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Inside The Obsidian 550D

Quiet Gaming Cases, Part 2: Corsair, Fractal, And Gigabyte
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The Obsidian 550D opens to reveal a pair of three-tray 3.5” drive cages and 13” of card space. Unfortunately, part of that space isn’t usable by the motherboard, and we’ll discuss the reason why on the next page.

Both drive cages are removable, extending card space from 13” to 17.9”.

Rubber-mounted pins on the side of each tray support 3.5” drives, while two sets of holes support the 2.5” form factor favored by SSDs.

There is more than enough room behind the 550D's motherboard tray for a 24-pin main power cable, enough to allow builders to cross smaller cables over each other. Four large grommets help to hide cables where they pass through the tray.

A small hole towards the top-rear corner of the motherboard tray eases routing of CPU power cables. An even larger hole towards the middle of the tray provides additional space for CPU cooler support plates.

An extra-long dust filter on the bottom of the case covers both the power supply intake and optional bottom-mounted fan. The filter slides out from the 550D’s bottom-rear edge for easy cleaning.

The acoustic foam on each side panel overlaps the edge of the main chassis, in effect, acting as a gasket to reduce rattling between the main chassis and panels.

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Top Comments
  • 13 Hide
    EzioAs , December 27, 2012 3:17 AM
    Nothing really surprising. Fractal has been doing silence cases for a while now.

    I'm sorry Gigabyte, but I don't see anyone buying the Luxo M10.
Other Comments
  • 13 Hide
    EzioAs , December 27, 2012 3:17 AM
    Nothing really surprising. Fractal has been doing silence cases for a while now.

    I'm sorry Gigabyte, but I don't see anyone buying the Luxo M10.
  • 7 Hide
    Au_equus , December 27, 2012 3:20 AM
    FD's R4 has been at $80 for the past week. Just picked one up last night :D 
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16811352020
  • 3 Hide
    jupiter optimus maximus , December 27, 2012 4:01 AM
    6 more cases to review? That is great! I been eying an effective noise damping case for awhile to replace my old Antec Three Hundred (been disappointed with the noise dampening kit that i added).
  • -5 Hide
    grokem , December 27, 2012 4:55 AM
    I'd like to apologize for a previous post. I posted on the day 1 article that I hoped that in the following days something other than large ATX cases would be covered. I must have read the article too quickly in my excitement for more case reviews. I misunderstood this series of articles to be about silent gaming cases. I read day 2 a bit more careful after seeing that all the cases in it were full ATX and realized that this is a series for the best silent overclocked workstation case. It's hard to see what else it could be given that all the cases had to accommodate a $1k processor and all but require a $300-$400 ATX motherboards. I found two acceptable and one unacceptable micro-ATX option but they were all inferior to the ATX versions. I just built a gaming machine and from what I have read, I am WAY out of the norm for putting an i7 instead of i5 processor in my box as the i5 runs games almost as well as an i7 for much less money. It's almost always better to put more money into the GPU for pure gaming performance.

    The requirement for a USB 3.0 port on the front of the case is so odd that I almost don't believe I read that correctly. Did I? I've always been a bit dubious of USB on the front of a case for several reasons but I didn't car that much as I don't think they cause problems unless used. However, to ONLY review silent cases with this feature seems like a needless way to eliminate potentially good cases for no good reason. Why not eliminate cases without front panel card readers or audio jacks? Only cases with top mounted PSUs and transverse internal drive bays. While certainly a feature cared about by a lot of people other than me, it seems needlessly outside the scope of the article.
  • -1 Hide
    ceeblueyonder , December 27, 2012 5:55 AM
    i just built my first pc ever using the define r4 arctic white. it isn't as macintosh-y in person as i had envisioned it or seen in photos. but, i still love the case. one thing i had trouble with, though--out of everything else involved in first time pc building--was installing the mobo standoffs and then fitting the mobo in the i/o shield. screws were also the toughest part. anyway, i am nitpicking. but, i still wish i could have gotten that one standoff in there. as is, the case only has 8 of the 9 standoffs installed since the one standoff kept standing off and not screwed flush to the tray. i even used pliers but i just ended up stripping it. so, i did without it since the mobo would not fit in the i/o shield otherwise. do you guys think it is ok that my mobo is only supported by 8 standoffs of the 9 total? i know this isn't google or a pc forum but thought i'd ask anyway. thanks in advance.
  • 0 Hide
    Mckertis , December 27, 2012 6:04 AM
    Quote:
    I found two acceptable and one unacceptable micro-ATX option but they were all inferior to the ATX versions.

    Which would those be ? I found that generally mATX cases are superior in the same price range, but there arent that many options that support all modern standards, seeing how people love their huge fat useless ATX coffins. In regards to this very article, Define Mini is almost exactly the same as Define Normal, and, since it only has 1 fan outlet on top, you could argue Define Mini is even quieter and cooler as a result.
  • 5 Hide
    Crashman , December 27, 2012 6:05 AM
    grokemI'd like to apologize for a previous post. I posted on the day 1 article that I hoped that in the following days something other than large ATX cases would be covered.
    But anything smaller wouldn't hold the test platform.
    grokemI must have read the article too quickly in my excitement for more case reviews. I misunderstood this series of articles to be about silent gaming cases.
    Not silent, just quieted. Jumping back to Q1, that would be quieted cases that hold the test platform.
    grokemI read day 2 a bit more careful after seeing that all the cases in it were full ATX and realized that this is a series for the best silent overclocked workstation case.
    See response above.
    grokemIt's hard to see what else it could be given that all the cases had to accommodate a $1k processor and all but require a $300-$400 ATX motherboards.
    The processor was picked as a source of heat. The graphics card and CPU cooler were picked as sources of noise. If the tester had three GTX 580's, you might have gotten an SLI article with even more heat and noise.
    grokemI found two acceptable and one unacceptable micro-ATX option but they were all inferior to the ATX versions.
    Doesn't that make the test platform appear more sensible?
    grokemI just built a gaming machine and from what I have read, I am WAY out of the norm for putting an i7 instead of i5 processor in my box as the i5 runs games almost as well as an i7 for much less money.
    That's true, but there aren't any i5's that can produce this much heat without burning out quickly. The test processor was intended to be a little over-the-top concerning heat.
    grokemIt's almost always better to put more money into the GPU for pure gaming performance.
    Yes, and SLI would have been picked if the tester had matched cards. That is, in spite of the fact that most users don't have SLI. Again, all in the effort to create large thermal and noise maximums.
    grokemThe requirement for a USB 3.0 port on the front of the case is so odd that I almost don't believe I read that correctly. Did I? I've always been a bit dubious of USB on the front of a case for several reasons but I didn't car that much as I don't think they cause problems unless used. However, to ONLY review silent cases with this feature seems like a needless way to eliminate potentially good cases for no good reason.
    No good reason? USB 3.0 has been the current standard for 2 years, would you prefer to eliminate headset jacks as well?
    grokemWhy not eliminate cases without front panel card readers
    They're not standard.
    grokemor audio jacks?
    No need, all qualifying cases have them.
    grokemOnly cases with top mounted PSUs and transverse internal drive bays.
    Those aren't standards.
    grokemWhile certainly a feature cared about by a lot of people other than me, it seems needlessly outside the scope of the article.
    Exactly.
  • 0 Hide
    LauRoman , December 27, 2012 6:41 AM
    At first i thought the Gigabyte is a BTX but it's just upside-down. Any reason for that?
  • 1 Hide
    Crashman , December 27, 2012 7:01 AM
    LauRomanAt first i thought the Gigabyte is a BTX but it's just upside-down. Any reason for that?
    It's just an old design that was popular around the same time as BTX. Back when this was popular, the chipsets of upside-down motherboards would often overheat due to the heat pipe also being upside-down. Chipsets have gotten cooler, chipset heatpipes have had wicking material added to make them work better in alternative configurations, but the cases never regained popularity.
  • -5 Hide
    monu_08 , December 27, 2012 9:07 AM
    price is too high for best gaming case corsair 400 r its best at price no one can beat this one corsair 400 r rocks
  • 0 Hide
    cats_Paw , December 27, 2012 1:14 PM
    Ive been working on a silent PC for a long time and i can honestly say that "Prebuild" Cases are normally bad at it.

    Ive been using a thermaltake Kandalf LCS with custom Fans and even made a custom side fan that is inaudible from 30 CM away, some pads to absorb noise... etc.

    Unfortuantelly its always better and cheaper if you do it yourself.
  • 4 Hide
    Fulgurant , December 27, 2012 1:30 PM
    Quote:
    However, to ONLY review silent cases with this feature seems like a needless way to eliminate potentially good cases for no good reason. Why not eliminate cases without front panel card readers or audio jacks? Only cases with top mounted PSUs and transverse internal drive bays. While certainly a feature cared about by a lot of people other than me, it seems needlessly outside the scope of the article.


    USB 3.0 is one of a very few tangible, day-to-day-relevant differences between cases today and cases yesterday. Like you, I personally don't consider (the lack of) USB 3.0 support on the front panel a deal breaker, but that's why I didn't buy a new case when I built my new rig in October; the circa-2002 case collecting dust in my basement sufficed just fine.

    If I were intent to buy a new case, I wouldn't buy one without USB 3.0. It might not be a big deal right now, but a computer case can be used for years and years and years. It'd be a real shame to spend money on a case that doesn't support what will doubtlessly become the new standard in USB connectivity going forward. For what it's worth, I'm grateful that Tom's has its readers' long-term interest in mind.

    More to the point though, and to echo the preface to the article, Tom's has to limit the pool of potential subjects for case roundups, or else the review process would take a year. USB 3.0 might seem like an arbitrary criterion, but it serves an important practical purpose both in the immediate term (for the reviewer) and in the long term (for the reader).

    All of that said, I wish there were more cases with top-mounted PSU designs. That's not a knock on the review; it's just a comment on the prevailing trend among case manufacturers. The bottom-mounted-PSU design makes a lot of sense in the abstract, but for people like me with thick carpet and many pets, the prospect of placing even a filtered PSU intake on the floor doesn't thrill me. Then again, I'm willing to concede that my needs aren't necessarily the needs of Tom's main readership.
  • 0 Hide
    chesteracorgi , December 27, 2012 1:42 PM
    I bought the Corsair 600t and modded it out with alternatively: the original panel doors with added noise reducing foam (on both side panels), and, in the second configuration the grill side panel rigged with 4 X 120 mm fans. I also modded out all of the fans (excepting the original 2 X 100 mm fans at the front and top) for Cougar fans. I know that you are not doing anything but factory builds, but I believe that the Corsair with the solid foam added side panels and Cougar fans will surpass any of your cases in noise. BTW the configuration is ASRock P67 Extreme 6, SB 2500K, 2 X GTX 470s (one modded with the Zalman 3000 cooler the other a non standard Galaxy GC card) , The Antec H20 90 CPU cooler with push pull Cougar 120 fans. Even though (excepting the closed loop Antec CPU cooler) my cooling is air it runs as quiet as others who have dedicated watter coolers.
  • 2 Hide
    bitmaiden , December 27, 2012 2:00 PM
    That Gigabyte case is ugly!
  • 2 Hide
    teamhead , December 27, 2012 4:03 PM
    Great review!
  • 1 Hide
    Anonymous , December 27, 2012 4:16 PM
    au_equusFD's R4 has been at $80 for the past week. Just picked one up last night http://www.newegg.com/Product/Prod [...] 6811352020

    How are you liking it? I have an R3 and a Node 304 and they are both excellent cases. Fractal makes 5 star cases
  • 0 Hide
    hero1 , December 27, 2012 4:52 PM
    Excellent review. Now I'm wondering whether to sell my CM Haf XM and grab FD R4. I like how my XM moves air and keep my hardware cool all the time even with max settings but I think more quieter case is warranted for my next build.
  • 0 Hide
    Lovett1991 , December 27, 2012 7:33 PM
    The Define R4 does have a removable lower cage. They do this so that you can in fact move the lower cage back slightly and fit a 240 rad in the front. This is the setup I have (CPU cooling only) and it is beautifully quiet. My PC is mostly used for work where I need a fast CPU, so I just put up with the noise from my gfx card when gaming as that's when you'll have the speakers ramped up anyway!

    My 2500K is OC'd to 4.5GHz and will sit at 60C on full load, that is with all fans at 5V and my water pump at 40%. I do however have a nice and cool 4870 in there.
  • 0 Hide
    Lovett1991 , December 27, 2012 7:33 PM
    The Define R4 does have a removable lower cage. They do this so that you can in fact move the lower cage back slightly and fit a 240 rad in the front. This is the setup I have (CPU cooling only) and it is beautifully quiet. My PC is mostly used for work where I need a fast CPU, so I just put up with the noise from my gfx card when gaming as that's when you'll have the speakers ramped up anyway!

    My 2500K is OC'd to 4.5GHz and will sit at 60C on full load, that is with all fans at 5V and my water pump at 40%. I do however have a nice and cool 4870 in there.
  • 0 Hide
    Crashman , December 27, 2012 8:15 PM
    lovett1991The Define R4 does have a removable lower cage. They do this so that you can in fact move the lower cage back slightly and fit a 240 rad in the front.
    The radiator mounting option was already mentioned in the article prior to publication, but the removable lower cage comment was not added due to poor re-editing by the author himself (rather than the fact checker). That artifact was addressed in a post-publication edit, but thanks for reminding everyone who saw the early edition :) 
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