Corsair Carbide Series 500R Review:


Layout:

Side panel with mesh fan mount locations

Four 5.25” drive bays

Six 3.5” hard drive bays with 2.5” compatibility

Eight expansion slots

Supports most 240mm dual radiators (15mm spacing)

Two-year warranty

Front I/O panel contains:

Two USB 3.0 connectors

One Firewire connector

3.5” headphone and microphone connector

Power and reset switches

Fan LED on/off switch

Dimensions: 20.5” x 8.1” x 20”

Supports graphics cards up to 452mm in length (with hard drive cage removed)

Multi-channel fan controller

Six 120mm/140mm fan mounts

Four 120mm fan mounts

Includes a 200mm side panel fan, two front-mounted 120mm fans, and one rear 120mm fan

First Impression

The 500R comes packaged in the standard Corsair box with an ‘exploded image’ of the case on one side and description on the other. We can see on the exploded image the stock cooling, which includes a 200 mm white LED fan side fan (not shown), two 120 mm white LED fans, and a 120 mm black fan.

The box is black ink on unprinted cardboard. The case is packed securely inside with two thick pieces of Styrofoam and wrapped in a thick plastic bag for shipping.

The case itself feels quite sturdy. Fit and finish are exceptional for a case in this price category. The metal is not powder coated and has a soft feel. The sides of the front bezel and top of the case are black plastic. The rest of the case is steel and steel mesh. The 5.25″ bays are steel mesh with a foam air filter.

Cooling:

Although the case includes four fans, which are sufficient for any average system, Corsair allows for up to 10 fans to be mounted to this case. Two 120 mm fans up front, four more 120 mm fans can run push/pull on the HDD bays, two 120 or 140 mm fans on the side panel, a 120 mm in the rear, two 120 or 140 mm fans up top, and a 120 mm in the floor. To run push pull on both HDD cages, you will need to have a short graphics card. I had to remove one HDD cage altogether to accommodate my ASUS DirectCuII GTX 580 when I assembled the system. All included intake fans have dust filters, except the side fan which does not.

Adding fans to the roof definitely adds to the cooling power of the system. Corsair lets us put 120 or 140 mm fans up here and this case is clearly designed to accommodate the H100 radiator from Corsair. The mesh roof panel is detachable via a clip, the same way the top mesh detaches on the 600T.

In addition to all the cooling Corsair provides, I went ahead and added another fan via a Lian Li addon fan box where three of the optical drives were to give me a total of three 120 mm fans up front. It’s worth noting that while all the fans (minus the side fan) come with fan filters, the front fan cover is not detachable like on a 600T or 650D. You would have to clean the front air filter with compressed air or remove the front bezel. However the bottom air filter for the PSU and bottom intake fan slides out via the back for easy washing. This is a great feature.

Building in the 500R:

My system consists of the following components:

Intel 2600K w/ Noctua NH-D14

Asus Maximus 4 Extreme B3

2 x 4 GB G.Skill Ripjaws DDR3-1600

Asus DirectCuII GTX 580

Intel 510 SSD

Western Digital 150 GB Raptor

Asus XonarSTX Sound Card

Asus Bluray Player

Corsair HX850 PSU

The 500R is a very accommodating case to build in. The bowed side panels make installing thick  side fans over large CPU coolers a non issue, and wire management in simple. No need to tie cables down tight to the back of the motherboard tray any longer. The door bows out to allow your cabling more space. Not only that, the door screws are ‘captive’. This means that the door screws won’t get lost when you remove the door. They stay on it.

The front I/O panel has a lot of options as well, with the ability to run either USB2 (via included adapter) or USB3. The USB3 header is a proper USB3 header. No passing wires through the back on this case. Moving on we have Firewire, as well as control for fans via a built-in 3-speed fan controller and a switch turn the LEDs for the stock fans on and off. This particular option comes pre-wired from the factory with headers for additional fans to share this function. The built-in fan/LED controller connects to the power supply via a 4-pin molex. Also on the front I/O we get the standard headphone out, mic in, and reset button. The stock LED for the power button and HDD LED is white to match the white LED fans included with the system. Of course, this is easily remedied if you don’t like white by removing the front bezel and placing your choice of little squares of colored electrical tape over the LEDs. I chose blue to match the blue USB ports next to the light.

Corsair also provides a convenient place to put pens, USB keys, a pack of cigarettes, a digital camera or any other small items where you won’t lose them on top of the case.

I was able to run the bottom hard drive cage push/pull, install a 120 mm fan in the floor, and still fit my HX850 PSU with no issues when building the system. Hard drives and optical drives just slide into place with Corsair’s tool-less system. The hard drive caddys just wrap around a 3.5″ drive and grab on with grommeted metal ‘fingers’ where screws would normally go. Optical drives simply slide into place. Press a button on the side panel and they just slide out. The drive implementation could not be better executed. The SSD had to be screwed into place as it was 2.5″.

Corsair’s wire management system made wiring a dream and I completed the build in a relatively short amount of time. The only issue I have with the case regarding wiring is that if you use an EATX board, and it has right angle SATA ports, the bottom (closer to the motherboard tray) SATA slots will be blocked meaning you lose half your SATA ports. The reason for this issue is that the motherboard tray is indented. This is to take advantage of the extra room due to the bowed out side panel and make sure huge coolers like the NH-D14 will still fit under fat side panel fans when the system is fully assembled. So, make sure you use an ATX board or smaller with this case. I chose to use two Noctua 140 mm fans for the side panel intakes.

Conclusion:

This case has great features, great air flow, and only only has one true flaw, and that is that it blocks some SATA ports on EATX boards. Corsair also needs to include more than zero documentation with their cases to help new builders. Otherwise, I think that you’d be hard pressed to find a finer case that retails at this price point. It has equals, but it is an excellent unit. It’s something I’d recommend to anyone looking at getting all of the features you could get out of a pricier case, at a very reasonable price point. It’s durable, it’s easy to build in, and well-designed. Getting the white fans with their LED and speed control pre-wired into the fan controller which you connect to a 4-pin molex was very convenient. Additional fan headers are provided with this built in system so more LED fans can be connected to this as well to serve the same functions of speed control and LED on/off. The bowed side panels made side fans easy to fit and wiring even easier. In fact, the wiring and cable management were a walk in the park, even compared to an Obsidian series or Graphite series case. Corsair seems to try to think of everything, and this time, they pretty much did.

However, as much as I love this case, I can’t help but wonder why the roof wasn’t made to accommodate three 120 mm fans, which it would, or why the front mesh panel can’t be detached to clean the air filter. I also can’t help wondering why the motherboard tray is sunken so much that it interferes with an EATX board’s SATA ports. Only these reasons keep it from being a perfect case in my eyes.

Submitted by Pablo Escobar! Special thanks!!

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