Corsair Carbide 400Q Silent Mid-Tower Case
Just scant weeks ago we took a look at Corsairs new Carbide 600C full tower case
and as a follow-up, Corsair sent us what at first blush appeared to be a mid-tower version of this with arrival of the Carbide 400C/Q. This was promising to be a good case as the 600C turned out to be excellent. Upon closer inspection, it quickly became obvious that this was no scaled down version, but rather a close sibling featuring a number of differences that sets the two model lines apart. The naming convention does remain consistent however, with the 400C being the more ventilated clear
windowed version and the 400Q being the quiet
model with less of a bling factor. For a mere $99
you have your pick of either option based on your needs or preferences. We were shipped the quiet model this time around in contrast to the windowed case we received for the 600 series so we get a little something different to play with.
To start, there are a number of features that it has in common with the larger 600C/Q. It has the same matte dark steel exterior with an unassuming and clean appearance without the all so common harsh lighting, garish patterns, or what-were-you-thinking control placement. If you want blinking and bedazzled parts, it ain't here so those wishing for a case with more pizzazz should look elsewhere. The interior black provides an understated luxurious appearance, as does the rolled edges and multitude of cable routing apertures. It's clear that care went into the design with an emphasis on quality. It's tool-free throughout unless you have weak hands when it comes to thumbscrews, and the fan/radiator placement choices are robust. Unlike the 600Q/C, there's no inverted ATX layout and no 5.25" bays taking up valuable real estate, the latter making it possible to add a variety of liquid cooling options not possible in many cases of this size. There are also fewer included fans and no built-in fan controller. That said, it's also $50 less expensive so there's a trade off.
The box showed up a little worse for wear but thankfully there was no damage to the case as it was snuggled in a thick layer of foam as well as wrapped in plastic.
Corsair Carbide 400Q/C Features and Specifications:
- Part Numbers:
- 400Q: CC-9011082-WW
- 400C: CC-9011081-WW
- Package contents:
- Carbide Series Quiet 400Q Compact Mid-Tower Case
- Accessory kit
- Warranty and Support Information
- Motherboard: EATX (12" x 10.6"), ATX, MicroATX, Mini ITX
- Technical specifications:
- Dimensions (L x W x H): 425 x 215 x 464mm
- Maximum GPU Length: 370mm
- Maximum CPU Cooler Height: 170mm
- Maximum PSU Length: 190mm
- Expansion Slots: 7
- 5.25" Drive bays: 0
- 3.5" Hard Drive Bays: 2
- 2.5" Drive Bays: 3
- Fans included: (x1) 140mm, (x1) 120mm
- Cooling Layout:
- Front: (x3) 120mm or (x2) 140mm (1 x 140mm included)
- Top: (x2) 120/140mm
- Rear: (x1) 120mm (included)
- Radiator Compatibility:
- 360mm: Front only
- 280mm: Front only
- 240mm: Front or Top
- 120mm: Front, Top, or Rear
- Dust filters on all intakes
- Front I/O Panel includes: (x2) USB 3.0 port, Headphone and Microphone jacks, Power on and Reset buttons
The case comes with a manual, warranty flyer and the usual bag full of screws and cable ties which is pretty much everything you need to complete a build outside of the components themselves.
Shown above, a small radiator can be mounted in the rear of the case for a straight through airflow model but larger radiators can be mounted in the top and then front for even greater cooling although the top mount would add to the noise as the optional cover would need to be removed.
Corsair Carbide 400Q External Impressions
Looking at the Carbide 400Q, it's easy to mistake it for the larger 600Q but there are major differences as we've discussed a bit already.
The front is virtually featureless save for the Corsair logo and the curved top that rolls back to the roof of the chassis. The only difference from the 600Q is the lack of door at the top which obviously is not needed since no 5.25" bays are included.
The left and right sides are identical with just blank panels and ventilation holes along the front perimeter that are otherwise invisible from the front view.
On the 400Q case, the left side is just as described above but on the 400C case, this panel would contain a windowed door so the internal components are visible when closed.
Looking at the top, it has what looks like a large tray carved into it behind the I/O panel which is another of the design departures from the 600Q.
In truth, it's a tray of sorts, made mainly of mesh pentagons and optionally covered by a magnetic panel that's backed with sound proofing material. This is a pretty slick design and offers a good bit of flexibility as there are numerous variations of ways to fasten fans and/or radiators here though at the cost of forfeiting the cover to keep a literal dampener on the noise. On the 400C, this magnetic cover is a mesh air filter rather than a solid cover so if you plan on mounting cooling features in the top of the case, that would be the better model to get.
The I/O panel is located sensibly along the top front edge and is comprised of the usual components - reset switch, HDD activity LED, headphone jack, mic jack, dual USB 3.0 ports and power switch. Simple. No fan speed switch as with the 600Q.
The rear shows that the PSU resides at the bottom which is another difference from the 600Q and is a more traditional layout. There's a total of seven expansion slots with mesh alongside with a position adjustable exhaust fan.
Underneath there are four block feet with non-slip pads and the tab from the 3.5" drive cage can be seen where it overlaps in the hole provided when mounted.
For the PSU, there's a small and easily removable dust screen that's not magnetic like the others but is held by guides and snaps in with the help of a small plastic tab on the top of the filter near where you grab it pull it out. It just requires a little bit of downward pressure to overcome the tab lock and makes for a simple and effective design.
Corsair Carbide 400Q Internal Impressions
As with the 600C/Q, the front fascia is removable and hides a long dust filter.
The fascia is held into place by tabs which give the appearance of allowing the user to push them in to facilitate removal but my efforts in doing this were futile. I ended up just popping the front piece off by pulling at the bottom as stated in the accompanying instructions and partially broke one of the tabs. It didn't end up making a difference in how it re-mounted so luck was with me there. I know there are others that used the same method and were more fortunate not to break anything so maybe I was little too Hulk-like in the removal. Unfortunately, the dust filter cannot be accessed without removal of this piece so expect some drama every time this is performed. The filter itself has magnets strategically placed on it to keep it in place and the back of the fascia is lined with the same sound-proofing material found elsewhere in the case.
Around the back of the motherboard tray, the 2.5" drive caddy is found across the middle and the 3.5" drive cage is in the bottom left-hand corner. Rubber grommets adorn the cut outs for cable routing and the rolled edges are evident as well.
The panel that sits behind the motherboard try is lined with sound-proofing material save for the section that sits directly behind the 2.5"drive caddy. A nice feature of these panels is that the thumbscrews stay secured in the panel when its removed so they don't get lost. It's the little things.
Most will immediately notice the absence of the 5.25" drive bays and the roominess inside for such a small case. The set of plastic shroud pieces run along the bottom of the case which hide the PSU and 3.5" drive cage. Remember these as they will come up prominently later.
Removed the "outside" shroud piece reveals the 3.5" drive cage which is secured to the bottom with a tab and a pair of thumbscrews around the back.
Removing the other exposes the resting place for the PSU. Note the black square hanging haphazardly in this general area. This is a rubber (or rubber-like) strip that should be stuck to the bottom for one of the corners of the PSU to rest on. I must have knocked it loose fussing with the shroud and it ended up here. I stuck it back in it's place without a problem but didn't realize it made an appearance in the pictures until I began editing them. Whoops!
Finally, a view of the case gutted with the drive cage removed. Roomy!
The drive cage holds dual plastic caddies that have pins with rubber spacers that plug right into the drives with some flexing of the caddy. It's not unique to Corsair cases but it's a feature I really like since it does not involve tiny screws that love to fall into the case and lodged in crevices, begging to be fished out. But I digress.
Here's a nice view of the perforated bottom for the PSU fan as well as the aforementioned pesky sticky rubber piece. The hole to the right is where the tab from the bottom of the drive cage inserts. It can support PSU's up to 190mm in length so plenty of room for the average unit.
The rear exhaust fan is a 120mm AF120L model and you can see the long vertical screw mounting holes allowing variable placement of the fan which is a super nice feature. It also allows some flexibility for fitting in a small radiator up to 120mm.
The front intake fan is a larger 140mm AF140L fan and again there are screw hole channels for vertical adjustments and a second track of these for 120mm fans should you choose to swith it out, add others or mount a radiator. In the front of the case, it can fit up to a 280/360mm radiator.
Corsair Carbide 400Q System Build
In the build we used more modest components since this case is likely going to end up in the hands of someone looking for a best bang-for-the-buck case to maximize their spend and represents more of what the average PC user might have.
Building out a system with this case is a bit of a mixed bag. On one hand, Corsair has packed in many features that are found in high-end cases like ample cable routing cutouts with rubber grommets, plenty of space for a plethora of coolers and graphics cards, adjustable fan placement, and quality manufacturing insuring no sharp edges or burrs.
A good example is the above where I was able to slide the exhaust fan down to align with the CPU cooler and intake fan so that cool air is directed in, passed through the cooler where it picks up the hot air and passes out the exhaust fan. Simplistically of course. I had no problem with clearance with this decent sized cooler and according to Corsair, you have 170mm of clearance to play with.
There's plenty of room for even the longest graphics cards and room in the front for a radiator though the latter may limit the actual clearance for larger cards. The specifications call out a 370mm length clearance.
Access to the heatsink retainer behind the motherboard is not a problem at all which is a problem on some cases. So far, all of these things certainly facilitate a nice, clean build and performance. However, some of the ostensibly thoughtful features can also make the build a bit cumbersome – especially for novice builders. I’ll start with the 2.5” drive placement behind the motherboard tray which is something we saw on the Carbide 600C case and experienced some of the same challenges.
It definitely calls for straight-end SATA cables which can be problematic as many motherboards these days ship with the right-angle cables (at least on one end). The typical daisy-chain PSU SATA power cables don’t really work very well either as they are designed for vertically stacked drives which has been part of case designs for many years. So, Molex to SATA adapter reserves are going to have to be called upon which adds unnecessary clutter. Not everyone has these laying around so knowing this in advance is handy not only for the preparedness but the added expense, albeit minor. I only had a few of these on hand so I limited the number of drives I loaded in the back. The two 3.5" drives are accessed from the rear and should utilize the right-angle SATA connectors.
The plastic caddy that holds these drives is all one big piece so you can’t remove unused drive slots. This is relevant because routing anything but the slimmest of cables over top of this will not allow the side panel to fit back on properly as there just isn’t enough clearance. The 600C case was wider and better in this respect and each individual drive caddy can be removed. There are a good number of tie down points to ease cable routing but cable lengths are finite and there are only so many routes you can use effectively.
The dual piece shroud that covers the PSU and the 3.5” drive cage makes for a nice clean look and may abate some noise and heat but it definitely requires that you plan ahead in terms of your PSU cable routing. This is where novice builders will run into the most grief. This is especially true for modular PSU’s as adding more cables to the unit after the shroud is in place is near impossible unless you have tiny hands and optimal plug position availability. Each piece has a hole in it for the cables to route through so you must feed all cables through here before connecting them and putting the shrouds in place. This can also get in the way of adding new drives to the 3.5” bays later on in terms of cabling. You can route some of the cables through the hole in the rear of the case instead but they would need to be long enough to reach their destination via a circuitous route.
Finally, the 'outer' shroud covering the drive cage butts right up against the bottom of the motherboard which was a bit of an issue for me initially because I attempted to route the USB and IO panel connectors under the motherboard as many do to mitigate clutter. The USB cables were too thick to fit through the tiny gap between the motherboard and shroud so I had to modify the route so they exited towards the front of the case. Frankly, my preference would probably be to just leave the shroud out altogether to avoid headaches later.
Final Thoughts And Conclusions
While not the perfect case (few are), we were pleased overall with the Corsair Carbide 400C case as the list of bravos exceeded the boos by a fair margin. Starting with the positives, we have a great looking case both inside and out with smooth edges and a sturdy steel build. For the 400Q variation, the sound-proofing is generously applied and does a fine job keep noise to a near silent state. Tool-free assembly, ample air flow, adjustable fan size/positioning, dust filters, and thoughtful cable routing cut outs complete with rubber grommets are the most notable features that really make the case stand out.
The lack of 5.25" bays can be either a plus or minus depending on your needs. This trend is certainly the direction case designs are moving toward as optical drives become less of a necessity and fall out of favor. That said, this is a case focused on noise reduction yet lacks a fan controller and eliminates one of the most common places to implement one. It's the very absence of these bays that give the case what is probably its greatest asset for a mid-tower case - the added interior space and mounting options for most any liquid cooling assembly. I really liked the ability to adjust fan positioning to suit the build and facilitate custom air flows.
My complaints are few, somewhat quirky, and partially preferential. Getting at the front filter requires removing the fascia which can be risky since it does not remove easily. Luckily, this isn't something that has to be done frequently. While cable routing is facilitated with the various cutouts, any cables run around the backside of the motherboard tray have to strategically navigate the 2.5" drive caddies. Only the thinnest of cables can overlay the caddy and still allow the side panel to fit on and close properly which rules out about 98% of cables. The caddy itself is one large piece which doesn't help and invoked a yearning for the individually removable trays we found in the 600C/Q. The SATA cables for this must be the straight-end variety and SATA power cables found on most power supplies are going to be difficult, if not impossible to use on drives in this area. It may just be easier to slap a 2.5" to 3.5" adapter on the drive, pop it into the interior drive cage and call it a day. My biggest gripe is with the shroud at the bottom of the case. The intent is to isolate the PSU and 3.5" drive cage to mitigate noise, heat, and provide a cleaner look - though the latter is really only a benefit on the 400C windowed case. In practical use, it's more of a pain than anything. It requires accurate planning of PSU cable needs and since the cables have to be routed through two pieces, makes it more cumbersome than it really needs to be. Any future reworking of components due to upgrades or add-ons is going to have this additional obstacle which is likely to elicit a few expletives in the process. In truth, I'd be inclined to leave these pieces out of the build altogether which is a perfectly sane option, making this less of a detractor from an overall fine case. While on the subject of changes, I believe I would add an additional intake fan at the bottom front to maximize cooling across the 3.5" drives through to the PSU, even at the expense of potential additional noise.
As a case that promotes silence as a feature, it mostly lives up to its billing. Anytime you have one or more active fans in a case, it's near impossible to make it truly silent but with the sound-proofing measures employed here, it's extremely quiet - especially when it comes to noise generated from the CPU and GPU coolers. If stowed under a desk, you will not be able to hear it running but set it close proximity on top of the desk and you get negligible fan noise. Frankly, if this level of noise is bothersome, you may have bigger issues. Pair this with the superb build quality and all of the other features we've discussed, the MSRP of $99
puts it in a good pricing slot for a mid-tower case given the fact that most generally range from $50-$100 with great deal of them lacking the features and quality of this case. The criticisms we had are largely design quirks that can be overcome without too much effort and not things that would dissuade most consumers from picking one up. For those who are wary of the few niggles discussed and are able to spend a bit more coin, the 600C/Q models largely address these issues while offering extra space and features, though it does have a considerable larger footprint. In the end, we would definitely recommend the Corsair Carbide 400Q/C for those needing a feature rich, quality made mid-tower case.
Legit Bottom Line: If 5.25" drive bays aren't in your list of requirements for a mid-tower build but you still want premium features such as dust filters, sound proofing, and tool-free assembly, Corsair has just what you are looking for with the Carbide 400Q.