A Closer Look - Outside
All the plastic parts of the chassis have an additional layer of protection, so that you can rest assured to get an immaculate unit. In terms of design, the DarkForce does not really go for any crazy innovations. It features soft corners, no hard edges and utilizes metal mesh and plastic to form the front and top for the most part.
Taking a look at the front, there is no Gelid logo to be found anywhere. This seems to be the reason why the company provides that separate badge in the first place. I do think that this is a pretty cool idea, allowing the user the choice to place the sticker on the chassis or not. From a marketing standpoint, that is not such a good move. Branding is king, be it by a distinctive look or company logo. Turning the chassis around it should become apparent to those who spend a bit more time reading case reviews, that the Gelid DarkForce has the exact same roots as the anidées AI-6 chassis for example. This is by no means a bad thing, as we have reviewed the latter and deemed it a really good chassis. A large window, held in place by plastic rivets, can be found on the main side panel. On the other side, an opening in the side panel below the CPU cooling area allows for additional cooling to be installed to lower temperatures in this part of the chassis. Interestingly enough I faintly recall Cooler Master holding some kind of patent on something like this, but I may be mistaken.
Moving in on the front, it can be visually divided into the bottom half, which has metal mesh to allow fresh air to enter the chassis with the help of a fan, while the top half is made of the same material to cover the four 5.25 inch drive bays. Gelid has also included a single 5.25 to 3.5 inch frame and adapter, giving you the flexibility to install such a unit right out of the box.
Turning the DarkForce around, the PSU bay is to be mounted on the bottom of the chassis. You may choose to have the fan point upward or downward, thanks to the two sets of mounting holes. Above that are the 8 + 1 motherboard expansion slots. Having eight means, that you should be able to go for a quad-GPU setup if you really choose to do so. In the very top, you will find a 120 mm exhaust fan and three openings for water cooling tubes to be routed out the back.
The same approach in terms of materials continues on the top panel, as the rear is basically one giant metal mesh part. Thanks to the height of this panel, Gelid was able to embed a SATA hot-swap bay in the front portion of the top. This is also where you will find an eSATA, a single USB 3.0, two USB 2.0 and the usual audio connectivity. While having such a set is great, I fail to see the reason for having the eSATA port. A second USB 3.0 plug may be of more value or use to most end users.