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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  • lbruce - Sunday, July 01, 2012 - link

    Got one of these a few days ago. It's worth what you're paying for it, but it's not worth more.

    The USB 3.0 connectors do not look rugged, it will be painful to see them break. The side panels are unbraced sheet metal just like any cheaper case, they may need sound deadening sheets to quiet and strengthen them. In every other way though, it's a nice case.
    Reply
  • losttsol - Monday, July 02, 2012 - link

    Your review is fairly late coming, but you did it justice I think. I've owned this case since it came out 5 months ago. Only cons I can give it are 1. they should have gone ahead and punched out the water cooling holes on the back. The steel back there is very thin and its easy to damage the case punching the holes out...and 2. just a few more millimeters of cable routing space behind the motherboard would have done a world of good. For the price, this case gives you a lot of options and the ability to put 6 x 140mm fans in it. You can buy the cable routing hole grommets from their site if you want that option. The Obsidian grommets fit it. Having that large open cavity below the 5.25" bays requires some creative cable routing if you want a clean look, but it can be done. The USB 3.0 cable is black thankfully, not blue like so many other case makers feel the need to do. I immediately switched out the included Corsair fans, so I can't comment as to their performance. The expansion ports aren't tool-less, but at least they give you thumb screws for them. I was coming from a Lian-Li PC-P50 and I actually like this 300R better. It has a great use of space for it's dimensions. Reply
  • TOMM3KE - Monday, December 17, 2012 - link

    I know you say the form factor supports mini-ITX, but Corsair won't guarantee me it when I contacted them. I have an ASUS P8Z77-I DELUXE mini ITX motherboard and want to be sure it fits the Corsair Carbide 300R. If not I was thinking about using the Fractal Design Core 3000. Reply

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