Once the panels are removed we can get our first glance at the DarkForce's interior design. A white accessories box is attached to the motherboard tray via a twist tie with the contents of the box clearly printed on the visible side.
Offering up to four 5.25” bays, each bay has a tool free installation clip perfect for those of us that hate having 1000 screws kicking round.
The bottom bay contains a removable tray which works as an adapter for installation of 3.5” and 2.5" devices.
Gelid has designed their 3.5” bay system to be extremely customisable and completely tool free. The system features two steel cages each containing three plastic pinch & pull to open "Drawers".
Where these bays really shine is with the option to customise your setup using a 4 way HDD combo system. With a "stock" install there are six 3.5” bays in total and a seventh in the aforementioned 5.25” tray.
But here’s the cool part, the cages can be removed using a few easy to access thumbscrews. This is where the 4 way combo comes into play.
Got long graphics cards? That’s cool just pull out the top cage.
Want to install a floor radiator? Remove the bottom cage.
Or for maximum space remove both!
Cables & Cable Management-
The majority of the cables included have been sleeved with a tight weave plastic braid that is extremely hard to see thru. I have found very few companies that offer sleeved case cables and personally I really like this addition. With that said some larger cables such as the sata data and usb 3.0 cables are unsleeved but instead are a matching solid black colour.
As a long time user of their fans I have come to love the quality of Gelids sleeving, being one of the only companies to sleeve the entire length of the cable. Unfortunately this trait has not continued across to the case cables, although the sleeve is of similar quality the cables stop a few inches short of the complete cable length.
The DarkForce also has a good selection of hidey spots for the cable management enthusiasts, with five access holes for cable routing. An unforeseen benefit of the rear CPU cooler is that the area behind the tray is slightly deeper than most cases, this will also ease the task of concealing tangles of cable.
Being a cooling orientated company it's no surprise that the DarkForce has mounting for up to eight fans and one "Supported" Radiator. While Gelid have only stated support for the floor mounted 120 or 240mm radiator, an additional 120mm could easily be mounted in numerous locations, while a 240 radiator could be made to fit in the front or roof with minor modifications.
The top of the case can be fitted with either two 120mm or two 140mm fans. Continuing with an easy install theme the whole top panel can be removed using four screws, this will make fan installs and the following cable management go a lot quicker and smoother.
The front of the case has a single 120mm fan installed stock but has mounting holes for another 120mm fan directly above.
The floor is where a lot of the cooling action happens in the DarkForce case. With the ability to install a 120 or 140mm radiator or fan without removing the 3.5 cage, but once the cage is removed it makes way for two 120 or two 140mm fans or a 240 radiator.
Although offering so many mounting options Gelid have only included two 120mm fans, one mounted in the front intake and the other in the rear exhaust position. Both fans have a speed of 1200 RPM and come sleeved in the same style black sleeve as the rest of the included cables.
Probably one of the most surprising and useful features, especially in a case of this price was the built in Fan Extension PCB's. You will find these extension boards located at the top and the bottom of the motherboard tray at the rear of the front bays and conveniently placed near cable management access points.
These extensions can power up to three fans each for a total of six fans without any added wiring or power connections, this ultimately helps to reduce cable clutter inside the case. Both these fan headers are connected via a clean sleeved cable and powered by a standard 4 pin male Molex.
Bundled Items & Accessories:
Gelid offers up the standard array of spares and accessories with the DarkForce. To start we can see a fairly straight forward visual instruction manual with the different installations in a variety of languages.
We can also see Gelid have included a case badge displaying their text logo as well as cable ties, Case Lock, Standoff tool, USB Cover, 3.5mm jack cover, eSATA cover and the normal selection of case screws.
For this installation I tried to install the largest size components I had available. So with the motherboard installed, which in this test setup is an Asus Sabertooth 990FX, we can see it nearly ends up flush to the cable management portals. This may become a problem for people using longer style motherboards such as the eVGA v77.
The rear mounting bracket for our CPU cooler is also easily accessible a minor detail but important as many cases seem to miss the alignment altogether.
Back to the front of the case now the Tuniq tower extreme CPU cooler which measure in at 150mm, 15mm shorter than Gelid’s max recommended height of 165mm.
I also used a GTX275 as it's one of the longer cards I have available notice that this particular card still has a bit of room to breathe at the bay end, Gelid suggests a max of 410mm graphics card. The joy of the combo swap HDD cages though is if a longer card needs to be installed the cage can be removed.
Installation went smoothly with the case giving me room to move in all the right places. Options for running cables where vast letting me hide a majority of the wires from my OEM Modular supply.
The DarkForce was a pleasure to work with and with a few tweaks Gelid may really be onto a winning formula for future case endeavours. Besides my feelings on the "Inside out window" and the lack of the rear CPU socket Fan I could see myself using this case for a mod project based on the cooling opportunities alone.
I would definitely recommend the DarkForce for PC builders who don't want to sacrifice cooling potential, but may not have the budget for a high tier Air Cooled Case. With a minimalist approach to exterior looks, whilst not pulling any punches in the features, Gelid really have produced an exceptional addition to their product line.
Big Thank you to the team at The Kool Room for supplying the Gelid DarkForce used in this review.
The DarkForce is available right now from- The Kool Room