Corsair Carbide Spec 01 Cabinet
Corsair has been making some brilliant high end PC cabinets and it now seeks to capture the budget gamer market with its Carbide Spec series. We will be reviewing each of the three Spec series cabinets that Corsair was kind enough to lend us. We start off with the Spec-01.
The Carbide Spec-01 is a mid-tower designed to accommodate Mini-ITX, Micro-ATX and ATX motherboards and an ATX PSU. There are four 3.5” drive bays (That can also fit 2.5” drives) and two 5.25” bays for Optical Disc Drives. The case has five fan mount locations with two up front, two at the top and one at the rear all of which support 120mm fans, with the front slots also supporting 140mm fans. Corsair gives one 120mm red LED fan with the case. The case is painted Black right down to the screws that come for fixing components in place.
Build Quality and Packaging
The Carbide Spec-01 is made of Steel and Plastic, with a transparent Acrylic panel for the side. The steel has been bent to ensure that no sharp corners will be found to cause cuts when mounting components. This does mean the case is a little heavy at 4.8kg, which can go even higher when filled with components. The Drive Bays and the Side Panels feature toolless mounting. The quality of materials used is quite good and makes the case feel worth its price tag. Corsair bundles extra screws for various different fixing needs and some zipties to help with cable management. The Front and bottom of the case also come with dust filters. The front panel includes a socket each for USB 2.0, USB 3.0, Headphone out and Mic in which are fitted to the main case body.
Corsair must be lauded for their thoughtful design approach with the case. The side panels have protrusions to allow for more space within the case. The panel has a good locking system of metal loops that won’t accidentally go out of shape and the rear side has raised edges that serve as handles to easily open the panels.
The motherboard can be mounted easily with the help of a central pin stud with the rest of the 8 studs requiring screws to secure it. However, one must screw in the motherboard before mounting the top case fans as they can hinder access to the top three studs for screwing.
The Carbide Spec-01 has a huge clearance of 420mm for the gpu thanks to the gap between the drive bays. The 3.5” Drive Bays have plastic trays to allow for toolless installation of HDDs and SSDs while the 5.25” drives have a flappable locking mechanism. The clearance for the CPU Heatsink is 165mm which should accommodate most aftermarket coolers. Corsair suggests mounting the radiator fan for liquid cooling at the rear. The rear mounting slots come with an interesting arrangement from Corsair. The screws for the rear card slots are outside the case and in order to install a card, one must unscrew a protector sheet before unscrewing the relevant slot panel and installing the card. While this might take some figuring out the first time, it is an extremely convenient measure especially when mounting extra wide GPUs such as the Asus Matrix 780Ti.
The back panel is designed to allow for some decent cable management with a curved bulge to accommodate thicker cables near the outlet side. The inlet hole for the cables is also quite large. However, cables from the front fans may show due to lack of cover between the drive bays. Since the back panel is closed off at the top, the 8 pin power cable must be routed along the front of the board and can’t be hidden.
The fan slots feature protrusions at the screwing holes in the front and protrusions of the grille at the top and rear. This leads to a vibration free case after mounting fans and any odd noises made by the case can be attributed to faulty fans only.
The Carbide Spec-01 doesn’t have any handles to easily carry it around though. The front grille looks rather imposing and lights up brilliantly when the PC is on. The clearance between the drives ensures that the diffused glow form the LED fan also lights up components inside the case as seen through the acrylic window in the side panel. The aesthetics of the case should appeal to gamers who would like an aggressive looking rig.
The closed sides of the case ensure that airflow happens in a one directional channel. The ideal airflow configuration is suggested in the image shown. The front fans must act as intakes with one cooling the HDDs/SSDs and the other feeding the front of the motherboard and the GPU. The forward top fan must also be mounted as an intake to cool the RAM sticks and feed the CPU cooler, which will have fans in the Push-Pull configuration. The backward top and the rear fan must both function as exhausts. The PSU should be mounted with the fan facing down, since it is an intake fan and comprises its own independent system. This will ensure unidirectional airflow in the cabinet and lower temperatures of the components within. Some rudimentary cable management should keep this airflow clear.
We kept the case in continuous operation for a week to get an idea of how well it holds up to the dusty conditions prevalent in India. We found that the bottom and front dust filters to be quite effective at trapping dust thanks to the finer holes in them. The top had no mesh and the thicker holes combined with the fans to suck in significant amounts of dust.
The amount of dust we found in the case suggests that it needs to be cleaned on a monthly basis to keep internal temperatures in check. This is quite decent though having a mesh on the top would help reducing dust intake a lot. The dust filters are quite easy to clean, so maintenance shouldn’t be an issue.
The Carbide Spec-01 is priced at ₹3799 and comes with a 2 year warranty from Corsair. The size and price point of the cabinet are quite perfectly suited to games on a budget looking for a good case to mount their mid-range rig. The case design is laudable though it does have some minor quirks. Our certificate of approval for it comes from the fact that screwing in all the components was quite easy and didn’t result in aching hands.
We found that the top side of the case can get extremely cramped when we try to fit components that stretch its space constraints. The ample clearances are good and the Airflow arrangement is excellent. The Carbide Spec-01 seems to demand a one way approach to installing components in a particular order if one is to fit everything in. The dust filters should be rather effective at reducing the dirt inside the case, though cleaning them might be a bit tedious, especially for the front grille.
All in all we decided to award this case the iLL Gaming Silver and Editor’s Pick awards for being a well-rounded design for the price.
We are grateful to Corsair, Asus and Intel for providing the review samples.
+Excellent design with thoughtful touches
+Great internal clearance
+Good value for money
+Good Build Quality
-Top side of case can get cramped
-Cables might show in gap between drive bays
-No handles for ease of carrying around