Ever since I put Corsair's 600T SE to use in my daily life, it gave me a whole new appreciation for white chassis designs. Where most of the white themed chassis' on the market today are completely white inside and out, it makes the chassis almost sterile looking and reminds me of a hospital environment. An ingenious thing about the 600T is that both the exterior and the interior are a blend of either full on black, or full on white panels and ventilated areas. This mix of large patches of black against the overall white paint job of the case take it to a level of excellence that other manufacturers seem to have missed in their white chassis offerings.
We aren't looking at a Graphite series chassis today, though, we are looking at the second chassis in the Carbide series. For those who follow what I write about, the 400R wasn't all that long ago. In my time looking up information on the 400R, I found myself sitting there admiring its bigger brother more than I was actually looking into the 400R. My feelings were even written when I reviewed the first in the Carbide series that while the 400R offers plenty of bang for the buck, I wanted to see this version of a similarly designed chassis to give a more informed answer as to which of the two I would put my money on.
Even though there is a black and a white version of today's sample, Corsair was nice enough to send me the Arctic White version of the 500R from their Carbide series. This is why I brought up the 600T SE in the first place. I already have a handle on what a white chassis from Corsair can look like day to day, but this time I get a different approach in style to basically the same idea. The wait is over, and I finally get to see just what sets these two chassis' apart and what makes up the price difference. Hopefully in that process I can also give you my perspective as to why you should be willing to spend a little more and use the 500R over the 400R.
Specifications, Availability and Pricing
There are some obvious external differences between the 400R and the 500R. Where the 400R was styled with round corners and a top that only went a third of the way back, the 500R has more aggressive styling with sharp corners and of course the option to be painted white. The last major external difference is that the mesh that was punched into the steel door panel of the 400R has been changed. In the 500R this area is removed from the panel's steel and a mesh covering is inserted with a 200mm fan installed behind it. The top and front pieces are made from molded plastic and also are painted white to match the side panels. Running like a wide racing stripe does down the hood of a classic muscle car, the 500R gets a black one made of steel mesh down the front, a black plastic I/O panel and storage tray at the top, as well as a removable section of mesh down the length of the top of the chassis.
Internally you have room for up to four 5.25" drives and each of them have a removable cover in the front bezel. Under them you run into a slightly different hard drive rack. This is a two piece cage system where each cage can hold three drives each. The trays in the cages will accept both 3.5" and 2.5" drives for a total of six. Also, unlike in the 400R, this drive assembly is fully removable, and simply gets held into place with thumbscrews with a couple of tracks under the 5.25" bays to keep everything in line. The rest of the internal structure is the same offering room for ATX motherboards with plenty of wiring options with grommets in the holes for a clean finished look.
Cooling in the 500R is handled a little differently too. In the 400R there were two 120mm fans installed in the front, and a 120mm installed in the rear of the case. As the like in the 400R, the same white LED fans are used in the 500R, but it also receives a matching white LED, 200mm fan in the left side panel. The 400R already had a switch to allow users to disable the LEDs if you wanted to, and that is still an option here too, but in the 500R they also added a three position fan speed controller for the same three fans that have LED control. While the chassis does have four holes in the back of the chassis for tubing to pass through, the top of this chassis is designed to allow the hydro Series H100 to the top of the chassis without issue. You may be able to install custom water cooling, but you need to be mindful of the limited spaces in the top of the chassis.
Just like in every review, this is the point at which I Google shop the case and see where I can find it and for how much. If you want the white version of this chassis, and you know you do, there is over fifty locations to be able to find this, everything from the big box stores down to your favorite e-tailers. For the cheapest pricing to your door, you can look into the deal at Nextwarehouse.com as they list the 500R for $120.22 and there are no shipping charges. The pricing can get downright astronomical, as I even see a place charging near $215 with shipping included. In the middle of that spectrum you will find our old favorite Newegg.com with a $139.99 price tag, and will require an additional $20 to ship it currently. My advise here is shop wisely as it could make the difference of if you can get that 8GB kit of ram over the 4Gb kit, or if you can afford the H100 to go along with this aggressive and appealing 500R from Corsair's Carbide lineup.
Allowing money to be spent on other options in the chassis, Corsair uses the black printing on the brown cardboard solution to package the chassis and inform its buyers. Here you have an outline of the chassis on the left with explanations of three selling points in six languages on the right, and Carbide 500R in a large font across the bottom.
Here Corsair covers the specifications list in three of the languages found of the front of the packaging. At the bottom you get a rendering of the inside of the 500R and one from the front as well.
The exploded diagram gets an upgrade from the one we saw on the 400R. This time it not only shows the dust filter, fan arrangement, removable bay covers, and the panels removed from the chassis, the 500R also has the removable hard drive cages and the tray in each shown here. Along the bottom you can follow what each piece is or does by its designated letter.
This side has all the same information that the opposing panel displayed. The difference to note here, is that now the specifications list have changed to the remaining three languages covered on both the front and the back of this packaging.
Since the Carbide 500R chassis can come in both black and white paint schemes, Corsair decided to use a sticker placed on top of the packaging to denote which of the two is included inside the box. As you can see by not only the "500R WHITE PK1" there is also a sticker showing the white case and "Arctic White" plainly displayed.
A plastic liner is used to keep minor abrasions from destroying the Arctic White paint finish on this 500R. Inside the liner you will find a plastic bag with the quick start guide slid in there. To keep the case in the middle of the box and protect it from small drops or tumbles, thick Styrofoam caps are used with the 500R.
The Corsair Carbide Arctic White 500R Mid Tower Case
The Corsair Carbide Series Arctic White 500R Mid Tower Case
The front of the 500R is flanked on both sides with the Arctic White paint while the middle section is made up of the plastic I/O panel at the top with mesh running down the remainder, all of which is black.
The Front I/O has the power button and hard drive activity light on the left. In the middle there are two USB 3.0 ports, 3.5mm audio jacks, and an IEEE-1394 port. On the right there is the LED lighting switch and fan speed control switch above the small reset button.
The left side of the chase also gets the Arctic White paint. This time however, what once was a mesh punched out of the steel, the whole area has been removed to allow for this steel mesh insert that allows for a 200mm fan, a pair of 140mm fans, or a pair of 120mm fans to be installed behind it.
The back of the chassis is completely black, but with the edges of the door panels wrapping around it, it resembles the white stripes running down the front. Here you will find room for the rear I/O next to the exhaust fan that can also be 120mm or a 140mm fan. Below you run into the eight expansion slots next to the four grommets in holes that allow for tubing to pass through the chassis. The leaves the only spot left at the bottom to house the power supply.
The right side of the 500R shares the same bumped out design in the door panel as the left side. Where the left side is done to allow for 25mm fans to fit over coolers and graphics cards, this side the intention is to allow much more room for wires placed behind the motherboard tray.
At the top of the 500r, the front of it offers a good sized area to set your phone, keys, anything you can think of really. Behind the tray is a long mesh panel that allows for the optional fans, or those of the H100 to breathe from inside the chassis.
This panel is removable to allow you to either set a really thin radiator in here, or more what it is designed for, use the 25mm of spacing for fans, either 120mm or 140mm. To replace or remove the mesh top, just press on it near the tray at the front. A spring loaded release will allow its removal, and also with another press, lock it back into position.
Under the 500R there are large, chunky, rubber feet in the rear with wider feet at the front. Down the middle there is a large dust filter that covers the area that will allow for both the intake of the PSU, and a spot for an additional 120mm or 140mm fan. The thumbscrews near the front of the chassis are used to help hold the hard drive cages in place.
Just like in the 400R, the 500R offers the thumbscrews in the panels with the feature of never getting lost. After unscrewing them from the body of the chassis, they are not removable, so when you go to put the door back on, you know right where the screws are.
Inside the Corsair Carbide Arctic White 500R Mid Tower Case
Inside the Corsair Carbide Series Arctic White 500R Mid Tower Case
As I mentioned earlier, the lefts side panel comes with a 200mm fan installed that chas white LEDs and is powered with a special plug to work in conjunction with the built in fan controller on the front of the 500R.
With the sides now put of the way we get our first look inside the 500R. Without going into too much detail this soon, you will notice that the end of the wiring comes padded so that they don't get damaged or cause damage to painted surfaces. In the bottom hard drive tray you see a white box, this box contains all the hardware needed to get your system installed and running.
To secure the 5.25" drives or bay devices, the Carbide 500R comes with the same tool-free clips that the 400R has. You simply slide the drive in until the latch grabs it. To release the drive you push the denoted area and it lifts the pins out of the back of the drives so they may slide out.
The hard drive assembly is based off of two cages that both hold three trays that can accommodate both 3.5" drive as well as 2.5" drives. In front of these is where the two 120mm intake fans are placed. If you think these cages might get in the way for your needs, Corsair leaves us with options.
Removing ten thumbscrews I was able to release the cages from the grip of the 500R. the top cage slides out first, then the bottom cage can be lifted out. When you assemble the PC, both, the top one, the bottom one, or neither of them can go in the chassis, it's up to you!
The motherboard tray has a very large CPU cooler access hole surrounded by eleven positions for risers all set into a recess in the tray. Around it are six potential holes for wiring, four of which have the rubber grommets installed.
Behind the motherboard tray there is plenty of room to the left to hide any cables and the included cables are long enough to get to any connection on your motherboard, and there are six places to tie wires to, supplied on the tray, down the middle and across the bottom. With the bump on the door panel the space here is irrelevant as you have plenty of room in the panel to take on any amount of wiring.
Removing the front bezel exposes the two 120mm white Led fans working as the intake. You also can see that the front I/O is attached to the case, leaving it very easy to remove the drive bay covers in the bezel, or completely get it out of your way during the build process.
Accessories and Documentation
The manual for the Carbide 500R is labeled a quick start guide, and that's all it really is. Inside are some exploded diagrams to help show how the components are arranged inside the chassis, and what you might want to look for as far as removing the dust filter, much like the way the back of the box displayed its information. On the back you get a full parts list for all the included hardware that should come with your chassis purchase. If you are lacking anything, or possibly there is damage, that is what the red paper is for. Corsair wants you to deal with them directly and not go back to the point of purchase for issues.
Inside of that white box found in the bottom hard drive tray include all of these goodies. At the top you can see three wire tie straps, two adhesive wire management clips, and a USB 3.0 to USB 2.0 adapter if your motherboard doesn't have a native 20-pin USB 3.0 connection. In the bags lined up at the bottom you get a few extra risers, the motherboard screws, fan screws that go in from the outside of the fans, four PSU screws, and handful of screws for mounting 2.5" drives to the plastic hard drive trays.
The plastic trays for the six hard drive slots will accept a 3.5" drive simply by flexing the tray around the drive and being sure the pins line up in the holes of the drive. For a 2.5" drive, you need to remove the pins from the side of the tray, then using screws you mount the drive to the tray. I know the 2.5" drive is installed backwards; it is just for display purposes.
The Build and Finished Product
To make things easy with the internal wiring I chose to mount the drive in the lowest bay. In hindsight, I think it is better to install it at the top to keep the black plastic together allowing the continuation of the mesh to flow down the rest of the front rather that breaking it up as I did here.
Everything practically falls into place inside the 500R. Installing the optical and hard drives is tough only if you can't understand the principle of sliding something in until you hear a click. The management holes around the board allowed me to pass quite a few wires out the bottom, and their placement as you go up the side corresponds well to the motherboard.
For those wondering about the room above the motherboard, I measure mine and it seems there is 30mm of room from the top edge of the motherboard to the lowest bit of the steel top. There may be a few more millimeters of room, but you will soon run into issues with the memory if you go too far down.
The back of the chassis did everything I asked of it. The rear I/O plate was snug, but went in pretty easy. The expansion cards are easily mounted with thumbscrews, and the case is cut away to allow easier access with a screw driver. The PSU was just four screws, and that wasn't hard at all!
I wasn't too particular with the wiring because honestly, with the 500R, you don't need to be. Now of course there is a bit of flow to get the wiring from one place to another, but I crossed all of the front I/O wiring with the 24-pin wiring, and the panel went right over it as if it wasn't even there.
With everything in place and the panels back on the 500R, the only thing left to do was power it up. As you can see looking at it head on, the 500R comes to life with the power indicator staying lit, the HDD activity light flickering just beneath it, and the glow of the white LEDs from the front tow intake fans behind the mesh.
Taking a step back so you can take it in from another angle you can now see the additional 200mm fan come to life with its white LEDs lit up now. This fan does a great job of supplying the graphics cards with fresh air while still allowing the red and blue glow of my CPU cooler lighting to shine over the top of it.
Looking back through Corsair's history of cases, I have yet to be disappointed with any of them. I had their flagship on my desk for over two years, and it just recently got replaced. I also have the 600T SE currently in use, and it was the case that sold me on what a white case looks like done right -not looking like somewhere to test culture samples. The 500R keeps that aggressive classic muscle car aesthetics that sold me on the 600T, yet it takes a whole other approach in its shape and design and leaves me with that same warm fuzzy feeling that looking over at my 600T once gave me. For those who love what Corsair has to offer, but were turned off by the overly rounded approach of the 600T design and won't settle for the average black chassis, the 500R is a perfect solution to your needs, wants, and desires.
I really can only find one fault with the chassis. The depth of the recess of the motherboard tray, due to my ninety degree SATA ports, caused me to "lose" three of them, as I cannot connect a cable to them due to the shape of the steel. With that out of the way, let's move on to what I did like, both inside and outside the case. USB 3.0 is nice, and if you have this case where you sleep, the fan control and lighting controls are very handy. The storage tray is convenient, but the removable mesh top is very cool as it hides the mounting of the fans under it for a very clean look outside. I also like that every fan option in the chassis that allows for a 120mm fan also allows for 140mm fan alternatives. The thing that really sells me on the 500R is when it was powered up and running with the lights all ablaze. The white exterior with the thick black stripe down the front and breaking up the left side looks even better with the glow of white light poking through and lighting the interior enough to easily be seen through the mesh side panel.
So now it comes down to the fact which I couldn't bring to you in the Carbide 400R review, and that is which of the two Carbide chassis' are the one to buy. Looking at it from just the money end, the 400R lists right around $100. As I mentioned earlier, if you shop through Newegg.com, the near $160 once shipping is added, it doesn't seem like such a sweet deal. Frugal shoppers will take the link I left earlier to the much sweeter deal of $120.22 to your door pricing, which makes this decision a no brainer for me. The 500R is well worth every extra penny over the 400R. For the much better looking big brother of the Carbide Series, the Arctic White version of the case from Corsair is an aggressive and stylish solution I see many people wanting to own for themselves!