Be quiet! takes on Noctua with the Dark Rock Slim
Cheaper and not brownBy Isaiah Mayersen 17 comments
Why it matters: RAM is getting taller and PCs are getting smaller, creating an obvious need for high-performing yet small CPU coolers. Enter be quiet! with the Dark Rock Slim: a shrunken down version of their immensely popular Dark Rock 4 that promises great RAM and motherboard compatibility, strong performance and good looks.
German PC hardware manufacturer be quiet! had the Dark Rock Slim on display at CES and they weren't shy about showing it off. It's capable of cooling even Threadrippers with up to a 180W TDP, using four copper heat pipes and one be quiet! Silent Wing 3 fan.
Silent Wing fans are used across all of their lineup and they provide an impressive 50.5 CFM (cubic feet per minute) of airflow at just under 1500 rpm, generating 1.79mm H20 of pressure with 7 fan blades. What they're known best for, however, is a near silent peak maximum sound output of 16.4dB.
Also read: The Best CPU Coolers
According to the Tech Report, the Slim will cost about $50 and arrive in Q2, to some very interesting market conditions. There are only two real competitors with similar form factors at that price point: Cooler Master and Noctua.
Cooler Master launched the Hyper 212 Evo Black Edition back in November, which looks almost exactly like the Dark Rock Slim. Performance-wise, however, the 212 is no match using a 45 CFM fan that runs shockingly louder at 26dB.
On paper, Noctua seems to stand more of a chance. Its NH-U12S is about $60, and it uses a more powerful 55 CFM fan that will surely control temperatures better. It's still noticeably louder at 22.4dB, but that is still impressively quiet. As you're probably already thinking, however, Noctua has one serious weakness: they paint all their fans a very ugly brown.
be quiet! says they're aware that its immense size is what drives the performance of the Dark Rock 4 but remain firm that the Dark Rock Slim will be able to handle almost any processor silently. If their competitors don't shake things up in the next few months, they could be onto a winner.