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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  • SilthDraeth - Thursday, March 29, 2012 - link

    Actually, in following up, I express my ignorance for not reading the review first. It appears they built a standardized test bed for cases, and this is the first case to be tested with the new test bed.

    Also, going on the assumption that review hardware doesn't sit around indefinitely, I would gather that future case reviews will be done with the standard test, as I mentioned in my above post.
  • haelio - Thursday, March 29, 2012 - link

    I'm sure there must have been more than this case around in Anandtech HQ :) Adding even one other case for comparison would improve this review immensely.

    I hope this review's graphs are updated when other cases are used with this test bed.
  • JarredWalton - Thursday, March 29, 2012 - link

    "AnandTech HQ" is where each of us happens to live; I'm in WA, Dustin's in CA, Anand is in NC, Ryan is in OR, Johan is in Belgium, and Brian is in AZ, just to name a few. I'm sure Dustin does have more than one case at his home/apartment, but going back to "re-review" some cases means he basically doubles (triples) the workload for an article just for the sake of graphs. The next review should have two cases listed, and once we have half a dozen or so reviewed this won't be much of a problem.

    Just for the record, we originally tried to come up with a good testbed so that we wouldn't have to change it after just one year, but first attempts sometimes fall short. So now we have a new testbed that should last Dustin several more years. :-)
  • MrMaestro - Friday, March 30, 2012 - link

    That's fair enough, Jarred, it's just that the next case review probably aren't going to be all that relevant. I don't really care how this case compares to your average value or gaming case, I want to know how it compares to its competition - the Antec SOLO II, Fractal Define R3, Cooler Master Silencio and the Silverstone FT02, to name a few. Dustin even mentions that the FT02 is better in the conclusion. Ok, it's not direct competition, since the FT02 is $100 more expensive, but I would like to know if that $100 is worth it.

    I guess I'm a little disappointed because I'm tossing up quiet cases for my next build, and this review just isn't all that helpful to me. I don't mean to bitch and moan, as the writers such as yourself are doing a great job, and I get to enjoy it for nothing. I also don't envy Dustin's job of repeatedly building and tearing down systems for case reviews. I was looking forward to this review and it was a little disappointing is all.

  • Dustin Sklavos - Friday, March 30, 2012 - link

    You can draw a rough comparison between the stats for this enclosure and our previous reviews by adding ~23C to the thermals. Noise levels aren't so fortunate.

    The reason I suggest the FT02 as a superior option is because I'm actually using an FT02 for my personal desktop. Overclocked i7-990X and two GTX 580s sandwiched together in SLI; with an aftermarket fan controller, the FT02 is actually able to keep all of that both cool and remarkably silent under load. Subjectively, the FT02 is a hair louder at idle than the 550D, but DEFINITELY quieter under load.
  • mtoma - Friday, March 30, 2012 - link

    Disappointment I wouldn't call it: after all it is tested a new model of quiet computer case (and the enthusiasts know they aren't to many models to chose from).
    The fact that we don't have any reference to say ... Antec P280, is unfortunate, but let's not forget that vibration problems are important too (not only noise and thermals), and if there is a chance that to occur in Corsair.... I'm sorry.
    Not last, we should remember that changing the testing methodology is a good thing, is a progress. We shouldn't blame progress, and we shouldn't blame a reviewer before reading an article.
  • kevith - Saturday, March 31, 2012 - link

    Hi Jarred.

    Would it be possible to do a sort of "here-we-are" article on the structure and people of Anandtech?

    We all check in almost every day to read the articles by the well-known signatures, but we don't know how you look - apart from Anand - we don know what your "labs" look like, where you're located or how you coordinate the "mag" etc. etc.

    Will you share that with us?
  • gordo453 - Thursday, March 29, 2012 - link

    on the top of the second page you say 500D instead of 550D
  • 8steve8 - Thursday, March 29, 2012 - link

    full size ATX cases seem utterly irrelevent now days...
    I love anandtech, but i wish they spent more of their case-reviewing energy on smaller, more modern designs.

    with mobos like the Asus Z77-I Deluxe for those who can make due with 2 dimm slots, and countless high end micro atx mobos with no relevent concessions for their smaller size, i find it dubious to think full size ATX is required outside of very rare cases where you need a large number of pcie cards.
  • JCheng - Thursday, March 29, 2012 - link

    If Amazon's "Most Popular" sorting is any indication, full size ATX is alive and well, as 16 of the top 20 cases are ATX or bigger.

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