Obsidian Series 450D
Working with the Corsair Obsidian Series 450D was about as simple as a PC build gets. With plenty of room to work there isn't any special order in which things need to be done, making this the perfect case for novice builders while experienced users will also enjoy what the 450D has to offer.
With that massive cut out in the motherboard tray providing rear access, we installed the motherboard first. Next in went the CPU and then the massive Thermalright SilverArrow SB-E Extreme heatsink standing 165mm tall, the maximum supported CPU cooler height.
Next, we installed the OCZ ZX Series 850w modular power supply and a few storage devices -- specifically a pair of Seagate 3TB NAS hard drives and two OCZ 256GB SSDs, which were fitted behind the motherboard tray.
With the data and power cables connected we installed the Gigabyte Radeon R9 290X WindForce, which required a pair of PCIe power connectors. With all the other necessary cables connected, such as the front panel I/O, the system was complete.
Overall, the 450D build went very smoothly with no real problems to note. There is loads of room inside the case and everything is easy to access. The abundance of cable management was great and really helps create a neat build with very little effort. The only possible downside to the 450D is that for such a roomy case there is very limited room for 3.5" drives.
Carbide Air 540
Working with the Carbide Air 540 was more exciting than the 450D for the simple fact that this isn't a traditional case. That said, like the 450D we found the Air 540 very easy to work with and never felt like we needed to consult the user manual.
Many of the features found in the 450D are also present in the Air 540 such as the large cut-out in the motherboard tray along with the tool-less 3.5" and 2.5" drive cages. In fact, the installation procedure was actually much the same as we faced with the 450D, despite the cases being so different.
Like the 450D, we installed the motherboard into the Air 540 first as the hole in the motherboard tray allows us to install the CPU and cooler after. With a 170mm clearance for the CPU cooler, the Air 540 easily fit the massive Thermalright SilverArrow SB-E Extreme heatsink.
Spinning the Air 540 around allowed us to install the OCZ ZX Series 850w power supply and the two OCZ SSDs.
Getting back to the left chamber, we installed a single WD Red 2TB hard drive which slotted into the hot-swap bay in seconds using the tool-less drive caddy.
For something different, we installed the Radeon R9 295X2 into the Air 540 to show off its ample room for radiators. You could easily fit two of these massive graphics cards in the Air 540, not an easy task for mid-towers.
We enjoyed working with the Air 540. It was even easier to work with than the 450D, especially with the dual chamber design making cable management a breeze. The only disappointing aspect of this case is the limited support for 3.5" drives -- two simply isn't enough.