Queue the music as I introduce my favorite computer case I’ve ever had the joy of working with. It’s not the most expensive case, nor the flashiest. What the Dark Base 700 case represents is the best blend of aesthetics, build quality, and features you can find under $200, never mind it’s $180 MSRP price tag. The tempered glass is lightly tinted which looks amazing when your rig is lit up, and very high end when it’s off.
This case has more than the pictures lead on. It’s completely modular, allowing you to build YOUR machine how YOU want it. Want the window on the other side? Sure, no problem. Do you like seeing the side of your graphics card and not the top? Sounds good. You see, having a case this modular let’s you experiment with build ideas you didn’t think were possible for this price point. The video does the best at explaining this, but it’s important to call it out. I ended up using the default layout because it was perfectly suited for my desk. If you decide to run the graphics card so the side faces the window, you will need a short PCI-E extension so it can connect back to your motherboard. I recommend a black one, like this, and make sure it has all PCI-E lanes. Note that there’s only 24mm of clearance below the graphics card when mounted sideways (see the gallery picture at the bottom of this article).
You still get what you expect at this price point. Be Quiet! didn’t omit features to keep costs down. The Dark Base 700 has USB-C and USB 3.0 ports up front, along with a 4-way fan controller switch, and an RGB button that cycles through 2 pattern variants (solid or pulsing) of each major color. You get dust filters, tinted tempered glass, water cooling support, 2 fans, and more. The build in fan controller handles additional fans should you (you should) decide to add at least one more fan.
The cooling/thermal potential in this case is great, but I’d like to make a configuration suggestion. First off, even though the two included fans are great, it’s simply not enough air flow for a high end rig, especially if you air cool your CPU and GPU. With this type of case (RGB + Window) I recommend a 2 or 3 pack of 140mm RGB fans. Install the RGB fans where the window exposes them, then put one of the Silent Wings fan up top, with the other up front and below the the plastic shroud for where the hard drives and power supply go. From there you have excellent cooling even at low RPMs. If prefer liquid cooling, you can install up to a 360mm radiator on the top, front, or back. Using a 360mm radiator should reduce the need of purchasing additional case fans beyond what’s included in the box.
The dual channel fan controller has 4 switch positions, and 2 modes. Silent mode and performance mode. I provided a chart below showing fan speeds. In my opinion, Silent Mode – Switch position 1 is simply so low and quiet, you get very little cooling while other components such as the CPU cooler and PSU fan make much more noise. With that being said, and with the overlap of fan profiles plus ~10% rpm, the Performance mode gives you excellent cooling range while switch position 1 is still quiet enough to acceptable for every day tasks. Crank the fan position to 3 for situations like overclocked benchmarking, video rendering, or extreme gaming situations with one or more high end GPU. The auto mode on the fan controller passes control over to your motherboard should you want to configure automatic profile management. This of course requires connecting the fan controller to one of your fan headers on the motherboard.
The storage support is good, and it gets better if you buy additional $10 drive caddies on Newegg. You can install up to 3 3.5″ hard drives with what’s included, or 7 if you purchase additonal caddies. Two would go beneath the shroud on the bottom, while the third is installed in the one caddy that’s included, in any of the drive slots you choose. Each caddy/cage mount supports two 2.5″ SSDs. You can have up to 17 SSDs in this case (9 for what’s included), not including any NVMe your board supports. All hard drive mounting points are rubber isolated. This keeps vibration, and as a result, noise down to a minimum. I found the caddy design excellent where some other brands tend to have rubber grommets falling out as you try to wiggle your drive in. These didn’t exhibit that same behavior.
With one of the Silent Wings fans installed on the bottom, my WD Black 4TB hard drives maintained a fairly low temp, even with the fan profile set to 1, the slowest. Noise suppression and vibration dampening is amazing, as they WD Black drives are nearly inaudible.
All in all this is an extremely impressive case with a lot of value, even at this price point. This is what most companies should strive towards making and I certainly see this as a benchmark in this category. The RGB Tron-style LED strips on the side look amazing and I love that it wraps around the side a bit towards the bottom, not just the front. All of my geek friends that see this case appreciate all the subtle details and I hope after reading this, you do as well