Corsair Carbide 300R Case Review

Author: Chris Ledenican
Editor: Howard Ha
Publish Date: Wednesday, July 18th, 2012
Originally Published on Neoseeker (http://www.neoseeker.com)
Article Link: http://www.neoseeker.com/Articles/Hardware/Reviews/Corsair_Carbide_300R/
Copyright Neo Era Media, Inc. - please do not redistribute or use for commercial purposes.

The Corsair Carbide series is the most affordable case line in Corsair's arsenal, but even with the lower MSRP the cases still come surprisingly well equipped. The Carbide case we are examining today is the 300R, the little brother of the 500R which was designed to have a smaller footprint while still offering the same level of features. The 300R achieves this by providing ample room for expansion, allowing this otherwise small chassis to accommodate nearly all high-end hardware currently available on the market.

The current MSRP for the Carbide 300R sits at $89 USD, which makes it a whopping $50 cheaper than the 500R. At this price, the 300R is actually a bit cheaper than most similarly priced cases, making it ideal for the budget conscious system builder. For just $10 more however, the 300R can be purchased with a clear side window instead of the standard side panel, but the model we are examining today doesn't feature a window.

Specifications
Warranty
2 years
Dimension 19.1” x 8.3” x 17.7”
MB Support ATX / mATX
Expansion Slots
7
Material
Steel structure with molded ABS plastic accent pieces
Drive Bays
(x3) 5.25", (x4) 3.5"/2.5" Drive Caddies
Colling
(x6) 120mm/140mm fan mounts, (x1) 120mm fan mounts, Includes (x1) front-mounted 120mm fans and (x1) rear 120mm fan
I/O Panel
(x2) USB 3.0, (x1) Headphone, (x1) MIC, Power, Reset
Power Supply
ATX (Not included)

The Carbide packaging is similar to those for other cases released by Corsair, being a standard brown box that has an illustration of the case on the front along with descriptions explaining the highlights of the case.

For a sub $100 case, the Carbide 300R has a sleek design that includes an all-black paint job, perforated vents and a square design similar to that of Corsair's Obsidian series. Along the front of the case Corsair has added a large perforated vent that can accommodate multiple fans, three 5.25" external drive bays and a top mounted control panel. The reverse side also includes a nice layout and has a top 120mm fan, along with 7 expansion bays that each have high airflow brackets. There is also an additional area to the right of the bracket that provides even more ventilation and will allow the airflow coming from the front fans to be easily exhausted out the back.

Both side panels of the 300R have the same design, but the predominate panel has dual fan mounting brackets that can accommodate either a 120mm or 140mm case fan. The panels are both attached to the case with traditional thumb-screws, so unlike many of Corsair's other cases this model has panels that are removed by pulling on the rear handle to slide them off the chassis. Also, just in-front of the panels are two perforated areas which serve to improve the airflow to the front fans.

The control panel mounted at the top includes two USB 3.0 ports, front audio jacks, a reset button, an activity LED and the power button. For the most part the options on the control panel are standard for cases in today's market, but the USB 3.0 ports are still not integrated into all cases in this price range. Above the control panel is a large perforated area that can either accommodate up to two case fans, or a 240mm radiator.

Unlike most cases Corsair has decided to go with a large 140mm fan in the front instead of the traditional dual 120mm or 200mm fans. We actually prefer this as most 200mm fans just don't have the same airflow level as a good 140mm fan, and given this is a budget case it is nice to see how Corsair decided to use a larger fan instead of just sticking with a single 120mm fan. The front panel also includes a large built-in dust filter to help trap much of the dust from the outside before it can enter the case.

As we mentioned before, the top of the case can accommodate either dual system fans for improved ventilation, or a 240mm radiator for water cooling. The bottom of the case only has a single vent for the bottom mounted power supply and a removable dust filter that covers the power supply's air intake area.

Since this is a budget case, the 300R comes with slightly fewer accessories compared to other Corsair cases but the bundle remains similar. Corsair has included a quick installation guide, warranty info and a bag of screws. Really the only thing missing is a USB 3.0 to 2.0 adapter, which would have allowed the two USB ports on the front to be used with a motherboard that doesn't support USB 3.0. However, since USB 3.0 is now being used on almost all current motherboards, only a handful of people using older tech will be affected.

The 300R is billed as a compact mid-sized tower. This hasn't affected the actual level of support though as the case has ample internal volume allowing it to accommodate standard ATX motherboards, large graphics cards, 4 internal hard drives and up to three graphics card in either SLI or CrossFire. Additionally, the 300R features four large cable management holes that allow cables to be routed behind the motherboard tray, although they don't have the same grommet attachments which more expensive cases have.

Behind the motherboard tray is a large area for cable routing through the four cable management holes. The only issue we can see is that Corsair only included about an inch of spacing between the tray and the side panel, which could hamper closing up the case, but we will have to wait an see what the results are until after we have everything installed.

The motherboard tray had ample room to install our Gigabyte ATX motherboard and AMD Radeon HD 7950 graphics card. As you can see from the second image, with the top graphics card slot removed the HD 7950 had plenty of clearance. This means the 300R can easily accommodate even the largest graphics cards on the market including the GTX 690 and HD 6990.

The only issue we did have in this area was one of the fans attached to our Corsair H100 could not be installed internally, because the uppermost portion of the VRM heatsink was too high for the fan to fit. We would have installed the fan on the exterior, but there was no cable management holes to route the fans power cable into the case, so we just had to live without it.

Next we installed the DVD drive which again created issues with the water-cooling unit. The fan we were able to leave attached to the radiator now proved to be too far into the 5.25" drive bay for use to install the DVD drive in either of the top two bays. The drive was easily secured into the third bay, but if more than one external drive was being used it is obvious that a smaller heatsink will have to be used instead.

The 300R uses a bracket system for internal hard drive installation, similar to other cases designed by Corsair. The brackets use a combination design that fits both 3.5" hard drives and 2.5" SSDs. With these brackets, the 300R can support a total of up to 4 HDDs or SSDs without modification. Traditional hard drives are secured to the bracket using four locking clips on the sides of the bracket, but SSDs still need to be secured manually with screws.

Hard drives are installed with the power and data connectors facing opposite side of the case. With the hard drives facing this direction it makes installing the cables easier and also improve the cable management.

The CPU retention hole on the 300R is actually quite large for a sub-$100 case. This ensures the opening will support virtually any motherboard on the market. As you can see, our test setup easily fit into the retention hole as there was no part of the bracket that was covered by the motherboard tray. While our test system featured a LGA-1155 motherboard, the C70 should accommodate most types of CPU and motherboard layouts including the latest Intel LGA-2011 and AMD FM1 sockets.

The 300R has ample internal volume for a mid-sized chassis, so installing our hardware was a breeze. As you can see from the first image below, the 300R easily fit all of our hardware, even the AMD Radeon HD 7950. However, we were right about the spacing between the motherboard tray and side panel so it did take some time to route the cables into the best location to be able to close the side panel properly.

Testing Setup:

Comparison Cases:

Testing:

For testing I maintained an ambient room temperature of 70°F and used HWMonitor to monitor each component's internal temperature. The idle temperatures were taken after the computer remained on, but with no operating load for an hour. The load tests were taken after a 15 minute period with Kombuster's power supply test active.

For the price and size, the Corsair 300R did a good job when it came to cooling and even with one fan, the CPU core temp was still right in the range of more expensive cases such as the Cooler Master Cosmos II.

The Corsair 300R has some shortcomings but when looking at the price of the case it is tough to judge it too harshly. Compared to other cases in the market at the same price, the 300R is in fact a stand out product. Not only does it include USB 3.0, a sleek design and a plethora of expansion options, but it also has room to accommodate the largest graphics cards on the market which is something not many cases under $100 can do.

On top of the excellent level of support, the 300R also has good cooling for mainstream uses. For our testing we used a Corsair Hydro H100, which did produce some problems. However,  most since most people buying a case under $100 are not using water cooling this will only affect a handful of user, if that. Additionally, the two included fans worked at more than adequate the level for a case in this price range, and there were times during our testing when the 300R produced similar thermal performance as cases with double the MSPR. So, the fact that this case could hang with the big dogs really shows the commitment Corsair puts into their mainstream products.

As we mentioned before however, the 300R is not without faults. Mainly the issues we ran into were the slightly inconvenient cable management, due to the limited space between the motherboard tray and the side panel. There were also some issues due to the compact nature of the case, but since most mainstream users are not going to be using the high-end gear we do for testing, most of these issues are moot.

Overall the Corsair 300R is one of the best cases we have tested under $100. However as with most cases in this price segment, just make sure all the components you are going to use will play nicely in the case prior to biting the bullet.  

»Neoseeker.com

Copyright Neo Era Media, Inc., 1999-2014.
All Rights Reserved.

Please do not redistribute or use this article in whole, or in part, for commercial purposes.