $100 price tag, you are really getting into better-performing high end "all in the box" closed loop water cooling territory from the likes of Corsair's H100i GTX for just a few more bones.


    That's true that the H100i GTX cools slightly better, but at the sacrifice of noise. The Corsair fans are extremely loud and many people need to replace them with SP fans which run $25 for 2. So the cost is about $40-60 more than these air coolers.
    1
  • JQB45
    Measurements should be in metric, even though I know exactly what an inch is, it does me no good when everything else in my computer is measured in mm. If you must add inches to keep the rest of the US audience happy at least also include mm too.
    1
  • Xivilain
    I love this cooler. It fits my build theme well:
    http://pcpartpicker.com/b/YBnnTW
    It cools down my OC 4930K very well.
    28° C idle / 62° C on load
    0
  • Xivilain
    Anonymous said:
    Measurements should be in metric, even though I know exactly what an inch is, it does me no good when everything else in my computer is measured in mm. If you must add inches to keep the rest of the US audience happy at least also include mm too.


    Sorry, didn't mean to downvote you. - I agree, the measurements should be in both Metric and Imperial.
    0
  • Jason_52
    I still prefer the look of these to liquid systems. Don't know why, as I build plenty of both for clients. :??:
    0
  • creapure90
    They should've use Coollaboratory Liquid Pro Liquid Metal Thermal Paste
    -1
  • atheus
    I've got this and an NH-D15 sitting in my cabinet here waiting for me to finish my Sky Lake build. I wound up buying a case with a window on it, so needless to say the Dark Rock Pro 3 wins by default. I'll just put this here...

    Dear Noctua,

    Your fans are fugly.

    Sincerely,
    Everyone
    1
  • lieutenantfrost
    I so wanted to get one of these or the DH-15 but I just read the article about air coolers damaging skylake chips due to weight and pressure on the cpu. Now Im not sure which I should get.
    0
  • Crashman
    Anonymous said:
    I so wanted to get one of these or the DH-15 but I just read the article about air coolers damaging skylake chips due to weight and pressure on the cpu. Now Im not sure which I should get.
    Single towers seam to be enough for that processor and most reasonable-voltage overclocks.
    0
  • lieutenantfrost
    Anonymous said:
    Anonymous said:
    I so wanted to get one of these or the DH-15 but I just read the article about air coolers damaging skylake chips due to weight and pressure on the cpu. Now Im not sure which I should get.
    Single towers seam to be enough for that processor and most reasonable-voltage overclocks.


    Do you mean that the dark rock pro 3 is fine because its a single tower structure? or were you implying another model would be a better choice?
    0
  • Crashman
    Anonymous said:
    Anonymous said:
    Anonymous said:
    I so wanted to get one of these or the DH-15 but I just read the article about air coolers damaging skylake chips due to weight and pressure on the cpu. Now Im not sure which I should get.
    Single towers seam to be enough for that processor and most reasonable-voltage overclocks.


    Do you mean that the dark rock pro 3 is fine because its a single tower structure? or were you implying another model would be a better choice?
    It's actually a dual tower. Single towers weigh less and appear sufficient. Shadow Rock Slim also looks good, for example, weighs less, costs less, etc.
    0