Corsair has added a couple of new models to its rapidly growing collection of enthusiast-oriented PC enclosures, and we spent some quality time with them at the Consumer Electronics Show. Let's start with the Obsidian Series 550D, which looks to balance strong cooling performance with ultra-low noise levels. Like many popular low-noise designs, the 550D features a monolithic front panel that cuts a striking profile. This brushed aluminum door swings open from either side, and it's lined with acoustic-dampening foam.
That foam can also be found on the 550D's side and top panels. To accommodate massive water coolers and toasty graphics configurations, the top and left panels each have mounting points for dual 140-mm fans. These emplacements are covered by foam-lined panels in the 550D's factory configuration, so the extra venting shouldn't sacrifice noise levels. Out of the box, the 550D comes equipped with three 120-mm spinners: dual intakes and one rear exhaust.
Corsair is particularly proud of the Obsidian's dust filters, which are cleverly lined with magnets to hold them in place. The 550D also features removable hard drive cages, loads of space behind the motherboard tray for excess wiring, and cable management options galore. The company tells us it's upgraded the plastics for the tool-free drive sleds on the Obsidian and a number of its other cases, as well. You can expect to see the 550D hit online retailers in February for around $160.
If that's a little steep for your budget, perhaps you'll be interested in the $90 Carbide Series 300R. This case doesn't have the Obsidian's acoustic foam or latching side panels, but it does feature a number of perks not often seen on cheaper enclosures. The optical bays and HDD sleds both offer tool-free retention mechanisms, USB 3.0 connectivity is provided up front, and plenty of attention has been paid to cable management. There are concessions, of course, such as the removal of rubber grommets for the cable routing cut-outs, and the deletion of a couple of drive bays. With a 140-mm intake fan, a 120-mm exhaust, and plenty of mounting points for additional fans, the 300R looks like a good starting point for enthusiasts contemplating future upgrades. Like the 550D, it's due to become available next month.