Corsair Carbide AIR 540 Review

Author: Dmitry
Date: August 15, 2013
Product Name: Carbide AIR 540
Part Number: CC-9011030-WW
Warranty: 3 years
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When was the last time you looked at a new case and said: “Now that’s unique!”? Sure, there have been some noteworthy case design innovations over the last few years but the number of enclosures that dared to be different can likely be counted on a single hand. Corsair’s Carbide AIR 540 on the other hand takes a path less travelled by utilizing a stunning dual chambered layout alongside a particularly compact form factor.

Roughly engineered in the same way Mountain Mods approaches their chassis designs, the AIR 540 will likely be appealing for builders who want something that sits outside conventional expectations. Not only is this case vertically challenged, meaning it will easily fit into even the most space-challenged environment, but it features a surprising amount of interior space. As you might expect, this doesn’t come cheap and at $140 the AIR 540 is one of the more expensive mid towers on the market but it certainly isn’t unaffordable either.

The AIR 540’s exterior is anything but common. At first glance it looks like a typical mATX-sized chassis due to an overall height that’s just over 14” and a slightly squat stance that makes it look cube-like rather than the typical rectangular form most other cases take. A significant portion of its limited exterior space is taken up by a large air intake grille and an impressively sized side window. The front panel connectors are present in the form of two USB 3.0 ports and 3.5mm jacks for a mic and headphones.

As with many other Corsair enclosures, this one is built to extremely high standards and there are very few missteps in its overall build quality. The side panels do flex a bit but that’s nothing to worry about since the case’s internal support structure is more than adequate. More importantly, the AIR 540 accomplishes its goals without looking gaudy which will increase its appeal for those who prefer subtle, unintrusive case designs.

The Carbide AIR 540’s unique design has one sole purpose: optimal airflow for the internal components. It accomplishes this by utilizing what Corsair calls a “dual chamber” layout which pushes the storage drives, power supply and 5.25” drives to the “rear” of the motherboard tray. Typically, this area isn’t large enough for anything but SSDs and cable routing but the AIR’s layout expands the space to a size that will easily accommodate an ATX power supply.

By moving airflow-interrupting components to an area away from your CPU, graphics card and motherboard, the three included AF-140L fans are given the freedom to quickly move hot air out of the chassis. If even more cooling is needed, the AIR 540 has accommodate up to six 120mm or five 140mm fans.

Not only does this design optimize the airflow characteristics but it also allows for E-ATX sized motherboards in an extremely compact yet accessible environment. Did we mention that there’s also enough space for two 240mm radiators? The cooling options really are endless.

With Corsair thinking so far outside the usual “box” concept, hopefully competitors will soon follow, because, as you’ll see in the video review above, the AIR 540 is one hell of a case.

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