Date: May 2, 2011
Author(s): Ryan Perry
When Corsair released its Obsidian 800D full-tower nearly two years ago, it was the company’s first chassis, but still managed to set standards. For those who were hoping for much of the same aesthetic value and design features in a smaller package, Corsair delivers with its 650D, a premium-priced offering at $180.
As hardware reviewers, it’s our job to remain impartial about the products that we look at – but that doesn’t mean we can’t get friggin’ excited! This is Techgage’s resident case freak, about to have a look at the long-awaited Corsair Obsidian 650D mid-tower. I have been nearly rabid about this case since I saw the first pictures at this year’s CES in Las Vegas.
The 650D is modeled after the Obsidian 800D and 700D, but is in a much smaller package supporting ATX and mATX motherboards. The outer styling is quite subdued compared to many cases on the market today, but on the inside it offers many features that made the larger versions so popular – without taking up extra real estate. It’s time to dive in and have look to see if the 650D can keep up with its bigger brothers.
The case comes wrapped in a cloth bag to help protect an impeccable finish. Even though the 650D body is made of steel, the front panel is aluminum and has a brushed finish. Making up the bottom half of the front panel is a large vent that hides a 200mm fan. The entire vent, which features an air filter, can be removed by pushing in at the top and lifting it away. Towards the bottom of the vents is a nice shiny Corsair logo, just in case you forget which company makes the case.
At the very top left is the power button and hard drive activity LED, both of which glow white. Both have a very thin piece of silver trim around them so there is a little bit of style to go along with the substance. To the right is a flip-down cover that opens when the top right corner is pressed. Behind it starting on the left are two USB 3.0 connections, standard 3.5mm microphone and headphone jacks, two USB 2.0 connections and an IEEE 1394 port, finishing up with the reset button on the very right. Below this are the four 5.25″ drive covers that can be removed by pushing in on small clips from inside the drive bays.
Over on the left side of the case at the top are two quick-release latches. Anybody who is routinely opening their case to swap out hardware will find these a welcome addition. Just pull down and the panel can be lifted away cleanly. The left panel also features a large, rectangular window so that users can show off what’s under the hood. The window is trimmed with plastic for a super-clean, finished look.
The back of the 650D has a small hole in the top left corner for two USB 3.0 cables to be fed through. These cables can be connected to the rear ports on the motherboard I/O in order to provide connectivity for the front panel. Below this are the motherboard I/O opening and a 120mm fan to exhaust warm air out the back of the case. Further down are 8 vented PCI slot covers to allow for some serious triple-GPU setups. To the right of the slot covers are two holes with rubber grommets to run hoses for water cooling and the opening for the power supply at the very bottom.
Nothing much to report on the left side panel other than the same quick release latches at the top.
Up on the top panel towards the front is another cover that slides back under the panel itself. This hides a hot-swap SATA hard drive bay that can accept either 3.5″ or 2.5″ drives – provided the motherboard supports AHCI. This is a great alternative to the 800D that features front-loaded hot-swap bays. At the front right corner of this bay is the four channel, 3 speed fan controller that some may miss due to the small size. The controller allows users to choose between silence and performance by selecting either low, medium or high speed settings.
Towards the back is the grill that shows off the second 200mm fan to exhaust warm air. If needed, the stock fan can be replaced with up to two 120mm or 140mm fans with the option of installing a 240mm radiator for water cooling.
Flipping the case over shows a bit of a curious combination of feet. The front are textured rubber to help reduce any sliding or slipping while the rear feet are hard plastic. This was likely chosen to allow the case to move easily if the front is raised up seeing how the front rubber feet grip surfaces very well. At the very back is a removable air filter to help keep dust out of the power supply. A simple tug on the filter and is all it takes to slide it out the back.
While the outside may not seem too different than the larger versions, it’s time to strip the case down and have a look at the inside.
With those pesky panels out of the way, the front now shows off the huge 200mm fan and empty drive bays. The front panel comes off cleanly leaving all buttons and connections on the frame.
On the left side we see the business end and there is a fair bit to cover. The hard drive cage at the front bottom allows up to six 3.5″ or 2.5″ hard drives to be installed via the plastic trays. Any 3.5″ drives can be installed without tools thanks to the metal mounting pegs that are surrounded by rubber washers to absorb any vibration. Tools are required if installing 2.5″ drives since they secure with screws through the bottom of the tray once the metal pegs are removed from the washers on one side.
If extra room is needed or if the hard drives are restricting airflow more than the user would like, the top half of the drive cage can be removed by loosening two thumbscrews and sliding it out. If the drive bays are still required, the top half can be secured to the bottom of the case with the thumb screws just behind the original position so users with a large number of drives do not need to sacrifice storage capacity for the sake of space or temperatures.
Above the drive cage are the locking mechanisms for the four 5.25″ drive bays. To install drives here, gently pull on the latch to disengage the pegs in the bay, slide the drive into place and let the latch spring into position to keep everything snug and secure.
At the bottom of the case towards the rear is the ventilation area for the power supply. The power supply sits on two rails to lift it up and rests on an adjustable brace at the front. The brace can be sized in order to keep just about any power supply in place thanks to the two tabs on the top that stop any vertical or horizontal motion. This is done without tools thanks to the inclusion of two more thumbscrews.
The rear of the case shows off the vented PCI slots that are secured in place with thumbscrews to help keep tool usage to a minimum. Above it is the 120mm exhaust fan with the wire finally in the proper position in the top corner from the factory. Too many times I find myself removing, rotating and reinstalling this fan so that the power wire is in the proper place for cable management.
Now it’s time for the motherboard tray, which many will notice features Corsair’s characteristic everywhere-you-look cable management system. Down the right side are cable management areas, each with rubber grommets installed to keep everything looking clean no matter what your motherboard configuration may be, but also to hide wires from the 5.25″ drive bays. There are also some coming up from the bottom for running power supply leads or front panel connections to the bottom edge of a motherboard.
The large hole without the grommet is used to run wires from the top section of the hard drive cage if it has been moved to the bottom of the case. Up in the top-left corner is another small hole to run the 12v power connection up the back of the motherboard tray. Finally the tray has a gigantic cut-out in the CPU area to help with installation and removal of after-market heatsinks. All of this adds up to “no excuse” for having a mess of wires visible… ever.
At the top of the case there is tons of room to install a 240mm radiator by swapping out the 200mm fan.
The bits and pieces that Corsair includes with the 650D consist of rubber washers, screws for installing additional fans, screws for securing the motherboard and drives and yet more screws for securing 2.5″ drives to the bottom of the trays. Also included are small zip ties for cable management, a product brochure showcasing some of Corsair’s other products and a quick-start guide that is more of a list of features than a guide. Oddly enough, the rubber washers are not mentioned in the parts on the back of the guide.
So now it’s time for my favorite part, the build. Here we separate the men from the boys. The wheat from the chaff. The cases from the… non-cases. Forget it. Let’s throw some gear in it!
Seeing how this was my first experience with a Corsair case, and after hearing Rob exclaim about how great the 800D is, I am happy to say that I wasn’t left disappointed. Everything installed without any clearance problems, all cables were long enough to reach the appropriate headers and there was tons of room to work.
The case comes with the motherboard standoffs in place for an ATX motherboard. If a micro-ATX motherboard is used, as is the case with this build, they simply need to be removed and screwed into the correct pre-drilled holes. The middle standoff is a knuckle that keeps the motherboard in place while being secured. This proves to be one of my favorite added bonuses in any case that features it and makes installation a snap because the board does not need to be pushed and held towards the back of the case to line up the holes with the standoffs.
As I mentioned, 3.5″ drives are mounted through use of the metal pegs that slip into the screw holes on the sides of the drives. 2.5″ drives are mounted from the bottom of the tray with the included screws once the metal pegs are removed from the rubber washers on the side that rests against the drive. Once done, they simply slide in and click in place. The mounting system is very solid and should not cause any problems if the case needs to be transported.
The power supply went into place with all four mounting points lining up dead-on with the opening. The front brace also slid into the perfect position to keep it secure.
Cable management was an absolute dream in the 650D. Up until now, I had never had so many options for routing cables. The rubber grommets stayed in position perfectly no matter how many cables I fed through. On other cases, these grommets would pull away and prove to be a pain to get back into place. Also, all of the wires are black to help keep the finished product looking clean.
There is also a ton of options for cable management on the backside of the motherboard tray as well as a good amount of space between it and the side panel. Wires can be stashed along the outside edges, under the hard drive cage or tied up tight to the back of the tray using the included zip ties.
The hot-swap bay on top also worked like a charm. As soon as a partitioned drive was inserted, the operating system picked it up and displayed it in the list.
So without further ado, here is the end result of the build using our test configuration. Not too shabby, huh?
During the entire installation, I only ran into two snags. The first came when the top half of the hard drive cage was installed at the bottom of the case. When in this configuration, the bottom tray becomes inaccessible due to the lip of the bottom panel, so unless the drive is pre-installed or the entire cage is removed, that tray cannot be used. Luckily, the thumb screws make removal of the cage a breeze but it’s still something that should have been caught.
The other small problem that I had was when connecting the front panel wires. Since all of the wires are black instead of having one white wire to denote the grounding connection, it may cause some problems for some users seeing how not all connections are marked with positive and negative symbols. I goofed on connecting the hard drive activity LED the wrong way, and it can happen to anybody.
If this is all that is wrong with a case, I’d say it’s a winner – but how will it perform? There’s only one way to tell.
For testing, the stock CPU cooler was used. Due to the fact that the stock cooler is grossly underpowered, even running LinX through OCCT to test full load temperatures proved to be too dangerous as they went into the 90s. Due to this, only stock idle CPU temperatures are reported after the system has been allowed to sit idle at the desktop for 10 minutes.
GPU load temperatures were generated with a 20 minute run of OCCT’s (3.1.0) built-in GPU test. The test was performed at stock speeds and again while overclocked. The final clocks were 1020MHz on the core and 1200MHz for the memory with a +0.025V increase using Sapphire Technology’s TriXX (126.96.36.199) overclocking utility. Stability testing was done prior to ensure the GPU test completes the full run with AIDA64 Extreme Engineer (1.60.1300) monitoring and recording all temperatures.
The components used in the build are:
Techgage Test System
Intel Core i3-530 – Dual-Core (2.93GHz)
GIGABYTE GA-H55M-USB3 – H55-based
G.Skill ECO 2x2GB DDR3-1600
Sapphire Radeon HD 6850 Toxic
Mushkin Callisto Deluxe 60GB SSD
Western Digital Caviar Black 640GB
SilverStone Strider Gold 750W
Lian Li PC-50WB
Bigfoot Killer NIC
Windows 7 Ultimate 64-bit
The 650D kept things cool and quiet while running all fans at 100% and managed to best the AZZA Toledo 301 while keeping up with the Zalman Z9 Plus on the CPU. For the GPU it came in just behind the Toledo, which features a 250mm fan on the side panel but it could not match up to the Z9 Plus. Like the Toledo, the Z9 Plus also has an intake fan on the side panel where the 650D is completely solid, so higher temperatures are to be expected.
If system noise is a concern, it shouldn’t be. The 650D is nearly silent on low and medium settings with only the sound of rushing air while set to high.
For those of you with space constraints but want the look and quality of the Obsidian 800D, this is the case for you!
Clearly, this is a well-thought-out case, so I’m not sure how the team missed the bottom hard drive tray being rendered useless when setting up the hard drive cages in the alternate configuration. I feel that this is something that should have been caught in the design phase, however there are still many trays to use and the ease at which the cage can be removed thanks to the thumbscrews lessens the severity.
Aside from that, it would be nice if the front panel connections were marked as positive and negative so that the wires could remain black while ensuring the user knows exactly how to connect them the first time.
With only two small issues, what else is there to say? The fit and finish on the 650D is incredible. From the perfect paint job to the way the panels fit to the way all of the components installed – it is easily in my top 3 favorite cases to work with. Cable management is a dream come true and the nearly all tool-less installation makes the build process a treat.
What may scare some off is the price tag. The 650D weights in at ~$180, but you do get what you pay for. The extra bank will get you a sturdy, well-designed case that looks incredible. It can hold any gear available on the market today and provides easy maintenance and upgrades.
For those with a big wallet but want a small case that does most things right, I certainly recommend the 650D. It’s a very worthy addition to the Obsidian line up.
Corsair Obsidian Series 650D
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