Review: Corsair's first computer case is a winner
Today we show you the Obsidian 800D, a case coming from memory specialists – Corsair. Although Obsidian 800D is the first case to come out of the company, we must admit it looks as if it was made by seasoned pros, as it’s been a while since we’ve mounted a motherboard, managed cables, swapped the HD etc., with such ease and in so little time. Accessing any hardware is easy street since gigantic Obsidian 800D packs more than enough room, with separate chambers for the PSU and the motherboard. Judging by our “ecstatic” words you’re probably anticipating the award, but before we move on to the conclusions we’d like to share a few interesting details.
Obsidian 800D comes in a large cardboard box featuring a large picture of the case. The case belongs to the Obsidian series, which currently only holds this model, but we hope that Corsair will remedy that and introduce the 800D siblings soon enough. Of course, such a move would not only introduce variety in models, but features and prices as well.
The back of the box features specs and since Corsair Obsidian 800D features a few uncommon traits, a short introduction surely won’t hurt.
The cardboard box has obviously been through some minor tumbling during transport, but Corsair’s Styrofoam protection has prevented any damage to the case inside.
Although the cardboard box hasn’t gone through what we’d call serious damage, upon unpacking the case we’ve noticed that the front panel door wasn’t where it’s supposed to be. We found it on the bottom of the box, so the probable scenario is that it dropped during packaging or after the box collided with something. We put it back to its place and it worked flawlessly.
In order to prevent scratches in transport, Corsair used protective plastic cover as you can see from the picture below. Apart from the front panel, the side panel window has been covered as well and to top it all off, Corsair put the case in additional plastic wrapping. The sticky cover holds really well, perhaps too well even as we had to remove the front panel in order to remove all the bits and pieces of protective plastic cover. Although this might seem to be a drag, it’s a great way to show the care Corsair has taken to deliver a mint-condition Obsidian 800D to your doorstep.
You’ll get various screws with the case (colored in black), zip ties for cable management, two HD brackets (in case you need more than four disks mounted via the swappable drive bays on the front panel), anti-vibration rubber for one 120mm fan, four SATA cables, a short manual and a nice SATA extension cable with four connectors, intended to power the “residents” of the aforementioned hard drive bays. You’ll also get an extension cord for powering the CPU, and you’ll need it if your PSU’s 4/8 pin CPU isn’t long enough. This cord measures 23cm to the 8 pin connector and about 43cm to the 4 pin connector.
Obsidian 800D is 609mm tall so “full tower” classification is spot on. Although the design is mostly classic with sharp and flat edges, the brushed aluminum on the front panel and matter side-panels prove that it’s a quality piece of metal. Elevated feet further reinforce the impression of stability and sturdiness.
The case is 226mm wide and 609mm long. Of course, just looking at the Obsidian 800D won’t reveal much, but all things taken into account will reveal the reason why the price is over €230.
As you can see from the photo above, Obsidian 800D features a large window on the left side-panel, and you can see that innards are split into two chambers. You can also see the back-panel fan, which is one of 7 possible fans in Obsidian 800D.
It seems Corsair went all out on the front panel as it’s naturally the prettiest side of the case, mostly for the fact that it’s made of brushed aluminum. Power button is located towards the top of the case and except for the small LED, there’re no other visible buttons or connectors. Almost all the connectors you’ll need are hidden behind the few doors. As you can see from the picture of the front panel, Obsidian 800D allows for 5 optical devices and mounting them requires the front panel to be taken off. Thankfully, that’s a piece of cake and all you need to do is tug on the lower side of the front panel without having to remove screws on the inside (we’ll talk about this more later).
5.25 bay covers are made of aluminum-coated plastic, although we’ve noticed that one lid already started to give way and the aluminum coating started detaching, but it might be an isolated case. Of course, we didn’t mind much (as long as it’s on one cover only) because we removed the cover anyway and mounted an optical drive.
Corsair decided against positioning the USB connector panel on top of the case, although we’d have liked it to be on top for better accessibility. The USB panel is located behind the door on the front panel (towards the top, next to the power button). Of course, many users will find this to be practical as well, and we must admit that we’d have nothing against it if it featured an eSATA connector that’s found on many much cheaper cases.
Apart from the four USB connectors there’s also FireWire, audio in/out connector and the reset key. The door is opened by pushing it, just like the larger one hiding the hotSwap HD bays. You can mount up to four 3.5’’ SATA hard disks there.
HotSwap HD bays are extremely practical, especially for those who swap their HDs often. If you take a closer look at the following picture, you’ll notice two holes on the lower side and they’re intended for mounting 2.5’’ SSDs. This is a pretty practical solution which requires no additional brackets.
There’s no need to open up the case and connect power and data cables – all you need to do is place the hard disk into the bracket and slide it back, whereas the hotSwap mechanism will make sure that the disk starts running instantly. Removing the door and changing the direction they open is a piece of cake and it only takes a couple of seconds.
The only thing showing that this case is Corsair’s is a small and pretty discrete Corsair logo on the bottom of the front panel. The difference between the builds of front and side panels is evident due to different material being used. Side panels are pretty large and as we’ve already mentioned, the left side features a window whereas the right side is pretty uninteresting.
Taking off and mounting the side-panels is similar to CoolerMaster’s Cosmos case – the best method we’ve seen so far. Two buttons on the top-rear side of the case are used to unfasten the panels which can then easily be removed. No screws are used to hold the sides in place.
The rear side as usual features a fan and there’s place for 7 motherboard expansion slots. You can easily replace the preinstalled 140mm fan with a 120mm one, and the mounting holes are provided (the picture shows the 120mm fan mounted, but the case comes with a 140mm one).
As the picture shows, the PSU is located on the bottom with the fan blowing downwards. Corsair uses a large air-filter below the PSU, and it’s accessible without the need to open the case. The filter is an excellent solution to dust that gathers during time, and the filter is of course much easier to clean.
The holes on the left side (the picture above shows them as a vertical array of holes) are proof that Corsair thought of cable management and left space for cables to be routed behind the motherboard and hide them from sight. Furthermore, Corsair thought of airflow at the same time because messy and numerous cables often hinder airflow thus introducing higher thermals on virtually all components in the case.
The following picture shows the plastic mesh filter, which is long enough to filter incoming air as well.
Obsidian 800D’s feet are massive and stable. Since the front panel features no air outlets, there’s plenty of room between the floor and the case to provide adequate fresh air inflow from the bottom.
The following picture shows the rear-panel after mounting MSI’s P45D3 Platinum motherboard, Gigabyte 9800GT passively cooled graphics card and CoolerMaster’s 1100W Ultimate PSU.
The largest air intake on Obsidian 800D is on the top panel. There’s enough room for mounting three 1200m fans and/or watercooling radiator, which Corsair anticipated and left holes for just such scenarios.
Since Obsidian 800D’s top panel doesn’t come with pre-mounted fans, the wide holes are used as passive air outlets. Although the sides do well in absorbing sounds coming from within, noise indeed escapes via these outlets. Obsidian 800D does require serious airflow for optimum operation in less than optimum environments, but Corsair could’ve gone with finer, mesh grills on the top panel which would at least look better.
The three pre-installed fans in the Obsidian 800D are pretty quiet, but not inaudibly. Compared to similar cases however, Obsidian 800D belongs to the quieter pack and you won’t hear it in your living room.
We must admit we really like cases such as Obsidian 800D for the vast interior that makes for easy access to any component, water-cooling system capabilities, great airflow with room for plenty of silent fans, etc. Furthermore, such cases allow for carefree installation of large and hot graphics cards, such as SLI or CrossFire systems, whereas some simply might like this case for being high tower and allowing for storing plenty of data across more hard disks.
On the Obsidian 800D, Corsair divided space in two parts/chambers, and we really liked this since the upper chamber leaves clean space for the motherboard whereas the bottom one holds the PSU and the rest of the unused cabling.
Corsair placed the PSU on the bottom of the case and the two chambers are separated. The motherboard is located relatively high, so all the components are easily reachable, without having to lay the case on its side or having to bend down to the floor. Furthermore, the feet also did their fair share on increasing the height, as they keep Obsidian 800D almost 3cm above the floor.
We usually talk of mounting components after we’ve finished talking about features, but this time we’ll make an exception and show the system we’ve built. We’re doing this just to show you how big Obsidian 800D is. There’s more than enough room in the case even with extended ATX motherboard and the largest card, currently being HD 5970 is pretty comfortable in the case. For our testing we used MSI P45D3 Platinum ATX motherboard and CoolerMaster UCP 1100W PSU that’s almost 19cm long.
Corsair made sure that mounting a motherboard is as easy as it gets and they already put appropriate screws for mounting ATX motherboards. All the other mounting holes are clearly marked and it’s easy to tell which ones are intended for different motherboard form factors.
As you can see, the motherboard tray has plenty of openings intended for cable management, and virtually any cable-shortcut you could think of is already covered by Corsair. The rear shows how much care Corsair invested in designing case components. Each opening is protected with rubber, further improving both looks and airflow.
Anyone who’s ever taken their motherboard off to mount CPU coolers know the time-consuming effort associated with it, but Corsair made sure that such scenarios don’t occur with Obsidian. Motherboard tray features a large opening behind the motherboards socket so if your CPU cooling comes with a backplate, you can mount it without having to take the motherboard off. The plastic door that close this are further proof of the care invested in this case.
The following photo shows Corsair’s logo, placed on the hood that covers the 140mm HD fan. Corsair went one step further than the competition by offering us the hotSwap mechanism, which is accessible via the front panel. This makes mounting and swapping hard disks/SSDs a breeze, just like in modern servers. The only limiting factor would be 4 HD capacity, but it’s expandable via the included brackets which allow for additional two disks towards the bottom of the front panel.
The following picture shows how Corsair did the trick with the hotSwap mechanism.
Somewhere towards the beginning of our review, we spoke of the strange extension SATA cord with four connectors. This cable is specially tailored to power all four residents of hotSwap mechanisms. Just to be on the safe side, Corsair also ships four SATA cables.
Corsair opted on three quiet 140mm fans and left the option of adding four 120mm fans. The following picture shows the fan that keeps the airflow running between the chambers.
The fan in the middle is the main fan that brings fresh air to the case, and as you can see on the following photo, the air should escape via the openings on the top of the case.
If you choose to add additional two hard disks, you can cool them with a 120mm fan in the same way that the 140mm fan cools the four aforementioned hotSwap components.
Obsidian 800D offers space for 5 optical devices with a simple sliding mechanism to fit them in 5.25’’ bays. In order to mount an optical device you’ll have to remove the 5.25’’ bay cover first, which requires the entire front panel to be taken off.
As you can see on the following photo, Corsair aimed to make mounting and upgrading as easy as possible, and they used the screws that require no tools – you can do it all by hand. Unfortunately, this time around we had to resort to using tools as they were seriously fastened, probably for transport purposes. After you unscrew them once, mounting and upgrading is a breeze.
If you’re interested in details on mounting, it would be best to consult the detailed user’s manual that you can find here.
We tested Obsidian 800D and compared it to CoolerMaster’s ATCS 840 case. Both cases are great and offer more than plenty of room, but each has its special traits. We’ve seen that Obsidian 800D comes with three 140mm fans whereas CoolerMaster equipped its case with 4 fans, three of them measuring 230x30mm. In terms of airflow, this gives the ATCS 840 a headstart, but Obsidian is designed differently with a few separate air-chambers.
Both cases are pretty quiet and you won’t excessively hear them in your living room, unless it’s an anechoic or extremely quiet room. To make things more interesting we used Gigabyte’s passive Geforce 9800GT graphics card. The motherboard in question was MSI’s P45D3 Platinum with Corsair Dominator 12800 7-7-7-24 memory and WD VelociRaprtor 300G 10,000RPM hard drive. For CPU cooling we used our tried-and-trusted CoolerMaster V8, which allows for mechanical RPM regulation. We “heated up” our Intel Core 2 QX9770 Extreme Edition by overclocking it to 3.6GHz and commenced our testing.
Idle results were pretty much even, although CoolerMaster’s ATCS 840 has a slight upper hand thanks to the large fans. Graphics card’s temperature was 46°C in Obsidian 800D and 44°C in the ATCS 840.
After stressing the cards to the max using FurMark, ATCS 840 came out on top again as the GPU measured 81°C whereas Corsair’s graphics was at 91°C. This is of course expected, since Corsair’s case features only one fan to cool the graphics card and the rest of the hardware in the main chamber. Unfortunately, if you want a passive graphics card you should know that the case design leaves a low-circulation air pocket beneath the graphics card. During gaming, our graphics card was around 86°C in Obsidian 800D.
However, Obsidian 800D’s GPU temperatures didn’t change much after we turned on Prime95 and stressed our CPU, whereas ATCS 840’s GPU temperature jumped to 84°C. CPU temperatures were identical – around 55°C.
Although Obsidian 800D features a special fan in charge of cooling the hard-disk chamber, ATCS 840 uses a larger, 230x30mm fan for that, allowing for slightly better hard disk cooling (29°C) than on the Obsidian 800D (30°C).
Corsair did a great job – if you can play with only one fan and a passive graphics card, think about what it can do with additional fans in the Obsidian 800D. Furthermore, note that mounting was much easier with Obsidian 800D than with ATCS 840.
Obsidian 800D is without doubt one of the best computer cases in 2009. Although the company has only recently entered this market and Obsidian 800D is their first product, Corsair’s engineers have already set high quality standards that many case-oriented companies that have long-time experience on the market will have difficulties in matching.
Obsidian 800D simply swept us of our feet. The in-case room is more than enough for anyone, and so much space makes component access a breeze. Obsidian 800D is designed with all motherboard types in mind, from mATX to EATX, and various water cooling solutions have been thought of as well. Corsair did more than well in covering the critics and propositions from the community and made the Obsidian 800D to cater to highly-demanding customers who look for quality and potential. The result is the case which virtually has no flaws. We must admit that we sincerely enjoyed building a test rig within Obsidian 800D and we’d go as far as to say that anyone will. The simple and extremely practical swappable HD mechanism is excellent and we can’t forget the fact that Corsair did a great job with cable management, rendering their case a nice and tidy home for your precious components.
Obsidian 800D is among the priciest high-tower cases, but make no mistake – it belongs among the top ones as it offers supreme capabilities. It’s currently priced at around €220 and you can find it here.