Noise Levels & Fan Speeds
Testing ProcedureFan noise testing is done at 25%, 50%, and 100% fan speed, with a Pyle PSPL25 sound pressure level meter recording the dBA level at a distance of 30 cm. The fan(s) RPM results are taken at the same 25%, 50%, and 100% settings. The selected speeds are handled by MSI's Command Center software, and a Lamptron FC6 fan controller is also used as a secondary method of confirming RPM and dBA readings. This ensures that proper results can still be obtained if MSI's Command Center cannot control the fan(s). To give users the noise profile of the tested CPU cooler, testing is done using fan speed percentages instead of various load levels.
Cooling performance for a single-tower, single-fan design is exceptional; however, its noise level will impress even more as the cooler not only does extremely well in terms of cooling, but does so while being incredibly quiet. At 40 dBA with 100% fan speed, it ties the Titen Dragonfly 4 for the top spot. The only time be quiet!'s cooler does not manage to take top honors is at 50% fan speed, where it hits 36 dBA, and only the Dragonfly 4 from Titan and the Scythe Katana 4 manage to produce less noise at 50%.
Our RPM readings show exactly why be quiet!'s Dark Rock 3 is so quiet. At 25% fan speed, the fan is only rotating at 380 RPM. It hits a modest 750 RPM at 50% and tops out at 1431 RPM at 100%. Fan noise is nearly directly linked to a fan's rotational speed. While bearing type and design choices have an impact, faster fans tend to be louder. How well the Dark Rock 3 performs is, considering it low-noise, low-RPM fan, pretty amazing.