Coolermaster delivered its first High Air Flow designs a few years ago now, under the HAF moniker, and since then we’ve seen a number of casemakers take on the challenge of improving cooling in a case through unique designs. Silverstone’s Raven turned mobos on their side to get heat flowing up and out of the case, while Thermaltake took an amazingly compartmentalised swing at the problem, with its Level 10 case design.
Corsair’s take on getting the maximum air to your hot parts (oo-er) is the new Carbide Air 540, a cube-shaped case that will not suit all tastes – or even all desks/gaming setups – but that nonetheless wins points for original thinking.
The key to what Corsair’s trying to achieve with the Air 540 is hinted at in the exterior design. The right-hand side of the case is smooth, lightly rubberised and fully enclosed. The left-hand side boasts long strips of open mesh on the front fascia and top panel, and the side-panel is almost all window. There are two vertically oriented 5.25in drive bays on the right, above the IO ports.
So what’s going on?
The neat trick that Air is pulling off is dividing your PC’s components into two different cooling zones. On the enclosed side, you’ve got caddies for the optical drives or front bay controllers, and four tool-less caddies for SSDs, plus a tonne of space. There’s a dividing panel just off the case’s centreline, and on the left you’ve got everything else – mobo, CPU & ram, and video
card, all cooled by two 140mm intakes.
There are rubber-grommeted cable runs all round the mobo plate, so you can easily run everything into the other, semi-hidden compartment, and keep the airflow in the main one unobstructed. It also means you get one of the more noisy bits of some systems – the PSU – more isolated.
There’s a tonne of room on the left-hand side, both for large video cards, and for full-height CPU coolers. At the bottom of this side you also have two slide out caddies for 3.5 or 2.5in drives, and both of these are hot-swappable.
Though pretty well-specced for cooling right out of the box, there’s ample room for more fans on the top of the case, or even for installing a full liquid cooling setup. The full side window will make sure no matter what you build into the Air 540, it will certainly look its best, and the ability to shove all the cabling handily away helps even more in the neat build stakes. Its squat shape, as we said, is the only real sticking point, as there’s simply a lot of home computing setups where we imagine it just won’t fit. It’s also a touch expensive just for the innovation of being cube-shaped.
But if you’ve got the room, and don’t mind the cost, this is a great case for keeping hot gear cool, and showing it off to great effect!