In and Around the Corsair Carbide 500R

If Corsair's white special edition Graphite 600T and the Carbide 400R got a little too drunk one night in the factory and engaged in some improprieties, their offspring might look an awful lot like the 500R. The trends of companies a bit newer to the enclosure market like BitFenix, Fractal Design, and Corsair towards producing reasonably understated, stylish designs can't be appreciated enough. However you may feel about how the Carbide 500R looks, you're probably at least a little thankful it's an aesthetic that doesn't scream "GAMERZ!!!one!"

Corsair opts for black plastic accents in the form of a "stripe" that runs along the front and top to the back of the enclosure while using white-painted steel for the side panels and some of the internal framework (specifically the top fan mounts). The grilles on the front and the mesh bay shields allow for plenty of air to come in through the front, and Corsair wisely places the reasonably modern I/O and controls near the top. This is a trend I'm happy to see continuing and spreading. Finally, the top of the case has a removable mesh that reveals two 120mm fan mounts that can be used for a 240mm watercooling radiator. I took NZXT to task for this in their Phantom and I'm going to do it again here: having these mounts openly cut out like this is bad for noise if you're not using watercooling. No amount of fan control can make up for a case with poor sound dampening qualities.

Chances are, if you're looking at the side panels, though, you weren't expecting the quietest case anyhow. The Carbide 500R sports a large mesh on the left side capable of supporting either the included 200mm intake fan or a pair of 120mm/140mm fans. I'm personally a big fan of these side intakes in cases, although more exotic designs like SilverStone's much more expensive FT02 can usually happily eschew them while providing stellar cooling and acoustic performance. I'm not sure how I feel about the flexibility of the fan mounts here, though; the included 200mm leaves a lot of open, "dead" ventilation. This is probably one area where your mileage may vary.

Of course, once you unscrew the side panels (with handy thumbscrews that are affixed to the panel itself so you never lose them) you'll find yourself firmly entrenched in the one place where Corsair's engineers are the absolute masters of their domain: the internal design. The guts of the 500R are, just like its siblings, a masterpiece of convenience. Motherboard standoffs are already mounted in the tray, the grommets that line the cutouts around the tray are firmly affixed, and Corsair's tool-less mounts for optical drives remain among the best in the business.

If there's one place where Corsair dropped the ball a bit, it's the drive cages and drive sleds. The sleds are the same ones from the Carbide 400R and they're a bit of an improvement on the old ones, but still feel a bit flimsy. For most use they'll probably be alright, but I do long for the metal sleds Fractal Design opts to employ in their enclosures. As for the cages, while it's awesome that you can actually remove both of them, they both require at least four thumbscrews to be removed, with the second's thumbscrews mounted under the bottom of the case. This is a far cry from the 600T, whose drive cages required half as many. It's a minor complaint, but still at least a little irritating.

Finally, while space behind the motherboard tray seems narrow, looks can be deceiving. However you feel about the bowed side panels, the rear one does provide a substantial amount of space to stash cabling. It's not the most elegant solution in the world and I still found Fractal Design's Arc Midi to have a healthier amount of overall room to hide cables, but it's a great start.

Introducing the Corsair Carbide 500R Assembling the Corsair Carbide 500R
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  • compudaze - Tuesday, October 25, 2011 - link

    I love how Corsair left the top fan mounts open instead of obstructing them with unneeded mesh. And how they even left room for their own H100's hoses to drop down... Brilliant. I'm considering "downgrading" to this and re-purposing the 600T.
  • Knifeshade - Tuesday, October 25, 2011 - link

    I wonder if Corsair will ever bring out a "300R" mini tower (like the Fractal Define Mini, Arc Mini, Silverstone TJ08E, FT03, Lian Li V354, V600F) for people like me who prefers enthusiast builds without the bulk of mid/full tower cases.

    I'd love to see what Corsair can bring to the mATX table.
  • Malih - Tuesday, October 25, 2011 - link

    I second that,

    I love Corsair case design, especially this one, space efficient and not too heavy.

    I'd like to use this same layout, remove some of the drive bays, make this case shorter into an mATX case. And workaround the fan positioning so side fan installation still allows for larger HSF.
  • Malih - Tuesday, October 25, 2011 - link

    I forgot to mention, this is coming from someone who owns the Fractal Design Define Mini.
    I just love mATX case with bottom mounted PSU, and I'm thinking about building another system.

    And also thanks Dustin for the review as always.
  • C300fans - Tuesday, October 25, 2011 - link

    Dustin home?
  • Earthmonger - Tuesday, October 25, 2011 - link

    Dustin Sklavos, the case reviewer. ("Dustin Home" is a Scand etailer, for those who don't know)

    Of Corsair's lineup, this is the sexiest case. Sadly no, it won't ever find a place in my home. Not until Corsair abandon plastic and steel, and make enthusiast cases.

    Love the contrast of color in this case.
  • BernardP - Tuesday, October 25, 2011 - link

    I would like Corsair to come up with something sized between those mATX-only cases and their current larger gaming cases. The Antec NSK-4482 is smaller and can take a full ATX board but has ample room to work in a mATX configuration.
  • prime2515103 - Tuesday, October 25, 2011 - link

    After about 9 years with a Cheiftec Dragon I upgraded to this case. The only problems I've found with it is that the 200mm fan rattles when I first start the system; it stops after awhile though (I haven't timed it but it's at least a minute or two). The only other thing is that I wish there was another few millimeters behind the hard drives. The side panel is pressing right against the cable's connectors. A speaker and a power LED would've been ok too, but I don't really miss them.
  • C300fans - Tuesday, October 25, 2011 - link

    I will never spend 139$ for a vacuum cleaner.
  • slick121 - Tuesday, October 25, 2011 - link

    I second this comment.

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