German power and cooling specialists Be Quiet announced the Silent Base chassis late last year, so you'd be forgiven for assuming that they had nothing new to show during all-important CES-week. Thankfully you would be wrong, they most certainly do have a couple of innovative new cooler designs coming up this as early as this Spring.
Dark Rock TF
Taking the role of high performance, top-down CPU cooler is the brand new Dark Rock TF, utilising a fairly uncommon stacked dual-heatsink design with heatpipes linking two discrete heatsinks rather than simply integrating fins into the copper block. Naturally this results in fairly high cooling performance: with both 135mm Silent Wing fans installed it's rated at up to 220W TDP, whilst only one fan can still cool CPUs up to 150W.
Performance-wise therefore the Dark Rock TF is poised to catch many an eye, but clearance should always be a watch-word on CPU coolers. At 130mm high with all fans installed it's a trifle taller than some but comfortably sorter than many tower coolers, and a height of 110mm with no top fan increases chassis compatibility still further. Without the lower fan 70mm tall memory modules can be installed, otherwise lower profile RAM is the order of the day.
Staying true to the Dark Rock range's aesthetic, each heatsink is dark nickel-plated with a brushed aluminium finish and aluminium caps. The heatpipes themselves are nickel-plated for a mirrored finish.
Two of Be Quiet's own 135mm Silent Wings PWM fans come with the Dark Rock TF, ensuring a far higher quality than whatever you may have to had. Each Silent Wings PWM fan incorporates a 6-pole motor - including an extra IC for more accurate RPM monitoring - and fluid-dynamic bearing; the fans can be connected separately or together with an optional V-cable, allowing for discrete or combined speed regulation. Furthermore the Dark Rock TF has anti-vibration inserts for the cooling fins, reducing harmonic noise.
Coming with a 3-year warranty, the Dark Rock TF will be available at the end of March for an MSRP of €79.90 / $79.90. Definitely one to watch for high-end systems in compact chassis, or simply if you want something that looks different whilst remaining professional.
Shadow Rock LP
In contrast to the Dark Rock TF, the Shadow Rock LP is an even more compact and affordable design for lower power systems. Topping out at only 72mm tall, it can nonetheless handle CPUs up to a TDP of 130W due in part to the double-stacked heatsink design and 6mm copper heatpipes. The bundled 120mm Pure Wings 2 PWN fan also helps too, not least thanks to the air-flow optimised fin design.
The Shadow Rock LP also makes use of a new "Pure mounting kit" which Be Quiet say allows installation from the top. It will be interesting to find out the nitty-gritty of this system as cooler installation is almost always a bugbear when assembling a new low-profile system.
Naturally, there is a trade-off when using such a low profile cooler, and in this case it's in the form of memory compatibility. With standard motherboards you're limited to a maximum height of 32mm, so DIMMs with elaborate heatspreaders are out and low profile memory is in. For reference, the popular Corsair XMS memory line is typically 32mm tall.
The Shadow Rock LP is also available from the end of March, priced at a much more affordable €39.90 / $39.90