Corsair Graphite 380T Review
We think the 380T's looks will certainly galvanise opinion. You're either going to love it, or hate it, with the same being said for the Matt Yellow finish presented for review. The looks combined with the colour just remind us of so many things. However whether it be Bumblebee, De-Walt, JCB, an early portable TV or even a cooler box we just can't help but be drawn to the overall aesthetic. Underneath the plastic exterior though lurks a rigid steel interior offering a sound frame to which the comfortable carry handle is attached, meaning that this 393mm x 292mm x 356mm enclosure is eminently portable making it the ideal companion for LAN parties, general lugging around to a mates hose or from dorm room back to home in the holidays.
Portability is great but worthless if it's not possible to stuff the enclosure with performance hardware. Fortunately, although limited to M-ITX form factor, for which there are now many many viable performance boards available, the 380T is also able to house dual slot GPUs up to 290mm in length as well as tower coolers up to 150mm. We do though think that the sort of person who's going to buy a bright yellow case (or for that matter the Black or White version) and stuff it with performance hardware is more likely to want to use one of the excellent AIOs on the market today. With this in mind Corsair offer support not only for their very own H100i, but also any 240mm AIO up to 52mm deep, and when we say 52mm we mean it, as it is in fitting the AIO you could easily trap a flea's todger in the remaining gap.
In talking about Water cooling we do need to say that we think Corsair have missed a trick or two. Had the 380T been designed just a fraction deeper it would have been eminently possible to accommodate 280mm rads, and again, just a small addition to the height would have seen capacity rise to two 240mm rads in the side. With front ventilation offering support for 1x140mm, 2x120mm or 1x200mm fans, had they also chosen to make the anterior projection from the motherboard tray detachable as opposed to being a single continuous piece of steel it would also have been possible to place a second much thicker rad in the front of the case. As it is though if you want to go down this line you're going to have to sacrifice your 3.5" rack, which although removable is not re locatable, and whip out the old Dremel, because although the 380T doesn't offer native support it does get our modding juices flowing.
Building into the 380T is reasonably easy, by virtue of the access being afforded by the removable mesh and acrylic side/roof panels. Care though must be given to the order in which you install and wire up your components. We found for example that the large CPU cut out was not sufficient enough to allow AMD back plates to be attached once the motherboard was in place in the case. Not a biggy if you're building from scratch, but a sod if you don't realise this, complete your build then come to install your cooler, face palming as it dawns on you that you're going to have to remove the Motherboard and start over. We didn't have an Intel Board to try it with, but it looks like it should be OK as the mounting holes for Intel tend to be much closer together.
With a 140mm LED fan in the front, a 120mm in the rear and large mesh side panels the case has good cooling credentials, particularly for the GPU which when installed will have its intake fan right up against the mesh. If you want to crank things up a notch and fit a 240mm AIO then you'll be pleased to know that thanks to the removable mounting rails, fitting it was the easiest part of the build.
And so to the subject of price and competition. At £109 the 380T isn't cheap, and it certainly won't be winning any VFM awards. If you're in the market for a case and have £109 to spend there's a hell of a lot of good cases out there to choose from. If however you specifically want something compact and portable for the same money the field does start to narrow somewhat, with the only real thorn in it its side likely to be the BitFenix Prodigy and the raft of other cases based on the Prodigy chassis, all of which come in significantly cheaper than the 380T and offer the same, if not slightly better hardware and cooling support.
The 380T is a hard one to score. We love the aesthetic, we like the cooling and hardware support it offers, even if we do flinch at the price. It also seems harsh to mark it down not for the native water-cooling support, but for the water cooling capabilities it could so easily have had if just a little bit more thought had gone into the design. So with a nod and a raised eyebrow in the direction of Corsair with regards to the missed opportunities we will be assessing and scoring the case on its merits as opposed to what it could have been.
You can discuss your thoughts on the Corsair Graphite 380T Review in the OC3D forums