Thermals & Noise
We tested the DBP 900 both stock and inverted, but we also wanted to explore a few other scenarios. First, we ran tests with the magnetic front door open. This is an ugly option, but it would be trivial for a user to reach down and open it during a demanding task, exposing the front fans directly to fresh air. Secondly, we popped up the plastic vent on the side of the case. The pro version of the case obviously doesn’t have these vents on both sides because of the tempered glass, so we expected little to no effect from this. Finally, we taped shut the mesh sections at the top and bottom of the case to determine whether they have any effect without fans in those slots.
There are three fans included in the usual orientation: two front intake, one rear exhaust. These are Be Quiet!’s own SilentWings 3 140mm PWM fans, sold individually for more than $20, and they’re listed as 1000RPM. That’s a good thing, because for $250 it would be unforgivable to include fans that need to be replaced.
Torture Test – Dark Base Pro 900 CPU Temperature
We’ll start with the Be Quiet configurations and then expand into comparative benchmarks. With our torture test, the CPU is plotting a 58.6C delta T over ambient load temperature. Without adding any fans, we taped off the side ventilation just to see if there’s meaningful impact from passive drafting of air. The result was an increase in temperature of about 1C, moving to 59.4C delta T over ambient. These matter more when bottom-mounted or top-mounted fans are present. We removed the tape and opened up the front door to the case, reducing temperature to 51.9C delta T – a marked 6-7C decrease from the stock configuration. Noise goes up a bit, as we’ll show later, but thermals benefit greatly. Opening the side ventilation port behind the motherboard tray produced a 56.8C temperature over ambient – not hugely beneficial, and more suitable for the non-Pro model of the case when mounting extra side panel fans. Finally, inverting the case to be right-facing resulted in significantly improved CPU thermals, now at 52.4C with our tower cooler. That’s with the door closed, just to be clear.
A few things, here: This impact is entirely because inversion means that the case fans are now directly streaming air in and out of the CPU tower cooler. With something like a closed-loop or liquid cooler, this change won’t really do anything. Like always with case testing, you can ultimately only really test for the specific configuration and hope it serves as an analog.
Looking at comparative data, the Be Quiet! Dark Base Pro 900 stock configuration performs about tied with the NZXT S340 Elite. The bigger question will be one of noise levels, which we’ll get to. Inverting the case boosts performance up toward the top 5, placing alongside the Corsair and SilverStone products that benefit from more direct airflow to the CPU.
Torture Test – GPU
Looking at GPU performance under torture workloads, again with Be Quiet first, the stock configuration runs the GPU at 54.9C over ambient, with the side ventilation opening not measurable outside of error margins. The GPU runs about 2C warmer with the ventilation taped off, showing that there is actual passive benefit here, and the inverted configuration hovers us around 1C warmer than stock. This is because we’ve moved where the video card is in the enclosure, as it now sits more out-of-the-way of the intake fans. Opening the front door and sticking to the stock configuration helps the most, bringing us to 51.2C delta T over ambient.
Comparatively, the stock 54.9C dT lands us between the 570X at 1050RPM and Pure Base 600 at 1160RPM. Opening the door puts us up to second place on the charts, between the fan-happy Cullinan and 570X.
Be Quiet! Dark Base Pro 900 Thermals - 3DMark
Moving on to 3DMark for a real-world gaming test, the Dark Base Pro 900 – White Edition case performs nearly at levels of an open-air case, the Core P3. Considering that the Core P3 is the closest thing to an open-air bench on this limited list of cases on our new 3DMark thermal test, that’s good performance for the Dark Base Pro’s CPU thermals. GPU temperatures are a bit warmer, but still outside of throttle territory by a few degrees. It could be better on the GPU front; we’d recommend either a modestly more aggressive fan profile or an additional fan nearer the GPU. Bottom intake would work excellently for this.
Dark Base Pro 900 Thermals - Blender
Blender serves as another real-world test. With CPU rendering and the GPU idle, the CPU scores a 39C temperature over ambient, planting the DB Pro 900 right around the SilverStone KL07 – another silence-focused case. Performance is completely acceptable here. The GPU idles around where the P3 and KL07 do, but is warmer than the SilverStone RL06 and its highly directional airflow and front mesh.
Switching to GPU rendering, the CPU and GPU both run similarly to the silence-focused KL07. There’s nothing to boast or complain about here. Let’s move on to noise.
Dark Base Pro 900 Noise
Be Quiet!’s inclusion of three high-performance fans benefit the case’s noise levels: These fans retail for around $20, making them some of the best pre-installed fans that we’ve worked with lately. In its stock configuration, our system operates at about 34.4dBA – the same as when the side ventilation is open, rather expectedly. Opening the front door provides significant thermal benefit, and ultimately increases noise levels audibly – but just barely. We’re at 37.2dBA versus 34.4dBA.
Comparatively, that lands Be Quiet!’s case around the 270R and Pure Base 600 with its top open and max RPM. The front open configuration performs more similarly to the streamlined RL06 airflow case.
Conclusion: Dark Base Pro 900 - White Edition
A case this expensive isn’t meant to appeal to the value-conscious, it’s made for people who know what they want and will pay $250 to get it. Therefore, in order to justify its price, the Dark Base Pro 900 - White Edition doesn’t need a competitive price/performance ratio: it just needs to be the best at what it does. In the past, the high end is where Be Quiet! has really stood out with cases like the Silent Base 800 as compared to their less-impressive Pure Base 600 budget effort.
For customers planning to spend upwards of $200 on an enclosure, this is a worthy choice. For first-time builders googling positive case reviews and wondering what their budget should be: this is really extravagant, nobody needs to spend more than $100 to get a good case.
Review & Testing: Patrick Lathan
Thermals & Noise Analysis: Steve Burke
Video: Andrew Coleman