Corsair Crystal Series 280X RGB MATX Case Review
Published: 18th June 2018 | Source: Corsair | Price: $109.99 (Non-RGB), $159.99 (RGB) |
The MATX form factor has been neglected in recent years, so much so that we cannot even think of a single MATX motherboard that uses AMD's latest X470 chipset. While motherboard manufacturers could address at Computex or with upcoming B450 motherboards, it is undeniable that the MATX form factor is in decline.
This slump for MATX is a shame as MATX offers a lot of unique options to users, straddling the line between size and usability to provide most of the functions of ATX while delivering end-users with powerful, compact systems while maintaining the ability to use add-on cards outside of a dedicated graphics card.
Corsair's Crystal 280X isn't your average PC enclosure, not by a long shot. Ignoring the case's MATX form factor, a distinct design difference is the 280X's double barrel nature, splitting the case into two separate sections. The 280X's PSU, storage drives and cable clutter are stored in the rich chamber of the chassis, leaving everything else in the main chamber, which is visible through a smoked tempered glass window.
Longtime followers of Corsair will find that this case has a lot in common with the company's Carbide Air 240, though much of the case's internal layout has changed. Corsair has added new cable cutouts to the base of the 280X and has replaced the 240's dual rear 80mm fan mounts with a simple perforated passive intake/exhaust (depending on internal air pressure). While the lack of 80mm fan mounts may seem like a disadvantage for some, remember the downsides of 80mm fans. Any 80mm fan that can push a decent amount of air is almost always louder than your other fans, nevermind the fact that most major brands don't make 80mm models anymore.
Water cooling-wise, there is a lot to like about the Crystal 280X, with space for front and top mounted radiators. Well-planned systems could also fit a 240 radiator at the base of the case, though this will likely limit the number of add-in cards that system builders can use. There will always be restrictions when creating a small form factor water cooled PC, though the 280X offers more than enough room to get our creative juices flowing in that direction.
A simple modding option at the base of the 280X is the creation of an acrylic floor for the case, provided you are not using its two 120mm/140mm fan mounts. This mod will bring some more of the case's smooth exterior inside the enclosure, while also offering users the opportunity to showcase some extra creative flair.
Like most of Corsair's recent cases, the Crystal 280X comes with RGB and non-RGB options, with the RGB variant swapping its included SP 120mm fans with Corsair LL-series 120mm fans. These fans can connect to the 280X RGB's included Lighting Node PRO controller which allow users to control their system's lighting using Corsair's iCUE software, right down to individual LEDs. The choice between the 280X and 280X RGB comes down to your taste for RGB lighting and your budget, with the RGB enabled variant costing an additional $50.
Petty niggles aside, we like the Crystal 280X, it caters to an underserved form factor, and it offers more than enough options to send our minds spinning with potential modding possibilities and build plans. MATX and ITX users could get a lot done with this chassis, though the same could be said for Corsair's older Carbide Air 240, which shares many of the same design elements.
As for an award, we have decided to mark Corsair's Crystal 280X RGB with our official seal of approval. This case offers a host of modding possibilities for anyone with a creative spark, provides a clean aesthetic for those that desire a minimalist look and delivers users a lot more room to work with than most MATX enclosures while maintaining a compact form factor.