There was a time when expansion cards were legion inside our PCs. We crowded our expansion slots with modems, network adapters, sound cards, USB cards, and RAID controllers. The more PCI and ISA slots a computer had, the better. Trading expansion for size was a laughable idea.
Today, though, things are quite different. Like high-tech vacuum cleaners, motherboards have sucked up most of the functionality once relegated to adapter cards. Everything from audio to networking to RAID is now integrated as standard, even on bargain-basement mobos with cryptic brand names and unreadable manuals. Many of us still buy full-sized ATX gear out of habit, of course. However, we often find that, aside from a game-worthy GPU and perhaps a nice discrete audio solution, we really don't need that many expansion cards.
So, why not ditch our slot-laden ATX motherboards for something a little more snug? And why not trade our king-sized ATX mid-towers for more compact cases?
That's exactly the kind of move Corsair is seeking to enable with the Obsidian Series 350D. You'll find room in this enclosure for only microATX and Mini-ITX motherboards—ATX mobos are persona non grata. In spite of that, the 350D is cut from the same cloth as the rest of Corsair's cases. Enthusiast-friendly fare like cable-routing holes, tool-less drive bays, and plentiful cooling abounds, and Corsair has sought to balance outer compactness with inner roominess. As a result, the case is compact, but its innards aren't so tight as to make the assembly process uncomfortable.
On paper, this looks like a first-class way to switch to microATX. Not just on paper, in fact. This case has the same slick, subdued style as Corsair's other offerings, and it's quite the looker.
Corsair sells two versions of the Obsidian Series 350D. The most affordable one will set you back $89.99 at Newegg, before another sawbuck's worth of shipping fees. The model we're reviewing is a tad more expensive, at $99.99, and it replaces the plain left-side panel with one that boasts an acrylic window.
This model of the 350D looks a little bit like a Honey, I Shrunk the Kids version of Corsair's Obsidian Series 650D. I suppose that's no accident, since the two enclosures are part of the same product line. The 350D just happens to be a little smaller—and a little newer, as well, since it was announced just a few months ago.
From the back, the 350D could be mistaken for just about any one of Corsair's other cases. Look carefully, though. There are only five expansion slots, down from eight on the 650D and 10 slots on the humongous 900D. The family resemblance is definitely there. The case has thumb screws, a bottom-mounted power supply emplacement, and punch-out holes for liquid-cooling tubes. Everything is painted black, even the interior, which makes the case look a bit like a stealth plane.
We'll pop off the side panel and go in for a closer look in a moment. For now, here's a handy, at-a-glance overview of the Obsidian Series 350D's various amenities:
|Corsair Obsidian Series 350D|
|Dimensions (H x W x D)||17.3" x 8.3" x 17.7"|
|Supported motherboards||microATX, Mini-ITX|
|3.5" drive bays||2|
|2.5" drive bays||3 (5 if 3.5" bays are used)|
|5.25" drive bays||2|
|Included Fans||140-mm front intake
120-mm rear exhaust
|Front panel I/O||2x USB 3.0
|Max. graphics card length||15.0"|
|Max. CPU cooler height||6.3"|
|Gap behind motherboard||1.0"|
Corsair definitely hasn't skimped. The 350D has room for five fans, five internal storage drives, and graphics cards as long as 15 inches. Most tall, tower-style CPU coolers should be supported, and there's a substantial gap behind the motherboard tray for cable routing. A couple of front-panel USB 3.0 ports round out the package. What's not to like?
Well, to be fair, the 350D isn't that much smaller than ATX enclosures. Compared to the 650D, it's only about 3.2" shorter, 3.8" shallower, and 0.7" narrower. Of course, microATX only shaves 2.4" off the full-sized ATX form factor, so it's not meant to get you into shoebox-sized territory. Some manufacturers save additional space by mounting the power supply over the CPU socket, but that's hardly a convenient arrangement for an enthusiast rig.