We’ve seen a fair bit of innovation in the PC case market recently, both in terms of design and aesthetics. We’ve definitely moved on from the bland black box, but Be Quiet!’s Dark Base Pro 900 is looking to take the PC case to the next level with a reconfigurable interior.
Not only can the motherboard tray be swapped from one side of the case to the other, but it’s flipped too, enabling you to use standard or inverted ATX layouts.
In addition, the motherboard tray can move up and down, allowing for more room in the base or additional clearance in the roof for thicker radiators. Blanking plates slot into gaps in the rear of the case when you raise the motherboard, so you don’t leave any holes.
What’s more, the tempered glass side panel and large drive cage can swap sides too, depending on where you mount the motherboard.
It’s an unprecedented level of customization, and it leads to equally great water-cooling support. A pump bracket is included, while both the roof and front sections can house either quad 120mm-fan or double 140mm-fan radiators. Dropping down the motherboard and removing the drive cage allows for full-height radiators to be mounted in both locations too.
Swapping hardware around is quite a complicated and time-consuming process, though, as all the parts are screwed in place and a lot of components use anti-vibration rubber pads too, which need to be realigned when you move the panels. Of course, you shouldn’t need to move all your hardware around after your initial build – it’s just that the initial build time will take longer than usual. That said, no amount of time will fix the cable routing. There’s enough space behind the motherboard tray, with plenty of cable routing-holes and Be Quiet! even includes Velcro cable ties.
However, the PSU is exposed and the cables are clearly visible, which makes creating a neat system very difficult. Reworking a PC case design to this degree also requires a fair bit of behind-the-scenes design work, which is partly why the Dark Base Pro 900 costs over $200.
However, it also sports the aforementioned large tempered glass side panel, which looks fantastic, while the exterior is largely made from aluminium and the rest of the case is made from steel and plastic.
Also, while this modern-looking case lacks a forward-thinking USB 3.1 Type-C port, unlike some rivals, it also includes a feature we’ve never seen on a case before. There’s a QI wireless charging pad embedded in the roof, which you can use to charge your compatible smartphone without any cables. It’s a popular feature in a number of modern smartphones such as Samsung’s Galaxy series and it would be great to see more cases offering this feature.
Meanwhile, the front panel includes an attractive power button, and a pair of USB 2 and USB 3 ports, plus audio jacks. The exterior is very good-looking in general, with black brushed aluminium stretching right around the case, while the front vents and drive bays are hidden by a swing-out door. Ventilation isn’t amazing as a result, though, and is left to large mesh-covered vents in the sides of the case, plus elegant cut-outs in the aluminium at the rear.
A pair of 140mm SilentWings fans are included in the front of the case, with a third one in the rear fan mount and large removable dust filters in the front and base of the case too. Meanwhile, all of the seven removable 3.5in drive bays are located in the front of the case and each is compatible with two 2.5in SSDs as well, with a single dedicated 2.5in mount situated behind the motherboard tray. You also get a three-speed fan controller, an 8-channel PWM fan hub, an additional fan bracket that sits in the two 5.25in bays and two multi-coloured LED strips thrown into the bargain too.
In terms of air-cooling ability, the Dark Base Pro 900’s CPU delta T of 56°C at maximum fan speed is rather average, with other large cases such as the SilverStone Primera PM01 and In Win 805 knocking several degrees off this result. The Dark Base Pro 900 was thankfully very quiet indeed, though, due to the lack of openings and the use of SilentWings fans. Dropping the fan speed to minimum saw the temperature only rise to 61°C, which matched the In Win 909 with two fans installed.
The GPU delta T was similarly average at 56°C, although it rose just 1°C when we reduced the fan speed. Shifting the motherboard up and down had no impact on cooling, but interestingly, rotating the motherboard so the cooler was at the bottom of the case reduced the CPU delta T by 2°C, although this arrangement had little impact on the GPU temperature.
The Dark Base Pro 900 has a lot of competition in its price range with traditional, premium cases from the likes of In Win, Phanteks and SilverStone. It holds its own in the looks department, although some of In Win’s offerings are better-looking. The Be Quiet! is superb for water cooling, though, and swapping hardware around does, in this case, have tangible benefits, so it’s far from being a gimmick. Meanwhile, its air-cooling ability is good, if not exceptional, and there are plenty of options for water-cooing gear, although radiators might not perform as efficiently as possible with the lack of vents. Our other main criticism is the average cable-routing system.
However, the whole package gives you a hugely flexible case and some unique features. The Dark Base Pro 900 isn’t a must-have case, but if you have the money and want as much control over the interior as possible, it offers unrivalled flexibility and great looks.