Testing Results, Maximum Fan Speed

To begin with, we are having a look at the Be Quiet! Dark Rock Elite, with its stock 135 mm fans running at their maximum speed.

Average Thermal Resistance

Core Temperature, Constant Thermal Load (Max Fan Speed)

The Dark Rock Elite's performance data reveals it to be a formidable competitor in the high-end air cooling market. With an average thermal resistance of 0.0872 °C/W, it surpasses many of its peers in the same category, including top-tier coolers like the Noctua NH-D15 and the Cryorig R1 Ultimate. The cooler demonstrates a consistent thermal profile, optimizing its thermal resistance, particularly at higher loads, indicative of its design to handle demanding CPU applications.

Fan Speed (12 Volts)

Noise level

The cooler's Silent Wings PWM fans maintain relatively low noise levels at peak operation. At maximum fan speed, the noise level is about 40.2 dB(A), which, while definitely not silent, is impressively quiet for two fans operating at 2000 RPM.

Testing Results, Low Fan Speed

In this test, we are switching things up a bit, looking at the cooler's performance with the Light Wings fan taken down to half speed.

Average Thermal Resistance

Core Temperature, Constant Thermal Load (Low Fan Speed)

Naturally, reducing the speed of the fans down to 1000 RPM has a negative impact on the cooler's thermal performance – just a little higher impact than what we would theoretically anticipate. The average thermal resistance of 0.1167 °C/W is excellent, but the cooler loses ground against its primary competition. It loses the top place in our charts regarding raw thermal performance, and its acoustic performance is yet to be evaluated.

Fan Speed

Reducing the speed of the Silent Wings 135 mm fans down to 1000 RPM also reduces the noise output to 34 dB(A), a figure that is practically inaudible within typical home office conditions. The cooler would only be noticeable in a dead-silent environment, assuming no other noise sources exist.

Noise level

Thermal Resistance VS Sound Pressure Level

During our thermal resistance vs. sound pressure level test, we maintain a steady 100W thermal load and assess the overall performance of the coolers by taking multiple temperature and sound pressure level readings within the operating range of the stock cooling fans. The result is a graph that depicts the absolute thermal resistance of the cooler in comparison to the noise generated. For both the sound pressure level and absolute thermal resistance readings, lower figures are better.

The comparative chart clearly delineates the performance of the Be Quiet! Dark Rock Elite cooler in relation to its competitors, illustrating its performance capabilities. The data reveals that the Dark Rock Elite marginally surpasses the recently introduced Iceberg IceSLEET G6 in terms of performance. It also stands on par with the esteemed Noctua NH-D15. Notably, while the NH-D15 demonstrates a slight performance advantage at reduced fan speeds, the Dark Rock Elite gains the upper hand with increased fan speeds. Furthermore, the chart compares coolers of varying tiers, highlighting the performance disparities between a mid-range option like the Pure Rock 2 FX and coolers positioned at the entry-level segment.

Testing Methodology Final Words & Conclusion
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  • ObamaWasRight2003 - Monday, December 4, 2023 - link

    Looks nice and great performance but cant say I want to spend 3x the price of a thermalright phantom spirit 120 on it
  • Samus - Wednesday, December 6, 2023 - link

    They are also competing directly with Noctua at this price, which is a tough sell even if it performs better, because Noctua has unrivaled support.
  • emn13 - Sunday, December 17, 2023 - link

    It's not really any better than the D15. The noise vs cooling perf in these graphs is very slightly better at high fan speeds; and very slightly worse at low fan speeds.

    If anything, I think the latter matters more (most of the time, my CPU isn't running flat out), but given the size of the margin it's all moot anyhow.

    The pricing vs. support trade off is what matter here.
  • TEAMSWITCHER - Monday, December 4, 2023 - link

    I just upgraded my Media Room PC (no Xbox or Playstation for me) and I went with the Shadow Rock 3 cooler. BeQuiet has a great Motherboard Compatibility app on their website that will help you pick the right cooler. This is very important as motherboards today have some very tall VRM cooling solutions.

    The ATX motherboard specification is crazy old now. I can't help to think that the industry could benefit from a new spec that moves the RAM above or below the CPU socket location.
  • Threska - Monday, December 4, 2023 - link

    It already is.

  • Flunk - Monday, December 4, 2023 - link

    Not having Be Quiet's last top-end aircooler the Dark Rock Pro 4 in this review is a serious omission.
  • E.Fyll - Monday, December 4, 2023 - link

    The Dark Rock Pro 5 is the latest - and I am on it.
  • XacTactX - Monday, December 4, 2023 - link

    It would be great if you could review the Thermalright PS120, it's always available for less than $40 and I have a feeling that the performance will be a few degrees worse than the best heatsinks that you have reviewed. Thank you so much for putting up this content!
  • Sunrise089 - Monday, December 4, 2023 - link

    Thank you. I know coolers aren’t the sexiest product but I appreciate the review quality and simply having the content here on the site :)
  • craznazn - Tuesday, December 5, 2023 - link

    Price to performance is a pretty big L that you guys seem to skip on. For this price, you can buy an arctic freezer II. For 1/3 the money, you can get a PA120/PA120SE. In fact, not having price/performance comparison is pretty lacking.

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