Disclaimer: This item was purchased and not provided by Corsair.
The PC case. A way in which an individual can push through his or her personality through hardware – RGB or not. Since owning a gaming PC I’ve found myself owning a handful of cases over the years, each getting slightly better when it comes to looks and features than the previous. Midway through 2016, I purchased my most recent case, Corsair’s Air 540 which is part of the Carbide Series and is one of their high airflow cases. The cubed aspect was an instant hit but does the 540 fall short of regular mid-tower cases?
Designed specifically with dual chambers, the Air 540 separates your visually pleasing components from your power supply to provide exceptional cooling to your CPU, graphics cards, motherboard, and memory without your drives or power supply getting in the way. The case comes with three Air Series AF140L intake and exhaust fans which “provide great airflow performance at lower noise levels than typical case fans”, but I did swap these for Corsair’s Quiet Series fans of which three 120mm sit in the front and one 140mm sits in the rear.
The unconventional design makes building easy and the fact that the cables and power supply are located in the second compartment which is windowless is perfect for those picky builders. Corsair’s innovative cable routing system gives you more options for hiding pumps and tubing out of the way. While I don’t have a custom water loop in mine, I can see the case providing those type of builders plenty of choices. There are also plenty of cable routing options including several cutouts which include rubber grommets.
Under the hood are two hot-swap hard drive bays located at the bottom of the case and four 2.5″ tool-free SSD slot in the rear of the case. The only issue I have with this is that the only cooling available, as far as I can see, in the secondary chamber is on the side to help vent the PSU. If you do intend on putting SSD’s in the back they may overheat.
There are eight expansion slots which give plenty of room for a quad GPU setup, with room for GPU’s up to 320mm in length. You can mount up to six 120mm or five 140mm fans, or install a 240mm or 280mm top radiator and a 240mm, 280mm, or even 360mm radiator on the front panel.
The PSU sits atop a rail which is then secured in place with a moving stop which can be adjusted to the correct size. This piece is then secured in place at the edge of the PSU to wedge it in place. Being so used to securing PSU’s in place with screws along the back, this part of the design was a little confusing to me and I often wonder if anything is going to shift out of place.
On the front, you’ve got dual front USB 3.0 ports with an internal connector, power and reset buttons, headphone and microphone jacks and two 5.4″ bays. The front and top panels are easy to remove, giving quick access to any components nearby and the front dust filter for cleaning.
The Air 540 is both sturdy and well made, with a steel and plastic build. The case packs quite a bit of weight to it before installing components and its cube design makes for some heavy handling afterward depending on what you’re going to put into it.
Unfortunately, both the glass and rear panels are a little flimsy for my liking and can easily be twisted. The front and top panels, which are plastic, are also similar. Whilst this won’t be a problem for many it is worth mentioning. I wouldn’t expect anything less from Corsair and the build quality is to a high standard. There are some small niggles but nothing overly drastic.
Due to the Air 540’s “Direct Airflow Path” design, the noise levels can be high depending on what fan and rad configuration you’ve got going. Mine consists of three 120mm fans in the front, one 140mm fan in the rear and Cooler Master’s Master Liquid 240mm AIO CPU water cooler on top.
Whilst not overly noisy, there is a constant humming tone in the background. There are no extra panels to dampen the sound like in other cases, case in point my old NZXT Phantom has removable panels on the top and front which did lessen the overall noise coming from inside the case.
The airflow is exceptionally good. Despite its rather open design, the case barely collects dust or other particles, though this will be in part due to case placement as mine sits atop a large desk. It’s worth considering that the only dust filter is located on the front panel, the top and side vents (the latter for the PSU) don’t have any. It would have been nice to see dust filters of some kind in other key areas.
Most importantly, the components inside of the case are kept cool. The high airflow design pushes more air through to the components that need it most and it does help that the bulky cables and PSU are kept separate.