PC Components

be quiet! Dark Rock TF 2 – Massive top-flow cooler gets a makeover

The German hardware manufacturer be quiet! has become known worldwide primarily for its high-quality and particularly quiet power supplies. For 11 years, be quiet! has also been a major player in the CPU cooler segment and has already won one or two awards with its “Dark Rock” series. Behind this series is a line-up of high-end coolers in every size and shape. Overall, the focus is predominantly on tower coolers.

In August 2021, be quiet! introduced the Dark Rock TF 2, a successor to the only top-flow cooler in the “Dark Rock” series, the Dark Rock TF, after a long six years. Not much has changed at first glance. The TF 2 is a bit heavier and no longer relies on nickel but on a “special coating with ceramic particles”. However, two Silent Wings fans remain, but now in version 3. According to the manufacturer, the mounting system of the CPU cooler has been improved in any case. The cost of the be quiet! Dark Rock TF 2 is € 86.30*. Find out how the new top-flow cooler performs in this review.

Technical details

Cooler Specifications

Dimensions (with fan) 140 x 134 x 163 mm (W x H x D)
Weight (with fan) 945 g
Material Copper (heatpipes), aluminum (cooling fins, black anodized)
Heatpipes 6x Ø 6 mm
Cooling capacity 230W
Compatibility AMD AM2(+), AM3(+), AM4, FM1, FM2(+)
Compatibility Intel LGA1200, LGA115x, LGA2011(-3), LGA 2066
Price € 86.30*

Fan specifications

Fan designation be quiet! Silent Wings 3 PWM
Bearing type Fluid-Dynamic-Bearing (FDB)
Dimensions 135 x 135 x 25 mm/ 135 x 135 x 25 mm
Speed max. 1400 rpm/ max. 1300 rpm
Volume N/A
Supply volume N/A
Air pressure N/A
Current consumption 0.2A/ 0.4A

Packaging & Scope of Delivery

The Dark Rock TF2 was packaged by the manufacturer in a large cardboard box in the typical be quiet! colors. This results in an almost black cardboard box with white lettering for all information, the white-orange be quiet! logo and of course a silver-grey color stripe on the left side of the box. In addition to numerous product images and the technical specifications of the CPU cooler, you can also find a QR code on the left side of the cardboard box that links directly to the website. If you open the top flap, you are directly greeted by one of the fans, which is also wrapped in cardboard.

Underneath, securely wrapped in soft foam, you’ll find the heatsink of the Dark Rock TF2. Between the cooling fins, be quiet! has placed the box with the mounting accessories. This box contains a backplate and all the necessary screws, bolts, and spacers, as well as the fan mounting brackets, a tube of thermal paste, the mounting instructions, and a splitter cable with two 4-pin PWM connectors. The second fan has been stowed away by be quiet! underneath the heatsink.

Design & Workmanship

The Dark Rock TF 2 is divided into two different heatsinks mounted horizontally above the cooler base. The top heatsink is made up of 64 aluminum fins, while the bottom heatsink is made up of 32 aluminum fins. Heat is collected from the CPU’s heatspreader via a nickel-plated copper plate and a total of six heatpipes, each six millimeters in diameter. However, only the upper heat sink has the privilege for the six heatpipes. The smaller cooling unit is only fed with four heat pipes due to its smaller size. To enhance the look, be quiet! has covered the ends of the heatpipes with a brushed aluminum plate and finished it with the manufacturer’s logo.

Where its predecessor’s aluminum fins and heat pipes were nickel-plated, be quiet! relies on a “special coating with ceramic particles” for the TF 2, which are supposed to improve heat dissipation. In addition, the black coating significantly enhances the appearance. If you attach the two fans to the heatsink with the included brackets, the TF 2 looks quite massive and lives up to its name “Dark Rock”.

The included Silent Wings 3 fans are of course also from be quiet! and have a frame width of 135 millimeters. One of the fans is 25 millimeters deep, the other 22 millimeters. There are also differences in the number of fan blades. Thus, one fan has seven, the other nine fan blades. The connection to the motherboard is made via a 4-pin PWM connector in each case. A PWM splitter cable is also included. The maximum speed for both fans is about 1400 rpm.

Assembly

A test system on a benchtable is used for the review. This allows us to rule out factors such as heat buildup in the case. The test system consists of the following components.

For AMD systems, the installation of the Dark Rock TF 2 is very simple and relies on the existing backplate of the AMD retention module. So, as usual, the two retaining brackets of the AMD retention module must be removed beforehand. This is followed by four black plastic spacers and two black retaining brackets, which are attached to the backplate with long black screws. After applying the thermal paste, the Dark Rock TF 2 can be placed on the CPU and screwed into place.

The assembly took only a few minutes and is much easier to handle than its predecessor. The fans are mounted using conventional wire brackets. However, due to the design of the fan frames and the dimensions of the fans, they cannot be replaced with any other fan. While this is not necessary with the quiet running Silent Wings 3, it will be more difficult to find suitable replacements in the event of a defect outside of warranty.

Fully assembled, the Dark Rock TF 2 does look quite bulky, although it is “only” a top-flow cooler. Although the heatsink overhangs the RAM slots, the layout of the TF 2 allows RAM bars with a height of 49 millimeters. This is not enough for all but many memory bars with tall heatspreaders.

Loudness and cooling performance

As pointed out in the previous chapter, we are using an AM4 system based on the Ryzen 5 1400 and the MSI B350 PC Mate as our test hardware. The Ryzen runs at 3.8 GHz at 1.25V. To warm up the processor, it was loaded with Prime95 for 15 minutes. The CPU’s temperature was then read with the CPUID hardware monitor and the room temperature was around 23 °C during the measurements.

Cooler Operating scenario RPM temperature
AMD Wraith Stealth 50% PWM 1600 rpm 102°C (crash)
AMD Wraith Stealth 100% PWM 2650 rpm 86°C
Enermax ETS-F40-FS 50% PWM 700 rpm 59°C
Enermax ETS-F40-FS 100% PWM 1300 rpm 57°C
be quiet! Dark Rock TF2 50% PWM 660 rpm 62°C
be quiet! Dark Rock TF2 100% PWM 1400 rpm 57°C

As you would expect, the Dark Rock TF 2 can easily keep up with a normal tower cooler and keeps the overclocked CPU within a good temperature range. However, considering that the Enermax cooler is almost €50 cheaper, the performance delivered doesn’t seem quite as impressive anymore. In return, the Dark Rock TF 2 is two centimeters smaller and thus fits better in narrower cases. In addition, the Silent Wings 3 are only discreetly perceptible even at full volume and don’t create any annoying background noise.

Conclusion on the be quiet! Dark Rock TF 2

Now we have unpacked the be quiet! Dark Rock TF 2, taken a closer look, mounted it and performed a short stress test. So now it’s time for a conclusion. be quiet! took a very long time to come up with the Dark Rock TF 2, but from our point of view it was able to do everything better than its predecessor. The new CPU cooler has been given an even chicer look thanks to the black coating and has a particularly high-quality finish. In addition, the included Silent Wings 3 fans know how to convince with a pleasant running smoothness. The biggest improvement, however, is the mounting system. The cooler no longer has to be laboriously screwed onto the front with nuts, but relies on a mounting bracket that is easy to reach with a normal screwdriver.

The only negative point, if you want to call it that, is from our point of view the provided cooling performance in relation to the purchase price. Basically, the Dark Rock TF 2 was able to cool our CPU very well, but it could not beat a conventional tower cooler, which costs about 50 € less. Basically, € 86.30* are quite a high purchase price for a top flow cooler. Even the Dark Rock Pro 4 is now available for € 57.07*.

So who is the be quiet! Dark Rock TF 2 suitable for now? Due to the lower height compared to the Dark Rock Pro 4 or other tower coolers, the Dark Rock TF 2 is particularly suitable for more compact systems in which no AiO water cooling or large heatsinks can be used. If the focus is also on a simple but elegant look and good cooling performance at low noise levels, then you should consider the Dark Rock TF 2. In any case, however, this CPU cooler tears a small hole in the wallet.

be quiet! Dark Rock TF 2

Design
Workmanship
Assembly
Cooling
Value for money

90/100

The be quiet! Dark Rock TF 2 is a high-quality manufactured and visually appealing CPU cooler that could convince with a good mounting system, two quiet fans and a good cooling performance. However, the very good overall package has its price.

be quiet! Dark Rock TF 2 price comparison


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Simon Lüthje

I am co-founder of this blog and am very interested in everything that has to do with technology, but I also like to play games. I was born in Hamburg, but now I live in Bad Segeberg.

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The German hardware manufacturer be quiet! has become known worldwide primarily for its high-quality and particularly quiet power supplies. For 11 years, be quiet! has also been a major player in the CPU cooler segment and has already won one or two awards with its „Dark Rock“ series. Behind this series is a line-up of … (Weiterlesen...)

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