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Our testing methods
Here are the specifications of our test system:

Processor Intel Core i5-6700K
Motherboard ASRock Z170 Extreme7+
Memory 16GB (2x8GB) G.Skill Trident Z DDR4-3000
Graphics card Gigabyte GeForce GTX 1080 Xtreme Gaming
Storage Two Kingston HyperX 480GB SSDs
WD Black 1TB 7200 RPM hard drive
Power supply Seasonic SS-660XP2
CPU cooler Cooler Master MasterLiquid Pro 280
OS Windows 10 Pro

Our thanks to Intel, ASRock, G.Skill, Gigabyte, Kingston, WD, and Cooler Master for their contributions to our test system. Our thanks to Corsair for providing the cases we're testing today, as well. We'll be pitting the Air 740 against Corsair's own Carbide Series 600C for comparison purposes.

Our case-testing cycle consists of the following phases:

  • 10 minutes idling at the Windows 10 desktop
  • 10 minutes running the Prime95 CPU torture test
  • 10 minutes running the Prime95 CPU torture test and the Unigine Heaven GPU torture test
  • 10 minutes idling at the Windows 10 desktop

Cooling performance
Here are the results of our thermal tests, plotted over time:

And here are the minimum and maximum temperatures reached during each testing phase:

The Air 740 takes a slight edge over its 600C cousin in our thermal tests, for the most part. That's not a surprise given its conventional layout and more open design. Although they trade a degree or two here and there, both of these cases turn in excellent thermal performance with this version of our test system. Let's see if the noise levels of each case reveal a more clear-cut winner.

Noise levels

Both at idle and under load, the Air 740 and its 600C cousin turn in admirably low dBA numbers. On the whole, the Air 740 is slightly quieter under load, while the 600C has a slight edge at idle.

As always, though, those absolute numbers don't tell the whole story about how these cases sound with our test system inside. For some reason, the Air 740 seems to resonate with predominantly bassy tones from our Cooler Master MasterLiquid Pro 280 CPU cooler and its twin 140-mm fans, almost like a speaker cabinet. Despite its sometimes-lower dBA readings on our sound meter under load, the Air 740 makes more perceptible noise in operation thanks to this resonance. The 600C is much better at suppressing those low tones.

The 740's performance also isn't helped by the rather chuggy-sounding Corsair AF140L fans common to both it and the Carbide Series 600C. While the 600C's upside-down main chamber and mostly solid side and top panels do a good job of suppressing the noise from those fans, the Air 740 has no such insulation—its main chamber is largely open to the elements. That openness allows more of the noise character of the fans (and the rest of the system) to escape.

The resonance issues we noted with our Cooler Master cooler won't arise with every possible system build in the Air 740, of course, but it's worth noting for folks trying to cool high-end CPUs like the Core i7-6700K in our test system. A different cooler with a less bassy pair of fans attached might be just the ticket for achieving a quiet system in the Air 740, since the case's load noise levels are still promising. A smoother-sounding set of 140-mm fans might also help, either in the box from Corsair or as an aftermarket set. For a $150 case, we think Corsair ought to consider the former option. Corsair might also consider an Air 740Q with solid side panels and more noise-dampening material inside.