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Corsair's Graphite Series 380T case reviewed

Mini-ITX goes bananas

I recently reviewed Cooler Master's Elite 110 Mini-ITX case, and while I found it suitable for a mid-range gaming PC, I felt that it might leave the enthusiast builder wanting. Today, I'm taking a look at Corsair's latest enthusiast-oriented Mini-ITX enclosure, the Graphite Series 380T. With a built-in fan controller, enough room for high-end components and their accompanying coolers, and aggressive styling, the 380T seems set to play the Ferrari or Lamborghini to the subdued, subcompact Elite 110. Is there substance under all of that style? I'm going to fill 'er up with some high-performance components and find out.

The styling of the case certainly evokes the latest from Maranello and Sant'Agata Bolognese, starting with the eye-scalding black-and-yellow color scheme. The matte yellow panels are made from molded plastic that's secured to a metal frame. I'm a fan of the yellow exterior, but Corsair also offers the 380T in black or white for those with more subdued tastes.

Regardless of the color choice, black metal mesh covers the front and side panels, and a window at the top of each side panel allows for a glimpse of the components inside. The experience is sort of like peering through the transparent cowls on some supercars, and it's heightened by a white internal LED that illuminates the motherboard tray for easy ogling. The included 140-mm intake fan is also studded with four white LEDs in the case's white and yellow incarnations. (Buyers of the black version will get red LEDs.) If all of those diodes aren't enough, there's yet another white LED under the beaky protrusion at the front of the case.

See the carrying handle up top? Corsair affectionately called the 380T the "drink cooler case" in its correspondence with us. While I wouldn't put that moniker to the test, the handle makes the 380T a cinch to carry. Whether as a LAN party box, mobile recording rig, or dorm box, the 380T is built to be moved around.

The front panel includes several buttons and ports. The button on the left controls the speed of fans hooked up to the built-in fan controller, while the one on the right is a large reset button. If the car analogies weren't overt enough yet, the power button could have been taken from the dashboard of any modern car. It might even make you go "vroom" the first time you start up the system—not that I'm speaking from experience. The cluster is rounded out with a pair of USB 3.0 ports, a headphone jack, and a microphone jack.

When the system is turned on, the power and fan-controller buttons light up with white LEDs, as do the USB, headphone, disk, and microphone indicators. It's very slick-looking. As with the intake fan, the black version of the 380T uses red LEDs here, instead.

The rear of the 380T offers the first hint of the dual-level interior design. The power-supply and storage bays get a chamber at the bottom of the case, while the motherboard and expansion are meant to reside up top. I'll explore the interior of the case more thoroughly in a moment.

At the very bottom of the 380T, a pair of plastic feet with thick, full-length rubber pads serve as the case's foundation. The large rubber pads should help to keep any vibration from the 380T's components from reaching floors or desks—a welcome feature.

Here's a table of the Graphite Series 380T's specs, for easy comparison with other cases we've reviewed:

  Corsair Graphite Series 380T
Dimensions (H x W x D) 14.0" x 11.5" x 15.5" (356 x  292 x 393 mm)
Supported motherboards Mini-ITX
Expansion slots 2
3.5"/2.5" drive bays 2
2.5" drive bays 2
Fan mounts 2x 120 mm, 1x 140 mm, or 1x 200 mm (front)
1x 120 mm (rear)
2x 120 mm (side)
Radiator mounts 1x 120 mm (rear)
2x 120 mm or 1x 240 mm (side)
Included fans 1x Corsair 140 mm (front)
1x Corsair 120mm (rear)
Fan controller Headers for 3x 3- or 4-pin fans, 3 speeds controlled by front panel button
Front panel I/O 2x USB 3.0
Max. graphics card length 11.4" (290 mm)
Max. CPU cooler height 5.9" (150 mm)
Max. power supply unit length 6.3" (160 mm)
MSRP $129.99 (black), $139.99 (white or yellow)

Perhaps the best feature of the 380T is its built-in fan controller. Though nothing beats a motherboard with plenty of fan headers and good EFI fan control, most Mini-ITX mobos only have a couple of fan headers: one for the CPU cooler and another for a case fan. Add a closed-loop liquid cooler to your parts list, and both of those motherboard headers will be used up by the CPU cooling fan and pump. Manually controlling case fans using the button on the front panel is a bit inconvenient, but it beats no control at all.

All of these high-end features don't come cheap. In keeping with its exotic bearings, the 380T starts at $129.99 for the all-black version or $139.99 for the white and yellow versions. That's a lot of money for any case, so I'll be judging the 380T by an equally high standard.

Now that we've seen the exterior of the 380T, let's see how Corsair laid out the interior.