Introducing the Puget Systems Obsidian

Today's review unit marks our third from Puget Systems. Thus far they've all been remarkable builds and this one proves to be no exception. Designed expressly for users (including businesses) who need the most reliable machine they can get, Puget has shipped us their Obsidian tower. On paper this machine is reasonable if unexceptional, but the choices behind its design are anything but ordinary.

If you read our review of the Puget Systems Deluge Mini gaming machine, some of this configuration is going to seem a bit like deja vu. We mentioned in that review that Puget qualifies and chooses components through fairly rigorous testing and data collection, and we've been able to actually look at some of their data thanks to their CEO, Jon Bach. The seemingly unremarkable Obsidian line is most emblematic of that philosophy. Geared specifically towards enterprise and government use, the Obsidian is designed and backed expressly for maximum reliability.

Puget Systems Obsidian Specifications
Chassis Antec Mini P180
Processor Intel Core i5-2500K (4x3.3GHz, 32nm, 6MB L3, 95W)
Motherboard ASUS P8H67-M EVO (Rev. 3.0) Motherboard with H67 chipset
Memory 2x4GB Kingston DDR3-1333 @ 1333MHz (expandable to 16GB)
Graphics Intel HD Graphics 3000
Hard Drive(s) Western Digital Caviar Black 1TB SATA 6Gbps HDD
Optical Drive(s) ASUS DVD+/-RW Drive
Networking Realtek PCIe Gigabit Ethernet
Audio Realtek ALC892 HD Audio
Speaker, mic, line-in, and surround jacks for 7.1 sound
Optical out
Front Side 2x USB 2.0
Headphone and mic jacks
Optical drive
Top -
Back Side PS/2
6x USB 2.0
2x eSATA
6-pin FireWire
Optical out
2x USB 3.0
Speaker, mic, line-in, and surround jacks for 7.1 sound
Operating System Windows 7 Professional 64-bit SP1
Dimensions 8.3" x 17.2" x 17.1" (WxDxH)
Weight 20.9 lbs (case only)
Extras Antec TP-650 650W Power Supply
Scythe Katana 3 Air Cooler
Warranty 1-year limited parts warranty and lifetime labor and phone support
2-year and 3-year warranties available
Pricing Obsidian starts at $1,149
Review system configured at $1,307

On paper, the Obsidian is going to seem pretty unexciting. The included Intel Core i5-2500K has four physical cores specced to run at 3.3GHz, up to 3.7GHz in turbo, along with 6MB of L3 cache, but the real reason Puget opted for it in this build was due largely to Intel's freakishly bizarre market segmentation on their Sandy Bridge desktop processors. Intel opted to castrate the Sandy Bridge integrated graphics on every desktop chip except the ones no one would care about them on: the unlocked K-series processors. Given the decision to rely on integrated graphics for this build (especially because the ASUS P8H67-M EVO motherboard has every type of modern display connection available), it's easy to understand why the i5-2500K was chosen.

The rest of the parts are going to appear just as unexceptional, but when you check out the configurator on their site, you'll notice there are even less options for parts in the Obsidian than there are for any of their other machines, and this is by design. The Obsidian is very specifically meant for enterprise-class work with an extremely low noise level and power draw. As a result the industry standard 1TB Western Digital Caviar Black is a given, and as with the Deluge Mini only Intel SSDs are offered.

Again, pay attention to the details. Thanks to the ASUS P8H67-M EVO the Obsidian has every type of modern connection you could conceivably ask for--though it's fair to suggest that in enterprise situations serial or parallel connectivity may yet be required, as some larger businesses have a tendency to keep old hardware on hand without moving forward with the times. The Antec Mini P180 coupled with the Scythe Katana 3 air-cooler ensures the system runs cool and quiet.

Application and Futuremark Performance
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  • dawp - Saturday, April 9, 2011 - link

    in most business environments I've been in, all the business critical apps are run of the server and very little is kept on the local machines, mostly personal settings and files. a raid setup for that is 1 more step and/or headache the IT department would have to take.
  • erple2 - Sunday, April 10, 2011 - link

    The business community has a server to store critical information, and essentially "dumb terminals" (well, slightly smarter than a true thin client) that are essentially "commodity" hardware. For that user, where a re-build costs nearly nothing (image from a central server via network at the touch of a button), and, you're good to go. All "critical" files (business files - proposals, documents etc) are stored in a collaboration area anyway, and that's backed up with RAID 5 or better, plus off site storage, and you only need the apps on the local machine.

    For that user, you don't need RAID on the local machines.
  • PWRuser - Friday, April 8, 2011 - link

    "The configuration our Deluge Mini review unit shipped with (what) makes for an interesting comparison with the Origin Genesis we recently reviewed."
  • flexcore - Friday, April 8, 2011 - link

    Why couldn't they use a power brick for a machine like this that uses such little power? They would get great efficiency and no noise from it? I don't understand why low power office machines and other computers with low power computers don't use power bricks?
  • Taft12 - Sunday, April 10, 2011 - link

    They do. They're called laptops and many large companies provide laptops for most ro all employees.
  • 7Enigma - Tuesday, April 12, 2011 - link

    Limited upgradability most likely. Remember while few there are custom options that would significantly increase the power draw of the system. I agree though that it should be an option if your build has <150w total system draw. For aesthetics they could still have the power brick inside of the case with just the cord coming out, but you'd get the benefits of the higher efficiency/no noise.
  • MadMinstrel - Sunday, April 10, 2011 - link

    I'm not sure what type of office use requires a quad core. Seems like overkill. The five uses of more than two cores are rendering, encoding, web and database servers, some types of scientific calculation and gaming. Machines like the Obsidian are unlikely to ever be faced with one of those. Anything I've missed?
  • bobbozzo - Tuesday, April 12, 2011 - link

    Developers - Visual Studio now supports multi-threaded compilation, and of course gcc has for years.
  • bobbozzo - Tuesday, April 12, 2011 - link

    Besides, Dell and HP are selling quad-core desktops nowadays.

    You can't even get a single-core Dell Latitude anymore in the 14" and above size.
  • shady28 - Sunday, April 10, 2011 - link

    I haven't seen any system reviews on Anand or any of the enthusiast sites that I would consider an enterprise / corporate PC. Occasionally you'll get the corporate laptop - like a Dell E6410/20 or something along those lines, but never a corporate desktop.

    Those, by and large, are the Optiplex series. If you want to see a real corporate desktop, look at the Optiplex 960, or HP Elite series desktops - or the HP thin clients.

    By most enthusiast measures, there are simply well built underpowered PCs. Most of these are still selling with C2D E8400 or E8500 processors and integrated 4500 graphics.

    That's all that's needed in 98% of the offices in corporate america.

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