Nowadays, it's really hard to bring innovation , whatever the field. The field of cases and cooling makes non exception, in which is difficult to bring new and innovative elements. So, it should be really interesting to see what this case is all about.
We are talking about the Obsidian 450D, a new Corsair Mid-Tower that seems to be able to offer high cooling capabilities, high expandability and all despite not being particularly big and having a neat look
This case is an HAF (High AirFlow) variant of the well known 550D, which is focused on reducing acoustic emissions; comparing them, you can notice that the 450D is slightly smaller and slightly different looking.
Speaking of aesthetics, someone could notice the big similarities that this new Obsidian has with the little brother, the 350D; however, later in the review, we will see that the 450D as something in common also with its big brother, the 750D.
One of the noticeable differences is that front grille with anti-dust filtering and also large holes; with that, it lets everyone know that it wants to be an high airflow type of case. Speaking of the grille, it is removable with a “click and release” system.
Apart from that, we notice the same aluminum type, same power button and identical placing of headphones connectors and USB ports.
On the sides of the case we can see the sober and clean look, aside from that window that allows to admire the installed hardware and also pushes you to keep a tidy wiring inside the case.
On the top, there is a quality touch since Corsair has decided to go for a magnetic anti-dust filter, really easy to take it away for a clean up. For the look aspect, the ventilation grille is on a different level in order to make the filter be on the same plane of the structure.
Same story on the bottom, where we find a filter hold in a plastic structure that uses magnetic points.
If we look at the back, the I/O housing for the motherboard, the ventilation grille for a 120mm fan and three holes for tubings just below. Looking at the second half of the back, there are the 7 expansion slots and the power supply housing.
Now, for the ventilation system, as we said, the 450D has been optimized for high cooling capabilities: even if it is equipped with every anti-dust filter you could want, their weave has been designed in order not to block the flow of air too much. This case comes with 3 fans from Corsair, 2 140mm in the front, forcing air into the case, and a 120mm fan that pulls air out from the case.
There is the possibility to install two other fans on the bottom (only one if we do not remove the HDD cage) and up to three fans on the top. Along with the three fans allowed on the top comes the possibility to install radiators for liquid cooling up to 360mm single slot (sacrificing the top housing for the optical drives); another 240mm can be installed on the bottom (sacrificing the HDD cage) and all ends up to 4 radiators housing that can be used with or without compromises, depending on our needs.
A small criticism can be done since there is not the possibility to install a fan on the side panel in order to directly blow air on the graphic card/s; it has to be said that we usually do not use this kind of fan configuration because, most of the times, it disturbs the airflow inside the case, messing things up.
Reading this last part, a question comes to mind: if we remove the only HDD cage, where are the other bays?
Well, as you can notice in the backside picture, the 450D borrows a solution already used for others “Obsidians” (such as the 750D); we are talking about the spring-loaded tools-less SSD bays, there are two of them and they can be easily removed with a screw for each one.
The system utilized to test this new 450D is as follows
CPU AMD FX 8320 @ 4500MHz 1.440V cooled by Noctua U14S
MotherBoard ASUS M5A99FX PRO R2, BIOS 2201
RAM Corsair Vengeance LP, @2000MHz CL11, 1.65V
VGA MSI AMD R9 290 Reference
HD1 Seagate Barracuda 7002.14 1TB
HD2 Maxtor 300GB
Optical Drive Combo DVD Drive
Power Supply XFX 750W Black Edition
Audio Card Asus XONAR DX
Other Cards IDE Controller, WiFi module
This is a heavy demanding system on the cooling side (very high TDP for VGA and CPU) and on the available space side (very long VGA, nearly the highest CPU cooler, 5 expansion slots used).
As demanding as the system is the installation process was pretty easy with no particular problems and in not that much time. Speaking about cable management, all the cables find their way behind the motherboard backplate, with enough hooks to tighten them together and there are rubberized holes to bring every cable on the other side to connect them to the boards. No problems what so ever for the power supply cable management; a missed point concerns some kind of guides for the tiding up of the HDD and optical drives cables. The ended up result is a very good-looking case also thanks to the plexy window.
The standard HDD cage allows up to three drives and it won't interfere with long videocards such as the R9 290 utilized; issues may occur if we go with a multi-videocard option: in that case, depending on the exact model of the cards, the length of the second and third VGA can be a problem; or rather not, in fact who builds high end machines running SLI/Crossfire, usually makes use of SSDs and in this case the HDD cage can be removed, as we said.
Another limitation can come from the fact that the bottom end of the motherboard is really close to the top of the power supply, so there isn't a lot of space for VGA using the la PCI-E.
Summing up, we had no real issues during the installation process, but we have to notice that the installation of the Noctua NH-U14S is a tight fit since it has a 150mm fan and is one of the tallest CPU coolers on the market: it goes in with no problems but, really, it's a matter of millimeters.
Note: The fan configuration used is the default one! We did not want to alter in any way the cooling performance of the case in question since our goal was to give you a look at the performance of the case in a stock configuration.
In order to underline how much thermally heavy this system can be we've gathered some data from a thermal imager (a Fluke Ti10). As you can notice from the images, the CPU and VGA temperatures are quite significant and the spread heat can be a problem for most cases.
AGAINST THE ELDER: Cooler Master HAF922
Not hiding a bit of naughtiness, a Cooler Master HAF922 has been chosen for comparison as long as the cooling performances go. The HAF is a tough one to beat in terms of mere performance since it's got 2 200mm fans for the side and the front and another 120mm at the back; other pros for the HAF are the high internal volume and the close to none number of anti-dust filters (there is only one behind the front panel).
That said, all the testing has been done using the stock fan configuration for both of them and the same hardware was obviously utilized; even the the fan speed was kept under control, as well as the ambient temperature that was pretty much stable at 25°C during every test. For our tests we use CineBench (to simulate a realistic heavy load on CPU and GPU), Prime95 Small FFT and the latest 3DMark.
Note: the R9 290 maximum temperature was set to 89°C via software.
The results were stunning! Considering the 450D it's smaller and that it should have a worse air flow than the HAF922, this new mid-tower resulted better performing in 17 out of 20 tests considering different components. We feel to recognize the efforts that Corsair has put into this case in order to achieve an high cooling efficiency and the gathered data confirms that. All the components registered a 1 or 2°C drop in temperature while the northbridge was actually 5°C lower in the 450D against the 922 (those 5°C in overclocking situations can do the difference).
o The Obsidian 450D is capable of cooling a really hight TDP system, doing even better than bigger case like the HAF922
o Included fans have pretty nice performance and they’re enough quiet
o There are lots of anti-dust filters, actually in any intake: they are easy to remove and clean too
o The case comes with 2 SSD dedicated bay behind the motherboard plate with the possibility to remove the HDD cage
o It allows the installation of tower CPU cooler high up to 165mm
o Housings for up to 4 radiators
o Minimalist and really well made design
o Front panel hooks are really weak (2 breakdowns in barely a month
Summing up this new Obsidian Series case is a very equilibrated and valid product. It is not so big for its performance which are ahead of the expectation and it is also really well made and with some nice extras. I would recommend it for those people which want a good performing case for high TDP systems without sacrificing the construction quality.
The launch price is 119$.
We are really grateful to CORSAIR for the 450D sample
Review written by Shelby92 & FazzoMetal
Edited by FazzoMetal - 4/3/14 at 2:19pm