One of the nice things about picking out high-quality parts is that it lessens the chances of unpleasant surprises during the building process. Even so, I did run into a few unexpected potholes over the course of building our VR PC.
For one, the 3.5" hard-drive cage that hides beneath the plastic beauty shroud sits quite close to the front of our lengthy 850W PSU in its default position, leaving little room to route or even insert cables into our modular PSU. Since we weren't relying on any spinning disks for this build, I simply removed the cage. Folks trying to cram exceptionally lengthy power supplies and big liquid coolers into the 400C will probably have to sacrifice 3.5" storage space to make them work. The forward mounting position for the hard drive cage doesn't leave any room for the 280-mm radiator stack with our particular build.
The handsome aluminum shroud over the port cluster on our MSI motherboard is attached in an unexpected way, as well. MSI ran two bolts through the standard ATX mounting holes at the upper left corner and midde left side of the board, a move that certainly makes the shroud feel secure but results in instant clearance issues with any case that has pre-installed motherboard standoffs—like our 400C. Corsair doesn't include a standoff installation tool, either, so I had to go digging in my parts pile before I could remove the offending standoffs.
The paper cuts from our MSI motherboard didn't end there, either. I certainly appreciate the fact that MSI has started including its own take on Asus' Q-Connector with its higher-end motherboards, but the screenprinted pinout on that pin block reversed the power LED and power switch pin positions relative to their actual location in the motherboard's front-panel pin block. I ended up having to double-check that pinout in our motherboard's manual, so plugging in the front-panel connectors actually ended up being harder than it shoud have. Whoops.
The next challenge for this system was to install our Corsair CPU cooler. Anybody who's ever installed a liquid-cooling stack on a vertical mount with an intake fan setup knows that it can be a frustrating experience. I was preparing for a careful balancing act until it occurred to me that I could use Scotch tape to temporarily secure the fan hubs to the crossbars that span the front of the 400C's frame. With that extra bit of adhesive support in place, I had no problem securing the H110i GTX to the front radiator mounts of the 400C.
The Carbide 400C offers ample aids for clean cable routing, but the cable pass-through on the bottom shroud of this case is composed of two separate holes in two pieces of overlapping plastic. Any cable that you want to run through this hole first needs to be run through the hole on the first shroud, then threaded through the hole on the forward shroud before one is able to install both pieces—and that installation procedure has to happen all at once. While that might sound simple in theory, it was actually rather difficult to keep two PCIe power cables, the H110i's USB header cable, the front-panel connector, and the HD audio connector in position while I was reinstalling those shrouds. I much prefer the approach of Cooler Master's MasterCase series in this regard.
Our MSI GTX 980s were the last components to go inside the case, and I didn't have any issues getting those cards into position. One SLI bridge and four PCIe power connectors later, our build was complete. Our Carbide Series 400C case might be a little on the tight side for this system, but there's no denying that we ended up with a clean build that looks great.
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