Corsair Carbide 330R Review

hornybluecow - 2013-09-03 20:49:05 in Cases
Category: Cases
Reviewed by: hornybluecow   
Reviewed on: September 26, 2013
Price: $89.99

Corsair Carbine 330R Introduction:

Today we take a look at Corsair's 330R Quiet Mid Tower, which is a new part in the Carbine series. Corsair originally started in 1994 as a memory company and since then has expanded its reach of quality into other markets such as keyboards, mice, power supplies, CPU cooling, and of course, computer cases. This case is currently priced at $89.99, which is within the price range of some full towers. With the mid tower market flooded, it's very hard for a higher priced mid tower to stand out in the crowd. Luckily for Corsair, it's reaching into a small sub-market that deals with a common problem: fan noise.

When Corsair originally branched out into other markets, I was a bit skeptical that it might not be able to play with the big boys, like Cooler Master and Lian Li. I was proven wrong, and here we are again with Corsair pushing yet again into something already established by another company. I am talking about the "Quiet" part of the case. NZXT has been the biggest case suppler and marketer of decently quiet computer cases. Yes, other companies like Thermaltake, Fractal Design, Cooler Master, and more have one "Quiet" case, but it's not the major part of the company. While owning a few quiet cases myself over the years, it's a big enough difference to worth noting and the price difference can be justified. You will be surprised how much silencing foam and a good fans can do.

Previously Overclockers Club has reviewed the Corsair Carbine 300R, which shares many of the same traits inside the case. On the exterior they have very little in common. So let's dive into the 330R and see what hidden secrets and care Corsair has put into this case.

Corsair Carbine 330R Closer Look:

Let's look at the box! It's important to remember not everyone has things shipped to home or know exactly what they want. When it is shipped, it's often in the most violent way possible. We have all seen video of boxes being thrown at doors, so it's good to know how it's being packaged. This is why companies need to protect their product. If a customer is checking it out at the store, the company also should provide a good deal of information on the outside if someone goes to the store. So here we have it, a simple brown box with the series and model number in giant letters (which is a good thing), along with a small blurb about the case and its quiet abilities in every major language. It also include an ink outline of the case, which is accurate.

The back side has a blown out diagram of the case along with the same information provided on the front to make sure you didn't miss it. Both sides of the box are similar to the back with, once again, a small blurb of information about it being quiet, its tool-less design, and support for larger video cards. At the top is a sticker with “Black Finish” and “Solid Panel”, which gives me the idea that different versions are in the works. Let's hope you can order it in different colors! 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The case is held in well by the Styrofoam, which is a good sign. My biggest concerns with shipping is how it's packaged. I feel Corsair didn't skimp and provided just enough to keep it protected. Usually I've found with lighter cases you do not have to worry about the box ripping, but you need to look out for a bent frame. This time around nothing was damaged.

 

Corsair Carbide 330R Closer Look:

Unwrapping the case was a simple matter and once the box was off, you can see the sleek black finish. Remember the box only shows an outline and a sticker saying “Black Finish”. While this doesn't bother me at all, it's good to note someone in a store might pass up a big brown box for something like one of Thermaltake's boxes. Speaking of which, if you read my past review Thermaltake Urban S21 , you will notice how much they look alike. I couldn't really pin down the release dates, but the S21 was around the end of April, while the 330R was near the end of July. Just give it a quick look down; this case is everything the S21 should have been. The small amount of tweaks can make a world of difference. I'll explain about that later. Let's move on.

Looking at the side panels, this case does not have any side window or options to mount fans. While that can be a bad thing depending on your preferences, this time it is not. The lack of a window or fan side mounting is mainly due to the internal silencing foam keeping the acoustics of everything inside the case low. The front of the case continues the solid black finish with the power button on top along with two USB 3.0 ports, and headphone and mic jacks. On the other end is the standard amount of slots for a full size ATX motherboard and three 1/3 holes for external water cooling loops.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Similar to other quiet style cases, the 330R has a door covering the whole front with some silencing foam padding. The door opens from right to left with the door latch being a small plastic pin at the top and bottom. This is something I would have liked to see as metal because plastic becomes brittle and it's just a matter of time until it will either break off or the hooks on the door will. With the door open you can see three external 5.25" bays along with an air filter covering a 140mm fan. The filter pops out by pushing down on two clips at the top and pulling at the same time. Getting the filter back in was just as simple and done in a reverse order. There was some evidence of support to mount a 240mm radiator in the front and it's possible the metal frame is reused in other Corsair series. For the 330R, most likely it's meant for a another fan blowing directly onto the hard drive bays.

 

 

At the top front of this case right above the front door is the power button along with a reset switch. This button needs a bit of explaining and then you can decide if you like it or not. The reset and power are both attached to one long rectangle. Behind each side of the button is a spring to bounce back after being pressed. This spells disaster to me at some point. While Corsair isn't in the business of making cheap cases, this might be the weakest link. I understand it is nit picking, but I have magical powers of either breaking buttons or getting them stuck. Once the button breaks, it will take some time finding a solution to the fix. Next up, on the top left, are two USB 3.0 ports and headphone and mic jacks. It's really good to see USB 3.0 becoming a standard in 2013 cases and for a $90 case, I would not accept anything less. Finally I often talk about blinding LED lights because I've accepted this as part of buying a cheap case. I am happy to report this light isn't any brighter than a DVD drive light. The white light blinks when the hard drive is used. This light plays the roll of activity and on light.

 

 

 

Now let's look at the top and bottom. During my Thermaltake S21 review I was very disappointed that the top had an open spot for a fan, but had no way to install anything due to an air filter and the lack of fan screw holes. I'm excited to report Corsair ups the ante and have added support for 280mm radiator or Corsair's own H110 Water Cooler. As always, you cannot assume that things will fit without some trouble. Looking at the second image, you can see the Corsair H100 installed with a small issue. What I encountered was that once the radiator was installed, the top 5.25" bay becomes squashed, forcing the DVD drive to move out a bit. This can be resolved by getting a shorter drive or you can just accept it will be sticking out a bit in the front. If you happen to use a 280mm radiator (140mm fans), the top bay becomes useless to anything but a card reader.

I did find using fans or a radiator on the top defeats the quiet case features. Lowering the fan speeds will help, but I could still hear them over everything else. It is possible position of the case will have a factor. During my time using the H100, the case was next to me on the floor. If you plan on having the case above you or level, than I would not worry about the extra noise. Next, the bottom of the case has an air filter held on by six weak magnets; it did fall off a few times while I was moving the case around. For the most part, if you do not move the case, then the filter does not come off. There is no option to install a fan on the bottom, but it has a spot open for a bottom mounted PSU to suck or push air out.

 

Corsair Carbide 330R Closer Look:

Removing the side panel from each side only requires unscrewing two thumb screws; each was very simple and didn't take much effort to loosen. Inside you can see four internal 3.5" hard drive bays and three external 5.25" bays. Corsair's decision to not include a fourth bay has its advantages. Without a fourth bay, it allows for better airflow from the front 140mm fan and the possibility of using an extra long video card. At the rear is a 120mm fan (included) and seven expansion slots. This case has a good amount of openings for cable routing, which is always a plus in my book. It is also worth noting that the motherboard tray does not come out. While this isn't a feature I have ever used, it is still worth a mention that you will not receive this feature.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Once the side panels are removed you can see the silencing foam on the interior for both. The foam itself is fairly thin but does the job well. From my experience owning a few different silencing foam kits over the years, this one is just as good if not better. It's good to see once again Corsair going the extra mile and making sure the "Quiet" marketing part isn't a gimmick. I found with the included fans and air CPU cooling that the sound level was low enough I had to check to see if the power light was on. Once again I still do not have a proper way to measure decibels, but unless you are trying to listen for fan noise, you won't hear it.

 

 

 

Looking at the bays you can see the tool-less design Corsair has incorporated into its case. The tool-less design has become the standard in any case these days and Corsair continues this trend. The 3.5" bays come out by squeezing both handles and pulling. Unfortunately the plastic itself is flimsy and possibly would have benefited from a latch style bay or stronger plastic. The tool-less design for the 5.25" bays is a bit different than other cases and not intuitive to me. Instead of being push button style, these open by lifting the latch, pushing down, and then pulling to release it from the bay. Once you put the DVD drive in, just reverse the order to snap the clip back in. I found it was much more a hassle than using two screws because you need to wiggle the drive back and forth until the pins pop into place.

 

 

 

Inside one of the hard drive bays was a brown box containing all the screws along with a few zip ties. Originally on the outside of the case was the paper manual, which lists all the screws and a blown out diagram of the case. Nothing special here.

 

Here we see the spacing behind the motherboard tray with the back panel off. Cable wise, you have enough space to run all the cables as long as they do not overlap. The 24-pin motherboard cable will be tricky for most as generally it is very thick. Since the PSU is bottom mounted, the possibility to run the cable directly up without going around the back is the only option for some. I'm not a fan of running cables across the front so I will force the back closed if necessary. Just be warned that not all cables can be run in the back or overlap for that matter.

 

Finally the computer is assembled and you can see how everything fits neatly into the case; for the the most part that is. My only major complaint is the lack of length for the audio cable. As you can see the cable is being stretched to its limits to the point where I had to cut all the zip ties and run the cable down the front. Any other way of trying to route the cable resulted in being inches away from the motherboard connector. This alone can lead to large problems with more than one video card. This leads to the next subject about video cards itself.

In the picture below is a reference GTX 770, which means that it is using a GeForce Titan/780 PCB and cooler. This video card is 10.5" long and has the space for basically any size currently on the market. If you are planning on using more than one video card, just make sure it's shorter than 10.5" to fit in the other slots.

Lastly fitting the power supply in place had its own issues. I had a similar issue with the Thermaltake S21, in that there is a small metal bar above the power supply to support and hold it in place. Unfortunately, it is a little too nice and snug to the PSU. This in turn caused me to force it into place and allow the fan to face downwards. A simply measure of removing this bar or raising the height is all Corsair needs to do. Maybe we will see this is in a revision later this year.

 

Corsair Carbide 330R Specifications:

Case Type
Mid Tower
Dimension
495 x 210 x 484 mm
Side Panel
Solid
Color
Exterior & Interior : Black
Cooling System
Front (intake) :
140mm fan (included)
120 or 140mm (optional)
Rear (exhaust) :
120mm fan (included)
Top (exhaust) :(optional)
2x 120mm or 140mm
Material
Steel and plastic
Drive Bays
External : 3 x 5.25’’
Internal : 4 x 3.5’’
Expansion Slots
7
Motherboards
ATX, EATX, Micro ATX, Mini ITX
I/O Ports
USB 3.0 x 2, HD Audio x 1
PSU
Standard PS2 PSU (optional)
LCS Upgradable
Supports 1/2” 3/8” 1/4” water tube
Other
CPU cooler height limitation: 160mm
VGA length limitation: 450mm

Corsair Carbide 330R Features:

 

Corsair Carbide 330R Cooling:


Information provided by:  "http://www.corsair.com/us/carbide-series-330r-quiet-mid-tower-case.html"

Corsair Carbide 330R Testing:

Testing a chassis requires the computer to stay at idle and load for one hour. Doing so will give you an idea of what your computer may be like under stress. Normally your computer will not be running this hot, but we do not all live in cold weather or do similar things. Therefore, a full stress test can give people the idea of what it can handle and whether or not heat gets trapped over time. The case is left with stock features to give you an idea of the temperatures without the need for extra fans. It's almost guaranteed to have a slight drop in temperature when more fans are added, but that will not be covered unless noted. I will be using Prime95 "small FFTs" for the CPU load and 3Dmark Vantage "Extreme preset" for GPU for one hour. After an hour the temperatures are recorded using HWMonitor in Celsius (C).

Setup:

Compared Cases:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Under Idle the 330R did not surprise me at all being able to keep low temps. During load, the chassis did a great job at keeping temps within reason. In fact both the Raven RV02 and RaidMax Agusta have three more fans (total of five) while the Corsair 330R only has two included. The temperatures above show how good this chassis is under load! Anyone looking for high airflow and relatively quiet fans will be hard pressed to choose a better midt ower when the competition is full towers. With the ability to add three more fans, the 330R will be able to handle even the hottest days. Just remember once you add top mounted fans, the "quiet" aspect of this chassis loses its effect. Ultimately defeating the propose of paying premium for the quiet feature.

Looking at the GPU temperature standpoint, this case comes with a 140mm fan directly adjacent from the first and second PCIe slots. Things to consider is the type of video card you are planning to use. Any video card using a blower style will work great while dual fan styles that blow air onto heat sinks will run into some troubles. Every card is different, but because the 330R only has out flow fans at the top, dissipated heat can linger near the power supply. The difference may not be noticeable unless it is a very hot day, but just keep that in mind.

Corsair Carbide 330R Conclusion:

Let us recap my reasoning and scoring method before diving into the my final words. First I look at what the company is saying it offers. For example, the company states the case supports large / long graphic cards or ten quiet fans. In any example, I examine what is advertised versus what is actually offered. Most of this becomes uncovered as I take pictures to document the product. If the company does not stay true to its word, then it loses points because no one ever wants to be sold on false advertisement. Next I look at what the product is marketed for and put it into perspective. An example of this could be trying to overclock a CPU in a Mini-ITX case and expecting a low temperature. This would contradict its target market and something I try to catch so it does not affect the score. The last bit is my own interjection. What could the case offer in its price range, and what do other companies offer. This category may include an extra fan, cable management, different color paint, or support for larger video cards. This list is endless so let's move on to the conclusion.

With my time using the chassis being a bit longer than usual, I at first thought this is everything the Thermaltake S21 should have been, and in many ways this case has improved on nearly everything I complained about before. It does not, however, leave me with a feeling of must have. A lot of that has to do with the small issues that could have been resolved before assembly.  Most notable is the audio cable length; I cannot stress this to companies enough that they need to make all the internal cables extra long! Unless Corsair stated this case only works with motherboard (X), there is no reason to not think ahead to avoid this type of problem. Every single motherboard has its motherboard connectors in different places and if yours is also next to the PCIe slots, expect to run the audio cable across the motherboard. The more minor issues include flimsy plastic 3.5" bays and a plastic door latch. Both can be solved with a little extra cost. I would have like to see the door latches made of metal and the bays thicker plastic or metal also.

Moving on to the pros and saving the best for last, the Corsair 330R really impressed me on many levels. The silencing foam is thin yet effective. The first time I fired it up I had to look into the case to make sure the CPU fan was running. Larger full towers can get away with similar results using 200mm fans, but that is a bit different because not everyone wants a huge case taking up space. The 330R does a similar job with smaller fans and counters it with the silencing foam.

Next up is something I would expect from Corsair, which is support for closed loop watercooling (aka H100) on the top with some room to spare. It is true I did run into a small issue regarding the top 5.25" bay being partially taken up, but that didn't bother me because I think the support was more of an afterthought. It is always good to have support for things not everyone uses like extra fans and I cannot complain since it's not a main selling feature listed on the box.

Last up for the pros is stuff I think should be in every mid tower chassis in the higher price range. That includes aftermarkte coolers up to 160mm and long video cards. I have yet to find a CPU cooler over 160mm and even so a few established ones are around 155-160mm that can cool a nice solid overclock.  As for the video cards, I do think if you are going with multiple video cards, this case could cause problems in length. Only the top video card, or three slots, have 12" clearance. The rest of the slots are more or less the length of the motherboard. The video cards will be generating heat close to the hard drive bays and if the GPUs are not the blower style, hot air is just going to build up.

My final words on the Corsair 330R are positive ones. While the price is a bit high for my tastes, you have to realize the market. Cosair is filling a niche that very few companies want to deal with. Generally speaking, the effectiveness of the fans and cooling can match loud full towers and be nearly silent while at full load is a nod to the effective fans and silencing foam. Everyone's idea of silent varies, but when I have to turn up the TV because of the fans, that's a bad sign. Using a closed loop cooler like the H100 inside the case basically defeated the quiet aspect, but replace them with low speed or premium fans and you solved the issue.

In the end this case is great for what it is offering, but if you do not need the quiet part, Cosair and other companies offer better cases for cheaper.

 

Pros:

 

Cons: