Conclusion: But Why the Drive Cage?

I feel like Corsair has ultimately acquitted themselves fairly well with this, their least expensive enclosure. I get nervous whenever a manufacturer relatively well known for producing quality hardware decides to chase the bottom dollar; we saw what that approach did when Lenovo took over the ThinkPad brand. The Carbide 200R is a solid budget option that mostly offers good value at the $49 price point it's hitting in retail, but I really don't want to see, say, a 100R anytime soon.

We'll start with what Corsair got right. Their aesthetic continues to be top notch, and the interior design of the Carbide 200R has a lot of the things I've come to expect and appreciate from Corsair. The dedicated cabling channel surrounding the motherboard tray may not have worked miracles in my admittedly lackluster assembly, but it's one of their best and smartest innovations, making efficient use of the interior space available and allowing them to get the case just a little bit smaller. I want to see more designers employ that channel as well as integrating the motherboard alignment post. It looks like having the closed front of the case and moving the intakes to the sides helps mask some of the noise as well, and the cooling performance, at least on the CPU, is excellent.

Unfortunately things start to fall apart when we get to the drive cage. I hate to nitpick on a single issue like this, but the pursuit of a toolless design has resulted in what could conceivably become a serious hot spot. We're talking about an SSD reaching temperatures of close to 40C in a mid tower; that's within spec, but what happens when you start adding more drives? The cage traps heat, is staggeringly difficult to use, and is even actually a little fragile.

If you're just planning on putting a single drive in and calling it a day, the Corsair Carbide 200R potentially has a lot to offer a frugal user. While Corsair's next case up, the 300R, is notably louder than the 200R, it also offers substantially better performance and doesn't have a glaring weakness (outside of noise) like the 200R's design does. Users in an extreme pinch would probably be well served by the 200R, but I think I'd still recommend tracking down a BitFenix Merc Alpha or Merc Beta instead. Those enclosures are cheaper still, but offer more well rounded performance.

Noise and Thermal Testing, Overclocked
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  • Grok42 - Saturday, December 15, 2012 - link

    I like to see good clean looking case designs like this at a low price point. Given the price I would expect some compromises and honestly it could have been a lot worse. I think the industry needs more experimentation with how internal drives are mounted so I applaud any effort even failures. Hopefully they will come back with something better next time around. Maybe next time they will save some money by killing the external bays and putting the resources into the internal bays. Reply
  • versesuvius - Saturday, December 15, 2012 - link

    The only time one needs a tool for a case is the hard drive and other storage parts. The problem is not that people do not know how to use a screw driver, but that it has screws on the two sides of the case. As it is right now, you have to go through more trouble with the toolless case than you have with traditional ones. The answer lies not with the case manufacturers, but with internal storage manufacturers. It is very ease to design a hard disk casing so that it needs screws only on one side, and not two. Yet after maybe 30 years of hard disks, the casing has not changed a bit. Even the SSD casing design has adopted the same philosophy. As far as backward compatibility goes, the casing can be designed to accommodate old cases as well. Anyway, I agree with the article about the drive cage. It is a stupid decision in all cases to begin with and it is stupid here too. After all, how many drives one changes during the lifetime of a PC? Two? As long as the case has to be opened that amounts to 10 during the lifetime of a case, while the extra accumulated heat is there all the time. Reply
  • arthur449 - Saturday, December 15, 2012 - link

    "How many drives one changes during the lifetime of a PC?"

    I have a Coolermaster ATCS-200 case I bought in 2000 still kicking around the house. While it only has 80mm fans, it remains a very attractive and functional case for 'that random frankenputer' one generally has after a few years of building their own PCs.

    How many times have I changed the drives in that case? More times than I can remember. Some of them due to drive failures, some due to SSD / SAS experimentation, and many times for just cramming old drives in there and doing some bare metal testing of the latest silly OS that trickles down the MS TechNet vine.

    A good case will survive multiple generations of hardware, and (since its target audience is already building their own computers) will more than likely put up with many drive swaps as it's handed down to friends, relatives, or simply demoted to closet server duty.
    Reply
  • Lonyo - Saturday, December 15, 2012 - link

    I still have my ACTS 200 or 201, and the next gen replacement case for it, but neither are in proper use.
    The motherboard tray from one is in use for a makeshift computer elsewhere where I can't use the full case.

    The drive cages in both are hideous though, compared to modern cases. We have come a long way from the old days.
    Reply
  • piroroadkill - Saturday, December 15, 2012 - link

    I won't buy a case with an open top.
    Too much chance something will spill in it, or dust will settle on my gear.
    Copy Lian-Li and Fractal Design - give us a simple option to use the holes or not.
    Reply
  • Blibbax - Saturday, December 15, 2012 - link

    That'd add cost. It could sold as an accessory though - I too avoid open top or even open side cases. Reply
  • Tech-Curious - Saturday, December 15, 2012 - link

    Toss some sound dampening material over the fan mounts you don't intend to use; it works like a charm. The only problem, in my experience, is that the adhesive on sound dampening material is so strong that your decision is basically permanent.

    It's funny, I bought a box of sound dampening material, just for kicks, like seven years ago and I never used it as it was (presumably) intended to be used -- but I've used bits and pieces to great effect. And I still have some left.

    Cut out four tiny little strips of the stuff and place it on the borders of your fan mounts, and vibration basically disappears. That silly-sounding trick single-handedly resurrected two positively ancient (circa 2002) jet-engine-sounding cases (6+ 80mm fan mounts each) that were sitting in my basement, collecting dust.
    Reply
  • Tech-Curious - Saturday, December 15, 2012 - link

    That said, I agree that the proliferation of computer cases featuring fan mounts in every available space is somewhat annoying -- especially given that those cases typically only come with 2 fans out of the box.

    Likewise, I'd love to see more cases with the old fashioned top-mounted PSU design. I understand the benefits of the alternative, but even with a filter, a bottom-mounted PSU is less than ideal on my carpeted floor.
    Reply
  • Blibbax - Saturday, December 15, 2012 - link

    Agreed on all accounts. Reply
  • TekDemon - Sunday, December 30, 2012 - link

    I think it's actually great since it's the cheapest case that appears to support the H100 cooler, which was the main reason I bought my Carbide 400R (which I love-it's an awesome case). I wouldn't have been able to use this case though since I have a super long pci-e card. Reply

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