Having fleshed out their case lineup from top to bottom, Corsair is starting to show some of that old experimental spirit again. The Obsidian 350D turned out to be one of the best micro-ATX cases I've ever tested, and the Carbide Air 540 will actually be showing up in a future article as the case of choice for a very specialized build. Now, with the new Carbide 330R, Corsair has created a variant on the Carbide 300R designed to offer silent performance for end users who aren't ready to spend up on the splashier Obsidian 550D.

The competition at $99 is tough, though, especially for users who want a silent enclosure. Corsair has to contend with the intermittently available Nanoxia Deep Silence 1 and 2 along with Fractal Design's Define lineup. Silent computing is a tough racket to break into; while the 550D was a solid enough option, it continued to suffer from the iffy air cooling thermal performance that has plagued many of Corsair's designs (excepting the stellar Carbide Air 540).

The 330R adopts the internal framework of the Carbide 300R but changes some of the exterior, extracting additional mileage out of a fairly solid design. The front fascia is replaced by an acoustically padded door, but there are gaps around where the door closes that allows plenty of air to travel into the enclosure. Meanwhile, the side panels are both solid and feature acoustic padding, and the ventilation on the top of the case is covered by a snap-in shield that allows you to choose whether you want to close off the top and prevent noise from escaping or employ up to a 280mm closed loop cooler.

As I mentioned, the interior of the Carbide 330R is basically the same as the 300R, just with acoustic padding added where appropriate. There's a fine enough balance struck in expandability, and Corsair's commitment to making the case as easy to assemble as possible is evident as there's a stud in the middle of the motherboard tray for aligning the motherboard; no standoffs need be installed, either, as the tray itself has standoffs built into it and extruded.

Corsair Carbide 330R Specifications
Motherboard Form Factor Mini-ITX, Micro-ATX, ATX, E-ATX
Drive Bays External 3x 5.25"
Internal 4x 2.5"/3.5"
Cooling Front 1x 140mm intake fans (supports 2x 120mm/140mm)
Rear 1x 120mm exhaust fan
Top 2x 120mm/140mm fan mounts
Side -
Bottom -
Expansion Slots 7
I/O Port 2x USB 3.0, 1x Headphone, 1x Mic
Power Supply Size ATX
Clearances HSF 170mm
PSU 240mm
GPU 450mm
Dimensions 19.49" x 8.27" x 19.06"
495mm x 210mm x 484mm
Special Features Supports 280mm radiator in top
Acoustic padding
Price MSRP $89; $99 at NewEgg

Interestingly, Corsair doesn't include any kind of fan control, opting instead to include a pair of low noise 140mm fans. You'll see later that they do manage to keep noise levels down, but at the risk of spoiling the results, the overarching trend with computer cases continues to be "Silence, Performance, Price: Pick Any Two."

Building in the Corsair Carbide 330R
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  • kmmatney - Tuesday, August 27, 2013 - link

    I think what matters is getting the airflow going across the motherboard, and low-high fans do that.
  • Penti - Sunday, August 25, 2013 - link

    The traditional mid-tower even in the AT days actually has the PSU at the top and often the 5.25" drives above the motherboard, the negative about the drives in front of the board is actually that you need a very deep case, especially to fit say EATX and deep 5.25" drives such as optical drives or hot-swap drive bays, and even worse with SSI-EEB boards so to say. It's the same reason why there are removable hdd-cages in smaller cases, long cards – in these days graphics cards would not really fit in some cases otherwise. Traditionally you have the exhaust fan just behind the cooler in the back of the case rather than the failed BTX-design with air tunnels that didn't work for various reasons and tying up the use of the front of the case for air-tunnels was just one of the worst ideas ever. Even inverted cases don't have a clear air path for the cpu hsf. There is no going back to BTX and Prescott air-tunnel days. The important thing is to change the air in the case, a case fan isn't directly forcing air on the cpu cooler. I guess you love the good ol' days when cases had side fans above the cpu socket area too?

    Don't repeat past mistakes. Air flow is important to keep the case temp, and the ambient/case air inside the case cool. There is no need to have forced air or turbulent air everywhere and a front fan doesn't really do that either. And is quite far away from the cpu in modern cases to begin with.
  • JDG1980 - Sunday, August 25, 2013 - link

    The test results don't bear out the statements you are making. The reviews of the Silverstone Raven RV04 and Corsair Air Series 540 demonstrate that having fans blowing straight onto the motherboard is far more effective than the indirect cooling favored by conventional ATX cases.
  • JPForums - Monday, August 26, 2013 - link

    I don't understand why the inverted motherboard design hasn't been more widely adopted. The "standard" ATX tower design seems pretty dumb: you've got the CPU cooler in a dead spot behind the optical drives (with no airflow from the intake fans), and one of the two front intakes is largely wasted by blowing at the back end of the PSU.

    Actually, the "standard" ATX tower had the PSU up top behind the optical drives. The dumb idea was to move the PSU down to the bottom while leaving the optical drives up top. The SilverStone Temjin TJ08 would be similarly effective with the board inverted or in a standard layout as the fan is large enough to provide airflow to a CPU cooler regardless of where it is located at on a microATX motherboard. Though to be fair, the Silverstone Fortress FT02 and FT04 (and Temjin TJ08) have largely proven that 90 degree rotation and inverted motherboard designs can be very effective.
  • OCedHrt - Sunday, August 25, 2013 - link

    I don't get what the big deal is? How is this any better or different than my Antec P180 (and mini's).
  • kmmatney - Tuesday, August 27, 2013 - link

    I have a Antec P182, and it's basically dead silent once it's configured correctly.
  • bobbozzo - Wednesday, August 28, 2013 - link

    I really wish Anandtech would re-review some Antec cases so they could be compared with these others. The P183 V3 and the p280 are both still available.

    I'm still happy enough with my p182, but for friends building new systems, I don't know if I should still recommend Antec over the newer offerings.
  • bobbozzo - Wednesday, August 28, 2013 - link

    Also the build quality of my p182 is extremely good, and I wonder how it compares to the Nanoxia, etc.
  • Laststop311 - Sunday, August 25, 2013 - link

    nanoxia deep silence still is the superior choice. Extremely low temps + extremely quiet. It's got it all. I'm big on silent computing and every article i read i never see a case beat the nanoxia cases. I've been waiting for years to see them beat but they still represent the best choice for silent + good temps
  • EnzoFX - Sunday, August 25, 2013 - link

    I have my fair share of problems with the case reviews here, but measuring "silent" cases has to be the biggest. Can't imagine the noise floor being ideal. I also wouldn't call 30dba silent, if you want silent, it's pretty easy to go below that.

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