The Dark Base Pro 900 Rev 2 is, as the name implies, a minor revision of the Be Quiet Dark Base Pro 900 that we already reviewed way back in the blue mat era.The major difference is the addition of a power supply shroud, similar to the one in the Dark Base 700 that we also reviewed, but there are also some other minor changes. Since the rest of the case is the same, we’re replacing our usual build and appearances section with a quick rundown of the updates we noticed.
This review of the Be Quiet! Dark Base Pro 900 Rev 2 compares performance, build quality, and differences with the first version. We also test versus several other leading cases, including other full-towers or large PC tower cases.
The newest Cooler Master Mastercase H500[X] case is the H500. Not the H500P, or the H500P Mesh, or the H500M. Just plain H500, but not the identically-named NZXT H500, or the H500i, or the Thermaltake A500 we saw at Computex, nor the Corsair 500D. If NZXT comes out with an H500 Mesh, we’re going to take matters into our own hands and start assigning names.
The look of the H500X family was established by the H500P late last year, and the cases that followed all share the dual 200mm RGB intake fans and a similar front panel. The H500 steers further away from the original than the others, though: most obviously, the top of the case has an odd hump at the front, similar to the old HAF 912/922/932s. On the 912, this was advertised as a “top platform for personal belongings,” but it’s more practical on the H500, hiding a plastic handle for lifting the case. It’s not as bulletproof as a metal handle would be, but it’s fine for lifting the case onto a table, and these days that’s about the only reason anyone needs to pick up a PC.
The H200i is the smallest of NZXT’s New H-Series, including the H400i, H700i, and different-but-technically-still-included H500. They’ve been out a while now (with the exception of the H500i), but the cheaper non-i versions are what’s actually new -- the “i” suffix, of course, denotes that it includes an NZXT Smart Device. We were sent an H200i and not an H200, but we won’t be covering the device in this review for a few reasons: we already made our initial feelings about it clear, and a version of the case is sold without the device (so it’s optional, which is what we wanted). Finally, we’ve been told that the device has been improved and plan to revisit it in a separate piece. For now, value remains higher with the barebones cases, which are functionally the same in build and fan/airflow arrangement.
This review of the NZXT H200 (and subsequently, the H200i) looks at value proposition of the mini-ITX mini-tower. The H200 isn’t a truly small form factor (SFF) HTPC case, like the SilverStone Raven RVZ03 might be, but it does fill a market for mini-ITX users who want more cooling or cabling room to work with. Corsair recently tried to address a similar market with its 280X micro-ATX case, which we primarily remarked as having good quality, if odd positioning for its size. The H200 likely falls into the same territory for most.
SilverStone’s RVZ03 isn’t new, but after years of ATX case reviews we have quite a backlog of promising small form factor cases. The RVZ03 is part of the Raven line, a loosely related group of “extreme enthusiasts chassis” that could also be called “the ones that have a V-shape on them.” We recently revisited the RV02, one of the best-performing full size cases we’ve reviewed.
It’s a thin, console-like enclosure, typically shown standing vertically, but also capable of being laid on its side Taku-style. The ubiquitous Vs on the front are clear plastic backlit with RGB LEDs hooked up to a controller; the controller can accept input from a standard 4-pin RGB header and includes adapters to control normal LED strips as well.
The review embargo on Corsair’s new Crystal 280X micro-ATX case lifted during Computex, possibly the busiest week of the year--but since we’ve just started testing small form factor cases, we chose to push back the review another week or two.
The 280X is fairly large to call itself small form factor, and that can be an unfair advantage when comparing performance against truly small mini-ITX cases like the SG13. One justification is that (unlike the Cryorig Taku), the 280X uses its extra room to supports full-size components except for the motherboard, which must be either micro ATX or mini ITX.
After seeing dozens of cases at Computex 2018, we’ve now rounded-up what we think are the best cases from the show, with the most interesting design elements, price points, or innovations. As always, wait until we can review these cases before getting too hyped and pre-ordering, but we wanted to at least point-out the top cases to pay attention to for the next year.
We’re calling this content the “Most Room for Improvement at Computex 2018” content piece. A lot of products this year are still prototypes, and so still have lots of time to improve and change. Many of the manufacturers have asked for feedback from media and will be making changes prior to launch, hopefully, but we wanted to share some of our hopes for improvement with all of you.
Separately, Linus of LinusTechTips joined us for the intro of this video, if that is of interest.
Our Computex 2018 coverage continued as we visited the BeQuiet! booth. This year, Be Quiet! announced the new Dark Rock Pro for socket TR4 (Threadripper), timely for Threadripper 2, and also showed a trio of refreshed cases -- the Silent Base 801, 601, and Dark Base 900 Rev 2.0.
The Dark Rock Pro TR4 is specifically designed with AMD’s Threadripper socket TR4 in mind. The Dark Rock Pro’s only real difference from previous iterations is the new full coverage block for Threadripper. The new cold plate is designed to help ensure full die coverage on Threadripper, which we discussed back in August of last year. We’ve previously found there to be a measurable difference when using TR4 full coverage coolers vs. non-TR4 ones. Price and release date were not available at this time.
Prior to the Computex rush, we stopped by Lian Li’s case manufacturing facility in Taiwan, about 30 minutes outside of Taipei. A near-future content piece will show our tour of the case factory (and detail how cases are made), but for today, we’re talking about the products for Computex. Other than pushing RGB to the next level – namely by attaching it to cables – Lian Li also provided us an opportunity to look at an updated O11 Air and Lancool One.
We first saw the Lian Li O11 Air at CES 2018, then reviewed the O11 Dynamic after that, and we’re now approaching launch for the Air variant. The Lian Li O11 Air has gone through spec finalization, with a target of $130 for a 3-fan model, or $150 for a 6-fan model (which is highly competitive, we think). The O11 Dynamic was more focused on water cooling, but the O11 Air goes for large, plastic paneling with grills cut throughout, with otherwise identical tooling to the O11 Dynamic. We think this enclosure is one of the most interesting for the latter half of this year. It’s presently due for “before August, probably,” with a possibility of a July launch.
Cooler Master’s H500M is the 18th addition to our “Cases Named H500” chart. The H500M was shown at CES 2018, and follows-up the initial H500P, the H500P Mesh, and the unrelated H500 and H500i cases from NZXT. This is Cooler Master’s high-end solution, shipping at $200 and including user-swappable glass or mesh front panels, with the mesh panel pre-installed in a default configuration. Today, we’re reviewing the Cooler Master H500M enclosure.
Cooler Master’s H500M officially launches for product availability to consumers in the second week of June, just after Computex ends, and carries an MSRP of $200. For clarity, this is a different product than the H500P Mesh that we previously reviewed, although it does ship with a mesh front by default. The H500M also includes a swappable glass front, and otherwise primarily differentiates itself with additional gloss and ARGB support and controllers.
From the ARGB side, software is still to come, and immediate compatibility includes ASUS motherboards. Cooler Master is working with other vendors on further integration. For our purposes today, we’re more focused on overall build quality and thermal performance; besides, we’ve got Computex and flights to Asia breathing down our necks, so we’ll stick with what we’re good at.
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