bequiet! Dark Base 700 Case Review

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Introduction

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It has been almost 12 months to the day since we reviewed the Dark Base 900 from bequiet! Back in January 2017, we were hugely impressed with it, so when the chance arose for us to take a look at the newest addition to the Dark Base family, the answer was an absolute no-brainer.

be quiet dark base 700 box

Specifications

  • Model: DARK BASE 700
  • PSU form factor: ATX PS/2
  • Motherboard compatibility: E-ATX (30.5 x 27.5cm), ATX, M-ATX, Mini-ITX
  • Case size incl. stands (L x W x H), (mm): 544 x 241 x 519
  • Dimensions side panel window (L x W), (mm): 510 x 470 x 4
  • Color option: RBG LED front panel (white, red, green, blue, orange, purple)
  • Weight (kg): 13.25
  • USB 2.0: 0
  • USB 3.0: 2
  • USB 3.1 Gen 2 Type C: 1
  • HD Audio I/O: 1
  • Expansion slots: 7 + 2
  • Fan mounting locations: 9

Full details can be found on official bequiet product page.

Closer Look – Exterior

Meet the Dark Base 700… and from first sight, it looks very familiar. The overall styling cues closely follow the other cases in bequiet’s line up.  Dominating the front of the case is a large slab of brushed aluminium, interrupted only by a small bequiet badge towards the base.

As to be expected in a premium case, the front side panel is made of tempered glass and is held in place with four front-facing thumb screws.

be quiet dark base 700 front side

The front IO panel is the same, yet also different to that of the Dar Base Pro 900. Confused? Let me explain! It is clear that the same tooling has been used because the style & layout is identical, but bequiet have been quite clever here, by re-purposing 2 of the previous USB ports. To the left-hand side, where previously USB3.0 ports could be found, are now home to a fan control slider, and a USB 3.1 type C port. These are both cleverly fitted into the same openings of the previous standard USB ports. The remainder of the front remains untouched, except that the right-hand USB ports are now 3.0, as opposed to 2.0 previously.

Continuing the sleek lines of the Dark Base Pro 700, the roof of the case is another slab of brushed aluminium, with slotted vents towards the rear.

be quiet dark base 700 io

The rear side panel and back of the case are pretty much unremarkable, so I’m not going to say anything at all…just look at the picture below for more information!

be quiet dark base 700 rear side

Completing our look at the exterior of the Dark Base 700, we flip it over to take a look at the underside. The large slab of aluminium that wraps from the top, down the front of the case, tucks all the way underneath and forms the base for the front 2 feet. The rear 2 feet are also sizeable and mirror the front feet when the case is standing up. We also see a huge dust filter, which spans the entire length of the base.

be quiet dark base 700 bottom

Closer Look – Interior

Popping off the front panel is effortless, thanks to the fact that you are only removing the centre portion of the brushed aluminium. This leaves the side air vents and front IO intact on the case. Sat behind this panel is a full-length front intake dust filter.

be quiet dark base 700 interior front

The front panel is also lined with a nice thick layer of sound insulating material, which should help this bequiet case “be quiet” when in operation!

Perhaps the most interesting feature of note here though is the connection at the bottom of the front panel. With the LED lighting running down the sides of the removable panel, there needs to be a connection to ensure the light continues to the LED’s that wrap around the front foot. Rather than go with a wired solution, bequiet have employed a little connector that lines up small copper pads that make direct contact with corresponding pins.

be quiet dark base 700 led connector

Removing the tempered glass panel, we get to peak into the main chamber. Before I got my hands on the Dark Base Pro 700, I read in the press pack that the interior is completely reversible to enable an inverted build. Looking at the interior, however, you wouldn’t know that just about element has been designed to be removed. All the lines are nice & straight, and everything fits together perfectly…this is some serious precision engineering right here.

The PSU shroud has been built in such a way that it is made up of a number of panels, each of which can be independently removed to suit the end user’s needs. A sliding radiator mount sits in the roof, and there are blanking plates lining the right-hand side of the motherboard, which can be removed to enable a drive caddy to be located in any of the 5 positions.

The Dark Base 700 comes equipped with two 140mm Silent Wings 3 PWM fans, one mounted in the front for intake and another at the rear for exhaust.

be quiet dark base 700 interior chamber

Moving to the rear of the motherboard, and we see how the blanking plates for the drive caddies are held in place. The whole plate clips into the spaces, but you can also extend them into the main chamber another 2 positions, or just remove them entirely. This could be useful for additional cable pass-through points, especially for those with E-ATX motherboards.

Two of the three included drive cages are pre-installed into the basement, with a further three mounting points for SSD’s. Two of these sit on a bracket that braces the CPU mounting panel, and a further one situated next to the fan & lighting controller.

be quiet dark base 700 interior rear

Talking of the fan & lighting controller…here it is! We have 2 separate rails, each controlling 3 fans each, both of which can be independently set for either performance or silent modes. The front LED lighting modes are also controlled here, and further connections are available to connect to the motherboard RGB header, as well as a further expansion header to add another LED strip. All of this is powered via one final connection, to a SATA cable from your PSU.

be quiet dark base 700 controller

Closer Look – The Build

This review article so far has been a first impression of sorts on the Dark Base 700, and a whistle-stop tour of the main features as I was unboxing it. It looks great so far, but is it like to build in…and what will the end result look like?

I have something a little special planned for this build because if all goes to plan, this is going to be my new daily driver.

be quiet dark base 700 build front

be quiet dark base 700 build rear

Conclusion

Performance

Building in the Dark Base 700 was an absolute pleasure. I never intended to invert the layout, as I’m not a fan of turning all my components upside down, but I did go around the whole case, working out how each element would be removed and it’s all very straight forward.

As I mentioned before, the engineering here is some of the best I have seen. If I had to criticise one thing, it would be that there isn’t a huge amount of imaginative design for cable management behind the motherboard tray. To be honest, given that the rear side panel is solid steel, and you won’t see any of it, that didn’t bother me too much. As you can see from the picture above, I made sure that the cables were reasonable well tied down, but there is a good clearance between the tray & the side panel when fitted, so I had no issues refitting the panel when the build was done.

I was initially a little concerned that there was little airflow available to be had from the small vents at the front of the case. This is a trade-off between clean lines and keeping noise levels to a minimum or having a wide-open expanse of airflow at the front. With the manual fan controls, you have the option of cranking up the speeds if you do find your system getting a little hotter than you would like, although it is worth noting that during normal daily use including a few PUBG sessions, I have had no concern over system temps at all.

Design

The overall aesthetic of the case isn’t a huge departure for bequiet…as mentioned before, it closely resembles the other Dark Base models in the range in terms of its overall shape. For me though, this is perfect. I loved the look of the bigger 900 Pro, but just wanted it to be a little smaller…which this is!

The modular approach to the PSU shroud is frankly genius, you could remove it entirely if you want to! The sliding radiator mount in the roof isn’t a new invention, but it’s a very welcome addition, and I’m surprised more manufacturers don’t go down this route.

Value

The Dark Base 700 is currently retailing for around the £170 mark in the UK, depending upon your vendor of choice, which certainly put’s it into the more premium range when it comes to enclosures. However, the price in my opinion is justified, when you take into consideration what you get for your cash.

It is by no means a huge bargain, but there has clearly been a lot of research and design time in the construction of this new case, and that you have to pay for I’m afraid.

Final Thoughts

It would have been very easy (and widely accepted) for bequiet! to simply take the already excellent Dark Base 900, and create a slightly scaled down, mid-tower version, and present the 700 series to the world. What they have done though is take all that is good about it’s bigger brother, and then looked to improve the areas that weren’t perfect.

be quiet dark base 700 build front 2

This is a stunning case, that has a lot going for it. For my build, I opted for a lot of bequiet parts, as I had an idea of the overall theme I was looking for. When switched off, a monochrome & stealthy look, that burst with a splash of Play3r orange when switched on…and I’m super happy with the final build.

be quiet dark base 700 build led

I said earlier that I was hoping that I would be happy with the end result and that it would become my own personal daily driver. I am, and it is…and it’s going to take something very special indeed for me to contemplate switching out the Dark Base 700 for anything else.

Therefore, I have no hesitation in giving it our top award possible. Good job bequiet!

Platinum Award - Play3r

Huge thanks to bequiet! for sending in the Dark Base 700 for review

  • Performance
  • Design
  • Value

Summary

Pros:

- Modular design allowing for it to be rebuilt completely inverted
- Front mounted USB Type-C port
- Dual rail fan controller allows for independent setting for each rail
- Top quality materials & build

Cons:

- Given the limited front air intake, a third fan included would have been nice, to maximise airflow

4.7

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