This year at CES 2016 Corsair made quite a splash with a plethora of new products that were not only different than what Corsair usually does in terms of styling but were a stunner at performance as-well. Lately we did had the pleasure of reviewing some of those offerings like the STRAFE RGB Cherry MX Silent Mechanical Keyboard, the Scimitar Gaming Mouse and the H5 SF Low Profile CPU Liquid Cooler, all of them won our hearts one way or the other.
Today is no different and we have with us the much talked about and highly anticipated Corsair Carbide SPEC Alpha mid-tower cabinet for review!
Priced aggressively at $80 or Rs 6500 (approx) in India the SPEC Alpha is one of its kind offering not only from Corsair but also from any other brand so far especially in this price range. The edgy looking chassis comes in four different color combinations namely as red-white, red-black, yellow-black and even the grey-black for those who like to stick with one color only.
Packing and Accessories
The Corsair Carbide SPEC Alpha comes in the traditional cardboard box packing of Corsair. I was expecting something colorful and new from them since the case itself is quite a path breaker itself.
Inside you'll find the usual two thick styrofoam blocks and a plastic cover to add further protection. Corsair is always so simple and perfect with their packing so no complains over here.
The Alpha comes with a generous bundle of accessories including a multilingual user manual and a bag full of zip-ties, motherboard screws, a set of four long long fan screws, four sets of four short fan screws and a motherboard stand-off.
The case measures in at 518 x 220 x 474 mm with 52L of volume which is quite good for a mid-tower chassis. Tipping out weighing scale at 5.7Kgs its a bit on the heavier side considering its size.
While one side is transparent with a panoramic window the other side is opaque and bulging in the same fashion as its transparent counterpart. The panels are really high quality sheet metal & feel thick with a seamless paint job.
Its a tall case and has a very high ground clearance courtesy to its tough plastic legs with rubber grommets at the bottom. This ensures more air flow in the case if a bottom fan is installed near the PSU!
Front fascia is nothing less than a polygon with a contoured finishing. The red strips gel well with the white base and the entire black mesh is actually a grill for the front fans to intake cool air through in-lined non-removable dust filters . One thing that some of you might've already noticed is that there is no optical drive opening in the front! Its a good move and we'll discuss it later on in the review.
Front I/O panel is vertical over here constituting of a power button, two USB 3.0 ports, a three phase fan controller for controlling upto four fans, headphone and microphone jacks along with a HDD activity LED and reset button.
On top the same angular design continues as that on the front and looks great! Where most of the cabinet manufacturers leave the top blank and bland Corsair made sure to give it proper attention aswell.
The bottom has a flimsy removable dust filter. probably the only thing that's cheap in quality about this case!
The back comes with a Corsair SP120 120mm fan pre-installed in exhaust. That's the maximum it can accommodate and a 140mm fan is not supported.
The bottom half has seven expansion slots and a PSU housing that can accommodate even the longest of PSUs easily. Two rubber cut outs are present in case you are into custom liquid cooling, a welcome move indeed since the case tilts a bit more towards liquid cooling solutions.
Open up the case and you can see that its pretty spacious and clean from inside. Plenty of cuts and crevices for wire management assistance are present but they are not lined by rubber grommets.
Interestingly Corsair got rid of the caddie system and now its a completely tool less drive mounting mechanism where you just have to slide in the drive into the brackets that come with in-build support screws. Another step towards simplification.
Two red LED fans come pre-installed in the front of the case and are numbered as Corsair A1225M12S rated at 1000 RPM +/- 20% and 54.0 CFM with 20dBA 0.30A.
Hardware InstallationTo get the Corsair SPEC Alpha up and running we stuffed it with the following hardware --
CPU: Intel Core i7 5930K 3.5Ghz hexacore processor OC at 4.1Ghz
Motherboard: Gigabyte G1 Gaming X99-Gaming 5P
RAM: Kingston HyperX Predator16GB 3000Mhz (4x4) DDR4 Quad-channel Memory
Cooler: Corsair H100i GTX 240mm Liquid Cooler
Graphics Card: MSI Radeon R9 380 Gaming 4G 4GB DDR5
Storage: Corsair Neutron GTX 480GB SSD
Power Supply: Corsair AX860i 860W 80+ Platinum
To be honest I don't like to fit such heavy and beefy components in mid-towers since its a tiresome job to put everything in the right place but not in case of the Alpha! The build actually came out so well that even Grand Master Po was impressed *wink*
As per Corsair the front could accommodate only two 120mm fans or a 240mm radiator but infact you can put three 120mm or two 140mm fans in front also my Corsair H110 280mm cooler slid in perfectly. Though I didn't have one but I can speculate that a 360mm radiator should also fit in just fine! Maybe Corsair got a bit too humble while talking about their product...
Only complaint is that you can't mount a radiator on top though a pair of 120mm fans can surely be fitted.
The benefit of neglecting a 5.25" drive bay has been immense for the Corsair Carbide SPEC Alpha, not only does it allow the fitting of the beefiest of liquid coolers in the front with the HDD/SSD drive cage still intact but also positions the fans as such that you get a direct air flow towards your graphics card and processor aiding in cooling by manifold especially if you are using a CPU air cooler!
Wire management was very easy courtesy to the numerous crevices and around an inch of wire clearance at the back but one ghost from the past is still haunting Corsair over here, there is no space for routing the (4+4) CPU Power cord! I had to route the wire from one of the front holes, fortunately it stays hidden due to the dark interiors.
The side panoramic window is of high density plexiglass and doesn't hinder the LED lights allowing them to pass through clearly without any glare that tends to happen with some panels.
In a nut shell the SPEC Alpha is one of the very few or maybe the only mid-tower case today that can hold a 280mm radiator-probably a 360mm radiator, a 120mm radiator and three HDD along with four SSD all at the same time!
My VerdictThe market of the Mid-Towers had lately come to a stand still especially when you considered designs that appealed to gamers, system builders or studio owners but that's a thing of the past! The Corsair Carbide SPEC Alpha is no less than a knight in shining armor which is not only build to last but to impress.
I highly recommend the Corsair Carbide SPEC Alpha to anyone and everyone be it a gamer, system builder or an enthusiast out there looking for a solid case that not only looks good but can also house even the beefiest of hardware. Just a piece of advice no matter what you do just keep it on top of your desk and not under it, its a thing to show off and not to hide!
I give it a 8.5/10