Our testing methods
Here are the specifications of our test system:
|Processor||Intel Core i7-6700K|
|Motherboard||ASRock Z170 Extreme7+|
|Memory||16GB (2x8GB) G.Skill Trident Z DDR4-3000|
|Graphics card||Gigabyte GeForce GTX 980 Ti G1 Gaming|
|Storage||OCZ Vector 180 480GB
Samsung Spinpoint F1 750GB HDD
|Power supply||be quiet! Dark Power Pro 11 850W|
|CPU cooler||Cooler Master MasterAir Maker 8|
|OS||Windows 10 Pro|
Our thanks to Corsair for the Carbide Series 600C, and to ASRock, G.Skill, Gigabyte, be quiet!, and Cooler Master for their contributions to our test system.
For this test, I pitted the Carbide Series 600C against Cooler Master's MasterCase Pro 5. For more information about the MasterCase 5, see our review here. I'll be using each case's stock fans in their out-of-the-box positions.
While I was preparing the Carbide Series 600C for testing, I noticed the power supply's exhaust air temperature was surprisingly high under load. That makes sense, since the power supply is the only fan at the top of the case and heat still rises inside the 600C. After a bit of head-scratching, I found that ASRock's fan-control logic was set up to track motherboard temperatures by default, not CPU temperatures. Once I corrected this improper default behavior, power supply temperatures dropped and the noise character of the case improved. We made sure to use CPU temperatures as the fan speed reference point in the MasterCase Pro 5, as well.
I used the following applications in my tests:
Our case test cycle consists of the following phases:
- 10 minutes idling at the Windows desktop
- 10 minutes running the Prime95 Small FFTs CPU torture test
- 10 minutes running Prime95 and the Unigine Heaven GPU benchmark
- 10 minutes of cooldown time at the Windows desktop
Here are the results of our cooling tests, plotted over time:
And here are the minimum and maximum temperatures from each testing phase:
Overall, the Carbide Series 600C's cooling performance is mostly comparable to that of the MasterCase Pro 5. Inside the 600C, our test system idled a few degrees C cooler than it did inside the MasterCase Pro 5, and it also took longer to ramp up to its maximum temperatures. In the most stressful phase of our testing, though, the 600C let our CPU and graphics card reach higher maximum temperatures than the MasterCase did. The GTX 980 Ti ran three degrees C hotter in the 600C, peaking at 74° C—something worth noting, but not anything to worry about.
The Carbide 600C cooled down slower than the MasterCase Pro 5, too. During the ten-minute cooldown period, Corsair's case didn't fully return to its minimum idle temperatures. Our Core i7-6700K reached 33° C, six degrees higher than idle. The motherboard remained seven degrees warmer. Our GTX 980 Ti remained a full 11° C warmer than it was at the start of the test, though that figure can arguably be attributed to its semi-passive cooler that shuts down at idle. It's also worth noting that the delta between idle and cool-down temperatures is partially thanks to the fact that the 600C kept our system cooler at idle to begin with.
With the same test system inside the MasterCase Pro 5, all of our components nearly reached the same minimum temperatures they did at idle. That result could be chalked up to the extensive mesh panels of the MasterCase Pro 5, a design that could allow for better airflow. The solid front and top panels of the 600C might have held warm air inside the case for longer.
All told, the 600C's inverted-ATX design doesn't offer significantly better cooling performance than a traditional ATX tower. If anything, the inverted motherboard tray and rear fan mount might be a disadvantage, thanks to the simple fact that heat rises. ATX cases with traditional layouts often have large fans at the top or rear of the case to deal with this waste heat, but our hunch is that the 600C has to spin its bottom-mounted exhaust fan harder to draw heat away from the components inside. Moving hot air down and out of the case might be more work than moving hot air that's already risen to the top. Even so, the 600C turns in competitive cooling performance numbers.
Here are the noise levels for idle and load for the Carbide 600C and the MasterCase5:
The Carbide Series 600C is remarkably quiet at idle. While I can't call either case loud, Corsair's enclosure produced fewer dBA at almost every test position than the MasterCase Pro 5 did at idle. The MasterCase Pro 5 struggled a bit at concealing the sound from the hard drive motor, too. That sound was practically unnoticeable when our mechanical drive was installed in the 600C.
The Carbide Series 600C stayed about 2.5 dBA quieter on average than the MasterCase Pro 5 did at full load. Although our test equipment could register a difference between these cases, I honestly couldn't say that either case sounded louder than the other. Subjectively, Corsair's case fans sounded better at full blast than the fans in the MasterCase Pro 5, though. The broad-spectrum noise from the 600C didn't distract under load, while the sound from the MasterCase Pro 5 drew my attention to the PC.
Our noise testing also highlighted why it's important to key fan speeds to the appropriate reference temperature in the 600C. When I tied fan speeds to the motherboard temps, the case fans were quieter, but the CPU, GPU, and power supply fans sounded strained and unpleasant. When I keyed the fans to CPU temperatures, the system distributed the work more evenly between the component coolers and the case fans. While that change didn't make a huge difference in absolute noise levels, the character of the noise improved significantly.