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Corsair's Carbide Series Air 240 reviewed

A bite-size, bicameral case
— 1:39 PM on November 17, 2014

What is a cube? The answer to this question is surprisingly complicated. The Wikipedia article on cubes begins with a fairly intuitive definition, but it quickly branches into levels of complexity that my feeble brain isn't quite built to navigate.

I jumped down this rabbit hole because Corsair calls its Carbide Series Air 240 a "cube case." Even after I shattered my understanding of cubes by reading the page above, I feel fairly confident in saying that the Air 240 isn't a cube. It's also not a square cuboid. At best, it appears to be a rectangular cuboid, just like many other cases on the market. I think. Point is, none of this makes for good marketing copy, so I'll let Corsair's fast-and-loose definition of a cube slide. Let's take a look at what the Air 240 has to offer.

The Carbide Series Air 240 is about the same size as the Graphite Series 380T I reviewed earlier this year, with one major difference: it's a box, or rectangular cuboid, if you prefer. If Corsair carved the 380T's curvaceous shape out of a block of clay, like a 1950s concept car, one could be forgiven for thinking that the Air 240's conception stopped with the block.

The boxy design has its advantages, though. The Air 240 has room for both Mini-ITX and microATX motherboards, while the 380T is limited to Mini-ITX motherboards only. Corsair also had enough room to divide the interior of the Air 240 into two separate chambers: one for the motherboard, CPU, and graphics cards, and the other for SSDs, 3.5" mechanical drives, and the power supply. Corsair claims this design allows for unobstructed airflow to the hottest components of the PC inside.

The left panel is windowed to show off those hot components. The left chamber is wrapped with vents at the top, side, and bottom. These vents are covered in metal mesh, and all of them are filtered. The filters are a welcome touch, but washing dust and dander from them will be difficult, since they're semi-permanently attached to their respective panels with screws and metal tabs.

The front panel has all of the requisite port, jacks, and buttons we've come to expect: a pair of USB 3.0 ports, a mic jack, a headphone jack, and power and reset buttons. Like every other small-form-factor case that's passed through my labs, the Air 240 lacks a 5.25" expansion bay. For builders who don't want to rely on an external optical drive, Corsair offers the larger Carbide Series Air 540, which has a similar dual-chamber design but also makes room for two 5.25" bays.

The right chamber has a full-length vent for the power supply and storage bays. This vent is covered by one of Corsair's signature magnetic dust filters, which should be far easier to work with than the semi-permanently-attached ones elsewhere on the case.

The Air 240 can sit either horizontally or vertically, although the benefits of the horizontal (or "desktop") orientation seem dubious to me. The case occupies more square footage in this mode, and the windowed side panel means you probably don't want to put anything on top of the case to save desk space. A neat touch: you can remove and rotate the Corsair emblem to match the orientation of the case. It's held in by magnets.

The exterior of the Air 240 is mostly finished in a matte black plastic—save for the metal side panels and frame, which are covered in standard black crinkle paint. As with most of the matte plastic finishes I've encountered, the Air 240's attracts fingerprints like a magnet. Be careful with your Air 240 if you want it to remain pristine.

Here's a spec table for the Air 240, for easy comparison with our other case reviews:

  Corsair Carbide Series Air 240
Dimensions (H x W x D) 15.6" x 10.2" x 12.6" (397 x 260 x 320 mm )
Supported motherboards microATX, Mini-ITX
Expansion slots 4
3.5"/2.5" drive bays 3
2.5" drive bays 3
Fan mounts 2x 120 mm (front)
2x 120 mm (bottom)
2x 120 mm (top)
1x 120 mm (right side panel)
2x 80 mm (rear)
Radiator mounts 1x 240 mm (front)
1x 240 mm (bottom, Mini-ITX motherboards only)
Included fans 2x Corsair 120 mm (front)
1x Corsair 120 mm (top)
Front panel I/O 2x USB 3.0
Max. graphics card length 11.4" (290 mm)
Max. CPU cooler height 4.7" (120 mm)
Max. power supply unit length 11.4" (290 mm)
MSRP $89.99 (black or white)

Now that we've looked over the outside of the Air 240, let's open up each chamber and see what lies inside.