System cases selling under the Corsair brand used to have attractive specs but came at $150 and higher. The new Carbide series is meant to expand Corsair's product range downwards from the $140 Carbide 500R to the $90 Carbide 300R.
We’ve got all three models of the new series for us to test, the senior one in the optional black-and-white coloring. As opposed to the Graphite 600T, you don’t have to pay for the original color. The white version costs the same money as the dark one.
Generally speaking, there is rather strong competition among $100 system cases, nearly every maker, and Corsair too, claiming excellent ventilation for components. Can the Carbide series really offer something exceptional in its price category? Let’s check this out right now.
Corsair Carbide 300R
Let’s first take a look at the junior model of the new series. Its model number is 300R.
The 300R is a modest-sized system case representing the popular design concept with a meshed front panel. Its rough black paint is quite a conventional feature of mainstream products, too.
The top of the front panel is made of plastic whose texture resembles brushed aluminum. We’ve seen this design solution in our review of the Fractal Design Arc.
The bottom part of the front panel has a fine-mesh dust filter below the decorative grid. The panel is fastened to the chassis by means of steel “petals” we’ve seen in other products, like the Ascot 6ZRX. We are rather apprehensive of this fastening although had no problems with it while testing our Carbide 300R.
The 300R has only three open 5.25-inch bays instead of four as usual. That’s enough for modern computer configurations but the lack of a 3.5-inch adapter is a downside. You won’t be able to install internal card-readers of the popular 3.5-inch form-factor, for example. 5.25-inch card-readers are not widely available and often have poor exterior design. As for external card-readers, they are not as handy as internal ones if you use them a lot.
The top of the case is perforated as well. Most of it is a metallic mesh like the one on the front panel. The mesh is not as rigid as the chassis proper and bends in easily even under slightest pressure. It is just much slimmer than the metallic chassis and is perforated, too.
There are two seats for 120 or 140mm fans on that mesh.
You may have problems installing fans onto the roof, though. The screw holes are made right in the mesh and have rugged rims. There are decorative metallic spacers above the holes which are not always aligned perfectly as you can see in the photographs above.
There is a dust filter in the bottom of the case below the PSU bay.
The filter is covered by a small-mesh grid and can be easily installed and removed.
Typically of Corsair products, the feet of the system case are not conventional circles. Here, they are rubber pads that prevent the computer from sliding on whatever surface you put it down on.
We can count up seven expansion slots at the back of the 300R. There are three openings for the pipes of a liquid cooling system there, too. Unfortunately, the design betrays some cost-cutting measures: we see single-use metallic gags instead of conventional rubberized openings with “petal” protection against dust. We’d be worried about the pipes if we had to move this system case about with a liquid cooling system installed inside.
The side panels of the case are rather primitive in design. They are fastened to the chassis by means of three prongs at the top and bottom and five holders near the front panel. It may be problematic to put the panel in its place if you are opposed by a bulging heap of cables hidden behind the mainboard’s mounting plate. It’s just difficult to align every prong and holder then.
The side panels are not shaped in such a way as to expand the interior. One of them offers two places for 120/140mm fans, one above another.
The I/O block can be found at the top of the front panel and includes two USB 3.0 ports (to be connected to a mainboard’s header) and a couple of audio connectors. They are placed next to Power and Reset buttons and white indicators of power and disk access.
You don’t get a USB 2.0 adapter with the 300R without which you won’t be able to use the USB connectors at all if your mainboard has no USB 3.0 header.
The accessories aren’t exceptional but neatly packed. Fasteners of each type come in an individual pack. There are a lot of short screws for fans here: four for each of the two top and two side fans. A second front fan is fastened, like the first one, with long screws. You can find four such screws among the accessories. A few single-use cable straps are included, too.
You also get a not-very-detailed manual and a card which suggests that you directly contact Corsair’s tech support rather than return the system case to the seller in case of any problems.