Introduction and Technical Specification
We're not sure whether you can use the term "series" with regards to PC cases if there's only one case in the "series". You see up to now the 600T has been more than a little lonely being as it was the only member of the Corsair Graphite series. We say was as it now has some company in the form of the new Graphite 230T. A mid tower case aimed quite squarely at gamers the 230T has striking lines, and if you opt for the Orange featured in the review sample quite striking colours too. Should you fancy something a little more subtle you could always opt for the more classic Black or slightly avant-garde Grey. Each of the cases comes complete with 3x120mm fans, the front two of which are LED units intended to compliment the tone of the case.
Front 2x120 LED included
Rear 1x120 included
Roof 2x120 or 2x140 Optional
Base 1x120 or 1x140 Optional
|Compatibility||ATX, mATX, Mini ITX|
|Max CPU Cooler Height||160mm|
|Max GPU Length|
430mm Top slots
320mm Lower slots
Up Close: Exterior Overview and Front
We're rather taken Corsair's decision to release the 230T in the bold Orange colour. They have however played I safe by making it available in more a traditional Black and Grey colours. Should you choose the Orange then the brace of front 120mm fans will come with Orange LEDs. The Black comes with Red LEDs and the Grey with Blue LEDs, so something there for everyone.
Roughly half of the left side of the case is given over to a chevron shaped window. Although the size might seem a little paltry, in reality it's well placed for viewing the majority of the shiny kit inside. Anterior to the window is an embossed square and arrow head emblem, presumably to both mimic the chevron and to add rigidity to he panel. The right side of the case also has the same embossing being otherwise devoid of features.
The front of the case is left Black with the front I/O area positioned a the top leading edge corner. A brace of USB3.0, the usual audio jacks and power and reset button keep this area clean and uncluttered. We particularly like the way the metal side and roof panels cut away and scallop around the edges of the front panel, helping to mark it out as part of the Graphite range.
Three 5.25" bays are situated beneath the front I/O area. Although at first view these may appear to be circular mesh with a filter behind they are in fact solid plastic with a circular mesh pattern moulded into them. The front intake area below is also plastic but on this occasion we're delighted to say hat the circular mesh pattern is real!
Up Close: Exterior Roof, Rear and base
A large circular mesh area has been cut into the steel of the roof allowing a pair of either 120mm or 140mm fans to be fitted. Corsair have even included rubber grommets to aid in vibration absorption.
The rear of the case is relatively unremarkable, beside the rear I/O sits a mesh area for a ftted 120mm fan (Non LED). Beneath this are a generous 7 vented PCI slots and a PSU cut out. The observant amongst you will have noticed the absence of the wrap round tabs used to locate and screw down the side panels.
Attention to detail is of great importance to us here at OC3D so it's nice to see that Corsair have continued the Orange theme to the underside of the case. A removable plastic mesh filter protects the PSU area and although there is a cut out for a 120mm or 140mm fan in the base it's not filtered. The case is supported by 4 thin rubber foam feet. This will give it quite a low ride height and where it should be fine on a desk if you're using your PSU with the fan facing down we recommend you don't place the case on the carpet (which isn't a great idea at the best of times).
Remember we mentioned the absence of the side panel location tabs? Well that because the side panel slides of forward rather than rear ward to release it. The embossed square and arrow head came in quite handy at this point being pretty much the only thing to gain purchase on in order the slide the panel off.
Up Close: Interior Overview
The interior of the case looks stunning with the black areas being counterpointed by a continuing orange theme. A substantial CPU cut out should make changing coolers a piece of piddle while three good sized, although un grommeted, management holes will enable cables to be well routed. Corsair have even added a wide aperture up near the roof for the 8pin CPU power cable to come though and for fan cables to exit.
The tool-free fittings on the 5.25" bays are among some of the most simplistic we've ever seen being to all intents and purposes a bit of sprung steel with a location pin on the sprung end. Don't think this a criticism, they are clearly inexpensive but do the job just as well as any of the esoteric clamp and buckle mechanisms that are out there.
If you thought the 5.25" bays were simple you're going to love the 3.5" bays. There's four in total, but no trays, no runners to screw to the hard drives, just slide them in and they lock in place. To remove just release the little lever at the side and pull. Corsair haven't forgotten the 2.5" drive either, as sitting atop the 3.5" rack is a plastic assembly capable of holding 4 of the little blighters.
The PSU is supported by two long runners, with no form of padding to be seen. It's very unusual, even in a budget case for there not to be any form of foam or rubber padding to support the PSU and aid in reducing vibration and sound transmission. A bit of a strange choice for Corsair, we'll have to see if it impacts on the sonic performance of the case. Above the PSU cut out seven PCI slots are protected by vented blanks, with a mesh panel to the left to further aid heat dissipation. Above this we find a black non LED 120mm fan and the rear I/O area.
As we saw when we looked at the exterior, the roof of the case is predominantly circular mesh. Although no fans are included in this position, location holes resplendent with rubber isolation grommets are present to enable a pair of either 120mm or 140mm fans to be mounted. Strange Corsair should go the to trouble of putting in eight grommets up here but chose not to put anything under the PSU.
Up Close: Rear of Motherboard
There might only be seven cable tie points, but boy are they are well distributed. In the ideal world we would prefer the ones nearest to the vertical management holes to be off set to one side but as Corsair have actually recessed this channel, giving greater depth we can hardly be critical of their choice of cable tie point location. There's also a nice clear line of tie points going across the bottom and working their way up the right hand side. Ok, so we favour tucking the 8 pin CPU power cable into the recess at the side, but the tie points are there if you need them.
It's actually quite spacious back here, with a good deep trough running along the base and along the top of the case. Perfect for stashing all those unwanted cables
The feeling of space isn't that well supported by the metrics. The majority of the case having just 15mm of space to work in. Thankfully Corsair have actually recessed the route the majority of the main cables will take to a very agreeable 23mm of depth for cable management
Up Close: Stripped
As the majority of the case is actually riveted steel the only piece to remove is the front panel. It didn't exactly come away easy though, to the extent that at one point we we're in two minds as to whether it was actually meant to be removed at all.
Removing the front panel won't require you to feed lots of wires through as the front I/O is not connected to it. If you really wanted o remove this then a few screws will see you right. The front fans are also fixed to the main chassis of the case. With the Orange 230T featured here these light up Orange when the power is on. If you had any ideas about changing out for 140s you can forget them as there's mounting points only for 120s.
Taking into account how hard it was to remove the front fascia, cleaning the front air filter is also going to be a bit of a chore as it's physically attached to the fascia. Still at least there is a filter.
The Graphite 230T doesn't exactly come with an abundance of accessories. The bare essentials are here of course, screws for where they're needed, and a slack handful of cable ties. Corsair haven't been over generous in the instructions department either, with just a fold out exploded diagram to light your way should you feel you need some help. We do often take the rise out of needing to read instructions, however we do think Corsair could have gone into quite a bit more depth than they have, for example, it's not immediately obvious that the side panels are removed by sliding them forwards rather than backwards, you're left to work this out for yourselves.
With that gripe out of the way and our man card in no danger of being surrendered, it's on with the build. Surprisingly, despite the lack of any anti vibration rubbers the PSU feels well supported on the long rails alone. With the Motherboard in our thoughts that it might be possible to slip an AIO up here are dashed. With just 28mm of room it's a non starter. If you were absolutely determined you could mount a slim rad internally and have the fans on the outside, but for the love of Bob don't.
We were quite pleased with the wiring job round the back, using just 4 of the supplied cable ties. The nice deep trough at the bottom is perfect for routing transverse cables out of sight and for stashing those that aren't going to be used.
Round the front the lack of rubber grommets makes the build look less tidy than it other wise would have, especially as cables have to be routed across the management holes from behind and as such are clearly visible.
You might not be getting an AIO in here any day soon but with 160mm of headroom there's still plenty of room for a good sized tower air cooler. With the internal storage confined to the lower part of the case there's also room in the 230T to fit a GPU up to 430mm in length into the upper motherboard slots. Should you need to use the lower slots then the max length is reduced to 230mm, which is still plenty for a case like this.
In reviewing the Corsair Graphite 230T we tried very hard not to be swayed by the Orange colour scheme. We happen to like it, and like it a lot. We think it's refreshing without being too in your face and we applaud Corsairs decision to go with it, even if they have chosen to listen to the accountants as well as the marketing people, you see Orange is not the only fruit as the 230T is also available in a Black and a Grey colour scheme. Colour scheme aside we also quite like the looks of the 230T, especially the way the side panels are scalloped around the corners as they meet up with the black front panel. The side window could do with being a bit bigger but it does its job showing us the sexy stuff without exposing all the dreary drive bays at the front.
On the subject of drive bays, inside there's room for 3x5.25", 4x3.5" and 4x2.5" which should be plenty enough for anyone. A large CPU cut out will make changing coolers from any CPU location a piece of piddle and with 160mm of headroom you're also going to be able to fit a decent sized tower cooler in here. As the internal storage is located towards the base of the case if you use the upper PCI slots on your Motherboard, which after all are usually the optimum ones, you'll be able to fit in GPUs up to 430mm in length. Should you need to use the lower slots then all is not lost as there's still 230mm of clearance to be had.
Cooling is provided by 2x120mm LED fans at the front and a single 120mm non LED fan on extract at the rear. Additional fan locations are up for grabs in the roof, which will accept either 2x120mm or 2x140mm and in the floor of the case where either a120 or a 140 can be placed. One of the more unusual decisions Corsair has taken is not putting rubber isolation pads onto the PSU mounts. This is especially odd when we note that there eye for detail sees them placing no less than eight adjustable isolation grommets in the roof fan mounts. Fortunately the lack of isolation rubbers under the PSU does not appear to have affected noise transmission to any extent.
Although the integral cooling is more than adequate it would have been nice if the 230T was able to accept some of the 240mm radiator based AIOs, however with only 28mm of clearance between the top of the Motherboard and the roof of the case this avenue is pretty much closed off. Heck 28mm is only just enough to get a fan up there. Another 20mm or so added to the chassis height would have opened up this option and made the 230T a much stronger contender especially as it's aimed at the gaming market where there's a distinct probability that the owner is going to want to overclock his rig to some extent. As there's only 8mm of clearance between the edge of the rear fan and the edge of the case it's also going to be a bit of a squeeze to get a smaller 120mm units in this location, Unsurprisingly the 120mm wide rads of the Corsair Hydro Series fit just fine, if you're opting for something else check the radiator dimensions before you buy.
Thus far we haven't talked about quality and build but really we should as it's here that Corsair never seem to fail. No matter whether you're buying top of the range or something further down the tree we've always seen, and begun to expect, top notch build quality from Corsair. That's not to say we take it for granted, as with all our reviews the 230T has been gone over with a fine tooth comb looking for faults rather than simply happening across them (we're not OC3D for nothing you know). Not only were we pleased to find nothing amiss but were actually quite taken aback by the attention to detail in a case at this price point. The paint is thick and well applied, the panels are straight and the shut lines are exceptional, even the rivets were neat and tidy, with all major joints being triple or double riveted. The case must have been built to a budget, but as with the 300R and more recent 330R it's hard to see where Corsair have made the cuts necessary to bring the case in at the price they have
So the 230T is a good case, perhaps with some areas for improvement but to bring these into relief let’s take a look at what else the £65 you'll pay for this case gets you. Assuming you're a gamer looking for a case with good airflow then the obvious competition here is the BitFenix Shinobi, perhaps now a little dated in looks the Shinobi does offer much of what the 230T serves up and although BitBenix Build quality is by no means bad, it's not anywhere as impressive as that found with Corsair. You might also consider one of the cheaper variants of the CM 690 II. For this price you're not going to get a windowed version and again the design is getting a bit long in the tooth, but crucially able to take a rad in the roof. Otherwise there's not really a lot else out there to challenge it at the £65 price point. However, spend just a fiver more and you're into Ronin territory, there's not the same build quality, or the colour options available, but you do get a huge window and native watercooling support for 240 AIOs in the roof.
We're more than pleased with the Graphite 230T. It might not be perfect, but then very little is. If it had native watercooling support in the roof we'd award a Gold, as it is though it gets a well-earned silver. We're also awarding a Gamers choice badge. Granted it might not improve your in game performance but we think it's damn sexy and offers all that a gamer needs for a dashed-darn decent price, especially the Orange, did we mention we liked the Orange!
Thanks to Corsair for sending the 230T in for review, you can discuss your thoughts in the OC3D Forums.