Corsair Carbide 200R Case Review: How Low Can You Goby Dustin Sklavos on December 15, 2012 12:01 AM EST
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Introducing the Corsair Carbide 200R
Corsair entered the enclosure business from the top with a measure of care to establish a solid brand identity. The Obsidian 800D was released as a flagship product and signalled that Corsair was serious about case design and not just looking for another revenue stream, and for the most part it was well received. Since then they've gradually trickled their designs down, with the Carbide series aimed at more frugal users. Yet the least expensive Carbide, the 300R, still runs $79 when most people would peg the price of a "budget" case as closer to $50 or $60. Enter the 200R.
The Carbide 200R is the ultimate trickling down of Corsair's case line. Coming in with an MSRP of $59 and available for just $49 as of this writing, the 200R is Corsair's shot at the extreme value consumer, but this is a very tricky market to address. The balancing act of features, performance, and price becomes substantially more difficult to manage, and Corsair has a reputation to maintain. Were they able to get the price down while keeping up with their standards for ease of use and solid performance, or did they have to sacrifice too much?
Corsair has historically been approaching their case (and to an extent, power supply and cooling) lines with a pretty clear philosophy of quality first, price second, which makes the 200R a very intriguing proposition. That low price point can become very restrictive in short order, and while companies like BitFenix have been able to strike an excellent balance by producing custom designs for each market, Corsair has been operating on a kind of trickle-down evolution that may not have been able to extend this far down. The result is a case that has a lot of familiar Corsair technology, but some newer innovations too that come with having to adapt to the low price tag.
|Corsair Carbide 200R Specifications|
|Motherboard Form Factor||Mini-ITX, Micro-ATX, ATX|
|Drive Bays||External||3x 5.25"|
|Internal||4x 2.5", 4x 3.5"|
|Cooling||Front||1x 120mm intake fan, 1x 120mm fan mount|
|Rear||1x 120mm exhaust fan|
|Top||2x 120mm/140mm fan mount|
|Side||2x 120mm/140mm fan mount|
|Bottom||1x 120mm/140mm fan mount|
|I/O Port||2x USB 3.0, 1x Headphone, 1x Mic|
|Power Supply Size||ATX|
|GPU||14" / 360mm|
16.9" x 8.3" x 19.6"
430mm x 210mm x 497mm
|Weight||15.8 lbs. / 7.17 kg|
USB 3.0 via internal header
Toolless installation for all drives
As you can see, Corsair's design isn't necessarily barebones as far as features go, but it's definitely stretched. Corsair has done with they can to allow for any type of expansion the end user may want to enjoy, including higher end closed-loop liquid cooling systems. The toolless installation for 5.25", 3.5", and particularly 2.5" drives is also welcome, but you'll see later on it doesn't work quite as well as we'd like.
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Grok42 - Saturday, December 15, 2012 - linkI like to see good clean looking case designs like this at a low price point. Given the price I would expect some compromises and honestly it could have been a lot worse. I think the industry needs more experimentation with how internal drives are mounted so I applaud any effort even failures. Hopefully they will come back with something better next time around. Maybe next time they will save some money by killing the external bays and putting the resources into the internal bays.
versesuvius - Saturday, December 15, 2012 - linkThe only time one needs a tool for a case is the hard drive and other storage parts. The problem is not that people do not know how to use a screw driver, but that it has screws on the two sides of the case. As it is right now, you have to go through more trouble with the toolless case than you have with traditional ones. The answer lies not with the case manufacturers, but with internal storage manufacturers. It is very ease to design a hard disk casing so that it needs screws only on one side, and not two. Yet after maybe 30 years of hard disks, the casing has not changed a bit. Even the SSD casing design has adopted the same philosophy. As far as backward compatibility goes, the casing can be designed to accommodate old cases as well. Anyway, I agree with the article about the drive cage. It is a stupid decision in all cases to begin with and it is stupid here too. After all, how many drives one changes during the lifetime of a PC? Two? As long as the case has to be opened that amounts to 10 during the lifetime of a case, while the extra accumulated heat is there all the time.
arthur449 - Saturday, December 15, 2012 - link"How many drives one changes during the lifetime of a PC?"
I have a Coolermaster ATCS-200 case I bought in 2000 still kicking around the house. While it only has 80mm fans, it remains a very attractive and functional case for 'that random frankenputer' one generally has after a few years of building their own PCs.
How many times have I changed the drives in that case? More times than I can remember. Some of them due to drive failures, some due to SSD / SAS experimentation, and many times for just cramming old drives in there and doing some bare metal testing of the latest silly OS that trickles down the MS TechNet vine.
A good case will survive multiple generations of hardware, and (since its target audience is already building their own computers) will more than likely put up with many drive swaps as it's handed down to friends, relatives, or simply demoted to closet server duty.
Lonyo - Saturday, December 15, 2012 - linkI still have my ACTS 200 or 201, and the next gen replacement case for it, but neither are in proper use.
The motherboard tray from one is in use for a makeshift computer elsewhere where I can't use the full case.
The drive cages in both are hideous though, compared to modern cases. We have come a long way from the old days.
piroroadkill - Saturday, December 15, 2012 - linkI won't buy a case with an open top.
Too much chance something will spill in it, or dust will settle on my gear.
Copy Lian-Li and Fractal Design - give us a simple option to use the holes or not.
Blibbax - Saturday, December 15, 2012 - linkThat'd add cost. It could sold as an accessory though - I too avoid open top or even open side cases.
Tech-Curious - Saturday, December 15, 2012 - linkToss some sound dampening material over the fan mounts you don't intend to use; it works like a charm. The only problem, in my experience, is that the adhesive on sound dampening material is so strong that your decision is basically permanent.
It's funny, I bought a box of sound dampening material, just for kicks, like seven years ago and I never used it as it was (presumably) intended to be used -- but I've used bits and pieces to great effect. And I still have some left.
Cut out four tiny little strips of the stuff and place it on the borders of your fan mounts, and vibration basically disappears. That silly-sounding trick single-handedly resurrected two positively ancient (circa 2002) jet-engine-sounding cases (6+ 80mm fan mounts each) that were sitting in my basement, collecting dust.
Tech-Curious - Saturday, December 15, 2012 - linkThat said, I agree that the proliferation of computer cases featuring fan mounts in every available space is somewhat annoying -- especially given that those cases typically only come with 2 fans out of the box.
Likewise, I'd love to see more cases with the old fashioned top-mounted PSU design. I understand the benefits of the alternative, but even with a filter, a bottom-mounted PSU is less than ideal on my carpeted floor.
Blibbax - Saturday, December 15, 2012 - linkAgreed on all accounts.
TekDemon - Sunday, December 30, 2012 - linkI think it's actually great since it's the cheapest case that appears to support the H100 cooler, which was the main reason I bought my Carbide 400R (which I love-it's an awesome case). I wouldn't have been able to use this case though since I have a super long pci-e card.