Designed by German company be quiet!, the Dark Rock slim is a tall, narrow heatsink-and-fan combination. Forget fancy lighting or LCD readouts, what you get is a sturdy block of black metal. Solid, sturdy and well manufactured, one of the first things you notice is the generous allowance for space between the fins – a good decisions as too small a gap can actually create eddy currents which serve to insulate the heatsink and reduce its efficiency.
Compatible with both AMD and Intel CPUs, it does take two people to install without any hustle, particularly as the supplied thermal paste (which helps move heat from the CPU to the cooler) is quite slippery – and trying to keep the heatsink in place with one hand while tightening screws with the other is simply looking for trouble. Also, for those new to third-party heatsinks, this does put a 600g weight at a distance from the motherboard, so extra care needs to be taken when moving your computer as and the last thing you want to do is to crack your motherboard by being clumsy and dropping your machine heavily on the floor.
The main feature of the Dark Rock Slim is its smaller size and weight compared to many other heatsinks. For a large number of third-party heatsinks, the fins overhang the RAM slots of the motherboard, effectively blocking two slots (unless you’re using low-profile RAM, and are happy to remove the heatsink should you ever want to upgrade the computer’s memory). The narrow profile of the Dark Rock Slim means this is no longer an issue, the trade-off being, however, a reduced TDP (Thermal Power Design – the amount of heat that it’s designed to dissipate).
With a TDP of 180 watts, this is certainly not a cooler aimed at those who want to push their build to the absolute limit. Really, this is aimed at people who primarily want quiet running, with a bit better performance then the CPU stock-cooler supplies. Equipped with a be quiet! 120mm Silent Wings 3 fan, the noise from the cooler is barely noticeable, even when running flat out. Installed in a Dark Base 900 case (reviewd last issue) with the front panel closed and an ambient temperature of around 18̊ C, it managed to keep the Ryzen 3900X at under even when running under load for an extended period it didn’t get above 67̊ C.
If you’re not planning to push your machine beyond its factory settings, don’t care about fancy lights, and are looking for a slim, quiet heatsink with exceptional build quality, then the Dark Rock Slim is easy to recommend.■