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August 05, 2014

Unboxing & Review: be quiet! Shadow Rock Slim


When choosing an air cooler, one of the most sought after feature aside from cooling performance and aesthetics is RAM clearance. With that, we've seen a fair number of manufacturers addressing this issue such as Gelid Solution's The Black Edition with their (slightly) off-centered mounting and slim front fan, Noctua's NH-D15 with the bottom part of the fins trimmed and now we explore the lean and slim tower cooler from be quiet!, the Shadow Rock Slim.

Thanks to be quiet! for today's provision of the Shadow Rock Slim CPU cooler, as an air-cooling advocate (since we have to swap components every now and then) we can't wait to see if we could fit our tall RAMs along the Shadow Rock Slim so lets get on to the review... oh by the way, this retails for $59.99 USD (roughly around RM190) and can be purchased from NCIX.com or Amazon.com for now as there are no local distributor for be quiet! products in Malaysia at the moment.

Specifications

Packaging


The dark themed box 'minimalistically' displayed the be quiet! branding on the top right, a small image of the Shadow Rock Slim in the middle with the bottom part displaying the name, theme and some features. be quiet! has this cooler categorized as a premium product as displayed on the silver-strip at the side.


Accessories package is very straightforward. You'll get a backplate, some mounting screws and accessories,  a small tube of TIM, an extra pair of fan clips and an installation guide.


Right out of the box, we find a silent-optimized 135mm SilentWings fan with PWM function pre-mounted on the heatsink and the whole assembly feels very solid.


This is certainly one handsome looking cooler with the clean design of the silver-ish top plate with the heatpipes capped in chrome secured by hex screws, giving it a premium appearance. This will look awesome through a windowed side panel.


You can see that the fins at the side has a little jagged design to it.


Note that the fan sticks out slightly at the bottom from the fins. This should help with some airflow to the surrounding components.


From the back, we can see the arrangement of the quad 6mm heatpipes that takes away the heat from the middle of the contact block to the outermost area of the fins, while the other two is bent back towards the middle part for an even spread through the fins.


The heatpipes is sandwiched in between the upper plate and CPU contact point, which is mirror polished.

Mounting the Cooler


The mounting is basically the same as be quiet!'s higher end Dark Rock Pro 3, which can be rather tricky to install. We'll start off by first securing the mounting bracket to the cooler itself with the screws provided.


The back plate is then mounted at the back of the motherboard, threading the screws through the correct socket holes.


The screws are then secured with the plastic clips on the opposite side and not forgetting a small portion of thermal paste on the CPU's IHS for better contact point for the best heat dissipation as possible.


So here comes the trickiest part, the cooler must be held in place with the bracket aligned correctly to the screws and tightened from behind of the motherboard. Which is why there wasn't an image of the process as I'd need a third hand to hold the camera.


Checking out for the RAM clearance, it's perfect. Even with the fan mounted, it's not obstructing any of the RAM slots and so it wouldn't be any issue even with 4 stick of tall RAMs installed.

Just make sure that your chassis can support the 161mm height of the Shadow Rock Slim. The chassis used in this shot is SilverStone Raven 05

Performance Test


With everything set to go, here's a complete list of the parts used for our test rig used for this review:

Test Rig Configuration
CPU Cooler
be quiet! Shadow Rock Slim
CPU
I7 4790K
Motherboard
ASUS Maximus Gene VI
Memory
Corsair Vengeance Pro 4GB x 2
Primary Hard Drive
Crucial M500 120GB
Power Supply
Cooler Master V1200 Platinum
Chassis
SilverStone Raven 05
Graphics Card
ASUS R9 290X Matrix Platinum

Moving on to the performance test, we ran the CPU stress test utility Prime95 with the option 'In-place large FFTs' for maximum heat from the CPU with 3 single tower CPU cooler for performance comparison:


  • be quiet! Shadow Rock Slim
  • Deepcool Gamer Storm Lucifer
  • Thermalright Archon SB-E X2

Our room temperature throughout the test is 30ºC in average and the stress test is repeated for several times in order to get a stable and consistent temperature reading. The final result is presented in the graph as below:


Being in the same category for single tower air cooler, the be quiet! Shadow Rock Slim did fairly well with the stress test on stock speed, being on par to the Thermalright Archon SB-E X2 and slightly 3ºC behind the Deepcool Gamer Storm Lucifer.

When things got heated up a bit with our i7 4790K overclocked to 4.6GHz, a more significant difference in temperature is observed. The Deepcool Gamer Storm Lucifer still takes the lead but the be quiet! Shadow Rock Slim is doing pretty well in keeping the temperatures below 90ºC and is even 4ºC cooler than the Thermalright Archon SB-E X2 which it was running on par with earlier.


Conclusion

Great aesthetic appearance, near silent operation and decent cooling performance are what we can describe the be quiet! Shadow Rock Slim. With all aspects taken into account, the be quiet! Shadow Rock Slim fits comfortably in between both cooler that we've tested - the best performer (Deepcool Gamer Storm Lucifer) has RAM clearance issue while the other one with an excellent RAM clearance (Thermalright Archon SB-E x2) doesn't seem to perform as well when we ramped up the i7 4790K to 4.6GHz.

The only short comings we see here is that the be quiet! Shadow Rock Slim is quite tricky to install compared to the other two and the fan clips that would probably fit only the fans from be quiet!,  but it's still pretty good overall and we wouldn't hesitate to recommend it to those who seeks for a good looking CPU cooler with decent performance and most importantly, good RAM clearance.

Pros
  • Aesthetically pleasing to look at
  • Solid build quality
  • Pre-installed with a 135mm SilentWings PWM fan
  • Excellent RAM clearance
  • Near silent operation
Cons
  • Fan clips do not fit other 25mm thick fans
  • Tricky to install
  • Not designed for overclocked CPU
With the decision made, we hereby award the be quiet! Shadow Rock Slim with a Silver and Recommend award badges of www.tech-critter.com.




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