Corsair Obsidian 350D Case Reviewby Dustin Sklavos on April 25, 2013 11:00 AM EST
In and Around the Corsair Obsidian 350D
It wasn't that long ago at all that I reviewed Fractal Design's Define Mini; part of that was due to a personal interest in the enclosure, and part of it was due to Corsair's impending launch of the Obsidian 350D. What struck me about the 350D when I unboxed it, though, was how much lighter it was. The Define Mini is designed for silence first, so acoustic padding and thicker steel panels and construction take their toll on its weight and overall mass, but the 350D is so light it feels like it's just this side of flimsy. I will say this: the 350D is a looker.
Corsair's styling with the Obsidian series carries over from the 900D to the fun size 350D, and it's all class. The fascia of the 350D is a combination of brushed aluminum and plastic, all black, and very attractive. There are just two 5.25" bays (thankfully), and Corsair's engineers hide the front ventilation around an extruded panel. That means no unsightly fans or grills, but a healthy amount of airflow. That panel also flips forward, allowing you to remove and clean the filter. Above the 5.25" bays is the power button, a pair of USB 3.0 ports, the audio jacks, and a recessed reset button. On either side of the power button are white LEDs.
Depending on which version of the 350D you get, the left side panel may be either almost entirely an acrylic window or a completely solid panel like the right side one. The window itself is absolutely huge; again, no stylization apart from just being big enough to show you the entire interior of the case. If users are going to ask to see inside the case, why not let them see the whole thing? As for the rest of the 350D's exterior, the top sports the pair of 120mm/140mm fan mounts with an ever so slightly unsightly grill while the back is almost business as usual. Corsair did make one extremely smart choice: five expansion slots instead of four allows for boards like Gigabyte's micro-ATX lineup to be used in dual-GPU configurations.
I knew it was going to be an easy review when I removed the thumbscrews from the side panels and they hinged open. It's the kind of thing that reminds me of why I like working with Corsair cases as much as I do; while the 900D was difficult to work with by virtue of its sheer mass, the 350D exhibits all the earmarks of Corsair's attention to ease of use. That means hinged panels, a mounting stud in the center of the motherboard tray, built-in motherboard standoffs, and smartly arranged cable routing holes.
Where the interior of the 350D gets really interesting to me is the fact that all of the drive bays are toolless. Corsair created a custom, stackable plastic cage specifically for 2.5" drives and while it looks a little chintzy, it works beautifully. Also pay attention to the cable routing holes near the power supply bay; instead of one large opening, Corsair actually bisects the opening, allowing you to organize which leads go where. If you're using a modular power supply, leads from the top row of connectors can neatly go through the top opening, while leads from the bottom row of connectors can route through the bottom. It's not a major feature and it's not going to headline anything, but it speaks of an attention to detail.
It's unprofessional to fawn over a product, but the more time I spent manipulating the 350D for photography, the more interested I became in actually testing it. There are plenty of good micro-ATX cases out there, and each serves its own purpose, but the 350D is the first one I've seen that really aggressively courts the liquid cooling enthusiast. Better still, it's coming from Corsair, which means that usability is going to be a non-issue. I like how the 350D looks, and I like how it comes apart and back together. This is a smart design, and while superficially similar to standard ATX, it's nuanced in all the right ways.