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Testing Results & Conclusion
Using the hardware configuration and data collected from prior cooler reviews, we can build comparisons for the be quiet! Dark Rock 4 against other standardized hardware tests. Here, we'll chart our Dark Rock 4 results against the Cooler Master MasterAir MA610P, the FSP Windale 6, and the Enermax ETS-T50 Axe, as each are similar in size and design.
A narrow thermal-load race has the Dark Rock 4 getting edged out by a smidge (less than 1 degree Celsius) by the FSP Windale 6 at full fan speeds, although the Dark Rock 4 claims the lowest load temperatures measured from the motherboard power-delivery components.
While the Dark Rock 4 might have just missed on overall thermal readings, it does so at the lowest fan speeds of the group. This would seem to indicate that the pairing of the QuietWings fan with the be quiet! cooling tower is more than just a happy circumstance.
Slower fan spin rates often mean lower registered noise levels, but this is no guarantee. While we normally applaud noise readings below 30 decibels, many large air coolers enjoy nearly silent operation, thanks to their enormous fin surface areas and whisper-quiet fans.
Given such narrow margins in the thermal performance test, acoustic readings carry greater weight in our Acoustic Efficiency chart. Our test grouping is a prime example of this, which makes every decibel of difference that much more important. For our testing, we mounted the Dark Rock 4 with the cooling fan pushing air through the front of the cooler to the rear of our Corsair 760T test chassis. That said, like you can with most heatpipe tower coolers, you can mount the cooler and fan to direct airflow forward, back, down, or up, as needed.
With a retail price of $75 at launch, the be quiet! Dark Rock 4 is the most expensive cooler of our four-model testing group. With such similar thermal performance among them, and measured acoustics at just a whisper above the others, the almighty dollar weighs heavily on our final chart, Performance Value. We’ve noted before that charts alone do not paint the entire picture, and this is another instance in which this seems to be true.
The be quiet! Dark Rock 4 performs well against other coolers we would consider "peer" solutions due to size, number of heatpipes, and design, if not enough to warrant a big price premium. However, the one wild card here is build quality and design, both of them decided strengths of the Dark Rock 4. A monolithic tower cooler should not require RGB lighting or flashy accent stickers to look great, and be quiet! checks these boxes--or rather, it chooses not to check them.
Overclocking and gaming enthusiasts are always on the hunt for the best-looking, best-performing hardware for their custom-built PC systems. While a bargain is always welcome, something can be said for paying for premium style and performance if you're looking to outfit your PC for maximum impact. If that's your typical thought process when buying hardware for your PC build, the Dark Rock 4 should satisfy for the money. But make no mistake: Even though it's one step down the Dark Rock line, this is still a premium product.
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Garrett Carver is a contributor for Tom’s Hardware, primarily covering thermal compound comparisons and CPU cooling reviews; both air and liquid, including multiple variations of each.
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I would like to see some pictures of the coolers in use taken with the FLIR camera used for graphics card reviews.Reply
Is the heat really evenly distributed among the fins ? Or highly concentrated around the heatpipes ?
The FSP seems a god damn value at $44Reply
Why don't we see comparisons with Noctua coolers?Reply
I also would like to see a reference example such as the populer Hyper 212X.Reply
Why test new cooler with old processor?Reply
It's not enough to keep cool an I7 8700?Reply
Considering how often RAM clearance height can be a problem for new builds, it would be nice to see a height measurement included in the heat sink articles.Reply
I love German engineering.Reply
This is well made cooler !
Though I'm also frustrated by the limited number of coolers in comparison.
And I just wonder why most reviews lack the comparison with AiOs. Is it dictated by the AiO makers ?