Corsair’s $60 Spec-04 TG makes a valiant effort to bring the aesthetic appeal of tempered glass to an affordable price point. The distinctive front panel and edge-to-edge sheet of glass on the side of the case definitely serve to catch the eye and mark this case as a Corsair enclosure.
Unfortunately, the build quality and performance of our Spec-04 didn’t live up to its looks. An especially annoying and intrusive rivet on the rear panel in our particular case prevented me from mounting our closed-loop liquid cooler there, so I had to move the radiator to the front of the case.
Even then, the Spec-04 TG's mesh front panel didn’t seem to allow our CPU cooler to breathe as well as it should have. In combination with the lack of a stock exhaust fan, the vents in the top and rear of the Spec-04 didn’t provide enough passive airflow to keep the system inside cool, causing our Core i7-6700K CPU to bounce off its throttling threshold. Our graphics card also got hotter in the Spec-04 than in any other case I’ve tested so far, and the case’s noise performance wasn’t outstanding, either.
To be fair, I was able to mitigate the case’s hot-headed tendencies somewhat by moving the included 120-mm LED fan to the rear panel of the case, but the improvement in cooling performance we saw by doing so still didn’t bring the Spec-04’s load temperatures down far enough to be competitive with other cases we’ve used.
More stock fans might have helped to move enough air through this case to keep it cool, but it's hard to see how Corsair could do that and keep the reasonable price tag of the Spec-04. It's also possible that a different liquid cooler could fit properly on the rear exhaust mount and prevent the heat-dumping issue we experienced in the first place, but having to roll the dice to find a cooler that fits isn't exactly a reassuring prospect.
Overall, the Spec-04 TG's primary appeal lies in the fact that it brings distinctive looks to a wallet-friendly price point. The issues with cooling performance that I experienced might not be typical of the kinds of air-cooled budget builds that this case seems like a natural home for, but folks looking for room for their PC to grow might find this case stifling down the line.
Had Corsair included an exhaust fan and smoothed some of the rough edges we experienced, the Spec-04 TG might have been a more solid value. Right now, though, this case's calling card is more form than function, and buyers taken with its looks may have to do some tweaking to get the best performance from it.