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Corsair Crystal Series 680X RGB Case Review

Christopher Coke Posted:
Category:
Hardware Reviews 0

It’s never been so easy to build an amazing looking system. With the rise of tempered glass cases, RGB fans, and innovative layouts, even new system builders can assemble show-piece PCs. We recently got the chance to go hands-on a case that does just that with the Corsair Crystal 680X. It features plentiful tempered glass to show off your components, a dual-chamber design, gorgeous RGB, and an array of quality of life features to make your build smooth. This is our review of the Corsair Crystal Series 680X.

Specifications

  • Current Price: $259.99 (Corsair Store)
  • Case Form Factor: Mid-Tower
  • Case Windowed: Tempered Glass
  • Case Material: Steel, Tempered Glass
  • Fan Mounts:
    • Front: 3 x 120mm (3 x 120mm fan included), 2 x 140mm fan
    • Top: 2 x 120mm, 2 x 140mm fan
    • Bottom: 2 x 120mm / 2 x 140mm fan
    • Rear: 1 x 120mm (120mm fan included) / 1 x 140mm fan
  • Radiator Mounts:
    • Bottom - Up to 280mm / Front - Up to 360mm / Rear - Up to 120mm / Top - Up to 280mm
  • Maximum GPU Length: 330mm
  • Maximum PSU Length: 225mm
  • Maximum CPU Cooler Height: 180mm
  • Case Expansion Slots: 8+2 vertical
  • Case Drive Bays: (x3) 3.5in (x4) 2.5in
  • Case Power Supply: ATX (not included)
  • Lighting: RGB
  • Enabled: Yes
  • Compatible Corsair Liquid Coolers: H55, H60, H75, H80i, H90, H100i, H105, H110i, H115i, H150i
  • Case Dimensions: 423mm x 344mm x 505mm
  • Weight: 11.58kg / 25.53lbs
  • Case Warranty: Two years

A Closer Look at the Corsair Crystal 680X

The Corsair Crystal Series 680X is the big brother to the 280X which released earlier this year to wide praise. As a Micro-ATX case, the 280X had a more limited audience. With the 680X, Corsair is opening the door to more potential builders and incorporating early user feedback for an all-around more refined experience.

The case features a dual-chamber design for an extremely clean final product. Dual-chamber chassis’ remove the power supply and hard drives to a separate compartment which makes the main build area look extremely open and spacious. On a functional level, it’s also much better for custom water cooling loops and mounting multiple radiators. The rear chamber on the 680X is also deep enough that cable management is much simpler (or easy to ignore if you’d rather shove them in and pop on the back panel).

The case is marketed as “high airflow” but is perfectly suited to liquid cooling as well. The full dimensions are 16.6 x 13.5 x 19.8 but what’s most important to know is that it offers plentiful clearances for modern graphics cards and even tall air coolers. It supports your choice of 120 or 140mm fans on all four sides. Because it’s a mid-tower, it can support up to a 360mm radiator on the front only. The top and bottom can each house a 240/280mm and the rear a 120mm.

The build I assembled made use of Ryzen 9 3900X and an NVidia RTX 2080 SUPER Founders Edition, so I opted for liquid cooling on only the CPU. The GPU is known to get a bit toasty, however, so I was curious to see how well the 680X would provide cool air to keep it happy. One thing I was happy to see but didn’t take advantage of was a vertical GPU mount. If I was using a hybrid card, I would have swapped over to this option but with tempered glass so close to the intakes I didn’t want to choke off airflow and diminish the potential of the case.

If you followed my last PC build, you’ll know that my Intel machine is currently housed in a Lian Li PC-011 Dynamic. It follows the same dual-chamber design, though is a bit smaller all around. The 680X, in contrast, is just a touch boxier. The 011 Dynamic is also intended exclusively for water cooling and so has glass flush on three sides. The 680X also has glass on three sides, but the front and top are both offset to allow airflow around the perimeter of the glass.

The 680X ships with a total of four fans, including three 120mm LL120s. These are Corsair’s flagship “light loop” fan with LEDs around the outer and inner rims of the fan blades. Combined with translucent plastic in the fan itself and you have the most beautifully lit fans money can buy today. A fourth fan is mounted to the rear of the case but it’s not illuminated, which is a shame. Still, a set of three LL120s and the Lighting Node PRO and LED Hub are currently around $120 on their own. This puts the case’s expensive $259 price point in perspective, though I do hope they have a variant without these fans in the future to push the price down.

The back panel of the case is steel and mounts with a pair of thumb-screws. The chamber is quite deep, as you might imagine since it houses the PSU, and mass storage. Compared to the PC-011, it’s remarkably better and made cable management far easier. Despite assembling a very similar build, I had no trouble getting the side panel fit back on.

For storage, the case supports up to three 3.5-inch hard drives and four 2.5 inch SSDs. Both mounting systems are tool-free and simply snap into place. The SSD cages are plastic and can be easily removed for cable routing or just to clear out space.

At 25 pounds empty, the Corsair Crystal 680X is a big boy. Fully loaded, it’s heavy, so I was happy to see nice rubber feet to protect my desk when slid into place. Its boxiness does take up more space than a traditional mid-tower, however, so you’ll want to plan on that extra width.

Building in the Corsair Crystal 680X

The Corsair 680X offered one of the easiest builds I’ve ever done. It’s extremely well-engineered and a lot of the small pain points I’ve experienced with other cases were absent here. It’s also replete with small touches that allow you to spend more time on the important parts of building and less time fiddling about on minor annoyances.

Take, for example, the grommets. Not one of them ever came close to popping out. That might seem like a small thing, but when you’re running power supply cables and trying to get everything plugged in and cable managed, having to slide a grommet back down and caress it back into place in annoying. Not here. There are also dual grommet toward the front of the case for easily running additional cables (like the many that come with an RGB build) without cluttering up your motherboard connections. Corsair also deserves kudos for making all of the wire cutouts appropriately sized, so you never have to struggle to run a connection.

I was also a big fan of their fan and radiator mounting solution. In the picture above, you can see a pair of thumbscrews that hold a mounting plate for the top radiator/fans. This allows you to mount your rad outside of the case, slot the bracket in place, and secure it without needing to crane over with a screwdriver. There’s a similar bracket on the front panel. This makes fan and radiator mounting so much easier that I will be looking for this feature on cases we review from here on out.

The only problem I ran into was trying to remount the bracket after running my sleeved CPU cable. It’s a bit thicker and, for the life of me, I couldn’t get the bracket pushed far enough in to tighten the left screw. I did get the metal feet in place and the right screw, however, so the radiator is secure and quiet. Still, a couple of millimeters of extra clearance would have avoided that issue.

I’m also a big fan of the dust filters. Other cases, including the Lian Li PC-011 Dynamic, include magnetic dust filters but they’re frankly terrible. The bottom filter routinely falls off and the magnetism on the others is too weak to keep it from sliding at the merest touch. Corsair instead uses much stronger magnets on the top and front filters and a tray to house the bottom filter. They’re all perfectly sized for their positions so sliding is out of the question.

I’m a big RGB fan, so my system included a total of eight fans composed of five Corsair LL140s and the three included LL120s (I swapped out the rear fan). I also ran Corsair LED strips along the rim of the case, which required a second Lighting Node Pro and added a Deep Cool fan controller and NZXT Internal USB Hub. Between a total of 16 wires from the fans (8 power/8 LED), SATA and Molex connections, power to the motherboard and graphics card, and sleeved cables, the rear chamber turned into a wirey mess. Unlike the PC-011, I could have left this completely unmanaged and still been able to close the side panel just fine. I did for a while, in fact. The extra couple inches of chamber space really does make all the difference for being able to route and manage cables, however, and was so much easier than the Lian Li.

All in all, the build took a good while to assemble because of how I approached it, but it was the most pleasant case I’ve ever worked in.

Noise and Thermals

Coming from my prior system which featured liquid cooling on both the CPU and GPU, I expected there to be more noise. The RTX 2080 SUPER is definitely loud on first boot when it spins its fans all the way up but once it’s running, it’s actually quite quiet. The 680X isn’t a quiet case by any means but it’s not substantially louder than other air-cooled systems either. In games, the GPU does become rather loud but the Corsair H115i all-in-one cooler does a very good job of keeping the 3900X around 70C, so the fans never need to ramp up to obnoxious levels. I’m able to use a sensitive condenser mic less than two feet away with only a modest noise gate.

That said, I chose to outfit my system with 140mm fans on the top, bottom, and rear. I chose these specifically to cut down on fan noise. The overall noise level will depend greatly on your specific fans and the speeds you have the running at. Put another way, the 680X isn’t going to be cutting fan noise.

When it comes to thermals, I have to admit to being concerned about the modest gap between the front intake fans and the tempered glass front panel. I needn’t have been concerned. Compared to the Fractal Define R6, the 680X was able to keep my 2080 SUPER near identical in temperature. In the original review, it peaked at 76C. Here, it peaked at 78C.

Final Product and Final Thoughts

With the system built, I am very happy with the overall look. The tempered glass really lends the 680X and elegant look. Likewise, the dual-chamber design also made the inner compartment look very clean and eye-catching.

Corsair’s lighting system is also the best on the market. After setting iCUE to detect the LL fans and lighting strip, it defaulted to a rainbow that looked good all on its own. I’m rarely content to leave things stock, however, so quickly set up a purple theme that mimics a lighting storm with Corsair’s “rain” effect.

Overall, I’m extremely impressed. At $259, it’s very expensive and a tough pill to swallow when compared to other dual-chamber options like the PC-011. Having now built in both, I can say that the Corsair Crystal 680X offers a much better build experience. Add in the $130 in fans and the investment starts to become a lot more reasonable. What you can pull off in looks and even communicating important system information, like temperature, is second to none.

The Corsair Crystal 680X is a premium case for a premium price but it’s one that makes building, and when the time comes, rebuilding much easier and more efficient.

Pros

  • Beautifully open case - make a showpiece PC easier than ever
  • Reasonably quiet
  • Good thermals
  • Innovative design elements, like the removable trays
  • Spacious rear chamber for cable management
  • Many small touches that make building easy

Cons

  • Quite expensive
  • Extremely tight clearance with top radiator tray and CPU power

The product described in this review was provided by the manufacturer for evaluation purposes.


GameByNight

Christopher Coke

Chris cut his teeth on MMOs in the late 90s with text-based MUDs. He’s written about video games for many different sites but has made MMORPG his home since 2013. Today, he acts as Hardware and Technology Editor, lead tech reviewer, and continues to love and write about games every chance he gets. Follow him on Twitter: @GameByNight