be quiet! Dark Rock 4 Air CPU Cooler Review
Mike Sanders / 8 months ago
be quiet! Dark Rock 4
At CES 2018 be quiet! featured some of their latest editions in the market for their air cooling range. Having had a look ourselves, we have been anxious for some time to see exactly how this would perform under the scrutiny of testing.
We at eTeknix have always had a soft spot for air-coolers. While AIO coolers may be (or at least look) the more innovative design, air-coolers are, in function at least, simplicity itself.
Offered as a less expensive alternative to the Dark Rock Pro 4, which sees a simultaneous launch, we are curious to see how this stacks up against it. For a less money, what is the performance of the be quiet! Dark Rock 4 going to be? In addition, can it handle high-performance cooling when put to the test?
- Virtually inaudible Silent Wings 135mm PWM fan
- Achieves only 21.4dB(A) at the maximum fan speed
- Six high-performance copper heat pipes
- Airflow-optimized, wave-contoured cooling fins
- Easily installable black installation kit can be mounted from above
- Supports an additional 120mm fan; clips are included in scope of delivery
- Brushed aluminium top cover with a diamond cut finish
- 3-year manufacturer’s warranty
- German product conception, design and quality control
What be quiet! had to say
“No compromise in silence and performance for overclocked systems and demanding graphics applications! Dark Rock 4 provides an impressive rating of 200W TDP and achieves low temperatures even during periods of peak CPU performance.” – be quiet! Dark Rock 4
For in-depth specifications, please visit the official be quiet! product page here.
Packaging and Accessories
The black packaging does make the details of the cooler a little difficult to note. That is in no small part due to the black ceramic coating the product has to boost heat dissipation. They have, however, made a significant highlight of the contoured fins to the fan in the product image. The Silent Wings fan technology is made clear in both the imagery and the inclusion of the branding on the box work.
Around the back, you will find the product specification including technical data on the SilentWings PWM fans. In addition to this, you will also find both the Intel and AMD sockets supported by this fan. Great effort has clearly been made for this cooler to accommodate both older and newer processor/motherboard designs.
Inside the box, as you come to expect with be quiet! everything is fantastically packaged. In regards to the contents, you will find both Intel and AMD brackets in separate packaging as well as mounting bracket. With a nice clear separate Intel and AMD instruction manuals, this means that you shouldn’t have any difficulty getting to grips with the installation. Anything that makes the installation of a cooler easier is always a major plus for us.
This cooler comes with 1 fan, however, multiple brackets allow you the option to fit a 2nd if you wish. The fan, as you would expect from SilentWings, looks very impressive. The contoured fins are a very attractive touch and with 9 blades should provide excellent air movement when installed on your system.
A Closer Look
Top mounting air coolers are generally speaking not the most attractive thing to look at. Despite this, be quiet! have again provided a fantastic design layout. With the black ceramic coating, including the top place with the be quiet! logo this is definitely one of the more attractive options for understated air-cooling design. It proves that you do not need masses of RGB lighting to provide a product that looks good.The CPU block has a quality design and appearance with the 6 well-sized black ceramic coated cooling pipes. The large CPU contact plate, combined with the 12 (6 on each side) pipes provides optimal performance for heat dissipation and being capable of managing some quite strenuous overclocking performance. At the same time, in standard general usage, the heat dissipation will allow the fans to run silently smooth.
The fan speaks of a quality design. Something well associated with the SilentWing technology. Unlike the Dark Rock Pro 4, this is only a single fan design, but additional brackets are included should you wish to install a 2nd. It’s nice to point out the additional touches that have been put into the design including the 9 blades and contoured fin edges. It’s a minor touch as well, but the be quiet! logo on the fan has also been applied to perfectly centralise. You would be amazed how often we don’t see that in fan designs. It speaks of, if nothing else, of a clear attention to detail.
Test System and Methodology
Please note that our testing system was completely revised in September 2017. That means all previous results have been scrapped, and a new set of benchmarks introduced. For a look at our previous reviews, please consult our most recent review that used that system. Please note that we re-tested the Noctua NH-D15S as our base benchmark for cooling results.
- Gigabyte Aorus Gaming 9 Z270
- Intel Core i7-7700K Delidded w/ NT-H1 under IHS
- 8GB Crucial DDR4 2400 MHz
- 512GB OCZ SSD
- Seasonic M12II Evo Edition 500w Power Supply
- Lian Li T80 Test Bench
- All testing conducted using NT-H1 thermal paste
We’d like to say a big thank you to Gigabyte, Noctua, Crucial, Intel, OCZ, be quiet!, and Lian Li for providing us with the above testing equipment and their on-going support.
- We always use Noctua Noctua NT-H1 thermal paste to make sure testing reveals the efficiency of the tested coolers not the efficiency of the bundled thermal paste
- Prime 95 is run for 10 minutes to calculate “load” results
- Unigine Superposition is run for 10 minutes to calculate “gaming” results
- The average temperature across all cores is taken
- Fans are left to operate at default PWM profile speeds unless otherwise stated
- For water cooling tests, all pumps have been operated at 12 volts unless otherwise stated
- Ambient temperatures should be between 21-23 degrees in all our tests unless otherwise stated
- Acoustic measurements are taken 10cm horizontally and 10cm vertically away from the CPU cooler with the VGA fan disabled
- Stock tests are performed using “out of the box” settings for the CPU
- Overclocking tests are performed with the CPU set to 5 GHz and 1.345v
- All coolers were tested under identical settings unless otherwise stated.
- There is approximately a 1-degree Celsius margin of error in our temperature recording software CPUID HW Monitor
- There is approximately a 1.5dBA margin of error with our Benetech GM1351 decibel meter
- In all these graphs we may have a few “reference” results of particular products that do not fit within that category for comparative purposes.
Putting the Dark Rock 4 through its paces, we found that for general operations it performed very well. For general usage and gaming, therefore, these are excellent figures. That being said, the 67c achieved during the maximum load test was a little concerning. We would have hoped for a lower temperature, but then, we remind ourselves again that this is only a single fan cooler and as such based on the overall performance this isn’t unusual.
Similar to the Dark Rock Pro 4, this performs at its best when under a little pressure. 72c for a high overclock isn’t bad at all for a single fan/cooler set-up. Remember as well that the additional brackets provided will allow you the option to install a 2nd fan if you wish. Therefore if you intend to overclock, but the temperate concerns you with a single fan, you do have the option to improve that.
For a single fan air cooler, this is definitely one of the more impressive performers we have had. Under idle performance, I can honestly say that at times I barely noticed it running at all. While not necessarily reflective of the graph, I can’t help but emphasize just how quiet this is when running in standard mode. This is a cooler which has been designed to run as quietly as possible and in general usage, it definitely smashes that goal.
When it comes to overclocked high-end testing, things get a little noisier. That being said though, for a single fan air cooler, this is still impressive. It even manages to keep a similar noise level to that of it’s meatier cousin the Dark Rock 4 Pro which has 2 of the Silent Wings fans installed.
Despite that though, even when pushed to the limits, this cooler is only as noisy as any generic entry-level air cooler. That, in itself, is a testament to the emphasis on quiet running in this design.
This cooler is retailing for a price of around £64.99. For a mid-range air cooler, this is definitely in the high-end of the price bracket. Additionally so, it’s only £15 less expensive than it’s be quiet! Dark Rock 4 Pro cousin. You would, therefore, have to make a decision as to exactly where you priorities lie here in regards to the cost. The price of the Dark Rock 4 Pro is only slightly higher, but you, of course, have to compromise on a much larger cooler.
For the performance and cooling figures, this does reflect good value for the range. Albeit, as above, coming in at the top-end of the level of this product.
For a product in this price range, there are many competing brands. There are few, however, that are able to effectively combine so many attractive key points that the be quiet! Dark Rock 4 does. This cooler is quiet, performs well and, in addition, even looks good. Something that air-coolers, particularly performance ones, can often struggle to do.
Therefore, as a whole, we have to say that we are impressed with this on many different levels and for various reasons.
Everything in this product speaks of a quality design. While not as bulky as the Dark Rock 4 Pro (which you could argue looks better despite its size) this still pulls off an excellent attractive look. I could see this looking good on nearly any system build and additionally, this product could easily see you through several builds into the future. What more could you ask for of design quality?
This cooler has only 1 fan, but don’t let that fool you into thinking it can’t pack a punch. The Silent Wings 135mm PWM fan has nine air-flow optimized blades. In addition, each of these blades has a countered fin edge. As such, they are designed to produce high performance, with low vibration and minimal noise output.
In regards to the noise levels, as long as you don’t push them too hard, you will barely notice them at all.
It is our opinion that this cooler will find its best usage in standard performance or moderate overclocking. As you would expect for a mid-range model it doesn’t quite have the cooling power necessary to deal with insane overclocking performance. For those, however, who delve more into the more modest areas of PC performance, this is more than capable of giving you everything you want and a little bit more.
Should I Buy One
This is a tricky one. For just £15 more you can have the Dark Rock 4 Pro, which did overall perform better and was surprisingly almost as quiet.
The short answer to this question is that if size (particularly RAM clearance) and budget is a factor, go for this model. If they are not, spend the little extra and get the Dark Rock 4 Pro. With either option though, you are getting an excellent air cooler that manages to not only look good but perform well under pressure.
Both models are definite improvements over the prior design and as such if you were worried about revisiting or trying these out, we can put your fears to rest.
You can check out our review for the be quiet! Dark Rock 4 Pro here!
- Attractive design that speaks of quality.
- Exceptionally quiet performance even, in addition, with overclocking.
- Packaging is very professional.
- A genuine high-performance air cooler.
- High compatibility for all major AMD and Intel sockets.
- No lighting – Make of that what you will.
- There is a substitution for noise over top end overclocking performance.