Internal: Corsair Carbide Air 540
Now we can really dig into what makes the Carbide Air 540 different from most of the other cases out there.
This is the “hot” side. One of the advantages of moving drive cages and other components out of the way is a direct path for cool air to get to hot components – the other useful advantage (but perhaps more of a side effect) is it makes cable management very easy. In return, that makes swapping components around a much simpler process. For someone that likes to constantly try different builds, that can be a game-changer in and of itself. Otherwise, the layout here is about what you would expect, with enough rubber grommets and standoffs to accommodate motherboards from Mini-ITX all the way to E-ATX.
I’m very appreciative of those upper cable routing holes – any case with space for radiators and top mounted fans should have these, as they are wonderful for cable management. Of course, in the upper left the 12V AUX line for the CPU has a dedicated routing hole as well. With some PSU and case combinations that AUX line can be quite a stretch, but the Carbide Air 540 places it directly above the PSU for a much shorter path than normal. A nice side effect of splitting the chassis into two compartments, this could make your PSU choices a little easier as well. I’ve had some cases that the left case frame actually got in the way of the cable routing hole here for the 12V AUX CPU connector – it seems this is yet another issue rendered irrelevant by this type of case layout. It almost makes you wonder, “why haven’t we seen this more often?”
Here’s a closer view of the 3.5″ drive sleds. I didn’t have any problems with the fit or operation of these – in fact, they felt nice and snug, and had a satisfying and secure “click” when in place. The plastic trays are tool-less for 3.5″ drives, but contain mounting holes for 2.5″ drives as well. With a normal hard drive, the trays are as sturdy as they need to be. I didn’t test these with a 2.5″ drive (as the modular cage on the back side is tool-less and makes more sense for 2.5″ drives), but they might feel a little more flimsy with a smaller drive mounted. I don’t really feel that’s an issue anyone should be concerned about – there’s better places for smaller drives.
That better place is right here, in the unique stacking drive cage first introduced in an earlier Corsair case (the 350D, if I remember correctly). If you look closely, you can easily see how each drive cage snaps and locks into the next one in line. It is possible to remove this entire assembly if desired, but it doesn’t really obstruct anything and is quite useful.