Introduction and Case Exterior

Corsair’s latest small case is surrounded by glass and features RGB effects

Corsair's new Crystal Series 280X RGB enclosure brings tempered glass and lighting effects down to the size of the company's previous micro-ATX Carbide Air 240 case (reviewed here back in 2014), creating a high-end take on this compact dual-chamber design. Beyond the stylish appearance an important question presents itself: can the Crystal 280X RGB offer sufficient airflow for good cooling with all of those glass panels? We will find out!

There is no more pervasive trend in the world of PC hardware than RGB lighting, and with the Crystal Series of enclosures Corsair adds the one component you will need to see as much of that colorful lighting as possible: glass, glass, and more glass. Yes, no fewer than three panels of the tinted, tempered glass variety adorn the 280X RGB, with the side, front, and top of the case covered – or, with the front and top, partially covered. About a third of the front is a solid panel, as is a third of the top, and this serves to help illustrate from the exterior that we are actually looking at a dual-chamber design.

Not so 'micro' ATX?

There are those who feel that an enclosure's internal volume must be low to qualify as "small form-factor", and that can certainly be argued; consider this design (like that of the Air 240), then, a compact take on the larger cube-like dual-chamber case that started with the Carbide Series Air 540 which we reviewed way back in 2013. As you will see, the ease with which a clean-looking build can be completed in such a case, and the ample storage and fan support, help mitigate the size. This case is wide for its height, though the rear chamber allows for the easy installation of a full-size ATX power supply, simultaneous installation of two standard hard drives and another three SSDs, and plenty of room for cable management.

First we will have a look at the specifications from Corsair:

  • Material: Steel, Tempered Glass
  • Motherboard Form Factor: MicroATX, Mini-ITX
  • Expansion Slots: 4
  • Drive Bays: 3.5-in x2, 2.5-in x3
  • Component Clearance:
    • Maximum GPU Length: 300mm
    • Maximum PSU Length: 180mm
    • Maximum CPU Cooler Height: 150mm
  • Radiator Compatibility: 120mm, 140mm, 240mm, 280mm
  • Power Supply: ATX (not included)
  • Lighting: RGB
  • Corsair Link Enabled: Yes
  • Dimensions: 398 x 276 x 351 mm (15.67 x 10.87 x 13.82 inches)
  • Weight: 7.1 kg (15.65 lbs)
  • Warranty: Two years

Price and Availability

Case Exterior

The Crystal 280X has premium looks from the three tempered glass panels, and while case material is listed as steel and tempered glass there is also some plastic to be seen here, with the top and front panels adjacent to the glass of an ABS or similar material.

The main component chamber is surrounded by glass

The front panel I/O is situated on the right side of the top of the case, and includes a pair of USB 3.0 ports along with 3.5 mm audio and power/reset buttons.

True to its dual-chamber nature the Crystal 280X has a very different appearance depending on which side you are viewing: looking from one side like a glass cube, and from the other it is a more conventional metal and plastic design.

The rear side panel includes a magnetically-attached screen filter, important as the PSU is mounted with the intake fan facing this side as we will see.

A look from the rear of the case shows the vertical PSU orientation as well as the lack of a rear exhaust fan mount.

While the top fan mounts of the 280X take over rear exhaust duties from that of a conventional case, the rear is at least ventilated to allow for natural heat dissipation (aided by positive air pressure).

The bottom of the case has a full screen filter to match the rear side panel, and this is also magnetically attached.

All fan mounts actually include such filters, though the front and top are behind glass panels which makes cleaning a little less convenient, though still quite accessible.

On the next page we'll take a close look at the interior of the Crystal 280X and then cover the system build process.

Review Terms and Disclosure
All Information as of the Date of Publication
How product was obtained: The product is on loan from Corsair for the purpose of this review.
What happens to the product after review: The product remains the property of Corsair but is on extended loan for future testing and product comparisons.
Company involvement: Corsair had no control over the content of the review and was not consulted prior to publication.
PC Perspective Compensation: Neither PC Perspective nor any of its staff were paid or compensated in any way by Corsair for this review.
Advertising Disclosure: Corsair has purchased advertising at PC Perspective during the past twelve months.
Affiliate links: This article contains affiliate links to online retailers. PC Perspective may receive compensation for purchases through those links.
Consulting Disclosure: Corsair is not a current client of Shrout Research.
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