Keeping it cool with be quiet!’s Shadow Rock 2
When you’re putting a gaming PC together there’s plenty of interesting things to think about that sometimes the less glamorous components get overlooked. For example CPU cooling fans don’t (generally) raise the same level as excitement as a new video card – sad, but true!
Doing its best to keep coolers and fans at the forefront of our minds is German manufacturer be quiet! Here we look at its Shadow Rock 2 CPU cooler.
Now, while not being the sexiest piece of kit, what happens when you try and turn your PC on without a CPU cooler?
That’s right, blue screen of death. No-one wants to watch their $400 + CPU get so hot it automatically shuts itself off!
So, the CPU cooler is an essential, and be quiet! certainly knows what it’s doing when it comes to manufacturing top quality cool and quiet solutions for PC builders, having been voted Manufacturer of the Year multiple times by German tech fans, and having been responsible for some of the awesome PC cases of recent times, including the Silent Base 800.
The Shadow Rock 2 continues this legacy, featuring four 8mm heatpipes, a 120 x 25mm 1600RPM fan, and a selectable fan mount. Let’s take a closer look.
The Shadow Rock 2 has a lot to compete with in the CPU air cooler market, with excellent offerings available from fellow european manufacturer Noctua, such as the award-winning NH-D15, as well as stiff competition from Corsair, NZXT and Cooler Master.
Size and Looks
To start with let me say how good the Shadow Rock 2 looks.
Featuring a brushed aluminum top service, finished with 8 moulded and brushed heatpipe caps, and four, u-shaped bright copper heat pipes, it looks like a good quality product as soon as you get it out of the box.
The 8mm heat pipes do an excellent job of pulling heat away from your CPU and dissipating it across the 51 fins of the heatsink.
The unit comes with a supplied 120mm Silent Wings fan, which operates at 1600RPM and which can be mounted on any of the Shadow Rock 2 heatsink’s sides.
The heatpipes pass through the cooler’s base, but do not contact the CPU surface directly, connecting instead to the gleaming base element of the cooler, which mounts directly on to the CPU and draws heat away from it.
The Shadow Rock 2 measures 122mm x 122mm x 160 mm, and weighs in at just over 1kg with the 120mm fan attached, so is lighter and more compact than the (admittedly huge) Noctua NH-D15.
The be quiet! Shadow Rock 2 is well packaged, with a picture on the front clearly showing what you’ve bought, and the whole package styled in be quiet!’s jet black branding.
The box clearly displays the unit’s rated power requirement of 180W, and shows the cooler’s specs on one side.
Upon opening the box you’ll see that everything is carefully and neatly packed and secured, with the mounting screws and accessories secured in a separate plastic bag.
Everything you’ll need to install the cooler is included: mounting kits and screws, spacers, a spanner, even a tube of thermal paste!
The Shadow Rock 2 is compatible with a wide range of sockets including the most recent Intel socket 1151. The full list of compatible sockets is:
Intel: LGA775, LGA1150, LGA1155, LGA1156, LGA1366, LGA2011
AMD: AM2, AM2+, AM3, AM3+, FM1, FM2, 754, 939
The full list of what you get in the box is below
- 1x heatsink
- 1x 120mm Silent Wings fan
- 2x AMD mounting brackets
- 2x Intel mounting brackets
- 4x hexagonal nuts
- 4x LGA2011 spacer nuts
- 4x C profile spacers
- 4x M3x3 screws
- 4x M3x15 screws
- 1x Set of fan clips
- 1x backplate (Intel and AMD compatible)
- 1x User’s manual
- 1x tube of thermal paste
- 1x LGA2011 spanner
The materials used by be quiet! In the Shadow Rock 2, include copper in the base and heat pipes and aluminum cooling fins.
To test the Shadow Rock 2 cooler I used my i5-4690K system. It runs at 3.5GHz standard speed and at 3.9GHz boost.
I used Core Temp to measure how hot things got on the CPU, and to log temperatures for 10 minutes, then tested the processor using the CPU stress testing tool Prime95.
So how did it do? Well at idle the CPU happily chugged along at 26c, and after 10-minutes on Prime95, Core Temp recorded a temperature of 64c – not too bad.
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I tried it alongside the stock Intel cooler, which was not able to match the Shadow Rock 2’s performance at all.
At idle the CPU was 33c, but following a 10-minute stress test on Prime95 the CPU shot up to 100c – much too hot!
So, it’s clear that at stock operation, the Shadow Rock 2 handles temperatures very well.
Can I Overclock it?
In short, no. Or if you do, be careful.
I overclocked – that is increased the speed – of the i5-4690K to see how the Shadow Rock 2 handled the additonal heat generated from a faster processor.
I gradually bumped the clock speed up to 4.2GHz.
The i5-4690K generally has plenty more headroom when it comes to overclocking, but i wanted to keep things closer to most real world scenarios (I also didn’t want to fry my CPU!).
Diving back into Core Temp, I recorded idle temperature for 10 minutes, and then compared it to a 10-minute run using Prime95.
The overclock definitely heated things up.
At idle, the Shadow Rock 2 was recorded as sitting at 36c, a full 10c hotter than the stock speeds, and I hadn’t even turned on the gas yet!
Under load from Prime 95 the Shadow Rock 2 pushed up to a much toastier 87c – this is really too high for a CPU to be operating at day-in, day-out, and is 23c hotter than the temperatures generated at stock speeds.
Most applicaitons won’t stress your CPU as much as Prime95 will, but for me 87c is too far above the 80c recommended operating temperature of CPUs to risk.
If you’re looking for an affordable and quiet replacement for the stock coolers on offer from Intel and AMD, the Shadow Rock 2 is for you.
It’s available for around $50, and will do a good job of keeping your CPU cool – provided you avoid overclocking.
This is fine, not everyone wants to overclock their processors, and there are plenty of people out there who are happy to use the base and boost speeds processors are sold at.
If you ARE thinking of turning the heat up on your processor to make it run even faster, I would recommend looking at a beefier air cooler, or a water cooling solution.
Building a Gaming PC
Building a gaming PC is a great skill to have, and more than anything it’s a fun one to learn too.
You’re building something new, and learning at the same time.
Don’t know where to start? Well, first take a look at the below video playlist. It’s simple and straightforward to follow, and is also mercifully short too.
There are plenty of tips on how to install a CPU cooler, as well as all the other essential components that make up a gaming PC.
Click the menu box in the top left of the below window to cycle through all the videos.
If you need tips and hints about installing the Shadow Rock 2 in your gaming PC, hit me up in the comments section, or tweet me directly.
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As PC games get better and better and the hardware to run them advances at an ever quicker rate you may be tempted to buy a pre-built custom gaming PC.
STOP! Don’t do it. There’s a range of benefits to building your own PC:
- you’ll save a tonne of money
- you can customize it exactly as you want
- you avoid ‘bloatware’ that comes bundled with pre-built systems and clogs up performance
The good news is it’s a buyer’s market with a massive range of components available to builders and building a gaming PC is easier than many realize.
If you can put together a Lego kit you can build a computer. It’s that easy.
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If you’re interested in other PC gaming components and builds head to the blog.
There’s so many different PC systems you can build. Check out a few ideas below.