We put together an all-new set of parts to test PC enclosures for our last review. We used the same parts this time, but with a couple of changes to accommodate the Obsidian Series 350D. First, we swapped our full-sized Asus P8Z77-V LE Plus motherboard for a similar microATX specimen, the Asus P877-M Pro. Then, we dispensed with our Xonar DG sound card, since the P877-M Pro doesn't have any PCI slots to play host to it.
We've often praised Corsair cases for making PC assembly painless. The 350D is just as much of a joy to work in as the firm's larger enclosures, despite its smaller size.
Like its siblings, the 350D facilitates motherboard installation in two ways: all the standoffs are pre-installed, and one in the center is actually a tall stud with a rounded top. The stud helps to keep the motherboard in place while you're screwing it in. As euphemistic as that sounds, it's actually very convenient. In many enclosures, one must keep pushing the board up against its I/O shield while putting the first screws in place.
Installing storage devices is straightforward, too. As we noted earlier, putting in an SSD is as simple as pushing it in one of the 2.5" bays. There does seem to be some vertical wiggle with thin, 7-mm drives like the one we used, but that's hardly a cause for concern, since SSDs have no moving parts and don't vibrate. Corsair does supply some optional screws to fasten 2.5" drives into the bays. There aren't enough screws for all three bays, though. Each bay requires two screws, and Corsair only provides four.
Putting in optical drives and mechanical hard drives is just as easy. The optical drive slides in from the front and automatically locks into place when it reaches the required depth. Removing it is a simple matter of pulling a tab on the side of the bay. As for the hard drive, you just take out one of the drive trays, warp it to mate the studs with the drive's mounting holes—oh my!—and slide the tray back into place. You also have the option of fastening your optical and mechanical drives securely with screws. Again, though, Corsair doesn't provide quite enough screws. Fastening each drive 3.5" will require two screws, and after mounting the motherboard, we were left with just three spare screws of the right type.
Then there's the power supply. Thanks to a lip at the top of the PSU emplacement, the unit slides into place and stays there even before it's screwed in. Corsair provides two rubber-lined holes at the back of the PSU emplacement for power cables. Other cable-routing holes are present beside the motherboard and above it, thereby covering the 24-pin ATX power connector, the CPU's power connector, and the back of the top 5.25" drive bay—among other things.
Cable routing was the only thing made more difficult by the 350D's diminutive confines. Corsair is generous with routing holes and space behind the motherboard tray, but the fact remains: most PSUs are designed for full-sized enclosures. In a small-form-factor case, they're going to leave you with more cable slack than you need.
Even though we used a modular PSU, we had to put in some extra effort to keep cables from sticking out at the side. The panel had to be held shut while the thumbscrews were going in, and it bulged slightly outward once we were done. Using the included zip ties might have mitigated that problem, but we've never been forced to use those to get the side panel to close in our previous builds.
In any event, if you're considering the 350D for your next build, we recommend staying away from non-modular PSUs. Things would be even more uncomfortable with a bundle of useless cables.
Aside from that one little issue, the 350D rarely gives you the sense that you're compromising by building a microATX system instead of a full-sized ATX one. More importantly, it never feels like your fingers are too big to get something done.
Now, the only question that remains is this one: can the 350D cool a modern enthusiast PC quietly and effectively? Let's find out.
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