What’s this? Another Corsair Obsidian Series enclosure? These things are multiplying faster than Duggar children, but we’re not complaining. Some of our favorite PC cases come from the Obsidian Series, which combines understated styling with builder-friendly features and robust cooling capacity.
The Obsidian Series runs the gamut from the bit-sized 250D, which is built for Mini-ITX boards, to the gargantuan 900D tower, which stands over two feet tall. Between those extremes lies the 350D, a generously proportioned microATX mini-tower, along with the 750D, a larger mid-tower that can take ATX motherboards in addition to EATX and XL-ATX fare.
All the bases would seem to be covered, but there’s a gap—and I don’t just mean in the model numbers. You see, the 750D is pretty big for an ATX case. It’s more of a mid-major than a typical mid-tower. The 350D has more manageable proportions, but it’s limited to microATX motherboards and the accompanying expansion trade-offs. Where’s the ATX mini-tower between those two models?
This stately entry is the Obsidian Series 450D. Depending on how one looks at the thing, it’s either a larger version of the 350D or a smaller variant of the 750D. Either way, the 450D sits between the two. It measures 19.5″ x 8.3″ x 19.6″ for a total volume of 3172 cubic inches. The 350D is 17.3″ x 8.3″ x 17.7″, or 2542 in³, while the 750D is 22.1″ x 9.3″ x 21.5″, or 4419 in³.
Since it also accepts ATX mobos, the 750D is probably the more appropriate reference point. The 450D is 28% smaller by volume than the 750D, and it very much feels like it. The more compact dimensions make the 450D much less obtrusive when it’s placed on or under a desk.
I’d be inclined to run the 450D in full view. It looks great, I think, with just the right combination of classic styling and a harder, more menacing edge. Brushed metal covers the front panels, and the rest of the case is a sea of stealthy, flat black finishes. There’s also a decent-sized window that provides a view of the internals.
A sparse collection of front-panel hardware occupies the top of the front face. Two USB 3.0 ports sit on the right, and Corsair leaves enough room around them for oversized thumb drives. Headphone and microphone connectors sit on the left along with the recessed reset button. That rectangular button in the middle of the top edge controls the power.
The power button is flanked by muted white LEDs associated with power and HDD activity. Those are the only lights in the entire case, which helps to maintain the 450D’s understated appearance.
Most members of the Obsidian family have solid front panels. The lower half of the 450D’s face, however, is heavily perforated to provide airflow to the dual 140-mm intake fans. The vented panel is backed by an additional layer of mesh, and the whole thing can be removed for cleaning. Depressing the top corners releases the latches holding the panel in place, allowing it to swing forward and be lifted away.
Removable dust filters are a recurring theme with the 450D. There’s another one covering the venting in the top panel:
This one is held in place by magnets, and so is the filter mounted below the bottom panel.
Oddly, the filter for the top panel has magnetic strips all the way around its exterior edges, while the one for the bottom is held in place by eight smaller magnets distributed around the rim. The lower filter sticks out a bit, and I inadvertently dislodged it several times when lifting the 450D from the bottom. The filter snaps back into place easily, though, and the magnets are otherwise strong enough to hold it in place.
Like its Obsidian kin, the 450D sits on stubby feet that elevate it about an inch off the ground. The resulting gap should allow cool air to be drawn into the enclosure through the bottom panel. The 450D doesn’t come with any bottom-mounted fans installed, though. The only other stock spinner is the 120-mm exhaust in the rear.
Around back, the 450D has punch-out holes for liquid coolers and ample ventilation for airflow. Thumbscrews hold the side panels in place, and they’re also used to secure the expansion slot covers. Seven slots should be enough for most system configurations, but it won’t be sufficient for quad CrossFire and SLI setups with double-wide cards. Of course, that limitation only rules out a tiny fraction of enthusiast PCs.
Now, let’s take a closer look inside…
Open for business
The internals have all the conveniences we’ve come to expect from the Obsidian Series. A huge cut-out in the motherboard tray provides unfettered access to CPU back plates, rubber-lined portals facilitate clean cable routing, and rolled edges prevent blood sacrifice. Corsair also puts a permanent stud in the middle of the motherboard tray, making it easy to center and install boards, especially with the case standing vertically.
Fresh from the factory, the drive cage sits in the lower front quadrant of the chassis. However, the cage can also hang from the bottom of the 5.25″ bays. Click the button below the image to see the alternate position.
With the cage in its original position, the 450D can handle expansion cards up to 16.9″ long—pretty much anything, in other words. Raising the cage limits clearance to 11.5″, which is still enough space for a GeForce GTX 780 or Radeon R9 290X. In this configuration, the lower mounting bracket can be removed to make room for a 240-mm radiator on the bottom panel.
With the cage in its original position, the bottom panel has room for a single 120- or 140-mm fan—provided the power supply doesn’t get in the way, that is. The 450D’s bottom-mounted PSU emplacement supports ATX units of pretty much any length, but there’s only 5.8″ of clearance between the left side of the PSU area and the edge of the first 140-mm fan mount.
The power supply sits on four raised rubber feet that should help to dampen vibration. Standard screws anchor the PSU to the rear panel, and sadly, they’re not of the thumb-friendly variety.
More cooling mounts can be found in the top panel, which has three fan emplacements and support for radiators up to 360 mm long. The pre-installed fans at the front and back can be swapped for radiators, too. The rear exhaust mount will take a 120-mm unit, and the front panel has enough room for a 280-mm one.
Surprisingly, only the 120-mm fan mounts in the top panel are lined with rubber grommets. All the other brackets are devoid of vibration-dampening materials, including the ones occupied by the stock spinners.
The motherboard tray is the only sizable surface that isn’t drilled to host fans and radiators. Corsair does include four rubber-lined cable-routing holes, however, and it leaves 0.8″ of clearance behind the tray for cabling. The company also includes a couple of cable tie-down points at the back of the tray. I would have liked more of those, since I’ve been known to go a little overboard with zip ties.
Hiding cables behind the tray requires a little more finesse than usual, because a large chunk of the available area is monopolized by a pair of 2.5″ drive bays. These bays sit low on the tray, under the motherboard’s expansion slots.
Similar tool-free bays are deployed in different ways across the Obsidian Series lineup. I believe this is the first time we’ve seen them hugging the bottom of the motherboard tray. In a moment, we’ll examine how that affects SSD temperatures. First, I should probably highlight the 450D’s other tool-free amenities.
Three sleds populate the main drive cage. Each one snaps onto 3.5″ drives without tools, but installing 2.5″ drives requires a screwdriver. Sticking thumbscrews on the sleds wouldn’t be practical, so that’s fine. However, I would have liked to see the main drive cage fastened down with thumbscrews rather than regular Philips heads. As it is, the cage takes a bit of extra work to reposition.
The latching mechanism for the 5.25″ bays is entirely tool-free. It holds optical drives reasonably tightly, though I still managed to push one loose while plugging in its power cable. Fortunately, optical drives can still be screwed down completely.
We’ve covered most of the following specifications already, but here’s the full list for easy comparison with our other enclosure reviews.
|Corsair Obsidian Series 450D|
|Dimensions (H x W x D)||19.5″ x 8.3″ x 19.6″|
|Supported motherboards||Mini-ITX, microATX, ATX|
|3.5″/2.5″ drive bays||3|
|2.5″ drive bays||2|
|5.25″ drive bays||2|
|Included Fans||2x 140-mm (Corsair AF140L) front intake
1x 120-mm (Corsair AF120L) rear exhaust
|Front panel I/O||2x USB 3.0
|Max. graphics card length||16.9″ or 11.5″, depending on drive bay config|
|Max. CPU cooler height||6.5″|
|Gap behind motherboard||0.8″|
At this point, you’re probably more interested in what it’s like to build a system inside the 450D. So, let’s find out.
All built up
Corsair says its cases are “built for system builders,” and I have to agree. Our test system came together easily inside the 450D. The internals are definitely smaller than those of the 750D, but there’s still ample room to work.
Impressively, I could squeeze one of my XL-sized hands between the motherboard and the top panel to reach the auxiliary 12V connector. I had to come in from the opposite side of the CPU cooler, though, and adding a fan or radiator to the top panel would probably prohibit the maneuver.
Notice the wide open space behind the front top intake fan. The graphics card and CPU cooler should get a steady, unobstructed stream of fresh air with the default cage config.
The two fans sucking air into the case are offset by only one blowing out, which should give the 450D positive internal air pressure. In turn, that positive pressure should cut down on the amount of dust that gets drawn into the case. It should also aid blower-style graphics coolers designed to channel air out the back of the chassis.
The 450D has enough cable routing cut-outs to tuck excess wiring behind the motherboard tray. Corsair leaves a decent amount of clearance behind the tray, too, but again, I’d like to see additional tie-down points in the middle and along the right side. Having more anchoring points would make it easier to arrange the wiring around the 2.5″ bays.
Of course, the 2.5″ bays can be removed entirely if folks want more room behind the motherboard tray. The bays appear to be designed for 9.5-mm drives, so 7-mm SSDs like the Samsung 830 Series can sit a little crooked.
The tool-free latching mechanism still holds the drive in place, but a shim is required to keep everything flush. (A lot of thinner SSDs already ship with spacers for 9.5-mm bays.) Since SSDs don’t generate vibration, this is really only a cosmetic issue for them. I wouldn’t recommend installing a slim notebook hard drive without a spacer of some kind, though.
While I’m griping about drive bays, I should mention that the optical bay covers are a little wider than the actual openings. The bays are recessed, and removing the covers leaves strips of black plastic on either side of the drive. That’s not a big deal, I suppose, but it breaks up the brushed metal face more than I’d prefer.
Ok, enough about the 450D’s design quirks. How does the case perform?
Our testing methods
We tested the Obsidian Series 450D against its big brother, the 750D. Here are the components we used:
|Processor||Intel Core i7-2600K|
|Motherboard||Asus P8Z77-V LE Plus|
|Memory||4GB Kingston HyperX DDR3 SDRAM at 1333MHz|
|Graphics card||XFX Radeon HD 7870 Black Edition|
|Sound card||Asus Xonar DG|
|Storage||Samsung 830 Series 128GB
Samsung Spinpoint F3 1TB
Asus Blu-ray combo
|Power supply||Corsair HX750W 750W|
|CPU cooler||Thermaltake Frio|
|OS||Windows 8 Pro|
We’d like to thanks Asus, Corsair, Kingston, Intel, Samsung, Thermaltake, and XFX for supplying all this excellent hardware.
We tested using the following applications:
The tests and methods we employed are publicly available and reproducible. If you have questions about our methods, hit our forums to discuss them with us.
Temperatures and noise levels
We used AIDA64 to keep track of temperatures for individual system components (the processor, GPU, motherboard, and storage drives) throughout a 40-minute period.
First, we left the system idle at the Windows 8 desktop for 10 minutes. Then, we fired up the Heaven GPU benchmark and left it running by itself for 10 minutes. After that, we added a Prime95 CPU torture test to the mix and left it running, together with the Heaven benchmark, for 10 minutes. Finally, we stopped both tests and let the system cool down for the final 10-minute stretch.
You may notice that the results for the 750D differ from those in our original review. That review was conducted last summer in Cyril’s lab, but the testing for this one was done in a cooler, quieter environment.
Here are the results, plotted as lines over time. You can click the buttons below the graph to see temperatures for the different components:
Our test rig’s CPU, graphics, motherboard, and mechanical hard drive all run slightly cooler in the 450D than in its larger sibling. The only exception is the SSD, which gets a bit warmer in the 450D. That’s likely because the drive is tucked behind the motherboard tray. The 750D’s SSD bays sit right by the intake fans, and so they’re exposed to a lot more airflow.
Although it might seem counter-intuitive for the other components to report cooler temperatures in the smaller 450D, remember the case’s heavily ventilated front panel. The 750D has the same dual 140-mm intake fans, but they’re hidden behind a solid front face, and they draw air through narrow gaps in the bezel.
The plots above depict broad trends; we can also give you exact numbers. The bar chart below shows the minimum temperatures from the idle and cooldown parts of the run. It also shows the highest temperatures recorded during the two load tests.
The differences amount to only a few degrees, so I wouldn’t get too worked up about them.
We measured noise levels using a TES-52 digital sound level meter placed 6″ from the front, side, and top of the case. Click the buttons below the graph to switch between the locations.
From the front, the 450D is noticeably louder than its big brother. It’s not exactly loud—the case generates a low, unobtrusive hum—but the fan noise is more apparent than with the 750D. The differences are smaller from the side and especially from above, where the two cases sound nearly identical.
I am curious to see how the 450D would fare with a solid front panel of its own. That might make it a little quieter.
I have a tendency to be somewhat cynical, so I’ll admit that my eyes rolled when I heard that Corsair was adding yet another case to its Obsidian Series lineup. However, the 450D does fill an important gap between the 350D and 750D. It brings the ATX motherboard compatibility of the 750D to a much smaller tower and a lower, $119 price point. Impressively, it does so without serious compromise.
The smaller chassis does have more limited expansion capacity than the 750D, but for most folks, those restrictions will be more academic than practical. The 450D can still accept a decent number of hard drives, SSDs, system fans, and liquid cooling radiators. There’s enough clearance for taller CPU heatsinks and longer graphics cards, too. Perhaps more importantly, the internals are roomy enough to work inside, even with a complete system installed. The open layout and ample cable routing options certainly help on that front.
The 450D’s spacious internals combine with its tool-free perks to make the building process a breeze. Having a few more thumbscrews and tie-down points would make system assembly even easier, but there’s little I’d change otherwise.
Well, maybe I’d change the front panel. The ventilated grill looks great, and the unobstructed intake definitely helps the 450D’s cooling performance. However, the venting also allows noise to escape, making the 450D louder from the front than the 750D. It would be nice to be able to swap in a solid front panel to match the rest of the Obsidian family. The case cools well enough that it should be able to survive with less intake airflow. I suspect a lot of folks would be happy to trade a few degrees for a few decibels.
Even in its current state, the 450D looks like a prime candidate for our System Guide. We’ve included the 750D for a while, but that case feels like overkill next to the new model. Our recommended builds are typically limited to one graphics card and a small collection of storage devices, and the 450D is simply a better fit for that class of system. It leaves room for modest growth, too.
The 450D isn’t so much an example of less being more as it is of less being just enough. Combine just the right size with attractive looks, sensible features, and a reasonable price tag, and you’ve got another TR Recommended award winner.