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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  • poohbear - Saturday, September 03, 2011 - link

    I'm still happy with my Corsair 600T which your review actually enticed me into buying! the only gripe is that the 600T is so huge!!! people visiting me usually gasp at how big it is & ask me why i need such a big case.:p Is the 400R more in line with the average size of a common computer case? carrying the 600T to LAN parties or to a friends house was always a pain in the butt, but its no biggie as i hardly ever do that. Reply
  • Impulses - Saturday, September 03, 2011 - link

    Outside of Silverstone's radical rotated designs, and the occasional Lian Li with the mobo mounted on the opposite side, there doesn't seem to be a whole lot of innovation going on as far as internal layouts. Why do so many cases keep trying to force air in an S shape from the bpttom front and out the back/top?

    Why not a more linear airflow design? The vast majority of people only have one optical drive, a few may have two or one and a media card reader, and there's certainly way more enthusiasts with one or more high powered GPU that generates more heat than their CPU...

    Soooo, why not move the PSU to it's original top location so it's in line with one or two optical bays, then have a 120mm intake directly below those, in line with the fan on most tower coolers and the rear exhaust... Thus creating a direct path for airflow. Then just have a large side intake over the GPUs which usually vent out the back, could even toss in some sorta adjustable divider to separate the GPU(s) from the stuff above 'em.

    It wouldn't be an ideal layout for people with tons of drives, but I don't think most people running a home server are also having the same rig serve double duty as a gaming rig. Or male a wider/shorter case where optical drives mount vertically along fan mounts (leaving plenty of room for cable management and tall coolers in the process), with hard drive mounts all along the bottom next to a bottom mounted PSU.

    That's what bothers me about all these enthusiast cases, so much wasted drive bay space, it's probably not even good for air circulation. There's really a market for SFF and cases that could hold a high end rig and over a dozen drives but there isn't a market for someone that just wants optimal linear airflow for a high end rig period?
    Reply
  • cactusdog - Saturday, September 03, 2011 - link

    Because then you have a pocket of non circulating air in the bottom half of the case. The traditional method of taking air in at the bottom and out at the top has lasted so long because it works and its the most efficient. Reply
  • lwatcdr - Saturday, September 03, 2011 - link

    The simple answer is the universe sucks.
    You do not want "Smooth air flow" for heat transfer, you want a turbulent airflow. If air flows smoothly you get what is called a boundary layer which is very sluggish and almost stops. It acts as an insulator. Or course it takes more power and makes more noise to have turbulent airflow.
    Now the positive pressure idea is a very good one. Increasing the pressure in the case means more mass to remove the heat. Of course because the universe does suck when you pressurize a gas it gets hotter but the increase in mass flow should make up for that.
    Reply
  • mjsunkiter - Saturday, September 03, 2011 - link

    This logic in the first part of your statement is valid, involving turbulent flow.

    However, the second part is not so sound. Air moving at low speeds (<~0.3 Mach) is effectively incompressible, from a fluid flow standpoint. The increase in mass is negligible, the increase in pressure is effectively non-existent. The amount of heat generated by the fan motor is likely several order of magnitude higher than the increase in temperature of the air due to any compression.
    Reply
  • superccs - Monday, September 05, 2011 - link

    I agree with most of this line of thought...

    I have one of those wierd Lian Lis with the mobo on the left side and the PSU infront. I can get some crazy back to front air flow that keeps the main components (GPU CPU) frosty and interal temps get to around 35C under load.

    What I do have are fans in specific areas of my case (on the inside) which evacuate the stagnant areas and utilize positive back to front high flow air stream. This lets my CPU and GPU get fresh air, which is then rapidly exhausted toward the front of the case. Exposing the 3-4 HDDs to a mild blast of warm air (big deal).

    Who is making modular cases these days that you can replace panels with to add of delete fan mount locations?
    Reply
  • v12v12 - Sunday, September 18, 2011 - link

    Basically the traditional "PC" (non Apple) case uses the antiquated "warehouse" strategy... A big large box with many options for cooling and room for expansion. This works great for the serious hobbyist with tons of time and tools to get seriously creative. It does not work for those that do not and do not wish to invest said time and resources into a case that already is overpriced...

    People do you get it yet; CASES ARE OVERPRICED stamped/cut out cheap, LOW QUALITY ALLOY aluminum. It's not 6061t or 7000 aircraft grade. This stuff is the lowest grade recycled junk material; sure it works well for a case, but the PRICE does not at all reflect the quality of build/material. $100 for a box that takes no more than 20minutes to produce from start to finish on an assembly line.!??? STOP PAYING FOR JUNK AND SUPPORTING THE VENDORS OF THIS CRAP! OR... continue getting fleeced?????

    What I've always done is take ideas from basic HVAC systems and apply them like Apple has to their old G4-5 towers = ZONED COOLING separation. Your ideas are right in line with said practice; U ISOLATE heat zones and have dedicated fans cooling said zones. Theres some things I should clear up about turbulence and smooth flow; you want BOTH.

    Smoother flowing air EN ROUTE to the heat source(s) = faster flowing air = MORE turbulence once it strikes the intended heat source. You do NOT want turbulent air flow (slow and less controlled) before the air hits the heat sources... The speed produces the increased turbulence, which disrupts the boundary layer (this is minimal in a PC in most cases), which increases cooling efficiency.

    So in a PC case, you want to speed up the air before it reaches the heat source, then speed it up again once it has hit the heat source(s) so it can quickly be exhausted. You do this by taking some card board and tape and making a mock zoned ducting system to segregate components at the top and bottom and even within those diff zones themselves... Then take said cardboard and use it as a stencil to make a better looking/stronger (etc) zone from plastic, or other more durable materials. Personally corrugated cardboard + metallic ducting tape works well enough for me... I just take some spray paint and color the cardboard+tape and leave it be... It really does work wonders! The key is getting as MUCH OUTSIDE air into/out of the case as fast as audibly tolerable.... Zoned-cooling also lowers the noise factor by many decibels too!

    I hate to plug "Apple" but they are an engineering and design corp. They have a serious leg up as they can implement such technology and mandate it with out worry of issue from consumers... If a PC case maker tries and fails to sell they risk losing serious capital; Apple never worries, their user based will take it up their arse or forced spoon-fed in their maws lol. Apple's got the leg up on "PC" cases.
    Reply
  • Malih - Saturday, September 03, 2011 - link

    In my setup I install Side Intake fans and also Top Exhausts (hot air rises thingie) and a Bottom Intake (I have the a CM690 with Side Window) and they work quite well.

    I just thought if you want to test a case maximum cooling performance, might as well install all the fans, althought I'll admit I'm not really knowledgeable on this area. Your thoughts?
    Reply
  • casteve - Saturday, September 03, 2011 - link

    ..but they significantly impede airflow causing higher temps and fan noise. Too bad the drive cage can't be removed. Reply
  • Khronikos - Saturday, September 03, 2011 - link

    I love my 690 ll advanced. After looking at a lot of other designs for my needs I still think I made the right choice. I do like the 700D as well quite a bit. This case looks a little wonky to me. Still very decent feature list. Reply

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