A First PC Build Mistake – Switching Coolers At Last Minute

Why does my test bench with an AMD Athlon 3000G budget processor have a be quiet! Dark Rock Pro 4 air cooler on it? Before I can answer that question, I need to explain how I got this air cooler. An interesting story on what not to do when building your first PC.

FIRST PC BUILD

A friend asked for my help when he built his first PC last summer. I wasn’t surprised that his first PC build was a high-end system. He was a big fan of RobeyTech on YouTube. RobeyTech and other tech YouTubers make building PCs look easy because they built PCs for years.

Building a high-end system is not the same as building an entry-level system. Even Superman got stumped when building his first PC because it was a high-end system. Unlike my friend, Superman took the time to read the manuals.

I could have built my friend’s PC in three hours. I’ve built, repaired, and disassembled PCs for over 25 years. From the hopeful look that he gave me, he really wanted me to build his PC. He didn’t ask, I didn’t volunteer.

LAST MINUTE CHANGE

My friend originally wanted to get the Arctic Liquid Freezer II All-In-One 280mm cooler. He changed his mind after spending $150 USD on be quiet! Silent Wings 3 140mm fans. He was so impressed with the reviews that he went with the be quiet! Dark Pro 4 air cooler instead.

After installing the air cooler, he ran into three unforeseen problems.

  • He thought using an extra-long screwdriver that be quiet! provided to screw down the air cooler was a pain in the ass. That shouldn’t be surprising with a massive heat sink resting on a tiny cold plate.
  • A big air cooler has more surface space to dissipate the heat as fast as possible from the processor. A big air cooler also blocks all the RGB lights on the motherboard like a black hole.
  • With only 1mm of clearance separating the backplate of the Asus ROG Strix 2070 video card from the air cooler, heat transferred between the two devices. When I dropped in my smaller Gigabyte 1050 Ti Mini video card that had a wider clearance, the air cooler dropped 4C in temperature.

Something had to go—and it wasn’t the oversized video card.

SWAPPING OUT COOLERS

My friend got the Arctic Liquid Freezer II AIO 280mm cooler that he should have gotten in the first place. Installing the AIO was more straight forward than installing the air cooler. The small cold plate opened the space around the processor for the RGB lights to shine and the video card to radiate heat freely.

I was planning to get the Artic Liquid Freezer II 240mm AIO cooler for my editing PC. After I saw how thick the radiator was, I doubted it could fit inside my case. A few months later, Be Quiet announced the Pure Loop AIO cooler. I got the 240 mm version when it came out last October.

As for the air cooler, my friend gave it to me for putting up with his frustrations as he built his first PC. The Be Quiet Dark Rock Pro 4 wasn’t a bad air cooler. My friend didn’t consider what his last-minute change would affect his PC build.


Why does my test bench have the air cooler on it? I don’t have a wide enough case to put the air cooler into. The air cooler is 163mm tall. The open-air test bench was the only place to install it.

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