Carbide Series Air 540
The Carbide Air 540 features a rather unconventional design that isn't shared by other Carbide series cases. Externally the case looks unusual because of the 332mm width, almost 60% wider than the 450D, yet the Air 540 is almost as tall (415mm) and long (458mm) as the 450D, giving the Air 540 a roomy 63L capacity, 23% more than the 450D and comparable to the 650D. The Air 540 also weighs 7.4kg which is similar to the 450D.
The reason for the unconventional design is because the Air 540 employs dual chambers. It's a bit like stacking two normal tower cases side-by-side. What Corsair has done is dedicate the left side of the case to the motherboard and all its components such as CPU and GPU. Meanwhile the backside which is typically just used for cable management has also been used to house the power supply and storage devices.
Corsair says this design maximizes performance by increasing air-flow over critical components without the power supply and hard drives getting in the way. It's a sound idea and in fact it reminds us a lot of the Cooler Master HAF XB which essentially does the same thing. However whereas the HAF XB can be considered the desktop version of this design, the Air 540 is the tower version.
The advantage the Air 540 has over the HAF XB is that it should be much easier to work with. The HAF XB offers limited access to the components under the motherboard tray and to remove certain parts, much of the system needs to be dismantled. While we still very much like the HAF XB, the Air 540 seems to take a more practical approach to this design by providing easy access to everything.
Externally, the Air 540 looks like a box, albeit a fancy one. Looking from the front, the left is dominated by a thick black plastic strip that serves as the case's primary source of ventilation. This strip extends from the front of the case to the top.
Opposite the ventilation are a pair of vertically mounted external 5.25" drive bays followed by the I/O panel. The I/O panel features power and reset buttons along with an activity LED. There are also two audio jacks and two USB 3.0 ports.
On the left side panel there is a massive window tinted black while the opposite side door is solid with a small grill in the bottom right corner to provide the power supply with cool air.
In back, the bottom left corner is a power supply mounting bracket, above that is a large honeycomb grill, and to the right of that are eight expansion slots along with the motherboards I/O and a grill for a 140mm fan.
Underneath the case are four large feet complete with rubber protectors that raise the enclosure about 10mm off the ground. There are four rectangular holes in the bottom of the Air 540 though they aren't designed to provide ventilation and they aren't covered with a dust filter. Rather, it seems they serve as rails for sliding in drive cages, so if 3.5" drives are installed here the holes will be covered.
Finally, while the Carbide Air 540 is an impressive looking case from the outside, it's not as sleek as an Obsidian case... though that has kind of been the point of the Carbide Series. The Air 540 seems to offer a nice blend of sleek styling with aggressive grills, like a dialed down HAF XB.