be quiet! Dark Base Pro 900 Case Review
be quiet! might well have been, well quiet recently but they’ve not been idle that’s for sure. They’ve been busy designing a new Case, no surprise there then! But this new Case is more than just a Case as this is be quiet!’s new flagship Case. This is the be quiet! Dark Base Pro 900.
The be quiet! Dark Base Pro 900 is a full tower aluminium Case, measuring in at 577mm (L) x 243mm (W) x 585mm (H), with support for all Motherboards up to and including E-ATX. Its feature list is in fact so long that I may not cover it all here, but I’ll try and cover what’s important. The Dark Base Pro 900 features a relocatable motherboard tray with the possibility of an inverse layout, the removable motherboard tray also doubles as a test bench and there’s a fully windowed side panel made from tinted tempered glass. In addition to this there’s a seven-way fan controller, customizable LED illumination and a wireless (Qi) smartphone charger.
The Case supports up to two 5.25″ devices, seven HDDs with removable bays and fifteen SSDs. There are three included 140mm fans with room for six more and two additional 120mm fans in the side, seven of which (x4 PWM & x3 3-pin) can be controlled via the included fan controller. There’s also support for various radiators with up to 420mm in the front, up to a 420mm in the roof, 280mm in the floor and 140mm at the rear. Maximum Graphics Card length is quoted at 472mm without drive bay (323mmm with), maximum CPU Cooler height is quoted at 185mm and maximum PSU length is quoted at 284mm.
The be quiet! Dark Base Pro 900 arrived at pcG in a massive box, giving some clue as to the size of the Case within. The front of the box shows us an image of the Case itself and also confirms that this is the Silver version (black & orange also available). In addition to the brand and product name be quiet! also highlights the included Silent Wings fans, Airflow Control and Noise Insulation.
Looking at the back of the box we can see an impressive image of the interior of the Dark Base Pro 900 sporting what appears to be a high end Gaming install. In addition to this be quiet! also highlights the Unvrivaled flexibility, Impeccable cooling and silence, Engineering masterpiece as well as the MB tray, SilentWings x3, Side panel, Front IO port, HDD slots and Full circuit airflow system. It’s also nice to see a coloured box instead of the usual eco friendly brown cardboard boxes that we’re now all used to; sorry trees! 😮
On opening the box we can see that the be quiet! Dark Base Pro 900 is nicely packaged and presented, as one would expect and hope for in this price bracket. The case itself is covered by a soft fabric bag and supported by two hard foam blocks.
In the box, other than the case itself we find a User Manual, LED lighting kit, Velcro cable ties, water cooling bracket, upper fan bracket and a plethora of screws etc.
At the time of review the be quiet! Dark Base Pro 900 is retailing at Overclockers UK for approximately £210 and comes with an impressive 3 year warranty.
courtesy of be quiet!
- Fully versatile thanks to modular construction, offering an relocatable motherboard tray, repositionable HDD slots, support for even E-ATX and XL-ATX as well as the possibility of an inverse layout
- Three pre-installed SilentWings® 3 140mm PWM fans featuring a smooth-running 6-pole motor, fluid-dynamic bearing and funnel-shaped air inlets
- Effective full circuit airflow system with innovative noise-reducing vents all around the case
- Completely sound insulated case with decoupled elements for motherboard, power supply and drives
- Four areas for water cooling radiators up to 420mm on top, front, back and base of the case
- Elegant, fully windowed side panel made of tinted and tempered glass
- Eye-catching LED illumination with five switchable colors that you can freely position in the case
- Integrated wireless charger for Qi enabled devices such as smart phones
- Product conception, design and quality control in Germany
- Motherboard tray with enhanced possibilities to suit individual space requirements
- Completely relocatable and usable as a test bench
- Adjustable to three different heights
- Installation alongside the left panel for an inverted layout
- Repositionable HDD tray for individual space requirements inside the case
- E-ATX and XL-ATX support permits installation of practically any motherboard
- Installation options of up to 7 decoupled HDDs, 15 SSDs and 2 optical drives
Impeccable Cooling and Silence
- Three virtually inaudible SilentWings® 3 140mm PWM fans offer unrivaled and uncompromising performance with a broad range of amazing features:
- 6-pole fan motor for very low power consumption and less vibration
- Fluid-dynamic bearing with copper core enables a super long life span
- Unique airflow-optimized fan blade design
- Fan frame with funnel-shaped air inlets produces high air pressure
- High quality IC motor controller reduces electrical noise
- Intelligent full circuit airflow system with noise-dampened vents all around the case
- Advanced PWM hub and manual fan controller supports up to four PWM and four 3-pin fans
- Installation of up to six additional 140mm fans or up to seven additional 120mm fans possible
- Ready for water cooling radiators up to 420mm with four mounting slots:
- Front: 420mm – Top: 420mm – Back: 140mm – Base: 280mm
- Built-in insulation in front, top cover and side panels
- Decoupled motherboard tray, power supply tray and drive slots for reduced vibration and noise
Advanced Assembly and Handling
- Generous space thanks to repositionable single HDD slots
- Impressive features permit individual configurations and setups
- Customizable cable management thanks to carefully placed pass-throughs
- Two cleanable dust filters that can be conveniently removed from the front
High-quality Materials and Elegant Design
- Premium aluminum surfaces
- Steel parts from 0.8mm to 1.0mm for highest stability
- Compatibility with all be quiet! products and all available graphics cards
- RGB LED illumination with five switchable colors that can be freely positioned
- Wireless charger for Qi enabled devices (e.g. smart phones)
- Elegant side window of 4mm tinted and tempered glass
Once out of the box the sheer size of the be quiet! Dark Base Pro 900 becomes apparent, this is one big case and its heavy too! Not only is it big it’s also soon apparent that it’s beautifully made too and looks every inch a premium Case. Quality of fit and finish are some of the best I’ve ever seen, it’s obvious that be quiet! have poured a lot of love into this Case.
The left hand side of the Case is dominated by a full size smoked tempered glass panel, held in place by four knurled nuts. Around the edge of this you can see the mesh areas that allows both the front and the top of the case to breathe. The silver accent piece around the edge is the only section that changes colour depending on the version/colour (silver, red, black) of the case you buy. We, somewhat obviously have the Silver version.
The opposite side of the be quiet! Dark Base Pro 900 is made from plastic and features be quiet!’s own vent system allowing the inner chamber to breathe. Two 120mm fans can also be added here should you wish.
The top of the Case is made from aluminium with a small vented section at the back. The strange looking section at the front is actually a Wireless charger for Qi enabled devices. Now that’s a first!
The Front Panel controls comprise of x2 USB 3.0 ports, audio ports (microphone & headphone), illuminating (white) power button, rest button, drive activity LED (white) and x2 USB 2.0 ports.
Looking at the base of the be quiet! Dark Base Pro 900 we can see that it’s really rather clean and devoid of cooling holes and vents, even screws. The case itself sits up off of the desk by approximately 25mm thanks to the four rather smart legs that are themselves equipped with large rubber feet.
At the back of the Dark Base Pro 900 we see a familiar layout with the I/O shield cutout in the top left with the 140mm exhaust fan to the right. Below this we find eight expansion slots and a large grill section to the right. Below this we have the main PSU cutout, hold on, no we don’t! There’s already a socket here but no cutout, WTF!? More on this later…
The front of the Case is dominated by a large brushed aluminium door, that can actually be made to hinge either way. By default it hinges to the right by way of a simple press (latch release) in the top left corner of the door panel. At the base of the door’s panel we find a simple silver be quiet! logo.
Opening the door allows us to see the two drive bays at the top of the Case and the removable dust filter . Also note the use of sound deadening material on the inner door.
The two rather inconspicuous controls that lurk hidden behind the door at the top are actually the fan control switch and the Illumination control button. The switch switches control from PWM to standard control, while the button cycles through the illumination modes (red, blue, green, white, orange & off). This of course assumes that you’ve connected the optional PWM cable to your motherboard and also assumes you’ve connected the LED light strips.
The image above centre shows the removable fan filter found in the bottom of the case that covers the PSU and the two optional fan mount positions. Also nice to see that the filter slides out from the front of the case providing ease of access. The front panel can also be removed by gently un-clipping the clips that hold it in place on the inside. This in turn exposes the two pre-installed 140mm intake fans. You can also clearly see there’s room for one more should you wish. These fans have a rotational speed of 1,000RPM a noise output of 22.2 dBA and a CFM output of 43.21.
Removing the tempered glass panel allows us to see what is a cavernous interior space, that’s somewhat disappointingly dominated by seven drive bays. I’m also a little surprised to see that there’s no PSU shroud/cover. Otherwise the layout of the interior of the Dark Base Pro 900 is a pretty impressive affair with plenty of space, large holes (with grommets) for cable management and eight expansion slots. Looking through to the back of the Case you can also see the use of more sound deadening material. Note the strange setup for the power supply though, weird eh!? But that’s not the whole story because there’s more to the be quiet! Dark Base Pro 900 than that even. Because this case is also more modular than you’d give it credit for; the motherboard can be relocated in an inverse layout and the glass side panel can be moved from the left to the right also. In fact the removable motherboard tray can also be used as a test bench! Now that’s modularity (is that word!?)…
Turning our attention to the right side of the Case we can now see that (thankfully) all of those drive bays can be removed, courtesy of three thumb screws per bay. Here in the image above right we can now see the removable Motherboard tray a little easier and its six related screws. The feet on the tray allow it to act as a test bench when out of the case, clever eh! Here we can also see the integrated fan/illumination controller as well as the single (yes that’s right, just one) SSD bracket. All cables are also all (well nearly) black which is also good to see. There’s also plenty of well placed holes and grommets around the main Motherboard area, as well as plenty of cable tie points.
At first I was completely bamboozled (good word that!) by the Power Supply bracket thingy!? As you can see from the image above left the bracket itself sits away from the back of the case and there’s no regular cutout. At first I just couldn’t see the sense in this, what was the benefit, why would anyone want this? Well the answer is simply because the motherboard tray itself can be moved up and down, in fact it can be moved down low enough (effectively below the level of the PSU) to start losing expansion slots. The benefit of this is to gain additional room in the top of the case for thicker radiators, good idea really.
The rear fan supplied with the Dark Base Pro 900 is actually the same 140mm unit found in the front, with the same 1,000RPM rotational speed, 22.2 dBA of noise and 43.21 CFM. Also note how the fan sits on rubber washers that keep it away from the main body of the case, no doubt in an aide to keep noise and vibration to a minimum.
Dat drive bay doe, dat drive bay!? If there’s one thing I don’t like about Cases, especially Cases that are labelled as Gaming Cases it’s drive bays. Well unfortunately the be quiet! Dark Base Pro 900 is stuffed full of them. Each of the seven drive bays supports either a single HDD or two SSDs.
The good news though is that they can all be removed! 😉
The controller found at the back of the be quiet! Dark Base Pro 900 controls both fans and illumination. The controller supports up to four PWM fans (left) and three 3-pin fans (right) as well as the two supplied lighting strips (bottom left). Note that the lighting strips themselves supports five colours ( red, green, blue, white, orange and off) and that this is controlled by the button at the top behind the front door panel. To the right of the controller we find a rather lonely looking SSD bracket, lonely as it’s rather surprisingly the only dedicated SSD mount in the case.
Now while everything inside and out of the Dark Base Pro 900 impresses, it’s beginning to look somewhat like a Meccano set to me. Everything can come apart, many things can be turned around and/or removed and re-positioned. Now while on face value this is a good thing, what you need to think about is that if you don’t do some of the above and don’t take advantage of these amazing transforming features, you’ll not be getting much more than a damn fine Case. The worry is Cases such as that can be found for far less money…
|Case||be quiet! Dark Base Pro 900||Power Supply||SilverStone Strider Platinum 750W|
|Motherboard||ASRock Fatal1ty Z170 GAMING K6||CPU||Intel Core i5-6600K|
|CPU Cooler||Noctua NH-U12S||RAM||G Skill Ripjaws 4 16GB|
|Graphics Card||EVGA GeForce GTX 980Ti Classified||SSD (M.2)||Samsung SM951 512GB|
|SSD||Kingston SSDNow 200 v+ 60GB||HDD||Seagate 2TB SSHD|
The first task was to put together the motherboard assembly (MB, CPU, CPU Cooler & RAM) for this review. This consists of our test motherboard an ASRock Fatal1ty Z170 Gaming K6, an Intel Core i5-6600K CPU, a Noctua NH-U12S CPU Cooler and x2 4GB G.Skill Ripjaws 4 RAM modules. This Motherboard assembly can be seen above left.
I then attached to two drives, one SSD and one HDD to their respective brackets. Remember that there’s a only one dedicated SSD mount found at the back of the case, so I used that one as I wanted to keep drive bay usage to a minimum.
The next task was to install the Power Supply; existing readers may see that were using a new power supply (SilverStone Strider 750W) as our regular Corsair PSU has died. The reason for the bracket is to allow the motherboard tray to move up and down, see details above. As there was no reason for me to move the Motherboard tray I installed our test PSU in the position as shipped from the factory. This requires you to remove the two small countersunk screws on the side and slide the bracket forwards so it can be removed.
The PSU itself then simply attaches to the bracket in the normal way, via four screws. The bracket/PSU assembly can then be slid back into position and secured to the case by way of the two small screws.
The biggest issue I have with the be quiet! Dark Base Pro 900 was discovered at this point and its that there’s no easy way to hide all of the PSU’s cabling. In my mind the Dark Base Pro 900 is simply crying out for a PSU cover/shroud of some nature. Be quiet!?
As you can see from the image above left there’s plenty of room inside the case, even more with five of the drive bays removed. This was done as for one I hate the damn things and also to improve airflow in through the front of the Case towards the, all important Graphics Card.
Cabling up was a breeze thanks to plenty of holes and gaps around the motherboard area. Although as there’s so much free space, it can look a little untidy in places. As you can see with the drive bays removed there was plenty of room for our test Nvidia GTX 980 Ti Graphics Card. There’s also a nice amount of frees space around the card that should help with cooling.
Looking at the cabling at the back of the Case we can see quite the bag of knitting, but that’s as much my fault (READ: laziness) as it is anything else. There’s a fair degree of cable management space back here but not quite as much as you may think. One thing that was nice to see was the use of a SATA power connector to power up the Fan Controller as opposed to the often ill used Molex connector.
At pcGameware we use Prime95 and ASRock’s F-Stream utility to evaluate CPU temperatures and voltage, and we use MSI Afterburner to evaluate the GPU temperatures. Of course Prime95 being a CPU stress test also helps to generate heat for us to check the case thermals. We also use UNiGiNE Heaven 4.0 for GPU temperature testing.
CPU performance testing is carried out using Prime95 (Small FFT) to stress the CPU. Each run is timed for 15 mins and the maximum temperature is recorded for all cores and then the average core heat is taken. Testing was carried out with an overclocked Intel Core i5-6600K at 4.4GHz courtesy of the ASRock UEFI.
GPU performance testing is carried out by running UNiGiNE Heaven 4.0 for 15 minutes and then by recording the maximum GPU temperature.
* All case fans (x3 in the case of the be quiet! Dark Base Pro 900) and the CPU Cooler (Noctua NH-U12S) are run at 100% throughout testing. To ascertain case noise levels, the GPU fans are set to their lowest setting and the CPU Cooler fan is unplugged, whilst the dBA is recorded from 1m away.
|Case||Ambient Temperature||Max CPU Temperature (core average)||Delta Temperature|
|Lian Li PC-X510||22.00||58.00||36.00|
|Cooler Master HAF XB||21.00||58.00||37.00|
|Corsair Carbide 600C||23.00||60.00||37.00|
|Cooler Master MasterCase Pro 5||22.00||60.00||38.00|
|be quiet! Dark Base Pro 900||23.00||62.00||39.00|
|In Win 303||21.00||60.00||39.00|
|NZXT S340 (Special Edition)||22.00||61.00||39.00|
|be quiet! Silent Base 600||23.00||62.00||39.00|
As one would expect with such a large enclosure equipped with three 140mm fans (x2 intake & x1 exhaust) cooling is good, but it’s not as good as you might think perhaps. It’s likely down to the fact that the three 140mm fans are only running at 1,000RPM, when set to non PWM Mode. But to be honest 62 (39.00 Delta) degrees Celsius while running a Prime 95 Torture Test is still very good, while Gaming this is likely to be closer to 50 degrees. Of course should you want to add more fans, there are another nine locations to choose from. 😉
|Case||Ambient Temperature||Max GPU Temperature||Delta Temperature|
|Lian Li PC-X510||23.00||77.00||54.00|
|Cooler Master MasterCase Pro 5||22.00||77.00||55.00|
|NZXT S340 (Special Edition)||22.00||79.00||57.00|
|Corsair Carbide 600C||23.00||80.00||57.00|
|Cooler Master HAF XB||22.00||79.00||57.00|
|be quiet! Silent Base 600||22.00||81.00||59.00|
|be quiet! Dark Base Pro 900||23.00||83.00||60.00|
|In Win 303||21.00||83.00||62.00|
As you can see from the data above the be quiet! Dark Base Pro 900 sits bang slap in the middle of all of the Cases we’ve tested so far on our new(ish) Z170 platform. Now while that’s good enough, again it’s a little down on what one might expect. This is (probably) again down to the use of 140mm 1,000RPM fans, but again there’s plenty room for more.
The be quiet! Dark Base Pro 900 has to be one of the quietest Cases I seen, or is that heard (or not heard even!) in some time. At its lowest setting via PWM control the fans (that’s all three) are barely audible and even when at full speed (1,000RPM) it’s as close to silence as your ever likely to get with three fans. With our test equipment the highest noise recorded was approximately 38dBA, with this dropping to 36dBA with the fans set at PWM control (and idle). Note that for us here in the office 36dBA is effectively silence anyway, as that’s what’s recorded with all computers off in a sealed room. Note that all of the be quiet! Silent Wings 3 fans in the case actually employ a rubber mount system, keeping both vibration and noise to a minimum. There’s no doubt that it works too…
There’s no doubt that the be quiet! Dark Base Pro 900 is one of the finest Cases we’ve ever seen here at pcG. It’s beautifully built, elegant in its styling and imposing (due to its size) on the desktop. It’s also packed with features too, but to get the most out of it is going to require not only a shed load of components but also a fair bit of effort too.
The be quiet! Dark Base Pro 900 arrived at pcG in a massive box, giving some idea as to the sheer size of this full tower Case. Packaging was also good with the Case protected by two foam blocks and covered by a soft fabric bag.
Once out of the box it was soon apparent that the Dark Base Pro 900 was more than just a big Case, it’s beautifully made and elegant in appearance. There’s no doubt in my mind that be quiet! have poured a lot of love into its design. The Case simply exudes quality, fit and finish is exemplar and there’s touch of elegance about it too. Many large cases can look a little ugly but not this one…
The features list is as long as my arm and I’m not going to cover that in my Final Thoughts. What I’ll do though is highlight some of the main features. Probably the most important feature of this case is its water cooling support and its modular design, with support for up to four radiators and sizes up to 420mm, with additional support for up to twelve fans, water cooling is surely covered. There’s also an integral fan controller and illumination control supporting up to seven fans and two RGB lighting strips, that are even supplied. The support for up to seven HDDs or fifteen SSDs is also impressive, but the Case is dominated by the HDD bays (surely now redundant) and there’s surprisingly only one dedicated SSD mount!? Other features of note is the inclusion of a Qi charger in the top of the case, sound deadening material and the three included 140mm Silent Wings 3 fans.
It was during the installation that I discovered just a couple of chinks in the Dark Base Pro 900’s armour. Now while installation was easy enough, there’s a lot to think about as this case is far more modular that’s you’d think. The motherboard can be inverted, the motherboard tray can be moved up and down, side window can be swapped to the other side, the front door can open in a different direction and (thankfully) all of those drive bays can be removed. Now while all of this is well and good, IF you don’t do any of the above you’ll begin to question (or you should) why you may have spent over £200 on a Case such as this. The more complex your install the more you’ll appreciate the Dark Base Pro 900, a simple one GPU no water cooled solution simply won’t do the Case justice IMHO.
Another issue that I noted on install was the lack of any form of PSU cover/shroud, something that’s now common in Cases and really helps to cleanup the overall aesthetic, especially when you have a full size side window such as this. In fact this ‘bug bear’ is the only reason a didn’t give the Dark Base Pro 900 for Design/Quality.
Cooling wise the be quiet! Dark Base Pro 900 fairs well, with both good CPU and GPU cooling. But it’s not as good as some of the other Cases simply because of the fans used within as they all have a maximum rotational speed of just 1,000RPM. But, on the other hand the Case is one of the quietest cases I’ve come across, so.. Also if you want to add more fans in an aide to better cooling, you can add another nine!
The be quiet! Dark Base Pro 900 is an awesome Case, there simply no question about that. This is a Case that will surely make the likes of Lian Li look up and take notice. It’s beautifully made, and packed with features; but to do it justice you’ll want to pack it full of kit to get the most out of it.
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Many thanks to be quiet! for providing this sample for review