be quiet! Shadow Rock Slim CPU Cooler Review

Slim tower CPU coolers make room for both a big fan and memory clearence, but are they powerful enough for an overclocked 6-core Haswell-E CPU?

They might not be light, but they certainly are slim. I'm not talking about professional athletes but single tower CPU coolers. While dual-tower coolers might be the rage for the ragged edge of air-cooled overclocking and can even benefit users who want to cool a hot processor quietly (at reduced fan speeds), installation issues include strict limits on DRAM height and the lack of access to cable connectors. I was even forced to choose alternative memory for my boss's new build because of this. And though big single-towers might not be light, they're certainly lighter than those tubby dual-towers.

Specifications

 

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Noctua's NH-U14S is the only single-tower cooler on the list to break past two-pounds, and it's not even the most comparable to the Shadow Rock Slim targeted in today's review. A near match to the NH-U12S, the Shadow Rock Slim gets the "wider" measurement because its fan clips stick out. Even its 135mm fan uses the same 120mm hole spacing, and the second set of clips can hold a second fan with 120mm hole spacing on the back for push-pull airflow upgrades.

Other than the manufacturer, big differences between the Shadow Rock Slim and NH-U12S include the former's highly-polished base, support for ancient LGA 775 processors, aluminum caps on the top of heat pipes, and a completely different mounting method.

Except for LGA 2011x installations, the four screws and clip-on spacers in the top row (in the above photo) hold the cooler's support plate loosely on the motherboard. The middle row of hollow bolts slip through holes in the chrome CPU brackets and are secured with nuts. Builders must then hold the assembled cooler over the CPU, reach behind the motherboard with a screwdriver, and turn those screws into the hollow nuts.

LGA 2011x users get special standoffs to secure the cooler to the motherboard's integrated support mechanism. The cooler's chrome brackets then slip over the standoffs to be secured with nuts. An included wrench assists in tightening the cooler.

The Shadow Rock Slim is narrow enough to fit even between the inner DIMMs of our test motherboard, and leaves enough space on the back to install that second fan without negating that observation.

Let's see how it performs!

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  • Shankovich
    Mounting bracket looks pretty damn cheap
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  • Calculatron
    Be Quiet's mounting system is, overall, nice, but a real pain in the ass to install.

    I have seen other reviews, and everyone seems surprised at how well it is able to perform, especially since it is not supposed to cool as well as the full-sized Shadow Rock 2. (Although, it usually seems to surpass it.)
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  • Crashman
    Anonymous said:
    Be Quiet's mounting system is, overall, nice, but a real pain in the ass to install.

    I have seen other reviews, and everyone seems surprised at how well it is able to perform, especially since it is not supposed to cool as well as the full-sized Shadow Rock 2. (Although, it usually seems to surpass it.)


    It's a pain for LGA 2011, but far less of a pain for motherboards that have cooler mounting holes.
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  • Onus
    You comment on value, yet I see no mention of prices anywhere in this article. Please include prices.
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  • atheus
    It's a bit surprising you don't have the best-selling (most common) single tower cooler on the market in the mix here. Seems like that would be a pretty valuable data point.
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  • cknobman
    Quote:
    You comment on value, yet I see no mention of prices anywhere in this article. Please include prices.


    $45 @Newegg

    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=9SIA68V21E0643
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  • MasterMace
    Can tom's add the Hyper 212 to the cooler benchmarks?
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  • Crashman
    Anonymous said:
    Can tom's add the Hyper 212 to the cooler benchmarks?

    Perhaps the next time we have one :)
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  • darkbreeze
    It would be kind of nice to see how the Shadow rock slim, NH-U12S and NH-U14S compare to the Cryorig H5 and H7 as well. If you get the chance to bench those units, please do so as we recommend them often in the forums but are mostly basing performance off reviews that don't have direct comparisons to their actual competition, which are the coolers mentioned here including the EVO.

    It would be rather helpful to have comparisons to the less expensive hardware that most users are actually going to probably be inclined to purchase since we know cost is king.

    Personally, I have the NH-U14S which is keeping an i7-6700k at about 63°C running Prime v26.6, regardless of how long I run it, with the cooler on the motherboard's silent profile. I really have my doubts about the veracity of the SRS pulling lower PWM temps than the U14S with a smaller fan that's running slower since we know Noctua has one of the best if not the best cooling performance per fan revolution ratios in the industry. I'm impressed if those results are actually accurate (Which I don't mean to be any reflection on you or your testing methods, at all), but I'm just wondering if there isn't SOMETHING that's skewing the results somehow. Different paste, dissimilar paste job, not accounting for different ambients at the time of testing, something.

    If that result is accurate, it looks like that cooler is much better than I had believed it to be. Also, if you slide the A15 fan on the NH-U14S down 1/4", it still fully reaches the top but then extends below the heatsink, offering some additional cooling to the VR and VRMs as well as directly cooling the heat pipes before they reach the fin stack.
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  • Crashman
    Anonymous said:
    I really have my doubts about the veracity of the SRS pulling lower PWM temps than the U14S with a smaller fan that's running slower since we know Noctua has one of the best if not the best cooling performance per fan revolution ratios in the industry. I'm impressed if those results are actually accurate (Which I don't mean to be any reflection on you or your testing methods, at all), but I'm just wondering if there isn't SOMETHING that's skewing the results somehow. Different paste, dissimilar paste job, not accounting for different ambients at the time of testing, something.

    If that result is accurate, it looks like that cooler is much better than I had believed it to be. Also, if you slide the A15 fan on the NH-U14S down 1/4", it still fully reaches the top but then extends below the heatsink, offering some additional cooling to the VR and VRMs as well as directly cooling the heat pipes before they reach the fin stack.
    The voltage regulator isn't changed out at all, and this is temperature delta, so the best I can tell you is that a lower fan blows more-directly on its sinks. Because different boards have different onboard sinks and even the cooler has flexibility in how high the fan can be mounted this is more of a pass-fail validation than a "you should buy for the lower voltage regulator temps". The CPU temperatures are a far more-accurate way to gauge cooling performance.
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  • darkbreeze
    No worries, I understand. We'd REALLY like to see some of those other coolers hit the review data and be available for these and future comparisons though if you get the opportunity to get them on the bench and can find time to do the testing. When last I spoke to Cryorig they indicated they'd be happy to send samples if somebody contacted them, which I'm guessing might not have happened since the H7 and H5 aren't the most exciting coolers out there by comparison.


    With the 212 EVO being so commonly recommended, and cheap, I'm surprised you don't have review data to use as a standard comparison on most these cooler reviews though and it would be really helpful if at some point you could start doing that since almost every recommendation for a budget cooler in the forums inevitably targets the 212 EVO which I personally think is a noisy heap of tin. The problem is, most the coolers within ten or twenty dollars of it's price category rarely get directly compared to it in any reviews, whether here, at frostytech, hardwaresecrets, hardocp or anywhere really, so it's hard to point at one and say temps are worse, SPL is worse.

    I think a lot of users are willing to pay five to twenty dollars more if you can show them that testing proves these other coolers to be worth the extra cost based on thermal and sound performance.
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  • Crashman
    Anonymous said:
    No worries, I understand. We'd REALLY like to see some of those other coolers hit the review data and be available for these and future comparisons though if you get the opportunity to get them on the bench and can find time to do the testing. When last I spoke to Cryorig they indicated they'd be happy to send samples if somebody contacted them, which I'm guessing might not have happened since the H7 and H5 aren't the most exciting coolers out there by comparison.


    With the 212 EVO being so commonly recommended, and cheap, I'm surprised you don't have review data to use as a standard comparison on most these cooler reviews though and it would be really helpful if at some point you could start doing that since almost every recommendation for a budget cooler in the forums inevitably targets the 212 EVO which I personally think is a noisy heap of tin. The problem is, most the coolers within ten or twenty dollars of it's price category rarely get directly compared to it in any reviews, whether here, at frostytech, hardwaresecrets, hardocp or anywhere really, so it's hard to point at one and say temps are worse, SPL is worse.

    I think a lot of users are willing to pay five to twenty dollars more if you can show them that testing proves these other coolers to be worth the extra cost based on thermal and sound performance.
    I'm pretty sure I got the coolers. I have a stack of stuff here I need to go through.
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  • atheus
    Anonymous said:
    I think a lot of users are willing to pay five to twenty dollars more if you can show them that testing proves these other coolers to be worth the extra cost based on thermal and sound performance.


    I think that's part of the issue. The Hyper 212 EVO performs very well for its $25-35 price tag. In many cases, the $45-55 cooler doesn't represent a substantial gain.

    The side that's difficult to represent on the charts is the life span. The Hyper 212 EVO uses a fan with a sleeve bearing, which is exceptionally quiet when brand new, but gets louder as it ages. Since a review site isn't likely to run a fan for thousands of hours before running tests, these data are ignored. CM estimates the Hyper 212 EVO fan will last 40,000 hours, which is about 4 years of 24 hour use. Mine wore out a bit faster than that, but needless to say it was noticeably louder after a year or so. This can be remedied by replacing it with another fan when it gets too loud for your preference, but then you have the added cost of whatever fan you put on there, and a totally different performance profile depending on the fan.

    Unfortunately, this review doesn't even mention what sort of bearings the fans have, or the expected life span. The be quiet! Shadow Rock Slim uses rifle bearings, which are both quieter and much longer-lasting than sleeve bearings (be quiet! indicates 80,000 hours for this fan). This is a shame, since in many cases this is where you win in the long run by buying a more expensive cooler.
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  • Onus
    I'd love to see the Hyper212 EVO relegated to the ash heap (or at least the discount bargain bin; it would be decent for $15-$20, but not for $30-$35). I just wish the Xigmatek Gaia were still available; that was $20 well-spent.
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  • darkbreeze
    I agree. The 212 EVO has at times been almost the same price as the H7, and the H7 has a much better fan with HPLN bearing, same as on it's higher end fans. It's a consideration anyhow. To my experience, the EVO is loud from the start if it's used under any kind of demanding conditions and I think that's blade design, not bearing noise. I haven't tested that myself, maybe somebody has.
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  • RedJaron
    Anonymous said:
    I just wish the Xigmatek Gaia were still available; that was $20 well-spent.

    Yep, mine's still working great on a 2600K.
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  • darkbreeze
    Yes, that was a really decent cooler.
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  • Onus
    I still have one on a FX-8320, but that doesn't get much use, and another one on a shelf that I may use on an upcoming build just because it will be quieter than stock.
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  • The_Dawg
    I have used this cooler for over a year now on a i5-4670k. I choose this cooler over all others namely for the performance/price ratio appart from the quiet operation. The CPU temp varies from 38-41 when not loaded particularly and at 700rpm. under load the temperature never exceeds 52 degrees centigrade.

    I've been extremely happy with it and then it looks good in my system as well... No ugly colors, no flashing lights --> no nonsense.

    I recommend this cooler any day of the week :o)
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  • Spotnick
    hear is the review of 212 evo

    http://www.overclockersclub.com/reviews/cm_hyper212_evo/4.htm

    terminates last behind the stock cooler and has -6 C difference from NH-D14.
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