In and Around the Corsair Carbide 300R

If you've been keeping up with our reviews of Corsair cases, the Carbide 300R is going to be pretty familiar to you. It's missing a couple of the advances we see in more modern Corsair designs like the Obsidian 550D and the Vengeance C70, but keeps a surprising number of conveniences just the same. I get the feeling the 300R is about as trimmed down as Corsair is willing to go, but they may yet surprise us with a 200R down the road.

The front of the 300R is matte black plastic and steel and it gels together very well. There are three 5.25" drive bays but at this point I'd almost recommend going down to two and just using the extra space for increased ventilation, maybe even expanding the front intake fan a little bit more. On my own desktop I use four of the 5.25" bays, but I could give up two relatively easily. The power buttons and I/O are on the top front of the case, which is a fine compromise for users who keep their towers on the floor and users who keep their towers on their desks.

When you move to the top of the 300R, you'll see virtually the entire thing is ventilated except for a small tray-like area in the front, but what I'm particularly fond of is the alignment of the two 120mm mounts for 240mm radiators. This is a point that Antec missed on the P280 but SilverStone nailed on the TJ04-E: it's not so much a matter of vertical clearance for a radiator as it is lateral clearance; you want to avoid crowding the VRM cooling on the motherboard with the radiator. By shifting the mounts towards the side panel, Corsair provides enough room to either use two 140mm exhaust fans or a 240mm radiator (again, like the H100) without crowding the motherboard itself. It's a small but important touch.

The left side panel of the 300R features two laterally arranged 120mm/140mm fan mounts to provide additional cooling for video cards. I've been bullish on having fan intakes on the side due largely to the stallare performance of Rosewill's Thor v2, but the Thor v2 also benefits from a massive 230mm side intake fan that tags pretty much the entire motherboard area short of the CPU cooler. When testing the Corsair Carbide 400R with optional side intake fans I was less impressed. The expansion space is appreciated but I'm not sure it's necessary at this point.

Meanwhile, the rear of the 300R is business as usual, with three cut-outs for external watercooling. What's funny is that it appears Corsair didn't really save any height on the case by eschewing an eighth expansion slot; there's space for one, they just didn't cut it out.

Four thumbscrews are all it takes to get the side panels off, and once we're inside the 300R it's business as usual. What's impressive is the amount of convenience that Corsair has managed to cram into an $80 case. The three 5.25" drive bays are all toolless (and in fact the bay shields snap in and out securely but also easily), the four laterally mounted drive sleds all snap 3.5" drives into place toollessly, and Corsair even includes a brass guide stud in the center of the motherboard tray to hold the motherboard in place while you screw it in. Expansion slots include covers held in place by thumbscrews, too, and there are extrusions in the tray to make for easily mounting the motherboard and for lining up the power supply. In fact the only convenience they really eschewed was lining the motherboard routing holes with rubber grommets. I'm sure we're all crying into our beer over that one.

On the nights when I need to get a review done, but maybe I have a headache, or my tummy hurts, or whatever, I know I can count on a Corsair case to make my life a little easier. Once again, that seems to be true. Thermal performance remains to be seen (though I'm optimistic about the unobstructed front intake fan and slightly positive pressure design), but at least assembly will be a breeze.

Introducing the Corsair Carbide 300R Assembling the Corsair Carbide 300R
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  • mikbe - Friday, June 29, 2012 - link

    I sure am glad I had a DVD drive when my Gigabyte motherboard refused to boot a Win7 install thumbdrive.

    I also like to buy used CDs at yard sales, flee markets, and Goodwill. You get some really cool stuff you can't buy anymore or was never even on iTunes.
    Reply
  • Grok42 - Tuesday, July 03, 2012 - link

    Yeah, I couldn't get Win 7 to install from a thumb drive either for some reason. I also install Fedora every ~6 months. I haven't purchased a CD in ages, not sure there is even a place in my town I could if I wanted to. I simply pull the external USB DVD drive out of the closet, plug it in and then put it back. Even weekly this isn't a big deal. Would an internal drive be easier? Sure, but I guess I build too many machines to waste $20 for a drive in each so I just quit. I think there are certainly an argument to be made for one external 5.25" bay on some cases. I'm just saying there is also an argument for one, just one good case with zero. Reply
  • futrtrubl - Friday, June 29, 2012 - link

    I agree somewhat about the external bays since I hardly ever use optical drives these days, but as others have said there are enough other uses for them (card reader for me, fan mods/hot swap bays/etc for others) to justify 2 bays on a modern case.
    I do however find your objection to the 7 expansion slots puzzling. Why not have the seven? You aren't going to save space by cutting the numbers down since you would still have to fit an ATX mobo and it wouldn't save much money either. With modern layouts for PCI-E card slots some users require 2 slots per card so 6 slots just for graphics triple SLI and then one more for any other card/bracket. So in short we loose nothing by having all the slots but gain flexibility.
    Which is why I love your 3.5 HDD stack system ;'] One reason I don't use optical media much anymore is because I archive everything to HDD since it tends to be cheaper (Thai floods excepted) and is more convenient for me, and I backup religiously. So I currently have 8 drives in my case (one 2.5 SDD, 2 hot/fast HDD and 5 slow/cool HDD) and would love better drive management.

    Edward
    Reply
  • Grok42 - Tuesday, July 03, 2012 - link

    If you put an mini-itx board in this case and try to stuff it full of drives, there is an awkwardly large bit of dead space where the 5 unusable expansion slots are. My basic premiss is that in trying to build a case for everyone, they have built a case that only works well for those building a monster rig. Those building a monster rig would probably pick a different case and not a mid-range $79 case. Case manufactures need to quit pandering to a small number of outliers and remove some less used features and improve those that are most commonly wanted. Large number of 3.5" and 2.5" drives, room for large power supplies and smaller form factors. Reply
  • ggathagan - Friday, June 29, 2012 - link

    While I understand your point, I think you look at design from the opposite viewpoint of a case maker.
    Consider this:
    How does it benefit a company to only provide one or two functional expansion port openings if the space where the additional 1-4 slots would be still has to exist?
    In doing so, you've just eliminated that case from consideration by thousands of users who DO want 3-7 useable expansion slots.
    The case has to be large enough to fit the board and a standard power supply, so it's not as if you can somehow eliminate that area on the back of the case.

    The same holds true with the front of the case.
    Modifying the drive bay area to allow for only 3.5" or 2.5" drives would give you, at most, enough space for 1 additional drive.
    In doing so, however, you've just eliminated that case from consideration by thousands of users who DO want a 5.25" bay.

    Neither of those are wise business decisions and the bottom line IS business.

    What you describe in a desired case is what SFF cases try to achieve, but that involves eliminating drive bays, since that's the one area of case design that *is* flexible.
    Reply
  • Grok42 - Tuesday, July 03, 2012 - link

    What is the most number of expansion slots you have ever used in a build? I've been building rigs for almost 20 years and the most I used was eight but that was a crazy fax server. In a personal case the most I had was Sound Card, Video Card, SCSI controller and Nic. But that was 10 years ago. I haven't put a Sound Card or Nic in a box since and just use the on-board versions. These days you put a single double slot video card and you are done. Most ATX motherboards don't even support more than 4 expansion slots.

    Maybe I should have included in my argument who needs ATX motherboards anymore? This would have cleared up some of the confusion.
    Reply
  • jeffkro - Tuesday, July 03, 2012 - link

    dont forget tv card Reply
  • Olaf van der Spek - Saturday, June 30, 2012 - link

    Have a look at the BitFenix Prodigy.
    That said, you're right, we need more mATX/ITX cases with less drive bays and shorter depth. Not every case has to support every configuration.
    Reply
  • Grok42 - Tuesday, July 03, 2012 - link

    On my short list with the FT03. All the mATX/ITX cases have pretty severe shortcomings. Not in features but with trying to do everything an ATX case can do. The FT03 has a 5.25" external slimline drive bay for some inscrutable reason which is just wasted space and complicates assembly. The BitFenix would be a hands down winner if not for the external 5.25" bay that more than anything ruins the look of the case in my opinion. The 5.25" bay also forced them to squeeze the power supply bay down in size so the top drive racks wouldn't interfear with the MB. Reply
  • rickon66 - Saturday, June 30, 2012 - link

    In the first part of your post you want to abolish all external drive bays and then later you just want one decent case for the 90% of us. You make a lot of assumptions that 90% or 99% do this or want that based on what data? I can only speak for myself, not 90% or 99% of people-but I need a DVD/CD drive to access the dozens of disks that have accumilated over the years. Sure you can have external drives, but that means more wires and often another power brick. I would not buy a case without two or three external drive bays and if I don't want to use them, leave the covers in place. There are many uses for the external drive bays, card readers, fan controllers, I installed Antec easy sata bays in several of my compuers. Reply

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