Published on Tuesday, 18 April 2017 02:08
As we've pointed out many times in past reviews it's really no secret that due to the tendency of the industry to make everything "smaller" and "compact" for the mainstream consumer market full tower PC cases are a rare sight nowadays (strangely enough space was not an issue back in the 90's). Of course some of the more "popular" manufacturers did their very best to release such models in 2015 and 2016 in order to cater to the needs of enthusiasts but in the end only a handful of those high quality and feature-rich full towers were really worth your hard earned money. Be quiet! was not really among those manufacturers but they did release not one but two large mid-towers back in late 2016, the Dark Base 900 and the more "advanced" Dark Base Pro 900 which is finally here with us today for a thorough review.
be quiet! is a premium brand manufacturer of power supplies and cooling solutions for your desktop PC. be quiet! products are convincing which is proved by reaching and defending the market leadership in PSU business in Germany since 2006 *. This is validated and accompanied by numerous awards for both power supplies and cooling solutions. be quiet! is awarded for nine times in a row as “Manufacturer of the Year” in the power supply category by the readers of the well-known German hardware magazine PC Games Hardware. In the category “fans”, be quiet! earns the first rank for five consecutive times and belongs to the Top 3 CPU cooler brands for more than three years in a row. The community of Hardwareluxx also voted be quiet! as “Manufacturer of the Year” in the PSU category for four consecutive years.
Before we start with our review it's worth pointing out the not too many differences between the Dark Base 900 and the Dark Base Pro 900. For starters both cases offer a modular design meaning you can invert the entire interior (make it face right instead of left) by relocating the removable motherboard tray and the HDD slots. Both cases also come equipped with three SilentWings 3 fluid-dynamic bearing 140mm PWM fans (6-pole motors), feature sound insulating mats on the interior and have enough interior space for up to seven 3.5" and fifteen 2.5" drives, eleven 120/140mm fans (the Dark Base 900 has room for 13 fans) and/or three 240/280/360/420mm radiators, 185mm tall CPU coolers, 150mm long power supply units (284mm without a bottom fan installed) and 323mm long graphics cards (472mm without HDD cages). The Dark Base Pro 900 however has a few tricks up its sleeve including an side panel made out of 4mm thick tinted tempered glass, two LED strips featuring 5 switchable colors, fan hub for up to four PWM and four 3-pin fans and an integrated wireless charger for Qi enabled devices at the top. Time to take a closer look and see what you can expect from the massive Dark Base Pro 900 by be quiet!.
SPECIFICATIONS AND FEATURES
PACKAGING AND CONTENTS
A large product picture is placed at the front of the black box right beneath and above its main features.
The specifications table is placed on the right side of the box right next to the color selection (the Dark Base Pro 900 is also available with black and orange lines).
Most of the product features are printed on the left side in 6 languages.
At the rear of the box we find several product pictures used to showcase its features.
Be quiet! has wrapped the tower inside a fiber cover and placed it between two thick foam spacers.
The bundle is very rich this time over and it includes a fan mount (can replace the optical bays with it), reservoir mounting plate, six Velcro straps, long rubber grommet, two RGB LED strips, 5 plastic bags with screws and spacers and the user manual.
THE DARK BASE PRO 900 EXTERIOR
Thanks to its elegant looks the Dark Base Pro 900 should blend in pretty much anywhere. In terms of size the 15kg heavy Dark Base Pro 900 measures 585mm in length, 577mm in height and 243mm in width.
The entire left side panel is made out of 4mm thick tinted tempered glass.
There are several perforated sections on both sides which should allow air to reach inside.
The fascia is made out of hard plastic and is also perforated on both ends to allow air to reach the two fans (three if you decide to install a 3rd one) placed behind it.
As you can see the fascia opens up and features a piece of insulating mat behind it.
Aside the two 5.25" drive bays we also see a fan controller and a large removable air-filter.
Here we also find the first two 140mm SilentWings 3 PWM fans.
From the lower end of the front you can also remove the bottom air-filter as seen above.
The I/O is located at the top of the fascia and has two USB 3.0 ports, microphone and headphone ports, on/off power button/LED, reset button, HDD activity LED and two USB 2.0 ports.
Taking a look at the top of the Dark Base Pro 900 the first thing we see is the Qi wireless charger which can be used with compatible devices (smartphones primarily).
Strangely enough the Dark Base Pro 900 has two rather small perforated sections at the rear of the top (I’d expect more or larger ones for better air circulation).
At the rear we see a 140mm PWM exhaust fan, 8 PCI expansion slots and a rather strange looking PSU area at the bottom.
The right side panel has the be quiet! logo on a plastic section.
The case sits on four tall feet but as you can see there's no perforated area for the PSU (the lower perforated sections on both side panels are used for that).
THE DARK BASE PRO 900 INTERIOR
Be quiet! classifies the Dark Base Pro 900 as a mid-tower but since its interior is capable of holding even XL-ATX mainboards that's really hard to believe.
Both 5.25" optical drive bays are removable if you wish to add a third fan at the front or a 280/360/420mm radiator.
A total of 7 drive trays are placed beneath the 5.25" bays. You can use each tray to house a single 3.5" and up to two 2.5" drives.
All 7 drive trays feature anti-vibration silicon pads (at least for the 3.5" drives).
There isn't much free space for a radiator between the 3.5/2.5" trays and the front 140mm fans but still you can squeeze a 36mm thick one as you will see later on.
The mainboard tray has a total of 3 rubber grommets.
As usual all 8 PCI expansion slots use thumbscrews and thus are completely tool-less.
Be quiet! has used an internal mounting bracket for the PSU in order to reduce noise coming from it (the power supply sits on 4 rubber feet/pads). At the base of the Dark Base Pro 900 you can also mount up to two 120/140mm fans.
As you can all see the right side panel doesn't only feature a thick insulating mat but you can also equip it with two 120mm fans (you will need to remove the pads mounted in their place however).
Taking a look from the right side of the chassis we see that each of the seven 3.5/2.5" drive cages is held in place via three thumbscrews.
Here we also see a fan hub for 8 fans and a single removable 2.5" drive tray.
This tray is made out of aluminum and is very sturdy.
Just like with the Pure Base 600 Window to access the clips and remove the top you will need to remove both side panels (it also features a layer of noise insulating material).
At the top there's enough room either for three 120/140mm fans or a single 240/280/360/420mm radiator.
We forgot to mention that there's plenty of room for cable management on the other side of the mainboard tray.
BUILDING THE SYSTEM
As always the purpose of this section is not to build a functional system but rather to showcase what you can expect from the case at hand in terms of interior space.
Mounting our ATX sized mainboard leaves plenty of room around for even an XL-ATX model.
We mounted a 420mm long radiator at the top and a 280mm long radiator at the front (both are 36mm thick).
With enough room for CPU coolers up to 185mm in height you should be able to use any air cooler in the market today.
Our GeForce GTX590 is 280mm in length and it leaves roughly 43mm of space until the HDD trays.
By using a 180mm long power supply unit you are losing one of the two base fan mounts.
NOISE LEVEL TEST
After giving it much thought we decided on performing noise tests with each PC Case we receive by placing our ExTech HD600 vertically ontop of each case to measure the noise levels emanating from the pre-installed fans at both 50% and 100% with the help of a fan controller (if the case doesn't have one we use our own).
Be quiet! has released several very interesting towers in the past but the Dark Base Pro 900 is simply put their best to date. This is not just because of its very spacious interior which can hold up to seven 3.5” drives, fifteen 2.5” drives and a total of eleven 120/140mm fans (or three radiators) but also because of its modular design, quality materials (including a side panel made out of 4mm thick tinted tempered glass) and noise-insulating mats. And then there’s also enough room for 185mm tall CPU coolers, 150mm long power supply units (284mm without a bottom fan installed) and 323mm long graphics cards (472mm without HDD cages). The Qi wireless charger is also a nice touch but personally I think that an external 3.5/2.5” docking bay would be much more useful to consumers (at least most). As for the two bundled RGB LED strips it’s nice that be quiet! gives consumers the choice of whether or not to use them and if so place them wherever they’d like inside the case.
Since the Dark Base Pro 900 is currently the flagship model in the PC cases line by be quite! it only makes sense that its price would be set quite high and it is since currently you can find it for USD249.90 inside the USA (Amazon.com) and for 240Euros inside the EU (Amazon.co.uk). Of course every single thing in the industry designed with enthusiasts in mind carries a hefty price tag and let’s not also forget that there are PC cases out there that cost many times the price of the Dark Base Pro 900. That being said the Dark Base Pro 900 may not be perfect but it’s without doubt one of the best towers to reach our lab and for that it gets our Platinum Award.
- Build Quality
- XL ATX Compatible
- Modular Design (Inverted Mainboard Installation)
- Tempered Glass Side Panel
- Noise Dampening Coating (Right/Top/Front)
- Can Support Up To 11 Fans
- Radiator Space (Top & Front 240/280/360/420mm)
- Room For 7x3.5" and 15x2.5" Drives
- Removable Drive Cages
- Space For 185mm Tall CPU Coolers, 284mm Long PSUs and 472mm Long Graphics Cards
- Fan Controller
- Qi Wireless Charger
- Two RGB LED Strips
- Price (For Some)
- Hard To Remove Top Panel
- Internal PSU Space (Reduced Noise but Requires More Space)