Not as Edgy Inside
As wild as the Corsair Spec-Alpha is on the outside, we were expecting a more standard case on the inside, and that is exactly what we got. The design and layout is very typical for that of a mid-tower. However, it being a Corsair case, there are a few nice design elements.
For example, there is the tool free drive cage that can accommodate three 3.5" drives and two 2.5" drives. Tool-less drive cages are nothing new, but we really like this design, as drives can be slotted in or out within seconds and there is no need to waste time pre-attaching custom rails to the drives, as they aren't required.
As you would expect from a Corsair case, there's loads of room for excellent cable management, with plenty of cut-outs in the tray along with sufficient room behind for tucking away excess cabling- not something all mid-towers do well.
Out of the box, the Spec-Alpha is very well equipped when it comes to cooling, and this is important, given Silverstone include three of their 120mm Air Penetrator fans in the RVX01. Corsair has taken note, and matched this configuration with three 120mm fans of their own. They have even gone as far as to add a little bling with dual red LED fans up front in this particular model with a third more standard black fan in the rear.
The front intake fans are supported by a dust filter built into the mesh panel on the front façade. The filter isn't removable so in order to correctly clean it out you will have to remove the top panel, and then the front panel. This isn't a very big deal, as the process is very simple. As the panels are mostly plastic, they are washable if things get really bad.
Apart from the three fans included, it is possible to install an additional two 120mm fans in the top of the case. Oddly, it is possible to fit three 120mm fans in the front of the Spec-Alpha as there is room for an additional fan below the two that come pre-installed. I say oddly because Corsair only states that there is room for two on their spec sheet.
As for radiator mounting locations, Corsair states that the front fan location can handle a 120 or 240mm radiator, while a second 120mm radiator can be mounted in the rear. For our build, we had no trouble installing a 240mm radiator in the top of the case, though the radiator or fans (depending on the configuration) will just cover the top side of the motherboard. For us, though, this was a non-issue.
Something else we found odd in regards to the Spec-Alpha's spec sheet was the fact that Corsair states that the maximum CPU cooler height is a rather limited 156mm which we were surprised about. Yet, despite that, my 160mm tall Prolimatech Megahalems CPU cooler fit with plenty of room to spare. In fact, you can actually go as high as 170mm before almost touching the window with about a millimeter to spare.
Corsair has certainly allowed themselves plenty of headroom with this specification, particularly given that the case has a fixed mounting height for the motherboard. Anyway, the Spec-Alpha is guaranteed to handle 156mm tall CPU coolers, though we believe it can handle any air-cooler on the market right now.
Something we hated about the Silverstone RVX01 was the extremely limited 162mm length for the power supply. For testing, we installed a 160mm fully modular power supply and even then, attaching the modular cables was very difficult due to the limited headroom. Corsair hasn't made that mistake, and the Spec-Alpha essentially has all the room in the world with 190mm to play with. In fact, there is essentially 290mm in total before you hit the drive bays. So as was the case with the CPU cooler where anything will fit, we find any ATX PSU on the market will actually fit inside this case with no compatibility issues.
As for the graphics card length, you are essentially not limited for the primary card, as it can measure up to 380mm long, and no desktop graphics card comes even close to that measurement. The second and third graphics card will be limited to around 280mm long, which still means even cards such as the 267mm long GeForce GTX Titan X will fit with ease.
The motherboard tray features a nice large cut-out for installing third party coolers without first having to remove the motherboard. The tray supports Mini-ITX, MicroATX and ATX motherboards and features plenty of options for routing cables. In the top right corner of the case you can also mount an additional two 2.5" drives to the back plate giving the case support for a total of four 2.5" drives.
Internally, the Spec-Alpha is very well designed which should make installation as easy as possible and that is something we are about to take a closer look at. The tool-less drive cage is a very nice touch, as are the three included 120mm fans, and of course the headroom for larger hardware.