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[SPONSORED] be quiet! Dark Base Pro 900 Computer Case Review

post #1 of 5
Thread Starter 
Pros: Beautiful design, Modular construction, Wide range of compatibility, Qi wireless charging, Included fan hub and LED strips, Quiet optimized design
Cons: Price, Difficult cable management

Introduction and Accessories

Of all the components in a computer build, the case is often the most highly debated. Should you get the cheapest case since it doesn't directly affect performance? Should you get a nice case to show off your build? These questions depend on what is important to you as a consumer. be quiet!, known for their silence focused design and sleek aesthetic, is looking to shake up the market with their top of the line Dark Base Pro 900 case and it certainly isn't your average case. It's got all the bells and whistles you could want and is clearly aimed at the high end system builder who takes pride in their systems inside and out. With big claims like
Quote:
unrivaled flexibility with impeccable cooling and silence features
can it live up to those expectations? Is it worth the hefty price tag of over $230? Come along for the ride and we'll find out!



The package was massive with a with a dark theme, just like the case inside. Looking at any product box, it's easy to see what the manufacturer is focusing on with the design. Silence, airflow, and customization are key elements here. The back of the box highlights more features like the reversible motherboard tray, three included SilentWings 3 fans, tempered glass side panel, Qi wireless charging, and airflow optimized system.



The case came protected in the typical foam end covers but was also wrapped in a cloth-like material. I thought this was a nice touch of quality as opposed to the cheap plastic wrapping that can't be reused. More than likely you'll still throw this cover away, but it could still be useful as a dust cover or scratch protector when going to LANs. The case is fully assembled with the accessories tied down inside. Included with those accessories is a user's manual, two multicolor LED strips, a pump/reservoir mount, a bracket for mounting a third front fan, various case screws, an additional cable management grommet, and finally some velcro wraps for cable management.



Before we get into the case itself I wanted to look at the LED strips. They are about 14" long with sticky pads on the back for mounting, but be careful where you put them since repositioning them won't work very well. The ends plug into the fan controller board on the back of the case and the color can be changed from the front panel. They aren't fully customizable though, with only solid color options of red, green, blue, orange, and white.



This review will follow the disassembly until all modular components are removed. Here is the boring technical data that you may find important. The case measures 22.7" x 9.5" x 23" and weighs in at an impressive 31.7lbs. In terms of radiator support, the front and top both have space for up to 3x120mm or 3x140mm fans with the top also having space for a single 180mm fan. The bottom has space for up to 2x140mm fans and there is a single 120/140mm fan mount in the rear. The front, bottom, and back side panel are all dust filtered. Finally, the case has support for up to a 7.28" CPU cooler, a 12.7" GPU with the HDD cage installed, and an 18.6" GPU with the HDD cage removed.


Physical Tour

Today I am reviewing the silver version but it is also available in orange and black. The black exterior is kept in all versions with the ring of trim around the side panel, the rubber grommets, and the feet changing depending on your color choice. I personally prefer a neutral color with accents over a single solid color so this case appeals to me, but that is all up to your visual preference. The Dark Base Pro 900 has a simple outer design dominated by large flat panels. The front and top both have a brushed aluminum finish. I highly recommend gloves when handling it because it sure is a fingerprint magnet. In the current configuration, the side panel is windowed and the back side panel is more of the matte black aluminum. With the exception of some small slits at the rear of the top panel, you will notice there is no direct openings for ventilation. Instead, be quiet! has opted to push the front, top, and bottom out about an inch with a ring of mesh for airflow. I like this as it gives a clean look overall.



The front door pops open with a push revealing some fans, drive bays, and controls. The latching mechanism was really weak and I would have expected more from a case like this. If you are transporting the case, you'll want to tape the door shut as it doesn't stay closed by itself. At the bottom we start with an extremely snugly fitting dust filter. It extends to the back of the case and is removable from the front for easy cleaning. It must be removed to take the front panel off too. Above that are two of the three pre-installed SilentWings 3 140mm PWM fans. They are pretty weak fans in terms of airflow, but they are extremely quiet. Additional silence is achieved by the generous layer of sound dampening foam that is applied to the inside of the door. Moving on up we have two bays for 5.25" drives. If you aren't planning on mounting any, you can remove the cage at the back and mount a third 140mm or 120mm fan. At the top we have a small control unit for the LED lighting and fan controller. The slider controls the fan speed and the button cycles through the lighting options. Sliding it to the right increases the speed, sliding to the left decreases it, and all the way to the end on the left puts the fans on an automatic mode controlled by the motherboard.



Next is the front panel. The LED lit power button was quite a letdown. It was mushy and hard to press in contrast to the reset button that felt just fine. On the outside there are 2 USB 3.0 ports on the left and 2 USB 2.0 ports on the right. There are also headphone/microphone jacks and a drive activity LED. Above that is one of the more interesting features I've seen on a case: a Qi wireless charging pad. While not all phones are wireless charging compatible, I do think this is a nifty feature for those with that type of phone. I find myself leaving my phone on top of the case if I have it on the floor next to me. Keep in mind that this feature drives the cost up and you may never use it though.



Moving to the back now, there's a lot going on here. All of the drive cages are removable with three thumbscrews each. The whole metal frame that holds them can also be removed with a screwdriver. There are plenty of cable-tie loops and grommets for cable management, but more on that later. The front panel cables are all black which is nice compared to some cases with cables of all different colors. This is a trend we started seeing in PSU cables a while ago and I'm glad it's making its way to cases as well. Next we see the circuit board for fan and LED control as well as a hidden SSD mount. Above that is a very large cutout for installing a CPU cooler. Towards the bottom the metal bends out with two cutouts for routing your cables. You have to put your cables through here or the back side panel won't fit. I was not happy with the space back here for cable management. At the bottom, where most of your PSU cables will go, there is only about 1/2" of space. As you move up towards the motherboard tray it increases slightly to 3/4" and 1" directly around the motherboard tray. Finding ways to jam the necessary cables in while still allowing the panel to fit was a challenge. Either moving the whole assembly away from the back side panel or extending it just 1/2" would have made this so much easier.



The included fan and LED controller is very advanced and I think something like this should be included on all high end cases. With the case supporting up to 10 fans, you won't find any motherboard that supports that many without additional splitters. Starting at the big capacitor in the top right and moving clockwise we have four 3-pin fan headers, the connector for the front panel controller, and the Qi charging connector. At the bottom edge we have the SATA power connector for the whole board and two connectors for the included LED strips. Moving up from the last side we have four 4-pin PWM fan headers and finally the PWM control connector to the motherboard. It is situated in the middle of the case but you may need to purchase fan cable extensions to reach fans in some parts of the case.



Next we'll look at the drive cages and mounting system. There are 7 total cages mounted to a rack behind them in a vertical line. They have rubber vibration dampening mounts for the 3.5" drives as well. There is space on each caddy for two 2.5" drives mounted opposite to each other, but realistically you'll only be able to mount one without bending your SATA power cables too much. Right angle SATA cables are also impractical with this design.



Here are both the top and bottom panels removed. The bottom has four large feet for airflow with rubber pads as well. The top panel can be removed by popping up the tabs on each side but the bottom panel requires two screws to be moved. They were both solid and well built.



The back side panel has a removable cover with space for two 120mm fans and dust cover. You can fully remove the cover for full airflow, insert it partially, or insert it fully for minimum airflow but maximum silence. The inside of the panel is also coated with more of the sound dampening foam as on the front.



The power supply mounting solution is very unique on this case. It is pushed up slightly forward from the back of the case and adjustable. There is an extender cable that plugs in to your PSU from the back of the case. There are three mounting positions left to right as well as two forward and back from the side panel.



The power supply assembly is screwed in externally and then it locks in to the base of the case with 4 protruding screws. There are also two additional spacers above the power supply which can be removed and repositioned at the top. This allows the entire motherboard try to be raised or lowered for thick radiator support or other conflicts with the motherboard.



The last important piece of the case is the side panel window. There is no metal panel that this slides on to or border around it. This is the entire panel. It is a single pane of tempered glass with four mounting holes at the edges. It mounts to rubberized posts on the case with four thumbscrews. It is slightly tinted to help hide fingerprints as well as give the inside of the case a dark look accentuated by the LED lighting. This is one beautiful piece of glass.




Modularity and Building

While most computer cases are held together with many rivets and a few screws, the Dark Base Pro 900 is exactly the opposite. Nearly every piece is fastened with easily removable screws allowing for a high degree of customization. Starting by removing the outer panels, the motherboard tray, the HDD rack, and finally the front panel I/O, you can see the complete shell of the case. I like this aspect since it allows you to build the computer how you want it, not how the case manufacturer thinks you do.



Like I said before, the motherboard tray can be completely inverted but it's not exactly easy. It takes a while at first to figure out where all the screws are since the manual isn't that useful, but I finally got it. If your case is positioned on the left side of your desk but you still want the windowed side panel, this is an excellent option. Both side panels can be positioned on either side of the case. Inverting your motherboard can also help with thermal performance since the graphics card(s), often the hottest component, will be positioned at the top of the case closest to the fans. It can also just look really cool if that is the design you are going for.



Here is the completed build with and without the side panel window. I was really pleased at how it turned out. It took longer than normal to build since so much of the case is customizable, but I'm happy with the final product. My biggest complaint is the lack of cable management for the PSU and difficulty due to all of the moving parts. You can clearly see all of the cables at the bottom since there is no way to hide them. A PSU cover is definitely missing here but I'm sure you could make it look a bit better if you had lots of time and it bothered you. The case was very quiet but you may want to install some airflow optimized fans to help with cooling the huge interior of the chassis. I ended up moving the rear fan to the front and removing all but two drive cages. I installed a 280mm radiator at the top and mounted the motherboard in the traditional orientation. It's not hard to make a good looking build in this case.






Conclusion

With the exception of installation frustration and cable management as well as some minor issues like fan control, I really like this case. It's easy to build the computer you envision and this case has all the extra features to go along with it. The sleek aesthetic, full side panel window, included fan controller, LED lighting, and noise dampening foam are all big pluses in my opinion. I really do think a power supply shroud should be included though. At around $230-$250 retail price, you have to want this case pretty badly to make it practical. It's one of the best if not the best full tower cases on the market but you are definitely paying for it. If you can do without the window, Qi charger, and LED lighting, you can save $50 by stepping down to the non Pro version. If you have the budget and are looking for a beautiful and innovative case that you can build your dream system in, this is the case for you. The price tag may be too steep for many users, but it sure is a nice case.
Edited by WilliamGayde - 8/10/16 at 7:08am
post #2 of 5
Nice review! Interesting that everyone seems to mount the PSU with the fan facing upwards. Are the floor openings where the PSU installs not sufficient for airflow? Or does the case only allow for that orientation.

I wouldn't have thought cable management would be a problem; the back of the motherboard tray looks spacious in pictures. So, based on what you said, I suppose we'd be better off hiding cables closer to the middle of the motherboard tray area where there is more space between it and the side panel. A PSU cover/removable compartment separator would have been ideal.

Nonetheless I think this will be my next case unless I find something better suited for my needs. I want to water cool with dual 360mm radiators or 1x 360mm and 1x 240mm, though based on images I've seen two 360s (top and front) shouldn't be much of an issue.
The Wish Granter
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Furman M-8X2 Power Conditioner Ducky Pocket Mechanical Keypad (Cherry MX Blue) NZXT Hue+ 
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Intel Core 2 Extreme QX6850 @ 3.6 GHz XFX nForce 680i LT XFX GeForce 8800 Ultra EVGA e-GeForce 9800GTX+ 
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EVGA e-GeForce 9800GX2 EVGA GeForce GTX 295 dual PCB OCZ Reaper 4GB (2 x 2GB) DDR2 1066 Intel 330 Series 180GB 
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The Wish Granter
(27 items)
 
Legacy Build
(18 items)
 
 
CPUMotherboardGraphicsRAM
AMD Ryzen 7 1700X @ 3.7 GHz ASUS ROG Crosshair VI Hero X370 Zotac GTX 1080 Ti AMP Extreme G.SKILL TridentZ RGB 32GB DDR4 2933 
Hard DriveHard DriveHard DriveCooling
Samsung 960 Pro 1TB Samsung 850 EVO 500GB Samsung 850 EVO 250GB Cryorig H7 Quad Lumi 
OSMonitorKeyboardPower
Windows 10 Pro 64-bit Acer Predator XB270HU w/ Ideal Lume Standard bi... Wooting One Analog Mechanical Keyboard (Flarete... Antec HCP Platinum 750W 
CaseMouseMouse PadAudio
Phanteks Enthoo Evolv ATX Tempered Glass Logitech G Pro Cooler Master Storm Speed-RX Creative Sound Blaster X-Fi Titanium HD 
AudioAudioAudioAudio
Yamaha RX-V579BL Ascend Acoustics CBM-170 SE Fluance XL7C Fluance AVBP2 
AudioAudioAudioAudio
Gustard U12 Chord Mojo Yamaha YST-SW012 8-inch subwoofer Blue Yeti Microphone w/ Pop Filter 
OtherOtherOther
Furman M-8X2 Power Conditioner Ducky Pocket Mechanical Keypad (Cherry MX Blue) NZXT Hue+ 
CPUMotherboardGraphicsGraphics
Intel Core 2 Extreme QX6850 @ 3.6 GHz XFX nForce 680i LT XFX GeForce 8800 Ultra EVGA e-GeForce 9800GTX+ 
GraphicsGraphicsRAMHard Drive
EVGA e-GeForce 9800GX2 EVGA GeForce GTX 295 dual PCB OCZ Reaper 4GB (2 x 2GB) DDR2 1066 Intel 330 Series 180GB 
CoolingCoolingCoolingOS
Thermalright Venomous-X Delta AFC1212D-PWM Silverstone AP141 Windows 7 Professional 64-bit 
MonitorKeyboardPowerCase
LG Flatron IPS235 Ducky Shine DK9087 Shine 2 (Cherry MX Red, gree... EVGA G2 850W Lian-Li PC-7HX 
MouseAudio
Mionix Castor Creative Sound Blaster X-Fi Titanium Fatal1ty P... 
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post #3 of 5
Thread Starter 
You're right Boredgunner. I mounted it fan side up but there's no reason not to do it the other way. It's your preference since there's plenty of ventilation openings at the bottom.

Cable management wasn't terrible, it's just not what I would have expected from a case of this caliber. You can fit everything, it just takes some work. A PSU cover or some larger cable cutouts would have been great.

Finally you're also right about the water cooling. The case will fit both setups just like you described. Let me know if you have any more questions!
post #4 of 5
For $250ish they need to include a psu enclosure. Would love it but don't want to see my PSU and cables
post #5 of 5
With the MB tray in the inverted position and slid down as far as possible, a water cooled GPU would be very nicely visible. A thick Rad in the top would cover the I/O cables. Has a place to mount an Aqua computer and it would show off custom PSU cables. That TG side panel is huge. Very clean lines that doesn't have that boxy case lab style. This might be my next case thumb.gif
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