be quiet! jumped into case building back in 2014, gaining ground on the leading manufacturers and offering some sublime case options. The 700s bigger brother, the Dark Base 900, is the flagship model whilst the Silent Base 601 gives builders plenty of scope but many need that something in between and thats where the Dark Base 700 steps in.
The Dark Base 700 comes in at £150.19 at Amazon at the time of writing. Whilst this is the first be quiet! case we have had in for review and for use on our Project Octane build, we are seriously impressed. Cases this size risk one of two things, being totally over the top or simply too plain and boring to care about. be quiet! have hit a nice balance here, the Dark Base 700 has plenty to offer.
Right off the bat its a great looking case and you can tell this has been put together propperly. With the case coming in at a slightly larger sized mid tower offering, it stands 519mm tall, 544mm long and 241mm wide. Its not overbearing but sits proud with its chest pumped out, like Daniel Craig about to kick some ass in a well fitted suit. Theres brushed aluminium panels to the top and front to cap off that suarve finish. Looking around you notice the angled front edges and feet, now a staple of be quiet! design that helps to soften the jawline of our well groomed offering.
The paint work is not quite Aston Martin if we are carrying on our 007 fantasy here. The black is done very well and is not too shiny or even a magnet for our finger prints and those brushed aluminium panels look fantastic. For gadgets, the Dark Base 700 has RGB up its sleeve with a thin bezel that matches the contours of the front of the case, stretching from the top panel all the way down to the front feet. Tinted windows are more gangster than Bond but a 4mm thick side panel adds that extra touch of luxury.
The angled I/O panel of the Dark Base 700 is a simple delight. Many seem to over complicate here but not be quiet!. We have a fan controller, USB 3.1 Gen 2 Type-C, a pair of audio jacks, a backlit power button, a reset button that doubles as an activity LED, a toggle switch for the RGB LEDs, and a couple of USB 3.0 Type-A. Its great to see that be quiet! included the USB Type-C while the fan controller is excellent.
be quiet! include an internal hub that can be used to connect up to 6 fans to the PWM speed profile from the motherboard. Users also have the option to go manual with 3 speed setting to chose from. To make things even better the 6 fans are split into 2x 3 fan arrays that can be switched between Silent and Performance modes.
So far then the Dark Base 700 gets almost everything spot on, it misses out on the wireless charging that its bigger brother includes but not everyone will care about that. It does share the amazing modularity that the 900 brought to the party, offering inverted layouts should that be your thing. The frame can be stripped down to within an inch of its life, check out our painting progress on Project Octane to see just how far we took that.
We did wonder ourselves wether to do an inverted layout for Project Octane, in the end we went with a more traditional build so we are not sure if it will ever reach its full potential. With a removable motherboard tray that doubles up as a test bench and a top mounted removable radiator bracket, its really hard to find anything relevant that we would change with the Dark Base 700.
Now we didn`t go for a standard build in the Dark Base 700 here at Mod83 but we can imagine that if we did it would be plain sailing all day long, from E-ATX down to Mini-ITX the Dark Base 700 has everyone covered. We can honestly say with all the stripping down and rebuilding we did, everything still feels very solid and fits how it should, granted an additional few layers of blue and orange paint did make things very tight. Our only criticism would be the front panel attachment, while we didn`t have issues with the RGB lighting connector, the plastic tabs while large do feel like they could be prone to snapping if not too much care is taken removing the panel. Removing the panel itself does take some force and if we looked closely we very slightly bent the panel while removing it.
Once removed, the front and rear side panel have sound deadening material attached, along with the top panel while the Dark Base 700 also ships with 2 Silent Wings 3 140mm PWM fans too. It would have been nice to have a third 140mm installed in the front but we cant knock be quiet! too much for that.
Regarding cooling you have plenty of options here, top or front mounting options of up to 3 140mm fans or a 360mm radiator. The rear mount is a single 120mm or 140mm and there is also room on top of the PSU shroud for another should you remove the basement panels. Installation is a breeze, especially given the removable top mounted tray. The only bad thing we can say on cooling is the limited ventilation on the top panel, reduced to a series of small opening to the rear of the case.
be quiet! include 3 2.5in sleds that are attached to the rear of the motherboard tray and three modular 3.5in / 2.5in drive bays. These are all metal construction and lined with rubber grommets in traditional be quiet! fashion. All 3 modular bays can be repositioned within the case. There are mounting options in the PSU basement area for 2 cages while the right hand side of the motherboard tray allows up to 5 cages to be fitted in total should you need that much storage. Additional cages are available to purchase seperateley from the be quiet! website.
The Dark Base 700 also includes an option for vertical GPU mounting, we would have loved to have seen a riser cable bundled in with the package, especially given the price it would have been the icing on the cake. We didnt test this mounting option with our Strix 1070 but given the proximity to the all glass side panel, temperatures could soon rise.
Our build looks rather cramped given our design choices but even with the mods installed theres still plenty of room to work with. Our main gripe comes from a cable management stand point. Project Octane included so much wiring that we started to struggle a little with routing cables around the case. With a Straight Power 11 650W PSU installed theres plenty of room in the basement, providing you route around or remove the drive cages. Additional wiring is used for the fan controller and RGB lighting can also be controlled from the hub. Power is taken from a SATA connection so it starts to build up should you take full advantage of the hub and what it offers.
be quiet! include 3 rubber grommets for cable management beside the motherboard and the gap behind is more than adequate for standard builds but we would have liked to have seen just that little something extra to really help tidy up cable management. You can use the removeable and adjustable drive bay mount covers to assist to some degree but this day in age we think that those mounts are wasted and would perhaps like to see something different should there be a Rev 2 of the 700, just like the 900. Given be quiet! traditionally are associated with air cooled builds, their release of Silent Loop AIO units will hopefully lead them to looking at potential alternatives and possibly reservoir or pump mounting options for water based builds in the future.
Being German, be quiet! are focussed on the important stuff like build quality and its great that we dont have to use any third party control software for the RGB lighting. As a relatively new player to the market, be quiet! have certainly hit the ground running and despite a few small gripes, the Dark Base 700 is one of our favourite cases to date. Pricing is a little steep, but considering what you get for your money, you wont be changing chassis for a very long time. With great looks, flexibity, the included Silent Wings fans, RGB control and USB Type-C it has plenty to offer. With a few small changes the Dark Base 700 could be perfect but we are not complaining, in fact we are already looking at new builds just so we can use it again!