It seems like there are a million different ways to design a CPU cooler, and each big company has at least one of each type. In the case of be quiet!, we have reviewed their Dark Rock Pro 2, a giant dual tower cooler with 120 and 135mm fans, as well as the Shadow Rock Topflow, a somewhat low profile cooler that fits in narrower cases.
Today we’re looking at their option for those who don’t have a lot of free space around the CPU area, but can manage to fit a rather tall cooler in their case.
Shadow Rock Slim Review
The Shadow Rock Slim is the latest CPU cooler from be quiet!, and it features a single 120mm fan blowing on a single tower heatsink. To give us a reference, we’ll be comparing it mostly against the Noctua NH-U12S, which is practically identical in terms of design. First, let’s take a look at the specs:
Shadow Rock Slim
|Dimensions without Fans||H: 161mm|
|Dimensions WITH Fans||H: 161mm|
|Included Fans||1x 135mm Silent Wings|
|1x 120mm NF-F12|
|Extra Fan Support||1x 120mm||1x 120mm|
|Max Rated Noise in dB(A)||23.7 @ 100%|
18.7 @ 75%
|22.4 @ 100%|
18.6 @ 80%
|Lowest Price (USA)||$60|
As you can see, the two coolers are practically identical, with just a few minor things setting them apart. The Shadow Rock Slim has a slightly larger fan, since they use their own custom 135mm Silent Wings fans rather than a standard 120mm. The bigger diameter lets them use a slightly lower RPM while still moving more air, and without much extra noise either.
The major difference that will have an impact on your buying decision is probably the price. And how much of an impact depends on where you live. For whatever reason, be queit! coolers aren’t very well represented outside Europe. The only place we could find it listed is NCIX US, and they charge $60 for it. This is slightly cheaper than the lowest price NH-U12S in the US, at $64, but not by much.
The situation changes in Europe, with the Shadow Rock Slim selling for €34 EUR, or the equivalent of $48 USD – significantly lower than in North America. The NH-U12S goes the other direction through, selling for €55 EUR, or the equivalent of $75 USD. This doesn’t take VAT into account, since I’m not really familiar with how that works. In any case, if you are in Europe, the choice will be much more heavily influenced by price than by performance. In North America, since they are so similar in price, performance is going to mean a lot more. The NH-U12S also has a major advantage in the 6 year warranty, which is twice as long as that on the Shadow Rock Slim.
We’ll get to performance later; for now, let’s take a look at the Shadow Rock Slim itself.
be quiet! Shadow Rock Slim CPU Cooler
We’ve thought for a long time that be quiet! makes some of the best looking CPU coolers on the market. To me, they hit their peak with the Dark Rock Pro 2′s blacked out look, but the Shadow Rock Slim looks pretty great as well. This is despite having exposed copper heatpipes – usually these are nickel plated to give a more uniform look. The detail that went into the top fin design is what makes the Shadow Rock Slim look so nice. In most cases, this is the part that you’re going to see the most, so if any part of the cooler should receive a lot of attention to aesthetics, it’s this.
be quiet! did a great job with it, capping off the heatpipe ends with cool looking brushed metal plate. I’d still prefer a blacked out look, but the Shadow Rock Slim looks good in its own right.
It’s worth noting here that the fan clips stick out slightly from the rest of the heatsink, effectively making it a few mm wider than the fan. It’s still quite narrow, and in most cases this won’t be an issue at all though.
The Shadow Rock Slim has four non-plated copper heatpipes that are 6mm in diameter, running through a nickel plated base and 52 aluminum fins. It can accommodate a second fan, and comes with extra clips to do so.
Unlike Noctua’s coolers (and be quiet!’s own Dark Rock Pro 2), the nickel plated CPU contact is CNC machined to nearly a mirror finish, and is almost completely flat rather than slightly concave. We’re told that the concave design pushes into the CPU plate better, and a matte finish makes for a better thermal interface, so it’ll be interesting to see if performance is affected here.
The Shadow Rock Slim comes with mounting hardware for all modern Intel and AMD CPU sockets, even including LGA 775. Some very basic thermal paste is included – you’ll want to toss that aside and use something that you know will last long. This is usually the ‘grey’ type of paste that a lot of manufacturers have caught onto using lately.
On the next page, we’ll walk through the be quiet! Shadow Rock Slim installation process on Intel 1150 CPUs.