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be quiet! Dark Base Pro 900 Review

Rating: 8.5.

When be quiet! told us its new Dark Base Pro 900 case was larger than the previous 600 and 800 models, just as the numbers suggest, we felt this was a bold move as the trend is towards smaller PCs. Our feelings changed when we saw the specification and list of features which is absolutely epic as the Dark Base Pro 900 is very sophisticated and comes with a tempered glass side panel that looks absolutely gorgeous.

The headline figures about this case centre around the support for some enormous radiators. As we demonstrate in our video you can simultaneously install a 360mm radiator in the roof and a 420mm radiator in the front, albeit after you remove the optical drive bays.

Additionally you can install seven 3.5-inch hard drives in the individual caddies along with a 2.5-inch SSD in the stealth bay on the rear of the motherboard tray. Alternatively, as each of those caddies can accommodate two 2.5-inch drives, you might install as many as 15 2.5-inch drives.

Watch via our VIMEO Channel (Below) or over on YouTube at 1080p60 HERE

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You won’t be surprised to learn that Dark Base Pro 900 supports motherboards from Mini-ITX to E-ATX, and you might leap to the view that a large, fully featured motherboard is the only common sense approach. Clearly a Mini-ITX motherboard would be absolutely lost inside such a large case and that would be ridiculous.

Well no, not necessarily. Perhaps a Mini-ITX motherboard might be going to far but in many respects a Micro-ATX makes perfect sense.

Specification

  • Motherboard support: E-ATX, ATX, Micro-ATX, Mini-ITX
  • Expansion slots: 8
  • Included fans: 2x 140mm front intake, 1x 140mm rear exhaust
  • Fan mounts: 3x 140mm front, 3x 120mm/2x 140mm/1x 180mm roof, 2x 120/140mm floor
  • 120mm radiator mounts:  120mm/240mm/360mm front, 120mm/240mm/360mm roof, 120mm/240mm floor, 120mm rear
  • 140mm radiator mounts:  140mm/280mm/420mm front, 140mm/280mm/420mm roof, 140mm/280mm floor, 140mm rear
  • 180mm radiator mounts: 180mm/360mm roof
  • 5.25″ drive bays: 2
  • Internal drive bays: 15x 2.5″, 7x 3.5”
  • Dimensions: 586mm H x 577mm D x 243mm W

One of the key features of Dark Base Pro 900 is the removable motherboard tray that can be mounted in a number of different positions, or even flipped over and inverted.

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In our video we have the tray mounted in the mid-position which gives you 62mm space in the roof of the case which was perfect for our chunky Fractal Design Kelvin S36 radiator. In the default position there is 40mm space above the motherboard.

If you want to go the whole hog and lower the motherboard to the bottom position you have a massive 84mm space however you only have six expansion slots available, which is why a Micro-ATX motherboard might prove to be the perfect choice.

Figuring out which fasteners you need to remove and which cables need to be unplugged take a few minutes and the user guide isn’t as clear as it might be. Having said that, be quiet! has worked through a number of technical issues to deliver the motherboard tray system and it works pretty darned well. The problem here is that while we love the rise and fall part of the system we are not much interested in the ability to invert the tray.

Building the test system inside this case is fairly straightforward, especially when you remove the top and front panels to give full access. We were keen to make use of the three 140mm Silent Wings 3 fans as they are excellent but also wanted to push the Dark Base Pro 900 to the limit so chose a Fractal Design Kelvin S36 with 360mm radiator which slipped in the top of the case quite easily once the optical drive bay was removed.

This illustrates how moving the motherboard tray really helps the installation process.

We had no need for a bunch of storage drives so removed the drive caddies to make it easier to see the inside of the case clearly in the video.

Testing

To put this case through its cooling paces we will be using a test system consisting of an Intel Core i7-6700K, Asus R9 390 Strix and an SSD. This system allows us to produce a substantial amount of heat and effectively test the be quiet! Dark Base Pro 900‘s cooling capabilities.

For stress testing we use AIDA64 to create the maximum heat output to stress the CPU and GPU.

Test System

  • Processor: Intel Core i7-5820K
  • Motherboard: Gigabyte X99-UD4
  • CPU cooler: Fractal Design Kelvin S36
  • Memory: 32GB Corsair DDR4-3200MHz
  • Graphics card: Asus R9 390 8GB
  • Power supply: Seasonic Platinum 1200W
  • Storage drives: 240GB OCZ Vector 180 SSD
  • OS: Windows 10.

Cooling Performance

BeQuiet Dark Pro Thermal Analysis

Our high end gaming PC worked very nicely in the be quiet! Dark Base Pro 900. CPU temperature hit a maximum of 55 degrees under full load while the Radeon R9 390 ran at 79 degrees, which is a few degrees lower than we typically see on this graphics card.

Cooling is a success and we were very happy.

Acoustics performance

We tried the fan settings on the Fractal Design Kelvin S36 at a number of different levels and were impressed by the noise deadening of the case. When the fans were set at 100 percent it could get quite noisy at the rear of the case but when the fans were set at a sensible speed the noise levels were very low from all directions.

Closing Thoughts

The be quiet! Dark Base Pro 900 is an impressive case however it is easy to argue they have taken the design slightly too far and added unnecessary features. For example the rise and fall motherboard tray is superb however the ability to invert it is simply unnecessary. We find the tempered glass side panel is excellent and looks really good but balanced against that the finish on the aluminium panels seems to have been designed to retain fingerprints and looks fairly lousy.

 

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We thought the fan and LED control hub was a nice touch but certainly not a killer feature. The Qi charger is little more than a gimmick and doesn’t add much value.

Overall this is an impressive case with plenty to admire, and a number of minor annoyances such as the lack of power supply cover and questionable cable management.

Clearly the case packs an absurd number of drive caddies and clearly they are easily removed, and that takes us to the heart of the Dark Base Pro 900. Available around the £209 mark, there are a great many features included at a very reasonable price and you can take the ones you want and ignore the others.

This is an impressive piece of hardware, however it is not quite perfect.

Discuss on our Facebook page, over HERE.

Pros

  • Very quiet
  • Motherboard tray has three height settings
  • Can accommodate 420mm radiators at the top and front
  • 4mm tempered glass side panel is superb
  • Three 140mm Silent Wings 3 fans with 6 pole motors
  • Huge number of drive bays
  • Fully filtered
  • LED/fan control hub does a good job
  • Motherboard tray with fan and rubber feet can be used as a test bench

Cons

  • Aluminium finish is a magnet for finger prints
  • No power supply cover
  • Cable management isn’t great
  • User manual requires some work
  • Installing the PSU is a little awkward
  • Qi charger is fiddly to engage

KitGuru says: A high end case that features aluminium and tempered glass.

worth buying

Rating: 8.5.

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  • michael joshua pabia

    Great review! Have to agree with the power supply cover. Would be a great addition.

  • Toni Lehtinen

    Thanks for the review! A few questions, would be awesome if you could tell me:

    Clearances for top radiator thickness in different vertical MB positions? Ie. is a 30mm rad the thickest you can fit with MB in the middle position? Or can you fit a 30mm in the highest position?

    It looks like there might be space for fans above the grill in the top compartment for a pull or push/pull -setup, is there?

    I wish simple info like this could be found on manufacturer’s website or PDF manual, but no…

  • screwyourbrain

    If someone says invert Mainboard is useless. He never modded a graphicscard. With the Inverter Mainboard tray the cpu Can use bottom intake cool air and throw it out with an 120 AIO. Mod your graphicscard to pull air so it exausts the Hot air Up to top exhaust Fans( Not needed in DHE Reference design). Getting real nice temps while overclocking.