Inside the Carbide Series 300R
On the outside, the Carbide Series 300R has plenty in common with other Corsair chassis - it's smart-looking, well built and it isn't short of promise.
But, unsurprisingly, it's on the inside that it struggles to meet the standards set by the manufacturer's premium offerings. Ask us which Corsair features we enjoy the most, and we'd probably say the quick-release side panels and rubber-grommeted cable-routing holes. Neither are present here.
The 300R side panels are held in place by standard thumbscrews (which you might prefer if you didn't take a liking to Corsair's latch mechanism), and the cable-routing system is just a plentiful supply of holes. There's technically nothing wrong with this configuration, but if you were to enter the Carbide 300R expecting the quality of a Graphite or Obsidian, you may be a tad disappointed.
However, if you keep expectations in check and remember the sub-£60 price tag, you could just as easily come away pleasantly surprised. The internal layout is good, it sports an all-black finish that's easy on the eye, and, despite the smaller dimensions, it still feels roomy throughout.
A massive cutout in the motherboard tray makes CPU cooler installation a breeze, and the gap between optical and storage bays leaves plenty of room for ultra-long graphics cards, as well as a direct path for front-to-back airflow. What's interesting here is that both storage cages are equipped with grooves and screw holes that suggest something should fit in between. A sign that perhaps Corsair intends to sell an additional four-bay drive cage as an optional extra? There's certainly room.
Each of the four existing storage bays supports both 3.5in and 2.5in drives, all three optical bays are tool free, and the PCI expansion brackets are held in place by thumb screws. Fan filters are installed beneath the PSU mount and in front of the 140mm intake, with the latter cleaned by removing the plastic front panel - it pulls away with little force.
Put it all together, and you end up with a really nice-looking machine. Though, the build process isn't quite as easy as it is in other Corsair enclosures. There's no USB 3.0 to USB 2.0 converter cable included in the box, so users without an on-board header may need to stump up the cash for the optional accessory pack, and the front-panel audio cable isn't particularly long - we had trouble routing it neatly to our ASUS motherboard.
And while there's plenty of air-cooling potential, users who prefer to take the liquid route may experience mixed results. There isn't a lot of room between the motherboard and the chassis' roof, so while you could probably mount a radiator with fans externally on top of the chassis, it'll be nigh on impossible to squeeze such configurations inside.
Corsair's kept the design relatively simple, but the message here is clear: this is a £60 chassis that looks good, can house a high-end ATX build with a couple of graphics cards, while providing bags of cooling potential. Housing high-end kit isn't a problem - it took us little time to put together our X58 test platform - but let's find out how it performs.