Corsair Carbide Spec-04 Updated with Tempered Glass

In the middle of 2017, Corsair released the Carbide Spec-04 case, it is a low cost mid-tower geared at the budget builders while still providing a solid foundation for the latest hardware.   Initially it had a retail price of $49.99, it featured an angular design to the front of the case giving it a modern look.  Since its release, Tempered Glass panels have become extremely popular, and users have been looking for budget friendly cases that feature Tempered Glass side panels.  Corsair heard this and decided to do a small update to the Spec-04.  Corsair has recently released the Spec-04 Tempered Glass edition, which is identical to the original Spec-04 with the exception of the Tempered Glass side panel. [caption id="attachment_201136" align="aligncenter" width="645"]Corsair Spec-04 Tempered Glass Corsair Spec-04 Tempered Glass Exterior Overview[/caption] The original Spec-04 case was available in three color schemes, however for the Tempered Glass edition, Corsair has only released one version with the Black/Red color scheme.  If you were to set the two cases side by side, the only difference you will find is the side panel, and the price.  Adding the Tempered Glass side panel, does cause a small increase in the price, the Spec-04 Tempered Glass has a retail price of $59.99 shipped. [gallery ids="201145,201144,201146"] Years ago, pretty much every case came in a brightly colored box.  Now almost all of them come in standard printed cardboard boxes.  This helps to keep the cost down, while still giving you a good idea of the contents.  Corsair has a standard layout for their packaging, where on the front of the box you get an overview of the case, along with some detailed information.  Turning to the back of the box you find an exploded view of the case, with specific components called out.  Finally the sides of the box present the specifications in multiple languages. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MszP6OvOvWk Corsair Spec-04 Features and Specifications:
Warranty 2 Years
Weight 5.27kg
Color Black/Red
Form Factor Mid-Tower
Dimensions 492mm x 201mm x 433mm
Motherboard Support MicroATX, ATX, Mini-ITX
Maximum GPU Length 370mm
Maximum CPU Cooler Height 150mm
Maximum PSU Length 255mm
Expansion Slots 7
Drive Bays (x3) 3.5in (x2) 2.5in
Material Steel
Power Supply ATX (not included)
External Connections (x1) USB 3.0 (x1) USB 2.0 (x1) Headphone Port (x1) Microphone Port
Fan Mount Locations Front:  (x2) 120mm or 140mm Top:  (x2) 120mm Rear (x1) 120mm
Fans Included Front (x1) 120mm
Radiator Mount Included Front: 120mm or 140mm Rear: 120mm
[caption id="attachment_201228" align="aligncenter" width="645"]Corsair Spec-04 Tempered Glass Corsair Spec-04 Tempered Glass Accessories[/caption] Corsair includes all the necessary accessories to build a system in the Spec-04, and some extra's that are not required for the standard build.  In the accessory pack, is four cable ties, four pan-head SSD screws, sixteen short fan screws, ten motherboard screws, four long fan screws, sixteen flat SSD screws and one additional motherboard standoff.  Corsair also includes a detailed multi-language user guide to help users build their system successfully. Let's take a closer look at the Corsair Spec-04 Tempered Glass edition before opening it up to build a system.

Corsair Spec-04 Exterior Overview

[caption id="attachment_201136" align="aligncenter" width="645"]Corsair Spec-04 Tempered Glass Corsair Spec-04 Tempered Glass Exterior Overview[/caption] If you have seen the Corsair Spec-04 before, then this will look very familiar.  The overall color scheme of the Spec-04 Tempered Glass is black, with red highlights on the front bezel.  While the case is meant to be for budget systems, the design and finish on the Spec-04 would meet the expectations of Corsair's fans.  Corsair is well known to build quality products, and the Spec-04 Tempered Glass holds this reputation high.  While the original Spec-04 was offered in multiple color schemes, the Tempered Glass edition is only currently available in this black/red color scheme. [caption id="attachment_201137" align="aligncenter" width="466"]Corsair Spec-04 Tempered Glass Corsair Spec-04 Tempered Glass Front View[/caption] Looking at the front of the case, about half the front cover is vented, while the rest is solid.  The vented section allows for air to enter the case with the assistance of case fans.  The front has an angular design, with several different angles giving it a unique touch. [caption id="attachment_201138" align="aligncenter" width="645"]Corsair Spec-04 Tempered Glass Corsair Spec-04 Tempered Glass Full Tempered Glass Side Panel[/caption] Like most cases that have a solid tempered glass side panel, the panel on the Spec-04 is held in place with four thumbscrews in the corners.  To protect it during shipment, there is a layer of plastic on it that has not been removed yet. [caption id="attachment_201139" align="aligncenter" width="467"]Corsair Spec-04 Tempered Glass Corsair Spec-04 Tempered Glass Rear Panel[/caption] The back panel of the case doesn't have any features that jump out at me.  We find the usual suspects, starting at the top there is a rear exhaust for a 120mm fan (not included), and the motherboard I/O key.  In the middle of the case is the seven expansion port covers which are vented for airflow.  These are secured to the case on the outside, and to help keep them secure, there is a simple bracket that is held in place with two additional screws.  At the very bottom is the standard power supply cutout. [caption id="attachment_201140" align="aligncenter" width="645"]Corsair Spec-04 Tempered Glass Corsair Spec-04 Tempered Glass Power Supply Filter[/caption] Bottom mounted power supply typically has the fan on the bottom to take in fresh air, as such a filter is necessary to keep it clean and operating correctly.  The Spec-04 has a rear removable filter whieh will make it easier to keep clean. [caption id="attachment_201141" align="aligncenter" width="645"]Corsair Spec-04 Tempered Glass Corsair Spec-04 Tempered Glass Back Side Panel[/caption] Usually back side panels are just a plain sheet of metal, Corsair has opted to provide a raised area on this side of the case.  It's a nice change from plain, flat, boring side panels.  Plus it does provide an added benefit of making more space inside the case for cable management. [caption id="attachment_201142" align="aligncenter" width="645"]Corsair Spec-04 Tempered Glass Corsair Spec-04 Tempered Glass Front I/O Cluster[/caption] The front I/O cluster is commonly found on the top of the case, or the front panel.  For the Spec-04, Corsair has moved it to the back side panel on the right side.  It includes the standard items, power button, 1x SuperSpeed USB 3.1 Gen 1, USB 2.0, Microphone, Headphone, HDD activity indicator, and a reset button.  While Corsair did include two USB ports, I always find it odd when companies provide one USB 3.1 Gen 1 port, when the internal header is always designed to support two ports. [caption id="attachment_201143" align="aligncenter" width="645"]Corsair Spec-04 Tempered Glass Corsair Spec-04 Tempered Glass Top Panel Vents[/caption] The top panel of the case is partially solid; towards the back of the case there are vents to install two 120mm fans.  There is no filter installed, so if you want to install fans here, it is best that they be exhaust fans, perhaps on an AIO Liquid Cooler. [caption id="attachment_201227" align="aligncenter" width="645"]Corsair Spec-04 Tempered Glass Corsair Spec-04 Tempered Glass Bottom Panel[/caption] Nothing too exciting to see on the bottom panel, we already knew there was a power supply intake filter.  The four feet have little rubber pads to help keep it from sliding around on some surfaces, and the feet raise the case off the surface close to 3/4 of an inch.  The front panel, we see there is no opening on the bottom, meaning that the front of the case is the only way for the front intake fans to get air, which is required to go through the filter. Let's move on and remove the side panels to get a good look at the interior.

Corsair Spec-04 Internal Review

The Tempered Glass side panel is removed with four thumbscrews; the mounts for the tempered glass panel are rubber coated to both protect the tempered glass and reduce vibration noise.  Once the thumbscrews are removed we can poke around at the interior of the Spec-04. [caption id="attachment_201239" align="aligncenter" width="645"]Corsair Spec-04 Tempered Glass Corsair Spec-04 Tempered Glass Interior View[/caption] A large portion of the case is empty, with only the 3.5" drive cage in the lower front.  Looking at the motherboard tray, we can see that there is a slight raised section at the front, that allows for some additional room behind the tray, but also lets the main cable management holes to have a slightly angular design.  Speaking of the cable management holes, Corsair has made sure there are plenty no matter which size of motherboard you select; in fact there are fourteen holes to route your cables through.  The motherboard tray itself has the motherboard standoffs preinstalled, and the holes are marked depending on the size of motherboard you are using (ATX or mATX).  In addition, Corsair has pre-installed the motherboard standoffs, which includes one that acts as a guide in the middle. [caption id="attachment_201246" align="aligncenter" width="645"]Corsair Spec-04 Tempered Glass Corsair Spec-04 Tempered Glass Front Mounted Drive Cage[/caption] The front 3.5" drive cage holds up to three 2.5" or 3.5" drives.  It uses a tried and true 3.5" drive tray to secure the drives to the cage.  The bottom tray is raised up, which provides some space beneath the cage for cables or airflow. [caption id="attachment_201318" align="aligncenter" width="645"]Corsair Spec-04 Tempered Glass Corsair Spec-04 Tempered Glass Front of Case with Drive Cage Removed[/caption] If you do not have need of the drive cage, and prefer to not have it in the case you can remove it.  There are six screws holding in front drive cage (4 on bottom, 2 on back), remove these screws and the cage comes right out.  With the drive cage out, there is now room for at least a 2x140 AIO radiator, possibly even able to fit a 3x120 radiator (although the cables at the top might be a little tight.  Of course now you loose the capability of using 3.5" hard drives. [caption id="attachment_201244" align="aligncenter" width="645"]Corsair Spec-04 Tempered Glass Corsair Spec-04 Tempered Glass 3.5" or 2.5" Drive Tray[/caption]   The 3.5" drive trays are a very familiar design, it has been used for many years and is well known to be easy to use.  One small change I noticed here is that there are three pegs on the side for the 3.5" hard drive holes, usually there are only two.  If you want to install 2.5" drives on the tray, there are four screw holes on the tray to secure your 2.5" drive to the tray. [caption id="attachment_201243" align="aligncenter" width="645"]Corsair Spec-04 Tempered Glass Corsair Spec-04 Tempered Glass Back of Motherboard Tray[/caption] Turning our attention to the back of the motherboard tray, we get another view of the cable management holes.  Between the main area of the motherboard tray and the back panel, there isn't a lot of room for cables about 1/4 inch.  The front section there is a little more room as the area is raised from the motherboard tray.  It will be interesting to see how easily you can route the cables.  To secure the cables, Corsair has cut our fourteen cable tie locations, this should be plenty to route the cables and keep them secured. [caption id="attachment_201323" align="aligncenter" width="645"]Corsair Spec-04 Tempered Glass Corsair Spec-04 Tempered Glass Back 2.5" / SSD Install Location[/caption] If you install your drives in the drive cage, then you might not need to use the two additional 2.5" drive install locations on the back of the motherboard tray.  Here you can install your 2.5" drives with the connections facing the cable management holes, making cables easier to connect.  With the drive tray and these two spots, you can install up to five drives of various sizes. [caption id="attachment_201245" align="aligncenter" width="453"]Corsair Spec-04 Tempered Glass Corsair Spec-04 Tempered Glass Front of Case without Bezel[/caption] The front cover removes from the case with a little difficulty, it is held in place with clips on the inside of the case.  Typically you can pull the cover and the push clips will release.  While you do the same for the Spec-04, there is a little handle at the bottom of the front cover, and is fairly flush with the case making it a little difficult, but not impossible.    With the cover removed we find the single front intake fan.  There is space below and above to install additional intake 120mm fans.  This is where those four long fan screws will come in handy; keep in mind that Corsair provided four long fan screws, and to install two additional 120mm fans you'll need a total of eight long fan screws. Now that we know the potential of the Corsair Spec-04 Tempered Glass, let's build a system and see how it comes together.

Building a System and Final Thoughts

[caption id="attachment_201391" align="aligncenter" width="645"]Corsair Spec-04 Tempered Glass Corsair Spec-04 Tempered Glass Finished Build[/caption] Building the system inside the Spec-04 Tempered Glass went exactly as planned, there were no major surprises with the standard build.  The center standoff having the guide stud made installing the motherboard as simple as could be.  A few things did catch my attention however.  For the 8-pin Auxillary power connector, the motherboard covers up the hole in the tray to route the power cable, the cable was long enough to reach from the cable management hole at the front of the motherboard though.  Installing the SSD's on the back of the tray leaves a fairly large amount of space being under utilized, this would be a good place to install a small 120mm AIO liquid cooler. [caption id="attachment_201387" align="aligncenter" width="645"]Corsair Spec-04 Tempered Glass Corsair Spec-04 Tempered Glass with 240mm Radiator[/caption] Looking at the case as I was building it, I thought there was not real reason why a 240mm radiator wouldn't fit at the top of the case.  If two 120mm fans will fit, then surely an AIO Liquid cooler would as well.  Technically, it does; however there are a few things to be aware of if you decide to do this.  First, space is very tight, you will want to plan out your install carefully.  For example, if you look at the memory you'll see that the fans (and actually the radiator) is covering part of the memory.  Next, the fans are also covering part of the CPU block.  Not to mention some of the motherboard fan headers and other features are covered by the fans and radiator.  The downside to this, is if you have to replace the memory or refresh the thermal paste on the CPU, you'll have to remove some if not all of the AIO Liquid cooler.  A 120mm radiator on the back of the case would fit much nicer. [caption id="attachment_201389" align="aligncenter" width="645"]Corsair Spec-04 Tempered Glass Corsair Spec-04 Tempered Glass Back of Motherboard Tray[/caption] Turning to the back side, as you can see I have done nothing to route cables; for this test build I wanted to let the cables fall where they wanted.  Some of the cables could be routed to the tie down locations and make it much neater.  However with a solid back panel many people will not be too concerned about the cables.  Even with the cables left to hang freely, the back panel was able to slide into place without any issues, thanks to the raised section on the panel.  The two SSD's that were installed on this side are sharing the SATA power cable, and a straight SATA data cable was used; a 90 degree cable would work, but then the cable would immediately come onto the motherboard side.  One small issue about the holes in the motherboard tray, specifically for the CPU cooler backplate, I was barely able to squeeze the AIO backplate into place, had it been any larger or thicker it wouldn't have fit without taking the motherboard off.

Final Thoughts and Conclusion

With any piece of hardware built for a "budget" build, I immediately begin to question its build quality.  I found the Spec-04 Tempered Glass to be worthy of Corsair's name.  Corsair has a reputation of building hardware that meets and exceeds the users expectations.  While it is a basic case, it does check off all the necessary features and quality checks to make it a good foundation for a budget build.  It supports the latest graphics cards up to 370mm in length, and if you use a CPU air cooler it can be up to 150mm in height. [caption id="attachment_201393" align="aligncenter" width="645"]Corsair Spec-04 Tempered Glass Corsair Spec-04 Tempered Glass View of System Through Tempered Glass[/caption] One thing I quickly noticed is that the front I/O cluster is on the back side of the case, while there is technically nothing wrong with this, it feels as if it is on the wrong side.  With a tempered glass panel, most users will probably want to be able to see inside their case, which places the front I/O on the other side.  This is only my personal opinion, but it's something you should consider when looking at purchasing the Spec-04.  While I'm talking about the front I/O cluster, there is a USB 3.1 Gen 1 Type-A and a USB 2.0 Type-A port, I would have preferred to have two USB 3.1 Gen 1 Type-A ports, internal headers are designed to support two ports, so this makes more sense. If you are looking at wanting to hide your power supply, Corsair does not include a power supply cover with the Spec-04 Tempered Glass; keep in mind this is a budget minded case.  Including a power supply cover would increase the price, at which time they start getting into a higher price point for cases. For a basic case, the Spec-04 Tempered Glass edition meets all the current standards in what  people are looking for in a computer case.  For anybody purchasing this case, I would recommend they look at purchasing at least one addition fan for an exhaust; additional fans would be helpful if you find that you are running up against the thermal limitations of the system.  This of course increases the overall price of the case from its base retail price of $59.99 shipped. If you don't care about the tempered glass you can pick up the original Spec-04 for as little as $48.16 shipped! Legit Reviews Value Award Legit Bottom Line:  The Spec-04 Tempered Glass is a fine representation of a budget minded case it has the latest enthusiast grade features and is built to Corsairs demanding specifications, making it a high quality computer case.