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Corsair's Carbide Series Air 240 revisited

Now with a full serving of fans
— 12:24 PM on December 5, 2014

Corsair's Carbide Series Air 240 case put in a good showing in my full-length review. I liked its relatively spacious interior, its dual-chamber cooling design, and its quiet demeanor, all of which come at a reasonable price of $90.

One thing I didn't get to test, however, was the case's cooling performance (and noise levels) with all of its stock fans in place. Part of the Air 240's claim to fame is a trio of 120-mm fans for its dedicated motherboard chamber—two intakes and one exhaust. This setup is supposed to allow cool air to flow directly to the hottest components inside the case.

Unfortunately, my MSI A88XI AC Mini-ITX motherboard has only one system fan header, so I didn't get to see the full potential of the Air 240's cooling design in action. The TR staff and I felt that this was an unfair mark against the case, despite its good showing in our tests, so I made plans to retest the Air 240 with all of its fans installed.

My solution to the fan header problem comprised three fan splitters and a Zalman Fan Mate 2:

This decidedly low-tech solution lets me to run up to four fans in the Air 240, which is perfect for my needs. The only sacrifice here is motherboard-based fan control. Having used a mobo with great onboard fan control, the Asus Z97-A, I gotta say that the Fan Mate setup feels like a step back into the Stone Age. At least this solution is cheap, though. The Fan Mate 2 is only $7 at Newegg, while the splitters can be had for $3.50 apiece.

Armed with the freedom to add two more fans to the Air 240, I repositioned my Cooler Master Nepton 120XL CPU cooler as an intake fan. I then put one of the stock Corsair 120-mm fans back at the front of the case, and I installed another in its stock position above the motherboard, as an exhaust. To keep things neat, I concealed the new rat's nest of fan wiring in the Air 240's storage chamber. As for the Fan Mate, I hid it at the back of the case by threading its cables through an open expansion slot.

Based on my original test results, I'm hoping the Nepton 120XL will cool the CPU better when it's not being asked to handle all of the waste heat from the system. I would also expect GPU and motherboard temperatures to be helped by the second intake fan and the dedicated exhaust fan. Let's see if my hunches are borne out by cold, hard data.

Our testing methods
Here are the specs of the Casewarmer as it sits today:

Processor AMD A10-7850K
Motherboard MSI A88XI AC
Memory 8GB AMD DDR3-1600 (2x 4GB DIMMs)
Graphics card Zotac Nvidia Geforce GTX 660 Ti AMP! Edition
Storage Kingston HyperX 120GB SSD, Samsung Spinpoint F1 750GB HDD
Power supply Cooler Master V550
CPU cooler Cooler Master Nepton 120XL
OS Windows 8.1 Pro

Thanks again to Corsair for the Air 240, and to MSI, Cooler Master, AMD, Kingston, and Zotac for their respective contributions to the Casewarmer.

I relied on three software tools to test the Carbide Series Air 240:

Each test cycle included the following phases:

  • 10 minutes of idle time at the Windows 8.1 desktop
  • 10 minutes running the Unigine Heaven benchmark
  • 10 minutes running both the Unigine Heaven benchmark and the Prime95 CPU torture test
  • 10 minutes of idle time at the Windows 8.1 desktop

The tests and methods we employ are publicly available and reproducible. If you have questions about our methods, join us on our forums to discuss them with us.

I set fan speeds for idle and load conditions using the Fan Mate, based on my personal tolerance for noise. I kept the Fan Mate at its minimum setting for idle and cranked things up to about 75% of the controller's effective range for load testing.

The ambient temperature in my office at the time of my tests was about 72°F (22.2°C).