In and Around the Corsair Obsidian 550D

From the get go, Corsair's Obsidian 500D exterior looks like it draws its lineage more from Fractal Design than from any of its predecessors at Corsair. Top to bottom, the whole enclosure is about clean lines and smooth surfaces.

The front of the 500D actually boasts one of my favorite features of the enclosure: the cut-out in the front door for the power and reset buttons and port cluster. It's a simple and elegant solution to one of the two persisting problems of cases that use front doors. The other problem? Depending on where your computer sits, the enclosure door may swing out the wrong way, and for this Corsair has another solution: the front door isn't just removable, but can also be swung out from either side. They achieve this by basically using small C-clasps on the four corners of the door, allowing it to snap shut on either side or swing open. It's a slick solution, but like many of the decisions Corsair made with the 550D it's something that I have concerns about in the long term.

When you do open or remove the front door you'll find the inside surfaces are almost entirely hard black plastic, and look unusually chintzy for Corsair. The aesthetic isn't necessarily bad and your mileage may certainly vary, but I couldn't help but feel like it looked a little bit cheap. If this were any other vendor I'd probably be more forgiving, but this is definitely a case that looks better with the door closed. You can also pop off the large panel beneath the drive bays to expose the two intake fans and their removable filters.

On the left side panel there's also a smaller inset removable panel; it doesn't just provide access to the filter for the underlying fan mounts, it also exposes the potential for mounting side fans to begin with. The filter seems to be affixed magnetically, while the removable inset panel has acoustic foam on its underside, giving the end user the option of engineering for silence or for performance. This is functionality I like to see; instead of having to explicitly choose between superior thermals or superior sound dampening, you can optimize the enclosure for your needs specifically. The top of the 550D has another panel just like this one that operates the same way.

Move to the back of the Corsair 550D and you see the usual tubing grommets along with eight expansion bays, but you'll also see one of the more unusual features of the 550D: the push-button side panel removal system. Corsair has been pretty good about making the side panels of their cases fairly easy to pop off, but there's always been a trade-off there and I can't help but feel like there's another one being made here too. The clamps used on models like the 600T were convenient but never felt completely secure, and the push-button release on the 550D has a similar problem. The side panels hinge at the bottom, and it feels like this design will be prone to developing vibration problems over time. We didn't have any problems with it in testing, but only time will tell if Corsair made the right call.

Opening the 550D returns us to very familiar territory with Corsair. If it wasn't for the acoustic foam padding inside the side panels and front door, the 550D might look like any other Corsair case, and that's not a bad thing. I've gone on record before as having said that the only way Corsair could make case assembly easier would be to ship a technician with every case, and the interior of the 550D has all the same smart design decisions of its predecessors along with a new one.

To save on enclosure width, only the area surrounding the motherboard tray (where cabling would go) has a substantial amount of clearance between it and the right side panel. This is actually a very elegant solution, as it creates specific conduits for cables to be routed in and through rather than just mashing everything up behind the motherboard tray and calling it a day. Other conveniences of the interior of the 550D include toolless clasps for the 5.25" drive bays that are actually very effective at keeping drives firmly in place and two completely removable drive cages with three drive sleds apiece, each sled supporting a 2.5" drive or a 3.5" drive. As a much appreciated improvement, the sleds themselves now allow you to either mount the 2.5" drive in the center of the sled or against the side to line up cabling.

Despite some generally clever design decisions and a lot of flexibility in how you can use the 550D, I can't help but have some concerns about its viability for long term use. The panels that hide the fan mounts on the front, side, and top all run the risk of developing the same kinds of vibration problems the top grate of my Graphite 600T developed over time, and that concern is exacerbated by how loose the push-button release mechanism causes the side panels to feel. I'm also not as impressed with the 550D's fit and finish as I am with some of the other Corsair enclosures I've tested; there's just something about the black matte plastic that looks a little bit cheaper than I've come to expect from them, but that's more a matter of personal taste.

Introducing the Corsair Obsidian 550D Assembling the Corsair Obsidian 550D
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  • Nje - Friday, March 30, 2012 - link

    The side panel can also fit a 200mm fan, would be interesting to see if it is possible to fit a 200mm fan and a NH-D14..
  • stratosrally - Friday, March 30, 2012 - link

    I have SLI'd GTX580s and a Corsair H60 with push/pull 120mm fans in my Scout. It is a noise machine - and that is with a custom solid side window - no vents or fans on it. I added a second 140mm intake in the 5.25"bay area under my single ODD so there are 2 front 140mm intakes, 1 top 140mm exhaust, and the 2x120mm push/pull rear =exhaust.

    I'd really like to try this case, the only change from as AT tested would be add an additional 120mm bottom fan next to the PSU, and keep my push/pull on the rear exhaust. I'd want to leave the solid side and top panels installed to keep noise at a minimum.

    I wonder if I'd see a temp rise? My Scout is just crammed full, it has 1 SSD and 2 HDD and an audio card.
  • jimmyzaas - Saturday, March 31, 2012 - link

    I like everything about this case except for the Front IO/power button position. If you have something plugged in to the USB port, like a usb cable for your cellphone or a usb thumb drive, you won't be able to open the door to access your optical drive or other 5.25" devices without first unplugging your device. This is just stupid IMHO.

    Many cases out there got this simple thing right by placing IO and buttons on TOP of the case. Why do you have to be special and put it in some ugly color-mismatched rectangular cutout in front of the case that feeds through a hole in the front door?

    Sure you can remove the front door completely but why would you want to go that route? If I wanted something that looks like a Silverstone RV03, I would have bought that. I'm getting this case for the minimalistic look with the door in tact.
  • Death666Angel - Sunday, April 1, 2012 - link

    It is, as you correctly denote in the graphs, "Degrees Celsius". Which is not "C" but rather "°C". But since you are dealing with deltas here, it would be much simpler to just use "Kelvin", "K", as most people do. :-)
    Thanks for making the switch to deltas though! :D
  • 1ceTr0n - Sunday, April 1, 2012 - link

    But you honestly do the worst case reviews with the worst reviewer possibly
  • helvetio - Monday, April 2, 2012 - link

    I just built a new system with this case and I really like it. The door can open to both sides, but the clips that allow this to happen are a bit delicate and I already broke one. Fortunately two spares are included.
    Since I keep the PC on the desk, it is important to me that the front ports and buttons are on the front, not on the top.
    The PC is very quiet, even to my hypersensitive ears, the loudest part of the build as an evga GTX 460 but the sound proofing further lowers its noise.
  • Mosab - Tuesday, April 3, 2012 - link

    1- From what I have seen the GC is Zotac not ASUS GeForce GTX 560 Ti DCII TOP.
    2- (GPU thermals are at the 90C) that is toooooo much for the GTX 560 Ti. I have GTX560Ti and I think that 90C is extreme even for over clocked one
  • cyberguyz - Tuesday, April 3, 2012 - link

    They sink in the motherboard pan appproximately 1/4". If you are using a mATX board like the one in this article, you are fine, but if you have a full size board like an ASUS Maximus IV Extreme Z that has that lovely bank of 'lay down' SATA ports right at the edge of the motherboard, get set to break out a hammer and do some remodelling of that case.

    You see that raised area surrounding the motherboard pan area? It is just high enough that it blocks access the bottom-most sata ports on these motherboards. You just can't get a SATA connector into them. In short, unless you want to ding up your case to fit that really expensive full size motherboard with SATA connectors facing to the edge, I would suggest steering away from any of the Corsair Obsidian, Carbide and possibly the Graphite series cases.

    As you can guess, this is from bitter experience after buying a Carbide 500R, getting it home and being faced with this conundrum.
  • jmunjr - Friday, April 16, 2021 - link

    "but I also feel like there are large parts of it just waiting to develop issues with vibration in the future."

    8 years after building my system in this case it is as quiet and noise free as it was on day 1. Never an issue and never a vibration. This is the best case I have ever owned by far.

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