Aftermarket coolers have been gaining more and more popularity even with mainstream computer users. This is mainly due to the poor performance of OEM coolers that do not provide adequate cooling to increasingly more advanced CPUs. As a result of that growth the number of options for CPU coolers has increased. Two such options are the Noctua NH-D14 and the be quiet! Dark Rock Pro 2.

Until recently, the Dark Rock Pro 2 had been only sold in Europe but it is now making its way to the US market. Although it has made a great name for itself in Europe, it faces stiff competition in the US market from a variety of other manufacturers. The cooler that it will be tested against in this review is the Noctua NH-D14 which has a very similar appearance to the Dark Rock Pro 2 other that the coloring. Below are technical specifications of both coolers.

Both coolers look quite similar due the fact they both use copper as the base and are coated in nickel to prevent oxidation. The coolers also have approximately the same weight; a difference of just 0.01 kg. However, they do have different designs, which become apparent when observing the dimensions of each. The Noctua is longer and wider and the be quite! is taller. Another difference is the choice of fans. The be quite! uses one 120mm fan and one 135mm fan while the Noctua use one 120mm fan and one 140mm fan. Yet, despite the smaller size, the be quiet! manages to have greater air flow. The reason behind this is the be quiet! fans have a much greater RPM. The 120mm fan runs at 1700 RPM on the be quiet! and at 1300 RPM on the Noctua. The be quiet! 135mm fan runs at 1500 RPM while the Noctua 140mm fan runs at 1200 RPM. What is impressive about this is that the Dark Rock Pro 2 runs very quietly, even with higher RPM. The Noctua includes 2 Ultra-Low-Noise Adapters which do greatly reduce noise, however, for all intents and purposes the be quiet! does not produce any sound. The next thing to observe is how the focus on having quiet fans affects their ability to provide cooling. We tested using the following build:

  • Motherboard – Asus P8P67 Deluxe
  • CPU – Intel Core i5-2500K @3.4GHz
  • GPU – ATI Radeon HD 6850 1GB DDR5
  • SSD – Corsair Force GT 120GB
  • HDD – 1TB Hitachi Deskstar 3.5-Inch 2TB 7200RPM SATA III
  • RAM – ADATA XPG Gaming Series 2x4GB 1600MHz

The program used to record the data was HWiNFO64 and to stress the CPU to 100% we used Prime95.

The results speak for themselves. The be quiet! Dark Rock Pro 2 holds its own against the well-known Noctua NH-D14. The difference in total average temperature over all CPU cores was a measly 0.3 C. In our opinion, this makes the Dark Rock Pro 2 the more appealing of the two due to it being much quieter while still being equally effective at cooling. However, one must still consider the price; the be quiet! Dark Rock Pro 2 has an MSRP of $99.95 USD while the Noctua NH-D14 sells for approximately $83.00 USD. While the steep price may discourage consumers, for those that require a quiet system it is certainly worth the extra money; after all, silence is golden.