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  • JDG1980 - Tuesday, January 21, 2014 - link

    I like the idea of using synthetic thermal loads for reliability, but I'm curious how heat is dispersed from these. Do they have metal heatsinks on them like actual components would? If so, do they have pins or fins - and if the latter, what kind of orientation? That can make a big difference - you'll get much better cooling if the airflow is parallel to the fin direction rather than perpendicular. A case with direct airflow (like the Corsair Air 540) will do very well if the video card's fins are parallel to the long side of the card, while a tower with a side fan (like the NZXT Phantom 630) will probably do better if the fins are perpendicular to the slot. How does your current setup take these things into account? Reply
  • E.Fyll - Tuesday, January 21, 2014 - link

    Great thinking JDG1980.

    True, heat is dispersed via heatsinks. Even though the faux boards are solid copper sheets, their surface alone is not enough to disperse such volumes of energy. Unfortunately, they are commercial products and thus they do have fins. I could not find symmetrical heatsinks available commercially and custom constructions would cost a lot of cash. Unfortunately, that was the best I could do with my limited time and resources at this point of time, although the design will gradually improve over time.

    The fins of the faux cards are parallel to the sides of the card. The fins of the Mini-ITX board are parallel to the top/bottom sides of the board.

    Specifically regarding the GFX card, the design will favor cases which have a fan blowing right at them. However, cases which have no direct airflow over the card slots rely on passive/bulk airflow only, in which case the orientation of the fins would hardly matter.

    To summarize, although the fins can work in the favor of some designs, the bulk airflow is far more important as the load does not in any way aids the airflow/heat dissipation capabilities of the case itself, therefore the error is not high.
    Reply
  • dbtc - Wednesday, January 29, 2014 - link

    I really like the idea behind developing a more consistent testing strategy. The problem I see is that it, although it may provide a very accurate comparison between cases in their true stock configuration, it might not be a good representation real world usage.

    For example, adding a single fan or changing the orientation of the CPU sink could drastically improve the performance. I think some brief results addressing optimizing the case would be extremely helpful. Not only for providing a more complete review but also for anyone interested in using the case who would like to know which types of components would work best.

    I know, it's a lot of extra work - just my thoughts.
    Reply
  • jojo32 - Tuesday, January 21, 2014 - link

    Is the front of the case damaged? For me, cosmetic defects and rattling parts are so common when getting cases for a custom PC. Reply
  • sor - Tuesday, January 21, 2014 - link

    Sort of looks like they forgot to take the protective film off of the front of the case when taking the photos. Reply
  • HaZaRd2K6 - Tuesday, January 21, 2014 - link

    It's probably just wear and tear from the case being shipped around to various reviewers. Reply
  • E.Fyll - Tuesday, January 21, 2014 - link

    Camera lens overexposure from the overly bright lighting. I am still waiting for a couple of light diffusers. Sorry...

    There actually is a small dent at the top right side of the front door, as seen in the picture displaying the I/O ports, but this case went through two custom inspections and an intercontinental three working day delivery. The box makes it clear that it has been somewhat mishandled, it has been opened/repackaged twice and the dent is right behind a thick slab of Styrofoam which was undamaged; therefore, my educated guess would be that the dent was caused by the inspectors or during shipping, rather than on the factory floor.
    Reply
  • jojo32 - Thursday, January 23, 2014 - link

    Thanks. I didn't think of lighting. Then again, I'm not a photography enthusiaist. I think my phone takes great pictures.

    I never had a Corsair case but cosmetic defects from manufacuturing, damage from shipping and loose parts happen so often when I bought cases from other companies (BitFenix, Cooler Master, Silverstone and Lian Li).
    Reply
  • stratum - Monday, January 27, 2014 - link

    Same here. I'm more likely to get damage, loose parts and cosmetic defects than not. Even the $100+ "premium" cases are like this. Reply
  • BigLeagueJammer - Tuesday, January 21, 2014 - link

    I'd like more information about the new thermal testing. I thought there wasn't much information for something that's a new concept compared to putting a real system in there. Overall I found it rather confusing and borderline useless. Reply
  • E.Fyll - Tuesday, January 21, 2014 - link

    There is no comparison with a real system simply because that would be entirely misleading. Testing a case with a real system is an improper procedure and can lead to greatly misleading results. Real systems are active loads and interact with their environment, which makes every single system unique. Each such system would favor some designs over others, therefore comparisons between systems would have been useless. Even if you build the same exact system, using parts from the exact same OEMs, even a different orientation of a single cooler could yield entirely different results.

    The synthetic load which we are using emulates the heat dissipation of a system (multiplied a few times) but does not aid the cooling capabilities of the case in any way. Therefore, we can assess the true stock thermal performance of the case, regardless of the system that will be used or any modification that the user will perform.
    Reply
  • sleepytea - Tuesday, January 21, 2014 - link

    I was really looking forward to this review, but it turned out to be a big disappointment for two reasons. First, the review format completely breaks the mold and makes no direct comparison to previous mini-itx builds. I want to see this case compared against it competitors, especially the ones that have been reviewed here in the past. The only other case mentioned is a HTPC case by silverstone which is completely irrelevant. The Sugo sg08 has an excellent review and would be a much more relevant comparison point.

    Second, the writing is flat and uninteresting. Dustin Sklavos has been the man for the job up to this point and I'm not sure if he is no longer on staff here, but he had a history with these mini-itx builds and the combination of his writing talent, personal interest in the form factor, and experience testing SFF builds made for excellent and trust worthy reviews.
    Reply
  • Egg - Tuesday, January 21, 2014 - link

    Corsair hired him, you can look up his twitter at @DTheSleepless Reply
  • lmcd - Tuesday, January 21, 2014 - link

    I was confused about Dustin's no-show, and the "About Anandtech" hasn't been updated with the info.

    And while the writing was flat, there's no question that we now have a new writer and Anandtech community member who I'm sure will become more personable as we batter him to bits down here ;)
    Reply
  • thesavvymage - Tuesday, January 21, 2014 - link

    according to another commenter here, corsair hired him. his twitter handle is @dthesleepless Reply
  • Dustin Sklavos - Wednesday, January 22, 2014 - link

    Aw, it's nice to be missed. I'm still doing system reviews here and there for AT, but yeah, Corsair occupies my time now. I'm writing for their blog now and doing a lot of in-house testing, I'm also part of the development process for products you'll be seeing towards the end of this year and into next year. :)

    E. came highly recommended and I think once he gets situated, his voice will become more apparent. My early stuff at AT was much more formal and academic the way his is here. Frankly I think his testing methodology here is more scientific and reliable than mine was. It's good work all around that I'd only expect to improve, and he's definitely AnandTech material.
    Reply
  • sleepytea - Wednesday, January 22, 2014 - link

    That's all great to hear and I do look forward to seeing what comes from Corsair and mr. Fylladitakis in the future. Cheers! Reply
  • CloudFire - Tuesday, January 21, 2014 - link

    I would think it'll be so awesome if you guys did video reviews of computer products on youtube similar to how Hardware Canucks does, seeing a video presentation of the review would be something I'd love to see from anandtech. Reply
  • spidey81 - Tuesday, January 21, 2014 - link

    "Corsair created the Obsidian 250D for enthusiasts who want to create a fully featured, powerful gaming system in compact dimensions."

    "...installing USB 3.0 only front panel ports without providing an adapter for USB 2.0 motherboard headers is a bad call, as very few Mini-ITX motherboards have a USB 3.0 header."

    I'm not sure what you're trying to say here, but after doing a quick search on the Egg for Z77/Z87 M-ITX motherboards (most likely the choice of chipset for gamers/enthusiasts aka the target audience) ALL of the 8 motherboards that came up had USB 3.0 front panel headers. Even the comparable AMD boards were equipped with them. It's only when you start entering budget and lower mainstream boards that you see USB 3.0 front header being left off. And per your quote, that's not the target audience for this case.
    Reply
  • E.Fyll - Tuesday, January 21, 2014 - link

    Indeed, per my quote, Corsair's target audience is that of gamers and enthusiasts. However, many mainstream and lower budget boards do not have an USB 3.0 header. As you said, a high performance board which has an USB 3.0 would "likely be the choice" of the target audience. That however is a hypothesis; someone could easily want to install an Asus asus c8hm70-i/hdmi and use it as a HTPC. It could become an issue for some users, therefore I had to mention it. Reply
  • lmcd - Tuesday, January 21, 2014 - link

    It's pretty rare these days to find a board without USB 3.0. However I have seen one or two cheaper models unequipped. But again the niche is small and irrelevant in this case so while Spidey clearly is overreacting, the absence of an adapter isn't a big deal either. Reply
  • spidey81 - Tuesday, January 21, 2014 - link

    I didn't mean to seem overreacting, but the reviewer is clearly biasing this case as an HTPC and not what it's geared toward. It's a gaming or enthusiast case. It is built to house high end components and cool them as such. It's not a low power HTPC nor suited for budget oriented builds. I agree with other commenters on here about the focus of the article and the intentions of the reviewer going into this review. Reply
  • vision33r - Tuesday, January 21, 2014 - link

    Ugly case, the Bitfenix Prodigy is much better and just as flexible to mod if not better because of the drive cage design is better. Reply
  • dingetje - Tuesday, January 21, 2014 - link

    yes, Bitfenix prodigy, phenom and colossus look nicer but are kinda big and, like the 250D, are not exactly budget.
    People who are looking for budget options should check out the cooler master elite 130 and the even smaller elite 110. They get my vote.
    Reply
  • Bob Todd - Thursday, January 23, 2014 - link

    The 130 looks like a nice update to the 120, glad they finally went all black with the front. The 120 was one of the better mITX case deals around. I picked up one for $40 and a second more recently (but before the 130 came out) for $35. Excellent case at those price points and plenty of room inside for a nice GPU without being too tall for HTPC usage. Reply
  • dingetje - Tuesday, January 21, 2014 - link

    ^ and I hope anandtech will review them :) Reply
  • smartthanyou - Tuesday, January 21, 2014 - link

    Speaking for myself, it would be incredibly helpful to have some sort of frame of reference, in regards to size, when you show pictures of the exterior of the case. I am not sure what that should be, maybe a ruler laying horizontally and one vertically, or possibly using transparency to overlay pictures of a couple of competing cases.

    I would be curious how others feel but the exterior shots really don't give any sense of size.
    Reply
  • kyuu - Tuesday, January 21, 2014 - link

    I agree, a sense of scale would be very welcome. I can't really visualize how big/small this case really is without some context. Reply
  • wperry - Friday, January 24, 2014 - link

    I had the same complaint/criticism with the review of the ASRock M8. Particularly with Mini ITX, size is very important factor and, for that, I need some sense of scale. NCASE had a really simple solution - put a soda can next to their case (or mock-up). Reply
  • J.Griff - Tuesday, January 21, 2014 - link

    Fractal Design node 304 looks like it still remain king, nice try Corsair. Reply
  • J.Griff - Tuesday, January 21, 2014 - link

    I take that back, after reading bit techs review : 0 it all but beats every itx case in cooling, except when the node 304 is running on high speed fan mode. So it's between the 250d and 304. Both the best itx cases in certain aspects, equally good choices depending on whether you value size, node 304 being a bit smaller and room for more hard drive space, or the 250d with it's better layout and the ability to customize more. Reply
  • rocktober13 - Tuesday, January 21, 2014 - link

    I like the move to Mini ITX cases but it still seems like there is a lot of excess space in these cases (Bitfenix, Fractal Node, etc). I want to see more along the lines of the EVGA Hadron series, but at a lower price point. The Hadron fits all the same components in half the volume. Reply
  • J.Griff - Tuesday, January 21, 2014 - link

    True but it's going most certainly going to run noiser and hotter than the node or 250d, so screw that. Lol. Until the steam box console like layout cases come about these 2 are pretty much unbeatable cases IMO. Reply
  • rocktober13 - Tuesday, January 21, 2014 - link

    I am not a fan of the box shape either, so I will probably have to wait for a steam machine. I would be curious to see how the temp and noise of the Hadron compared to the node or 250d though. Reply
  • sleepytea - Wednesday, January 22, 2014 - link

    the Silverstone RVZ01 is not far off. I don't like the style of that case, but the ML07 will be another option. I'm leaning more and more towards the SG08, but if the ML07 has the temps and noise level to match it could be an excellent competitor. I'm skeptical that the SFX PSU format will help things along in that regard, but at the same time Silverstone is potentially putting out a 600W SFW unit the SG08 may get a Lite version. Reply
  • lmcd - Tuesday, January 21, 2014 - link

    SG08 and such! Reply
  • pierrot - Wednesday, January 22, 2014 - link

    meh, too big which defeats the purpose of itx imo and not that great looking Reply
  • bracka - Wednesday, January 22, 2014 - link

    Isn't a 30W payload for each HDD a massive overkill? I am concerned that due to different HDD placement's between cases there could be high variation in CPU heater temps as a result of pre-heated air.

    Liked the review. Can't wait fore more. Would like to see Bitfenix Phenom matx!
    Reply
  • dj_aris - Wednesday, January 22, 2014 - link

    Do I see a mITX with a BGA cpu (presumably a C837 / C1007) and then a GTX770 added? I really wonder how this system performs if it's available to run some tests.

    By the way, καλή αρχή πατριώτη!
    Reply
  • E.Fyll - Thursday, January 23, 2014 - link

    Well, I will see what I can do about that. Although, it is given that the CPU would be a serious bottleneck here, even though it is better than an Atom.

    Thank you. :)
    Reply
  • Death666Angel - Wednesday, January 22, 2014 - link

    "it can also backfire if the user is far too negligent"
    You can say that about every case. I've seen enough people coming to forums saying that their 1 year old PC suddenly freezes or has terrible performance or is super loud. Some time late we find out the CPU and/or GPU throttle and it is mostly the case of the the coolers being clogged by dust and debris. In my opinion, it is far easier to see and remove dust from filters than it is from the coolers themselves. So I'd still give this one a better grade than most other cases (note: many Silverstone ones have positive air pressure with filter designs which helps this a lot!).
    Reply
  • E.Fyll - Thursday, January 23, 2014 - link

    That's true. However, the clearance between the side panel filter and the graphics card fans is but a few mm in this case. Other cases could end up with clogged filters and yet, even if the air could not easily enter/exit the case, there would be room for air circulation. If the side panel filter of the Corsair 250D gets clogged however, I fear that the card will "suffocate", there is just not enough clearance for it to continue sucking air from the side of the card. Reply
  • Hrel - Wednesday, January 22, 2014 - link

    Still prefer the Fractal Design Node 304 Reply
  • faster - Wednesday, January 22, 2014 - link

    Dimensions 350 mm ×277 mm ×290 mm(D × W × H)

    I could go convert this to inches, but it would be nice if the author did it for me.
    Reply
  • Slomo4shO - Wednesday, January 22, 2014 - link

    Welcome E! Thank you for the review. I would like to see a write up on the Cooler master Elite 110 as well in the near future :) Reply
  • bobbozzo - Wednesday, January 22, 2014 - link

    Try a CPL (polarized, rotatable, filter), and rotate it until the glare (mostly) disappears.
    And/or move lights around.

    Bob
    Reply
  • bobbozzo - Wednesday, January 22, 2014 - link

    Hi,

    I'm all for a consistent thermal load for repeatability, etc., but I worry that the noise levels will be misleading.

    e.g. imagine 2 cases with similar fans in similar locations and similar airflow (direction, position, and CFM)...

    with no component fans, they might sound about the same, but if case A has extensive noise dampening internally, and case B has none, then in the real-world, the components in case A would be harder to hear, resulting in a quieter system.

    Perhaps your testing should be expanded to include some noise sources to simulate CPU and VidCard coolers (and maybe liquid cooling pumps).

    The PSU fan is another possible source of noise; some cases (e.g. FD Node 304) now have the PSU mounted in the middle, so a noisy PSU might be quieter in such a case.

    Thanks!
    Reply
  • E.Fyll - Thursday, January 23, 2014 - link

    Good thinking bobbozzo,

    Indeed, a case which has sound insulation will most likely result to lower noise levels than a case which has not (even though that is not always the case). However, I fear that currently I can only assess the noise level of the stock case and still end up with comparable results. You see, the sound pressure level, the position of the sound source, its frequency and several other factors are in play here. You could even use two configurations which generate similar acoustic pressure and yet end up with different results for each of them. Even if I do use some equipment to simulate the sound of a system, the results can vary depending on the configuration of the sound sources. For example, the liquid cooling pump of kit A could be reading less dB(A) than that of kit B during an unobstructed test, yet the sound wave could be at far higher frequency (the annoying whine that some kits make is such a wave) and the results would end up being significantly different if they were installed inside a case, depending on the case's size (echo), materials (rebound), the position of the pump and the insulation. Also, results can vary if there is difference between the sources of sound. For example, if the rest of the system remains the same and just a single fan becomes louder, it does not mean that the test results will just change scale, different cases will react differently.

    However, I do consider it a very good idea and I will see what I can do about it. At the very least, I could perform a test with some additional noise sources, just as a basic reference.

    Thank you for the advice. :)
    Reply
  • just4U - Thursday, January 23, 2014 - link

    Dustin not doing cases anymore? :( Hope he's still with Anandtech. Anyway, great first review there E. Would be nice if you could snag a modular PSU with ribbon cables for these case reviews. Their easy to work with and show what many of us might do in one of the builds.. Corsair should send you one! Or CoolerMaster.. It's free advertising for them after all :D Reply
  • JohnMD1022 - Thursday, January 23, 2014 - link

    How about posting dimensions and weight in English as well as metric?

    I shouldn't need a calculator to read the review.

    Reply
  • Gadgety - Thursday, January 23, 2014 - link

    Looks good for watercooling, as does the build quality and dust filters. I also like the 200mm fan possibility. For a marginally larger case, for example the Lian-Li V-360, or the Prodigy M, one can fit mATX. Could Corsair have gone with a mATX version as well? For MITX and air cooling, the Lian-Li PC-Q33 looks pretty good. I can host an 18 cm tower cooler, and 5 disks in a chassi which is 60% the size of this one. No optic disk, and no dust filters though. Reply
  • Broo2 - Friday, January 24, 2014 - link

    Great review. I heard about this case a few weeks ago and this is one case I have been considering it for a small PC. This review has definitely helped my decision making process. :) Reply

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