Avoid the Dark Rock Pro 3 at all costs | My impressions/review of it | Who's it for?

wildmitchell

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May 28, 2018
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This weekend was my first attempt at a proper PC build, prior to this I've only ever done graphics cards, drives, new paste on the stock heatsink, cleaning the dust out, that sort of thing. In thenew build I had to replace the motherboard, CPU, heatsink and RAM, all of which were a doddle besides for the, you guessed it, the Dark Rock Pro 3.

The Mounting:
The heatsink comes with bags full of nuts and bolts labelled for AMD or Intel, which is about as convenient as this gets. Screwing in the mounts to the cooler first was difficult when following the manual which is surprisingly eco friendly by reducing the number of diagrams to their size to the bare minimum which made identifying screws, orientations etc. difficult, especially since this is the first time I'd encountered a backplate before. However, is doable given about an of hour of your time, the main problems lie within its size.

The Size:
This thing is the Rik waller of all CPU coolers. Not only does this make installing it a pain, it meant I had to flip the motherboard over and install it to the cooler because screwing the bolts that hold it in place from within the case would be a nightmare, especially with the puny wrench they give you.

However, once you install the motherboard now with its new tumour into your case, you'll realise that the size of this thing is almost impossible to work with. I had to use pryers to plug some sockets into the motherboard because there wasn't enough room for my fingers to go in past it. My fingers being normal sized, unlike this cooler, in case you were wondering.

Not only does it make plugging cables in near impossible, it makes swapping RAM out actually impossible. This cooler is only compatible with short sticks of RAM, I used the Corsair Vengeance LPX RAM which had just a few centimetres of headroom across all four RAM slots of the GIGABYTE Z370 Gaming K3 MOBO. This means that in order to change or even to reseat RAM, you have to take the cooler off. More fuss, a waste of a thermal compound application, a chance of damaging the motherboard due to its weight.

The Weight:
Being the heavy weight champion of coolers also means that it's incredibly heavy which causes massive concern for your motherboard if it's not of a great build quality or you don't have 9/9 standoffs screwed in which was the case for me.

Having only 6 standoff screws in the case, I decided to position the majority of them up where the cooler was to support this ample weight, however again, because the cooler's so fat, I couldn't actually screw in one of the standoff screws because it was underneath the cooler. This meant I only had 5/9 standoff screws screwed down which is bad. This means I daren't standup the pc in case it begins to warp the motherboard or snap it entirely.

Why so salty?
Well, after all of this I am in a boot loop which is the result of an incorrect hardware configuration. This could be resolved by something as simple as moving or reseating the RAM or something as severe as replacing some components. However, I can't make a proper diagnosis because I can't get to the RAM as is the case with Dark Rock Pro 3.

(I genuinely think that I've put the RAM in the wrong position, I took a lucky dip and went for the second and fourth slot because these were both the same colour, 1 and 3 being a matching different colour, and I thought I might be able to reach the fourth slot if things go wrong - I cant reach any of the slots due to the whale ontop of it).

Regardless, I'm sending this off because I cannot be bothered to work with the Dark Rock Pro 3 anymore and taking it off and on again would drive me insane which means it is actually going to cost me more than what it would have cost me if I were to just buy liquid cooling.

So who's it for then?
Certainly not new builders. If I could go back one week I'd tell myself to simply fork out the extra money for a smaller Noctua fan or better yet, a puny little water cooler which you can't even go wrong with.

Despite all of this, the Dark Rock Pro 3 is silent. In the brief seconds my computer is breathing for, it is actually inaudible under the sound of a hard drive and a couple of case fans. So if you are an experienced builder, have done many builds in the past and know all of the tricks to look out for, it may be suitable for you.

Nonetheless, I'd only ever recommend installing this on a big case, I have the Zalman Z11 Plus mid tower, with a big motherboard. My experience of fitting things around the cooler was such a nightmare.

Otherwise, it is just too messy. In my eyes there are so many other, much more practical solutions and this heatsink is actually too quiet for it to even be worth while because it is quieter than everything else in my build.

2/10 - + Quiet - Way too big, heavy, fiddly and in no way practical (Right now, an 212 Evo would have been a better choice because currently I've got no PC and am £60+ down)

Admittedly, I should have looked into it more, trust me, I've learnt my lesson. But if you want to get a discussion going, dispute any of this, chuck your two cents in, go for it. These are just my first hand impressions.
 

wildmitchell

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May 28, 2018
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I forgot about this, glad it helped you Ralph, none of this was ever mentioned in the reviews I looked at!

Anyway, the irony is that it turns out I hadn't plugged in a crucial power cable... because the socket was tucked under the cooler. I had fed the wire through and tucked it where it needed to go, I just had to plug it in but I forgot because I couldn't actually see it. Conclusion: this cooler's still a pain in the ass!
 

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