be quiet! Dark Rock Pro 4: Return to the Dark Side

The Dark Rock series from be quiet! represents the apex of the company’s air cooling line. The Dark Rocks are stunningly handsome CPU coolers swathed in no-nonsense, deep-black aesthetics. The Dark Rock Pro 4 is the latest flagship of this family, developed for power users and overclockers looking for every available watt of cooling power that they can squeeze from a performance-minded, heatpipe-based tower cooler.

Sporting both 135mm and 120mm fans, the Dark Rock Pro 4 manages to sandwich an extra cooling fan between its twin pair of aluminum-fin cooling towers. Out front, the 120 x 25mm SilentWings fan moves air through the first tower, where it meets the 135 x 22mm SilentWings fan. That second fan, in turn, motivates the air stream through the second tower, and out the rear of the cooler.

The cooling fins feature an open design to minimize airflow restriction and allow heat to escape out all sides of the cooler, while the dual fans work in unison using push/pull airflow.

Inside the very detail-oriented retail packaging lies a common assortment of mounting hardware, thermal compound, brackets, and even a two-way PWM splitter. Another welcome addition is the inclusion of a long-necked magnetic Phillips screwdriver, which will come in handy during installation. Also included are six different installation manuals (in English, Spanish, Polish, French, Russian, and German), each with highly detailed mounting steps for the vast majority of both Intel and AMD processors. (The big exception is AMD's Threadripper.)

A massive air cooler can prove to be a challenge for users who tend to move their PC cases often, especially when transporting the chassis to LAN or other gaming events. The be quiet! Dark Rock Pro 4 falls into this category--you'll want to watch its weight.

The top of the Dark Rock Pro 4 features a contoured, brushed-aluminum top plate with caps covering each end of the 6mm-diameter copper heatpipes that poke through.

Contained within the Dark Rock Pro 4 are seven copper heatpipes, which the cooler uses to offload thermal energy into the twin cooling towers. By providing separation of the heatpipes and heat dissipation over more surface area, the dual fans can work together to move air more effectively through the two fin stacks in the Pro 4. That's more desirable than a single fan forcing air through one large cooling-fin tower. The heatpipes collect directly below the center 135mm fan, capped by an aluminum mounting base that is polished to a near-mirror finish.

The other side of that mounting base features a raised, almost heatsink-like, toothed formation. It acts as a guide for a mounting crossbar that secures the Dark Rock Pro 4 to the mounting plates during installation. The teeth provide fitment that also aligns with notched sections of the crossbar for stability.

The Dark Rock Pro 4 installation process is quite similar to that of many heatpipe tower coolers. You'll use threaded standoffs, mounting bars, and a crossbar to complete the process. Because the fans are installed after the cooler is mounted, we still need a way to secure two obstructed screws through the mounting crossbar nestled between the twin banks of cooling fins. The solution lies with the long, narrow screwdriver that be quiet! provides in the box. The magnetic tip helps retain the screws during what is a near-surgical process of guiding the fasteners into place.

Fan installation is straightforward, using the supplied wire clips. They hook through the fan-mounting holes, while the rectangular wire arms slide over the cooling fins and snap into cutouts along the sides. Rubber fan-mounting strips run vertically on both towers where each fan rests; these strips eliminate vibration noise and allow for very snug fitment of the SilentWings PWM fans.

With the cooling fans installed, it is quite easy to see that three of our four memory DIMMs are obstructed, meaning cooler removal is our only hope if we were swapping out the system’s RAM. Also worth noting: If removal of the cooling fans is warranted, needle-nose pliers make easy work of unclipping the wire fan clips.

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