Mainstream PCs these days can easily fit into smaller and smaller form factors, but truly high-end builds with the latest many-core processors and massive AMD or Nvidia graphics cards aren't quite able to take advantage of the miniaturization trend. Cooling those chips and feeding them with massive amounts of storage capacity still demands massive cases, and actually building such a system can reveal unforeseen speed bumps even in cases that seem perfectly poised to accommodate high-end hardware.
For just one example, when I put together our Ryzen Threadripper video-editing build earlier this year, mounting our 360-mm radiator in the top of that case required me to collapse the Fractal Design Define R6's many 3.5" bays into just two behind-the-motherboard mounting points. I had to sacrifice its 5.25" bays in the bargain, as well. During assembly, I also had to re-mount that radiator after our initial configuration to combat a clearance issue I hadn't accounted for. The biggest, baddest cases around tend to avoid those annoyances, and that's apparently why they keep selling.
If you're at the far edges of PC building and never want to consider a single trade-off, ATX full towers remain at the ready. be quiet!'s Dark Base 900 full-tower case family launched over two years ago, but the rev. 2 model we're looking at now updates the case's basic formula with several new features to keep up with the latest trends in chassis design. We'll talk about those in a second, but first, let's get to know be quiet!'s flagship full tower.
From the outside, the first things you'll notice about the Dark Base Pro 900 are its wrap-around brushed-aluminum shell and massive tempered-glass side panel. Mesh vents with baffling inside promise to minimize the escape of unpleasant sounds from inside the case while also allowing for the intake or exhaust of air from the fan mounts they feed. Orange plastic accents neatly define the shape of the case on our particular Dark Base Pro 900, but like past be quiet! cases, the company will offer the case with silver and black accents, as well. Overall, the Dark Base Pro 900's style is effortlessly classy.
The Dark Base hides its pair of 5.25" bays and front fans behind a featureless aluminum front door backed with sound-deadening foam. The two included Silent Wings 3 140-mm fans can be complemented with a third such spinner using an optional fan mount in place of the 5.25" cage. These included spinners can now max out at 1600 RPM, up from 1000 RPM on the original Dark Base.
The front panel of the case can accept up to four 120-mm fans or radiators as large as 280 mm or 420 mm depending on the builder's preferred fan size. A stepless slider behind the front door controls as many as eight PWM fans off the included fan controller. Sliding this control all the way to the left lets the hub accept PWM signals from a motherboard fan header, too.
The Dark Base Pro 900's front-panel I/O offers an impressive array of ports. The case's accommodations start with two USB 3.0 ports and the usual headphone and microphone jacks, all of which sit left of the orange-backlit power button. It's right of the big button that things get interesting. The Dark Base Pro 900 is one of the few cases with a front-panel USB 3.1 Gen 2 Type-C port that's actually ready to hook up to that high-speed header on compatible motherboards. Right of that, we get a USB port with quick-charging support for compatible devices.
A discreet button to starboard of the power switch controls the Dark Base Pro 900's integrated RGB LED lighting controller. That hub can cycle compatible four-pin RGB LED hardware through white, red, green, blue, orange, or purple hues, or it can be bypassed in favor of a signal from motherboard RGB LED headers. The Dark Base Pro 900 includes two hard adhesive-backed RGB LED strips to hook up to this controller, too.
The inset matte black rectangle in the Dark Base Pro 900's top panel serves as a Qi wireless-charging spot for compatible devices. Corsair's Dark Core RGB SE mouse can top up its battery from Qi sources, and the Dark Base Pro 900 swiftly topped up that rodent when I set it atop the charging pad. If you always want a Qi charging pad at the ready, the Dark Base Pro 900 is perhaps the only such case on the market to offer a built-in inductive coil.
The top panel pops off after we release several plastic tabs from the inside of the case. A look underneath reveals another layer of sound-deadening foam, plus the baffles behind the mesh we saw from the outside of the case. be quiet! claims these baffles help break up direct air flow and smooth out the case's noise character, but they primarily appear to constrict air flow to my jaded eye. We'll see whether that impression carries over in our performance tests.
The top of the case offers a wide range of radiator-mounting options. Radiators up to 360 mm or 420 mm long can go here, as well as four 120-mm or three 140-mm fans not pushing air through radiators.
Around back, we see the Dark Base Pro 900's single 120-mm or 140-mm fan mount, pre-populated with another one of be quiet!'s Silent Wings 3 140-mm spinners. Observant eyes will note that the Dark Base 900 doesn't have the power-supply mounting flange typical of virtually every other case on the market. We'll talk more about why in a sec.
Flipping the Dark Base Pro 900 on its back reveals an expanse of brushed aluminum and four plastic feet with anti-vibration rubber pads. As with the top of the case, the bottom panel is actually an aluminum-covered plastic shell. The bottom panel can come off for those who need it to, but removing it won't be a regular occurrence. A full-length dust filter cleans any air brought in through the sides of this panel. That filter pulls out through the front of the case for easy cleaning, too.
Here's a run-down of the Dark Base 900 rev. 2's critical specs in convenient tabular form:
|be quiet! Dark Base Pro 900 rev. 2|
|Type||ATX full tower|
|Dimensions (W x H x D)||9.6" x 23" x 22.7"
(24.3 cm x 58.6 cm x 57.7 cm)
|Supported motherboards||E-ATX, XL-ATX, ATX, microATX, Mini-ITX|
|3.5" drive mounts||7 (shared with 2.5" devices)|
|2.5" drive mounts||14 (12 shared with 3.5" cages)|
|5.25" drive bays||2|
|Fan mounts||Front: 3x 140 mm, 4x 120 mm
Top: 3x 140 mm, 4x 120 mm, 1x 180 mm
Bottom: 2x 140 mm or 120 mm
PSU shroud: 1x 120 mm
|Radiator mounts||Front: 120-mm rads up to 360 mm, 140-mm up to 420 mm
Top: 120-mm rads up to 360 mm, 140-mm up to 420 mm
Rear: 1x 120-mm or 1x 140-mm rad
|Included fans||Front: 2x be quiet! Silent Wings 3 140-mm
Rear: 1x be quiet! Silent Wings 3 140-mm
|Front panel I/O||2x USB 3.0, 1x USB 3.1 Gen 2 Type-C, 1x USB quick charge,
headphone jack, microphone jack
|Max graphics card length||12.8" (32.5 cm) with hard drive cages installed, 18.5" (47 cm) without|
|Max CPU cooler height||7.28" (18.5 cm)|
At $269, the Dark Base Pro 900 is one of the most expensive cases around before we get into hyper-exotic stuff like dual-system enclosures. That said, there's little be quiet! doesn't include in this case's box, and its huge range of potential mounting options for air-cooling and liquid-cooling hardware mean that even the most extreme dream systems can likely be made to fit in this beast.
Most of what makes the Dark Base Pro 900's second revision new lies inside, so let's get to looking.