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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  • zcat - Thursday, March 29, 2012 - link

    It's not just you.

    There is no good reason anymore, imo, for full-size ATX systems, unless you really *need* all those extra bays for internal HDDs as a file server, and/or you need more than the 4 expansion slots that microATX offers (maximum) in a space_heater/gaming_rig for something like 2x double-wide video cards + audio + h/w raid + "futureproof-something".

    If you search newegg, you'll find that there's almost as many microATX motherboards for sale as there are ATX at very similar prices, and many of the microATX cases even approach the size of full ATX.

    In fact, the vast majority of people, even hardcore gamers, could opt for miniITX (vs microATX), as long as they choose one of the few cases that can fit a single full-height & full-length & double-width video cards (like the Sugo's or a few of Lian Li's). Room enough for 2 8GB sticks of ram, an SSD, and HDD, but no insane CPU coolers.
  • Risforrocket - Thursday, March 29, 2012 - link

    Can you give me one reason that is relevant to me why I should use a small case for my computer?

    I think of my computer as a workstation, it has to do everything. And it does. Yes, it has a RAID card and 4 drives in RAID. Yes, it has a full sized ATX deluxe motherboard. Is that ok with you? I also don't believe in water cooling so I like plenty of room for the air to flow around and I like plenty of full sized low speed fans.

    Some day I might build a mini computer to use for... well, something. Maybe as a music/video player. Until then I guess I'll just keep on building my big beautiful workstation computers for no good reason and put things in there that I don't really need.
  • zcat - Friday, March 30, 2012 - link

    So YOU are utilizing the extra space -- good for you -- but most people don't.

    Good reasons to go smaller when you can -- which is most of the time -- is to save on wasted space, materials, and energy. It's called being efficient for the increasingly common case.
  • JarredWalton - Thursday, March 29, 2012 - link

    My experience is that mATX with a high-end graphics card (e.g. GTX 580 or HD 7970 or similar) is going to either run hot, run loud, or both. Mini-ITX is almost impossible to get a reasonably quiet system with a high-end GPU. Meanwhile, if you look at our previous tests of full-towers, there's a reason many of them are quieter and run cooler than mid-towers, never mind mATX.

    So unlike those who "see no use for full ATX anymore", I'm the exact opposite: unless space is at a premium, I see no use for mATX. I have three desks, and they all have a spot for a mid-tower. If I had an mATX case instead of my current case, all I'd end up with is a foot of empty space above the box.

    In case you're wondering, my current main desktops are using a SilverStone Raven (dual 5870 GPUs), an older Lian Li PC7 (single GTX 580 -- this case was not good for dual GPUs), an old Gateway FX530 with a single slot GPU for the display and a dual-slot GPU for GPGPU work (5670 and 5850 currently installed), and the last is some weird Ultra case that was designed to be high-end but really isn't... but it still works well enough for my wife's PC.
  • zcat - Friday, March 30, 2012 - link

    If highest-end SLI + RAID5 are in your vocab, then, sure, you probably want full ATX, else microATX usually strikes the best balance, especially if you choose your case wisely (for silence & air flow).

    My perspective is that of 'good enough' systems (~80th percentile performance) where you save on money, energy, and space by default; not on building the 98% BEST gamer/workstation systems.
  • 7Enigma - Thursday, April 5, 2012 - link

    I'm in complete agreement with you Jarred as well. I think a lot of people like the wow factor of cramming a bunch of components into a shoe box. I'm not one of them. I, like you, would have no use for the extra bit of space a smaller enclosure/mobo would provide (actually it'd be MORE annoying as I'd have to bend down farther to turn on), not to mention the increased difficulty during the build/upgrade as components are closer together, and the increased heat issue of having power-hungry parts adjacent to each other.

    If you're a mobile gamer or living in a dorm room where every inch counts I get it. But for a large percentage of people I just don't see the attractiveness of a smaller form factor.
  • kenyee - Thursday, March 29, 2012 - link

    If you're comparing a case on noise/cooling, it'd be really useful to compare it to other cases in this price range like most other sites do.
    There was mention that the design copied some of the techniques from Fractal Design's cases, but no comparison on performance. I'd have loved to have seen a comparison with the Fractal Define R3 which I think is a direct competitor with possibly less plastic. Newegg's comments also mentioned a lot of damaged cases during shipping so I'm surprised you didn't talk about the packing since you talked about aesthetics ;-)
  • kyuu - Thursday, March 29, 2012 - link

    Please read the article. The reason there are no cases for comparison is stated on the very first page: they revised their testbed and methodology and, therefore, results from previously reviewed cases are not directly comparable.
  • ExarKun333 - Friday, March 30, 2012 - link

    Then AT needs to do a 'silent case' or 'performance case' or the like shootout to get some numbers. The new methodology makes great sense, but what is a review with nothing to compare it to?
  • ggathagan - Friday, March 30, 2012 - link

    So you would have them wait until they've tested 3 or 4 cases and *then* put out the results? No thanks.
    It's a new test bed and new methodology. They have to start somewhere.

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