be quiet! Dark Rock 4 and Dark Rock Pro 4 Review: Inaudible Excellence

Manufacturer: be quiet! be quiet! Dark Rock 4 and Dark Rock Pro 4 Review: Inaudible Excellence

The Dark Rock lineup from be quiet! is a complete one in the high-performance air cooling category, with coolers ranging from the compact Dark Rock Slim up to the large dual-tower Dark Rock Pro 4.

The family also includes a lower-profile option in the Dark Rock TF, and a special version for AMD Threadripper CPUs in the Dark Rock Pro TR4.

Today we will focus on the single-tower Dark Rock 4 and dual-tower Dark Rock Pro 4, which range in price from $74.90 to $89.90, and cool TDPs up up to 200W and 250W, respectively.

be quiet! Dark Rock 4 and Dark Rock Pro 4 Review: Inaudible Excellence - Cases and Cooling  1

These large air coolers feature the same high-end construction and appearance of the Dark Rock Slim we looked at in June, with Silent Wings fans, stealthy all-black appearance, and CNC milling on their copper bases for a flat contact surface.

Product Specifications

Dark Rock 4

  • General Data
    • Overall dimensions without mounting material (L x W x H): 96.3x 136 x 159.4 mm
    • Total weight: 0.92 kg
    • TDP: 200W
    • Socket compatibility:
      • Intel: LGA 1150 / 1151 / 1155 / 1156 / 1366 / 2011(-3) Square ILM / 2066
      • AMD: AM2(+) / AM3(+) / AM4 / FM1 / FM2(+)
    • Fan model, number: 1x Silent Wings 135mm PWM
    • Decoupled fan mounting: Yes
    • Overall noise level (dB(A)) @ 50/75/100% (rpm): 10.5 / 15.6 / 21.4
  • Heatsink specifications
    • Dimensions (L x W x H): 74.3 x 136 x 159.4 mm
    • Number of fins: 51
    • Fin material: Aluminum
    • Base material: Copper
    • CPU contact surface: CNC machined
    • Heatpipe number / Diameter (mm): 6 / 6
    • Surface treatment: Aluminum / black ceramic spray painted
  • Fan specifications
    • Fan dimensions: 135 x 135 x 22 mm
    • +Silent Wings: Yes
    • Speed @ 100% PWM /12V (rpm): 1,400
    • Bearing technology: Fluid Dynamic Bearing
    • Motor technology: 6-pole fan motor
    • Rated Voltage: 12V
    • Input current: 0.11A
    • Input power: 1.32W
    • Connector: 4-pin PWM
    • Cable length: 220 mm
    • Lifespan (h / 25°C): 300,000

Dark Rock Pro 4

  • General Data
    • Overall dimensions without mounting material (L x W x H): 145.7 x 136 x 162.8 mm
    • Total weight: 1.13 kg
    • TDP: 250W
    • Socket compatibility:
      • Intel: LGA 1150 / 1151 / 1155 / 1156 / 1366 / 2011(-3) Square ILM / 2066
      • AMD: AM2(+) / AM3(+) / AM4 / FM1 / FM2(+)
    • Fan model, number: 1x Silent Wings 3 120mm PWM, 1x Silent Wings 135mm PWM
    • Decoupled fan mounting: Yes
    • Overall noise level (dB(A)) @ 50/75/100% (rpm): 12.8 / 17.9 / 24.3
  • Heatsink specifications
    • Dimensions (L x W x H): 123.7 x 136 x 162.8 mm
    • Number of fins: 90
    • Fin material: Aluminum
    • Base material: Copper
    • CPU contact surface: CNC machined
    • Heatpipe number / Diameter: 7 / 6
    • Surface treatment: Aluminum / black ceramic spray painted
  • Fan specifications
    • Fan dimensions: 135 x 135 x 22 / 120 x 120 x 23 mm
    • +Silent Wings: Yes
    • Speed @ 100% PWM /12V (rpm): 1,200 / 1,500
    • Bearing technology: Fluid Dynamic Bearing
    • Motor technology: 6-pole fan motor
    • Rated Voltage: 12V
    • Input current: 0.08A / 0.08A
    • Input power: 0.96W / 0.96W
    • Connector: 4-pin PWM
    • Cable length: 220 / 220 mm
    • Lifespan (h / 25°C): 300,000
Pricing
Manufacturer Description

“Dark Rock: No Compromise Silence and Performance.

  • Top performance-to-noise ratio
  • Virtually inaudible Silent Wings PWM fans 
  • Up to seven high-performance heat pipes for maximum heat conductance
  • Special dynamic wave-contour cooling fins 
  • Single-tower,  double-tower and top-flow cooler available”

The Two Towers

The be quiet! Dark Rock 4

First up is the single-tower Dark Rock 4, which stands 159.4 mm tall with a total depth of 96.3 mm (73 mm heatsink) and a width of 136 mm. The heatsink features six copper heat pipes of 6 mm each, and be quiet!’s “airflow-optimized wave-contoured” fins which have upraised dots on the surface to help increase air circulation.

The black finish is a coating made with ceramic particles aid in heat transfer, and the cooler is equipped with a 9-blade, 135 mm Silent Wings PWM fan; featuring a six-pole motor and fluid-dynamic bearing. This fan is decoupled when mounted thanks to pads on the heatsink fins.

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The be quiet! Dark Rock Pro 4

For its part the Dark Rock Pro 4 occupies, as you might expect, a larger footprint. This dual-tower cooler stands slightly taller at 162.8 mm, with a 145.7 mm depth (119.5 mm heatsink) and the same 136 mm width as the non-Pro model.

The Dark Rock Pro 4 includes a second fan as well for added cooling potential (250W of it, in fact), with 135 mm and 120 mm PWM Silent Wings fans provided; both with fluid dynamic bearings and 6-pole motors for near-silent, vibration free operation.

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Cooler Performance

After installation on the test platform – a procedure identical to that of the Dark Rock Slim (see previous review) – it was time to see just how effective these big coolers might be.

PC Perspective CPU Cooler Test Platform
Processor Intel Core i7-7700K
Motherboard GIGABYTE H270 GAMING 3
Memory CORSAIR VENGEANCE LPX 16GB (8GBx2) DDR4-2800
Graphics Card Integrated
Storage CORSAIR Neutron XTi 480GB SSD
Power Supply Seasonic PRIME Titanium Fanless 600W
Operating System Windows 10 64-bit

I will add that, while in need of an update, the venerable Core i7-7700K-based cooler test platform served once again to compare these be quiet! Dark Rock coolers to other recently-reviewed options, though a quick test using the mighty (and mighty warm) Core i9-9900K was also performed.

Temperatures

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Clearly something is off here, as the top three results – all of them from the Dark Rock coolers – are virtually identical (while the Slim appears to have a slight edge this is well within the margin of error). Something must be done to differentiate these coolers, so for a more demanding load I switched from the x264 benchmark, which has been producing load results for the last five years, to Cinebench R20.

In my testing I found that a single Cinebench run (and two consecutive all-core runs were performed for each cooler) was equal or greater than the result of even a lengthy 8-pass x264 benchmark run. I have been using just the first two passes for load temps, but this is clearly not enough to differentiate these be quiet! coolers, and you will see scaling as expected with Cinebench in the chart below.

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This actually makes sense, and it also means I will stick with Cinebench going forward as a more reliable load test. The Dark Rock coolers each offer slightly better performance than the model before, with an average of about 1 C separating them with this Core i7-7700K.

A quick additional test was performed with a Core i9-9900K and the Dark Rock Pro 4 to provide an idea of load temps with that CPU. While I didn’t re-test any of the other coolers, the result using Cinebench of a 56.6 C delta under this all-core load was impressive. Further testing will have to be done with this cooler using our Ryzen 9 3900X, and against some more coolers for comparison.

Noise Levels

Here is where the Dark Rock coolers live up to the be quiet! brand. Not only were they at the top of the cooling chart, but they were the most quiet on the noise chart as well. Granted I don’t have competing coolers from the likes of Noctua in this review, but for now you can at least get an idea of how quiet these are.

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With the Dark Rock coolers again clustered very close together on the chart above, you can see that they are all superb options for a low-noise build with the ~33 dBA average under full load (100% fans) for all three.

My sound meter has a lower limit of 30 dBA (+/- 1.4 dBA), with the actual noise floor at around 30.2-30.4 dBA when I measure a silent room. These be quiet! coolers, measured with the others at the same distance of only 12 inches on my open test bench, are whisper quiet (and inaudible with any other noise in the room).

Conclusion

be quiet! has a well-deserved reputation for producing quiet computing products, with nearly silent fans, coolers, and of course cases (not to mention power supplies). For their part the trio of Dark Rock coolers I have tested to date share the same high build quality, excellent performance, and virtually inaudible noise output.

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Pricing for the two Dark Rock coolers in today’s review is, consequently, quite fair: $74.90 for the Dark Rock 4, and $89.90 for the Dark Rock Pro 4 – in keeping with other large premium air coolers.

The Dark Rock 4 and Dark Rock Pro 4 have a great aesthetic, too; particularly if you are not smitten with all things RGB and like a stealthy build. In short, with no complaints about design or performance I happily bestow our highest award to these excellent coolers, and look forward to further testing as I add a Dark Rock Pro 4 to our AMD Ryzen test platform.

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About The Author

Sebastian Peak

Editor-in-Chief at PC Perspective. Writer of computer stuff, vintage PC nerd, and full-time dad. Still in search of the perfect smartphone. In his nonexistent spare time Sebastian's hobbies include hi-fi audio, guitars, and road bikes. Currently investigating time travel.

6 Comments

  1. BigTed

    Nice review Seb. IMO you can’t beat having a large slab of metal hanging off your motherboard.

  2. forum31268@outlook.com

    How does this compare to Noctua?

    • m_esso@hotmail.com

      Agreed, this is an unfortunate miss. Noctua needs to be a part of this review to complete it.

  3. elites2012

    for these prices, i would suggest you wait or invest in a water cooler. in which i dont and never recommend water cooling. clean up is not easy.

  4. hanselltc

    I am just somewhat disappointed that it is a 7700K instead of something more powerful.

    • Sebastian Peak

      Feedback noted!

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