June 4, 2018 // 2 p.m.
UK price (as reviewed): TBC
US price (as reviewed): MSRP $159.99 (exc. VAT) ($109.99 for non-RGB model)
While technically not a Carbide series case, the Crystal Series 280X RGB has its roots very much in the chassis of the popular Air 240. Several members of the bit-tech team have housed their main rigs in that case over the years, so we can think of few higher praises or bigger shoes to fill. There are two key changes, and fans of the Air 240 will spot them immediately: tempered glass panels and, in the more expensive model, LL120 RGB fans (the cheaper model has standard, non-illuminated SP120s).
The Air 240 was edgy but a little boxy, however the Crystal Series 280X RGB looks fantastic, and Corsair has placed the tempered glass in such way that it looks like the case has been designed around it and not vice versa. It's even created troughs in the chassis where the panels sit. The downside, though, is that unlike the Air 240, this results in air having to bend through 90 degrees to enter the case, and the gaps between the panels and case are quite small too.
The case retains the dual-chamber design along with the side-mounted PSU and 140mm/120mm fan mount in front of it, both protected by a magnetic dust filter that runs nearly the length of the far steel side panel. The roof and side tempered glass panels secure with thumb screws, but like the Air 240 the Crystal Series 280X RGB has various removable panels allowing for easy access to the interior.
There are no fan mounts at the rear of the case, though; the Air 240 sported a couple of 80mm mounts here. Given that airflow is somewhat restricted here with the new case, we think the inclusion of some exhaust fan mounts should have been a consideration. Sure, no one likes using 80mm fans, but we're talking about a unique case here. There are four PCI expansion slots catering for the fact the case supports micro-ATX as well as mini-ITX motherboards, but we've seen Air 240 builds using both sizes. Not that unless you water-cool it, using a graphics card in the bottom slot of your micro-ATX motherboard won't be feasible.
The exterior changes also encompass the front panel, which now sits at the top of the case and to the right of the glass panel but sports the same two USB 3.0 ports, audio jacks, and power and reset buttons. Sadly, that means we've got another premium case launch in mid-2018 with no sign of a USB 3.1 Type-C connector. The front-facing ports of the Air 240 are more favourable for users who want their PC on their desk, but the method here certainly gives the front of the Crystal Series 280X RGB a cleaner look.
A second dust filter sits underneath the case catering for a pair of adjustable 140mm/120mm fan mounts that may or may not be usable depending on your hardware configuration. It's rare to see this in such a small case, but it's possibly due to the PSU being located in the second chamber.