Exterior: Corsair Carbide Air 540
First, let’s do a quick walk-around.
Obviously, the Carbide Air 540 is set up a little differently than a standard ATX enclosure. Looking through the side panel window, you can catch a glimpse of some of the differences. Most noticeable here are the tool-less 3.5″ HDD trays with a built in SATA data and power connector where one would be accustomed to seeing a power supply. I’ll touch more on these in the detailed features, but they are a pretty exciting addition. They seem a little close in proximity to a second GPU though…we’ll have to see how that turns out.
On the right side you can see the intake vent for the power supply in the lower right corner. This intake isn’t filtered, so it will remain to be seen if dust is an issue in this compartment – the power supply fan is the only “moving” part over here, so perhaps that isn’t much of an issue in the first place.
The exterior of the Carbide Air 540 is mainly coated in a pleasant, soft-touch matte paint that does a decent job of reducing fingerprints while looking classy. I’m a big fan of matte finishes, and it is done well on the Carbide Air 540. It makes the plastic sections look and feel “premium,” and it blends well with the other portions, not to mention your overall setup wherever you may choose to place the case.
Both of the mesh panels along the right side and top of the case are easily removable, but the top panel needs to be removed first (the front then slides up). Both of the panels are quite rigid, and snap nicely back into place. Many times these types of removable panels can contribute a “flimsy” feeling to a case, but Corsair has done a great job with the fit and locking mechanisms of these panels. A subtle (and arguably unimportant?) detail, but it contributes to the overall impression of quality when working with the Carbide Air 540.
More than anything, the back of the Carbide Air 540 clues you in to the overall layout and how the partitioned design is executed. I want to point out one surprising attribute that I don’t believe I’ve seen on any other case – the rear 140mm fan has an easily removable grill. Why is this a big deal? Many CFM ratings on fans are done in “open air” – as soon as you add any type of restriction, you’ll reduce the performance (and possibly add noise as well). Many modders will simply cut a hole in the back to remove the offending mesh – Corsair thoughtfully tackles this issue eloquently and gives you the choice, no cutting or modification required. Even in its stock form, the wire grill allows for a substantial amount of airflow (less restriction than mesh). Maybe it’s a small detail, but I really appreciated this. These small details throughout really added up for me.
Looking at the bottom however seems as if they may have missed a small detail. I’m going to assume the open cutouts on the bottom are to assist in airflow to the 3.5″ HDD sleds or GPU that could be mounted just above them… It almost seems as if there should be more here, some mesh or something. Frankly, it probably wasn’t needed, so why add expense where it isn’t necessary? Still, I would have liked to see this area with a dust filter as well, and the possibility to mount some fans in place of drives. Options are always good, and a chassis that provides many of them can just fit that many more builds.
The rest is quite functional though, you can see the various mounting holes for the power supply support bracket as well as the substantial rubber feet in the corners. This won’t be a chassis that slides around easily, given its wide footprint.
Finally, there’s ample space for 2x120mm or 2x140mm fans or radiators up top, under the panel pictured here. That about completes the outside view, let’s take some panels off and look inside.