Having fleshed out their case lineup from top to bottom, Corsair is starting to show some of that old experimental spirit again. The Obsidian 350D turned out to be one of the best micro-ATX cases I've ever tested, and the Carbide Air 540 will actually be showing up in a future article as the case of choice for a very specialized build. Now, with the new Carbide 330R, Corsair has created a variant on the Carbide 300R designed to offer silent performance for end users who aren't ready to spend up on the splashier Obsidian 550D.

The competition at $99 is tough, though, especially for users who want a silent enclosure. Corsair has to contend with the intermittently available Nanoxia Deep Silence 1 and 2 along with Fractal Design's Define lineup. Silent computing is a tough racket to break into; while the 550D was a solid enough option, it continued to suffer from the iffy air cooling thermal performance that has plagued many of Corsair's designs (excepting the stellar Carbide Air 540).

The 330R adopts the internal framework of the Carbide 300R but changes some of the exterior, extracting additional mileage out of a fairly solid design. The front fascia is replaced by an acoustically padded door, but there are gaps around where the door closes that allows plenty of air to travel into the enclosure. Meanwhile, the side panels are both solid and feature acoustic padding, and the ventilation on the top of the case is covered by a snap-in shield that allows you to choose whether you want to close off the top and prevent noise from escaping or employ up to a 280mm closed loop cooler.

As I mentioned, the interior of the Carbide 330R is basically the same as the 300R, just with acoustic padding added where appropriate. There's a fine enough balance struck in expandability, and Corsair's commitment to making the case as easy to assemble as possible is evident as there's a stud in the middle of the motherboard tray for aligning the motherboard; no standoffs need be installed, either, as the tray itself has standoffs built into it and extruded.

Corsair Carbide 330R Specifications
Motherboard Form Factor Mini-ITX, Micro-ATX, ATX, E-ATX
Drive Bays External 3x 5.25"
Internal 4x 2.5"/3.5"
Cooling Front 1x 140mm intake fans (supports 2x 120mm/140mm)
Rear 1x 120mm exhaust fan
Top 2x 120mm/140mm fan mounts
Side -
Bottom -
Expansion Slots 7
I/O Port 2x USB 3.0, 1x Headphone, 1x Mic
Power Supply Size ATX
Clearances HSF 170mm
PSU 240mm
GPU 450mm
Dimensions 19.49" x 8.27" x 19.06"
495mm x 210mm x 484mm
Special Features Supports 280mm radiator in top
Acoustic padding
Price MSRP $89; $99 at NewEgg

Interestingly, Corsair doesn't include any kind of fan control, opting instead to include a pair of low noise 140mm fans. You'll see later that they do manage to keep noise levels down, but at the risk of spoiling the results, the overarching trend with computer cases continues to be "Silence, Performance, Price: Pick Any Two."

Building in the Corsair Carbide 330R
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  • Icehawk - Sunday, August 25, 2013 - link

    I'd love to see how these cases do with a more focused quiet build - I used a Fractal Define Mini on my last build (OC'd i7/670/SSDs only/AIO water/fanless PSU) and without too much effort or compromise have a near silent machine under any load. Would be interesting to see how such a build would work in the various cases.

    Not sure about the rest of you guys but the best thing I ever did from a sound standpoint was to move all my HDDs out of my box and get them remote.
    Reply
  • Laststop311 - Sunday, August 25, 2013 - link

    Good comment. Seems this is overlooked in many quiet pc articles. Get a NAS box or even just attach a drive to your wireless router via usb if you can't afford a nas box. Keep only SSD's local in your machine. This has 2 bonuses not only does it make your system quieter it also increases air flow and removes some of the heat generation in the case lowering temps and noise win win. Reply
  • Grok42 - Sunday, August 25, 2013 - link

    Couldn't agree more. There isn't any downside to keeping your bulk storage in the closet other than a light bit of cost for the separate system, NAS system or External drive enclosure. This is so outweighed by the up sides. Just having a single local SSD means the sound and heat are less in your main system. You can run much smaller boxes or have better airflow through a normal size one. Most important of all is security. I build new systems all the time and reload my current ones. Having all my data on a separate box means that I am never taking chances with it or taking it offline for others that use it in my house. Reply
  • JDG1980 - Sunday, August 25, 2013 - link

    I don't understand why the inverted motherboard design hasn't been more widely adopted. The "standard" ATX tower design seems pretty dumb: you've got the CPU cooler in a dead spot behind the optical drives (with no airflow from the intake fans), and one of the two front intakes is largely wasted by blowing at the back end of the PSU. If the motherboard is inverted, you've got both intakes blowing directly over the motherboard, providing extra cooling to the CPU and video card(s). This seems like a no-brainer, so why do most companies stick to the old ways?

    By the way, it looks like Newegg has the Nanoxia Deep Silence cases back in stock. Who knows how long that will last, though - last time it was about 2 weeks before they were marked "discontinued".
    Reply
  • Grok42 - Sunday, August 25, 2013 - link

    I think the trick is to build boxes without optical and that have the PSU at the bottom. Reply
  • JDG1980 - Sunday, August 25, 2013 - link

    Or you could put the optical drives on the bottom, and the fans at the top, giving the motherboard direct airflow. But no one does that either. Reply
  • inighthawki - Sunday, August 25, 2013 - link

    Hot air rises so you generally want intake fans at the bottom to blow cold air in and exhaust fans near the top/back to push hot air out. Reply
  • JDG1980 - Sunday, August 25, 2013 - link

    That's largely a myth. Unless you are running case fans at a *very* low speed, they are going to overpower any convection effects. Having cool airflow directly over the motherboard is far more important than a strict bottom-to-top path. Reply
  • inighthawki - Sunday, August 25, 2013 - link

    I've seen reports of people seeing noticeable reductions in temps by doing it. It's not really a myth. If your fans overpower the convection too much you just end up getting a more average overall case temp, and thus the exhaust does a worse job moving out hot air, just warm air. Effectively requires your fans to push more air to achieve the same goal. Reply
  • ShieTar - Monday, August 26, 2013 - link

    I think it is a semi-myth. Inside of the case, once the air is heated up it should never slow down enough to be affected by convection, but rather the GPU/CPU fan should move directly to the closest exhaust fan.
    But outside of the case, the exhausted air still needs to be removed so it can't flow back to the intake. What works here depends on where you place your case. If it is under a table, top exhaust might be just reflected down. If it stand besides a table, with the back to a wall, top exhaust is the more efficient option, as convection will set in as soon as the hot air is hanging over the case.
    Of course, there can be areas inside the case that are bypassed by the main airflow, e.g. RAM, SouthBridge, HDDs. For those parts, convection can play a role, but the better option here is to make sure that these parts can participate in the airflow rather then rely on convection.
    Reply

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