Original Link: http://www.anandtech.com/show/7891/corsair-obsidian-450d-case-review

Corsair Obsidian 450D: Introduction and Packaging

Corsair is a company that hardly requires an introduction; almost every PC user has heard of their name and a large number own at least one of their products. More advanced users know that Corsair is one of the oldest companies that's still around. The company was established in 1994 as a cache module manufacturer but their focus changed to DRAM modules a few years later. Corsair began a very aggressive diversification scheme over the past decade, which turned the DRAM manufacturer into a giant that markets several dozen technology-related products, their four series of cases being among the most popular of them.

Depite having over a dozen designs available, Corsair is continuously releasing new cases to enrich their product ranks. It's only been a few months since the release of the Obsidian 250D, a cubic Mini-ITX case, and today yet another product joins the ranks of the Obsidian series. In this review, we'll look at Corsair's newest mid-tower case, the Obsidian 450D, a case designed to bridge the gap between the Micro-ATX Obsidian 350D and the towering Obsidian 750D.

Corsair Obsidian 450D Specifications
Motherboard Form Factor ATX, Micro-ATX, Mini-ITX
Drive Bays External 2 x 5.25"
Internal 3 x 2.5"/3.5" (front drive cage)
3 x 2.5"/3.5" (optional front drive cage)
2 x 2.5" (rear of motherboard tray)
Cooling Front 2 x 120 / 140mm (2 x 140mm included)
Rear 1 x 120mm (included)
Top 3 x 120mm or 2 x 140mm (optional)
Left Side -
Bottom optional 2 x 120 (drive cage has to be removed or relocated)
Radiator Support Front Up to 240mm / 280mm
Rear 120mm
Top Up to 360mm / 280mm
Side -
Bottom 240mm
I/O Port 2x USB 3.0, 1x Headphone, 1x Mic
Power Supply Size ATX
Clearances HSF 165mm
GPU 430mm
Dimensions 494mm × 210mm × 497mm (H×W×D)
19.5 in × 8.3 in × 19.6 in (H×W×D)
Prominent Features Tool-free 2.5” drive sleds behind motherboard tray
360mm radiator support with removable magnetic filter
Removable 3.5” drive cage allows use of 240mm bottom radiator
Up to 280mm radiator support in front.
Price $119 USD (MSRP)

The Obsidian 450D comes in a rather simple, brown cardboard box. The artwork is limited to a basic schematic of the case itself. Inside the box is the case protected by Styrofoam slabs and wrapped in a nylon bag, which should offer ample shipping protection for a typical ATX case.

Alongside with the Obsidian 450D, Corsair supplies only the bare essentials. We only found a handful of black screws and a few cable ties supplied with our sample, as well as a basic installation guide. Considering the class of the Obsidian series, the bundle leaves a lot to be desired -- nicer velcro wraps would be appreciated as an example.

Corsair Obsidian 450D Exterior

As mentioned on the previous page, the Obsidian 450D is a bridge between the smaller 350D and the larger 750D. It shares the same exact aesthetic design as the rest of the series, a post-minimalistic approach with clean lines, sharp angles, and basic geometric shapes. In fact, if not for the perforated front intake panel, the Obsidian 450D could be easily mistaken for a 350D or a 750D instead. The chassis of the case is made out of 1mm thick SECC steel and the front panel is made out of 2mm plastic. The front panel also forms the two front feet of the Obsidian 450D, while the rear plastic feet are each attached to the metallic chassis.

Two USB 3.0 ports and two 3.5" audio jacks (headphones, microphone) can be found near the top of the faceplate, right above the two 5.25" bays of the case. The power on button has a rectangular shape and is placed at the middle top part of the faceplate, between the power on and HDD activity LED lights. The reset button is much smaller and round, aligning in shape and size with the audio jacks.

The rest of the fascia is a removable, washable air intake filter. It can be removed very easily, by simply applying a little pressure at the top two corners simultaneously. Actually, it is so easy and simple to remove that it would probably be a bad idea to leave the Obsidian 450D in the vicinity of unattended children, especially as the removal of the filter reveals two unguarded 140mm intake fans.

The Obsidian 450D has plenty of ventilation and also plenty of filters installed. Aside from the front filter, there are large filters covering the bottom and the top panels of the case. The bottom panel is almost entirely perforated and a single magnetic filter covers it from one side to the other. It can be removed by simply pulling it off and reattached just as easily; with a little practice and if you have thin fingers, it is possible to remove/reattach the filter without having to roll the case on its side, as the feet of the Obsidian 450D are rather tall. Another similar magnetic filter covers the top panel as well, which actually is little more than a flexible magnetic frame with a dense mesh glued on it, but it matches the theme of the case perfectly and can be removed-cleaned-reattached within seconds.

Although the right side panel of the Obsidian 450D is entirely plain and uninteresting, the left side panel is one of its most prominent features. An acrylic window covers most of the left side panel, exposing much of the interior, including part of the PSU compartment. Due to the window, the left side panel cannot assist with the cooling of the case. Corsair, obviously in an effort to maximize ventilation and offset what little loss the solid side panels could impose, perforated what they could at the rear side of the case, including the expansion slot covers. It is interesting to note that there are three round holes for liquid cooling hoses and or cables; however there are no rubber grommets, only solid metal covers that can be permanently punched out. We realize that the percentage of users that will actually use an external liquid cooling kit with the Obsidian 450D is low but the installation of three rubber grommets shouldn't be much of an issue for a $120 case.

Corsair Obsidian 450D Interior

The Obsidian 450D is entirely black and that includes every part of the interior, with the sole exception being the grey blades of the cooling fans. Mechanically, the Obsidian 450D is well designed for a case this size; most of the support depends on the motherboard tray, which is attached to the front panel via the 5.25" drive cage and a second support brace near the bottom of the case. A little flex is expected on the heavily perforated rear panel but there's nothing out of the ordinary.

The size of the motherboard tray is typical, designed to hold a full ATX motherboard. A huge opening assures the easy installation of most CPU coolers without the need to remove the motherboard from the case. Of course, smaller motherboards (Micro-ATX and Mini-ITX) can also be installed in the Obsidian 450D. Mini-ATX and narrow ATX motherboards will fit as well, but their right side will be far away from the cable hole openings and they will not cover the CPU cooler opening entirely. The clearance between the motherboard tray and the top panel is good, ensuring that liquid cooling radiators will fit; however, we strongly suggest sticking with <40mm thick radiator designs; otherwise the installation of the radiator can be obstructed by motherboard components.

It is possible to use a PSU of virtually any length with the Obsidian 450D. However, if you want to use the optional bottom intake, you need to stick with units that are 160mm long or shorter. In the case that you want to install a liquid cooling radiator there, we strongly suggest selecting a PSU that has the cable opening and/or modular connectors high up on the casing, as otherwise they might obstruct the installation of the radiator.

A single cage for up to three disk drives comes installed in the Obsidian 450D from the factory floor, with the option to add a second cage if necessary. The second cage is not included and has to be purchased separately. Each cage has three plastic trays, for the installation of an equal number of drives. Each tray can hold one 3.5" or 2.5" drive. 3.5" drives are secured by simply flexing the tray to make the metallic studs go into the screw holes of the drive, but screws are necessary for the installation of 2.5" drives. The cage itself is removable and can be installed near the bottom of the case, as pictured, or below the 5.25" drives cage. If you have plans on installing a radiator or fan at the bottom of the Obsidian 450D, the plastic frame that the drive cage sits on will have to be removed as well; this is done by removing four screws from the bottom of the case.

As is typical with all well-designed tower cases, there is ample clearance (21.3 mm from the tray to the side panel) behind the motherboard tray for the routing of cables. Corsair cleverly took advantage of that clearance and installed two additional 2.5" drive slots behind the motherboard tray. The slots are extremely easy to use; all it takes is to push a 2.5" HDD or SSD in the slot and it locks the drive into place.

Black cables and parts are easily hidden inside an all-black chassis; therefore, for visual clarity, we are using an AX760i PSU with a red cable pack and white SATA cables for our pictures. Building a system inside the Obsidian 450D is a nice experience, with most of the time required being for the routing of the cables. There are no sharp and or dangerous points about the Obsidian 450D that we could locate during our experience with it.

As exhibited in the pictures of our test build, the cables can be easily routed behind the motherboard tray and emerge from a grommet near their destination. For the CPU EPS 12V connector, Corsair positioned a small opening at the top left side of the motherboard tray. A graphics card of virtually any length can fit in the first PCI Express slot of the motherboard but it would be wise to stick with cards shorter than 260mm (10.1 in) for the other slots -- unless the drive cage is removed, in which case any card will fit. Most of the time required to build a system inside the Obsidian 450D will most likely be for the routing of the cables, which can make a bit of a mess behind the motherboard tray as there are very few cable tie mounting points. The 2.5" drive slots reduce the space available for the cables but they can be removed entirely if necessary.

Test Setup

Professional testing requires the emulation of real-world situations but with repeatable results; thus, a perfectly controllable test setup and environment are required, especially for comparable results. Testing the thermal performance of any case with a typical real-world setup technically limits the comparability of the results to this setup alone, as an active system interacts with its environment and the change of a single component alters (albeit in small ways) myriads of variables. In order to eliminate such factors, we developed synthetic loads that emulate the thermal output of real systems that are passive, steady and quantifiable.

Our thermal testing now displays the thermal capabilities of the case alone, as if it must deal with the entire thermal load by itself, regardless of the system that might be installed inside it. Laboratory data loggers are used to monitor the PT100 sensors and control the safety relays, which are fully accessible via our custom software. Three such loads have been developed, and today we'll be using the ATX load.

The ATX version simulates a 200W CPU, 50W VRM, 30W RAM and 4 × 120W GFX card thermal load; additionally, three 3.5" HDD dummy loads are also present that each convert 30W of electrical power to thermal, bringing the total thermal load of the ATX test setup up to 850W. As such, the thermal load is immense and only the best of cases will be able to handle it for more than a few minutes. We also test with a thermal load of 400W, with all of the aforementioned components except the HDD drives at about 42% power, which is more suitable for the majority of cases.

Thermal testing is performed with all of the case's stock fan operating at maximum speed. Noise testing is performed with a background noise level of 30.4dB(A).

Results and Discussion

Due to the excessive ventilation and good stock cooling fans, the thermal performance of the Corsair Obsidian 450D is great for a mid-tower case. As there is virtually no way for the warm air to get trapped inside the Obsidian 450D, even the stock cooling options are sufficient to handle a massive thermal load. It handled the massive 850W load induced by our test system for over one and a half hours and displayed great thermal inertia when the load was reduced down to 400Watts. Judging by the performance figures of our testing, the thermal performance of the Obsidian 450D could give a lot larger and more expensive cases a run for their money.

The excellent thermal performance of the Obsidian 450D however is not without side effects. With the exception of the side panels, every other panel of the case is perforated and virtually no measures have been taken to reduce the noise output; even the front panel cover is punched full of holes. As a result, the Obsidian 450D makes virtually no attempt to reduce noise levels in terms of the casing. Fortunately, Corsair has installed very good stock cooling fans that generate very little noise even at their maximum speed. If the voltage of the fans is reduced to 7V or below, the most sensitive ears will be able to catch only a very slight aerodynamic humming noise from a short distance. If low noise operation is a concern, with careful planning it is easy to have a very low noise system set up inside the Obsidian 450D, but this case has not really been designed with that in mind.

Final Words

With the Obsidian 450D, Corsair attempted to fill the gap between the Micro-ATX 350D and the very large 750D of the same series with a mid-tower case of normal proportions. Yes, they already have half a dozen mid-tower cases available, such as the Graphite 230T and the Carbide 300R, but only the 650D / 550D are part of the Obsidian series and they have been engineered with entirely different target groups in mind. The Obsidian 450D is a normal sized mid-tower case designed to deliver flexibility and cooling for a reasonable retail price. Considering the variety of cooling options that may be applied and the additional flexibility that the removable drive cage offers, the Obsidian 450D does very well in terms of versatility, within the boundaries of a mid-tower design of course.

The thermal performance of the Obsidian 450D definitely is to be reckoned. Even with the slow-spinning stock fans, the heavily perforated chassis of the Obsidian 450D allows heat to escape towards virtually all directions if required. As such, the thermal performance of the Obsidian 450D is unusually high for a mid-tower ATX design. On the other hand, these many openings have the exact opposite effect when it comes to noise suppression; they do nothing to stop noise from exiting the chassis.

The stock cooling of the Obsidian 450D is very good in terms of acoustics performance, with the fans being only slightly audible even while running at maximum speed; however, although the noise figures are very low for a case with so many openings, even with the fans running at maximum speed, the noise of everything installed inside the Obsidian 450D (e.g. GPUs, CPU coolers, etc.) will not be damped in the slightest. Corsair obviously did not design Obsidian 450D with minimal noise operation in mind; it wouldn't make much sense to do so either, as they already had the Obsidian 550D available for that purpose.

In terms of design, the Obsidian series consists of Corsair's most serious and elegant products. They have not been created so as to stand out via an aggressive appearance or strong lighting; the Obsidian series cases lure the attention of spectators through their clean, refined design. The post-minimalistic design of the 450D is undoubtedly a perfect match for the Obsidian series. Uniqueness however is an entirely different story; the Obsidian 450D is essentially a larger 350D or smaller 750D, as all three of these cases share the same design. Even the cubic 250D and the massive 900D share a similar core design, with the distinguishable dissimilarities being due to their much different shape. If the 450D had no perforated front intake cover, it could be easily mistaken for a 350D, even though the latter is significantly shorter.

The MSRP of $119 is reasonable for an Obsidian series case, especially considering that the similarly sized 650D retails for nearly twice the price. However, there are multitudes of similarly sized and less expensive products available, some of which offer the Obsidian 450D strong competition. Even Corsair's own products, such as the Carbide 500R and 300R, are possible opponents for the Obsidian 450D, as they too offer good cooling options and versatility. We however believe that the strongest feature of the Obsidian 450D is its graceful, clean appearance, which will surely attract a significant number of consumers all by itself.

In summary, the Obsidian 450D delivers great cooling performance and a clean aesthetic at a moderately high price. Those who have eyed the Obsidian 350D in the past and wanted something a bit larger (but not as large as the 650D) will be pleased with what it offers. Corsair continues to make cases that are easy to work with and have all the necessary features, and the 450D is no exception. While it's not the best fit for a low-noise solution, enthusiasts and gamers will have plenty to work with.

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