Mid-Tower Round-Up: Antec, Corsair, NZXT, Thermaltake

Corsair Carbide 400R

Corsair’s Carbide 400R and 500R cases are examples of how attention to detail adds up to make a superb case. The two are quite similar, although the 500R has some features the 400R doesn’t. We’ll start with the 400R.

Corsair Carbide 400R
Specifications & Features
Side panel with mesh fan mount locations

Four 5.25” drive bays

Six 3.5” hard drive bays with 2.5” compatibility

Eight expansion slots

Supports most 240mm dual radiators
Supports graphics cards up to 316mm in length
Two-year warranty

Dimensions:   20.5” x 8.1” x 19.8”
Front I/O panel contains:
Two USB 3.0 connectors
One Firewire connector
3.5” headphone and microphone connector
Power and reset switches
Fan LED on/off switch

Six 120mm/140mm fan mounts
Four 120mm fan mounts
Includes two front-mounted 120mm fans and one rear 120mm fan

The 400R is an all-black case with a smooth exterior finish and a metal interior finish, and it has four 5.25-inch bays and six 3.5-inch bays--fewer than some other cases, but not bad in terms of capacity. A nice plus is that the 3.5-inch bays support 2.5-inch drives with no need for adapters; you just screw the smaller drives into a different area of the rails.

There are also eight expansion slots and plenty of room for large graphics cards up to 316mm as well as support for 240mm radiators. Additionally, the 400R has three 120mm fans onboard--two in the front and one in the rear--but there are mounts for a total of six fans (six 120/140mm, four 120mm).

The front I/O panel sports a nice array of ports, including a pair of USB 3.0 ports, a FireWire port, mic and headphone jacks, and power and reset buttons. There’s also a switch to turn the sweet-looking white LEDs on the two front fans on and off.

For the accessories, all screws are neatly sorted into their own bags, along with a few zip ties, a USB 3.0 header extender, small clips with adhesive backs for cable routing, and of course, the owner’s manual.  One small feature of the case that is one of our favorites, is that the tool-less screws remain in the screw holes of the side panels, so you’ll never lose track of them.

The 400R is by no means a flashy case, but it does boast those front panel white LEDs which give it a little pop. The front panel removes easily to give you access to the fans, as well.

The side panel has mounts for a pair of fans, as does the top of the case, in addition to the twin front-panel fans and single rear exhaust fan. There’s also a mount for a fan on the bottom of the case, which will actually offer venting as the 400R is lifted from the floor slightly with metal feet.  In operation, the fans were a bit louder than most of the other cases in our roundup, but not by much.

The front panel features mostly a grill design, and while the back has one large grill for the exhaust fan and holes in the expansion slot covers (and a quarter of rubber grommets), it’s not quite as open. The bottom of the case features a large removable PSU fan dust filter, which is rather difficult to slide out unless you tilt the case on its side. Another small detail is the handle design of the top of the case, which facilitates easy lifting.

Inside, all those little things Corsair has done with the Carbide 400R really begin shine. First of all, the interior feels adequately spacious, and we didn’t have any trouble maneuvering around in there.

The motherboard tray appears recessed, but that’s actually because the area around it is indented to allow for cabling around the back; even better, the indentation creates a sort of trench back there, which gives the cables somewhere to lay. (Both side panels have a slight bump-out design that allows even more room for cabling.)

However, a curious downside to the motherboard resting in a trough is that because our motherboard’s SATA ports are aimed at a 90-degree angle from the board, the edge of the trough completely blocks the bottom row of ports. You can add a second layer of posts underneath the motherboard to fix that problem, but it’s not a particularly elegant solution.

For cable routing, the rubber grommets are sufficient in size and number to accommodate cabling, and they’re very secure, never budging let alone popping out while we were working inside the case.

The PSU mount has small feet that keep the unit off the bottom of the case just enough to allow some airflow, and there’s a large metal clip that the PSU slides underneath that keeps it remarkably secure. You can move the case around any way you want, but that PSU is going nowhere.

Corsair opted for thumbscrews on the expansion slots, which is always a welcome sight, but those suckers were on too tightly. No human thumbs could twist them loose, so we had to rely on a screwdriver.

The 5.25-inch bays are excellently designed, with a sliding mechanism that allows for quick and easy drive installation and removal. We’re a little concerned though that, over time and with heavier use, those sliding plastic clips may wear out or break.  This really shouldn't be a problem for most usage models though, where 5.25 bays aren't often worked that much. 

Our first impression of the 3.5-inch rails was a mixture of confusion and concern; those trays are as thin, flimsy, and bendable as any we’ve seen. In fact, when you pinch the tabs to remove one, the entire unit bends dramatically. However, when you install a drive in one, you realize that the rails themselves are designed to do little other than position the drive in the right place. The HDD itself creates the rigidity and stability, and the end result is surprisingly sturdy.  We would question this design, however, for 2.5-inch drives, as they’ll just sort of float there. Granted, 2.5-inch drives are quite light, but we wouldn’t feel great about end result to be honest.

The bottom line is that there is very, very little to complain about with the Carbide 400R. Its looks are unremarkable but classic, it’s enjoyable to setup and its performance is solid (more on this later). At just $99.99, the cost is rather agreeable as well.

Related content