In and Around the Corsair Carbide 400R

If there's one thing Corsair has done well since launching their enclosure arm, it's been making enclosures that are fairly understated in appearance. The Obsidian series are all just variations on a monolithic black enclosure design, and in fact the Graphite 600T's unusual appearance is frankly the most ostentatious in Corsair's lineup, though it's still fairly understated compared to many other cases on the market. Corsair continues this trend with the Carbide 400R.

To get under the magical $100 mark for the 400R, Corsair went a lot more meat-and-potatoes with this design. The mediocre fan controller from the 600T and up is gone entirely, and the port cluster has been stripped of USB 2.0 ports, so it's now purely USB 3.0. On the one hand I appreciate this forward-thinking design, but on the other it makes booting from USB a bit more difficult. I do think it's a net gain, though, especially now that Corsair has switched from routing USB 3.0 to the back of the case to using a motherboard header. The mesh grilles used on the rest of the front of the case are attractive, too, and bordered on either side by a solid trim. Corsair seems to have heard the complaints of users of the 600T as well: you can toggle the LEDs in the front 120mm fans on and off with an easy switch in the port cluster.

Both of the side panels of the 400R bow outward, with the left panel sporting mounting points for a pair of 120mm or 140mm fans. This actually gave me a perfect opportunity to test a pet theory, which is something you'll see later on. Space behind the motherboard tray is a little bit slight, but Corsair seems to want you to move the cabling into the pocket in the opposite side panel, and that actually did work well. I think if there's anything unseemly about the Carbide 400R's appearance, it's the top lip: the front of the case is raised about an inch higher than the back, although this creates a very easy gripping point.

If you kept up with the other two Corsair case reviews, you'll know I'm a huge fan of their interior layout and thankfully very little has changed with the 400R. In fact, once again the interior has even been improved slightly. Corsair keeps the eight expansion slots and rubber grommet-lined mounting holes around the motherboard tray, but loses the awkward power supply mounting system of the 400R's predecessors. The drive cages are also mounted laterally, just the way I like them. I harped on this in my reviews of the NZXT Tempest 410 Elite and BitFenix Shinobi and it bears repeating: lateral drive cages make cabling easier and can substantially reduce potential clearance issues with longer video cards. The six drive trays are even basically the same ones used in the 600T and 650D; the only difference with the 400R is that the drive cages can't be moved anymore. That was a cute feature in the more expensive enclosures, but its omission is a perfectly reasonable corner to cut.

Frankly there's very little I find fault with in the Carbide 400R's design, at least superficially. For a $99 case it has a nicely understated appearance, and the interior looks to make assembly just as easy as it was with the other two Corsair cases. Fantastic.

Introducing the Corsair Carbide 400R Assembling the Corsair Carbide 400R
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  • Death666Angel - Saturday, September 03, 2011 - link

    Hello!
    I don't understand that passage. I haven't used USB 3.0, yet. Is there some problem with booting from USB3.0 ports? Shouldn't they be backward compatible? :-)
    Thanks for the review! Could you add metric measurements? :-)
    Reply
  • livingplasma - Saturday, September 03, 2011 - link

    I've had much better luck with side fans being used as exhaust rather than intake. This was true when I tested with my an Antec Three Hundred with a 4890 non reference that exhausts from the back and front, there was a slight advantage with the side fans as exhaust under load. With aftermarket cpu coolers like the Scythe Setsugen 2, the cooling advantage was even greater. CPU and board temps were also lower than with the side fans as intake. Only during idle or cpu only loads did side fans as intake performed a little bit better. Same results even with a pair of 6870's in the Cooler Master 690 II. Another interesting thing I've noticed is that all the fans I've tried are less noisey when pushing through a grill vent rather than trying to suck air through them. Reply
  • ckryan - Saturday, September 03, 2011 - link

    I guess you have to admire what corsair is doing, even If I don't find the exterior to be particularly sexified. For an attractive, unusual, and generally backassward affair, see the Lian Li PC A05NB. I've been a hopeless shill for it for some time now, but a little Corsair magic on the inside wouldn't hurt (much).

    Hey, another case review so soon? Awesome.
    Reply
  • B3an - Sunday, September 04, 2011 - link

    Can you start reviewing cases like this that actually look nice and not like cheap tacky crap like they were designed by a 12 year old? I know they're very rare but these mythical beasts do exist! Reply
  • Dustin Sklavos - Monday, September 05, 2011 - link

    Well shoot, I was just going to try and review as many bug ugly cases as I possibly could, but since you made the request I'll get right on it! Reply
  • TrackSmart - Monday, September 05, 2011 - link

    I checked out the Lian Li PC A05NB (mentioned by ckryan above). For $90 on Newegg, I'm pretty curious to see how it would compare. The Corsair is not awful, but I still wouldn't put it in my living room. The Lian Li case, however, is undersstated enough to go anywhere.

    Maybe Dustin can request one of the Lian Li's for a showdown - if he isn't already buried in cases to review.
    Reply
  • softdrinkviking - Monday, September 05, 2011 - link

    i just put together one of these for my dad, and it was great to work with. I didn't cut my hand even once!

    also, the usb 3.0 on the front is a huge plus if your popping external drives on/off all the time.

    one thing I did differently was I mounted the PSU upside-down becasue the holes on my seasonic didn't line-up properly otherwise.
    Reply
  • AssBall - Wednesday, September 07, 2011 - link

    If your PSU fan is on the bottom, like many, you'd want to mount it upside down anyway. Reply
  • wyhtmgm - Friday, October 14, 2011 - link

    I have a 650TXV2. The holes on the PS aren't symmetrical, but the holes on the case are symmetrical so it lines up the same way whether it's rightside up or upside down, i.e. I didn't encounter softdrinkviking's problem. I'm not that happy about how it lines up, since the head of one of the screws is sort of holding against the edge of sheet metal instead of going through a hole, but I haven't installed a power supply in years so maybe that's normal.

    Is the power supply in the review picture rightside up or upside down? In the picture I don't see the fan, which suggests rightside up, but the picture may just be too dark. There are other clues that it could be upside down; the position of the cables, and there's no visible label on top.

    The PS would probably run cooler rightside up, but my floor tends to be dusty and I don't like the idea of blowing dust into the PS.
    Reply
  • Valitri - Wednesday, September 21, 2011 - link

    I currently use a CM 690 with 4 Yate Loon 120mm fans (1 front intake, 1 rear exhaust, 2 on Hyper 212+ push/pull out the back), and 3 Cheap NZXT White 140mm fans (1 bottom intake, 2 top exhaust, NZXT cheap white ones). The case has been banged up during moves and 3 different builds in it. I also redrywalled a room it was in so it's not clean either. I just ordered this 400R and will be ordering a few new fans for it as well. I curently load 54C on my 2500k at 4.5ghz after about an hour of Prime, so I'll test that against the 400R. I am also curious if my 6970 will run cooler if I install side fans on the 400R. The way my side panels work on my 690, I don't have room for side fans. The most important thing to me will probably be noise, I wish I had a way to accurately measure it. My case is very loud, and my fans seem to rattle sometimes. Reply

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