Here are the results of my cooling tests, plotted over time:
And here are the minimum and maximum temperatures from each phase of testing:
So, uh. Wow. What a difference a couple of fans make. For some components—namely the motherboard, CPU, SSD, and hard drive—the load temperatures don't even exceed the idle temps I gathered with the Air 240's gelded configuration. Cooler Master's Elite 110 is left in the dust here, with temperatures ranging about 5-10°C higher for just about every component at idle and under load.
All told, this is excellent performance. The Air 240's dual-chamber design really comes into its own with all of the stock fan mounts populated.
Another big question left unanswered by my initial review was how noisy the Air 240 gets with three or more 120-mm fans spinning away inside. I used the iOS app dB meter to quantify the amount of noise that the extra fans add to the Air 240's noise output. Here are some charts for comparison:
The Air 240 does get louder with more fans installed, as you might expect. The differences are most pronounced under load, especially on the right side of the case. Even so, these results are in line with the other small-form-factor cases I've tested, and the Air 240 delivers these numbers with the most fans of any case I've worked with yet.
Getting the best subjective noise character out of the Air 240's new configuration did take a little trial and error. My first instinct was to crank the Fan Mate's dial as low as it could go, but the Cooler Master Silencio fans emitted a distinct rising and falling pitch at this setting, which was annoying. Adding a bit of speed with the Fan Mate smoothed out this siren-like quality completely without making the case appreciably louder. That tradeoff's OK with me.
Otherwise, the Air 240's stock fans are pretty well-mannered. The worst noise they produce is a low-pitched, slightly tonal whoosh at speed, which is noticeable but not distracting. The Cooler Master Silencio 120 fans on the Nepton 120XL have a bit of a higher pitch when turned up. They're more tonal than the Corsair fans, too, and slightly more distracting.
So, there you have it. With all of its stock fan mounts populated, the Carbide Series Air 240 delivers superb cooling performance. Just as importantly, it delivers this performance without getting too much louder than it did in my initial tests.
I'm pleased to see that the Air 240 performs so well on the cooling front, because it has many other virtues. There's plenty of room for longer, high-performance graphics cards, and system building is a painless process compared to the other small-form-factor chassis I've used. Although the Air 240 is targeted at microATX builders, my experience demonstrates that it works well for Mini-ITX mobos, too. The one sticking point for enthusiasts might be the limited clearance for tower-style CPU coolers, but the proliferation of closed-loop liquid setups lessens the sting somewhat.
Now that we have a complete picture of the Carbide Series Air 240's performance, I can safely say that it ticks all of the boxes on my small-form-factor checklist. As a result, I've decided to revise my original verdict: I'm now happy to call this case TR Recommended.