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Quiet Gaming Cases, Part 2: Corsair, Fractal, And Gigabyte

Corsair Obsidian 550D

While many of its competitors produce either gaming cases with low-noise features or low-noise cases with extra ventilation, Corsair’s Obsidian 550D presents both. The highly-configurable 550D converts from low-noise to high-airflow via two removable panels. Though primarily made of steel, an extruded aluminum drive door hints to this case’s higher aspirations in both quiet and performance PC markets. But that’s just the first configurable aspect of this case.

Because the 550D uses the same four pins for the latch and hinge, the front drive door can be set up to open to the left or to the right. This is a serious benefit for those of us who always run into placement issues because of case doors.

The 550D’s flexibility also extends to the rear of the case, where we find support for oversized graphics arrays as well as external liquid coolers. Eight slots ensure this enclosure is capable of holding dual-slot graphics cards in a motherboard’s bottom expansion slot. Four grommets also means this case can support hoses from two separate external liquid coolers.

While a thick drive door does block the direct transmission of noise, it also presents a hard reflective surface from which noise might bounce toward other openings. To mitigate this effect, Corsair adds a thin sheet of medium-density aluminum to the door’s inner surface.

The front intake fan cover, which employs a push latch for easy removal, holds yet another sheet of sound-dampening foam. With the fan cover in place and the front door closed, these fans draw in air from the sides. They are also tightly covered by a dust screen, which attaches to the steel chassis via handy magnet strips for quick cleanings.

Another set of simple push latches holds the removable top and side vent covers in place, allowing builders to switch between low-noise and high-airflow at will. Both vent grilles support a pair of 140 mm or 120 mm fans, while the side grille is also capable of holding a single, center-mounted 200 mm fan.

Side panels are similarly designed for quick, tool-less removal. Simply pushing the release buttons located at either top corner of the Obsidian 550D’s rear panel causes the corresponding side panel to disengage from its latch in the top panel.

Unfortunately, one of the side panels on our review sample sticks, probably due to otherwise unnoticeable shipping damage. We had to push on that panel’s upper-rear edge, then slap it several times before it finally wiggled loose.

Thomas Soderstrom is a Senior Staff Editor at Tom's Hardware US. He tests and reviews cases, cooling, memory and motherboards.