Throughout December and early January, we ran a series of giveaways. We gave away new hardware each day for 25 days, with the only catch being that we wanted winners to come back and share their thoughts with us later on. Today, we have a reader review from Mark Yule, who won our be quiet! giveaway, receiving a Dark Base 700 case, a SilentLoop 280mm AIO liquid cooler and a Straight Power 10 CM 500W power supply.
Mark's thoughts on the liquid cooler and power supply are still to come, but for now, you can find his thoughts on the Dark Base 700 below:
The be quiet! Dark Base 700 midi-tower case offers unrivaled flexibility with impeccable cooling and silence features:
- Motherboard tray and HDD slots with enhanced possibilities for individual requirements
- Two be quiet! SilentWings® 3 140mm PWM fans
- 4-step dual-rail fan controller is switchable between Silence and Performance modes
- Ready for radiators up to 360mm
- PSU shroud, ingenious cable routing and HDD slot covers for a neat interior
- Fully windowed side panel from tinted and tempered glass
- Exterior RGB LEDs with six switchable colors and motherboard control option
- Three-year manufacturer’s warranty
Unboxing and images:
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Oh boy! Thank you KitGuru and BeQuiet! Initial impressions…. WOW (sorry about the reflection).
The build and temperatures:
Prior to the Dark Base 700 I was using a DeepCool Tesseract with a Noctua DH14, 2 front 120mms intakes, a rear 120mm and top 120mm exhaust. Running at 4.0ghz it maxed out the CPU at 70'c (hottest core) and 75 for ther RX480. Warmest drives sat at 42′, most under 40. I found the DeepCool case to be quite noisy and flimsy, but it was a budget £30 chassis and I did like it a lot.
Switching over to the Dark Base 700, the first thing that stood out to me was the size difference. I installed the 280mm SilentLoop liquid cooler in the roof and swapped out one of the stock be quiet! 140mm fans with a Corsair one.
With this configuration, I found that my PC had actually gotten hotter inside of the Dark Base 700. My RX 480 was still sitting at its usual 75 degrees, but the CPU had risen all the way up to 81°C. All of my drives had also gotten around 5 to 10 degrees warmer, it seemed as if hot air was having a difficult time escaping the case.
I stuck with this configuration for a few weeks and eventually decided to move the 280mm liquid cooler to the front of the case instead, with a third Noctua 140mm fan to help intake more air. All fans were wired up to Fanbus to control speeds. With this configuration, results were much better. My CPU had dropped to 70°C on the hottest core under prolonged load and all of my drives had dropped back down to the low 40°C range. In all, I am much more at ease with my temperatures now, especially since I can be very particular about HDD/SSD cooling.
- Classy, understated design. Very clean thanks to the PSU shroud and drive cage setup.
- Build quality is top notch.
- Noise levels are low using the 2 channel fanbus.
- Large feet under the case, which is great for those who put their PC under their desk. Gives the option to run fans there without choking them off.
- Full length removable fan filters are a nice touch.
- I'm not a fan of RGB but the case lighting is very good.
- USB Type-C front panel for future proofing.
- Mounting screws for fans feel cheap and rough, which is odd for a £180 case.
- Cable management options could be better
- The ‘basement' is quite restrictive.
- The plastic shroud plates are too close to the motherboard, which makes routing cables harder.
- The manual says a 280mm radiator won't fit in the roof. It does, but it did hurt temperatures.
- Only has a USB 3.0 front header cable. I have an older motherboard with USB 2.0, and my old case had a split 2.0/3.0 header.
- Airflow restriction in the roof of the case.
Some more final thoughts:
Packaging is 10/10. The case was delivered from Germany to the UK in less than 48hrs and the box/packing and cover did their job. Perfect. Contents and accessories in the box are good, but I would have expected more than three drive cages in a case of this size. Building in the case was easy, but I found the PSU shroud to be a little restrictive for cable management. The PSU mounting rubbers in the bottom of the case were also too far forward, so they did not support my short PSU.
The quality of the materials used for this case is high, but the screws supplied did feel cheap.
My only previous experience with a “Premium” case was the CoolerMaster ATC201. Showing my age I know – but it was a bit of a “club” when I was an active member of the Overlclockers UK forum. If I recall correctly, it cost me £225 in 2001/2002. That was fully aluminium and had a removable motherboard tray that slid in and out on nylon runners. I sold it last year and it was almost as pristine as the day I got it. It oozed quality – it had smooth, heavy thumbscrews that were built to last. It seemed that everything was well thought out.
This case, by comparison, is hit and miss for me. The front panel, switchable frame, glass side panel, the fan controller, the spacious/grippy “feet” and even the RGB lights (I have seen the light 😀 ) – all are superb! Whereas the heavy offside steel panel, plastic PSU shroud covers and the “basement” seem less well thought out. The thermals and noise don't add up for me and my best guess is that moving the top fans closer to the roof and having better exit vents would make it work much better.
The big question is- would I pay £180 for it? The impartial answer as a reviewer (sorry be quiet!) is that I wouldn't. It is an excellent case that could have been the perfect case (with a few changes.)
I am not going back to my DeepCool case though – that's being repurposed as a NAS box, so the 700 will see upgrades at some point in the not too distant future.
Many thanks to all at be quiet! and KitGuru for running the giveaway and giving me the opportunity to sample some very high quality equipment. It really made my Christmas!