Corsair’s Obsidian line of cases have long been regarded as being some of the best for their aesthetic design, effective cooling, and overall potential. The 550D changes the formula up a little bit, though, putting a huge focus on quiet computing. Let’s check it out and see how it compares to its direct competitors.
Installation & Testing
I was pressed for time from the start, but installation in the 550D went just as smoothly as with past Corsair cases. More and more companies are getting the interior design down to a science and this was no exception.
Each component installed flawlessly with no clearance or alignment issues and all cables were long enough to reach the connections including the front panel audio cable, which need to go to the far bottom of our test motherboard. Normally I would show what didn’t go right or something out of the ordinary but this build was straight forward, easy and clean from start to finish with no surprises so here’s an overall shot of all the gear installed.
As always, the back of the motherboard is usually a mess when I build a system, but there were no clearance issues here either when it came time to put the panel on. Keep in mind that there is a small amount of space lost due to the foam lining on the panel, but this is offset by the channel that runs along the bottom and up the side of where the motherboard mounts thanks to the recessed mounting area.
All of our testing is performed in a near steady 20°C ambient environment with readings taken before and after with a standard room thermometer. AIDA64 Extreme Engineer is used for monitoring and recording all system temperatures throughout the testing process.
Windows is allowed to sit idle for 10 minutes after startup to ensure all services are loaded before recording the idle CPU and GPU temperatures. CPU load temperatures are generated by performing a 20 minute run of OCCT LINPACK using 90% of the available memory, while GPU load temperatures are generated by OCCT’s built in test, also for 20 minutes.
Stock CPU settings were obtained by setting the AI Tweaker option with the BIOS to Auto and the maximum stable overclock frequency of 4.0GHz was obtained after extensive testing to ensure stability. The final clocks for the GPU are 760MHz on the core and 1000MHz QDR (4000MHz relative) for the memory with the voltage increased to 1.087V using MSI’s Afterburner overclocking utility. As with the CPU overclock, testing was done prior to ensure full stability.
It’s always nice to compare the temperature results to our reigning champ, the Level 10 GT, but the two cases are geared towards very different markets. With that said the 550D performed very well, staying within the manufacturer’s thermal limits, but as is expected it fell well short of Thermaltake’s behemoth.
When compared to other quiet cases in our database the 550D held up well, coming in second only to the NZXT H2 and trading punches with Antec’s SOLO II not shown on our graph.
After thinking about the stock cooling configuration of the H2 and SOLO II, I started to wonder why the 550D performed the way it did with more fans included out of the box, so I decided to run our overclocked tests with the front door removed and was pleasantly surprised. CPU temperatures dropped 2 degrees to 63 while overclocked under full load and GPU temperatures stayed constant at 93 thanks to the leaf blower of a fan on our test GTX 470. Power users be warned, if you have a hot system you’ll probably want to tuck the door away for safe keeping.
From a noise perspective this is one seriously quiet case when run with the stock cooling configuration. Given the cooling potential of the 550D, it could end up being a jet engine but for those looking for the out of the box experience, you can expect to check a few times to see if the fans are running.