We're already familiar with the senior models of Corsair’s Carbide computer cases released earlier. We tested the 300R, 400R and 500R and were overall pleased, but the most affordable 300R model proved to be the least attractive of them. The recently issued 200R is considerably cheaper, lowering the bar of our expectations and requirements, but hasn’t Corsair gone too far with that cost-cutting?
The second computer case we’re going to discuss today, Thermaltake's Chaser A41, is almost twice as expensive as the Corsair Carbide 200R. It continues the Chaser gaming series launched in 2011 which currently includes Chaser MK-I (the original model of the series) and Chaser A31 (it differs from the A41 in exterior design and a larger disk rack).
Of course, it’s not really correct to compare these two products directly because of the twofold price difference, but we just don't have same-class computer cases to compare them with.
Corsair Carbide 200R
The most affordable Carbide is $20 cheaper than the next model in the series, Carbide 300R. According to the manufacturer’s website, the 200R comes at a recommended price of $69.99.
The Corsair Carbide 200R looks unexpectedly impressive for its price. It’s got a blank façade, blue USB 3.0 connectors, metallic rims around the headphone and microphone sockets and an original swing button that combines both Power and Reset. The exterior design resembles the more expensive Carbide 300R but the blank front panel (instead of a hackneyed black mesh) looks interesting.
There are a number of minor flaws in practice, though. For example, the faceplates of external disk bays are not fitted tight because of their loose fastening. The swing button crunches when pressed and doesn't always let you realize by touch whether it has been pressed or not.
On the bottom panel we can note a removable dust filter opposite the PSU bay and a seat for a 120/140mm fan. The feet are not typical for an affordable computer case:
Although simple and inexpensive, they are splendid when it comes to keeping the computer steady. Instead of monolithic hard plastic feet typical of entry-level products, these are rubber pads glued to the feet pressed out in the bottom of the chassis. Simple and efficient - we'll see more examples of this design approach during our exploration of the Carbide 200R.
The back panel doesn’t offer holes for the pipes of a liquid cooling system that have become a typical feature of any computer case positioned as a gaming product. It's quite normal here, though. We don't think many people would want to implement liquid cooling in this entry-level case.
The expansion-slot brackets are reusable. They are fastened with thumbscrews. The exhaust fan is fitted with vibration-absorbing pads. You don’t often see such features even in more expensive products.
The fan seats on the top and side panels are equipped with similar vibration-absorbing pads, too. The pads are in the mounting holes for 120mm fans by default but you can use them in the mounting holes for 140mm fans as well.
All of the Carbide 200R’s I/O ports, buttons and indicators are placed in a line in the top part of the front panel, above the 5.25-inch bays. We can see here two USB 3.0 ports (placed far enough from each other), headphone and microphone connectors and a combined Power/Reset button. Below the latter, there are white-colored Power and Disk indicators. They are bright but not blinding.
The side panels have a lot of catches at the top and bottom as is typical of inexpensive computer cases. That’s not a problem at all because the large cable compartment allows to easily put the panel in place even if there's a lot of cables hidden behind the mainboard. The other panel can't have such problems just because there are no components bulging from its side.
The front panel being blank, the front fans get their air through the vertical slits in the sides of the decorative façade. These slits are protected with a dust filter.
The seats for optional fans on the bottom, top and side panels lack such filters, but it’s good that the preinstalled intake fan has such protection.
The front part of the Carbide 200R is simple in design. It is just a solid (except for the Power/Reset button and external bay faceplates) sheet of plastic. Even its fasteners are part of the chassis. We must confess that unfastening six plastic locks to take the front panel off is somewhat troublesome.
The accessories are not numerous: fasteners, a few single-use cable straps, a user guide, and a couple of warranty coupons. It would have been too optimistic to expect more.
The interior is painted black, which seems to be normal even for entry-level products nowadays. Inexpensive computer cases from Thermaltake's MS series we tested earlier were also painted inside.
The unusual position of the front fan should be noted – it is above the disk rack. The chassis offers a lot of space for your graphics card if it’s installed within the top four expansion slots.
The only sign of cost-cutting we can spot here is the lack of rubber edging on the holes for cables but that’s normal for an entry-level computer case.
The disk rack is designed in an unconventional way. It consists of one section for four 3.5-inch disks with integrated quick fasteners and another section above it which can be used to densely pack four 2.5-inch drives.