Corsair Carbide 300R and Obsidian 550D Review

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Corsair Obsidian 550D: Exterior, Interior, and Installation

Exterior
From the outside, the 550D looks like a solid brick. There are no big, clear side panels to let you see the guts of your system; instead, the only non-solid visible surface is the rear of the case, which includes the typical I/O panel cutout, fan mount, and expansion slot covers. This, as we mentioned, is because the chassis is built to swallow sound.

Corsair really wants you to use the 550D to build a quiet, sealed-up system, but it’s not forcing you into anything. There are fan mounts hidden behind panels on the top, side, and front of the case. The two intake fans are actually doubly hidden; the front panel swings open to reveal a sizable vent cover that can itself be removed entirely to uncover the fans. There are also vent covers on the side and top of the case that pop off to unveil two fan mounts each.

        

Each of the fan mounts is covered by dust filters, which are stuck on there magnetically. If and when you need to clean them, you can just pull them right off and slap them back on when you’re done.

The fan mounts themselves are all outfitted with rubber and silicone dampers to cut down on vibration noise, as are the feet underneath the case. There’s a PSU/fan dust filter underneath as well, although it sticks quite a bit when you’re trying to pull it out.

One other small detail of note is the easy one-button removal of the side panels. Case manufacturers are always coming up with new ways to make removing side panels an easier experience, and this is one we particularly like. There are two buttons located on the upper back portion of the 550D, one for each panel. You simply press a button to release a panel, and to put it back in place, you just snap it in. There are no screws required, so you’ll never have to keep track of anything (other than two large pieces of metal) when you need to access to the guts of your system.

     

Interior
Continuing on with the theme of noise-cutting construction, both of the side panels (including that vent cover we mentioned) are lined with sound dampening material, as are the vent covers on the top and front of the case. The bottom lip of the case, where the side panels meet the case edge, is lined with rubber, and like the fan mounts, the drive bays have rubber and silicone dampers to avoid vibration noise. Even the PSU has rubber feet and gaskets between it and the metal of the case.

The topmost of the 550D’s two 3.5-inch cages sits right in the middle of the case vertically and can be removed to make way for a large graphics card (up to 452mm in length) as well as facilitate better overall interior airflow. The cage won’t surrender easily, though; you’ll need to take out three screws (two in front, one in back) and use some elbow grease to jimmy the thing out.

     

Although Corsair did a good job designed the interior of the 550D, there’s one feature that we just don’t get: the recessed motherboard tray. Without gaining any substantial advantages, you lose precious space behind the motherboard for cable management, and it can block some of a motherboard’s SATA ports where the dipped tray meets the raised interior edge of the case interior.

Clearance is also a problem for the hard drive bays. The cages are rotated 90 degrees toward the side of the case so that you can connect your power and SATA cables easily, but there when you close the case, the side panel actually presses up against the cable connectors, inviting extra wear and tear.

     

Still, all that sound dampening construction is a saving grace despite any other inadequacies. When the system was running with all vents closed, the case fans were virtually inaudible; all we could hear was the muffled whine of our CPU cooler. When the system load kicked up a notch the exhaust fan did whine just a smidge, and that noise increased slightly after several minutes under load. Obviously, with all the vents open the noise level was greater, but the quiet case fans kept it to an impressive minimum.

Installation
For a relatively small case (19.5 x 20.9 x 8.7 inches [HxWxD]), the 550D’s interior offers a surprising amount of room in which to work. It’s not exactly cavernous, but we had little trouble running cables hither and yon and connecting our leads where we needed.

        

However, as we mentioned previously, the recessed motherboard tray caused a problem by blocking the lower row of our motherboard’s SATA ports, and even cables we plugged into the top row fit a little too snugly for our liking.


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