Corsair Obsidian 650D Review

airman - 2011-04-11 03:19:19 in Cases
Category: Cases
Reviewed by: airman   
Reviewed on: June 8, 2011
Price: $189.99

Introduction:

When I think of the Corsair Obsidian series, I am reminded of the massive full towers like the 700D and 800D that are immensely clean and perfect for watercooling, housing multiple video card setups, gigantic power supplies, and large hard drive arrays. Until recently, I was only aware that the Obsidian series cases were available in full towers and I was proven wrong when I learned about the Corsair Obsidian 650D. The Obsidian 650D is technically a mid tower, offering just about all the features you can expect out of a full tower — only sacrificing a little room. The Obsidian series has been wildly popular with the super high-end system builders and gamers with deep pockets as they certainly aren't cheap, but arguably some of the best cases that a couple hundred dollars can buy. The Obsidian series offers a feature-rich background, including integrated fan controllers, optional windows, hot swappable drives, brilliant cable routing systems, dust filters, and more.

The Corsair Obsidian 650D will be the first case from Corsair that I have had the fortune to evaluate. I am expecting an easy installation, good airflow, rigid construction, and thoughtful engineering on the packaged features, as well as more abstract ones, such as wire management and interchangeability of parts. This review will feature an in-depth evaluation of the Corsair Obsidian 650D. I will begin with packaging impressions and unboxing of the case, showing its packaged accessories. Following this will be an external and internal evaluation of the case, from my thoughts and opinions on these areas using a methodical approach. Most importantly, I will perform intense testing sessions with some of the latest hardware on the market while recording temperatures of key components, such as the CPU, video card, hard drives, and northbridge, and compare these results to other cases currently on the market. I am looking forward to getting started, so I'm going go end this introduction and jump right in!

 

Closer Look:

From what I've seen, Corsair generally sways away from flashy and high-end graphics on the disposable box that's most likely going to be thrown away within weeks of being opened. Other companies have been doing this as well, possibly to go green, but at the least, it saves cost. The entire box is printed in monochrome black and features a wireframe model of the Obsidian 650D on the front along with the Corsair logo next to a large amount of text. The sides of the case show general specifications of the case, such as dimensions, weight, expansion slots, etc. This information is provided in several different languages. The back of the packaging shows something I haven't seen often, which is an exploded view of the Obsidian 650D with numbered symbols that correspond to a commentary below — also in different languages. As an engineer, I must say we appreciate the exploded views! It's a very clear representation of the case and what to expect in terms of features and components.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Obsidian 650D is packaged like most others, between two blocks of Styrofoam and wrapped in a bag. The accessory package can be found inside the case, which contains general hardware, such as standoffs, screws, zipties, etc. There is also a user's document included, which is basically a small poster that covers the basics on what features this case offers and how to fully take advantage of them.

 

 

With the Corsair Obsidian 650D out of the box and ready for exploration, I'm going to waste no time and make my way to the next page, covering the exterior of this case.

Closer Look:

Taking a look at the front of the case, the Obsidian 650D displays its brushed aluminum faceplate, four 5.25" bays, stealthed I/O panel, power and reset buttons, and a large front vent. The brushed aluminum looks great and is very sleek. The case stands on what I'll call an oval loop, kind of reminding me of a Power Mac G5 — only less pronounced. The left side of the case shows the quick-disconnect side panel with about a half-size window, cleanly framed by a sharp, beveled edge. Through the window, I can see the wire management passages on the motherboard tray, along with what looks like a massive CPU mounting access hole. This is something that I specifically ask of manufacturers often, as it's not uncommon to find a case without an appropriately-located hole to allow full access to the mounting area. All it takes is making it big enough to encompass a larger area to accommodate more motherboards. The rear of the case shows the 120mm exhaust fan, I/O bracket, eight expansion slots, bottom-mounted PSU bracket, and two water cooling grommets. There is also a passageway to pass a USB3.0 connector through the top-left corner of the rear if needed. The right side of the case is identical to the windowed side, simply lacking the window — though it still features the quick-disconnect hardware. So far, the look of the Corsair Obsidian 650D appeases me. It has an elegant, sleek, and stylish look.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The top of the Obsidian 650D houses a large 200mm exhaust fan, with 2x120 and 2x140 compatibility, as well as the door leading to the hard drive dock. It features the same black textured paint as the rest of the case and there's not much else to it. The bottom of the case shows the wide feet that span the width of the case, holes for the adjustable PSU stabilizer, and a removable fan filter. The fan filter easily slides out of the rear of the case, right below the power supply mounting bracket. There is also a rubber pad on each corner of the front and rear feet, helping to alleviate noise transference from the case to its resting surface.

 

 

 

At the top of the front of the case is a spring loaded door, that when pressed, flips open and exposes the I/O ports. The Obsidian 650D boasts quite a collection here and is probably the widest variety of ports that I've seen, as it includes just about all standard ones with the exception of eSATA. Behind this door are two USB3.0 ports, two USB2.0 ports, audio jacks, and a Firewire port. I have seen very few cases that offer front Firewire capability. Of course, 98% of us won't use it, but the 2% that do will be very happy about it. That's just Corsair covering all its bases. Right behind the I/O ports on the top is the hard drive dock. It will accept 3.5" and 2.5" drives. For 2.5" drives, there is even a spring-loaded tab that holds it in place. For 3.5" drives, this tab is simply pushed down beneath it. Inside of the hard drive dock is a very small, hardly noticeable fan controller — a 3-speed, 4-channel controller to power the three included fans. I almost missed it because of how small it is!

 

 

On the front bezel is the fan filter for the front 200mm intake fan, which is easily removed by pressing the top edge, opening just like the I/O port does. It is a plastic frame with plastic mesh, easily washed and replaced in minutes. Removing the front bezel entirely is also simple and doesn't require a lot of effort. There are six tabs holding it onto the rest of the chassis. Once they are released, it pops out with a little bit of leverage on the bezel. Behind the bezel we can see the fan and the perforations for the airflow path leading to the hard drive area, along with the four toolless 5.25" bays. Luckily, since the I/O area and power button/LED are part of the chassis, the front bezel separates completely and doesn't have the headache of potentially popping wires out of PCBs if the wires are too short (which has happened to me before). That's just another example of the clear thinking Corsair exhibits in its cases.

 

 

 

Now that I've shared the exterior of the case along with its features, it's time to move on to the interior of the case, where I'll cover an in-depth evaluation of the working components and its internal features.

Closer Look:

The inside of the Obsidian 650D is a nice thing to look at. I counted nine wire management passages, with eight having the rubber grommets for disguise. That's quite a few more than my favorite case, so I really appreciated that. Six side-facing hard drive caddies are well-nested in the front of the case right behind the 200mm intake fan, while the above section contains the four toolless 5.25" bays. The interior of the Obsidian 650d is painted with the same finish as the rest of the case and really brings the entire thing together nicely. The back side of the motherboard tray gives a look at the two 3-pin headers that hang down from the top and rear exhaust fans. These both have plenty of length to their cables, so finding the source of power shouldn't be a problem. There are several punches in the tray that allow the looping of zip-ties to tidy up the wires behind the case, which I find useful in my wire management endeavors. Getting a look at the back of the hard drive caddies makes me think that the hard drives may be reversible, allowing me to completely hide the I/O area of the drives and route them straight through the back — I'll keep my fingers crossed for that. There is about 0.75" (19mm) of clearance between the rear of the motherboard tray and the edge of the case, which should be plenty of room to route even a 24-pin ATX connector.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Checking out the upper rear of the case shows plenty of room between the top of the motherboard tray and the top of the case, looking to make mounting a 2x120 or 2x140mm radiator for water cooling right in the top very easy — no external loop required. That's another thing Corsair managed to fit into a mid-tower case. However, seeing as how this is the little brother of the larger D series cases, which are feature-rich full towers, I don't take it as much of a surprise. The top of the case, toward the front, holds the 5.25" bays, currently occupied by the wiring harness for the front I/O panel and hard drive dock. There's a good bit of wiring there, seeing as how it operates with two USB3.0 ports and two USB2.0 ports, along with Firewire, sound, interface buttons, and the hard drive dock. Luckily, I've got plenty of room for wire management to tame them.

The lower rear of the inside shows the eight expansion slots and the adjustable power supply stabilizer. Having eight expansion slots allows for the possibility of a quad GPU setup, if desired. As for the power supply stabilizer, some users may feel the need to support the end of it to prevent deflection in the rear panel and PSU structure. It can also assist in installation of the power supply, as it helps prop it up flush with the rear of the case. Revisiting the hard drive mounting area, I learn that the center hard drive housing is removable to make room for larger video cards that may not fit while it's in place. The housing can be taken out simply by removing the two thumbscrews that secure it to the rest of the case. Doing this can also clean up the inside of the case, but I'll most likely leave it there if I'm not using it. This is because it's a good place to stash unused wires and disguise them well.

 

 

 

The quick release side panels are a feature that I like. Back in early 2000, when my interest in high performance computing arose, I found one of my favorite cases at the time was the old Chieftec cases, which has quick release panels. Though the quick release system on the Obsidian 650D is quite different in appearance, the function is the same and I get a lot of use out of it. Instead of pivoting at the front bezel, these panels pivot on the bottom. The side panels themselves are plain on the inside, other than the window on one of them — there are no vents or fan holes on either. I don't find this worrying, as there are quite a few large fans already installed in this case. With two exhausts and only one intake, we'll find that this case operates with a slightly negative internal pressure.

 

 

 

The hard drive caddies are simple trays of plastic that house 3.5" and smaller drives. Each of the two housings contain three caddies each, making room for up to six hard drives. Each of the small shafts that lock each drive in place is secured by a rubber dampener, helping to alleviate noise and vibrations from the hard drive that may be passed to the chassis. The expansion slot covers are each held in by thumbscrews that weren't too tight to initially remove by hand. Some cases have had the thumbscrews in so tight that a screwdriver is needed to remove them. Luckily, I only have to crack each of them loose once, but it's nice to not have to in the first place with the Obsidian 650D.

 

 

 

The hard drive caddies themselves easily clamp onto a hard drive and slide right into each bay. I did find, as I always research, that mounting the hard drives with their I/O ports facing the right side of the case is possible. I like to do this because it really cleans up the look of the case and completely removes a set of wires from view. However, without 90° connectors for the power and signal plugs, caution should be made as there could be some clearance issues. If not checked, closing and locking the right side panel may result in damage to the hard drive's PCB. The 5.25" toolless system works by opening and closing a lever, which retracts or secures the locking pins into the device in use. I'm used to seeing some that slide, twist, or swing, and this design is unique. They're all equally effective, but it's cool to see something different.

 

 

 

With as many features as the front end of this case offers, including the four channel fan controller, I have quite a lot of wires to work with. After I unwound each set, I found that there is a HUGE amount of length to these wires. At the shortest, these wires hang out past the 5.25" cages by over two feet, while some of the longer ones are over two and a half feet in length. Sure, it's a little harder to conceal when they're this long, but it allows the user to take them through areas where an average length wouldn't be able to make it. I count it as a plus, though it took longer to get looking good. The list of connections is as follows: 4x 3-pin connectors for the fan controller and a Molex to power it all, power LED and switch connectors, reset button and HDD activity light, 2x external USB3.0 connectors, 2x internal USB2.0 connectors, HD audio, Firewire, and SATA power and signal for the upper hard drive dock. All with 2+ feet in length makes for a bird's nest!

 

 

My wire management skills required only a little amount of exercising with what's already in place with the Obsidian 650D. First of all, the entire wiring harness is black, the same color as the interior, and the massive amount of wiring pass-through grommets makes it a very simple task. Even though it can be the most time consuming part of a build for me, taking the time to make the internals of the case look as clean as possible is my favorite part of the task. The zip tie loops on the back make it easy to secure wires and keep them snug up to the motherboard tray, and there are plenty in place to take advantage of.

 

 

 

The part about the Obsidian 650D that stands out the most to me once everything is installed, is the all-back wiring that blends very neatly with the black interior of the case. Everything comes together nicely and there's plenty of room around the video card too. I couldn't imagine even needing to remove that hard drive cage for any video card currently on the market, as the 6970 is already among the biggest and there is easily 3" of clearance between the edge of the cooler and the hard drive cage. I was able to completely hide the 8-pin auxiliary power connector by running it behind the motherboard tray, along with the majority of the 24-pin ATX connector by routing it through the integrated passages on the motherboard tray. So, I'm definitely pleased with the interior of the case and it's now time to get the tests fired up and gather some data. First, I will provide a complete listing of the Corsair Obsidian 650D's specifications and features.

Specifications:

Dimension
21.5" (L) x 9" (W) x 20.5" (H)
546mm (L) x 229mm (W) x 521mm (H)
MB Support
ATX, mATX
Expansion Slots
8
Form Factor
Mid-tower
Material
Steel structure with black brushed aluminum faceplate
Drive Bays
5.25" (x4), 3.5"/2.5" drive caddies (x6)
Cooling
200mm (x4), 120mm (x1)
Front I/O
USB2.0 (x2), USB3.0 (x2), IEEE 1394 (x1)
Power Supply
ATX (not included)

 

Features:

 

Information provided courtesy of Corsair @ http://www.corsair.com

Testing:

To test the Corsair Obsidian 650D, temperatures will be recorded for the CPU, GPU, chipset, hard drives, and the overall system temperature during load and idle phases. Load will be simulated by Prime95 small FFTs and HD Tune for one hour, with maximum temperatures recorded by RealTemp. The GPU load will be the maximum value recorded by Catalyst Control Center after five loops of 3DMark06’s Canyon Flight test. For the idle temperature readings, I allowed each setup to remain idle for one hour, and the minimum value achieved during this period will be recorded. Each case is tested as is from the factory, including the fan configuration. The fan configuration for the Corsair is left in its default configuration of one front 200mm intake, one 200mm top exhaust, and one 120mm rear exhaust. I will be running the fans at full speed for these tests.

Testing Setup:

Comparison Cases:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Well, we see that the Corsair Obsidian 650D comes in right around the middle of the line. The GPU idle temperature suffers on the graph, but comparatively there is only a spread of 2 °C throughout the data. Chipset and harddrive temperatures are good, along with the CPU temperatures. The noise from the fans at full speed are barely audible with the side panels on and are silent at low speeds. On the next page, I will share my conclusions about the Obsidian 650D and wrap up my thoughts!

Conclusion:

I'll start off by saying that, although the results from the testing aren't astonishing on the graphs themselves, this is only because of the small spreads of only a few degrees in each test. Even having one or two degrees difference, which isn't critical, takes you all the way to the end of the graph. Aside from that, I feel that the Obsidian 650D is an excellent case and is very well-designed. It has a sleek look with thoughtful engineering, while not having anything flashy just for looks. I respect manufacturers that lean toward the elegance of integrating function with the look of a case and not just adding plastic molded bezels or LED case fans to make a product look good. A good example of this is the front fan filter. It is seamlessly integrated with the front bezel, yet it is easily removed with the spring loaded lock at the top of it. Another point is the I/O panel, hard drive dock, and fan controller. I've always enjoyed seeing "James Bond"-type features that are completely hidden, but with a simple flick or press of a button, they're exposed and ready to work. To me, it really amps up the style of the case.

Of course, opinions are subjective and every individual's take will differ, but the Obsidian series from Corsair is already a proven line and has many admirers. The Obsidian 650D is no exception and definitely has my vote for one of my top favorite cases that I've had the pleasure of using. Wire management has a solid design and it was very easy to use. This is the roomiest mid-tower I've ever used, though it is only about an inch and a half shorter than the HAF932, which is a full tower case. The Obsidian 800D is almost 4" taller than the Obsidian 650D, but Corsair found a place to put about 90% of the features found in the 800D, only in about 75% of the volume. Corsair did a great job accomplishing that and Obsidian owners will probably agree with me. Corsair is earning an OCC Gold Award for its Obsidian 650D. This is one of the few products that I have given a Gold Award, so that's definitely saying something! I could list "price" as a con, but at a cost of $60-$70 less than the Obsidian 800D with only a tiny reduction in size and even more features, makes it a no-brainer cost savings option.

 

Pros:

 

Cons: