...because of the reliability of the brand and the relative calmness of the look (I don't like flashy LEDs and a case that looks like sci-fi armor plating)
I plan on slight OC'ing and therefore want the cooling to be superb so this computer lasts a long time. Toms recent article on proper case cooling makes the case for both top case fans (in general) and side fans (for SLI/crossfire builds).
Here are my questions:
1. Are the 140mm worth the extra cost (top and/or side)?
2. Is the upgrade to the 500R with the 200mm fan worth the extra cost?
3. Any other case suggestions (that don't look like sci-fi armor plating)?
I would personally not get any fans until I've bought the case.
I would setup the cpu cooler vertically so that air flows from the front to the cooler out the rear fan.
The front two fans would supply cool air to the gpu and since the gpus are reference and exhaust heat to the out side I don't think you would need any extra fans.
I think the setup is ok already. If it isn't you can buy more fans later. You don't need faster airflow. All you need is sufficient airflow. Once you have sufficient airflow you can't get any cooler.
As long as you can add fans to mod out the 400R you can opt for either that one or the 500R.
The 200 mm fan in the Corsair produces about 80 cfm and is very quiet (lower rpms than a 120 mm). I was not satisfied with the 80 cfm in the Corsair 600T for the top ventillation and replaced the 200 mm fan with two 120 Xigmatec Crystal fans producing about 63 cfm apiece.
The Corsair 400 and 500 are identical except for the fans: I go with the 400; fans are cheap.