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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  • earthrace57 - Thursday, March 29, 2012 - link

    I kind of wish there was a grace period in which you guys would test both testbeds, and after x number of tests, the new testbed tests would be released, that way we have a frame of reference. (I hope this is easy enough to follow).
  • sfroom - Thursday, March 29, 2012 - link

    I can't believe I'm the first to mention this, but the card pictured (and presumably tested) is not the one listed in the testing methodology or description of the new test bed. What gives?

    The card listed in the methodology is an open air cooler whereas the Zotac pictured looks like a blower. This would surely affect the whole data set (CPU temps, etc).

    Can you explain?
  • Dustin Sklavos - Friday, March 30, 2012 - link

    Good catch.

    Photography was done before we swapped out the graphics card, and future cases will be using the ASUS, but the photos are still useful since they're intended to show how assembly goes. The photos have the Zotac, but the testing was actually done with the ASUS; this was the last piece I standardized on, and the reason was that the GTX 560 Ti that Zotac provided was unfortunately just too hot and loud and would've skewed all of our test results.
  • tilandal - Thursday, March 29, 2012 - link

    I bought this case to replace my Lian Li V1000. There is a lot I like about it but I can't help but pine after the build quality of the V1000. The 55D is great to work in and keeps my system running silently without any thermal problems but the plastic does feel cheap and the side panels are a little on the thin side. I bought my Lian Li for $200 and I would gladly pay that much for a case with the same layout but higher quality panels. For $120 after rebate I feel I got good value but I doubt I'll keep it around as long as my V1000 (Almost 9 years).
  • piroroadkill - Friday, March 30, 2012 - link

    Still seems a better buy. I actually use ALL the 3.5" drive bays in the Define R3, but only have one HD-DVD/Blu-Ray/DVD writer drive in a 5.25" bay (although I have an SSD mounted in the other 5.25" bay).

    Who really needs 5.25" bays anymore? Posers with those screens you used to get for them? Seems like you need one, maybe two, tops. I just think the Define R3 represents a better use of the space..
  • Dustin Sklavos - Friday, March 30, 2012 - link

    I actually use four in my tower.

    1. Optical drive.
    2. Fan controller.
    3. Card reader.
    4. Hotswap bay.

    I do understand reducing the number in modern enclosure and I'm definitely an unusual instance, but notice how I have a whopping one optical drive yet I'm using four bays.
  • ShieTar - Friday, March 30, 2012 - link

    My fileserver box also uses four 5.25" bays:

    1. Optical drive.
    2. 1x3.5" toolless hotswap bay
    3. 2x2.5" toolless hotswap bay
    4. Card reader.

    Maybe not quiet typical, but not really a rarity either.

    Of course I built it into my old Coolermaster Stacker 800, which does provide me with an overkill of eleven 5.25" bays, and only a single adapter for 3.5" units. With the Card Reader and the 2.5" Hotswap you do have some flexibility to use either sizing, I guess.
  • Rick83 - Friday, March 30, 2012 - link

    No such thing as overkill.
    I've got the same original Stacker, and I'm left with one free 5.25 slot (and theoretically a disk I could put there, but ATA cables are too short to connect it, so it floats freely in the case :( )

    I bemoan the loss of cases such as the Stacker, because right now, I'd be hard pressed to find a case that comfortably fits 12 hdd's below $250, with decent ventilation or hot-swap. There certainly is a use case for all those 5.25" slots. It's just, that it's not for the average user, who has between one and three 3.5" HDDs, and an optical drive or rarely two.
    My current desktop has zero 5.25" bays, (no, I don't mean devices, I mean bays - ODD is SFF slot-in). Optical media is on the way down though, so this should hasten the demise of the three to four bay designs, which I find ugly and boring.

    Anyway, it seems that case makers are loath to cater to more exotic needs, and will instead churn out the billionth iteration of a 20 year old design. There are very few makers who come out with avant-garde designs, and usually at extreme price points (that Lian-Li Snail is a brilliantly eccentric looking thing, but the price is out there), so the main stream is stuck with those 60-120 dollar cases, that all look the same, except some have got chintzy plastics and lighting.
    Oh well, I haven't given up quite yet, and at least Lian Li is continuing to explore the cube, with it's more pleasing aspect ratios. All the while: Someone bring back the old school Stacker - style cases. That case is, for me, still the ultimate in understated performance and utility, excepting the odd choice of 80mm fans in some places. It's got the size and fittings so that you can do anything with it, and the price wasn't even that extreme (compared to some current 300$+ cases...)
  • Grandpa - Friday, March 30, 2012 - link

    Thank you for acknowledging noise as an issue. So many times the important thing is how much overclock with complete disregard for noise. To me, I don't care how fast a machine is if I can't enjoy the experience. So noise is always a top consideration. I wish there was a standard method of measuring the noise so it could be used in every review, for every part, and every build.
  • cactusdog - Friday, March 30, 2012 - link

    A silent computer has more to do with the components you buy like CPU cooler and GPU cooler. The case just needs 120mm fans running at 1000-1200 RPM or under to be silent, but more important is your GPU fan, CPU fan and PSU fan.

    My case is silent even with the side off, and I have an overclocked 930 CPU and overclocked 6970.

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