The Carbide 540 is unique because of its dual-chamber design - a primary chamber for the motherboard and a secondary chamber for the PSU, storage devices and optical drives. Its a unique concept that is not often seen in casings (Lian Li's PC-D600 adopts a similar concept) and the most obvious benefit of such a design and layout is that without the optical drives and hard drives in the way, the motherboard, along with the graphics card, CPU and memory, can receive cool air directly from the intake fans. In addition, with the PSU on the opposite side of the casing, there are no pesky cables that get in the way.
The casing is able to accommodate all the popular motherboard form factors including mini-ITX, micro-ATX, ATX and E-ATX. Additionally, Corsair says it will also manage graphics cards up to 32cm in length and CPU coolers up to 18cm in height.
Installing the motherboard was a straightforward affair, since the standoffs for a regular ATX motherboard has already been put in place straight from the factory. The expansion slots use standard thumbscrews, so installing the graphics card was a cinch too.
At the bottom of this main chamber are also two drive trays for 3.5-inch drives, with SATA connectors round the back. This means you install your drives on the drive trays itself and then simply slide it into place and into the SATA connector. This means less cabling and it is a thoughtful and nice touch. Users can choose to install 2.5-inch drives into these bays too, but that would require using screws to secure them to the drive tray. As such, it's better to use the dedicated SSD cage in the secondary chamber.
In the secondary chamber, you will find two 5.25-inch optical drive bays, two hard drive trays for 3.5-inch drives, and a removable SSD cage that can hold up to four 2.5-inch drives. Installation of these drives is, as you would expect, a completely tool-less affair.
The SSD cage is secured only on one end and as such feels a bit flimsy and prone to shaking. Therefore, we would recommend using it only for SSDs, since they have no moving parts and do not vibrate. However, if you absolutely need to install a 2.5-inch hard disk drive, then it is best to install it in one of the deeper positions closer to the mounting point to reduce vibration.
Granted, your optical drives and hard drives require substantially less cooling than your motherboard, graphics card and CPU, but we would really like to have the option to, at the very least, install an exhaust fan to provide some ventilation. As it is, this chamber of the casing does not offer any active cooling options and only has an air mesh at the rear. That said, for users who do not mind improvising, we found that the size of the holes of the rear mesh is big enough to accommodate mounting screws for aftermarket fans. As such, users can improvise by mounting their own exhaust fan at the rear of the secondary chamber. But do note that this is not the most effective setup since the mesh continues to be in the way, and unless you have the right size screws, the fan might rattle a bit.
The PSU bay is pretty interesting as there is a tool-less installation option. By using the mounting bracket and thumbscrews, you can easily secure the PSU in position. Depending on the PSU, getting a good fit takes a bit of trial and error, but for those who hate using the screwdriver, this is a viable alternative.