bequiet Shadow Rock Slim Review
Cast your eye over the bequiet cooler range and you'll see that there's something for everyone in there. Having already looked at the Dark Rock Pro3 and seen the bloody nose that it gave to the mighty D14, we thought we'd have a look at the other end of the scale. Being only 52mm deep without the 22mm deep 130mm silent wings fan the Shadow Rock Slim is certainly worthy of its moniker. It is though quite proportionately larger in other dimension, standing some 161mm tall and 137mm wide. This balance between slender yet wide and tall combined with the 52 Aluminium elements in the fin stack should help it maintain a decent overall heat dissipation area. On the negative side, the high stature of the Slim will prevent it from being fitted into those cases at the smaller end of the Mid tower class for example the Silencio 452 and the Nanoxia DS4. There are though still plenty of cases out there that are wide enough to give it a home, we just think it worth a mention that if you're thinking of buying this cooler it's well worth checking those dimensions first.
Those familiar with our heat sink reviews will know that we use what we call the Holy trinity test as a means of assessing a cooler’s overall capabilities. There are of course other factors in the mix, such as price and build quality, however at the end of the day a cooler has to be able to keep the temps down, be quiet (ahem) and critically these days, has to look good whilst doing it. It is also imperative that rather than an outright victory in any of those categories a cooler should present an even balance of strengths across the board. After all, there's no point having a high performance cooler if it's as ugly as a baboon’s bottom and is so loud it makes your ears bleed.
From a performance perspective we weren't expecting big things from the Slim. Compare its TDP of just 160 Watts to the Dark Rock Pro's 250W TDP and you'll get a better idea of the relative ability of this cooler to dissipate heat. This isn't intended as a criticism, far from it. Had the cooler been designed as a high performance unit and failed to thrive then it would be fair to slate it for coming near the bottom of the performance charts. As it is though this cooler is designed with a thermal limitation in mind. That said, at 4.0GHz it does still manage to better the slightly bigger Matterhorn Pure, which coincidently also has an additional two heat pipes to its name
By now you might be asking yourself what it is has going for it if it's not outright performance. Well let's look at the remaining two elements of the trinity shall we. From a sonic footprint standpoint the Slim performs exceedingly well, the clue, as they say, is in the name. This low sonic footprint is of course down to the merits of the 130mm Silent Wings fan which at 800RPm has a stated noise level of just 23.7dB(A). Step the speed down to 75% and that figure drops to 18.7dB(A). If you have no plans for overclocking and crave silence more than anything else dropping the fan speed down to just 400RPM will have the fan emitting a practically inaudible 11.5dB(A).
So it can do "quiet", but what about looks. Well we happen to think it looks just fine. Granted it isn't in the same Matte Black as the other coolers in the Range, but then it doesn't cost as much either. We particularly like the Matte finish to the billet like Aluminium top plate especially as it seems to have magical powers to resist the dreaded finger print marks that can so often ruin the looks of a cooler in situ. We also like that bequiet have taken the time to add machined effect top caps to the ends of the heat pipes. We think these look great; like smaller versions of the volume knobs found on 70s Hi-Fi separates, but that might just be us! Then there's the bequiet logo, nice and simple, just a shame it's on its side when the cooler’s mounted.
Having looked at the trinity let's now look at the other important factors. Build quality is generally good, the Slim is well put together, and there are some nice areas of attention to detail. On the negative side there's evidence of solder leakage where the heat pipes meet the contact plate. We appreciate that this won't be seen once the cooler is mounted but we're not called OC3D without good reason. Being a small cooler it's also nice and easy to fit, as there's no need to squirm your fingers under great overhangs in order to tighten hard to get at nuts. Being slim of course also means that it doesn't overhang the RAM slots, so feel free to couple it with ridiculously tall RAM.
The final element of the equation as always is cost and of course what else that money will buy you. At £33 the Slim looks to be pretty competitively priced for a cooler of its capabilities. The most obvious comparison being with the Matterhorn pure we reviewed a good while back. The Pure might be a few quid cheaper than the Slim, but we don't think it has as much case presence and although slightly larger has marginally inferior performance. There's also the Scythe Mugen4 which at just £7 more will undoubtedly outperform the Slim but brings with it fairly major RAM encroachment issues owing to it being a bit of a chunky monkey.
To round things up we think it's fair to say that if you're looking for outright performance this isn't the cooler for you. If however if you've got in the region of £30-£35 to spend and you're looking for a well-made, well presented cooler that will keep things reasonably cool at mild overclock levels and isn't going to clash with tall RAM heatsinks then the Shadow Rock Slim is well worth a look.
Thanks to beQuiet for sending the SR Slim in for review, you can discuss your thoughts in the OC3D Forums.