Corsair’s Obsidian Series 650D enclosure

Manufacturer Corsair
Model Obsidian Series 650D
Price (Street) $199.99
Availability Now

About a year and a half ago, we got our hands dirty picking apart Corsair’s first stab at the whole “computer case” thing: the Obsidian Series 800D. Then, last September, we brought in the newer and more affordable Graphite Series 600T for a similar run around the ol’ test track. Today, we’re going to be looking at the Obsidian Series 650D, which melds the 800D’s externals and the 600T’s internals with an asking price smack in the middle between the two.

We were impressed with Corsair’s first two designs, so we’re eager to see if the 650D manages to bring the best of both worlds without breaking the bank. At least on paper, this puppy looks like a potentially great middle ground for folks who don’t care for the 600T’s rounded, somewhat chunky design yet can’t afford to spend $280 on an Obsidian Series 800D. Also, I think I heard something about getting a free sub with a drink after doing three Corsair case reviews.

As you can see below, the 650D has much in common with the 800D visually—it’s tall, rectangular, made of steel and aluminum, and outfitted with a window on the side. Where the 24″ x 24″ x 9″ Obsidian Series 800D towers above mere mortals, though, the 650D is a little more manageable, measuring 20.5″ in height and 21.5″ in depth.

To make room, Corsair has ditched the hot-swappable hard-drive bays and replaced them with a single Serial ATA dock situated at the top. The good news is that there are still six internal 3.5″ bays—so, in effect, the 650D has one more hard drive bay than the 800D. Corsair has done away with one of the 5.25″ external bays, however, so users with lots of optical drives (or miscellaneous control panels and third-party fan controllers) may be disappointed. Then again, four 5.25″ bays is still plenty.

Speaking of fan controllers, the 650D has one of those built in. It lets you adjust the three included fans (200 mm front, 200 mm top, and 120 mm rear) between low, medium, and high speed settings.

The 650D uses the same dual-latch locking system as the 600T for the two side panels. Also, as with the 600T, the panels don’t slide in horizontally; they swing out vertically when unlocked. To put them back in place, simply align the bottom of the panel with the hinge at the base of the case and swing the panel in place. I much prefer that system to the traditional sliding mechanism, since it involves less effort and makes it much easier to tuck in unwieldy cables.

Under the hood

Lifting off the left panel grants access to the 650D’s handsome charcoal internals. This is where the magic happens.

The internal layout should look familiar to owners of Corsair’s Graphite Series 600T—and, you know, those who read our review of that enclosure. Just about everything, from the cut-outs in the motherboard tray to the bottom power-supply emplacement and the arrangement of the storage bays, is pretty much identical. No, really; the resemblance is uncanny.

There’s nothing wrong with that, of course. The 600T has an excellent, roomy internal design, with cut-outs positioned just at the right spots and some excellent storage bays. If it ain’t broke…

Corsair splits the six 3.5″ hard-drive bays into two trios, and the top one can be moved down to make way for an extra-long graphics card. This is another trick the 650D borrows from the 600T. The actual hard-drive trays are identical, too; they snap onto 3.5″ drives with ease and have mounting holes for 2.5″ storage devices like SSDs. (Installing an SSD will involve removing one of the four rubber-mounted studs, but that’s simple enough to do.)

Nope, nothing unexpected here. The 650D’s right side might look clean enough out of the box, but as we’re about to see, it can get awfully crowded if you run all the cables on this side of the case. Doing so will ensure the cabling doesn’t impede airflow in the main compartment, though.

Odds and ends

Being a somewhat upscale enthusiast enclosure, the 650D offers substantial cooling capabilities thanks to three fans: two 200-mm behemoths mounted at the front and top, plus one 120-mm exhaust fan located at the rear.

Since the front fan draws air into the case, and the other fans blow that air out, Corsair stuck a dust filter on the front fan only. To remove the filter, simply push the top part of it until you hear a click, then let the filter swing down and free itself from the case. Once you’ve cleaned out all that nasty dust, you can slide the filter back in place.

A fully assembled system will probably have one additional fan sucking air into the case: the one on the power supply. Thanks to a vent in the 650D’s bottom panel, the large intake fan on a typical enthusiast PSU will draw in fresh air directly from outside the enclosure. A conventional case would position the PSU at the top of the chassis, which means any air sucked into the PSU would have already been heated by system components. Corsair also puts a dust filter on the bottom vent, ensuring that air sucked into the PSU should be relatively clean.

The 650D doesn’t disappoint on the connectivity front. Corsair keeps dual USB 3.0, dual USB 2.0, FireWire, stereo, and microphone ports behind a small door you can easily push open.

Upstairs from that happy family—and behind a small sliding panel—lies the enclosure’s Serial ATA hard-drive dock, which has a little spring-mounted separator to ensure that any 2.5″ drive you insert will be held steady. (The weight of a 3.5″ drive will cause the separator to retract.) This compartment also houses the fan controller’s diminutive slide switch, which lets you choose between low, medium, and high fan speeds.

Assembly time

We praised the Graphite Series 600T for making system assembly painless. The 650D, as you might expect considering its identical internals, is no different.

The inside of the enclosure is delightfully roomy, even with a full-sized ATX motherboard installed. Corsair ships the case with motherboard standoffs pre-installed, and there’s an extra-tall standoff with a rounded top in the middle, which serves to keep the motherboard in place while you’re bolting it on—definitely a nice touch.

All of the cables hang on the right side, at least if you’re tidy enough to route them properly. Oddly, departing from the 600T’s good example, the 650D doesn’t come with the fan controller wires pre-connected and tucked away. I had to take care of that myself with a cable tie, which was… well, see the jumbled mess of black-and-white wires at the top? Yeah.

Despite the similarities between the 600T and 650D, assembling this machine gave me the (perhaps mistaken) impression that there was less space to go around on the right side of the chassis, which is why I left a couple of the power supply’s cables in the main compartment. My 600T build was slightly cleaner. Perhaps the business with the fan controller and the extra connectors for the built-in hard-drive dock contributed to the messier 650D build.

Getting hard drives and optical drives installed is as simple as ever. As I noted earlier, the 3.5″ trays snap onto hard drives using rubber-grommetted metal studs. The optical drives, meanwhile, need no rails or screws to install. Just remove the front cover, pull the tab on the side of the bay, and push the drive in until you hear a click.

Our testing methods

You’ve already seen our test components on the preceding pages, but here’s an exhaustive list with all of the nitty-gritty details. We used Thermaltake’s V1 cooler on our CPU:

Processor AMD Phenom II X4 975 Black Edition
Motherboard Gigabyte MA790FX-DQ6
Chipset AMD 790FX
Memory size 2GB (2 DIMMs)
Memory type Corsair Dominator DDR2-1142 at 800MHz
Memory timings 5-5-5-18-2T
Audio Realtek ALC889A with default Windows drivers
Graphics EVGA GeForce GTX 280 with GeForce 257.21 drivers
Hard drive Western Digital RE3 1TB
Optical drive Samsung SH-W163A DVD burner
Power supply BFG Tech 800W Power Supply
OS Windows 7 Home Premium x86

A number of these parts have already been supplanted by newer, faster components, but their energy consumption is what matters here—and they don’t sip power. Using a Watts Up meter, I recorded power utilization at 385W with our CPU and GPU loads running simultaneously. That’s not all that surprising, since we’re talking about a 125W processor and a graphics card with 236W peak power consumption. Keep in mind that today’s fastest components are designed to fit within similar thermal envelopes.

Most of the tests and methods we employed are publicly available and reproducible. If you have questions about our methods, hit our forums to talk with us about them.

The numbers

Here are individual component temperatures inside a fully built 650D system. We ran our tests once with case fans running at their lowest speed and a second time with them cranked up to their highest speed. The motherboard was entrusted with controlling the speed of the CPU fan.

Note that we included numbers for the Level 10 GT mainly to provide a frame of reference. The Level 10 GT is a fancier, more expensive case than the 650D, and its flashy design is more likely to attract a different type of customer than the 650D’s sober, utilitarian exterior. It just so happens that the Level 10 GT is presently the only case I’ve tested with the same set of components as the 650D.

For our first test, we booted up the machine and allowed temperatures to stabilize before taking readings using Speedfan and GPU-Z:

Then, we loaded up the Unigine Heaven benchmark and waited a few minutes for temperatures to stabilize again. We looped that benchmark with stereoscopic 3D and tessellation disabled, “high” shaders, 16X anisotropic filtering, and 4X antialiasing in a 1920×1080 window. Frame rates were a little choppy, so we expect our GeForce GTX 280 broke a sweat.

After logging temperatures with our GPU load, we waited for things to cool down before looping the Heaven benchmark and a Prime95 torture test simultaneously. Once temperatures peaked, we took the following readings:

Kicking up the 650D’s fans cools down the CPU by a couple of degrees under load, and it also reduces motherboard and GPU temps very slightly. However, the 650D clearly does an effective job of keeping our test build cool with the fans spinning at a leisurely pace.

Do noise levels change dramatically when you switch between fan speeds? While we were running our temperature tests, we probed noise levels using an Extech 407727 Digital Sound Level Meter to find out. (The missing bars in the graphs below correspond to noise levels below our meter’s 40-dB threshold.)

At idle with the fan controller set to its lowest speed, the 650D is delightfully quiet. Turning up the fan speed leads to a substantial increase in noise at idle, though. Under load, the noise generated by the temperature-controlled GPU and CPU fans blurs the difference between the two case fan settings.

I think that, based on the results above, it’s pretty clear that you’re best off running the 650D with its fans turned all the way down—unless, of course, your hardware is much more power-hungry than what we used. Keep in mind that we ran a 125W processor and a 236W graphics card.

Incidentally, our 650D’s quiet operation was marred by what appeared to be a faulty top 200-mm fan. That fan started clicking intermittently a few hours into testing, and the clicking eventually evolved into full-blown screeching with the fan controller set to high speed. Fans and other items with moving parts tend to be the weakest links of today’s computer builds, of course, but one would expect a $200 case to come with reliable fans. Perhaps this was just a fluke. For what it’s worth, my old P180 suffered a similar problem with one of its fans.

Conclusions

A good way to describe Corsair’s Obsidian Series 650D would be as a Graphite Series 600T wearing a tuxedo. Things are more or less the same under the hood, but the 650D replaces smooth curves with square edges and has no LEDs to draw attention to itself. Like a handkerchief poking out of a breast pocket, the 650D’s SATA dock provides a touch of extra sophistication. (Of course, unlike a decorative handkerchief, a top-mounted dock can be a terribly useful thing—especially if you’re wise enough to perform backups on a regular basis.)

The question is, how much does the tuxedo set you back? Right now, Newegg sells the 600T for $159.99, or $134.99 after a mail-in rebate. The 650D, meanwhile, costs $199.99, or $189.99 after rebate. You’re looking at a premium of at least $40 and as much as $55 for the 650D, depending on whether those rebate checks ever come in the mail.

I’m not sure the 650D is really worth the extra cash. The fact that it costs more than the 600T yet offers two fewer front-panel USB 2.0 ports and only three fan controller settings (compared to an analog dial for the 600T) complicates things further. The 650D isn’t better in every respect, and it’s identical to the 600T in many ways. Corsair is asking you to cough up more for a slightly different mix of features and external design.

Whether you think that’s a fair deal really depends on what you think of the Graphite Series 600T. Folks who like that enclosure on paper but just aren’t down with its rounded, somewhat pudgy looks may gladly cough up the extra cash for the 650D. Others, I suspect, will snag the cheaper case and add a third-party docking station down the line… if they really need it.

Comments closed
    • JackBender
    • 9 years ago

    As seen on [url<]https://techreport.com/r.x/corsair-obsidian-650d/full-inside.jpg[/url<] I do not know if the person who assembled this build did realize the fan of the CPU heatsink is blowing air to the front of the case, thus causing a fair share of hot air recirculation. A quick look at the shape of the fan blades tells you the fan is mounted backwards. Unless this was done on purpose, such a setup would most certainly alter the temperature measurements. I suppose you can redo them all... (sorry)

    • Mumrik
    • 9 years ago

    More internal 3½” bays and fewer external 5.25″ bays please.

    • Hawkins
    • 9 years ago

    I’ll pay the extra $50 premium. I like the aesthetics more, plus the SATA dock on top means I don’t have to buy a BlackX alternative that’ll take up desk space and eat up a USB3 or eSATA port. Totally worth it for me. This’ll be in my July build for sure. I just wish it were a little less deep.

    • LoneWolf15
    • 9 years ago

    This is the first case I’ve been seriously interested in in years (I’m still using my modded Antec P160W from 2004, reviewed by TR back then – [url<]https://techreport.com/articles.x/6640/1[/url<] for my Q9650 rig). It's too bad the price is $200. It's a great case, but I think that's a little high. I'll probably wait for it to come down or for a sale. It's also a case that has a Firewire port in an age where that has largely been replaced by eSATA; I still use that FireWire port from time to time. The 600T is just ugly. This 650D looks decent. Thanks Cyril, for the review.

    • Hallucinosis
    • 9 years ago

    Oh come on! A white optical drive?!

    I love my 800D… and notably missing from this case are the 4 SATA hot swap bays in the front. That would be perfect in a mid tower.

      • Dr_b_
      • 9 years ago

      yeah srsly wtf, white optical drive and an IDE cable?! hello late 90’s.

    • elnad2000
    • 9 years ago

    Why does cases companies still put 4 CD/DVD/Bluray bays in 2011???

    I bought a Fractal Design R3 just because it can take 8 hard drives and 2 CD/DVD. And even then, I will full the hard drive bays (6 2TB in Raid 1 and a Vortex 3 as OS drive) even before I’ll full the DVD bays. Who use 4 DVD drives in their computer anyway? Waste of space if you ask me.

    Sorry for my not-so-perfect english, french Canadian here.

    • WillBach
    • 9 years ago

    Nice review, Cyril. Any plans to review the NZXT H2 classic silent that appeared in the release roundup earlier this year?

    • Dr_b_
    • 9 years ago

    Is it possible to remove the front mounted panel usb/audio bracket cable bundle? I know they are used by many and they are in every case these days, but if you dont that cable bundle takes up a lot of space in the case. i also find the connectors and cables to be very low quality.

    • Jambe
    • 9 years ago

    Yeah, as you say, $200 for [i<]that?[/i<] I didn't agree with your opinion of the 600T (overpriced and a tad ugly imo) so I was biased against this from the start. The 650D's nicer-looking than the 600T but the price is about $80 too high for what you get...

      • phez
      • 9 years ago

      Totally agree. $200 on such a generic case is ridiculous.

    • flip-mode
    • 9 years ago

    If the 600T and the 650D were the only two cases on the market, I’d pay the premium for the 650D because I strongly dislike the look of the 600T.

    Since there are so many other cases available, I’d skip both.

    Hey, Cyril, any chance you’d be willing to take a look at some cases from Fractal? These in particular:

    [url<]http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16811352004&cm_re=fractal-_-11-352-004-_-Product[/url<] [url<]http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16811352005&cm_re=fractal-_-11-352-005-_-Product[/url<] I really, really, really... really, really really want the Define R3.

      • Voldenuit
      • 9 years ago

      [quote<]I really, really, really... really, really really want the Define R3.[/quote<] Yup, Fractal Design is looking pretty sweet. I'm thinking of a Define Mini for my next build. The R3, being much quieter than the 650D and at half the price, is a no-brainer. It's good that FD has expanded their distributor network (there was a time they were only available through ncix). To Corsair: you guys had better lower your MSRPs. $129 is the max I'd pay for a 650D. $199 is a joke.

      • Jambe
      • 9 years ago

      Damn, those look fantastic, and for $100 less than the reviewed case? I’ve never heard of Fracal Design… very intriguing! The only downer is a lack of USB 3.0 anywhere on the front… or am I wrong?

      I say it about motherboards and PSUs all the time and I’ll say it about cases as well, because it’s true — I’ve never spent more than $150 on one for myself and probably never will, and the normal range is like $80-120 (if I was to spend more than $120 on any component, it would be the PSU).

      I feel left out by like 80% of the reviews here unless they’re about graphics cards. I tend to by big, newish GPUs and keep them for a long time…

      • paulWTAMU
      • 9 years ago

      Can I 2nd that request? I like!

      • phez
      • 9 years ago

      I’ve been waiting for fractal’s newest cases to arrive.

      Arc Midi anyone?

      [url<]http://www.fractal-design.com/?view=product&category=2&prod=57[/url<]

      • Sunburn74
      • 9 years ago

      600T is a ugly case. I thought it was overpriced. 200 is a bit steep for this case, but its well designed, clean cut, smooth, very lian li esque. If it was a lian li, no one would be griping about the cost; lian li has charged a lot more for a lot less. Name happens to be Corsair and people gripe.

      I like the case. If it were priced to compete with the p183, corsair would be a steal. 10-15 bucks over the p183 is where it should be priced

      That being said, 40 dollars over the 650d is well worth it. A case is something you have to look at every day. In fact, its pretty much the only part of your build that you use at 100 percent capacity all the time. If you have any concerns over the aesthetics of your cause (either visual or auditory), its well worth the extra 40 or 50 dollars to ensure you like the darn thing because nothing worse than completing a build and one week later saying, you know what I really don’t like the look of this or that. Its like buying a car and a month later realizing you really didn’t like the way it drove or the way it made you feel and bought it because it was priced to move. Now you’re stuck with it for 10 years.

        • Voldenuit
        • 9 years ago

        [quote<]If it was a lian li, no one would be griping about the cost; lian li has charged a lot more for a lot less. Name happens to be Corsair and people gripe.[/quote<] A lian li at $200 would also be wholly made out of aluminum. This is just SECC (which is cheap as chips) and an aluminum fascia. Comparable steel + aluminum cases are running at the $100-150 mark.

      • druidcent
      • 9 years ago

      Well, they do say beauty is in the eye of the beholder 🙂 I personally like the looks of 600T a little more… I find this one (and the Fractal Design cases) to boxy..

      Anyway, thanks Cyril for adding in comparison numbers.. Helps a bunch.. now if you can figure out to do a value/performance chart… well then I’d just be completely blown away 🙂

    • d0g_p00p
    • 9 years ago

    Cyril, I did not see in your review and I cannot find any info on line but can you replace the top 200mm fan with a pair of 120mm? It looks from the pictures that I have seen like there are screw holes there. If that is the case can you do the same with the from 200mm fan? The only thing holing me back from buying this case are those fans since they seem to be non standard and a PITA to get replacements.

    Thanks.

    • BiffStroganoffsky
    • 9 years ago

    What do I get for reading all three Corsair reviews?

    • anotherengineer
    • 9 years ago

    Why for the love of God do they place front usb jacks so closely together that you could only plug in 1 thing at a time????????????

    1/2″ gap between usb jacks please.

    • DeadOfKnight
    • 9 years ago

    Prime candidate for the Sweeter Spot Alternatives.

    Now if we could just get one without the window…

      • not@home
      • 9 years ago

      Yeah. I do not like the window, or the fans. The thing that bugs me about the fans is, I want a system that has more air being blown into the case than out and each fan blowing in needs a filter. That means two in and one out or three in and two out. This case does not have enough filters for that. For that amount of money the case needs to be perfect.

      Kudos for the USB 3.0 on the front panel, slick look, bottom mounted PSU, sideways hard drive bays, tool-less stuff, wire routing holes, and adjustable fan speeds.

        • DeadOfKnight
        • 9 years ago

        Well I think they assume that users like you who are picky about fans are likely to just replace them anyway. The case does well keeping things cool as is.

    • bimmerlovere39
    • 9 years ago

    I so want to love Corsair cases, but the inability to swap out the front fans with aftermarket alternatives really irks me. Other than that, though, I’m all over the 600T and the 650D.

    Also, fwiw, I fully expect Corsair will come out with a non-windowed side panel for the 650D soonish.

    • MadManOriginal
    • 9 years ago

    page 3: [quote<]two 200-mm behemoths mounted at the front and back, plus one 120-mm exhaust fan located at the rear[/quote<] ..come again?

      • bimmerlovere39
      • 9 years ago

      Aye, should be front and top.

    • Meadows
    • 9 years ago

    Case reviews are not useful to me, I just wanted to beat sweatshopking to the punch.

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