be quiet! Dark Rock TF 2 Review: Sibling Rivalry

Low profile, high expectations

be quiet! Dark Rock TF 2
(Image: © Tom's Hardware)

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For our CPU cooling tests, we use the same hardware, overclock and configuration for every test to minimize environment variables in testing. This allows for all results across all coolers tested on the platform to be viable as side-by-side examination for direct compare and contrast. 

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CPUIntel i9-10850k LGA1200 (Comet Lake), all 10 cores  4.6Ghz @ 1.190v
 (3.60Ghz stock speed, single core boost @ 5.2Ghz)
MotherboardMSI Z490 MEG Godlike (bios vers. 7C70v12)
MemoryCorsair Vengeance LPX, 32GB (4x8GB) DDR4-3000
StorageCorsair MP600 m.2 2280 NVMe, 500GB
GraphicsGigabyte GTX 1050Ti
Power Supplybe quiet! Dark Power Pro11 1200w
ChassisCorsair Graphite 760T
MonitoringCrystalFontz CFA-633-TMI-KU, 4x Dallas One Wire WR-DOW-Y17 sensors
Fan ControlCorsair Commander Pro, 100%/50% PWM Speed profiles (liquid cooling pump always @100%, if applicable)
OSWindows 10 Pro 64bit
NetworkingDisconnected, not used
Thermal CompoundArctic MX-4

Comparisons are based on data collected from testing performed on our Intel i9-10850k system, including re-visiting many previously tested products which were originally covered using our old test platform, which pivoted around an i7-5930k (4.20ghz @1.20v).  

All data reported for this article has been collected on the current Intel i9-10850k platform and will be maintained as like-for-like evaluation of ongoing cooling coverage. We’ve recently swapped the taller, Corsair Dominator RGB DIMMs with Corsair Vengeance LPX for lower-profile memory allowing for higher cooler compatibility for testing.

Prime95 v29.4b8 (no AVX) is used for two-hour intervals, one managing fans at 50% PWM and the other at 100% PWM with RPM measurements being taken every 3 seconds and averaged across the duration of each 2-hour capture.  Omitting AVX instruction sets allows for accurate, 100% loads at chosen clock speeds, while allowing AVX instructions would provide higher, albeit, unrealistic synthetic CPU loads and excessive heat production, less indicative of real-world use.  

This also allows for a greater range CPU coolers to be tested and compared without the need to configure the system differently for smaller coolers, which may not handle the excessive thermal loads being generated during testing, while larger coolers might be better equipped to manage heat output produced by the Core i9-10850k.  

While the test platform is quite capable of a 10-core overclock at 5.0Ghz and 1.265v, we were seeing 360mm AIOs struggle to keep core temperatures in check at lower fan speeds, providing insight that the enthusiast-grade i9’s need excellent cooling if the goal is overclocking.

HWInfo64 is used for real-time core temperature readout, thermal throttling alerts, motherboard power consumption, CPU speed and logging of data, while a CrystalFontz CFA-633-TMI-KU is used to monitor and later average both ambient room (2 probes) and motherboard voltage regulator heatsink (2 probes).

With these temperature readings collected, CPU Core is defined as an average of all CPU core temperatures, reported once per second for the entirety of the testing run from HWInfo64 data.  This value is then taken as an offset difference from the reported ambient room temperature collected from the CFA-633-TMI-KU (also once per second and averaged). 

CPU PWM is defined by the voltage regulator heatsink direct temperature probe as an offset different from the same reported ambient room temperature reading for the same CPU Core test (100%, 50%).  This helps define a working model of how well the evaluated cooler performs as a process of also cooling nearby hardware also under loads, like our overclocked motherboard voltage regulator heatsink.

Garrett Carver
CPU Cooling Reviewer

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.

  • Johnpombrio
    Does anyone else get frequency "beats" as a pair of fans close to one another go in and out of sync or RPMs? I put a pair of low noise fans on an air cooler only to have to remove one of them due to the constant ramp and down of noise when the fans interfered with one another. I will no longer put any pair of fans in line on a cooler nor buy an air cooler that uses two fans.
  • KTB84
    This type of cooler is really best suited for use in pc cases where it can intake air from a mesh panel directly over top of the cooler. The case used in this review is a bit of a worst case scenario, with its tempered glass side panel. I'd really recommend these top flow coolers only to people using cases with mesh panels near the cooler's fans, which should help close the performance gap between it and the big boys (NH-D15 and Assassin 3).
  • rubix_1011
    It's not really tempered glass, its actually a clear acrylic.

    Also, if we change the case just for the benefit of reviews where 1 product would benefit and others do not, we're altering different variables meaning that our comparisons between all coolers is no longer valid.