In the late 1800s, the first hearing aid was handheld and the batteries were large enough to fill a small purse, but today we have digital hearing aids that are nearly invisible. Back in the 70’s, Motorola developed the “brick” mobile phone, but today we have phones that fit in the palm of our hand.
These are just two examples, but if we can reduce the size of these modern marvels, why are PCs still such huge, monolithic beasts that take up a ton of room? It looks like Corsair was asking the same question when it announced the Carbide Air 240 earlier this month, which is the small form factor (SFF) version of the Air 540.
Can the Air 240 measure up to its bigger brother? Let’s hope not, but in a good way.
The Air 240 is a steel chassis with plastic covers, and a polycarbonate side window. Motherboard support is restricted to Mini-ITX (mITX) and MicroATX (mATX) boards, with room for multiple high-end liquid cooling devices, or the ability to load the chassis with up to 9 fans. There’s space for up to six hard drives, two segregated compartments for better thermal performance, and it can also be oriented with the window on the left, right, or facing up. CPU coolers are limited to 120mm in height, while GPUs can measure up to 290mm long.
From right to left, front panel connectivity is made up of two USB3.0 ports, and 3.5mm headphone and microphone ports. The power button, HDD LED, and reset button sit just to the right of the large, filtered grill that takes up the majority of the real estate. Since the Air 240 can be oriented in multiple ways, the Corsair logo is magnetic and can be rotated so that it faces up at all times.
Moving around to what would be the left panel on a traditional chassis, Corsair has gone with a large polycarbonate window that shows off almost the entire interior, and both side panels are held in place by captive thumbscrews that remain attached.
Due to the segregated compartments, the rear panel looks very different with the access cover for the 3.5″ drive bays at the top left and the vertical opening for the power supply below. On the right side is the motherboard I/O opening, room for two 80mm fans next to it, and the four expansion slots at the bottom that sport a screw-less retention clamp.
On the right panel is a large vent covered by a magnetic filter that allows air to circulate around the hard drive and power supply compartment. An optional 120mm fan can be installed at the front of this vent for extra cooling.
The top and bottom panels are identical since the orientation of the case can be changed. Both have some additional venting that carries over from the front panel, and are held in place with standard thumbscrews.
Removing the top panel provides access to the front 2.5″ drive cage and also shows the AF120L 120mm exhaust fan, which can slide front to back to ensure it’s placed in the perfect spot. There’s also room for another optional fan, but not enough clearance to mount any form of liquid cooling in this location. Since we like some full frontal nudity with our chassis reviews, we’ve also removed the front panel to see the two intake fans and the front panel connections that are secured to the chassis itself, meaning the panel can be lifted clear away.
With the left panel off, we get a clear view of the main interior section for the motherboard, GPU, and cooling. If liquid cooling is to be used with a mITX board, radiators measuring up to 240mm can be installed on the bottom and at the front, but only at the front when using a longer mATX board. The motherboard tray comes with loads of grommet-lined pass through holes for cable management, and a large cutout around the CPU area.
On the other side of the motherboard tray is where the drives and power supply will be found. At the front is the vertical drive cage for up to three 2.5″ drives, while the cage for up to three 3.5″ or an additional three 2.5″ drives, sits at the rear. The bottom front section can be used to stash cables, while the bottom rear is where the power supply will sit on four foam risers to absorb any vibration.
Included with the Air 240 are the usual motherboard standoffs, screws to secure the board and drives, and some short and long fan screws. There’s also a handful of zip ties, and four stick-on rubber feet that can be placed on whichever side will face downward. Having looked at lots of Corsair chassis in the past, we found it odd that there were no screws included to secure the power supply.
Even though our test system uses a mATX motherboard, it was easy to tell that we’d run into some hiccups even before installing any components. Read on and see what we encountered, as well as the results of our temperature tests to see if the name “Air” is truly warranted.
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