The Dark Rock Pro 3 represents be quiet!'s greatest cooling-to-noise effort to date, but can it beat well-known Big Air rivals in overall performance or value?
The Dark Rock Pro 3’s “No Compromise Silence And Performance” tagline might be grammatically incorrect, yet it still conveys the low noise message of manufacturer be quiet! The firm has apparently put quite a bit of effort into matching noise-optimized fans with specifically sized heat sinks, but then again, so has its competitors.
Though functional differences between the Dark Rock Pro 3 and competing models aren’t visually identifiable, aesthetic improvements include a black-anodized, formed aluminum top with matching caps on its heat pipes. A 135mm fan fills the center position between two radiators, while the 120mm front fan’s smaller size provides additional clearance for DRAM. Overlap above DIMMs is almost certain with coolers this large, and the Dark Rock Pro 3 gives builders about 1.6” of clearance to work with.
Like the recently reviewed Dark Rock TF, the Dark Rock Pro 3 has a supremely flat, finely polished and plated base (see the reflection on the box art). It also uses the same mounting kit, though the upright radiators add height.
While not the tallest Big Air cooler we’ve tested, the Dark Rock Pro 3 is certainly substantial at 6.6”. Fortunately, the firm was able to keep width and depth below 6”
Like its previously-tested sibling, most users of the Dark Rock TF can screw the brackets and standoffs to the cooler’s base, stick the support plate behind the socket, put screws through the support bracket and motherboard to hold the bracket loosely in place, use plastic clips to keep the screws from falling out, and attach the cooler’s mounting pieces to the motherboard’s mounting pieces by holding the cooler in place over its screws, while turning the screws from behind the motherboard with a screwdriver. LGA 2011 (v3) users get the special treat of screwing special standoffs to their motherboard’s retainer plate, placing the cooler with brackets over those standoffs, and reaching underneath the cooler’s body to secure these using nuts. An included thin wrench then allows the builder to finish tightening those nuts.
The Dark Rock Pro 3’s 120mm front fan also has a splitter cable on its power connector, to attach its 135mm center fan. One of those four wires is the fan tachometer, so I instead used two motherboard headers to capture RPM reading from each fan.
One nice thing about the Dark Rock Pro 3’s 5.5” width is that it falls within the cooling space limit of ATX-based motherboards. That includes Micro ATX and even Mini-ITX form factors, as long as the CPU interface is properly centered.