be quiet! Dark Rock 2 Tower Heatsink

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TESTING REDUX - by Mike Chin

be quiet! was shown a preview of this review a week ago, and their reaction was that we should have notified them immediately about such sub-par results. They'd received positive reviews from several other hardware sites, and were certain that our results were due to a substandard sample that managed to slip by their QA. So, we decided to give them a second chance, and they express-shipped over two more samples of the same HSF.

Both of the new samples were tested... with virtually identical results as the first one.

With sample #2, at full fan speed, cooling improved by maybe 1°C, but at lower fan speeds, it was worse by 1-2C. It's safe to say there was no appreciable difference in performance. Sample #3 was worse, up to 5°C worse at full 12V fan speed. No further testing was done on that sample.

Both of the new sample bases were checked for flatness using a metal straight edge ruler. Like the first sample, neither of the new samples had flat bases. The base of sample #2 was not flat, but it was not consistently convex, much like sample #1. With sample #3, the straight edge made contact with only the rim of the base, leaving a tiny but constant gap through the middle.

There was no sign of damage in any of the heatpipes in any of the 3 samples.

If pressed to find a reason why these products don't perform as well as they look like they should, I'd examine....

1. the flatness of the base. I think this is probably the #1 problem.
2. the strength of the brackets that screw into the base of the heatsink — they may bend too easily under stress, which means the tension between the HS base and the CPU is not high enough
3. the quality of the heatpipes. I know from experience that all heatpipes are NOT equal.
4. the integrity of the joints between heatpipes and fins, and between heatpipes and the base


The be quiet! Dark Rock 2 has the look of a heavy duty heatsink from Thermalright, Prolimatech, or Noctua, but unfortunately that's as far as the resemblance goes. Its performance is decidedly poor compared to today's various high-end 140 mm fan CPU coolers. be quiet!'s ambitions were sunk by mounting system that doesn't generate enough pressure and a terribly uneven base. The latter may well be a manufacturing defect, but it doesn't bode well for retail samples if they can't get a review unit right.

Even if performance wasn't an issue, there are other flaws we can't ignore. Despite the manufacturer's name, the stock SilentWings fan suffers from an undesirable low-pitched hum throughout its range. The fan clips are designed to accommodate the stock fan's oddly placed mounting holes, so you can't swap in a standard 120/140 mm model without modification. Furthermore, for such a thick cooler, we were surprised to find a second fan is not included, or at least the option for one. We're also not fond of the installation scheme which requires flipping the motherboard upside-down.

Most of be quiet!'s sales occur in Europe; in the UK, the Dark Rock 2 sells for approximately £50 inc. VAT which is quite steep given its capabilities. We can't recommend it as there are numerous competing coolers on the market that offer far greater value with fewer issues than the Dark Rock 2. It does have one advantage as many of its competitors haven't yet been updated to support LGA2011. However, if you have the financial latitude to purchase a Sandy Bridge Extreme platform, you'd likely have no trouble shelling out a little extra for a truly excellent heatsink like the Thermalright Archon SB-E.

Our thanks to be quiet! for the Dark Rock 2 CPU cooler sample.

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ADDENDUM #2: The real Final Word

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SPCR Articles of Related Interest:

SpeedFan: A Guide to Universal Motherboard Fan Control
Reeven Kelveros & Arcziel CPU Coolers
Thermalright Archon SB-E 15cm Fan CPU Cooler
Scythe Big Shuriken 2 & Reeven Vanxie CPU Coolers
Fans from Noctua & Corsair at Computex 2012
SPCR's Updated 2012 Small CPU Heatsink Test Platform

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Discuss this article in the SPCR forums.

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