Corsair Carbide Air 540 ATX Cube Case Review

Search form

Promotions

Posted by on Thursday, June 27, 2013 - 5:45pm

This design we are talking about is something we have only really seen in very large and expensive cases. But in the case of the Carbide Air 540, it is much smaller and having many of the same features you would see in a typical enthusiast case. Besides the design, Corsair is marketing the Carbide Air 540 as the perfect case to get good airflow to all your components like the GPU, CPU, memory and motherboard.

Corsair Carbide Air 540 ATX Cube Case Review
 

Introduction

Over the past couple of weeks I have reviewed some exciting cases. All of which was something I was looking forward to getting in. The first was the Fractal Design Arc Midi R2, a clean fresh looking case that was the definition of elegance. Then there was the NZXT H630, one case that had water-coolers and gamers in mind. And know we get down to the third one which would be the Corsair Carbide Air 540.

Never heard of the Air 540 from Corsair? Well, that tells me that you didn’t pay much attention to the recent Computex expo. The Carbide Air 540 was one of the most talked about cases at Computex and rightfully so. It is one that is designed in such a way that all heat generating components like the power supply and hard drives are all mounted behind the motherboard tray. This configuration aims to isolate the hot air from ventilating the rest of the components which needs cooling.

This design we are talking about is something we have only really seen in very large and expensive cases. But in the case of the Carbide Air 540, it is much smaller and having many of the same features you would see in a typical enthusiast case. Besides the design, Corsair is marketing the Carbide Air 540 as the perfect case to get good airflow to all your components like the GPU, CPU, memory and motherboard.

Corsair’s take on the Air 540

Direct Airflow Path™ cooling for revolutionary performance.
The unconventional design of Carbide Series Air 540 utilizes dual chambers to deliver cooler air to your CPU, graphics cards, motherboard, and memory without your drives or power supply getting in the way. The included custom Air Series AF140L intake and exhaust fans provide great airflow performance at lower noise levels than typical case fans. And, you can mount up to six 120mm or five 140mm fans, with 280mm top radiator support and room for a 360mm radiator on the front panel.
Like all Corsair cases, Carbide Series Air 540 is designed for fast, neat, and satisfying builds. The tinted, oversized flush-mount side window lets you show off your work.
Outstanding Cooling

Our Direct Airflow Path™ design utilizes dual chambers to deliver cooler air to your CPU, graphics cards, motherboard, memory, and other PCI-E components without your drives or power supply getting in the way.

Quieter Operation

Carbide Series Air 540 includes 140mm Corsair Air Series AF140L intake and exhaust fans. The AF140L is based on the award-winning AF140 and provides great airflow performance at lower noise levels than typical case fans. The easy access, low-restriction dust filters are easy to maintain.

Ideal for Advanced Air Cooling and Water Cooling

You can mount up to six 120mm or five 140mm fans, or install a 240mm or 280mm top radiator and a 240mm, 280mm, or even 360mm radiator on the front panel. Corsair’s innovative cable routing system gives you more options for hiding pumps and tubing out of the way.

Built for Builders

Like all Corsair cases, Carbide Series Air 540 is designed for fast, neat, and satisfying builds. You get tool-free PCI-E and storage installation, two internal hot-swap drive bays, and more features for making assembly, upgrades, and maintenance quick and easy. And, the tinted, oversized flush-mount side window lets you show off your work.

About Corsair Carbide Series PC Cases

Corsair Carbide Series PC cases have the high-end features you need, and nothing you don’t. Designed to be the foundation of awesome yet approachable PCs, they combine the latest technology and ergonomic innovations with lots of room to build and expand, and amazing cooling potential.


Specifications

  • Dual-chamber Direct Airflow Path™ design for outstanding cooling potential
  • Clever, space-saving design still offers lots of internal volume
  • Includes three High Performance Air Series AF140L fans for better, quieter cooling
  • Tons of expansion room for high performance air cooling and liquid cooling
  • Full side panel window
  • Front dust filter
  • Black interior
  • Cable routing cutouts with rubber grommets
  • CPU cutout in motherboard tray for easy CPU cooler swap-out
  • Dual front USB 3.0 ports with internal connector
  • Headphone, Microphone front ports
  • Eight expansion slots for quad GPU installations
  • Fan Mount Locations:
    • Front: 2 x 140mm (included), 3 x 120mm (pre-spaced for radiators)
    • Top: 2 x 140mm or 2 x 120mm (pre-spaced for radiators)
    • Rear: 1 x 140mm (included) or 1 x 120mm
  • Dual 3.5” hot swap bays
  • Four 2.5” tool-free SSD drive cages
  • Maximum GPU Length 320mm
  • Maximum CPU Cooler Height 170mm
  • Maximum PSU length 200mm

Closer Look at the Exterior

The Corsair Carbide Air 540 is built in the shape of an almost perfect cube and is an all-black case. The placement of the power supply is likely new for the majority due to the fact that it is neither at the top nor bottom but behind the motherboard tray and it mounted sideways. Unlike a typical case, the optical drive bays are also on a separate space which is the opposite side of the motherboard area. The measurements of the case are 415mm x 332mm x 458mm.

In terms of color variation, the case only comes in black which is relatively common with Carbide series cases. Hence, we cannot tell what Corsair's plans are but since we saw the other Carbide cases having a white model, perhaps this too in the future would have one. We might just be getting the black for now but we hope this case Carbide Air 540 would have the same fate with the other popular Carbide cases.

For the first time in reviewing cases, we will start with the front panel working from the left to the right and not from the top to bottom. The entire left side consist of ten vented slots which allows for air to be pulled in from the outside of the case. The air passes through cooling fans that are placed in the interior front of the case.

This position of the panel can be removed which reveals a magnetic dust filter that protects the two black-framed, gray-bladed 140mm fans. These can be replaced by three 120mm fans if wanted.

Moving over to the right side of the front panel, we have two optical drive bays that are mounted vertically and not the typical horizontal position we normally see. Just beneath them are your typical reset button, power LED, power button, dual audio jacks and two SuperSpeed USB 3.0 ports.

The mesh design of the front rises to the top of the case as well as keeping with the overall flow of the case. It can also be removed to gain access to the inside of the case. There are no fans included here but it can accommodate two 120mm or 140mm fans.

 

The left side panel consists of a large window that will allow the builder to showcase the main components of the system.

There is no window on the right side of the Carbide Air 540.

The side of the case that houses the power supply and drives isn’t without some sort of ventilation. The rear section is opened with holes similar to that of the back of the power supply.

There isn't too much to mention about the bottom of the case except the typical four padded rubber feet.

The rear of the chassis as square as it is looks how you would figure a cube case to look. The right side is typical of a standard ATX case while the left only consist of the PSU opening and a large venting area.


Closer Look at the Interior

We will open the Carbide Air 540 on the left side and go through its description first. Removing the side panel, you are greeted by an all-black interior. On the most part, it reminds us much of a typical tower case. But you might wonder where the HDD cages are at. We will find that out later.

The motherboard tray has a very large cutoff in it for easier installation and removal of the CPU cooler. There is a total of eight rubber grommets that protect openings in the tray for routing cables to the rear. There is also a ninth one with no grommet installed at the bottom.

Looking at the rear of the case is a 140mm cooling fan to match the ones mounted in the front of the case. There are eight expansion slots to support multiple video card setups up to four.

When it comes to the front of the case, it can support up to three 120mm fans as stated above. This also includes the ability to house thin or thick 240mm, 280mm and 360mm radiators as well.

At the top, it is obvious by the spacing of the screw holes that 240mm and 280mm radiators can be supported.

On the bottom of the case are two hot-swap HDD bays that support both 2.5” and 3.5” drives. I love the fact that there is no need to run many cables into this area of the case.

Now we get to the opposite side of the interior. Once the side panel opened we see that the left side is pretty busy.

The cage that you see in the upper left is for the optical drives and it is completely tool-less.

There is also another rack to support four more 2.5” drives. This rack attaches to the back of the motherboard tray. It can even be fitted here after the motherboard has been installed. This is a unique feature we only saw in the Carbide Air 540 case and you wouldn't likely find that in other cases you could buy today. This rack also separates into individual pieces depending on how many drives you want to install.

Power supplies up to 200mm in width are acceptable to the Carbide Air 540. The PSU is supported via an adjustable sliding rail that firmly holds the power supply in place.


Build Images


Conclusion

I have to say this is one of the best cases I have reviewed ever at Pro-Clockers. The cube-style chassis structure is something that is dominated by the likes of Lian Li, Mountain Mods, Cubitek and a few others. To have one, you will likely need a hefty sum of cash somewhere around $300 or more which pretty much dents anybody's wallet just for a computer case. Yes, all these cases of made of aluminum which is great but only a few enthusiast really have the likes with an all-aluminum case. On the other hand, Corsair has bought the cube case available to the modest enthusiast PC builders. For a long time, I was hoping someone would do this. I should have figured it would be Corsair as they have a tendency to look around and ask people what they want in products they sell. Great innovation from Corsair indeed!

Going back to the case, the Carbide Air 540 was a delight to work on. It was easy and very forgiving. If you are not going use a lot of drives, using the hot-swap bays in the main compartment will be the best choice. It will save you from running and routing the power and SATA cables through the compartment. This gives the install a much cleaner look. If you are not a tickler on cable management like me, you can simply toss all the extra cabling into the right section of the case and not worry about it as they will not be seen or heard from again. This section of the case is so wide that you don’t have to worry about squeezing things behind the motherboard tray and barely getting the panel on. Honestly, I had a system built in this case in no time at all.

I know that I mentioned some high-end case manufacturers in the first paragraph of this conclusion and their cases are outstanding when it comes to quality. Well, Corsair is no slouch when it comes to that matter. Looking at their Carbide line as well as their Obsidian series, you can tell that Corsair is in the same league. Nowhere on this case can you say it is fragile or flimsy. Even though this case was lighter than I had expected, it was still very sturdy.

Who is going to love the Carbide Air 540 the most? I bet it will be the water-cooling enthusiast. This case is perfectly made for water-cooling. You can fit a radiator as large at 280mm in the top, as long as a 360mm in the front, 140mm in the rear and if you wanted to do some modding a 240mm could be mounted at the bottom. Finding places for the pump and reservoir is easy. You can simply put them in the right side section. Actually, that is what I was planning to do. Stay tuned as I plan to build a water-cooled system with the Corsair Carbide Air 540.

The Carbide Air 540 is not without its 'cons'. But the one we came out with isn't big at all. The width of this case is much wider than any standard vertical tower case. So, not everybody will have the room or space for it since desks and computer tables are likely accustomed to the typical dimension of cases. If you do have the space, it may be placed on the floor under your desk or if you have a really huge desk to start with. Even with its wide stance it is not near as wide as say the Lian Li 343 or Mountain Mods U2-UFO. It would still be easier to find space for the Carbide Air 540 compared to those cases.

Newegg has the Corsair Carbide Air 540 going for $140 pre-order basis for now. Release date is on July 31 of this year. So, you may one to jump on this before they are sold out.

 

{aseadnetadblock|Corsair Carbide Air 540|Corsair Carbide} 

Category: