Corsair 350D Review

red454 - 2013-05-29 16:30:19 in Cases
Category: Cases
Reviewed by: red454   
Reviewed on: June 23, 2013
Price: $104.99

Corsair Obsidian 350D Introduction:

When I think of high end cases, one of the first names that comes to mind is Corsair. And why not? Corsair has been around since 1994, and are perhaps best known as a premier manufacturer of memory. But in recent years it has expanded into the world of power supplies, CPU cooling, SSDs (Solid State Drives), and computer cases, as well as a wide range of gaming hardware. In my experience over the years, one thing that always stands out with Corsair is the quality. The materials and workmanship are always top-notch and we will soon see if it hits the mark again.

A year or so ago I purchased a 500R and loved it - and at the time, I really hadn't considered the Obsidian series. So let's talk about it. Obsidian is actually a type of rich (usually black) volcanic glass that ancient people often used to make spear and arrow heads. And the Obsidian series indeed leaves a sharp impression with the 550D, 650D, 800D, and 900D. Their squared off style and brushed aluminum front fascia let you know that these cases mean business. These are high end cases topping out at $349 retail for the 900D. Tons of space and features are the stadard for the Obsidian Series. This case today allows for either a top or front mounted radiator up to 240mm in size, so I am anxious to jump into the build process.

As the micro ATX and mini ITX motherboards are gaining popularity, Corsair have realeased the 350D to add flexibility to the series and let builders of smaller (but still powerful) systems enjoy what the Obsidian Series has to offer. So today we will review the Obsidian 350D mini ATX case with the side window. It is also available without a side window.

 

Corsair Obsidian 350D Closer Look:

First, let's look at the box. We have a plain brown box with black text and a nice graphic on the front and back sides. The exploded view gives you an idea of all the components before you ever get it out of the box. The sides and front of the box highlight the features. It supports a 240mm radiator in the front and on top, and 380mm (14.96 inch) long graphic cards. Two SuperSpeed USB 3.0 ports appear on the front of the case.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The large Styrofoam end caps keep everything well protected, and the plastic bag does its job and protects the case. There were two strips of masking tape to hold the front cover on while shipping.

 

 

And here we are out of the box.  The side window really lets you see inside, which is our next stop!

Corsair Obsidian 350D Closer Look:

The fist thing I noticed when I pulled the case out of the box was the brushed aluminum front. The Obsidian series has a sleek, subdued look. Very calm and conservative, and I like it. The case measures 8.26" wide x 17.32" tall x 17.71" deep (210mm x 440mm x 450mm). The feet space the case about an inch (25mm) off of the floor for air flow. The side panels are painted steel and are flat - no bump out for cables, so I am a little concerned, but I suspect Corsair will not leave me without any cable space. The side window is huge so you can really show off your hardware.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The front follows though with the look of the stately Obsidian series. That brushed aluminum finish really stands out. The rear has three knock outs for exteranal water cooling (no grommets) and there are five expansion slots. And of course, the included rear 120mm cooling fan. There is also a little vent panel to the right of the expansion slots for some additional air flow.

 

 

You can see the top mounting provisions for up to a 240mm radiator. There are holes for two 120mm or 140mm fans (not included). And on the bottom there is the removable filter for the PSU. 

 

 

Along the top we have a two bays for optical drives. And from left to right, we have a headphone jack, a microphone jack, and the reset button. Then at the center top, there is the power light (white LED), the power on button, and then the HDD activity light (white LED). And finally, two USB 3.0 ports complete the front I/O. The intensity of the LEDs is just right.

 

You can remove the PSU filter without turning the case over, and it is easy to slide back in.

Corsair Obsidian 350D Closer Look: Working Components:

Before we dig into the internals, let's take a closer look at the front. The brushed aluminum panel sits below the optical drive bays and covers the intake fan. It is attached at the top with a push lock indent at the top left and right corners. Just use a finger to give a simple push and you will hear a click at each corner as the locks release. There are even little marks at the top corners so you know where to push. The bottom is loose hinged so the entire panel is easily removed by just lifting it out. When you remove the cover, you will then see the front intake filter.  When the cover is in the installed position, there is a nice gap all the way around the cover to allow the intake fan to draw air in.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The filter is easy to clean and reinstall. So what is behind the filter? Well, there is a nice 3-pin 140mm fan (included) with room for up to two fans. Mounting holes are provided for both 120mm and 140mm fans so you can use what comes standard or add on for additional cooling capacity.

 

 

I removed the thumb screws to get the side cover off and look inside. It is a small case, but it doesn't feel small. I am not wondering if everything will fit, and this is a good feeling. Smooth, rounded edges on all the internal surfaces. Wide open motherboard tray. Now I am a little curious about where I will mount my Corsair H100 radiator and fans. I don't want to get too far ahead of myself, but I can't help but plan where to mount my H100 radiator. Front or top?  There is plenty of room at the top, but the front looks to be a bit cramped. I see the hard drive cage that will hold two standard spindle drives. Then right below the two optical drive bays is an odd looking plastic cage for your SSDs (Solid State Drives). The box shows only two cages (and the instructions also only show two), but my case came with three - probably an oversight. The box of assembly hardware was placed in one of the hard drive cages for shipping.

 

 

The backside of the case looks like it will be able to accommodate plenty of additional cabling even though the side panels don't have any bump outs. Corsair's Obsidian cases are usually wide enough to allow for excellent cable management space, and this puts my earlier concerns about cable space to bed.

 

Here is what the SSD cages look like when they are separated. Each cage attaches to the one above it with six integrated clips. They snap together and the top unit is a dummy unit that only attaches the cage asembly to the bottom of the optical drive bays (it does not hold a SSD). Be careful when pulling them apart or snapping them together. The little clips can break off - as you can see in the top right corner of the picture on the right. But even with the broken clip, the assembly is still locked firmly together with the other five clips.

 

 

And really, you don't have to disassemble them at all to get your SSD in place - it just pushes right in and locks in place. So if you don't have to separate the cages, just leave them together.  Just push the SSD in and it "clicks" in place. Push the thumb tab release and the SSD pulls right out. The tool-free drive bays are really nice.

 

 

The instruction set is thorough and easy to follow. The hardware consists of two slide in mounts for your hard drives, wire ties, some motherboard stand offs, and assorted screws for securing the motherboard to the tray.

 

 

I thought about trying to mount the H100 radiator up front. The more I looked at it, the more it looked like it would be somewhat of a challenge, at least for the H100. The hard drive cage would have to move over, and fortunately it is held in with screws rather than rivets. But there are no holes for the relocation. The SSD cages can be moved to the top of the HDD cage, but still for a front radiator, they would also have to move; I am not sure where as there are no provisions beyond the top of the HDD cage. A smaller 120mm radiator would easily fit without having to relocate anything. So for this build, I will go with the radiator at the top - and this is not really a disappointment, as I like the way the radiator fits up top.

You can see the included rear 3-pin 120mm rear exhaust fan. I'll bet that at least one of those grommets at the top will come in handy when getting the power lead to the CPU at the top of the motherboard.

 

 

There is a nice bit of room above the motherboard to allow for the radiator, and it is really nice to have some room to work. While there is space, you can only do a push or pull configuration for the fans, not both. And a pet peeve of mine is having enough room for the power lead for the CPU, which this case clearly has. 

 

 

And here we have the finished product.  A small case with plenty of room for a clean build. One thing to note is that if you go with the top mounted 240mm radiator, the top optical drive bay becomes a bit shallow and the back of the optical drive will interfere with one of the fans, so I had to use the lower bay for my optical drive. This actually works better, as an optical drive in the top bay sometimes gets in the way of things you plug into the front USB ports.

  

 

Now I have to say that I am not sure that I like the way the optical drive looks after it is installed. The way it is recessed a bit - it really breaks up the smooth look of the brushed aluminum. Almost like it was an afterthought. I am not sure if there is an easy way around this without using a custom fabricated face plate. It is not a show stopper, but I think it detracts from the overall look of such a fine looking case.

 

Corsair Obsidian 350D Specifications:

 

Available Color:
Black
Materials:
Brushed aliminum front panels, steel case body
Dimensions:
210(W) x 440(H) x 450(D) mm (8.3(W) x 17.3(H) x 17.7(D) inch) 
Net Weight:
4.3kg / 9.5lb
M/B Type:
Micro-ATX, Mini-iTX
5.25" Drive Bays:
2
3.5" Drive Bays:
2
2.5" Drive Bays:
2
I/O Panel:
USB 3.0 x 2, Audio In and Out
Expansion Slots:
5
Cooling System:
Front 140mm (or 120mm) x 2 (140mm x 1 included), Rear - 120mm fan (included), Top - 140mm or 120mm x 2 (not included)
Power Supply:
ATX PS2 (Max. length: 180mm / 7.1 inch)
Maximum Compatibility:
 
CPU Cooler: Air - 160mm / 6.3 inch
Water cooling: 240mm radiator (front or top), 120mm radiator (front, top or rear)
GPU: 380mm / 14.96 inch

 

 

Corsiar Obsidian 350D Features:

 

 

Information provided by: Corsair

Corsair Obsidian 350D Testing:

Testing involved recording temperatures for the CPU, GPU, and motherboard during idle and load phases. The load was simulated by running Prime95’s small FFTs and 3DMark Vantage for one hour. The maximum temperatures were recorded using HW Monitor 1.21.0. Please note that each case is tested from its factory setup, including location of fans, unless otherwise noted.

 

Testing Setup:

 

Comparison Case:

 

 

I was rather surprised at the results - the way the CPU and GPU were much cooler than I expected with the 350D. The air flow through this case must be really good. Especially to see such low temps under load.

On a case with solid side panels, this is the time that I am usually getting in my jab for a side fan or two for a nice supply of cool air for the GPU. But we see here that side fans are not necessary. What has Corsair done to get such good air flow? The 500R has more fans and the 350D seems to keep things just as cool. I reran the test a few hours later and got the same results. I would say we have a real winner for keeping things cool. The fan noise was consistent with a top mounted ratiator with two fans. At idle, things are nice and quiet. Under a load, the fan noise is louder, but this is expected.

Corsair Obsidian 350D Conclusion:

The Corsair Obsidian 350D has classic style and a rich blood line. The quality is top notch, which is no surprise from Corsair. I was impressed with the available space in a smaller case, and the cable management was right on the mark. The airflow is excellent in the smaller space. Corsair provides plenty of room here for graphics cards up to 380mm (14.96 inches) in length. That's HD 7990 territory! Mounting the SSDs is a simple matter of pushing the SSD into the mount and "click" - you are done. The PSU filter and the front filter are also easy to remove for quick cleaning. And finally some consistency from a manufacturer that makes cases with space to run the power lead for the CPU; a feature seen on the vast majority of Corsair chassis. No longer do you have to contort your fingers trying to bend the plug into place and this is a big plus in my book.

While there are plenty of pluses there are two things that were minor issues. The first was the front radiator mount, which I did not attempt. There is indeed enough room for a front 240mm radiator and two fans, but you need to remove the hard drive cage and the SSD cage. While removing the cages is not a problem, there really aren't any provisions for relocating the drive cages without doing some fabrication. However there is plenty of room up top and that is the direction I chose. The second thing and most troubling is the way the optical drive looks when installed. After you remove the blank plate (with the nice brushed aluminum finish) and install the optical drive, there is no finish trim. The optical drive sits recessed and it just looks odd to me. If you don't install an optical drive, then this will not be a problem. And really, neither of these are show stoppers with the majority of users looking for a smaller chassis.

The windowed case is available at Newegg for $109.99, and the non-windowed case is $69.99 after a $20 rebate. If you are planning on building a system based on an ITX or Mini ATX motherboard, then you won't be disappointed with the 350D - especially if you want to live on the wild side and go with a full on water cooling system. You get all of what makes Corsair cases some of the best on the market with excellent visuals to go along with the function and form.

 

Pros:

 

Cons: