Heat, Noise, And Heat Versus Noise
Surprisingly, even with two times as many intake fans as its competition, Corsair’s Obsidian 550D still runs slightly hotter. Opening the optional vents only has a minimal effect on its temperature.
Unfortunately, opening the vents also has an effect on the 550D’s noise readings, particularly at idle. This case would be best for folks planning to utilize the extra fan mounts in those vents. Perhaps it'd be better if the chassis employed vent covers with dust-filtering mesh for the top and side panels.
The Define R4’s noise-dampening victory is fairly large. Thanks to our noisy internal hardware, the speed of case fans has little impact on overall acoustics. In fact, we’d ditch the R4’s built-in fan controller and instead let our motherboard manage the speed of its three-pin fans.
In our acoustic efficiency chart, the term Relative is a comparison of each case’s actual performance to the average performance of all three of today’s cases. Relative temperature refers to the class average divided by each case’s average, giving a higher percentage score to cooler temperatures. Meanwhile, relative noise divides each case’s noise level by the average of all three cases. Those calculations provide a 100% baseline, which we zero-out in the efficiency chart by subtracting 100% from the final result.
The Define R4’s low noise and cool temperatures bring it an acoustic efficiency victory, possibly the deciding factor in today’s comparison.