Case Interior and Build Notes

The primary chamber provides housing for either a micro-ATX or mini-ITX motherboard, with grommeted cable openings to the right (though only one of these is in play with an mATX board).

A look into the main, and open, component chamber

With storage and the power supply relegated to the rear chamber the only other aspects to explore in this larger space is cooling support and component clearance.

A look up front reveals a pair of fan mounts and one factory installed fan:

The second installed fan is up on the top fan mounts, where it serves to help direct warm air up and out the enclosure.

Aesthetically I think having both RGB fans up front looks much better (with at least a third fan on top for exhaust), but this is how the case shipped so it was tested in this configuration. Radiators can be mounted on top and up front, but the option of mounting a radiator on the case floor is only available when mini-ITX boards are used.

One area in which no radiator or fan can be installed is the rear of the enclosure, which provides some ventilation but has no accommodation for fan installation.

Around back we have the secondary chamber, which will house the power supply and storage, with pull-out trays for both 2.5-inch and 3.5-inch drives.

The 3.5-inch drive cage is actually accessed from the rear of the case via a door on the back panel:

A single thumbscrew secures access to the 3.5-inch hard drive trays

Build Notes

We will begin with a look at micro-ATX motherboard installation, using a standard 9.6 x 9.6 inch board to check clearance.

The installed board (upper clearance will be identical for mATX and mITX boards) does leave adequate room for a top-mounted liquid cooler, though it is very close (here a Corsair H100i GTX was used to test this upper clearance):

With a mini-ITX board clearances (other than the top) improve greatly, of course, and the additional pair of cable routing openings to the right of the smaller board are exposed.

The Crystal Series 280X offers a slightly deeper chamber than the previous Carbide Air 240 which shared this layout, and that is a very good thing. GPU height is not restricted as it was with the Carbide case, as you can see a reference Radeon card still leaves about 1.5 inches before the edge of the case.

There is plenty of space for standard radiators and fans around the perimeter, and even more with a mini-ITX board due to the bottom mounts that become open. As the case is not particularly deep I tested clearance between the installed graphics card and a front-mounted AiO cooler (the same H100i GTX used for top mount clearance testing):

While a spare inch can be seen here, this is a reference GPU, so longer aftermarket designs might result in a clearance issue when combined with a front radiator. Still, there were zero clearance problems with any of my test components, and overall the internal volume of the Crystal 280X is generous.

With the main components installed I moved to the rear chamber for storage and power supply installation. I had mentioned on the first page that PSUs are mounted vertically, and as you can see the fan will need to be pointed toward the back panel of the case to make use of the filtered intake.

Once installed my compact ATX power supply left quite a bit of horizontal space which I occupied with the resultant excess cable from this non-modular PSU, and you can see that a longer power supply could easily be substituted.

Moving on to storage, SSD installation is a snap thanks to easy to remove 2.5-inch trays, which slide down after squeezing the exposed tabs to release them.

The unusual rear-access 3.5-inch drive cage has already been mentioned, and here the plastic trays are easily accessed once the door on the back of the case has been opened.

The overall build process is quite simple, and while I did not complicate the process with a rearrangement of included fans or the installation of liquid cooling system for my conventional air-cooled testbed, it is a remarkably easy case to build in.

On the next page we'll have a look at the completed build and then check out thermal and noise performance.

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