Originally Posted by Jasonm99
Thanks to both of you for your input and personal experiences with the 500R. This is what I needed, real life experience and detailed break down of the issues and overall thoughts on the case.
I have to admit after reading all of that, I am seriously reconsidering the 500R. I never planned on swapping out or adding any fans as I initially had thought they were sufficient especially with that 200m fan. I also thought the bulge on the side panels, even with the indented motherboard tray would still be excellent for cable management. I was simply going to use the case as is from straight out of the box.
That being said what are some cases you guys would recommend other than the define S? What are some cases that have fans that aren’t poor in quality and performance that I could use straight out of the box with acceptable and effective dust filters? I’m mainly looking for something that has great airflow and offer great cable management and overall great quality. I don’t mind if the case has LED’s, as long as I can turn them off. A side window is not a must but if the case can satisfy my main needs, then I wouldn’t mind. I’m going to definitely stick with air cooling and in fact I will be using the Noctua U14S. Price is not an issue if I can get something quality that will meet my main needs such as great air flow and cable management. I realized that the 500R is an old case and that there are much better options out there.
Having USB ports fail on you later down the road is a scary thing to hear, so coinciding with my main needs, quality is very important in what I am looking for, that don’t have USB ports failing in a few years time.
Always happy to help and inform. The main problem with the 500R, as you mentioned, is that it is outdated, newer cases are both cheaper and better because of the way products are refined over time. I will apologise in advance once again for mentioning the Define S, but it makes a good example here. When Fractal Design released the Define R4, it was a success and many people then offered feedback which they listened to and a year later they released the R5, an even bigger success and a great case, then a few months later they release the Define S due to feedback about the R5 not having enough custom loop support. This evolution of products is great for us consumers, with the exception of very early adopters.
As such, I believe the evolution of the 500R led to the Corsair Air 540. I have actually owned the 540 as well, for a very short amount of time though. To offer a suggestion besides the Define S, I would recommend the Air 540.
First of all, it's a cube. I adore cube cases. Especially within the 540 which utilises the shape to offer two compartments, separating certain components in order to optimise air flow. As per the needs you mentioned, the 540 has 3 stock fans, the AF140L models from Corsair, good fans as far as stock fans go, performance is perfectly suitable especially in a case that is as open and non-restrictive as the 540, however, at full speed I personally consider them too loud, so you may want to invest in a fan controller or just make sure you can hook them up to your motherboard and control the voltage from there. This actually leads me on to the only thing I disliked in the 540 when building my system in to it. I installed a 5.25" fan controller into one of the vertical drive bays. Boy oh boy was that a challenge, it is possible, but not without serious concentration and patience, due to the shorter side panels of most fan controllers, the tool-less system does not function and you need to screw it in manually, which again, is a challenge. However, you can slide an optical drive in and out with ease, no problems there. So that gets the negative out of the way. For positive points, I can mention the open, non-restrictive, easy to access front and top grills that slide off after unscrewing a couple of thumb screws, which give access to the fans. The grills themselves are made of a strong mesh that contours giving it even greater rigidity. The panels are made of a strong plastic with a luxurious texture and finish to them, I think, are they plastic? I think so, sorry, I only had the case for a little while and my memory is unclear. Yes, I believe the skeleton of the case is steel including the bottom and both side panels, with the top and front removable panels being plastic. Anyway, great build quality around the outside of the case nonetheless. Moving on to the interior, there are two 3.5" hot-swappable drive cages on the bottom of the left compartment, excellent function and no vibrations that I noticed. Also fully removable should you want that. Around the back, in the right compartment, are 4 tool-less 2.5" SSD cages that are actually modular as well, so you can for example remove three of them and keep one if you wanted more space for something, like cable management. These SSD cages are simply the best I have ever personally worked with, completely tool-less and fantastic build quality. Just below the SSD cages, the PSU sits on its side, with a vent in the side panel allowing airflow, nothing good or bad to say about the PSU mounting position, other than that it works well within the context of the case. In the same compartment as the SSD cages and the PSU, you have the two, vertically positioned drive bays and front I/O connections, there is an insane amount of space to manage cables, this is going to sound pathetic, but I actually had fun managing the cables in the 540, it's just so easy and tidy. Anyway, moving back to the main compartment, you have the motherboard mounted to the middle of the case, there are many cable routing holes with rubber grommets leading back and forth and generally all around the motherboard you will notice a great sense of space. Large CPU coolers can be fitted, long GPUs can be installed, you can add in extra fans should you want to, and best of all (although maybe not for you) it has native support for 240mm, 280mm and 360mm radiators!
From my experience with the case, the only problem I encountered was when installing a fan controller, but with patience you can sort it out. It has truly fantastic air flow, genuinely pleasurable cable management, a huge tinted side panel window which beautifully shows off the interior, the exterior is in my opinion one of the best looking cases, mainly due to the cube shape. The cube shape, by the way, has a surprisingly small footprint, it's not very deep nor very tall, and fits very neatly in most places. Both the top and front grills have magnetic dust filters, too! Actually, if I had to mention one other negative point about the 540, is that the bottom panel, although being made of steel, can bend/bow slightly if you push down on it, like when unscrewing and removing the HDD cages, also, it seems that when they designed the case, they toyed with the idea of putting a dust filter on the bottom, since there is a perfect recession in the panel with a little offset for picking up a magnetic filter, but no filter is included on the bottom, there are gaps in the bottom panel where the HDD cages sit, but there are no fan mounts or fans from any other components close to these gaps, so I guess they decided to scrap the filter to reduce manufacturing costs which I would assume is passed on to the customer.
You may be wondering why I no longer own this case, well, I bought it for £110, which is not expensive by any means considering the quality of the case, however, I could not justify keeping the case because I have the 500R and didn't technically "need" to spend £110 which I could instead save and put towards something else, like watercooling.
So, from all of the cases I have personally worked with, there are only two that fit your needs which I can recommend. I would not like to recommend a case, or any product, which I have no personal experience with. The Corsair Air 540 or the Fractal Design Define S. (Technically, I have not worked directly with the Define S, but instead the Define R5, although I have seen the S in stores and structurally they are very similar, with the main difference being the HDD locations.)
Once again, my apologies for the long post, but I don't think it would be satisfactory to recommend a case without going into details.Edited by SebRa - 1/5/16 at 8:16pm