Corsair Obsidian 550D Quiet Mid-Tower Case

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AUDIO RECORDINGS

These recordings were made with a high resolution, lab quality, digital recording system inside SPCR's own 11 dBA ambient anechoic chamber, then converted to LAME 128kbps encoded MP3s. We've listened long and hard to ensure there is no audible degradation from the original WAV files to these MP3s. They represent a quick snapshot of what we heard during the review.

Each recording starts with ambient noise, then 10 second segments of product at various states. For the most realistic results, set the volume so that the starting ambient level is just barely audible, then don't change the volume setting again while comparing all the sound files.

FINAL THOUGHTS

The Obsidian 550D left us with a favorable impression of Corsair's ability to manufacture quality cases. The 550D design is well thought-out with good attention to detail. The overall build quality is appropriate for the price, with the exception of the surprisingly thin side panels. Thankfully, the acoustic dampening foam adds some heft/stability, and the clever way the panels mount is quite secure. The front door is strong and easily reversed to swing from either side. The panels hiding the various fan placements are easily removed as well. Each one is equipped with nifty dust filters held on with magnets running along the sides. We've seen this before on the bottom of SilverStone cases but they were never as secure.

The case is well equipped from a silencing perspective. The power supply mount is padded at the bottom and the back, and rubber washers are provided for most fan mounts. Larger 14 cm fans are an option for all the fan mounts save the two at the front, and the the stock 12 cm fans themselves are quiet, with a good acoustic character. Noise-wise the only flaw is the looseness of the hard drive trays in the cages. The cages themselves are sturdy, but the flexible plastic caddies aren't held on tightly enough, allowing hard drive vibration to affect the acoustics of the entire machine. A fan controller would also have been nice; it's a notable omission considering how the case is being marketed.

Our other complaints are mainly aesthetic. The exterior has a matte finish, so it doesn't attract fingerprints, but the surface is prone to scratches and smudges. Brushing away a small piece of dirt or grit on the surface results in a long powdery grey streak. We managed to scuff up our sample within minutes of taking it out of the box. The removable panels that hide the extra fan mounts are another issue. Their outlines are plainly evident, and the case looks worse when you take them off. Proper enthusiast cases are typically designed with these fan placements flush against the rest of the chassis, but when used on the 550D, it simply looks like something is missing. This is an unfortunate consequence of Corsair's desire to make the 550D appealing to everyone, rather than just the silence obsessed. The release latch for the side fan compartment also sticks inward a fair bit, limiting the height of some third party CPU coolers.

Despite its flaws, the Obsidian 550D's performance is good compared to other cases marketed to the noise conscious . It did particularly well in our low power IGP test system, where it was on par with past favorites, the Antec Solo II and Fractal Design Define R2/R3. It couldn't quite match either case with our our single mid-power video card test configuration, but did manage to post respectable numbers similar to that of the Antec P280. This isn't surprising as the P280 has a similarly spacious design that attempts to bridge the divide between silence and performance.

The Corsair Obsidian 550D is currently priced at ~US$130 at various e-tailers while the Antec P280 can be had for a little less. The 550D is smaller by about 10L in volume, has more numerous and larger fan support, and the ability to remove a hard drive cage to accommodate an extra long graphics card. The main advantages it holds over its competition are cooling rather than noise related. If you're looking for a quiet case, the Obsidian 550D certainly fits the bill, but it's not worthwhile for housing a minimalist system as much of its functionality would be wasted.

Our thanks to Corsair for the Obsidian 550D case sample.

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Cosair Obsidian 550D is Recommended by SPCR

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Articles of Related Interest
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SilverStone Raven RV03
Cooler Master Silencio 450: Silence on a Budget?
Cooler Master Cosmos II: Ultra Tower Case
Raidmax Viper: A Modern Budget Tower
Antec P280: Performance One Refresh

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