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be quiet! Dark Rock Pro 2 [review]

April 7, 2013 in Cooling, CPU, Intel, Overclocking, PC, Review

 

A closer look at design

What has be quiet! got to offer over the competition – where achieving this goal of “be quiet!” in higher end air cooling is concerned? A dual fan solution that cools on par with many other dual fan solutions without the noise that comes with many of them. The design and engineering elements are considered as well as performance and sound testing. Questions like: how long will it last, how will it perform, how often will I need to maintenance the product and if I have an issue will I get support? mini-100_4261

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mini-SizeaAt a glance the observer may notice a couple of differences (size and dual tower) but nothing that really separates the Dark Rock Pro 2 from the pack - until the components are studied individually. After separating the fans from the heat sink assembly, scrutinizing their details reveals a plethora of design elements, that; though just pretty to some, truly bring a higher level of functionality. Starting with the fan, the features that are most noticeable, are also the features that add function and denote quality.

mini-100_4321mini-100_4326On the fan assembly the number of blades, the ridges and the mass of the larger fan (135mm) compared to the Phantecs example are noticed first while the lower weight and more refined housing and mounting holes stand out on the 120MM fan when making a direct comparison. The weight of the fans seems to be concentrated in the motor and the blade thickness. This thickness may not appear to be advantageous, but the thicker blades and ridges, (on both sides of the blades) help reduce noise from an effect similar to cavitation. Looking at the housing, two elements that stand out are the weight saving mounting mechanism (single, instead of dual hole) and a noise dampening ring on the faces (note the cooling fin imprints in the third image).

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Additionally the lower angle of attack limits the stall effect which is known to impedes airflow (kinetic potential) at higher RPMs and limits static pressure – which in turn causes fan noise and can shorten fan motor life due to lateral forces and fan hub vibration that contributes to noinse.mini-100_4004mini-100_4003mini-100_4006

The heat sink assembly also offers many elements of design which are advantageous; most notable are the ridges and the concave fan mounting surface. This has a positive effect on airflow and noise dampening:

  • the ridge high points break up airflow (in a good way) causing turbulence, potentially increasing the time between cleanings and helping to prevent whistling at higher RPMs
  • the ridge valleys should gather dust first leaving openings at the higher points which can be more forgiving to those who do nor regularly clean their computer cases
  • the concave fan mounting surface should aide in air flow at all RPM ranges and reduce noise as the sink gathers dust by allowing excess pressure to escape instead of being forced through partially clogged cooling fins creating noise

mini-100_4300mini-100_4307mini-100_4309 With seven 6mm (28.26) heat pipes (some say 14) distributed to take advantage of the area allowed by the fins the Dark Rock Pro 2 offers advantages over much of the competition – with the outlier being the Phanteks PH-TC14PE_XX which offers 120% the pipe capacity.

  • each pipe is allowed to dissipate more heat as the zone in which it resides is not populated with another heat source that also radiates heat
  • temperatures are normalized across the cooling fins
  • air flow is not restricted in hotter areas
  • the cooling fan can operate at a lower speed as the heat is more evenly distributed across the fin surface allowing more effective convective cooling

 

Examining the finish of the CPU contact patch, machine marks can be observed on many competing brands.Striations of this magnitude can cause minor (if the striations are to deep they may act as an insulator) heat transfer issues that are generally not measurable. The be quiet! contact patch also has striations which are more easily be felt than seen. Though part of the lack of striation on the be quiet! CPU cooler is related to the plating, the care taken to achieve this smooth surface must be taken into consideration.

Fan MemThe larger central fan allows the capture of more air coming first intake fan, air from cooler areas outside of the HSF and allows for memory cooling.

The Dark Rock Pro 2 weighs in at 1250 grams with dimensions of  Lx171mm x Wx137mm  x Dx100mm. When comparing weights, New Eggs product comparison was used: towersA

Thus far the Dark Rock Pro 2 proves to be a well thought out and designed product. Be quiet! has not broken any new ground with the Dark Rock Pro 2 but they have used many of the better design elements in this market. Will these elements add up to a better product than is offered by other manufacturers? That is very subjective and the more prudent question is “Will the Dark Rock Pro 2 perform its designed function in such a way that the end user will be satisfied?”
Introduction
Packaging, contents and specifications
Installation
Performance
Conclusion

 
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