Introducing the Corsair Obsidian 550D

We've been keeping track of the evolution of Corsair's line of enclosures since the Graphite 600T was released. Even as the newer enclosures generally found themselves lower and lower in price, there was a clear evolution as Corsair's engineers gained more experience and confidence with their designs. Yet each new design up to this point has been a little bit of refinement and a little bit of experimentation without any specific specialization. That changes with the 550D.

There's definitely some experimentation going on here, and there has to be: the Corsair Obsidian 550D is the first case Corsair has engineered specifically for silent running. That's not all they've experimented with, though, as you'll soon see.

Corsair's case isn't the only thing new about this review, though; we've also gone back and substantially revised our testbed and testing methodology to correct for some abnormalities and issues that may have affected the results of our previous tests. We're including some new data that should hopefully prove useful in both the short and long term. But first, let's get the skinny on the 550D:

Corsair Obsidian Series 550D Specifications
Motherboard Form Factor ATX, Micro ATX
Drive Bays External 4x 5.25”
Internal 6x 2.5"/3.5”
Cooling Front 2x 120mm intake
Rear 1x 120mm exhaust (supports 140mm)
Top 2x 120mm/140mm fan mounts
Side 2x 120mm/140mm fan mounts (or 1x 200mm fan mount)
Bottom 1x 120mm/140mm fan mount
Expansion Slots 8
Front I/O Port 2x USB 3.0 (via motherboard header), 1x Headphone, 1x Mic
Power Supply Size Standard ATX
Clearances HSF 180mm
PSU 180mm
GPU 12.5" / 318mm
Weight 16.5 lbs.
7.48 kg
Dimensions 20.9" x 8.8" x 19.5"
531mm x 224mm x 495mm
Special Features Acoustic dampening foam
USB 3.0 via motherboard header
Dual removable drive cages with three drive trays each
Price $139

Corsair's design essentially falls into the same market as Antec's P280, but theoretically it's a step up from other silent-engineered cases like NZXT's H2. It has all the same accoutrements you've come to expect from a Corsair enclosure (including remarkable ease of assembly) while cribbing some ideas from Fractal Design's very successful Define R3. How successful this experiment was remains to be seen.

In and Around the Corsair Obsidian 550D
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  • cbgoding - Thursday, March 29, 2012 - link

    Why do reviewers throw a ton of voltage at a chip for a weak overclock? 1.38v is what I use to hit 4.9GHz. Just strikes me as weird. Reply
  • Dustin Sklavos - Thursday, March 29, 2012 - link

    1. Stability.
    2. Ease of testing. For the case, whether or not the overclock itself is fast is irrelevant, we're just looking to see how it dissipates the heat.
    Reply
  • compudaze - Thursday, March 29, 2012 - link

    Not all chips are created equal. I have had one 2600K that hit 4.8GHz on 1.32V while another took a whopping 1.48v to hit the same 4.8GHz. They call it the "silicon lottery" for a reason. Reply
  • pdjblum - Thursday, March 29, 2012 - link

    There are still some of us who prefer aluminum to steel. What I am saying is that the material is as important to some of us as are the dimensions and other specs, so it would be great if it was also listed in an easy to find location. Reply
  • Rasterman - Thursday, March 29, 2012 - link

    If you use quality fans at low speeds, there is no reason you need an isolation, dampening design to block noise, there simply is no noise. I went with a Lian Li AL case, short ATX, 2 unused 5.25 bays, it is absolutely silent at idle, plus it weighs less than 20# which makes moving it around a hell of a lot easier. Overclocked to 4.9GHz I don't need to ramp the fans for the CPU, I have a similar video card that does ramp though and it is by far the loudest thing at load, probably similar to this review. Reply
  • Iketh - Friday, March 30, 2012 - link

    You've never had a computer running on hard floors then... Reply
  • jabber - Friday, March 30, 2012 - link

    So some form of dampening material under the PC is required?

    Cork tiles or suchlike.

    I used to use a Mission Isoplat.
    Reply
  • ssddaydream - Saturday, March 31, 2012 - link

    I respectfully ask that you don't preach cases being "absolutely silent" when indeed they are not. I have worked with many components that advertise extremely quiet when they actually have very irritating noise characteristics.
    Your computer may be silent to your ears, but other people may have more acute hearing.
    I have a "silent" computer- it uses absolutely no fans and it only uses an SSD (no conventional HDD). It, for all practical purposes, is silent. If you put your ear up to the power supply, you can barely hear the faint switching and other noise, which is measurable by my mic with RTA. In any case, I can't hear it when my ear is 5" or more from the PSU.
    A case with conventional HDDs and fans is never silent- only quiet. How quiet is a matter of the listener unless measurements are taken.
    I don't expect a detailed RTA analysis for case reviews, so I try to find the quietest gear available based on many people's reviews as well as professional reviews. Many sites that review case fans, etc, will post actual recorded noise so you can get an idea of the noise signature.
    Unfortunately, the more powerful the computer, the more noise. I relocated some of my machines into a different building where I use Remote Desktop / VNC to access them.
    Thanks Anandtech for bringing to light cases like this. I am all for acoustic and thermal comparisons and recommendations between any cases you guys have experience in.
    Reply
  • haelio - Thursday, March 29, 2012 - link

    "In terms of thermal performance, it's tough to make a direct comparison to Corsair's other cases."

    No it's not, you get other cases, put the same hardware in it and then take measurements again.

    I've seen better case reviews by random purchasers on enthusiast forums. This was just a series of subjective opinions on the aesthetics and then a few graphs without any context, mention of the ambient temperatures or fan layout (presumably stock?).

    I expect more from a site like Anandtech. If this review popped up on CNET I wouldn't be complaining.

    For a better comparison of:

    CPU temps: http://hexus.net/tech/reviews/chassis/36473-corsai...
    Noise: http://hexus.net/tech/reviews/chassis/36473-corsai...
    Reply
  • SilthDraeth - Thursday, March 29, 2012 - link

    I have to agree with the above poster. Though, I am guessing you guys do not keep review hardware around forever. However, it would make sense to have a pretty standard case review test suite with a standardized hardware setup. Presumebly something you know will get quite hot in a poorly designed case.

    Then just keep that stuff in house and when new cases come for review, you pop the stuff in and run the tests, then you can easily pull up your numbers for other cases and compare and contrast.
    Reply

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