Corsair’s Carbide Series 200R vs. Antec’s Three Hundred Two

Let’s face it: there’s nothing nicer than a high-end PC enclosure. Today’s offerings don’t just give PCs personality. They also greatly simplify the building process, thanks to tool-less widgets, provisions for cable routing, easy-to-access storage bays, and roomy innards that leave plenty of space for comfortable component installation. One wouldn’t dream of building a state-of-the-art gaming rig without a comparably state-of-the-art case.

We certainly love high-end enclosures here at TR. We’ve reviewed quite a number of them over the years, and a few of our favorites have earned prized spots in TR’s System Guide—not to mention under our desks.

Not everyone has the budget for a top-of-the-line case, however. Folks with shallower pockets will understandably want to prioritize internal components like the processor and graphics card, which will usually mean housing those parts inside something cheap and cheerful. Sadly, getting an inexpensive case can involve ugly compromises, like being forced to block airflow with a mass of cables, having to screw in hard drives by hand, and maybe cutting your fingers on a sharp steel panel or two. Aesthetics and stealth are often sacrificed in the name of thrift, as well. In lower price rings, garish front bezels and loud fans abound.

It doesn’t have to be that way. Today, we’re going to look at a couple of cases from Corsair and Antec that bring high-end amenities to the budget space. Please join me in welcoming Corsair’s Carbide Series 200R and Antec’s Three Hundred Two.

 

These babies are both priced around the $70 mark. The Carbide Series 200R will set you back $59.99 before $9.99 shipping at Newegg, while the Three Hundred Two is available for $69.99 with free shipping. Six of one, half a dozen of the other.

The 200R is the most recent arrival. It debuted late last month, earning the title of Corsair’s most inexpensive enclosure ever. As we noted at the time, the 200R looks surprisingly upscale for the price. Especially on the inside, it doesn’t seem all that different from Corsair’s higher-priced offerings, like the Obsidian Series 650D. Naturally, Corsair has had to cut a few corners to reach the lower price point. We’ll soon see which corners were cut and which weren’t.

The Three Hundred Two came out a few months before the 200R. As its name suggests, this is a successor to Antec’s hugely popular Three Hundred case, which has literally thousands of reviews on Newegg. Among the additions and refinements in the Three Hundred Two are USB 3.0 connectivity, sideways-facing hard drive bays, a tool-less drive mounting scheme, cable routing holes in the motherboard tray, and dedicated 2.5″ bays for solid-state drives. That’s an extensive list of improvements, and it makes the Three Hundred Two a fairly formidable competitor to the 200R.

Here’s how the two contestants’ specifications stack up:

  Corsair Carbide Series 200R Antec Three Hundred Two
Dimensions (H x W x D) 16.9″ x 8.3″ x 19.6″ 20.2″ x 9″ x 18.5″
Weight 13.4 lbs 15.3 lbs
Supported motherboards ATX, microATX ATX, microATX, Mini-ITX
3.5″ drive bays 4 6
2.5″ drive bays 4 2
5.25″ drive bays 3 3
Fan mounts 8 6
Included Fans 2 (120-mm front and rear) 2 (120-mm rear, 140-mm top)
Front panel I/O 2 x USB 3.0, headphone, mic 2 x USB 3.0, headphone, mic
Max. graphics card length 16.5″ 12.5″
Max. CPU cooler height 7″ 7″
Gap behind motherboard 0.71″ 1.14″

The Antec case is taller and wider, with more space behind the motherboard tray to tuck away cables. The Three Hundred Two also has more hard-drive bays, and Antec touts its support for Mini-ITX motherboards. Why you’d want to stick a tiny motherboard in a full-sized ATX case is another matter—but hey, if you’re into that sort of thing, I’m not one to judge.

Meanwhile, the 200R is lighter and a little deeper, and it allows room for more fans, more solid-state drives, and longer graphics cards. The cooling arrangement is different, too. Both of the Three Hundred Two’s bundled fans are exhausts by default (with one at the rear and one at the top), but the 200R has an intake fan at the front and an exhaust fan at the back. Antec’s strategy may result in lower processor temperatures, but the Corsair design could minimize dust and cool other components, like the graphics card, a little better. We’ll look at temperatures and noise levels in excruciating detail very soon.

By the way, sticking a Mini-ITX motherboard in the 200R isn’t technically impossible, even if Corsair doesn’t advertise the fact. The Mini-ITX mounting hole pattern is a subset of the ATX one. However, the 200R has a stabilizing nub instead of a standoff under one of the main mounting holes. That nub helps steady ATX and microATX motherboards for installation, but if you were to install a Mini-ITX mobo, you’d only be able to fasten it in place with three screws.

To test both of these cases, we’ve gathered some fresh components. Behold the new TR Case Warmer:

That’s a Core i7-2600K plugged into a Z77 motherboard, with a Thermaltake Frio cooler strapped to it. We’ve also got a Radeon HD 7870, a 128GB solid-state drive, a Blu-ray drive, a modular power supply, and even a sound card. All told, these parts draw about 260W under a simultaneous CPU and graphics load.

One might consider this collection of test hardware overkill for budget enclosures like the 200R and Three Hundred Two, but we think it’s helpful to stress these cases properly. If they’re any good, they needn’t be restricted to budget builds. We’d also expect these cases to have plenty of room for future upgrades—and the ability to cool those parts appropriately. You wouldn’t want to grab a new graphics card only to have it overheat in Far Cry 3, now, would you?

Okay, that’s enough for introductions. Let’s get into the meat of this review by taking a closer look at the 200R and Three Hundred Two. (There will be pictures—plenty of them.) Then, we’ll fill up the cases with our Case Warmer guts, document the process, and run some stress tests. Ready? Here we go.

Corsair’s Carbide Series 200R

Corsair is known for its understated yet elegant designs, and the 200R definitely follows that tradition. I wouldn’t be ashamed to put the case on my desk—if I didn’t have plenty of room under it, that is.

The filtered front vents are tucked away on the sides, which keeps the face nice and plain. You’ve got the two USB 3.0 ports, audio in and out, and power and reset buttons at the top. Beneath those are the three optical drive bays, and there’s a tiny Corsair logo at the bottom. Doesn’t get much simpler than that.

Flip the case around, and you can see the power supply goes at the bottom, and the side panels are kept in place with easily removable thumb screws. We wouldn’t expect less from a self-respecting enthusiast case.

 

The black paint job extends to the inside. That’s a nice touch, especially for a case this cheap.

As we noted earlier, the 200R’s internals somewhat mirror those of more upscale Corsair cases like the Obsidian Series 650D. The 200R and 650D both have nice, big cut-outs in the motherboard tray, which make routing cables and accessing the back of the CPU socket a breeze. Both cases also sport sideways hard-drive bays and completely tool-less storage mounts. The 200R has fewer drive bays in all, though, and its cable-routing holes aren’t lined with rubber. Still, the family resemblance is clear.

In the shot above, you can see the two pre-installed 120-mm fans: one at the front and one at the back. There’s a second front fan mount, which Corsair hides under the front bezel. You can pop off the bezel without too much trouble by bending plastic clips on the left side.

 

Note the space between the 3.5″ and 5.25″ drive bays. That gap leaves room for uber-long graphics cards, and it also plays host to the 200R’s plastic cage for four 2.5″ drives.

Installing an SSD is as simple as pushing it in until the drive clicks into place. To remove it, pull back the tab on the side and slide the drive back out. Easy as pie. The cage doesn’t have a lot of ventilation on the sides, but solid-state drives shouldn’t run all that hot. We’ll check SSD and hard-drive temperatures in a bit.

Speaking of ventilation, the 200R has a copious number of vents. In addition to the two 120-mm fan spots at the front and the one at the rear, Corsair offers vented emplacements for two side fans (both 120-mm), two top fans (both 140-mm or 120-mm), and one bottom fan (120-mm or 140-mm). The two top fan emplacements can also double as a home for a jumbo-sized liquid cooling radiator.

Corsair sticks a nice, easy-to-remove dust filter under the PSU fan intake. The front vents are filtered, too, but the other vents are left bare. Any dust that gets sucked through the central bottom vent—or that falls in through the top ones—is going to go right inside the case.

Corsair’s Carbide Series 200R—the assembly

Installing a motherboard in the 200R is nice and straightforward. All of the standoffs are pre-mounted, and there’s a nub at the center to help position the motherboard before you screw it in place. Corsair has left plenty of clearance around the motherboard tray, as well, so getting the screws in (and hooking up the various fans) doesn’t involve unnecessary contortions. The process would likely be a little more awkward with fans occupying the two top emplacements, though.

Inserting the power supply is also quite easy. There’s a small steel lip between the motherboard and the power supply mount, so the PSU is kept steady and secure while you tighten the screws at the back.

Incidentally, the case comes with a special USB 3.0 connector designed to mate with newfangled motherboard headers. That’s great if you’re using a newer mobo, as we were, but it’s bad news if you’ve got something a little older that doesn’t have the right pin-out on the circuit board. Since there’s no adapter in the box, you’ll be forced to leave the front-panel USB ports unplugged—frustrating, even if one can (kind of) forgive Corsair for not accommodating outdated hardware.

Things are reasonably tidy around the right side. Well, okay, maybe not so tidy—but this is where you’re supposed to hide cables. Strapping everything down with cable ties might look nice, but it’s often pointless, since it impedes future upgrades and doesn’t really affect airflow. We would have used ties if cables had bulged out enough to prevent the side panel from closing easily, but the mess wasn’t quite that bad.

Happily, snaking cables around the 200R is a very pleasant experience. The routing holes in the motherboard tray are nice and big, and mostly everything is in the right place. There were a couple of minor exceptions: the CPU power connector, which wouldn’t squeeze through at the top unless we bent the motherboard tray back a bit, and the SSD bays, which don’t face the same direction as the hard-drive bays. The difference in orientation means you may be forced to use separate power cables for solid-state and mechanical storage, since feeding both with one cable can be tricky.

At least installing the drives themselves is a piece of cake. SSDs slide in with a click, as do hard drives. The process with hard drives is slightly different: pull back the tab on the side, push in the drive in with the connectors facing away from you, and release the tab so that it bites into the drive’s corresponding screw hole. You can fasten the drive more securely with screws if need be. Some might prefer to do that, since the lone tab doesn’t feel completely secure. In fact, our drive slid loose while I was pushing in the power connector from the other side.

Optical drives are installed in essentially the same way as hard drives, only the tab mechanism feels a little sturdier. Here, too, Corsair offers the option of screwing the drive into place, if you don’t fully trust the tool-less mechanism.

All in all, assembling a full, working system inside the Carbide Series 200R comes surprisingly close to a premium experience. I’ve spent plenty of time with both the Graphite Series 600T and the Obsidian Series 650D, and this case doesn’t seem like a huge downgrade. Aside from the aforementioned kinks with the SSD bays and USB 3.0 connector, my only gripe is that the side panels aren’t really easy to put back on. Laying the enclosure flat on its side is almost a requirement.

Antec’s Three Hundred Two

Where the 200R looks like a scaled back version of pricier cases, the Three Hundred Two is more akin to an upscale variant of cheaper offerings. Seen from the front, it’s almost identical to the old Three Hundred. The only obvious differences are the curved fins and the blue hue of the USB 3.0 ports.

The Three Hundred Two has further novelties in store around the back: switches to control fan speeds and rubber-lined holes for liquid cooling hoses. Notice how the expansion slots are flush with the rear panel, too. More on that later.

Popping off the side panel confirms that the Three Hundred Two is a very different animal from its older sibling. The optical drive bays have gained tool-less mounts, the hard drive bays have been rotated 90 degrees and made to accommodate rails, Antec has cut holes for cable routing in the motherboard tray, and a fan mount has appeared behind the CPU socket.

Compared to the 200R, the Three Hundred Two looks a little plain. There’s no slick, black paint job on the inside, the routing cut-outs in the motherboard tray are clearly smaller, and as you might have noticed, not all of the motherboard stand-offs are pre-installed. The Three Hundred Two’s extra hard-drive bays are nice, but they limit the length of supported graphics cards to 12.5″—not that that should pose a problem in a budget case such as this, of course.

The Three Hundred Two has a less impressive array of vents and fan mounts than the 200R. Antec provides two pre-mounted fans—a 120-mm spinner at the rear and a 140-mm one at the top—and it leaves room for an additional four fans (all 120-mm): one on each side and two at the front. The front fan emplacements are both hidden under the front bezel, which can be popped off easily, just like on the 200R.

Also mirroring the 200R, the Three Hundred Two includes a dust filter under the power supply’s intake fan. The filter slides out from the left side, which is arguably a better, more convenient design than Corsair’s. The Three Hundred Two has dust filters covering the front intakes, as well, but other vents are left bare.

Here, we have the Three Hundred Two’s fan controls. These are simple slide switches with two settings: low and high. They’re hard-wired to the case’s exhaust fans, so they can’t control the speed of additional fans. We’ll try both speed settings in our temperature and noise level testing in a little bit. Before that, let’s take a look at the assembly process.

Antec’s Three Hundred Two—the assembly

I normally don’t comment on the odor of PC components, but I can’t help it here. Coming out of the box, the Three Hundred Two smells pretty awful. The scent is like a mix of burnt plastic and noxious chemicals, and it’s so bad I had to open the window while putting everything together. I still felt nauseous and a little lightheaded once I was done.

The assembly process is a little thornier with the Three Hundred Two than with the 200R. The side panel thumb screws are too hard to remove by hand, and once you get the side panel off, you have to fish motherboard standoffs out of the included plastic bag and install them manually. There are no nubs to help position the motherboard, either. It’s up to you to keep the thing in place while bolting it down.

That process is rendered even more awkward by the top fan, which limits clearance around the top edge of the board. To get those last screws in, I had to drop them on the circuit board and coax them into their screw holes with my screwdriver. Plugging the top fan into the corresponding header at the top of the board was hopeless; I had to use tweezers. I’m probably partly to blame for using a big tower cooler, but the Thermaltake Frio isn’t exactly outside the scope of a budget system. Newegg sells it for $57.99 after a $10 mail-in rebate right now.

While we’re on the subject of the top fan: Antec inexplicably runs the little wire connecting that fan to its speed controller right in front of the blades, and the wire is too short to move out of harm’s way. The solution is simple enough. You can swap the two speed control switches, which are easily unclipped from the back of the case, so that top fan and its switch are closer together. That gives the wire just enough slack to tuck away. One wonders why the case didn’t ship with the switches in that arrangement.

One last complaint before we move around to the other side. Getting the power supply into place was surprisingly difficult. Just like in the 200R, there’s a steel lip between the PSU emplacement and the motherboard. Unlike in the 200R, however, the lip is bent down too far to make a straight, single-motion insertion possible. I had to insert the PSU in the middle of the main compartment and slide it toward the rear, which left a big gash in the top of the unit—and little flakes of black paint everywhere.

The Three Hundred Two has slightly more space behind the motherboard tray for cable routing. However, the cable routing holes are smaller, so the actual routing process feels less straightforward than with the 200R. On the flip side, the side panels are easier to put in when the case is standing up and cables are protruding slightly. Instead of simply sliding into place, the panels first connect with a hinge (positioned at the front of the case) and then swing shut. It’s an old, tried-and-true design, and Corsair used something similar for its more upscale enclosures. Curiously, though, the 200R lacks this feature.

Oh, and before I forget, the Three Hundred Two has the same dedicated USB 3.0 connector as the 200R. Antec also declines to include an adapter in the box. Too bad if you have an older motherboard.

Installing expansion cards in the Three Hundred Two is bafflingly complicated. A bracket holds the L-shaped lip of each expansion card in place, and you have to unscrew that bracket from the outside of the enclosure. Also, the mounting screws that hold expansion bay covers in place straddle multiple bays. While I was installing the graphics card, I realized the card wouldn’t go in properly until I unfastened the screw for one of the adjacent, unused expansion bays. In total, I had to undo and subsequently re-fasten five screws just to put in that one card. None of those were thumb screws, either. On the 200R, the same process was accomplished by undoing and re-fastening just two thumb screws.

There is an upside to the Three Hundred Two’s convoluted design, which is that all connectors are flush with the rear of the case. That probably makes it easier to find the right port when you’re crawling under your desk and trying to avoid all the dust bunnies. I personally don’t think that’s worth the tradeoff, though.

Despite its other failings, the Three Hundred Two has a better installation process for hard drives and optical drives than the 200R. You’ve got to clip little plastic rails onto hard drives before sliding ’em into place, but the mounting mechanism feels much, much safer, and there’s no need to fasten screws for extra security. With optical drives, the mechanism involves a rocker clip. Pushing in the drive flips the rocker, which causes little metal teeth to bite down into the screw holes on the drive’s sides. Nothing else to say there—everything works great.

If only adding solid-state drives were as easy.

This is the part where I dug up the manual, because I wasn’t sure where the Case Warmer’s SSD was supposed to go. Turns out the Three Hundred Two’s only SSD bays are at the bottom of the main compartment and behind the motherboard try. I figured I’d slap the drive behind the mobo tray, since that would make cable routing easier, but I couldn’t. Why? Because the motherboard blocked access to two of the four screw holes.

If you want to mount an SSD on the back of the motherboard tray, Antec says you’re supposed to do so before putting in the motherboard. Removing the SSD will then, of course, involve removing the mobo and all expansion cards. “Comically inconvenient” doesn’t even begin to describe it.

In the end, I chose to mount the SSD in the other spot, between the power supply and the 3.5″ bays. The SSD’s mounting screws go right through the bottom panel, so you have to lay the case flat on its side to proceed. Once that’s done, the drive sits flush against the bottom panel, which means you can forget about L-shaped Serial ATA connectors. The Case Warmer’s Asus mobo only came with L-shaped SATA cables, so I had to grab some straight SATA cables from an old Gigabyte motherboard box. Ugh. Really, you’re probably much better off using a 2.5″ to 3.5″ bay adapter than bothering with the Three Hundred Two’s SSD bays—or, you know, just duct-taping the thing somewhere.

All things considered, the Three Hundred Two feels much rougher around the edges—figuratively speaking, that is—than the 200R. Some parts are designed better, but the installation process feels more labor-intensive and less comfortable. Coming to that realization was a little disappointing for me, since this is an otherwise very well-built case, and I have fond memories of Antec’s Sonata and P180 enclosures. The Three Hundred Two just isn’t as good.

Our testing methods

We’re now going to see how the Carbide Series 200R and Three Hundred Two stack up in our temperature and noise level tests. We already introduced our Case Warmer parts on page one, but here’s a more detailed run-down of the components we used:

Processor Intel Core i7-2600K
Motherboard Asus P8Z77-V LE Plus
Memory 4GB Kingston HyperX DDR3 SDRAM at 1333MHz
Graphics card XFX Radeon HD 7870 Black Edition
Sound card Asus Xonar DG
Storage Samsung 830 Series 128GB

Samsung Spinpoint F3 1TB

Asus Blu-ray combo

Power supply Corsair HX750W 750W
CPU cooler Thermaltake Frio
OS Windows 8 Pro

We’d like to thanks Asus, Corsair, Kingston, Intel, Samsung, Thermaltake, and XFX for supplying all of this excellent hardware.

We tested using the following applications:

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

Temperatures and noise levels

We’ve been testing cases in essentially the same way for years. This time, we figured we’d try something a little different. Instead of doing simple spot measurements, we used AIDA64 to keep track of temperatures for individual system components (the processor, GPU, motherboard, and storage drives) throughout a 40-minute period.

We left the system idle at the Windows 8 desktop for 10 minutes, then fired up the Heaven GPU benchmark and left it running by itself for 10 minutes. We then added a Prime95 CPU torture test to the mix and left it running, together with the Heaven benchmark, for 10 minutes. Finally, we stopped both tests and let the system cool down for the final 10-minute stretch.

Here are the results, plotted as lines over time. You can click the buttons below the graph to see temperatures for the different components:


Even with its fans set to run at the lower speed, the Three Hundred Two clearly does a better job of keeping components cool under load than the 200R. Not only that, but as the GPU graph demonstrates, temperatures return to their pre-load levels quicker in the Antec case. Even the SSD runs a little cooler in the Three Hundred Two, despite the fact that the 200R has a fan blowing right behind the drive. Perhaps the Corsair case’s plastic cage is trapping some of the heat. To be fair, though, neither the solid-state drive nor the hard drive run particularly hot in either enclosure.

The plots above depict broad trends, but we can also show you some exact numbers. The bar chart below shows the minimum temperatures from the idle and cooldown parts of the run. It also shows the highest temperatures recorded during the two load tests.


Both our Core i7-2600K and our Radeon HD 7870 Black Edition ran about five degrees hotter in the Carbide than in the Three Hundred Two at the lower fan setting. In the case of the Radeon, the temperature increase was a little scary. 85°C is quite warm, even for a top-of-the-line GPU. We’ve seen some older graphics cards run close to 100°C on an open test bench, though, so we’re probably not witnessing anything out of the ordinary here. Besides, since these are budget enclosures, the Three Hundred Two and the 200R are likely to accommodate cheaper and less power-hungry graphics cards.

What about noise levels? We used our TES-52 digital sound level meter to measure those.


At the lower fan setting, the Antec Three Hundred Two manages lower temperatures and lower noise levels from the side and top compared to the 200R. Not bad at all. The 200R is quieter when our noise level meter is positioned at the front, though. And the Three Hundred Two’s “high” fan speed setting doesn’t offer a good compromise between cooling performance and noise.

In the grand scheme of things, the differences in noise levels between the two cases are fairly small. These enclosures also sound similar to the naked ear at idle—they both emit a soft, innocuous whoosh, which is very easy to tune out. That whoosh gets more intense under load, but it’s not disagreeable either on the 200R or on the Three Hundred Two at the lower fan preset. (The higher preset makes the Three Hundred Two sound like a roaring jet engine under load.)

Unfortunately, the Three Hundred Two loses points because of its top fan. With the slide switch set to the “low” setting, the top fan consistently refused to start when the system booted up cold. Apparently, our motherboard just wasn’t giving it enough juice at the default fan regulation setting. That problem can be worked around if you flip the switch to the “high” setting and then back to “low” after startup, but you’re not going to want to do that at every bootup. Tweaking the motherboard’s fan profile may work, as well, if your board allows for it. Some do not.

Conclusions

The Carbide Series 200R is a very impressive case. Antec has many years of experience offering inexpensive enclosures to budget buyers, and its Three Hundred is practically legendary at this point. Yet Corsair, with its first attempt in this price range, has managed to offer something more compelling overall than even the Three Hundred’s new-and-improved successor.

Corsair Carbide Series 200R

November 2012

Now, the 200R doesn’t do everything perfectly. Its hard-drive bays feel a little flimsy, and its cooling performance lags a bit behind that of the Three Hundred Two. I wish the 2.5″ and 3.5″ bays faced the same direction, and it would be great if the side panels went on more easily when the enclosure is sitting vertically. Despite all of those small flaws, however, the 200R feels more like a proper enthusiast case than a concession to tight budgets. Really, it does.

I’ve already detailed the pros and cons of these enclosures extensively, but my overall, residual impression is pretty telling. Building a PC inside the 200R was actually enjoyable. I had fun doing it. Completing the same process inside the Three Hundred Two, I felt frustration more often than joy. Oversights like the misplaced SSD bay behind the motherboard and the bizarre expansion bay fastening mechanism are just plain annoying, and I can’t think of a good justification for them. The Three Hundred Two does have a few saving graces, like extra 3.5″ bays and marginally superior cooling capabilities, but I don’t think they make up for its faults.

If I were building a budget gaming rig for myself, I’d definitely go with the 200R. Thus, I’m giving the 200R our TR Editor’s Choice award. I wish the contest were closer—I wish both of these cases were deserving of a recommendation, and budget shoppers had a choice between two equally excellent solutions with different mixes of pros and cons. In reality, however, the contest isn’t close. Corsair has clearly raised the bar for what one should expect from a budget enclosure, and other manufacturers will have to follow in its foosteps.

Comments closed
    • ashley01x93
    • 7 years ago
    • just brew it!
    • 7 years ago

    I wonder how effective the second front fan mount on the Corsair is, given that the fan will be right behind a solid panel (since the front air intakes are off to the sides).

    Looks like Antec made some really odd design decisions. Besides the bizarre SSD bays, I am left scratching my head as to why you’d want to put a side fan underneath the motherboard tray.

    I’ve seen that strange PCI slot bracket mechanism before — some of HPs mid-tower cases use something similar.

      • Chrispy_
      • 7 years ago

      [url=https://techreport.com/gallery/img.x?sz=gallery_full&id=61995<]That 2nd front intake for the Corsair fan looks like it has plenty of breathing holes to me.[/url<] The motherboard backplate intake is just nuts though. It's so stupid I can't even thing of a suitably sacastic quip about it's uselessness.....

        • just brew it!
        • 7 years ago

        That’s the first front intake. Article says “There’s a second front fan mount, which Corsair hides under the front bezel.” It seems to me this would put the intake side of the fan very close to the back side of the (solid) front bezel, restricting the airflow quite a bit.

          • Chrispy_
          • 7 years ago

          Oh, I see – you mean the lower one. The intake on that is probably not the issue, I’d say the greatest bottleneck to airflow would be that the exhaust side is butted right up against the drive cages which are barely perforated.

          My guess would be that the airflow there is compromised and that the intake exists solely for people that want to ensure cool-running disks if the whole cage is full of high-capacity 7200RPM drives. Certainly you’re not going to see large CFM values from that fan.

            • just brew it!
            • 7 years ago

            IOW all that 2nd fan will likely do is stir the air around a bit down by the drive bays. Which will still help hard drive temps some, but probably won’t contribute much to overall case airflow.

      • derFunkenstein
      • 7 years ago

      A fan behind the CPU socket could, I suppose, help keep things cooler at lower fan speeds overall? I dunno, that does seem a little weird.

      • brookespl091
      • 7 years ago
    • credible
    • 7 years ago

    I think you have just helped me make my choice for my 2 boys, I liked the understated look of the corsair as well, they both have all you need in most respects.

    • revparadigm
    • 7 years ago

    I have the Antec 302 and I am kinda puzzled by the smell you claimed when opening the box for the first time. Mine didn’t stink like that at all. Plus mounting the SSD on the bottom like that is kinda silly in light of buying a mounting bracket for just a few bucks solves that with my Samsung 830.

    • shalmon
    • 7 years ago

    20mm of video card clearance
    one additional fan mount

    unless i’m missing something….there doesn’t appear to be a lot of difference between the 200r and
    the 300r?

    [url<]http://www.corsair.com/us/pc-cases/carbide-series-pc-case/carbide-series-300r-compact-pc-gaming-case.html[/url<]

    • Chrispy_
    • 7 years ago

    MicroATX please.

    Only the most stubborn and hardcore enthusiasts are struggling to exceed the 6 SATA ports and four PCIe slots on a typical mATX board.

    This site is all about the in-depth microstuttering and low-value prospect of dual-GPU solutions so you’ve got a doubly-hard time selling us on full-ATX these days.

      • derFunkenstein
      • 7 years ago

      I agree. I just wish there were midrange mATX cases that didn’t look like poop. As far as I can tell there are uber-cheap and uber-fancy and not much in the middle worth looking at.

        • JustAnEngineer
        • 7 years ago

        I keep coming back to the Antec NSK3480 as one of the most compact options for Micro-ATX systems with full-height graphics cards. It’s nothing fancy to look at and its five year old design could [b<]definitely[/b<] use some updated drive mounting options, but it's a solid case that gets the job done in a small volume. [url<]http://www.antec.com/product.php?id=704878&pid=7[/url<] P.S.: It's wide enough to accept any massive CPU heatsink that Krogoth wants to install. P.P.S.: I'll probably try the Silverstone Temjin TJ08-E in my next build.

      • Krogoth
      • 7 years ago

      MicroATX boards typically don’t have the clearance space around the CPU socket to accommodate some of the larger aftermarket HSFs. They can also be tricky if you want to throw in a SLI-CF on a stick card.

        • Chrispy_
        • 7 years ago

        There’s definitely still a place for full-ATX cases, but the full-ATX market is nearly saturated, whilst most people would be happily served by mATX (or even mITX) yet don’t buy one because of limited choice.

        • flip-mode
        • 7 years ago

        That clearance comment is just flatly false.

          • MadManOriginal
          • 7 years ago

          Like many of Krogoth’s post, the entire post is false 🙂

        • derFunkenstein
        • 7 years ago

        There are plenty of options for big HSFs on mATX boards. I have a Hyper 212+ on my board.

      • Kurotetsu
      • 7 years ago

      I have a microATX system and I still threw it into an ATX case. Mainly because of the expandability, space and easier cable management. ATX cases in general just have more thought put into them than most mATX cases.

      • flip-mode
      • 7 years ago

      Agreed. mATX love is much needed. Silverstone TJ08-e – is there a better mATX case than that?

        • insulin_junkie72
        • 7 years ago

        It’s slightly cheaper brother the PS07 might be offended by that remark, since the 2x120mm fan configuration is more desirable to many noise-conscious folks over the hit-and-miss 180mm fan of the TJ08-E.

        More proven options for changing out the 120mm fans, whereas the selection of 180mm fans is much more limited.

      • dmjifn
      • 7 years ago

      I agree on the sentiment that atx motherboards and the full-sized PC is unnecessary nowadays, so +1 there.

      Personally, I struggle with matx cases though. Anymore, I am annoyed with how much room the use on the desktop – at least ones accepting full height cards and heat sinks. I retired my Lian Li PC A03 (31L) for a Silverstone SG03 (23L) and it’s still too large for my preference. They’re both nice cases but in my way. I might do a shallow depth HTPC desktop case next… or give up and go mini-itx.

      On the other hand, if it’s on the floor, I’d prefer an atx case. They’re slightly easier to reach and to work in. I just have trouble see matx cases as being a very happy medium.

      • shaq_mobile
      • 7 years ago

      I havent built a full ATX machine for a long time… never really thought about it though. I suppose its still nice to have a roomy case. I guess that makes it even more important to review those nasty little ATX cases. There are a few cases out there that are traps, in the most admiral ackbar sense.

      [url<]http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16811112222[/url<] That one, for example, is a terrible product disguised by its sleek brushed metal and decent reviews. However, it's actually about as convenient as using a minifridge for your case and has poor design, so that it's fairly easy to warp the case. My friends affectionately named it "Fridge Vader". It overheats, has terrible cable management, can't fit hard drives with the (stock) rear vent fan and has a terrible optical drive install setup. I stepped over it one day and actually bent the entire corner when my pant leg got caught on the edge, simply because they didn't place the fastening screws closer to the corner edge. There's nothing positive about this case. Unfortunately, microATX cases aren't reviewed often enough.

    • MKEGameDesign
    • 7 years ago

    I get that the looks are polarizing and it doesn’t have front USB 3.0, but I love my HAF 912. It sits right in this $60 price bracket, is really solidly constructed, and has a well designed modular HDD cage.

    I’ve added two extra fans to handle hotter components and I can run Prime95 and Unigine all day and not notice it too badly.

    Highly recommend that case and wish more sites would bring it up when talking about this bracket.

    • derFunkenstein
    • 7 years ago

    Putting those four SSD bays so close together would make for some incredibly difficult cable if you wanted to use any more than two of them side by side. Most PSUs with multiple SATA connectors on a “branch” would require a ton of bending to get them all plugged in. Or else get a 1 Molex to 2 SATA adapter separately.

    edit: talking about the 200R there. Still, better than the 300 II.

      • flip-mode
      • 7 years ago

      In a pinch:
      [url<]http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16812400046&Tpk=N82E16812400046[/url<] In a tighter pinch: [url<]http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16812189190[/url<]

        • derFunkenstein
        • 7 years ago

        That first link is really useful for someone who wants lots of solid state storage in the Corsair. Cool beans. 😀

    • poohbah10
    • 7 years ago

    By coincidence, I am building a new system with nearly identical specifications (Newegg had the 2600K on sale for 269USD). I was looking for a case and this recommendation was timely, especially given the discount and free shipping at Newegg today.

    If I win the latest video card drawing, I’ll even have the same class of video card (not that I am anticipating a win — didn’t win the Powerball, either!).

    Followup:
    All my parts arrived, and the build in the 200R was exceptionally smooth. Cabling was a breeze (even the power/reset/LED connection, since I have a mATX board).

    The case seems quiet, too, although the use of an SSD helps. The power LED is really bright white. Unfortunately, it’s at eye-level at my desk and very distracting; I’ll probably end up disconnecting it.

    • arkhanist
    • 7 years ago

    One question about the Corsair 200R:

    [i<]Incidentally, the case comes with a special USB 3.0 connector designed to mate with newfangled motherboard headers. That's great if you're using a newer mobo, but it's bad news if, like me, you've got something a little older that doesn't have the right pin-out on the circuit board. Since there's no adapter in the box, we were forced to leave the front-panel USB ports unplugged—frustrating, even if one can (kind of) forgive Corsair for not accommodating outdated hardware.[/i<] Is it not the standard 19 pin usb 3 header? I'm thinking of recommending this case to a friend planning a budget build. I note you're using what looks like an Asus P8Z77 board, which should have the 19-pin socket - the blue one by the 24-pin ATX power socket - they're pretty universal since the 6 series boards, though not so much on the 5 series where USB 3 was a bit of a hack with 3rd party chips.

      • ch3rub43l
      • 7 years ago

      P8Z77-V LE Plus (I have the same board; Single vertically mounted SATA connector is distinguishing). You’re exactly right.

      • Cyril
      • 7 years ago

      Oops. You’re right. Like an idiot, I was looking for the connector at the bottom of the board, and I forgot to check the manual.

      I’ve just updated that paragraph in the review. Everything else, including our conclusion, is unaffected.

    • MadManOriginal
    • 7 years ago

    Know what would be great? If case manufacturers kept their micro ATX case designs straightforward by just taking cases like these and lopping off some vertical inches. I’ve been using mATX for almost 5 years now and haven’t missed anything for not having full ATX motherboards. So, take a case like these, remove three expansion slots, and some combination of 5.25″ bays and 3.5″ bays (my preference would be to have 2 5.25″ bays :)), and have just one front intake fan position, and be done with it. Maybe we’d have to give up the fancy behind the motherboard cable routing but *shrug* just get some cable tie-downs along the edge of the motherboard and it would be ok.

    Ideally they would be made less deep too but then it’s not as simple a design job I suppose. The Carbide certainly has an inch or two of depth to spare, hard drives could be mounted on the bottom of the case in front of the PSU as well as in front. The Three Hundred Two has some extra depth as well.

    • Bensam123
    • 7 years ago

    After doing quite a few computer builds, you know I’ve figured out cases don’t need to be overly symapthetic to initial installations. It’s played up a lot in the article, but that’s because there isn’t a whole lot else to cases. The only real major flaw I see with the Antec case is the 2.5″ drive support, which definitely is comical. The performance series has bays that fit both 3.5 and 2.5 drives, I’m surprised that hasn’t migrated over.

    Overall I’d say these cases aren’t worth buying. The Antec from the inside looks like the typical layout of a couple hundred other cases on Newegg. The Corsair case doesn’t differ that much.

    The one thing I’ll fault both of them for is vented sides to the cases. This is a noise issue. So you either have a fan mounted there which generates noise or you don’t have anything there, which still allows noies to permeate outside of the case from the vented holes. Vents on the top of the case aren’t really a issue as you aren’t usually standing above your case or within a conical area of it. The front of the case is usually masked, like in the Corsair which diffuses sound from the front fans. Of course the rear fans you don’t really need to worry about as you aren’t standing behind them.

    I’ve been around side vented cases before and I steer clear of them. Unless you hide your computer inside a desk or below it, it definitely makes a huge difference. I personally would never set a computer on the floor or right above it as I’ve seen what happens to the inside of those, especially when mixed with pets (yay vacuums). Filters can only do so much to mitigate this as well.

    The other point I’ll fault both of them for is the lack of a side window. While cable routing is nice, it’s largely pointless if people can’t see the inside of your case. I understand it helps with air flow, but that is really trying to make a case for it, unless you have a dozen or so hard drive and a few graphics card in the case it’s really not going to matter.

    The Corsair 650D was pretty close to what I would consider a ideal case, but Corsair has always dropped the ball as far as case windows go. The few that are on their nice looking cases are tiny. Lian-Li has stopped carrying case windows almost completely (at least as far as Newegg listings go). That leaves the Antec Performance series, which does look pretty snazzy, but Antec cases are always huge.

    Honestly I wouldn’t recommend anymore then a cheap case unless it comes down to those specific few. The Corsair cases seem to keep getting cheesier and cheesier the cheaper you go. The performance series or the 650D is really the way to go. And while Lian-Li cases are pretty darn sexy, they haven’t changed a whole lot. The Lian-Li B10 was pretty awesome, but then Newegg stopped carrying it.

    Another note, a 125w processor should be used to really ‘stress’ these cases. Such as a 8150 or a 8350. A duel or quad sli/crossfire setup should also be considered.

      • Bensam123
      • 7 years ago

      Actually I haven’t looked at Lian-Li in awhile, it’d be nice if TR reviewed some of their more exotic cases where they change the orientation of the PSU or attempt to make them really quiet. It’s been quite some time since TR reviewed anything from Lian-Li despite them being at the forefront of aluminum case design.

      For instance the PC-B12, PC-V650, PC-B10, and PC-A55.

      The same with the Antec Performance series besides the p280.

    • End User
    • 7 years ago

    Congrats on being featured over at Ars!

    [url<]http://arstechnica.com/gadgets/2012/11/corsair-vs-antec-the-search-for-a-really-good-70-pc-case/[/url<]

      • chuckula
      • 7 years ago

      He got Simulcast in 3D!

      • willyolio
      • 7 years ago

      and already more comments on Ars than here… =/

    • bluepiranha
    • 7 years ago

    Good review Cyril.

    I think you would have been slightly better served by the Antec ONE. I moved my family’s Q6600 mATX rig into it a couple weeks ago, and it at least skips over some of the pitfalls of the aging Three Hundred design, while costing quite a bit less (about US$10 in my currency). Its interior is even painted all black and has larger cut-outs and routing holes in the motherboard tray – not something the Three Hundred or any of its spawn can claim. It comes with a USB3.0-to-USB2.0 adapter and better SSD bays, too.

    [quote<]"The assembly process is a little thornier with the Three Hundred Two than with the 200R...and once you get the side panel off, you have to fish motherboard standoffs out of the included plastic bag and install them manually. There are no nubs to help position the motherboard, either. It's up to you to keep the thing in place while bolting it down. That process is rendered even more awkward by the top fan, which limits clearance around the top edge of the board. To get those last screws in, I had to drop them on the circuit board and coax them into their screw holes with my screwdriver."[/quote<] The above is still true with the Antec ONE, though. The biggest headache I ran into assembly was actually lining up the top-corner motherboard screws and bolting down the motherboard. Screwing down two additional brass stand-offs for mATX into the motherboard tray was also tough, because they were surprisingly reluctant to embed themselves without the aid of a 5mm hex socket wrench. The only things you lose out on with the ONE compared to the Three Hundred Two are replaceable expansion slot covers (only one out of the seven is replaceable, the rest are breakout), a slightly smaller 120mm top fan, no fan mount behind the motherboard, and slightly less space behind the motherboard tray - although the side panels are bowed outward toward the rear for clearance.

    • mockingbird
    • 7 years ago

    Anyone know what the thickness is of the steel on these cases, specifically the Corsair (Which I think is the more attractive one)?

      • albundy
      • 7 years ago

      its a bit stronger than paper, lol

        • insulin_junkie72
        • 7 years ago

        Yeah, this is starting to get down to the price point where enough corners have to be cut on the materials where one has to stop thinking in terms of 0.8mm++ thickness SECC steel and start thinking in terms of “2X Reynolds Wrap” thickness 😛

        (Although the 300x series is built fairly solidly for its price point, whatever its other faults; Antec generally gets that part right)

          • mockingbird
          • 7 years ago

          Chenbro mid-towers are less than $50 and 0.8mm steel. They don’t have many bells and whistles, but I don’t really need top mounted fans, bottom mounted PSU, case windows or LEDs, or interior painting. Just give me a nice, respectable looking mid tower with front and back 120mm fans, and some venting in the side panel, but not so much venting that I can see inside the case.

          I don’t understand why Antec and Thermaltake hire ricers on their design teams.

            • insulin_junkie72
            • 7 years ago

            Off the top of my head, the Zalman Z9 has 0.8mm steel, too, so some are out there at the $50-$60 price range both the Antec and Corsair can sometimes be found at, but most of that price range seems to be 0.5-0.6mm even sticking to the “name” brands.

            Haven’t seen the 200R in person yet, but the Corsair 300 struck mre as disappointingly flimsy for the price charged (before the recent rash of deep discounts on that model).

            My 5-year old P182 is getting pretty beat up, and I’ve downsized the number of components where I wouldn’t mind picking up a sub-70ish smaller case – understanding my P182 is a different quality class and tempering expectations accordingly. Alas, most of what I’ve seen “in the flesh” makes even the old CoolerMaster Centurion 5 I had prior to the P182 seem really well built by comparison.

            • mockingbird
            • 7 years ago

            The Z9 is a little too flashy for me. And check out the side panel, all those vent holes must make the computer benchmark much faster. Add some LEDs, and the overclock is guaranteed!

            The Antec Sonata series is pretty close to the ideal case. The Elite has some venting on the right side, which is odd considering that the airflow is obstructed by the inner chassis, and the Proto has no vent holes on the panels at all, which I find appalling.

            I also don’t like the hard drive mounts. They’re not removeable, so the front intake fan’s intake (If there is one, I imagine that the Sonatas have a spot in the front for a 120mm fan) is obstructed by them.

            Fix all this Antec, plus get rid of the swinging door in the front, and we’d have a near-perfect case. Wouldn’t hurt to go 1.0mm steel either.

            • insulin_junkie72
            • 7 years ago

            Well, I didn’t say I thought the Z9 was ATTRACTIVE 😛

            Zalman does also get bonus points from me for including rubber grommets for mounting HDDs at that cheap of a price point.

            Points deducted for the side windows and vent, though.

    • mkk
    • 7 years ago

    Unfortunately neither of these two are so inexpensive that their drawbacks makes it worth saving a little compared to a decent case. If one is okay with crap like this then there are cheaper alternatives.

    • yogibbear
    • 7 years ago

    If you were on that tight a budget, ditch the frio, get one of these:
    [url<]http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16811352020[/url<] For the one part of the PC you have to look at forever, and can upgrade within for forever (assuming if some future SSD-esque thing were to come out that the case wasn't compatible with that you could duct tape anywhere safely), I'd much rather outlay $100 than $60 if it means the case is nicer to look at, easier to upgrade, and better thermals/noise.

    • Chrispy_
    • 7 years ago

    As expected, Antec have rested upon their laurels for [i<]far[/i<] too long and are now well behind the competition. It's time for them to do something amazing or let Fractal, Corsair and Bitfenix do their old job instead. Oh yeah, and [i<]that smell[/i<]; I think it's the dessicant paper Antec uses, but it's AWFUL.

    • toastie
    • 7 years ago

    FYI for US folks – the Carbide 200R is on sale at Newegg today (28th) for $50 shipped. There’s also a $20 rebate card. Coincidence? I think not.

      • Waco
      • 7 years ago

      It was on sale just before I wrote my review of it as well…so it looks like it’s going on and off of sale every few weeks.

    • grantmeaname
    • 7 years ago

    A novella and a case review! Whoa, busy week!

    • End User
    • 7 years ago

    I was looking at the 200R for my budget Linux build but the lack of filters highlighted in your article (I’m looking at the bottom 140mm fan vent) has made me pause. I think I might wait a bit while I save my pennies for a 550D.

      • brucethemoose
      • 7 years ago

      What’s wrong with a fractal design define R4?

      Best case at that price point IMO, the 550D is overpriced.

        • End User
        • 7 years ago

        The top mounted ports on the R4 are a deal breaker for me (the case will be under a desk).

        I prefer the look of the 550D (inside and out) to the R4. The removable acoustic panels/filters on the 550D are a nice touch.

        • shalmon
        • 7 years ago

        or the arc midi?

        [url<]http://fractal-design.com/?view=product&category=2&prod=57[/url<] for all of you on here considering the cases in this review for future builds, i'd add it to the list to consider. ironically enough i built a system for my brother in august and i had it narrowed down to three potential cases: the 300R, the 300v2, and the arc midi. all 3 are black all 3 aren't all blinged out all 3 aren't huge (are mid size atx rather than full size) all 3 have usb3.0 front panel support all 3 have 2.5" hd support and most importantly (for me anyways), all 3 have side mounted hard drives...something that seems to be hard to find these days- i'll never buy a case that doesn't have that feature again. although if memory recalls the fractal case is more expensive. i ended up going with the 300r because it was smaller and cheaper than the other two. having said that, the old lady picked the arc midi for her build not too long ago.

      • MadManOriginal
      • 7 years ago

      You can always look at add-on fan filters which come in standard sizes, or get really creative and make something yourself whether it’s a filter or a blocker.

        • End User
        • 7 years ago

        Good point. I’ve done it in the past. Hmmmmmm.

    • Steel
    • 7 years ago

    You’ve hit on most of the problems with the Antec, bit I’d like to add one more: vibration noise. Mine has started buzzing from the vibration of the hard drives, either from the face plate, side panels or both. I tried to tighten things up a bit the last time I had it open and it seems to have quieted it some but I’m guessing the noise will be back eventually.

    About the SSD mounting behind the motherboard, two screws should be enough since you don’t really have to worry about vibration from the drive itself.

      • yogibbear
      • 7 years ago

      Could you not make some rubber washers and stick them in between your HDD’s and the case?

        • Steel
        • 7 years ago

        The rails are too tight a fit for that to work. I suppose if it bugs me enough I can move everything to my old Sonata and its rubber mounted hard drives, but then I lose the built in USB3.

          • arkhanist
          • 7 years ago

          Assuming you’ve enough 5.25″ bays free, you could always use something like [url=http://www.nexustek.nl/NXS-doubletwin_hdd_vibration_killer_black_and_white.htm<]these 5.25" to 3.5" rubber mounts[/url<] - there's a bunch of different designs about, and I've used something similar in the past on a cheap case which helped cut down vibration quite a bit.

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This