A Unique Concept
As we have mentioned in the introduction of our review, Corsair is serious about expanding its business and product portfolio. Corsair already has a formidable lineup of casings, but we believe the Carbide 540 will win over more users for them because of its unique design and overall high quality of features and build quality.
The Carbide 540 may not be the most interesting casing to look at, but In terms of build quality and construction, the Carbide 540 is almost faultless. Sure, it may not have an all aluminum chassis, but it is well put together and feels solid and rigid.
The highlight of the Carbide 540 must be its dual-chamber design and it works well. There are no drives to obstruct the two large intake fans cooling the CPU and graphics card; and with the PSU on the drives on the opposite side, there is very little cable clutter as well. The chambers are also large and spacious, which means users should have no problems fitting their long graphics cards or elaborate aftermarket CPU coolers.
The dual-chamber design also makes it easier for setup and installation, since the components are so clearly separated - of course, the casing’s tool-free construction had a big part to play too as it's easy to setup and use.
In terms of features, the Carbide 540 has it mostly covered. The ability to fit a variety of motherboard form factors is welcomed, as is the possibility of installing up to 280mm long radiator internally on the topside of the casing. The SSD cage is a nice touch and also shows that Corsair is well aware of the growing popularity of SSDs amongst users, but its flimsiness is cause for concern should you want to use it for hard disk drives. The secondary chamber, though reserved for PSUs and storage drives, still feels rather under utilized due to the large volume of unused space. You can't feel but wonder if Corsair could have offered or done something more here. One thing we can readily comment is the inadequate number of 3.5-inch drive bays.
All things considered, the Carbide 540 is an accomplished casing. Our only two major misgivings are the inadequate number of 3.5-inch drive bays for hard drives and that the case only offers two USB 3.0 ports on its front panel. More ports would definitely make the casing more usable. Active cooling options for the secondary chamber would be welcomed for better ventilation as well. Other than that, other minor niggles include the lack of rubber standoffs in the PSU bay and the lack of carrying handles or wheels for easy transportation. Also note that due to the vertical designed 5.25-inch drive bays, installing third-party front bay monitoring panels or controllers aren't ideal as they are not designed for vertical installations.
Corsair casings often command a slight premium over its competitors and unfortunately the Carbide 540 is no different. The Carbide 540’s asking price of S$189 makes it one of the more expensive mid-tower casings around, rivaling the CoolerMaster HAF 922XM (S$209) - its flagship HAF mid-tower casing - which offers more in terms of specifications. It also finds itself going up against NZXT’s competent Phantom 410 (S$170), which is a decent casing in its own right.
However, while its competitors may offer more bang for buck, the Carbide 540 stands out because of its unique dual-chamber design and its high level of build quality.