A Fresh Take on the Dark Base 700
Is this special edition white case an instant classic?
The be quiet! Dark Base 700 White Edition is a limited-edition enclosure of only 3,000 units, and it is not only one of the first white cases from be quiet!, but also joins the Dark Base 900 (rev. 2) in featuring RGB lighting – though as tastefully implemented as one might expect from be quiet!.
So what can you expect from a case that – at first glance – appears to be another white mid-tower with a tempered glass side panel and RGB lighting? Quite a bit more than you might think, unless you have first-hand experience with a be quiet! enclosure. My impressions of their products to this point has shown them to have characteristically superior material selection, build quality, overall fit and finish, and attention to detail. In short, a level of perfectionism must surely exist within this German company, and it is impressive to behold.
While this version might only be available for a brief period of time (as long as the 3000 manufactured may last), that does not mean that one cannot purchase the standard black version, which will be identical to this one other than appearance and costs $20 less. Tastes on these matters vary, but from the moment I spotted this at CES in January I really liked this white version with its bright appearance, crystal-clear glass, and subtle lighting around the edges of the front panel.
Features from be quiet!:
- Motherboard tray and HDD slots with enhanced possibilities for individual requirements
- Two Silent Wings 3 140mm PWM fans
- 4-step dual-rail fan controller is switchable between Silence and Performance Mode
- Ready for radiators up to 360mm
- PSU shroud, ingenious cable routing and HDD slot covers for a neat interior
- Fully windowed side panel made of tempered glass
- Exterior RGB LEDs with six switchable colors and motherboard control option
- Color option: White, RGB LED front panel (white, red, green, blue, orange, purple)
- Top cover: Aluminium
- Side panel: 4mm tempered glass, steel (rear side panel)
- Front panel: ABS, Aluminium
- Motherboard compatibility: E-ATX (30.5 x 27.5cm), ATX, M-ATX, Mini-ITX
- Expansion slots: 7+2
- Drive Bays
- 3.5 slots (max.): 7
- 3.5 slots (scope of delivery): 3
- 2.5 slots (max.): 17
- 2.5 slots (scope of delivery): 9
- PSU form factor: ATX PS/2
- Fan mounting locations: 9
- Pre-installed fans
- Front: 1x be quiet! Silent Wings 3 | 140mm PWM
- Rear: 1x be quiet! Silent Wings 3 | 140mm PWM
- Optional fan installation
- Front: 2x 140 mm
- Top: 3x 140/120 mm
- Bottom: 1x 140/120 mm
- Optional radiator installation
- Front: 120, 140, 240, 280, 360 mm
- Top: 120, 240, 360 mm
- Rear: 1x 140/120 mm
- PSU shroud: 1x 140/120 mm
- Fan controller: Dual rail 4-step fan controller (6x 4-pin), PWM hub
- Airflow channel: Front, Top, Rear, Bottom
- Removable dust filters: Front, Bottom
- Component Clearance
- CPU cooler height: 180 mm
- PSU length: 285 mm (excl. bottom fan), 240 mm (incl. bottom fan)
- Graphics card length: 430 mm (286 mm with HDD cage at GPU height)
- Installation of motherboards with backplate: Yes
- Case I/O: USB 3.0 x2, USB 3.1 Gen 2 Type C x1, HD Audio I/O: 1
- Case size incl. stands (L x W x H), 544 x 241 x 519 mm
- Weight: 13.25 kg
Pricing and Availability:
- Dark Base 700 White Edition: $199.90, Amazon.com
- Dark Base 700 (standard black version): $179, Amazon.com
The Dark Base 700 White Edition has a very clean appearance out of the box, and the front and top aluminum panels give it a more refined look and feel (especially in person).
The front panel is surrounded by a light strip that is quite understated compared to most current RGB cases. The black metal mesh next to this panel on either side provides a stark contrast to the white metal and provides air intake for the front fans.
Front panel case I/O includes a fan control and RGB lighting selector along with a pair of USB 3.0 ports, one USB 3.1 Gen 2 Type C, and the usual 3.5 mm audio jacks.
And now a look at the side, which features a full tempered glass panel that is not tinted as we generally see:
A crystal-clear panel that might convince you it isn't there depending on reflections. And yes, it might seem silly to talk about the fact that glass is clear, but panels on all previous cases I've reviewed have been tinted to some degree (some with a very dark tint) and it's a very different look to see one that does not seem to have any tint at all. It's a very fresh look on this white case.
Around back we have the default layout out of the box (this can be inverted as well – more on that later):
There are a pair of vertical expansion slots back here as well in case you would like to add a PCIe mounting kit for your GPU and show it off through the front panel.
As to the top and bottom of the case, the top panel – which is aluminum like the front – offers vents at the back:
And the bottom panel is also fully vented and offers a screen filter which slides out from the front:
Before moving on to the interior, here's a look at the included accessories:
Along with a rather deluxe manual there is an extra 3.5-inch hard drive cage (up to 7 hard drives can be installed, and this is one of three total cages included). Each type of screw is helpfully in its own small bag, and there is a bundle of velcro ties to aid in cleaning up the cables during the build process.
This is a be quiet! case, so as expected it features a number of noise damping and anti-vibration measures, including (via be quiet!):
- Top panel insulation mats
- Front panel insulation mats
- Side panel insulation mats
- Anti-vibration decoupled HDD
- Anti-vibration decoupled fan
- Anti-vibration decoupled PSU
- Anti-vibration decoupled motherboard-tray
With all of these measures we can assume that this be quiet! case will be, well, quiet. So here's our first look inside with a view towards the front:
A single 140 mm Silent Wings 3 PWM fan is pre-installed, and radiators of up to 280 mm or 360 mm can be installed in this front intake if desired. The plastic covers over each of the optional 3.5-inch hard drive mount can be removed to allow for an addition cage to be installed:
And the covers are also constructed to be installed at three different depths, allowing for added spacing for potential airflow enhancement:
Moving on to the rear of the case, we see that this offers another of the 140 mm Silent Wings 3 PWM fans pre-installed for exhaust:
The bottom of the interior compartment includes some additional ventilation as well, with an air gap along the top of the shroud that covers the PSU below:
The rear panel is steel, held fast by a pair of captive thumbscrews. This panel is fully lined with the same noise damping material as the top and front:
And now we'll take a look behind the motherboard tray:
On the right side we have spaces for three 2.5-inch drives with a pair of mounts on removable bracket attached to the rear of the motherboard tray with a thumbscrew, and a second single-drive mount below this. There is also a control hub positioned next to this single SSD tray:
This "4-step dual-rail fan controller" offers both "silence" and "performance" modes, and there is also the selector on the front of the enclosure which offers settings of auto/1/2/3 for fan speeds. For this review I left the controller at its default "silent" mode and the control at "auto" on the front panel, with my motherboard's standard PWM fan speed profile.
Access to the front fan mounts is as easy as gripping the front panel and pulling it off, and it is held by plastic clips that seem pretty durable.
The panel itself is lined with sound damping material, and the RGB lighting connection is made via a nicely-implemented connector at the bottom that presses into place automatically as the cover is re-installed:
And now with the panel removed we have access to the front screen filter and the fan/radiator mounts themselves:
This filter is clipped in at the top and is easily removed:
And with the front panel off it's also easy to slide out the bottom screen filter:
Finally, the Dark Base 700 design is quite extensible thanks to the modular motherboard tray which can be flipped to support an inverted layout if desired. This tray is held in place on all sides with rubber washers for each screw, creating a fully decoupled mount.
You can also see one of the rubber feet at the top of this photo, as the tray actually has its own non-skid base to make the build process that much better – should you choose to assemble the system outside of the case.
The tray and expansion slots come out as one unit in a manner similar to some older OEM cases I've worked with, and I always liked this design since I could fully install expansion cards outside of the case – though doing so here would become cumbersome as you have to angle the tray to get it back in and the added bulk and weight of add-in boards would make that less convenient.
The system can be assembled outside of the enclosure if you wish
The build process begins with an unusual choice for an enclosure: standard or inverted build. If you removed the motherboard tray you are presented with this option when replacing it, and I quickly tested the inverted layout before switching it back for my conventional test build. An inverted layout does reverse the side panels, so with a case that is built with a glass side it makes sense to leave this as shipped.
I flipped it back after testing the process, and the tray fit back into the normal position without too much fuss, though it would have taken less finesse without the motherboard and cooler installed. The system can be built inside the case without removing the motherboard tray, of course, and a full-size ATX motherboard still has a lot of room around it to make this a simple process, with E-ATX boards also supported.
I used a tower air cooler for the final build but liquid coolers are very easy to install, particularly on the top of the case. This is thanks to a slide-out upper fan bracket, which is secured with a single screw on each side:
And above this area we see that the top panel does indeed have a damping panel installed:
Moving on to storage, the included hard drive trays have the same attention to detail as the rest of the case, with rubber cushions at each mounting point for the HDD:
Once installed the lower two drives are hidden from view behind the bottom shroud, and adding additonal drive cages will occupy space inside the main compartment and be visible through the glass panel.
SSDs mount with screws to one of the included brackets on the back of the motherboard tray, and here I installed a drive to the single-drive bracket. After adding a power supply (also a decoupled mount with cushions at each point) and routing the cables the build was complete, and we begin with a look at this from the back:
And now our finished build from the front:
The finished result is a very clean build without extra effort thanks to the ample routing openings, each with a rubber grommet. The white interior helps enhance any RGB lighting you may have, and the covers for the unused 3.5-inch trays to the right do keep things very polished. Of course if you do install additional trays and hard drives the clean look will be lost to some degree, and if your priority is additional hard drive storage I think the black version might be a better choise as the hard drives would blend in better agains the dark background.
Temps and Noise
|PC Perspective Enclosure Test Platform|
|Processor||Intel Core i7-8700K|
|Motherboard||GIGABYTE Z390 AORUS PRO|
|Memory||CORSAIR VENGEANCE LPX 16GB (8GBx2) DDR4-2800|
|Graphics Card||EVGA GeForce GTX 2070 SC2|
|Storage||CORSAIR Neutron XTi 480GB SSD|
|Power Supply||CORSAIR RM1000x 1000W|
|CPU Cooler||Cooler Master Hyper 212 RGB Black Edition|
|Operating System||Windows 10 64-bit|
Temperatures inside the Dark Base 700 were excellent, and that was with the default "silent" profile on the fan control hub and the "auto" setting on case front panel.
Even lower temps could likely be extracted with a more aggressive profile selection ("performance" mode plus the "3" setting on the front panel would be the highest fan setting), but these were just fine and the case was very quiet.
Noise levels were very good (in a room with an approximately 31.8 dBA noise floor), with an idle of just 32.5 dBA with the previously mentioned silent/auto combination. To provide an example of what a higher setting might do to system noise, I switched the front setting to "3" (the highest) and only this took idle noise up to 33.0 dBA (the fan hub was left at "silent"). Regardless, the included 140 mm Silent Wings 3 PWM fans are very quiet so these settings should not affect overall noise to any great extent. The CPU cooler and EVGA GPU cooler were both very quiet, and not the best test of how effective the noise suppression of the case may be; but these numbers are still excellent.
Over the last five years I have built systems in cases too numerous to count, with prices ranging from under $50 to nearly $500, and this Dark Base 700 White Edition is one of the best I have ever experienced. It has an exemplary level of quality that is quite rare in the PC enclosure space, and it actually feels premium enough to justify the price tag. The aluminum top and front are perfect examples of the attention to detail here, as these panels could easily have been left to rolled steel, but their lighter construction and smooth premium feel really add to the experience and keep the case much lighter than it might otherwise have been.
The White Edition is limited to 3000 units and includes a numbered plaque
True to the be quiet! idiom the RGB lighting is understated; eschewing the glitzy and ostentatious treatment of so many modern enclosures. Even the glass side panel adds a certain level of sophistication as it is utterly devoid of tinting, leaving your build totally unfiltered and rewarding your efforts (and showcasing any lighting you may choose to implement on the component side of things).
In recent weeks this White Edition has been discounted slightly on Newegg for $189, and the standard black version retails for $179, so if white is not your preference the Dark Base 700 is a great option. In short, though the Dark Base 700 is obviously not targeting the budget segment, if you can spend the $179 – $199 this should be on your short list. I can find no fault with the design or implementation, and it has become an instant classic in my stable of enclosures.