Corsair’s Carbide Series 600C is an ATX full tower with a twist. Corsair designed this case with an “inverse ATX” interior layout, meaning the motherboard tray is on the left side of the case and the power supply is mounted at the top. Corsair claims this approach keeps the hardware inside the case cooler. Along with the inverted design, Corsair set out to create a “beautifully minimal modern layout” that’s easy to build in.
I do like the 600C’s sleek, minimalist exterior design. The front door that conceals the case’s 5.25″ drive bays is the only break in its steel front panel. The removable front panel hides a dust filter and mounts for two 120-mm or 140-mm fans, positioned to move air directly over the hottest parts of the PC. Corsair populates the 600C’s fan mounts with two 140-mm fans from the factory. Radiators as large as 280mm can be installed behind the front panel, too. A gap between the front panel and the main body of the case provides some room for airflow to the front fans.
The attention-grabbing right-side window gives us a full view of the system inside. The door panel opens effortlessly with a pull-to-release latch, allowing the door to swing all the way open on a pair of hinges. Builders can also lift the panel off its hinges to remove it entirely.
The front-panel I/O block is positioned at the top of the case, which might make reaching those ports easier for users who place their PCs on the floor. The steel top panel features two USB 3.0 ports, two USB 2.0 ports, headphone and microphone jacks, the power button, and the reset button. The top panel also houses a three-speed switch for the case’s built-in fan controller. This controller comes with three headers for case fans. While we prefer motherboard fan control when it’s available, it’s good to see Corsair has the back of folks without capable mobos.
The rear of the case looks just like a standard ATX full tower once we get used to its inverted layout. The left panel echoes the minimalist front panel. It’s a sleek steel cover that’s affixed to the case with a pair of thumb screws. A 140-mm exhaust fan moves air away from the CPU socket area. This fan mount is also compatible with 140-mm radiators.
Turning the case over reveals mounts for two 140-mm or three 120-mm fans. The 600C’s bottom panel can also hold a radiator up to 360 mm long. A dust filter for the bottom fan mounts slides out from the rear of the case. While we appreciate the dust filter, the fact that it has to be removed from the rear of the case is less than ideal with a system inside. The 600C’s unassuming feet fall in line with the rest of the case, completing the streamlined design.
Here is the full list of specifications for the Corsair Carbide Series 600C for easy comparison with our other case reviews:
|Corsair Carbide Series 600C|
|Type||ATX full tower|
|Dimensions (W x H x D)||17.9″ x 10.2″ x 21″ (454 x 260 x 535 mm)|
|Supported motherboards||Mini-ITX, microATX, ATX, EATX (12″ x 10.6″)|
|3.5″ drive mounts||2|
|2.5″ drive mounts||3|
|5.25″ drive bays||2|
|Fan mounts||2 120-mm or 140-mm front fans
3 120-mm or 2 140-mm bottom fans
1 140-mm rear fan
|Included fans||2 Corsair 140-mm front fans
1 Corsair 140-mm rear fan
|Front panel I/O||2x USB 3.0
2x USB 2.0
3-speed fan controller
|Max. graphics card length||14.5″ (370 mm)|
|Max. CPU cooler height||7.8″ (200 mm)|
|Gap behind motherboard||0.9″ (2.3 cm)|
Newegg sells the Carbide Series 600C for $149.99 right now. That premium price tag means the 600C’s inverted layout will need to perform well in order to make it a compelling value. Let’s take a more in-depth look at the inverted interior now.
Everything appears to be upside-down, Captain
Opening the right-side panel gives us a better look at the plastic cover for the power supply mount and 5.25″ drive bay cover. Below the cover, the six openings on the interior wall offer a variety of paths for cable routing. Only four of these holes include rubber grommets. The rolled edges on the two un-grommeted holes at the bottom of the case should prevent shredded cables, though.
Removing the left-side panel reveals a compact space with seven tool-free drive bays. The three vertical 2.5″ bays have a bit of space between them to route cables down from the power supply, through the grommets, and out to the main chamber. These bays can also be removed if they aren’t needed. The two 3.5″ bays and the power supply mount form the ceiling of the main chamber of the case. Large holes in the floor of those drive bays let them serve as additional cable-routing paths if a drive isn’t installed. The dual 5.25″ drive cage sits in front of the space for power supply cabling.
This side of the case isn’t as roomy as we’d like. While the space measures about 0.9″ at its widest point, the extra width of the 2.5″ drive bays makes them a pinch point. This area also doesn’t have many tie-downs for cable management. Builders can remove any unused 2.5″ cages to make more room for cables, to be fair, but that’s not an appealing option in a case whose room for storage is already limited.
The interior of the 600C seems generally well-thought-out, but a full tower with just two 3.5″ drive bays seems restrictive. While it’s true that hard drives and SSDs are growing denser by the day, builders carrying over lots of storage devices from older builds won’t find a lot of room for them in this big case. Mid-towers like the Fractal Design Define R5 and the Cooler Master MasterCase 5 offer much more flexibility for storage mounting than the 600C does.
Building within the Carbide 600C was straightforward once I became acclimated to the upside-down interior layout. I recommend removing the plastic drive-bay cover while building. Some of the motherboard screws were difficult to access with the bay cover in place. The grommets in the motherboard tray make for easy cable runs to components on the other side of the case. We only ended up with a tiny bit of slack cabling visible through the side-panel window, too.
Cable routing was more difficult on the other side of the motherboard tray. I was forced to partially block one of the 2.5″ bays in order to feed the SATA cables and the power connector for the storage drives. Feeding the cords from the power supply partially blocked one of the 3.5″ drive bays, too. The extra SATA power connectors from our power supply had to be wedged into one of the 2.5″ bays to attach the side panel to the case, which isn’t ideal. Builders who plan on using every storage mount inside the 600C will need to do some careful planning before routing cables. I also recommend placing any storage devices in their bays before making any cable runs.
In my finished build, the four inches or so of open space in front of the motherboard stood empty. Builders planning to use liquid cooling should find plenty of space for a 280-mm radiator stack, though. I had one tense moment standing the case upright, since I was worried about our lengthy GeForce GTX 980 Ti graphics card hanging upside-down. The rear panel of the case held the card solidly in place, though. Beyond our minor issues with cable routing, building in the case was easy and enjoyable. Closing the door and seeing my finished build through the large side-panel window left me feeling more fulfilled by the 600C than many cases I’ve used in the past.
Now that our test system is inside the Carbide Series 600C, let’s see whether the inverted layout helps this case keep its cool.
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.
The Carbide Series 600C’s inverted ATX design, clean styling, metal-clad exterior and huge side window all make quite the impression, especially with a system inside. The 600C also runs quiet and cool, both at idle and under load. So far, so good.
While the 600C does look good on the outside, we’d like to see more room behind the motherboard, more room for storage, and better cable-routing aids in a case this large. Despite its 10.5″ width and full-tower footprint, Corsair leaves just 0.9″ behind the 600C’s motherboard tray for cables. An extra half inch back there would really help. Routing cables inside the 600C was a bit frustrating, too, thanks to the placement of the power supply and cable grommets relative to the case’s two 3.5″ bays and three 3.5″ bays. We ended up partially obstructing two of these drive bays with power cables. Builders might have to plan carefully if they intend to populate every storage bay inside this case.
Once a system is properly set up inside, though, the 600C delivers low noise levels and competitive cooling power. Even if the inverted layout isn’t a revolution for cooling performance, the 600C’s idle noise numbers are among the lowest we’ve seen, and it stays pretty quiet under load, too. Finished systems inside this case are also undeniably distinctive-looking. For the system builder who doesn’t mind living with some cable-routing frustrations, the 600C pays off with good performance and a stunning appearance.
The Carbide Series 600C’s $150 price tag might be the one sticking point on its scorecard. That’s rarefied air for a case these days. When we consider its build quality, performance, and wow factor, though, the 600C feels worth it. Potential buyers will need to decide whether this case’s limited room for storage and cable-routing quirks are things they can live with, but we think most will be able to tolerate those minor issues. All told, we’re comfortable calling this case TR Recommended.