The bequiet! Dark Base 900 is a legendary PC case, offering loads of flexibility in hardware positioning, cooling, and acoustics. That said, the old favorite has shown its age in recent years. It has an opaque side panel, no PSU shroud, front panel USB 2.0 and a stack of pre-installed hard drive cages. Thankfully, the Dark Base Pro 900 rev. 2 improves upon the original design in almost every way, replacing the the side panel with a huge sheet of tinted tempered glass, while adding new features like wireless charging, included LEDs and front panel USB type-C. In this bequiet! Dark Base Pro 900 rev. 2 review, we’re going to see if the new design justifies the $60-100 premium over the original.
A loud unboxing
The Dark Pro 900 rev. 2 comes with a lot of accessories. Thankfully, everything is packed neatly inside the box. Our case arrived with two soft pieces of foam and a case over top; no more than what’s necessary. There’s also a large bag filled with accessories, including additional drive cages, two LED strips, and some mounting hardware.
Although a lot of goodies are included in the box, many of them are preinstalled, including three 140mm Silent Wings 3 fans. Those fans are already pre-routed to the fan and LED controller mounted on the back of the case. Additionally, there’s a dual-drive cage mounted under the power supply shroud.
The fan controller in the back can accept up to eight PWM fans on two rails, as well as a few LED strips. You can control those two rails independently, switching between silence and performance modes. Thankfully, you don’t need to open up your case to control different fan modes. A toggle in the front allows you to quickly switch between automatic, PWM control and manual control.
You can also manually take control of the LED strips. By default, the strips are controlled by the case, allowing you six different colors and a “breath” version of each. You can control those by using a bottom on the front panel. If your motherboard has a LED header, however, you can connect the controller there and switch to motherboard control by holding down the front panel LED button for three seconds.
Then, you can sync the LED strips using whatever software your motherboard supports. Unfortunately, the included strips can’t go too far in terms of effects. You’re restricted to the same colors that you can access with the LED controller on the front panel.
Sticking with the front panel, it’s clear that bequiet! wants the Dark Pro 900 rev. 2 to last for awhile. In addition to a beefy power button, it offers a hard drive LED, headphone and microphone input, three USB 3.0 ports, and a USB type-C connector for USB 3.1. There’s even a Qi charging pad on the top of the case so you can wirelessly charge your phone, tablet, or wireless mouse.
Although we had a few mishaps during our build, there’s no denying how premium the Dark Pro 900 rev. 2 feels once I put it together. Even the hinge on the front panel door justifies the cost, not to mention the airflow design, included fans, wireless charging pad, and modularity.
Your build, any way you want
One of the core features of the original Dark Base 900 was its removable and repositionable motherboard tray, and that feature is still in tact. The modular approach taken by bequiet! offers a lot of flexibility in how you build your machine, allowing you to customize your build for non-traditional hardware, cooling, thermals, or just about anything else.
Before getting into that, let’s talk specs. The Dark Base Pro 900 rev. 2 sits between a mid and full tower depending on where you draw the line. Although smaller than some other full towers, the Dark Pro 900 rev. 2 comes with all the space you need. The case supports E-AEX, XL-ATX, ATX, mATX, and mini ITX motherboards.
Additionally, it has full water cooling support with a pump/reservoir mounting bracket and plenty of radiator room at the front and top of the case. “Front” and “top” are relative terms, however. Because of the Dark Base Pro 900 rev. 2’s modular motherboard tray, you can flip, twist, and turn your build to accommodate just about any hardware.
It’s the case for any build. Although you can get another chassis for a specialized design, there’s no commercially available product as accommodating as the Dark Base Pro 900 rev. 2. Combined with features like front panel USB type-C and a built-in Qi charging station, the Dark Base Pro 900 rev. 2 is an easy sell at around $250 USD, and that’s not even factoring in the thermal and acoustic benefits of the case.
Building inside the Dark Base Pro 900
The Dark Base Pro 900 rev. 2 has a lot of advantages over the first iteration. Most notably, there’s only one dual-drive cage installed, which is conveniently hidden under the new power supply shroud. The case is mainly the same otherwise, but even with those two changes, the difference is staggering enough for the second version to feel like an entirely different case.
Because of the Dark Pro’s modular design, you’ll need to have the manual handy when building. Although highly detailed, it’s tough getting through the documentation. bequiet! opted to segment different languages in the beginning of the manual, each getting separate sections. For build information, however, all of the languages are in the same spot.
Building in the Dark Pro 900 rev. 2 was a breeze — at least in the beginning. bequiet! has standoffs for ATX boards pre-installed, with a standoff guide etched into the motherboard tray. With the hard drive cages in the box rather than preinstalled, The Dark Pro rev. 2 gives you plenty of room to slip your motherboard in.
That’s until you get to the power supply. Because of the Dark Pro’s modular approach, the power supply mount is actually inside the case, with an extension running from the back. In order to install the power supply, you need to take off the shroud and remove the mount, which offers four thumb screws for mounting your power supply.
Simple enough, right? Wrong. There are two sunk screws that hold the power supply cage in place. Now, I’m familiar with tight tolerances on case screws, but I was unable to get the two out. The screws actually ruined the screwdriver bit I was using, and after 20 minutes of trying, I gave up.
Instead, I resorted to stuffing my hand between the power supply cage and back of the case to get two thumb screws in, leaving the bottom two holes unfilled. No case is perfect, but there were clearly compromises in the Dark Pro’s design to fit its modular approach. That makes building in it, at times, awkward. For instance, the SSD slot on the back of the motherboard tray fits so tightly that I had to push down on the whole case to get the thumbscrew to thread.
Thankfully, the Dark Base Pro 900 rev. 2 is less awkward than it could be. Although I can fault the case for some of its design issues, the fact of the matter is that there could be a lot more given how flexible the Dark Pro is.
To see just how quiet the Dark Base Pro 900 rev. 2 is, we took idle and load readings from it and an NZXT H500i using the same hardware. Idle, we just had a few browser tabs open, while under load, we ran FurMark at 4K and Prime95 stressing all cores. We used a sound meter at about a foot away to give a sense of the sound in a room.
The Dark Base Pro 900 rev. 2 is a little quieter based on our testing, but on a pure decibel scale, it’s not saving you much sonic space. It was actually a few decibels louder than the NZXT H500i — 28.7dB and 39.6dB for idle and load, respectively — though well within the margin of error. For a point of comparison, a normal conversation is around 50-60dB, so both cases were fairly quiet.
That being said, the sound is much lower in frequency. The damping inside the case is taking away a lot of the top-end whine that comes from fans spinning quickly, which gives the perception of it being quieter.
Humans perceive higher frequency — think pitch — noises as louder. Because of that, the Dark Base Pro 900 rev. 2 sounds substantially quieter, despite being fairly close to a normal when measured on a decibel scale. It’s important to note that bequiet! doesn’t have any special sauce, here, just some dampening material and optimized airflow.
There’s some wiggle room when it comes to acoustics, however. In performance mode, you can expect the scenario explained above, just with much better thermals. During our testing, we saved around 10 degrees in performance mode over our NZXT H500i comparison.
If you opt for silent operation, you can expect slightly higher thermals, though much less sound. Once we switched the fans over to silent, the only noise coming from the case was the result of a hard drive in the bottom cage. True silence is a pipe dream, of course, but the Dark Pro 900 rev. 2 gets damn close.
Despite a few faults when it comes to the Dark Pro 900 rev. 2’s modular design, there’s no denying how much this bequiet! case has to offer. It improves over the original design in almost every way, both in terms of design and features. That’s all while keeping the flexibility in tact, making the Dark Pro 900 rev. 2 the bar by which other cases should be measured.